Aug 30 2013

Answering Your Mobile Feature Questions

Shopping around for a new mobile phone and not sure about all those new features? Today we’re answering all the questions you have about mobile phone features and what you need. From 4g versus 3g phones to octo-core processors, we’ve got your answers right here, so keep reading!

What’s a Smart Screen?

Smart screens are a pretty big new feature that we’re seeing on top end mobiles. Basically, the phone uses the front facing camera to track your eye movement. The device then uses this information to make sure that the screen doesn’t switch off or hibernate when you’re looking at it, even if you’re not pressing anything. More advanced versions will also scroll pages up and down depending on where you are looking at in the page so you don’t need to keep your finger on the screen. Do you need it? Not really, but it is pretty cool to have a smart screen.

What’s the Difference between 4g and 3g Phones?

3g phones are the standard, any smart phone that you buy these days will come with 3g. 4G is the newest tech, and it’s a different way of connecting to mobile internet. A 4g phone connects to a 4g network, as opposed to 3g phones which connect to 3g networks. The advantage of a 4g network is that it’s up to ten times faster than a 3g one, meaning you get smoother video streaming, faster downloading, and you can play graphic intensive online games. Faster internet is good, but it’s not for everyone. Not all mobile operators have a 4g network, and even those that do don’t have coverage in the whole country. And 4g data plans are expensive, around three times what you pay for a 3g data plan. If you’re thinking about getting a 4g capable phone you might want to make sure that you can connect to a 4g network first. If you can’t, your phone is going to connect to 3g by default.

Do I Really Need 64 GB of Internal Memory?

Top of the range devices, like the iPhone 5, are getting big memories these days. The internal memory of your phone determines how much data (photos, music, games and programmes) you can store on your device. And 64 GB is a lot of data, more than most of us will ever need. If you want your whole music collection on your phone, then you might want a big memory. But more and more people these days are using cloud storage, rather than physical storage. This means storing your data in something like a Drop Box account or an Apple Cloud account, and then just accessing it through your phone’s mobile data connection when you need it, and obviously that means that you need less internal storage on your phone. Plus, many phones are coming with Micro SD card slots, so you can buy a cheap memory card to expand your storage if you need it. 64 GB is a lot, a decent smart phone needs only around 16 GB.

The Faster the Processor, the Better, Right?

Yes, up to a point. Top end phones are getting some ridiculously fast processors these days, octo-core processors that have around 2 GHz of power. And that’s a lot of power. More than you probably need. Truthfully, the average user isn’t going to notice a speed difference in anything after about a 1.5 GHz quad core processor. You’re just not using enough power on your phone to make it seem any faster. If you use intensive programmes, such as photo editing or top end online gaming, then you might see a difference. But for the average Joe, anything over 1.5 GHz isn’t going to make a difference to your phone’s performance.

What about those 13 MP Cameras?

All smart phones get cameras now, and the mid-range phone standard of 8 MP is fine for most of us. 13 MP cameras sound great, but you won’t see a huge amount of difference. If you take pictures and then look at them on your phone, or post them to Facebook, a 13 MP camera isn’t going to do anything for you. On the other hand, if you print pictures out and enlarge them, or hook up an HDMI cable to project pictures onto your TV screen, then yes, you will see more fine detail and get a better photo with a higher resolution camera. Whether or not you need a 13 MP camera really depends on how big you like your pictures to be when you look at them. The bigger your picture will be the more resolution you’ll want, so that you get a clear, detailed picture that doesn’t have any pixellated effects.

How Big is Too Big for a Screen?

Hmmm. Well, top of the range mobiles are hovering around the five inch screen mark these days, and even a mid-range phone is still around a four and a half inch screen. The bigger the screen is on a phone the more battery power it’s going to use, and the less easy it is to slide the phone into your shirt pocket. But there are benefits to bigger screens. Of course, you get a better viewing experience, you don’t have to scroll around so much when you’re reading a web page, and your videos are bigger. But there’s also the question of typing. Touch screen smart phones mean that you have to type on that on screen keyboard, and the bigger your screen is, the easier it is to type. Anything above about five and a half inches is considered a “phablet” or hybrid phone and tablet, like the Samsung Galaxy Note. And anything from six inches up is really a tablet. But those lines are starting to blur, and screens are still getting bigger. Samsung have recently announced a new mega phone that will have a 6.3 inch screen. That seems too big to us, but a couple of years from now, it might be standard…

Sam Jones’s daughter asked him what he knew about 3G phones.  He pointed her in the direction of comparison services such as uSwitch and all the information was there at the touch of a button

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