Choice of phone is one of the big decisions one makes, and carries around the resulting device for a decent amount of time. Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic shift in how this decision is made and the factors influencing the same. I am frequently asked which phone I recommend, and this post is my current view point about the same

Golden thumb rule - Don’t buy an iPhone. No matter how tempted you are about it, just don’t. There are ton’s of reasons for arriving conclusion, but primary is user experience.

Now that we have removed iPhone from the equation, lets look at what kind of Android phone one may pick up.

Overwhelming variety of Android phones is one major reason some users prefer the predictability of iPhone. And on that point, I am also tempted to pick up an iPhone myself, but difficulty to pick an Android phone is not the reason to pick an iPhone. Now how does one pick a phone then? I have jotted down some thumb rules for the same

  1. Operating System - Make sure it is shipping with latest Android OS. Currently Android Marshmallow 6.01. Don’t be taken by the promised upgrade coming soon. A new phone should be shipping with latest OS. Unless going for a discount last year’s model, which ideally should’ve been upgraded to latest OS.
  2. Budget or Flagship - There are two primary tier’s of phones to consider. Budget - $149 to $299. And Flagship range $349 to $649. Anything above this is too costly. There are some innovative phones at $99 range (ZTE Max Pro), however most budget phones fall in the above range. This is one of the critical choices when going for a new phone to replace an existing one. It’s hard to go from a flagship to a budget, however the pace at which phones have improved in past few years, a premium-budget phone of today is at par or better than a 2013 flagship.
  3. Display - AMOLED - Full HD or QHD AMOLED is the only display that really shines through. All AMOLED’s may not be same, but as long as it’s AMOLED, its significantly better than IPS-LCD panels. I know that it bumps the price of the phone significantly, however display is a big part of the phone. It also makes repairs costlier, so this is definitely not to be picked in case a budget device is chosen.

Above three criterion narrows the choice significantly. Now going into next set of important factors

  1. Camera - The lower the F-stop number the better. F1/1.7 is currently in leading flagship models, and up-to F1/1.9 is decent. F1/2.0 to F1/2.4 are typically seen in budget phones. I refer to DXoMark’s mobile camera report to compare camera quality quantitatively. Picking a fast and well reviewed camera makes the phone worth the extra money it typically charges. Moto G Plus recently received very high rating for a budget phone.
  2. Nexus - For a developer, Nexus devices make most sense. They get the software updates ahead of other vendors and Google’s default experience is sometimes better than vendor’s customization.
  3. Specification - Processor, RAM, Storage, Battery, USB-C and Fingerprint sensor etc. are some of the specifications one also takes into consideration. However most phones are near each other in these aspects for different price points.
  4. Vendor - Samsung, Lenovo (Motorola), Huawei, LG, Oppo, Xiaomi, Vivo, ZTE and Asus are some other top Android device vendors. All have their advantages and disadvantages. I don’t have a preference for any of these vendors.

I wish there was an easier way to pick an Android phone. Sadly there isn’t. One strange thing with Android is that you are unlikely to find people carrying the same device. I am carrying 2013 Nexus-4, and looking to move to a 4G Nexus device.

Best, Umang