Share this Article

Buying Smartphones


It’s December and that means the holiday season is in full-swing. This also means that many people are busy shopping for gifts. As with the past few seasons, smartphones will be a popular gift this year. If you are planning to give a lucky person a smartphone this season, it might be tough to actually pick one that will meet the needs of the person you are giving it to.

Before investing in a smartphone as a gift this holiday season, here’s our four point guide on what to bear in mind.

1. What to consider before looking

Before looking into a smartphone as a gift, you should first consider whether the person who will get the phone already has one. The reason being, that many people are on mobile plans. Most of these plans have a set contract period that is not always easy to break and can be costly to do so.

You likely don’t want to force someone to break a contract, but many carriers do offer upgrade options that are affordable. It is a good idea to think about when their contract ends. If it is already over, a new phone could be very much welcomed. If the contract is new, you may want to look at investing in another tech gift.

There is also the issue of the carrier. While most carriers have the same phones, some use different networks such as 3G and LTE. Most new phones support all types of networks, but it is worthwhile verifying whether the phones you have selected are supported on the user’s network.

2. What platform is best?

There are three major mobile platforms, or operating systems available:

  • Android (current version: 4.4) – Google’s operating system is one of the two most popular systems and is largely considered to be the most open. With a large variety of apps, Android is found on the vast majority of mobile devices. Because of the largely fragmented nature of Android, updates are often slow to reach some non-Google devices. One of the biggest selling points of Android is the deep integration with Google’s other services.
  • iOS (current version: iOS 7) – Apple’s operating system is possibly the most well known operating system and is considered the easiest to use. iOS has a wide variety of apps, and developers usually release their apps on iOS first. Updates are also released to most devices, so you can be sure that your device will be up-to-date. Possibly the biggest selling point of iOS is Apple’s well known quality and the fact that the devices are renowned for being easy to use.
  • Windows Phone (current version: Windows Phone 8) – The latest addition to the mobile scene, Windows Phone is the mobile version of Microsoft’s Windows. While not as popular as the other two major operating systems, it is still a great system. The majority of the most important mobile apps are on the Windows phone. However, there are not as many when compared with the other two systems. The biggest selling point of this platform is the integration with Windows Exchange, which makes it a great system for business users who also use Windows and Office.

3. What hardware is best?

All three of the major platforms – Android, iOS, and Windows Phone – comprise of phones with different hardware. The high-end devices have leading hardware that will be more than capable of handling any task.

Android has the biggest range of devices which have all types of hardware. Flagship devices like the HTC One, Google Nexus 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 all have powerful hardware. In general, Android devices with smaller screens, tend to have lower hardware specs while those with bigger screens have better hardware.

The iPhones on the other hand have two models: the high-end 5s and the slightly less powerful 5c. Both of these models have hardware that is more than capable of handling most tasks. While some view this uniformity as a downside, it has worked well for millions of users.

Windows Phone devices are more in the middle – there are more devices to choose from than the iPhone, yet fewer than Android. As with Android, there are devices with varying levels of hardware and those with smaller screens (below 4 inches) tend to have lower hardware specs, while those with bigger screens are more powerful. Nokia and HTC are two leading Windows Phone producers.

As a general rule of thumb, newer phones have better hardware and are able to handle almost any task. One thing to keep in mind is the systems the person uses on a daily basis. If they prefer Google, Android may be a better choice. That being said, the platforms all have apps that allow you to connect to your preferred system e.g., a Gmail app you can download to your iPhone.

4. How much to spend

Finally, your decision comes down to how much you want to spend. Most phones can be purchased two ways:

  1. Outright – Purchasing a phone outright is normally done through electronics stores or online. You will pay the full price, but the phone will usually be unlocked, meaning you can use any appropriate SIM card in the device, regardless of the carrier.
  2. Subsidized – The other option is to go with a carrier who offers the phone. Carriers bundle phones with plans and will pay for a large percentage of the device. While the device is cheaper, you will usually have to pay a small fee if you want to keep hold of it after the contract ends.

If you are going to buy your phone outright set a budget. The majority of high-end devices will cost you between USD$300 and USD$500 while mid-range will be between USD$150 and USD$300.

When picking a phone as a gift, why not ask the person what they prefer first. Most people who are looking for a new smartphone will have an idea as to what kind of phone they want and what they want to use it for.

If you are looking to learn more about picking the right smartphone for yourself or someone else, get in touch today.

Published with permission from