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Recently, phone manufacturers have experimented with different resolutions on mobile phones. The idea behind these changes is that having a phone that is slimmer across and taller is easier to use with one hand and provides a better experience when streaming media or using two apps side-by-side. The different resolutions available mean that a 5. Until then, a visual comparison and checking specs for the physical dimension of the phone not the screen are the best ways to see how screen size impacts the overall size of the phone.

While the type of screen will change how the image looks, the quality of the screen is often the most important consideration. Budget phones often feature dimmer, duller screens than their pricier competitors -- even if they use the same screen type. They determine how your phone identifies itself when trying to connect to a mobile network. CDMA might no longer be valid in a few years. The internal storage on your phone is where you will install apps, store photos and videos, store text and multimedia messages, and download files.

So you cannot count on being able to reclaim the space these apps use. Consider how you plan to use your phone before deciding on the right amount of storage for you. If your phone doesn't support a microSD card, we'd recommend no less than 32GB just to be sure you're never stuck wishing you had purchased a phone with more storage.

And even if manufacturers provide an estimate of battery hours, it will only be accurate using the same phone settings, apps, and network conditions the manufacturer used during their testing. Screen size, screen resolution, the processor used, your signal strength, and how you use your phone will all impact battery life.


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If you plan to use your phone often, choosing a model with fast charging will help speed up charge times significantly for times when you need a charge in a hurry. It seems each brand comes out with a special name for their own type of fast charging. But they all work similarly….

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The phone and charger communicate to send more power to battery when the charge is low. With fast charge phones, you can expect a full charge in 1 to 1. If you plan to use your phone a lot, a phone with fast charging will ensure speedy top offs when you need them. While this still serves as a decent baseline to weed out bad options, there are more factors to consider these days. Manufacturers have improved mobile camera quality greatly. Video recording on phones has seen as many improvements in recent years as photography.

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But it still is a phone feature that cannot compete with high-end video cameras or action cameras. This might be great for calm scenes or family videos, but any high-action shots are likely to appear blurry or experience minor stuttering.

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This makes the processor consideration less important -- especially when comparing options in the higher price ranges. When it comes to processor cores, a quad-core option is good enough for casual use. If you plan on gaming, editing video, multitasking, or using your phone for more than basic communications, an octa-core processor offers noticeable improvements in most cases. In the early days, you could compare the GHz for each processor -- a rating that measures processing power. However, with the later generations, processors are doing more with the same processing power.

So this number isn't always accurate. Not to mention, many quad- and octa-core processors are using multiple cores at different speeds in the same chip. However, as general trends go, newer processors of a similar speed will always offer improved performance and power usage over older processors. You can count on a bit of future-proofing while getting a great balance of performance and value. More RAM means you can switch between apps faster when multitasking and generally keep things running smoothly for longer.

If you multitask at all or play games, 3 to 4GB will show noticeable improvements in response times and loading speeds. But if you have the budget, it provides a level of future-proofing as apps continue to get larger and their memory requirements grow.

Everything from social media accounts and bank accounts to pictures and voicemails are all just a few taps away. In a world that is increasingly connected and digital, allowing this information to fall into the wrong hands is a major headache in the least and a catastrophe at worst. Nearly every phone offers storage encryption and a basic password-, PIN-, or gesture-based locking feature. But newer phones also offer extra options that can help improve security while also providing convenience. Fingerprint scanners rest on the front or back of the phone and allow you to verify your identity with a quick press of the finger.

In most cases, you can store 4 or 5 fingerprints to allow unlocking with multiple fingers. TIP: This can also be handy if you plan to share your phone with a family member. Store one of their fingers along with yours and they can always unlock your phone. Some manufacturers are also using facial recognition to provide an even easier way to identify yourself and unlock your phone.

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Many use the front-facing camera to capture an image and compare it to a profile saved on your phone. In some weaker camera-based facial recognition systems, researchers could trick the systems into unlocking using photos. This solves most of the concerns of the weaker camera-based solutions. The camera collects data about your face from multiple angles and sensors map the contours of your facial features. This means that whether you grow a beard, cut your hair, or need to unlock your phone in the dark, the system still works.

More importantly, it means that it is harder for others to trick. Experts consider these sensor-based types of visual identification more secure in most cases than the simpler camera-based ones. While none of these security features are deal-breakers, they can add a level of convenience and peace of mind to your mobile use. So choosing an option you like and trust is always a good idea. No one wants a rogue splash or a dip in the sink to cost them hundreds -- if not thousands -- of dollars. If this appeals to you, look for phones with an IP rating.

However, Wired points out an interesting fact:. For example, while the iPhone 7 has an iP67 rating meaning it can withstand brief submersion, it hasn't been rated to survive a jet of water levels 5 and 6. So while it would survive being dropped in the bath, Apple admits the phone should not be taken into the shower.

Liquid damage is not covered under warranty. Avoid pushing the boundaries of these protections if you can or you might find yourself with a hefty replacement fee on your hands. NFC allows your phone to send information by tapping it to or placing it near an NFC-enabled receiver. While you can use it to send photos, contacts, and other bits of information between phones and phone accessories, the primary use for NFC is mobile payments. More importantly, you need to look at how the various options available might impact the final cost you pay for your phone.

While deals from carriers often look awesome upfront -- especially in the face of ever-increasing phone prices -- they might not be as good as they appear when you break things down. Carriers used to offer steep phone discounts in exchange for a multi-year service contract. These days, carriers often prefer to finance or lease phones.

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Part of your monthly bill is for your phone financing or lease, while the rest is for your monthly phone service. With leasing , you pay a certain amount each month -- often for one or two years. At the end of your lease, you can return the phone to the carrier for a discount on a new lease or arrange to pay the remaining balance on your phone and keep it. But whether you lease or finance your new phone, you must keep it in like-new or gently-used condition or risk having to pay hefty fees to replace it.

If a carrier offers subsidies and phone discounts, be sure to read the fine print and understand what the terms of your discount might be.


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  6. Many require you to submit paperwork by specific deadlines or apply the rebate to a prepaid visa card after a period of time. If you travel often, this might only take a few months as using a SIM from your destination is likely substantially cheaper than the roaming rates offered by your carrier at home. However, the market for used and refurbished phones is huge these days. If you're willing to do a little research and know where to look, used phones are a great way to get more phone for your money.