Buying a Phone

I figured I’d start with something real simple… take the buzzwords out of buying a phone so her goes.

First, when you’re buying a phone remember something important. It’s not really a phone, it’s a tiny computer and camera, and tiny is a relative term these days, because sometimes the phone can be as big as your TV. And as with buying a computer there are three factors to consider… battery, memory and speed. I prefer the term “Pocket Computer,” because it’s more accurate.


When you buy a computer you usually don’t have to worry about power, but when you’re computer is not plugged into the wall all the time, it runs on a battery, so the size of the battery dictates how long your phone will continue to work. Sizes of batteries are given in milliamps typically designated by mah, or milliamps hours. The bigger the number, the more juice the battery has and ultimately continue to run.

Some phones, the battery cannot be removed. Typical manufacturers of these are Apple but just about every other manufacturer out there also has a version where the battery is non-removable. Since the price of your little computer (phone) is about $800, that’s a pretty expensive throw-away device, not to mention all the electronic garbage being left behind for our grandchildren.

The phones I prefer have a removable battery. This way I can have a spare battery in my pocket or wife’s purse (she’s always reminding me that she needs a big purse for all the stuff that I ask her to carry, so I might as well let her carry it) so that if I’m on a trip somewhere and my battery dies, I just pop the new one in and I’m up and running again, usually taking pictures.

It also means that my phone will outlast any other device that doesn’t have a removable battery because eventually, ultimately, batteries no longer hold or accept a charge. I honestly just don’t see the economic value in having a non-removable battery device.


The memory of your phone will dictate how many photos, videos and programs (called applications or “apps”) you can have on your computer (phone) at any one time.

There is “internal” memory, which is built into the phone and can’t be increased by you. On this internal memory is where the computers Operating System, usually abbreviated OS, is located. The OS runs your computer (phone). Without the OS, it can’t do anything. It’s like Windows or DOS (if you remember DOS). Currently there are three different kinds, but we’ll talk about that later.

Then there is usually “external” memory, which is actually located inside the phone (pull the back off), but it refers to the fact that you can ADD memory yourself because the phone needs to come with internal memory for the OS. This memory comes on micro-SD cards in memory capacity from 2 gigabytes (abbreviated GB) to 128 GB, and higher coming. They’re relatively inexpensive with the 128 GB cards usually costing around $60 and the physical size of the micro-SD cards are smaller than my thumbnail.

If you buy a phone that doesn’t have external memory, like Apple for example, they will sell you the exact same phone in various memory capacities. You can get the 16 GB version, the 32 GB version, the 64 GB version or the 128 GB version. Each time you increase to the next memory size is about $100 increase in the price. Hmmm. $60 for the biggest micro-SD card or $100 for the next size up, so if you want the most memory in a non-external phone capacity you’re going to pay 3 x $100 increase in cost. $60 vs $300. Why would anyone voluntarily do this? I can keep a spare micro-SD card in my pocket and if I fill it up my phone with pictures on a trip, I just pop the new one in and I start over. There’s no sane reason to buy a non-expandable memory phone.


Finally, we look at speed. This is a tough to discern these days. It used to be the most current version of the CPU (the brain or processor of your pocket computer). Nowadays, there are so many different manufacturers of CPU’s that it’s virtually impossible to decide based on version.

Then there’s the speed that the processor works at called the “clock speed” and usually given in mega-hertz. This number, theoretically means that they CPU can process instructions fast. The higher the number, the faster the processing. But this number too has a lot of mitigating factors.

So, what do we go by? Personally I use two details. One is the number of processors that the CPU includes. Without getting technical think of it this way… if you had two problems on a piece of paper and needed to solve each problem would it be faster to hand the piece of paper to one person to solve both problems, or rip the paper in half and give one half to one person and the other half to another person?

Of course the answer is the latter. Two processor CPU’s are called “Dual processors.” Then came “Quad processors” meaning four and as of today, “Octa processors,” yep, you guessed it… eight processors.

So the first number I look for is the number of processors in the little computer. Again, the higher the better.

The second piece of information I use is to actually go into a store and grab the one that I’m considering. Since most of us will be using it for surfing (aside from talking, that is), I fire up whatever browser it has and surf to a picture intensive site and observe how fast the browser loads. HistoricalTwist is a good site, so is Sears, Sandals, Cabelas, FoodNetwork, TheWeatherNetwork, etc. The trick here is to make sure that the site has not been “preloaded” so it “looks” as if it’s loading fast. You want it to pull the pages off the website fresh. If you know of some obscure site where it’s unlikely someone has loaded in the store, that’s the best.

Then surf the site. Observe how fast the page’s load. Obviously, the faster the better.

So, to summarize, I go with a phone that has a removable battery, external memory, at least quad processors and surfs fast. This is I’m future-proofing me as best I can.



Seaghan Hancocks

Mr. Seaghan (pronounced shawn) Hancocks works as a professional broadcast Line Producer. Between gigs he writes for his growing web clientele.

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