If you’re in the market for a new smartphone and it’s been a while since you shopped for a new device, you might be asking yourself, what should I look for in a smartphone? The true answer: it depends on a number of factors, but I’m here to help. Below, I’ve outlined five things to consider when buying a smartphone and some of the best phones for different use cases.
How you’ll use it
The first thing to consider when buying a smartphone is how you’ll use it. I’m not talking about how the phone is marketed, but how you’ll really truly use it on a day-to-day basis. Most of the phone reviews out there rattle off technical specs as if every shopper is looking for a device that’s loaded to the brim. In reality, you’ll probably only use half of the features and won’t notice the difference between processors. If those things matter to you, that’s okay, too. Just try to avoid getting caught up in the spec sheet or gimmicky technology that can quickly inflate the phone’s price. Below, I’ve rounded up some of the best phones for different scenarios:
The best smartphone for business: Samsung Galaxy Note20
If you’re looking for an all-in-one powerhouse with the ability to take notes on the go, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 is my choice as the best phone for professionals. It’s incredibly affordable, too, at $400 for the standard version and $700 for the Ultra when you trade in your current phone through the Samsung store. Used phones with cracked screens are also eligible for a hefty trade in value, which is exclusive to the Samsung store.
The best smartphone for everyday use: Pixel 5
I’m partial to Google devices ever since I picked up a Pixel 2 XL just after it was released back in 2017. I’ve had the phone for three years now, and I’m replacing it with a Google Pixel 5 this year. Google had some hiccups with the Pixel 4, but they appear to have gotten it right this time around. For the money, the pixel devices have more than enough power and top-line features for everyday use. Right now, you can get a Pixel 4a for $300 at Best Buy ($50 off an already great price).
The best smartphone for seniors: Jitterbug Smart2
The truth is that many smartphones out there are perfect for seniors and are easy to use. Most providers include features to increase icon and font sizes or simplify the user experience. If you’re looking for a phone that’s specifically designed for seniors who need more assistance with accessibility, the Jitterbug Smart2 is a great choice. Right now, it’s half off at Rite Aid, and you can get Cash Back on top of that.
The best smartphone for kids: Samsung Galaxy A01
The best smartphone for your kid(s) can vary based on a variety of factors. How old are they? Are they ready for a smartphone? How will they use it, and how are you willing to let them use it? The answers to those questions will help narrow down the list of available options. If you’re ready to get them a true, functioning smartphone of their own, don’t reach for the latest and greatest model. Kids are far more likely to drop, lose or just plain destroy their phones, so you want something that isn’t too expensive. Look for models at the end of their lives with basic features to start. For instance, this entry-level Samsung Galaxy A01 is $150 at Verizon.
It used to be that the camera was a nice feature to have on a smartphone. These days, it’s the starting point for nearly every conversation around a particular phone model. The truth is that phone camera technology has come a long way even in the past couple years. Of course, you’re going to get the best of the best if you choose a Google Pixel 5 or an iPhone 12, but there are plenty of other contenders out there from Samsung, OnePlus, etc. Most people pay attention to the rear-facing camera, but you’ll want to look up reviews for the front-facing cameras on the phones you’re comparing as well.
Battery life is the next big piece of information you’ll want to consider. There are plenty of reviewers out there who put the latest phones through their paces in real-life test scenarios, so I’d start with those resources as a jumping off point. Most modern smartphones have more than enough battery power to accommodate the average person, but there are power users out there who are more demanding. If you’re one of those people, I’d recommend picking up a power bank for your new phone. Jackery makes some great options like its AirRocket wireless charger.
Most people won’t be able to tell the difference between processors if they are comparing top-of-the-line smartphones, but there are some variations depending on the provider. Some companies like Google are trying to strike a balance between performance and affordability, so you’re not going to get the latest and greatest chip in one of its devices. Apple, on the other hand, is pushing the limits of how much people will pay for a smartphone by cramming all the bells and whistles into each new iPhone. Again, it really boils down to your unique needs. Are you a multi-tasker who has multiple windows open, wants to game on your phone or needs top-line performance at all times? Go for the best of the best. Are you an everyday user who’s looking for a phone that won’t let you down? You’ve got a lot of great options to choose from as most current smartphones will do.
What’s included in the box
This might sound like a strange one, but smartphone providers are starting to ship phones without accessories you might expect to be included. Apple, for instance, is selling the iPhone 12 without a charging adapter or earphones. I’m expecting other providers to follow suit, so if it’s been a while since you’ve purchased a smartphone, make sure you check that you’re getting what you need to make the most of your device.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a great head start if you’re shopping for a smartphone around Black Friday or Cyber Monday when the best deals are available. No matter what you choose, there’s a phone out there for everyone. Be sure to shop for your new device through Raktuen to earn Cash Back on your purchase. If you’re not a member, it only takes a few seconds to sign up.