Be smart when it comes to a new phone and buy one that suits you

Before you trade up to a new smartphone – and the choice is huge – think what features matter most to you


You can’t have failed to notice that there is a huge number of new smartphones hitting the market.

After the Mobile World Congress in March, the new announcements are starting to hit the market, and the choice is a bit overwhelming. We’ve put together a few suggestions to steer you in the right direction.

The Blackberry addict

These days the Blackberry may be lingering in a few workplaces, but they’re less common than they were 10 years ago. You’re more likely to see someone carrying an iPhone around the office. Which is why the iPhone 6 (the Plus version, if you really want to get some serious work done) is the ideal replacement for those looking for a change. Not only can you pick up your email – webmail or workplace Exchange accounts alike – with an app or two you can even log in to your work computer remotely to pick up what you need from your desktop.

And speaking of apps, it’s almost guaranteed that iOS has the best range of apps to choose from; Microsoft even released Office software for the smartphone, with versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint available. It looks sufficiently stylish that you won’t be embarrassed to be seen with it outside the office, which is another crucial factor these days.

The snapper

It’s rare to see someone holding a regular point and shoot camera at family gatherings; most people whip out their smartphone and within minutes of something happening the photographic evidence is on Facebook or Instagram for all to see.

So when it comes to the question of what phone is the best option for photo and video fans, there’s a lot to choose from.

The iPhone 6 Plus performs well in low light and has Focus Pixels in its video footage that make it easier to follow fast moving objects.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 not only gives you 41 megapixels to play with – it combines pixels to create a detailed, vibrant image – but it gives you manual controls too. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has optical image stabilisation.

The megapixel count doesn’t always tell the true picture. You also have to take into account the quality of the lens and the size of the sensor, the aperture and the ISO range.

Our personal favourite is the Sony Xperia Z3. It gives you decent manual controls, you can add a memory card to hold your photos and it shoots video in 4K. It’s got a bigger sensor than your average phone camera too.

The audiophile

But it’s nice to know the sound is a level above “tinny”.

The Sony Xperia range is compatible with high res audio, but you’ll need some high res files to go with it. If you’re prepared to spend the cash on that, you’ll reap the benefits.

We liked the HTC One M9 for a few reasons. It’s got Dolby 5.1 surround sound in its speakers, dubbed BoomSound. There’s a built-in amp for the speakers too, which makes them sound that bit better. The M9 also supports 24-bit audio (think CD quality instead of MP3). It gets points for sensible positioning of its speakers: on the front, where you’re unlikely to obscure them with your hand. It’s the simple things.

The fashionista

It turns out we’re a bit more discerning these days, but we still want a phone that turns a few heads and manages to suit our personal style. Think something Sorcha O’Carroll-Kelly would be seen with and you’re on the right track. You might think it’s the iPhone, but that comes in a close second.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge just, well, edges it. There’s the curved screen for a start.

It’s not just for show though; the curve serves a purpose. You can assign colours to contacts and those colours show up on the edge of the screen when they ring - perfect for subtle call screening - or get a ticker of news. Best of all, your dad doesn’t have one.

The tech hipster

The OnePlus One created a buzz of exclusivity around it: you could only buy the phone with an invitation, and they were awarded through various means.

If you filmed yourself breaking your old smartphone, for example, you might have bagged yourself an invite to buy the phone for $1.

But from February, you can buy the OnePlus One without an invite as long as you get in there early on a Tuesday.

That may put off some of the elitists, but it shouldn’t. The OnePlus One is a seriously good phone. The Android handset is far better than its price tag suggests, at €299 for a 16GB phone and €349 for the 64GB version. It comes with a 5.5 inch 1080 display, a long lasting battery and a decent camera.

The size sensitive

You could easily lose it under a credit card in your bag meant the most common topic of conversation on leaving a night out wasn’t who was ordering the taxi but where you’d left your phone (under your wallet). But those days are firmly in the past.

Five inch screens are almost mandatory on smartphones so you can get online or catch up with Netflix on the bus without putting your eyesight at risk. Some go even bigger, like the previously mentioned Nokia 1520, which has a six inch screen. But our current favourite is the Nexus 6.

Despite its large screen, it can still be comfortably held one-handed, and though it may be verging on a similar size to the Nokia phablets, it feels easier to handle. That doesn’t get away from the fact that it’s big though.

This Motorola-made phone is a bit of a monster. But that makes it all the better for watching movies, and viewing the photos you take with the 13mp camera. It’s €599 from Google Store.

The thrifty recession buster

On the way is the Moto E, but if you want something that’s available now the Huawei Ascend G7 is a good bet. The phone comes in at €260 for the handset on prepay with Meteor or eMobile. Its specs are decent though – a 13MP camera, a quad core processor and a good battery that will last you the day.

If you don’t want to go Android, you could always take a look at the Lumia 535. It’s Windows Phone 8, and it keeps things simple: a 5MP camera, 8GB of built in memory and it will only cost you €119 direct from Microsoft .

The luddite

There were plenty of people of all ages who eagerly welcomed the news that Nokia was making a phone with a battery that would last for days instead of hours.

The trade-off? It didn’t do apps, it didn’t have a touch screen and if you owned a phone pre-2007, chances are you would have already had one of these. And traded up to something a bit better.

Simple phones do exist though. Take the Doro Liberto 820. It replaces the touch sensitive buttons for home, menu etc with physical buttons that are easier to handle. It’s got a louder ringtone too than the average smartphone, and in general, it’s just a bit easier to handle. If you fit into the slightly older age group, the phone has a few advantages.

The buttons are easier to get to grips with and it is compatible with hearing aids so you don’t get that odd feedback whine when you go to make a call.

Content can be loaded on to the phone remotely too, so photos and the like can be added by anyone with the log in. Simple.

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