It should be noted right away that in order to answer the question: how to choose a smartphone, you need to build on your preferences. Obviously, for a gaming phone, the parameters of the cameras are not so much relevant as the power, equipment and characteristics of the screen. We will not consider all kinds of technologies and production features of different brands. Let’s consider the basic things so that uninformed users can get the opportunity to somehow navigate the modern market:
If a few years ago, monopolists such as Qualcomm and Mediatek were considered equal competitors, today the first brand has many more buyers (smartphone manufacturers). Mediatek chips are mainly used by Chinese manufacturers for the production of budget and mid-budget phones. For the lower end, the popular processors are Helio P20 (16nm) and Helio P40 (12nm). For flagships, the most popular chip is considered to be MediaTek Dimensity 1000. Qualcomm produces Snapdragon of different series, where 400 chips are intended for the entry-class, 600 and 700 are for the middle class, and the flagships are based on 800-series chips. The latest and most popular processor in the world is the Snapdragon 865, but the company has already announced its intention to release the Snapdragon 875.
- Samsung. The South Korean manufacturer offers its Exynos processors, arguing that native parts are used to improve the energy efficiency of top smartphones. Unfortunately, the company has not yet achieved success in this regard. After the release of the S20 on the Exynos 990 processor (the last flagship), many users wrote a petition stating that the brand does not allow you to independently choose between the Snapdragon 965 and the Exynos 990. Often models with the Exynos chip enter one market in other classes, and the other with Snapdragon. If there is a choice (in some lines), then it is better to give preference to Qualcomm products.
- Apple. Definitely one of the leading non-specialized chip manufacturers. The models of this company have an excellent level of stabilization, and fully justify the need for own production of processors. This is confirmed by the latest A14 Bionic chip, built on a 5nm process technology, which justifies the high level of energy efficiency. The processor consists of 11.8 billion transistors, and allows you to perform more than 1 trillion operations in 1 second.
- Huawei (Honor). The company makes Kirin chips for its phones. In the initial class, there are processors made on the 28- and 12-nm process technology (Kirin 710, 920). In the middle class, the chips are based on the 16nm process technology (Kirin 950, 960). The flagships work on more recent chips built on the 10-7 nm process technology (Kirin 970, 980, 990). Unfortunately, even the company’s latest processor is inferior to the Snapdragon 865, because it has fewer memory channels, speed, and does not use HMP technology to distribute performance to all or only one core.
Today, all smartphones are already phablets (have large screens), and for their production they can use a variety of TFT technologies (for budget class and secure smartphones), LCD (inexpensive phones), OLED (there are varieties), QLED and others. It should be noted right away that OLED matrices based on organic light-emitting diodes are increasingly used in the premium and even middle class. Such screens have an increased viewing angle, excellent color rendering. The most popular type of this matrix is AMOLED (there are subclasses) used by Samsung. According to many resources, the displays of this company are the best in the premium segment.
- Resolution. Starting from a price of $200, FullHD (1920 by 1080 pixels) is already considered the standard, regardless of the aspect ratio. 4K in phone screens is not yet used, and there is, in fact, no need for such. For budget smartphones, the cost of which is below $140, HD (1280 by 729 points) and PB + are still used.
- Size. Classic smartphones range in size from 6.2 to 6.7 inches. Gaming smartphones such as “Black Shark” can be larger, up to 7 inches and above. It should be understood that the larger the screen, the more massive the smartphone, which not everyone likes.
- Screen refresh rate. This parameter is responsible for the smoothness of the picture. Since last year, many branded phone manufacturers have adopted the 120Hz standard. At the same time, it is still difficult to notice the difference between the indicated value and the frequency, for example, 90 Hz. Whether it is worth overpaying is up to you.
- Peak brightness. For the middle class, a brightness of 400-600 nits is still considered a good indicator. The flagships OnePlus and Samsung boast over 1000 nits.
- HDR support. Extended range technology is indicated by many brands in the description of their smartphones, but only those gadgets that have a high brightness value work out it fully. On a 300-nit phone, HDR support is most likely just a marketing gimmick.
To compare the capabilities of cameras, it is advisable to use resources like DXOMARK. Why? Because the data specified in the description of any camera phone is not enough to get a reliable picture. At the same time, it is not uncommon for the presence of the same lens with different software and technologies of two different manufacturers to seriously affect the final result of a photo or video. However, you should understand that camera resolution and aperture (which is always indicated in the product description) are not as significant a parameter as the following characteristics:
- The number of lenses. A quad camera with a main sensor, an ultra-wide lens, a depth sensor and a telephoto lens is already considered the standard. The front camera can be implemented as a retractable mechanism, have a dual module, and recently the technology for the introduction of a subscreen front camera has also been developing, the first analogues of which will appear in the near future. It is worth noting here that the number of modules is a less significant factor than the physical size of the matrix, light sensitivity and stabilization. For example, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro line includes 5 modules, but it shoots worse than the Mi 10 Pro with a module of 4 sensors.
- Light sensitivity. Simply put, the higher the ISO, the better the sensitivity level. In this regard, the record figures from year to year are demonstrated by Huawei.
- Aperture. The hole through which the light passes. Indicated near the camera resolution as f / X, where the variable is expressed as a specific number. It is impossible to explain what an aperture is in a smartphone, if you do not take into account the auxiliary parameters. So, for example, the higher the ISO, the better the sensitivity to light, but also the more digital noise. They get rid of them by decreasing the shutter speed or by increasing the width of the aperture. Accordingly, the wider the aperture range (opening / closing ratio), when considering auxiliary factors, including light sensitivity and shutter speed, the more opportunities a photographer has to create clear images in different conditions.
- Resolution. Today it is already difficult to surprise someone with a 108-megapixel module. Such a sensor is used by many Chinese manufacturers, including Xiaomi (the company developed it together with Samsung), in fact, by the South Korean brand itself. Yes, the higher the number, the clearer the pictures should be, but in practice, many Sony 64-megapixel sensors fully satisfy the user’s needs in terms of detail, requiring less memory to store pictures. This is not a key parameter, and you should not rely only on the number of megapixels.
- Matrix size. Today, the most advanced sensors are used by the Chinese company Huawei, which develops sensors together with Leica. The P40 main unit, for example, is 1 / 1.28 “, which is much higher than the 1.7” found in the P30 version. The front camera is 1 / 2.8 inches. At the level of this flagship, Xiaomi modules, created in cooperation with Samsung. The physical size of the matrix used in the Mi 10 Ultra is 1/2 inch, which is considered even higher, but according to experts, these flagships are considered equivalent.
- Stabilization. Currently, in the flagship segment, there are models with optical, hybrid and electronic stabilization. The first parameter (OIS) is in fact a mechanical level that compensates for hand shake, and it is the key one. Yes, electronic stabilization (EIS) is supposedly its analog, but software cannot guarantee the same result as physical stabilization or an adjacent one (OIS + EIS). Currently, Samsung S20, OnePlus 8, Huawei P40, Vivo X50, Oppo Reno 3 and IPhone 12 are equipped with the best stabilization.
It is determined not only by the battery capacity (mAh), but also by the level of energy efficiency of the processor (depending on the production technology, where the smaller the process technology, the better), screen size, proprietary software and a number of other parameters. For example, the IPhone Mini 12 on a 5nm processor with a capacity of 2227 mAh provides battery life for 10 hours while listening to music, while many budget counterparts on a 16nm chip are able to show this result with a 3500 mAh battery. and higher.
In the description of smartphones, it is indicated by the abbreviation IP-xx, where the variables act as a specific number. The higher the values, the higher the protection class against moisture and dust. Today, the maximum is considered to be IP-68 and IP-69K. If you are interested in a shockproof smartphone, then you need to focus on compliance with military standards (MIL-STD).
For a long time, manufacturers have managed to achieve amazing power in wireless, reversible and wired charging. For this, different technologies are used. There is already a 100-watt charge. The problem is that many brands have to resort to using two batteries to operate this power – a prime example is the gaming smartphone from Lenovo. Actually, whether it is worth focusing on such parameters or not is up to you. As for our recommendations, mid-range and budget users need fast charging of at least 15-30 watts. For flagships, it is desirable that it be possible to restore the energy reserve up to 100% in at least 30-45 minutes.