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Mobile Phones Buying Guide

With the ever growing mobile phone shops in Ghana, making a purchasing decision isn't getting easier for consumers. Thankfully, this guide will take you through the basics of choosing a phone that suits your current needs.


Types of Mobile Phones

There are three basic classes of Phones: Basic Phones, Feature Phones and Smartphones


Basic Phones

Basic Phones (locally called "Yam Phones") are low-end devices that have basic functions like voice calling and sms messaging. Additional functions on such phones may include a calculator, a reminder and the ability to complete basic mobile banking transactions. They are usually Candybar or Clamshell shaped, have longer lasting batteries, and are physically more durable than other phone types.


Feature Phones

Feature Phones usually have more functions than a Basic Phone, such as a media player, a camera, a Wi-Fi, GPS navigation and Whatsapp App. They come in varying form factors such as candybar, QWERTY or even touchscreen. Even though some Feature Phones have Smartphone-like features, a main distinction is that Feature Phones usually run on proprietary operating systems and have limited third-party software libraries. Feature phones are usually more rugged than Smartphones.


Smartphones

Smartphones are high-end and the most complicated type of mobiles phones. They combine the functionalities of a mobile phone, a computer and a personal digital assistant (PDA). Via virtual application stores, you can install a broad range of third-party applications such as video games, music players, photography, health, shopping, education, communication and business tools. Smartphones also have much faster processors, bigger storage spaces, higher quality displays screens and cameras, and more advanced hardware sensors. They are usually touchscreen phones.


Features to look out for in a Smartphone


Mobile Operating System

The three most popular mobile operating systems used on SmartPhones are Google's Android, Apple iOS, and Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile (or Windows Phone). Other less popular operating systems include BlackBerry 10 and Firefox OS.


Google Android

Android phones have the biggest price range, the most varied hardware choice, and the widest flexibility for installing and managing apps. Google Play is the main store for browsing the huge app collection available for download. Also, Amazon's Appstore market is accessible by installing the Amazon Underground app.


Apple iOS

iOS phones have the best standardised hardware, the most familiar software menus and a better user experience for upgrading the operating system. Apple's App Store has the biggest app collection.


Windows 10 Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile phone synchronise very well with Windows computers, a feature you may find useful if integrating your phone with your office machine. The Windows Store collection is also huge but not as comprehensive as Apple and Google's st ore.


Screen Size and Screen Technology

Smartphone screens keep getting bigger. Screen sizes range around 4 to 5 inches to as big as 8 inches and beyond. Other Smartphones can be used with a stylus input, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. A bigger screen means you can watch a movie or read a pdf better. Additionally, phones with higher screen resolutions, like 2,160x3,840 pixels, have sharper displays. The screen technology on the phone is particularly important because of how you will manipulate the menus and also as the screen is more susceptible to break when your phone falls. Available screen display technologies include LCD, retina and OLED display. Gorilla Glass and Sapphire are screen glass damage resistance technologies, with varying degrees of toughness. Phone accessories like tempered glass screen protectors and phone cases can offer extra screen damage protection.


Mobile Network

Most phones either support a GSM or a CDMA cellular network. However, a phone like HTC Desire 600 C supports both GSM and CDMA. GSM is the main cellular network in Ghana provided by Airtel, Glo, Tigo and Vodafone. In terms of internet access, it is worth considering if your phone supports some of the following wireless networks. The networks are listed, to a large extent, from the slowest connection speed to the fastest: - 2G (Second Generation) - 2.5G - GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) - EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution) or 2.75G or "E" - 3G (Third Generation) - 3.5G - 4G (Fourth Generation - HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA, HSPA+ (High Speed Download/Upload Packet Access) - LTE (Long-Term Evolution) - WiMax The faster the internet connection speed the better the internet browsing experience. It is important to check with the network speed your cellular network provider has in your local area. 2G speeds are accessible in many areas in Ghana. 3G and faster speeds are accessible in the city areas like Accra and Kumasi. Mobile phones equipped with Wi-Fi technology can also connect the internet via a hotspot.


Phone Camera

The more megapixels the camera has, the better the picture quality may be. But equally important is the camera's sensor size. Sometimes a phone would produce better pictures, especially in dim areas, if it had less megapixels and a bigger sensor size. Another consideration is if the camera supports HD video recording and at what frame rate. Also consider other features like the camera's aperture size and if your device supports optical image stabilisation, flash, autofocus, panorama, etc.


Phone Memory & Storage

The memory capacity of a smartphone affects how it can be used. The memory size installed by manufacturers range from 512MB, 1GB and upwards. For example, VIVO X6 Plus smartphone has 4GB of memory. A bigger memory generally improves the phone's capability to run several application concurrently. The size of your phone's internal storage determines the number of applications and media files it can store at a time. Sizes could range from 4GB to as big as 256GB. Except phones like the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone families, many Smartphones also have micro-SD card slots to extend their storage capacities.


SIM Card Size and Supported Quantity

All mobile phones usually support one of the following sim card size: standard sim (biggest size), micro sim and nano sim (smallest size). Additionally, some phones can support as many as of 4 sims, like LG C299.


Mobile Processor/SOC

Mobile processors are either based on ARM or x86 architecture. Types of ARM processors (aka System-on-Chip or SoCs) include Cortex-A Series, Nvidia Tegra K1, Apple A8X, Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynox. AMD and Intel manufacture x86-based processors. Usually, a processor's performance is judged by its clock speed. But other core elements of a mobile processor include the number of cores, the GPU type and 32/64 bit capability. Generally, but not always, the bigger the processing numbers the faster the phones works, and the newer the processor version the longer the battery would last.


Other Technologies

Other technologies that could be considered before buying a phone are: - Smartphone Virtual Reality Headset: View compatible files and apps on your phone in stereoscopic view. - Curved screen Phones. - Fingerprint scanner: Used in applications like biometric authentication. - Wireless battery charging. - Heart-rate monitor. - NFC (near field communication): Used in sharing information between with other devices which are in close proximity and in making mobile payments. - USB Type-C: A USB connector shape compatible across several hardware devices including Notebooks, Tablets, Smartphones, Hard drives, USB flash drive, Hubs and Monitors. - Dustproof and water resistance.


What’s your Budget

Basic Phones are the cheapest phones to buy. A Feature Phone could cost slightly higher. However, Smartphones cover the broadest price range, starting from a few hundred Ghana cedis to thousands of Ghana Cedis. A cheap Smartphone could be closely priced as an expensive Feature Phone. Apple smartphones usually feature higher-end hardware and command higher prices.


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