How To Buy a Smartphone? [2016 edition]


This one is for techies and the not so techies.I have been working in the semi-conductor industry for quite some time,I have looked at smartphones inside out.Reverse engineered circuits and algorithms through my understanding of basics of electronic circuits.India is ongoing digital revolution and the world is going mobile.There is a flood of smartphone companies and its very difficult to decide which one to buy.This post is to explain a little bit about smartphones, the technology and also how to pick the phone that is perfect for you.


Based on the market research studies I worked with at my job the smartphone market is divided into 3 segments-low,mid and high tier.What it means is that they have a smartphone for every price, under 10k, 11-25k and premier segment 26-60k.Based on the price of the phone each component and features are decided.For example a better resolution camera, better battery life, better APPS processor for higher cost.Always remember a better optimised software for a hardware gives a better performance.This is the reason for the high performance of Apple products , they own their software iOS which is very well optimised for their hardware which they assemble from multiple sources.


The heart of a smartphone is the processor as you all might have commonly seen in advertisements.Usually these days companies sell platforms which are a collection of processors for various functions.Consider a processor to be a computer serving a specific function.The computing ability comes from the CPU called the APPS-Application Processor, for floating point and multi-threading this is the one to look for.Its a power hungry and this is the one that eats your battery life.Have you observed how fast your battery drains off when you play a game on your smartphone-thats because this is the processor you’re stressing.Another term you might have heard of is -cores, cores can be explained as multiple parallel units doing the same job.An APPS Processor typically has multiple cores to carry out multiple operations within a second..Unlike the publicised version which says higher no of cores means higher performance stronger higher performance individual cores means higher performance.There are thermal and battery current limitations also due to which at most times some of the cores are hot plugged to optimise performance.So its useless to pay for a octal-core smartphone as 4 of its cores will be staying hot plugged most of the times.The speed that they mention is again the speed of the clock running the APPS processor.


Next is line are your GPU-Graphics ,DSP-Digital Processing Unit,Connectivity Chips,Sensors,Battery,Accelerometer/Gyrometer,Camera,Display/LCD,Location,RAM.These again have quality metrics associated with them.A better GPU will give a improved experience when watching movies or playing high definition games.DSP comes into play when you do custom programming and running low power applications.Connectivity chip is to enable your WiFi,2G/3G/4G,LTE.Sensors for different features like screen light dimming,touch sensor,fingerprint recognition sensor.


Battery to power your device, typically lithium-ion batteries from 1500mAh-5000mAh are used in smartphones. The X Milli-Amp-hour is defines as the amount of charge you can draw from the battery in one hour before` its fully discharged or the no of hours your phone will last if you draw XmAh of current.Batteries are again optimised by fuel gauge units that are inbuilt in your phone and show you the available capacity and times to discharge and several parameters.Next inline are the ways you can charge them-wall adaptor which is about 1-1.5A of charge and typically charges a phone to 100% in 1.5-2hours.Then there is Quick Charge which has DCP,HVDCP detection that can charge with upto 2A of current and full charge in within an hour.Then there is USB charging which is about 400-500mAh of current and takes long to fully charge-upto 3-4 hrs typically.A new introduced standard called USB-Type C following after the lighting connector by apple which can be inserted in any way to charge your phone provides close to 800mA of current to charge,2.5hrs for full charging.This is a nutshell explanation for the insides of a smartphone.


What to look for when buying a smartphone?
The Budget
The Screen Size for comfort
The Camera
The Battery
The Processor Speed
The SAR Rating
The Wireless Connectivity-3G/4G LTE,WiFi
The Operating System
I will include more on the distinguishing features, for the sake of brevity and information overload I will conclude here for today.


Hope you enjoyed readying , share in your comments and thoughts below.


Much Love

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