Choosing Your Smartphone Vol. I: The Casual User

Discover what really matters when you’re looking for a new phone.

Purchasing a smartphone isn’t all that different from buying a new car. There are lots of different brands to choose from, and many people have passionate preferences. At the same time, numerous users only care whether their chosen option will get the job done. Some look sharp, while others offer more powerful performance. And while these features don’t always mean as much to casual users as the price, there are a few things always worth noting when shopping for smart devices.

Quick answer: If you’re considering a new phone, make sure you select one with an operating system you’re familiar with, advanced camera features, solid physical design, and high battery capacity.

Woman walking through a park checking her phone.

  • Operating system: As a casual user, choosing an operating system depends primarily on past experience. Got a history with Apple? Odds are good you’ll want to stick with what you know and like. If you’re new to smartphones altogether, it’s hard to go wrong with any mainstream OS, but Apple’s iOS is often appreciated for its simplicity, whereas Android delivers more freedom.
  • Camera: Most casual users like to use their phones to capture life’s most important moments. Fortunately, modern smartphones make doing so easier than ever with choices that include front and back cameras and high-resolution shooting options. But if you’re particularly keen on imagery, look for premium features, such as dual lenses.
  • Physical design: The way a product looks will always make a difference, however slight. And like any other product, smartphones are available in a wide range of designs. Larger screens offer expanded space for viewing and navigation, while their smaller counterparts are better suited to slip into a pocket at a moment's notice. You'll find a wide variety of colors to choose from, but in general, more basic phones allow less customization.
  • Battery life: If you expect to use your smartphone frequently, selecting a phone with a high battery capacity is key. On a similar note, keep an eye out for devices with removable batteries, which can be swapped for a fresh replacement anytime, as well as phones with fast-charging capabilities.
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