iphone stacked on top of google mobile phone

Buying a Mobile Phone (Smartphone)

by Valens Quinn

When it comes to a mobile phone, are you an Apple person or an Android person? Believe it or not, the experience is similar, and both camps always copy what the other does. Fanboy tendencies aside, we will consider what you should know and consider when buying or selecting a new mobile phone. We will cover smartphones in this guide, not simple handsets with limited functionality.

A smartphone is a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded apps.

WHY will a new mobile make a difference to my business?

While evaluating a smartphone, you should consider how important this device will be in helping you run your business. For example, beyond making phone calls, you could be using it to take food orders, process an EFTPOS payment, make roster changes to staff shifts, take photos, check your bank balance, pay your staff, enter a receipt or check your current business profit.

WHAT you need to know about Mobile Phone Retailers

You can buy a mobile phone outright or via a phone plan. Buying a phone outright means paying upfront versus via a plan where the payment is spread across several years. Which way is cheaper depends on whether a mobile phone carrier has subsidised the phone via a phone plan to encourage you to join their network. Subsidies normally only exist on popular handsets to encourage customers to join their network.

Be sure to read our essential guide on Mobile Phone Plans. Each phone vendor has lots of information on their websites. By visiting a phone shop or consumer electronics retailer, you can see many models on display, including some powered up for trial. Different retail stores will be aligned closely with one phone carrier, and the range might be limited based on who the carrier is aligned with. Traditional retailers like JB HiFi or Harvey Norman will have a greater capacity to choose from.

HOW to decide on Mobile Phone Features

You should consider which of the following features when deciding which phone will suit your needs:

  • Android vs IOS – or Google vs Apple. Your choice here will limit which phones you consider and possibly the apps available to you. If the app you need to use is only available on one platform, then your decision is made. You might also consider what you are familiar with today.
  • Country of origin – almost all phones are made in Asia and China. They may be designed elsewhere, and the software will come from an American company. Most recently, there have been many security concerns relating to the country of origin, but there is no proof of its validity.
  • Prices – whether buying a phone outright or on a plan, a $3000 phone is still expensive (especially if you lose or break it). You will likely have the phone for 2 to 3 years, so it is worth considering a mid-range phone from about $700 up, and it will do everything you ask of it.
  • Screen size is a diagonal measure of the screen represented in inches. The larger the screen, the easier it is to see content such as text or pictures. The downside is that a larger screen means the phone will be bigger to hold and store and consume more battery life. Some users may prefer a small smartphone.
  • Screen resolution – More expensive phones have a higher resolution so that you will have a crisper image on the screen. Also, consider what the screen is made of, which will determine its likelihood of breaking. Gorilla glass is good. The bigger the number, the better.
  • Processor – Just like a PC, the better the processor, the faster the phone will complete tasks. More expensive phones have faster processors.
  • Battery Life – Some brands don’t even quote battery size, for example, 3000mAh. In reality, battery life depends on how much you use your phone and for what. A phone vendor will normally promote battery life if that is a key feature of their phone. Some phones have user-replaceable batteries. Battery life does deteriorate over time based on the way and number of times you charge your phone.
  • Carrier frequency – A phone bought overseas may not be suitable for Australia. Carriers in Australia use different radio frequencies to make mobile phone networks work which may be different again overseas. Ensure the phone you choose is designed to work with your chosen carrier.
  • 3G, 4G, or 5G – This refers to the technology behind how your calls and data are sent and received. The key benefit is that the bigger the number, the faster the data (and the lower the reaction time latency) will be. Note this is not your allowance but rather how quickly you can download a large file. The phone and the phone network need to be compatible.
  • Camera – The photos you can take on a phone are amazing, but this is also a measure of price. Consider if you want that functionality and how much you are prepared to spend on this feature quality. Camera features include quality represented as megapixels, zoom, wide-angle, telephoto, focus ability, low light, and software manipulation features such as stabilisation.
  • Warranty – For how long and what will they include?
  • Reliability/Service – How easy is it to get phone support or repairs, and where would you have to go to get a repair done?
  • Cost of Repair – If you break a phone screen, what is the cost of getting a new one?
  • Rugged – Some phones are ruggedised, which means they will better survive a drop from a height. Great if you are a tradie.   At the very least, we suggest you consider an optional case to protect your investment.
  • Water-resistant – You should never take your phone swimming, but many phones these days will survive a brief dunk in water without failure. This key feature will likely deteriorate over time with knocks and bumps.
  • Storage – How much memory does the phone have, and or can you add a microSD memory card to expand it? If you are taking lots of photos or storing large files on your phone, you should consider this. Cloud storage is also a feature, and Google or Apple will provide a certain amount free, after which you pay.
  • Other – Other things you may consider are weight, design, colour, bendability, and how you unlock your phone.


When getting a new phone consider what optional accessories may make your life easier. These may include a second charger – one for work, one for home, a car charger and holder, a case and/or screen protector to keep it safe, or a power bank to make sure you always have power.

SUMMARY – Which phone to buy?

Unfortunately, even if you buy the best phone available today, a new one will come out before you know it. You might have phone envy but remember this is a key tool so make sure the features make you more efficient in your business.

Be sure to visit our sister publication GadgetGuy for all the latest news and reviews on Mobile Phones.

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