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Smartphone buying guide: Platform pros and consiOS, Android, or Windows Phone? CNET's Brian Tong and Jessica Dolcourt offer some practical advice for choosing the best smartphone for you.
-What's up guys? Brian Tong here with CNET.com and I'm in a Best Buy store and we're here to talk about CNET's buying guide for Smartphones and come on who better to help me out than senior editor Jessica Dolcourt here with CNET and we know that the Smartphone is gonna be the biggest purchasing decision a lot of you at home are gonna make. So, there's so many different platforms and different things we're gonna talk about, but let's start up with Android, iOS and Windows phone. What is the best platform, you know, pros and cons for people at home to decide about? -Android is on a ton of different phones right now. It has the best time to Google services. It's got Google now, which is really convenient and it's most customizable if people are into that. One con, however, is that since it's on so many different phones, the experience isn't always the same phone to phone-- -Yeah. -and not every phone will have the exact same features. -Yes. Sometimes, you have to look out for that people think it's the same everywhere, but it's not. But then we have something like iOS, which gives you a consistent one overall, right? -Exactly. There are only two phones to choose from with iOS. There's the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C right now and these are both really good. iOS is very clean. It's very consistent and easy to use straight out of the box and their Siri as well. And also is a shoe-in if you've got MAC equipment at home, it is the best one to sync with all of those difference devices. However, it is not customizable at all so if you're personally likes to tweet things, you are out of luck. -Now, let's talk about Windows phone. They're becoming a new player now. -Yeah. Windows phone is really clean. They aren't a lot of really good Nokia phones right now. Unfortunately, it is going to be the last to get the new apps and it's just isn't quite as feature rich right now. So, that's the platform. That's really good for somebody who just wants a simple experience and doesn't wanna add on a lot of extra whistles and bells. -So design in screen size, let's kinda talk about some of sweet spots with phones. Screen size doesn't change a lot in the last year. Five inches is now almost the norm. -Yes. So, we have something here like the HTC One. This is the hot phone 5-inch screen, really big. I mean, it's still easy to hold to. -Perfect example. So, benefit there is that you've got a big screen real estate so you can look at things very comfortably without having to squint or shut the phone off to your face. Then, we've got even larger phones. We've got the phablets and those starts at about 5.5 inches go all the way up to 6.1 inches. This is the Galaxy Note III that you're holding. It is a lot larger so it's a lot harder to stick in your pocket. It's a lot harder to use one handed, but because the screen is even larger, it's even easier to watch videos, read the articles, look at photos, things like that. -And then one cool thing about this phone is that it has a stylus so you can really interact with this big screen in a lot of different ways, right? -Yeah. With the stylus, you can draw, you can write. I used it in meetings all the time. -And then the old style, you know, screen size that's still stapled by-- -Right. -you know, things have evolved. -So that would be under 5 inches and unfortunately that's the iPhone family right there. -This guy right here. -Yeah. So, you're gonna see a lot of mid range phone. Also iPhone 5S is the most premium phone up a size. It is incredibly easy to use one handed so that is a benefit, slips really easily into pocket. So, if you're a person who cares more about easy views then this is going to be the size for you. -So, we talked about the different sizes of phones. A thing now though is that this phone here has started to become people's camera, right? -Absolutely. -We know there's DSLRs. We know there's point-and-shoot cameras, but by default this is it. So, what should people look for in a camera on their phones these days? -Looking at megapixels isn't gonna tell you a lot these days anymore. HTC has something they call Ultra pixels. Apple doesn't really tell you much at all and then you've got, of course, phones like Samsung phones that have a 13-megapixel camera and you've got the Nokia Lumia 1020 with a 41-megapixel camera. -41 one which is huge-- -Enormous, but that only results to 5 megapixels. So, I think what really needs to know is that any premium phone is going to take pretty good pictures. Most of the time, people don't even use photos for printing anymore putting in photobooks. That's when you're gonna care about the quality. If you're just gonna be uploading to Facebook or to Instagram, then most of the cameras out there are going to do the job. -All right. So, we've talked about, you know, platforms, design in camera. We also have contract phones versus no contract phones. What are some of the benefits, you know, for that as well? -So a lot of people really don't like to be tattered to a carrier. There's also a problem that if you leave your carrier, you're gonna get smack with a penalty. So, no contract carriers like T-Mobile and some other prepaids are good options for that. They generally offer lower price state of plans, but you do have to pay more for your phone upfront or you can use an installation payment method. You also have the contract carriers that's really good for people who are on family plans, for people who plans to stay with their carrier for a while and they get the subsidized price of the phones so that's gonna be a lot less upfront. So, you're talking about $200 for a high-end smartphone instead of the $600 for a high-end smartphone. -So, Jessica we've talked about platform, design, camera, and then contract versus no contract. But really, what is your number tip for everyone watching? What they should look for when they're getting a phone? -Before you go and buy the phone, makes sure that you'd go into a store and get your hands on it because it doesn't matter how fast the processor is or how fancy the specs are, if you don't enjoy using that phone everyday, if you don't like the way it looks and feels in your hands, then it does not the phone for you. -Yeah. And we want everyone to go home happy-- -Absolutely. -with the phone that they pick, right? -Of course. -All right. Well, there you go. There's our buying guide for smartphones from CNET.com. I'm Brian Tong. This is Jessica Dolcourt. Makes sure to check out our website if you wanna find out more reviews, tips and how-tos on all the phones we talked about and we'll see you guys next time.