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Buying a new phone? Here's what to consider

Woman considering buying a new phone

You're in the market for a new phone, but you keep wondering, “what phone is right for me?" Some decisions may come easily, like choosing between Apple® and Android™. But other factors—like camera performance, wireless standards, and storage options—can be trickier.

That's where we come in. At Asurion, we help people make savvy decisions about their technology every day, from repairing vs. replacing their devices to setting up, speeding up, and cooling off their most essential tech. Here's our guide on how to choose a new phone.

1. Price

Top-tier technology is expensive, and high-end phones—with their cutting-edge cameras and powerful processors—come at a premium. If you really care about all the features, it'll probably be worth spending more money on a high-quality phone.

But budget-conscious people (and anyone less focused on having the latest tech) can save hundreds of dollars by choosing a mid-range phone. There are lots of options, and most include desirable features, like multi-lens cameras and wireless charging. That said, if you're comfortable with a decent camera and enough juice for social media and online browsing, a budget phone will do the trick.

2. 4G or 5G?

We've come a long way since 1979, when first-generation wireless gave us mobile voice calls. With 2G came text messaging. 3G let us surf the web on our phones and added basic computing and apps. 4G gave us speed and video. The latest wireless standard, 5G, promises lightning-fast speeds. You'll be able to download a hi-def movie in mere seconds (with 4G, it was minutes; 3G, hours).

When choosing a mobile phone, remember that most high-end devices have 5G, though it's becoming increasingly common on mid-range devices too. If having the fastest mobile data speeds matters to you, it's worth getting a phone with 5G, but make sure it's available where you live (coverage isn't widespread—yet). If 5G doesn't matter to you right now but you plan to keep your phone for at least a couple of years, it may be worth investing in it now, since 5G coverage will continue to expand.

3. Camera

Whether you're snapping back-to-school photos in low light or taking headshots in portrait mode, smartphone cameras now rival even the best traditional cameras out there. But your camera is about much more than a high megapixel count. Lots of phones now have three rear cameras, optical (rather than digital) zooms, different lenses (like wide-angle and telephoto), night mode, low-light performance, and even AI-powered features. The more expensive the phone, the better the camera will usually be. But if photography is important to you, check out reviews, look at sample photos online, and know your options before committing to a phone.

4. Processor performance

The main factors in a phone's performance are the processor and the random access memory (RAM). The processor controls everything going on inside your device, ensuring everything works smoothly. RAM, on the other hand, helps your phone multitask. If you mostly use your phone to call, text, and search the web, you can stick with 4 or 6GB of RAM, but if you like running lots of apps at the same time, pick a phone with at least 8GB. Anyone playing lots of games or editing photos and videos should aim for at least 12GB.

High-end phones come with powerful processors and enough RAM to ensure fast web browsing, app opening, gaming, and more. But even mid-range phones pack enough processor power to support everyday phone needs, from editing photos to playing games. Budget phones don't quite keep up—you'll notice they may slow down during gaming sessions and can unexpectedly quit. But if you're looking to stream music, send emails, and browse social media, a budget phone should be just fine.

5. Gaming

Most phones, regardless of how much they cost, can handle basic games, like Angry Birds™ and Fruit Ninja™. But if you're a gamer and want to play on your phone, there's a lot to consider. One key factor is whether your phone has enough RAM and frames per second (fps) to handle console gaming (like what's available through the Steam™ Mobile app) on the go and without lag or sacrificing the quality of graphics. Aim for 30 fps for a good gaming phone.

Another variable is how long your battery lasts, considering the energy demands of mobile phone gaming. You're likely better off with a new or recent-generation phone with a top-notch screen, long battery life, and at least 8GB of RAM.

6. Storage

If you're still wondering how to choose a cell phone, another factor is storage. Most phones come with 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, while higher-end phones go up to 256GB or more.

How much you need depends on how you use your phone. If you mostly stream movies and TV shows and don't use many apps, you can probably get away with 64GB. But anyone who takes lots of photos and videos, has a sizable app library, or plays lots of mobile games will want at least 128GB or more. Keep in mind, the more storage a phone offers, the higher the cost.

And if you decide not to go with more internal storage, remember that cloud storage can help you offload photos, videos, recordings, and other files that you don't need access to all the time.

Protect your phone

For more than 25 years, Asurion has helped 300 million customers protect, connect, and enjoy the tech they love most. And smartphones are no exception. Your life is on your device, make sure it’s protected. Learn more about Asurion phone insurance plans today.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

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