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Cell Phone Buying Guide

A comprehensive guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a new cell phone.

Getting Started

The evolution of the personal cell phone has been amazing to watch. Our smartphones have become something many of us rely on heavily in our daily lives. From checking our emails and being able to respond on the go, to sharing our pictures and thoughts through social media updates, not to mention listening to music and playing games. It has become an all-in-one device that, simply put, we can't live without (at least in this era of technological evolution). Our smartphone buying guide is here to answer and help you decide on the cell phone that will work best for you.

Cell Phone Operating Systems

When you're shopping around for the best smartphone, the first thing you will need to decide on is which operating system will work for your particular needs. There are two main OS's to choose from: Android and iOS. Let's dive in deeper to see what each one is really all about.


When it comes to the Android operating system, it's safe to say that it dominates as the most common OS. You can find an Android OS on phones from brands like Samsung, Google and Motorola. You will find that there are many more options when it comes to different cellphone brands and styles with Android. It also has an open-source platform that allows third-party developers to create apps and tools, while being designed as a consumer and social network-centric platform as well. This means you'll have access to plenty of unique apps and free content; just explore the Google Play Store for millions of downloadable apps. It's far easier to customize an Android operating system to match your needs and tastes with home screens, widgets and more.


iOS is Apple's operating system for iPhones, iPods, and iPads. If you're new to smartphones, the iOS operating system is a good place to start due to its easy-to-navigate, simply styled interface. It offers access to one of the widest app selections in the mobile industry with over a million apps worldwide, and its intuitive interface with built-in apps such as Apple Music, iTunes and Safari. Some built-in features included are biometric security steps like Face ID, Touch ID and passcode options that automatically encrypt and protect against personal information. You can even store contacts, notes, photos, videos and more to their signature iCloud for easy transfer next time you upgrade your cell phone. If you already have a Mac or any other Apple device, it will be the easiest option to go with an iPhone.
A girl holding a cell phone in front of her

Choosing A Cell Phone Screen

Over the course of the past few years, it seems smartphones have been getting larger and more advanced. Let's explore the main options out there when it comes to screen size, resolution and display type.


A small-screen (5 inches or less) cell phone is great when looking for a nice, compact design. Portability is also better with a smaller screen, but unfortunately, the small screen category is a shrinking segment in the mobile phone industry. Most smartphones of this size are considered entry-level or have lower resolutions, resulting in many consumers choosing larger screens for better, more enhanced visuals.
Medium screen sizes (5.5 to 6.5 inches) are the most commonly purchased since they are fairly comfortable to use with one hand, while still being able to include great resolution specs. This is the go-to screen size that falls right between too small and too large.
Large screen sizes that are 6.5 inches or more, sometimes referred to as "phablets", are very tablet-like in size. Many consumers prefer larger displays for watching videos, reading digital books, and even running two apps side by side, which is possible with certain larger-screen smartphone models.

Resolution & Type

Resolution is another factor to consider when purchasing a smartphone. If you will be watching a lot of videos or movies on your phone, an HD resolution screen will be helpful in showcasing vivid details. The sharpest displays will have 4k 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution, while full-HD panels with 1920 x 1080 pixels still show plenty of detail and are the most common resolution choices. Screens with 1280 x 720 pixels are typically found on lower entry-level phones and can result in lost detail in text or movies.
If you're newer to cell phone technology, resolution and pixelation numbers may be confusing and that's why there's another way to choose the perfect display type for you. You may notice device screens these days are labeled LED, OLED or AMOLED. LED screens provide bold colors and bright images, but do not offer the deepest blacks possible as they still rely on a backlight. OLED screens control each pixel individually and therefore, can provide deeper black levels. While they may not offer the same brightness, this precise control helps conserve energy. AMOLED screens offer nearly the same visuals as OLED screens, but the added "active matrix" will allow your phone to have faster refresh rates.
Two cell phones face down showing their multiple camera lenses

Cell Phone Cameras

When it comes to documenting our daily lives, many of us have replaced our regular digital point-and-shoot cameras with smartphones. With that being said, looking at the camera quality on your cell phone becomes a huge factor, as it is much easier to snap a photo with a device that is constantly by your side. You'll even notice that higher-end models feature multiple camera lenses, so knowing what these mechanisms can offer you is crucial.

Camera Types

Most cell phones have at least one standard wide-angle camera, which is most utilized in your average everyday photos. Some even provide an ultrawide camera, which, as expected, creates a wider image than your typical lens. If a cell phone features a telephoto camera, which ranges from 2x-4x, your device will be able to zoom into a subject or a landscape without losing any information throughout the process.

Megapixels & Video Resolution

When you're shopping for cell phones, you'll notice the built-in camera will have a numerical value labeled as megapixels or MP. Megapixels simply refer to the camera's resolution, or image quality. For example, an 8 MP camera can shoot a photo with 8 million megapixels. The cell phones at Abt have front cameras offering 7-32 MP and rear cameras offering 12-200 MP. These days, though, we don't just use cell phone cameras for photos, but for videos as well. In the device specifications, pay attention to the video resolution offered (at Abt, anywhere from 1080p to stunning 8K).

Other Things to Consider

Size and Weight

When it comes to the weight of any smartphone, it's mostly dictated by the screen size. So the larger the screen, the heavier your cell phone will be. Smaller phones are easier to carry around in pockets or handbags, however, the larger they are, the more one will feel the weight in either of those places. If portability is the most important factor, we recommend going with a phone that is less than 5 ounces.

Network Support

Every decade or so, the newest advancement in mobile networks releases to help improve cell phone performance. Whereas the 2000s saw the release of 3G and 4G networks, right now we are in the middle of the 5G network boom. While 4G is still in production and offers a high-quality cell phone experience, 5G is up to 100 times faster, offers lower latency, higher security levels and more. While these benefits may help you determine which device to buy, it's also important to look into what network your carrier supports.

Internal Storage

The minimum storage on smartphones starts at about 32GB, however, we recommend choosing cell phones with at least 64GB or higher. With the amount of photos we store on our phones, not to mention music, videos, games, digital books, etc. choosing more storage space will be worth it in the end, trust us. Different device carriers, however, offer different storage stipulations. Apple iPhones, for example. require that you choose your GB storage value beforehand and are not expandable later. While this may seem like a drawback, remember that the iPhone iOS provides a variety of iCloud packages for you to offload personal content if you need to. On the other hand, most Android cell phones under $699 do have the ability to expand memory; premium Androids above $699 unfortunately do not have this luxury.

Battery Life

The capacity of a cell phone battery is measured in milliamp hours, which really just refers to the size of the battery itself. While this info may be helpful when shopping for a new device, remember that plenty of factors affect the battery performance including your operating system, network/data use, display size/type and more. It also depends on what daily tasks and functions one will be using on a daily basis, like social media and gaming apps. Certain smartphones are built to maximize battery hours as well; this is something to look for as it becomes ideal when there are no outlets in reach. The cell phones at Abt range anywhere from about 2800 mAh to 5000 mAh.

Charging Speed

No matter how big or small your cell phone battery is, once your device is close to dying, you usually want your tech to make a comeback fast. Luckily, charging speed is constantly being improved and for your shopping purposes, it can be measured in watts. Speed varies from device to device, but some models can hold up to 120 watts, which means they can complete a full charge in an impressive 15-20 minutes. The charger you use can affect the speed as well. Wireless charging, for example, is becoming more popular, but standard wireless charging only offers around 10-15 watts. If you use a physical charging cord, try out different-sized charging bricks to improve your speed/time.