What do you look for in a smartphone?

Morning Community,

We’re evaluating how we score smartphones in our reviews and we’d like your help.

What features do you look for when its time to buy a new smartphone? And what characteristics would you consider a deal-breaker?

Tells us about your old smartphones, and why you loved or hated them. We’d like to hear it all.


Tony Ibrahim

Choice - Digital Home

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The most important feature for me is being able to use the phone in a weak signal area. I bought a Motorola in 2012 after it rated highly in signal reception in a Choice review, and replaced that 2 years ago with a MotoG2, and it performs much better than my wife’s Samsung, which cant be used for phone calls much of the time inside the house. I think Optus has reduced the transmittter power of the nearest tower, as reception, and wireless “bradband” internet have been terrible the past few months. Other than that, enough memory and CPU power to run a reasonable number of apps at reasonable speed, an easy to read screen, and the ability to adjust and turn various features on or off is useful.


My smart phone I bought because it was a good price, 5 inch screen, ,fast processor so responsive,I would have liked abit more memory as updates are stalled due to running short of RAM sometimes , storage is OK with SD card added…
I bought my wife a 6inch Sony Experia T2, she needed the larger screen for notes, calender etc and size is not a problem as it goes into a handbag, not a pocket.It has all the latest features of which most aren’t used.
Both phones are Dual Sim card so I can put in a prepaid Telstra sim for areas where they are the only provider.
My Mothers phone selection is governed by her arthritis, a clam shell or flip phone is good as you only have to open to answer or her smart phone has to have a stylus to work around when fingers don’t work like they should.
All need to be easy to answer and make phone calls , and send SMS easily.
The different versions of Android make it harder to help a learner due to the differences but not impossible.
You might note we are of the older generation.

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You may have guessed by my presence on this forum that my decision would be based on what is most sustainable. For this reason, I will most likely buy a Fairphone. Not only do they proudly claim that they are fair-trade, but the design is completely modular.

Say goodbye to hundreds of dollars for screen replacements.
Say goodbye to having to replace your whole phone just because one component in your phone failed.
Say hello to smarter design.

(No, I’m not affiliated with Fairphone. I just like to get behind morally superior products.)


My first question is can the battery be easily replaced by the user, like mobile phones in the past? The rate at which phones are being discarded is catastrophic for the planet, it is inter-generational theft and has to stop. Second question is can all breakages be repaired easily and cheaply?

Firstly, it has to work well as a phone. It can be the greatest multimedia player under the sun, but if it’s lousy as a phone, then I walk away.
Next, I detest bloatware. I don’t care whether it is put there by a manufacturer or a network provider, I hate it. For this reason, my last two purchases have been Google Nexus handsets. I also like the fact that they get rapid updates of android - I’m not left at the whim of the handset manufacturer or network provider.
It has to feel well-made and solid. This doesn’t mean that the case has to be made of metal. Some plastic cases are very sturdy. Others, however, feel flimsy and cheap, and when I’m spending hundreds of dollars on a phone, I expect better.
I like to have some control over the look and feel of the user interface. iOS is very limited in the changes you can make, so for this reason, I prefer android. Windows Phone OS strikes me as trying too hard to look like a tablet or desktop (perhaps it is vice versa). I’m disappointed that Pixel seems to spell the end of the Nexus line. Difficult to know which way to jump when my handset next needs replacing.
I’m very happy with my current Nexus 5X, and was happy with my earlier Nexus. Prior to that, I had a couple of HTC phones - I really liked their build-quality.


I like Samsung software but Motorola has better antenna, Moto 2 is water proof and has replaceable battery so I have to put up with their software.

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Top three things for me:

  • Battery life
  • Photo quality
  • Longevity (I’d like my phone to last longer than the two year contract - not really into purchasing a new phone every two years for the sake of it)

I look for affordability more than anything, smartphones are so rediculously overpriced. You can’t tell me it costs any more than $300 to make a decent smartphone.

Useful features. Security on Web. Good signal.

I’m probably not the typical demographic - I use my phone heavily (generally instead of my laptop) for sysadmin and dev work, so for me it’s:

  • BATTERY - I want a phone that handles at least 6-8hours screen_on_time between charges. My current phone has a 4200mAh battery, which is going OK.
  • screen size - current phone is 6", which fits in my pants fine and allows reasonable work on it.
  • RAM - unfortunately browsers are hungry beasts, and even my current phone’s 3GB RAM is often insufficient.
  • build quality - current phone (Oppo R7Plus) has been dropped many many times are still goes fine - it’s very rugged. Any decent phone needs to be able to survive drops.
  1. Battery life
  2. Durability ( 2 screens broken on google nexus 5 with simple drop & fall
  3. Visibility in sunlight
  4. 5 inch screen
  5. Raw android not suppliers bloatware that cannot be removed.
  6. have ISP not provide their Rom that cannot be updated ( ie Telstra years behind in OS updates huge security risk)
  7. No propriety connectors.

I think size and affordability are the most important as well as a long lasting battery.I still use my samsung note 2 and it has been a very good phone.Not sure that samsung’s reception quality is the best though because while my calls drop out,my wife’s Iphone never seems to have that problem.Would love a new Iphone 6 plus
but too expensive.Thinking about getting the new Oppo r9 plus.

Sadly these are now unavailable - strikes me as not too reliant regarding customer service is the product has already run out??

I recently took the plunge and bought a Windows 10 Phone. Mostly this was due to the uninspired iPhone choice and I really haven’t been able to get on the Android band wagon (I have a Samsung work phone but it just didn’t seem right for me).
So I knew I was going to have less choice for apps what I didn’t realise was how limited the choice was. Instead I have had to find alternative for a range of Apps that I would have thought were standard across all platforms - Pinterest is one example I had to for a third party.
So for me moving forward and after this contract is finished I think I will shift back to iPhone as at least they have a huge range of apps.
Mind you the phone I have is fine and does all the right ‘phone’ stuff it’s all the additional things that I miss.
So my list.
Compatibility with computer (to back up)
Ease of use
Size of screen…

That’s about it I think.

I am a simple user who finds it hard to get a simple phone that allows me to make and receive calls. I have tweeted a few times to reply to people, but I prefer not to. I use a tablet to read the paper and the laptop for other things. A simple phone without a camera would be great.

  • < 5": bigger and it’s too big, smaller and my eyes can’t read it properly
  • compatible with my other Apple products at home (for airplay, using my Mac for sending messages, sharing photos, sharing iCloud files, Apple Music, etc)

That’s about it really.

Several things - battery life, reception although that is mainly dictated by the telecom provider you choose, a great camera and plenty of Apps to choose from, I want it to last longer than the standard 24 month contract although I do prefer to buy my phone outright and be in control so I am free to change providers whenever I like. I am an Apple devotee currently although that could change. I wish Apple would allow for an SD card or similar so you can increase your memory without having to pay $1000+ for a new phone. Each iPhone has been better than the previous one and I have been happy with all of them so far but I am not going to bother with the newest one and will wait until next year and see what they bring then. I have had 2 Windows phones before the iPhones and I will never have another - They are too hard to get along with and try to dictate what you can and can’t do. All smartphones are ridiculously overpriced too. Probably worth about $250 - $300 but you have to pay over $1000 to get what you want. These days I am all Apple so everything talks to everything else without even noticing it. I receive a text on the phone and answer it on the iPad etc.

I am looking for an Apple logo.

For me, I am an iMac user. Everything I use must sync together. so my preference given I have a Macbook, iPad, and iPod, my smartphone has to be an iPhone. I just love the way it syncs seamlessly every time. We did go through a phase with my 4S where the battery was not keeping its charge, but we’ve seem to overcome that problem. We are a happy family of Apple users. Apple is expensive, but it is our choice. I must admit though, I am putting off upgrading my phone as I think the price point is just a little ridiculous. If you have a plan with a telco then the monthly price isn’t noticed so much but I own my current and have a bring my own plan with my provider and don’t want to increase the monthly plan to accommodate a new phone. At some stage I will have to bite the bullet and upgrade but whilst my 4S is still running perfectly, I will happily stay with an old phone.