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Choosing Your New Smartphone Part 3

by Keith Gatling | 15 days ago

In my last post on getting a smartphone, I considered what kinds of devices you may already have. This time we’ll talk about what kind of person...or what kind of user...you are.

But first, let’s talk about cars.

In general there are two kinds of car owners. On the one hand, there are those who like to tinker, who like to get under the hood and get messy, and who like to do all of their repairs themselves. On the other hand, there are those who know how to put gas in the car and add wiper fluid, but generally just want to start the car and go, with a minimum of fuss and bother. Those “under the hood” types generally hate cars with automatic transmissions, because they don’t give you enough control; and those “just let me drive” types generally hate cars with standard transmissions, because they’re too hard to drive.

Well, we’ve got the same sort of thing going on with cellphones. There are phones for those who like to tinker...or who don’t mind tinkering, and there are phones for people who want it to just work.

Android phones are for people who either like to tinker, or don’t mind doing it.

The main issue people talk about here is the fact that they’re expandable. What this means is that you can buy a relatively inexpensive phone with the amount of memory you think you need now, and expand it, by getting an external memory card, later.

But this expandability comes at a price. With Android devices certain things...like apps..have to live in the internal memory, and won’t work in external memory. So if you get an Android phone, and are running out of room for your apps in internal memory...even after you’ve moved everything else to external memory...you pretty much have to get a new phone, with more internal memory.

And this internal/external memory thing means that you have to keep track of what’s stored where. Not a problem if you’re an under the hood type of person; but if you want the phone to just work, this is something you might not want to have to deal with.

Apple phones are for people who want it to just work, or want to do a bare minimum of tinkering around.

The big complaint that Android people have about Apple phones is that they’re not expandable. That’s true. But you also have to buy them with a whole lot more memory than an Android phone comes with to begin with. When you buy an iPhone, you consider how much memory you’re going to need for the next four or five years, without being able to expand.

But the other thing about the memory in Apple phones is that because it’s not expandable, it’s all one pot. There’s no internal vs external memory to have to deal with. It’s just memory. And as I said before, you get a whole lot more memory with a base model iPhone than you do with an Android. Also, however, buying a model with an additional 100 or so gb of memory will only set you back an additional $50. That so much better than having to buy a whole new phone in a few years because you ran out of space.

Of course, both systems allow you to tweak you phone a little bit. You can change your ringtones, your alert sounds, your background screens, and lots more, on both systems. But the people who like to really get their hands dirty are going to tend to prefer Android phones...and won’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to be able to tinker under the hood.

Of course, the phone that “just works” is going to cost a little more, but let’s go back to that automotive analogy for a moment.

A quarter-century ago, people in my wife’s family all owned cars with manual transmissions. Why? Because they were cheaper. An automatic transmission added $1500 to the price of the car. But how much did it cost to get your manual transmission replaced when you ruined it? You guessed it...$1500.

That’s enough for now. Next time we’ll look at what else you want to do with the phone.