Getting a new mobile phone can be a tricky decision. You want to get it right as when you’re locked in, you’re stuck with it for some time.
You should do your research into what you need from your phone and your contract, what your primary uses for it will be, and how much you are willing to spend.
We’re here to help with that research as we bring you a buyer's guide to mobile phones, giving you some of the important factors to consider before making your purchase.
What sort of phone do you need?
First thing you’ll want to consider is what you’ll be using your phone mostly for. Are you someone who likes taking photos on their phone? Maybe you use it in tandem with your work.
Some phones are better than others for certain things, so splashing out on a good phone that will do what you need is vital.
Features to consider
Here are some of the key features you’ll want to consider, with each representing a different usage for the phone.
Of course, if you’re an avid mobile photographer or just simply like having a good camera on your phone, you’ll want to find the phone with the best camera quality.
Cameras on higher-end mobiles these days are incredible and offer a more practical alternative to hauling around a big professional camera.
They often feature the best imaging technology that provides crisp and super-detailed images and videos.
If you find yourself watching a lot of videos or streaming content on your phone, you may want the best quality display possible.
Things like high resolution, refresh rate and high maximum, low minimum brightness are important factors in a good display.
A good benchmark for a great phone display would be a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate with 1440p resolution.
Processor (CPU) performance
This also ties in with those who use their phones for watching videos but is mostly important for those who like to game on the go.
The processor (or CPU) is the brain of the phone and is directly responsible for its performance. For that, you’ll want the very best that boasts the latest and greatest technology.
What you want to look out for in a good processor is the number of processor cores (higher the better) and clock speed (again, higher the better).
If you use your phone constantly all day, be it for work or for whatever reason, battery life would be your most important factor.
It’s one of those features that every company looks to better with each new phone release as they know how important it is to the consumer.
The average phone has a battery life of around 10 hours, so any phone that claims to offer over that mark is what you will want.
Best phones on the market
The best phones on the market can combine all these features. You should look to the latest offerings from the major providers for the very best out there; Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel etc.
Here is a top three list of the best from each of the features above:
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- Google Pixel 7 Pro
- iPhone 15 Pro Max
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5
- Sony Xperia 1 IV
- Oppo Find X6 Pro
Processor (CPU) performance
- iPhone 15 Pro & Pro Max
- iPhone 15 & 15 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate
- Motorola Edge Plus 2023
- iPhone 15 Plus
How much data do you need?
Once you’ve chosen a suitable phone for your needs, you need to think about how much data you’ll need.
Mobile data is the internet connectivity brought to your phone wirelessly. Depending on where you are, this connection may be 5G, 4G or less.
Things like scrolling social media and watching videos while not connected to WiFi will use up a lot of data.
You can avoid using mobile data by connecting to WiFi, although this can be made difficult if you find yourself out and about or travelling quite often.
If you do find yourself away from a WiFi connection a lot of the time, you’ll want to make sure you get a good data plan that will provide you with a high amount of data each month.
To be able to use data on your phone, you’ll need a SIM card. There are three ways you can purchase a SIM card plan for your phone - pay monthly, pay-as-you-go or SIM-only.
Pay monthly, pay-as-you-go or SIM-only?
Each of these three plans both offer benefits over one another so it is really down to personal preference for which you would want to go for.
Rather than buying the phone outright, you can choose a pay monthly plan, which sees you get a new handset along with a monthly allowance of data, texts and minutes.
This makes things a lot easier and is a more cost-effective option over the other two options as buying a phone outright is rather expensive.
Most providers push you towards pay monthly contracts, doing so by offering greater deals, unlimited texts and minutes and maybe even rewards.
Sometimes providers will separate the costs of the handset charge and SIM plan as usually, the overall contract runs for the length of how long you pay off the phone (typically 24 months).
This means that at the end of that time, you will now own the phone outright as you have paid it off and you can carry on paying the SIM plan, now with a lower monthly cost.
The biggest downside to this option is the fact that you are locked in. Contract lengths are typically 12-24 months, though sometimes you can go more if you want to minimise the monthly device cost as much as possible.
This means that you will be stuck with that phone for the duration of the contract. So if you’re someone who likes to have the latest phone every year, maybe don’t go for a long contract.
Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plans are easy - you simply pay for the data, minutes and texts you use.
There are no monthly payments as you’re not locked into a contract, you simply top up whenever you need or would like to and off you go.
This is the perfect option if you already have a phone and are happy with it as you don’t get a handset with PAYG.
You can also pick up a PAYG SIM card really anywhere, with most supermarkets selling multiple providers.
While it sounds like a no-brainer, there are factors at play that can make this the more expensive option.
If you’re someone who uses their phone a lot, PAYG is not for you. You will find yourself having to top up regularly which will drive the costs up more than a set monthly allowance.
Plus, there is the problem of having to buy your own handset, which as has been mentioned, can be quite expensive if you’re interested in getting the latest top-of-the-range phone.
SIM-only is the happy middle ground between the pay monthly and PAYG. With SIM-only, you pay for just a SIM card with all the data, texts and minutes like with PAYG, only they are available on an allowance and you pay it off each month.
The benefits of this option greatly outweigh the negatives. A lot of SIM-only plans operate on a one-month rolling contract, so you won’t get stuck in a long-term contract like with pay monthly.
They’re also very affordable, with some providers offering plans starting from £5 with a good amount of data as well as unlimited texts and minutes.
The only real downside is, like with PAYG, you don’t get a phone with the plan. So as long as you already have a phone or can purchase the one you want, this is quite possibly the best option.
What is your budget?
Costs are very much an important part of sorting yourself out with a new phone. It has been mentioned multiple times throughout now that mobile phones are expensive to purchase outright.
The latest iPhone or Samsung may be very desirable and you may want to get it as soon as it comes out, but these phones can and do cost around and oftentimes over £1000 for the very best of the newest range.
That might be alright for some, but for many that is simply too much to be spending on a phone, hence the popular pay monthly option.
Many of the top phones with the best features will come at the highest price points, but that’s not always the case. Some companies pride themselves on offering a phone capable of rivalling the ever-popular Apple and Samsung products but at a much more attractive price point.
Google is one such company, with each new edition to the Pixel range lauded for its top tech features and more affordable pricing.
So before you go and purchase your next phone, think about what you will use it for and what features you will need, then research all the best phones for your needs to find one that suits them and isn’t breaking the bank.
Similarly, think about what plan would be best for you. Pay monthly will be cheaper in the short term but does end up costing more if you add up all the costs at the end of the contract.
On the flip side, SIM-only comes with a higher cost immediately but saves you money each month.
Mobile phone deals
Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out how to wisely choose your next phone. Now with this information, you should take a look at the numerous mobile phone deals we have to offer on the site.