Smartphones have so many features and capabilities these days, it can be a challenge to know which features are critical and which ones are unnecessary. Because smartphones cost a lot of money, you should make an effort to ensure you are getting the most phone for your money.
To help you make an educated buying decision, I have put together a list of my top 10 best smartphone features that every phone should have. The list is based on my experience in buying dozens of phones over the past 20 years. This includes phones from multiple manufacturers that were purchased for myself and for friends and family members.
Let me know in the comments section if you agree with the list, or share your own, must-have smartphone features. I will add the best shares to future versions of this article.
Top 10 Best Smartphone Features
Here it is. My list of the top 10 best smartphone features every phone should have, in order of importance. If you want, you can skip this list and buy the same phones I typically buy.
1. Water and Dust Resistance
Smartphones are expensive. The last thing you want to do is destroy your phone because you touched it with a wet hand or dropped it in the sand at the beach. Simply put, do not buy a phone that is not water and dust-resistant.
2. Great Battery Life
No matter how many capabilities your smartphone has, if it constantly runs out of power during the day, you won’t be happy with it. You should always try to buy a phone with as much battery life as possible. There’s never a good reason to buy a phone with a small battery.
What size battery should you look for? I believe that a modern smartphone should have at least a 3,000 mAh battery. If you are buying a phone with a 6-inch or larger display, consider phones with a 3,500 mAh battery, preferably larger. And while a battery’s size can be a good indicator of a phone’s battery life, be sure to research what the real-world battery life is for the phones you are considering.
3. Fast Charging
If you have ever wakened up in the morning and discovered that you forgot to charge your phone, you’ll appreciate fast charging. With a compatible phone, you can charge a dead battery to 70% or more in just 30 minutes. Thus, in the time it takes you to shower and get dressed, you can charge your phone enough to get a full day of use.
Please be aware that your fast-charging compatible phone may not ship with the fastest charger. For instance, Samsung phones often ship with a 25w charger. The 45w charger must be purchased separately.
4. Power Saving Mode
Another power-related, must-have feature is a good power-saving mode. If your battery is low and you are unable to charge your phone, a power-saving mode can be a lifesaver.
The feature often works by throttling down the phone’s processor usage, display usage, and network activity. This allows you to continue making or receiving calls or messages while your battery is low. Power saving mode can be the difference between getting that important call or missing it forever.
5. Good Camera
For many people these days, the only camera they own is the one that comes with their smartphone. For this reason, it’s critical that the smartphone you buy has a good camera.
What makes a camera a good camera? At a minimum, the camera should take sharp, in-focus photos with good color. This way, you can reliably record people, places, things, written words, license plates, badge numbers (lol), etc.
When possible, try to get a smartphone with these camera features:
A high-quality, front-facing camera for selfies.
Optical image stabilization (OIS) for less blurry photos and less shaky videos.
The ability to take good photos at night or in dark environments.
One quick way to know if you are getting a good smartphone camera is to check out the ratings at DXOMARK.
One final important thing to note about smartphone cameras. Whether you are filming your kid’s soccer game, a political rally, Bigfoot, or a UFO, always remember one thing- ALWAYS SHOOT IN LANDSCAPE, NOT PORTRAIT!!!
6. Reliable Fingerprint Scanner (or Face Scanner)
If your smartphone has a fingerprint scanner that unlocks your phone, no feature will get used on your smartphone more than this one. It’s the ultimate convenience feature. Once you experience using a quick and accurate fingerprint scanner, you never go back to typing in a passcode again.
Now of course, if you are sleeping, unconscious, or worse, someone can use your finger and unlock your phone. Keep that in mind if phone security is super important to you.
If you are lucky enough to have an accurate face scanner, those are cool too.
7. Wireless Charging
While wireless charging isn’t as fast as wired charging, it’s so darn convenient. I have wireless chargers at home, at work, and in my car. I rarely run out of battery because when my phone is not in my hand or in my pocket, it’s resting on a wireless charger.
8. Plenty of Storage Space
How much storage space do you need on your phone? In my opinion, 32 GB of storage should be plenty of space for apps, games, and photos. However, if you plan to shoot a lot of videos, consider phones with either 64-128 GB of storage. That, or consider phones that allow you to expand the storage via a micro-SD card.
9. USB-C Port
USB-C ports provide faster data transfer rates and more power delivery than the mini USB and micro USB ports it replaced. More importantly, USB-C cables can be plugged in either direction. With the older ports, you had to either 1) visually inspect the cable and port to determine which way to insert the cable or 2) try inserting the cable in different directions until it goes in.
Today, I wouldn’t buy any phone or mobile device that uses the older ports because I want to encourage manufacturers to use USB-C. There’s simply no justification for using the older ports.
10. Timely Software Updates
It’s super annoying when you find an app that doesn’t work on your phone or when your phone has a software issue that never gets fixed. That’s why it’s important that a smartphone manufacturer has a history of issuing timely software updates. This includes updates for adding new features, fixing problems, or applying security patches.
It’s not easy to know which phones will be kept up to date. In my personal experience, Apple, Google, and Samsung are pretty good at updating their smartphones. If you have thoughts on this topic, please share them in the comments section.
What Do You Think?
Did you like my list of the best smartphone features every phone should have? Do you think something is missing from the list, or do you think an item isn’t ranked in the right position? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Perhaps you’ll convince me to update the list. 🙂