Knowing your Smart Device

So about two months ago I was able to purchase a new phone for myself and upgrade my device to something a little more modern. In todays world there are many terms and specifications that as a consumer you should familiarize yourself with when it comes to your smart device. You don’t have to be the most technically savvy to make an informed decision. When it comes to buying a new device we all have different wants and needs when trying to figure out what to get. Some of us want really great battery life and others want to be able to play games in high fidelity while having access to a lot of storage. But not everyone could explain the difference between an AMOLED and LCD screen, or how much RAM is enough for you. These are the types of terms that I want to explain and shed some more light on so you as a consumer can make an informed decision. In this article we will cover the meaning, use and application of various smart device terms with no specific focus on device or manufacturer.

First and for most lets start with displays that your modern smart device will be using. Most smart devices now use either an LCD, AMOLED, or Retina display. Now you’re probably thinking “Wow, that is a lot of displays”. Well you’re not wrong about that, but the question is what makes them different? Honestly there isn’t too many differences between these screens besides what types of devices will be using them.

For example, lets start with Retina displays. Retina displays have made quite the splash in the market thanks to Apple. This is the go to screen for Apple products including the mac, iPhone and iPad. The term itself is just a marketing term meaning that the images are so clear and crisp, 300 pixels or more per inch, that the average person cannot see the individual pixels at a normal distance. The displays themselves are pretty good and do show things rather crisply and clearly. Without getting into the debate surrounding the number of pixels on the displays, Apples latest devices clock in at about 401 ppi which will still give you great image quality and give you that 1080p quality if you opt for the plus size models.

Moving on to AMOLED and LCD screens. So of the two, LCDs have been around the longest. LCD stands for liquid crystal display and while that doesn’t really hint at how the technology works, what we know is that the principle behind it is polarized light and adding a color filter to the pixels. According to Android Authority, “Polarization filters and the crystal adjust how much light reaches the display’s surface, while the color filter controls the spectrum the light that is seen,”. AMOLED is the newer of the two screens and instead of using a single backlight with many pixel filters, it uses millions of individually organic LED light sources. The main differences between the two screens is that LCDs are backlit, battery efficient, very bright and very good at displaying the full color spectrum which has made them very popular as a display option. AMOLED however, eliminates the need to be backlit because each pixel creates its own light while offering very bright and vibrant colors at a wide viewing angles. Both screens are very good, hence why they are both used on expensive flagships, and choosing between one or the other comes down to personal preference.

Next up is RAM. Random Access Memory, or RAM, is used to store data a phone is currently juggling. RAM is what carried the slower hard drives back in the day which allowed them to access data faster. Data that is stored on a shiny disk, like a hard drive, is much slower at accessing data than RAM because data has to be stored sequentially and takes longer to be accessed. The reason why RAM is so important is because even with phones having solid state memory, RAM allows data to be access faster. Honestly a decent amount of RAM to have on a phone is 2-3GB. The reason behind this is because it leaves room for the operating system to run in the background and have a couple apps running without your phone taking a major hit to performance. You might have seen that some phones have 4GB and are wondering why. Well 4GB isn’t exactly a must have right now but it does give you the advantage of future proofing your phone and letting you use your phone for a longer time than someone who probably has 2GB. More RAM usually means you have more wiggle room. Android for example expands with the available RAM. That essentially means that you will have more of a performance buffer and the more apps that you can “pause” in the background.

I want to continue writing articles like this and go over some more of the terms and technology behind the computers that we carry around in our pockets. This information should arm you with a better understanding of what to expect out of your smart device and what to look for when you go searching for a new one.


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