When it comes to choosing a smartphone, buyers can face a bewildering array of choices and options. But unless you want to spend hours of your life poring over detailed spec sheets looking for minute differences – and really, who's got the time or the inclination for that? – there are likely to be a couple of key questions that remain key in the minds of consumers.
Do you want a blistering-fast processor that lets you play games as if they were on the TV at home? Or how about a camera that can pick out every detail on someone's face from a quarter of a mile away? For some, it's all about the fashion as if their phone doesn't look good, they wouldn't be seen dead with it.
But a new survey has revealed the most common factors people look for when shopping for a new phone – and the results might surprise you. The figures, from GMI Research, shows practical concerns are still the number one issue for many people.
Keeping it running
According to the results, the number one feature a new smartphone needs to have is a good battery life. Some 89 per cent of people rated this as important, with only one per cent saying this wouldn't be a factor at all in their buying decision. It may not be the most exciting feature, but clearly, we've all felt the frustration of running out of juice at the worst possible moment often enough that we're determined not to let it happen again.
Phone makers have made great efforts to improve this recently – after things started to become ridiculous a couple of years ago when you could barely get from home to work without seeing the little indicator drop into the red. However, there's also a lot you can do to improve on this – check out our top tips for keeping power in your pocket.
A stylish smartphone
But while it's important, if battery life was the only thing we cared about, we'd still be carrying around old Nokia feature phones. Sure, you might be able to get the best part of a week out of an old device, but that's not much use if you can't do anything else with it. And the survey found style is still a key factor for many people.
Having a trusted brand was the second-most important consideration in the list, cited by 68 per cent of people. And this too makes sense, as if you've got the latest Samsung or Apple phone, you can be much more confident of its quality than if it's some no-name company you've never heard of selling phones out of suitcase.
And of course, one of the best things about the big names is you can really make your phone your own, as there are a huge range of iPhone 5s cases and Galaxy S5 covers available to personalise your gadget and stand out from the crowd.
The best features
A range of other key features also placed highly in the list – showing that keeping up with the latest tech is still important to consumers. Selling points such as large screens, fast processors and good cameras were listed as key factors by at least six out of ten respondents.
With all the big names looking to take advantage of the latest developments, this might mean that we keep seeing an arms race between the top brands as each seeks to stand out from its rivals. However, they need to be careful not to go too far when packing in the selling points – one of the most common complaints reviewers aimed at the Samsung Galaxy S5 earlier this year was it was too packed with irrelevant features that would be rarely used and only serve to take up space. So perhaps its time for companies to remember the old adage that sometimes less is more.
What's not exciting?
Perhaps surprisingly, given the huge push from operators to publicise it, 4G capability isn't high on the list of priorities for mobile phone buyers. Just 36 per cent of people said this would factor into their decision, with a further one in three describing it as 'not important'. Contactless payment technology was another feature that left British consumers cold, with only one of five people saying they looked for this in a new phone.