Feature Phones Vs. Smartphones

While most people these days prefer to carry a smartphone around with them, there are still good reasons to stick to a feature phone. While not as feature-rich, the basic variations still provide the essentials of a phone: long-distance contact with friends and family. Here are the main differences to look for when comparing the two types:

  1. Feature Phones These devices are recommended for talk and text only. While they do still offer internet access, it's typically very slow and limited in what it can do, which is hampered even more by a small screen and weak processing capabilities. These devices don't normally offer app support of any kind, but they're inexpensive and can be counted on to keep the user in touch with their loved ones.
  2. Smartphones Smartphones use complex operating systems and have large, high-definition screens with exceptional processing power and customization. They support burgeoning app markets that open up a world of organization and functionality in tandem with high-speed cellular internet access. Smartphones also usually have powerful cameras that can shoot in 4K video and deep storage capacities to hold many gigabytes of media.

Carrier Plans

Basic and advanced cell phone devices run on different plans due to the differences in their feature sets.

  1. Feature phone plans are normally very cheap, running as little as $5 a month for a typical talk-and-text plan. It's possible to also get internet access on these plans, but it will be very slow and unreliable. Most unlimited talk-and-text plans will run about $10-15, although some carriers won't offer unlimited talk and text on these devices.
  2. Smartphone plans always incorporate talk, text and internet. These plans can run as low as $30 a month for limited data portions, although unlimited data plans often go for $50 and up depending on the specific carrier and their speeds. There are never any concerns about whether the talk-and-text part of the plan is unlimited — it's all about the internet. However, "Unlimited" data plans usually end up throttling if the user consumes enough data (five to eight gigabytes) inside a single billing cycle.

Phone Specifications

Feature devices can be expected to offer very little in the way of CPU, RAM, screen size and resolution, and camera capabilities. Their storage capacity sits in the megabytes, and even if they could run apps like YouTube, there would be no way to run them at a reliable pace or have ample internet access to bother in the first place. Even the more advanced feature devices that offer touchscreens and the like are very minimal in what they can offer here.

Smartphones justify their price tags a little better, especially on the low end. Even the weakest smartphones offer infinitely more than a feature phone ever will. Middle-of-the-road specifications one can expect to find on an average smartphone today include:

  • Quad- or octa-core 2GHz CPU
  • Two to three gigabytes of RAM
  • Five-inch screen offering 1080p to 2K resolution and around 500 nits of brightness
  • 12-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) and 1080p video at 60 frames per second
  • 4G LTE data
  • 3,000 MAh battery capacity
  • Full suite of radio technologies, including Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC and GPS
  • 16 gigabytes of internal storage at minimum
  • MicroSD support for up to two terabytes
  • Water-resistance and dustproofing

Top 5 Routes for "Phones"

  1. This highly accredited news site has an article on comparing wireless carrier plans and offers tips on what to expect when switching.
  2. This page is dedicated to comparing phone carrier plans for the most cost-efficient route to take.
  3. PhoneArena is a reputable phone specification site, offering the technical details and thorough comparisons between feature devices and smartphones alike.
  4. There aren't many sites on the internet that do smartphone news reporting and advice articles better than Anandtech.
  5. For the more technically inclined user, this site gives detailed breakdowns of the technology used in smartphones and what it means in the real world.

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