Home Tech News Smartphones or Feature phones? How to decide

Smartphones or Feature phones? How to decide

Smartphones or Feature phones? How to decide
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Smartphones also referred to as high-end mobile phones currently dominate the mobile phone market with device makers such as Samsung, Apple, LG, HTC and others designing new smartphone with upgraded capabilities.

The global tech market has recorded an increase in the number of smartphones shipment between 2015 and 2016. International Data Corporation (IDC) figures show that vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide in the first quarter of 2016

This continuous increase has led to the drastic decline of feature phones, also referred to as low end mobile phones that incorporate features such as Internet accessibility and multimedia functions, but lack the advanced functionality of a smartphone.

AG Mobile, a typical example of a smartphone
AG Mobile, a typical example of a smartphone

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]This continuous increase has led to the drastic decline of feature phones, also referred to as low end mobile phones that incorporate features such as Internet accessibility and multimedia functions, but lack the advanced functionality of a smartphone.[/quote]Let’s check out the major differences between smart phones and feature phones:

In a bid to level up with mobile technological advancements, device makers have designed modern feature phones with slightly sophisticated features. These modern feature phones by comparison with smartphones, also offer comparable functionality, but at a slightly more basic level.

OPERATING SYSTEM (OS)

The only clear difference between smart phones and feature phones lie in its operating systems, which allow for advanced computing abilities, including the ability to run third-party applications.

Smartphones’ OS also allow users to create Office documents using apps like WPS (Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheet) Office and the likes. For game lovers, smartphones’ third party applications allow them to download and enjoy various types of games.

Examples of Smartphone OS include Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry.

Feature phones have less advanced or limited OS. Although, some feature phones allow third party apps, they are limited and cannot run native applications specific to smartphone platforms.

CAMERA

Recent smartphones are capable of taking high-resolution photos that users can edit right on the phone and also have High Definition (HD) video capabilities. They also feature front-facing  cameras used to capture “selfie” photographs and more recently, smartphones like LG G5 feature dual rear camera.

On the other hand, this is not the case with feature phones. They are designed without front cameras and single rear cameras that capture lower resolution pictures.

Kismo K900 menu bar showing pre-installed apps including Facebook and Opera mini
Kismo K900, a feature phone showing pre-installed apps including Opera mini

BATTERY LIFE

For feature phones, power requirements are typically low which translates to extended talk and standby time. Feature phones battery can last up to three days or more with a single charge, while it’s pretty normal today for smartphones to be charged at a highest interval of two days, if not every day.

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]Feature phone users can access the Internet with lower airtime. The cost of maintaining feature phones is relatively low compared to smart phones. Feature phone parts and accessories such as charger, screen, battery, cost less compared to smartphones.[/quote]Although, this feature phone power capability has been defeated by newer smartphones, which come with longer lasting batteries of 3000mAh (milliamp hour) and more that lasts for as long as three days or more with a single charge.

In addition, smartphones offer Global Positioning System (GPS) service for map/location service that helps users find their way around the world.

Key factors that influence consumers’ decision when choosing a phone

Deciding on the type of mobile phone to buy generally depend on factors such as price, durability and size, as well as the consumer’s taste and need.

Price/cost of maintenance: The most important factor in choosing a feature phone seems to be price. Feature phones are usually cheaper than smartphones. In addition to the cost of purchasing the phone, users don’t need to spend huge sum of money to subscribe for data plans.

Feature phone users can access the Internet with lower airtime. The cost of maintaining feature phones is relatively low compared to smart phones. Feature phone parts and accessories such as charger, screen, battery, cost less compared to smartphones.

Although, this factor might not matter to some consumers who would rather be patient and save up in order to buy a more sophisticated smartphone either because they belong to the category of consumers who believe that “anything cheap is not original” or they want to “belong.”

A phone user seen at the busy Ikeja Computer Village, Ikeja
A phone user seen at the busy Ikeja Computer Village, Ikeja

Durability: In addition to its affordable price and cost of maintenance, one of the key reasons why some users prefer feature phones is their durable, rugged and often dust-resistant design.

Smartphones feature larger screen than feature phones and most of these large screen smartphones have a tough time surviving a fall, especially the ones with a touch-screen. Nokia feature phones, for instance, are known to be durable because of their ability to function effectively after a fall.

Size: Smartphones usually come in bigger sizes and of course, with larger screen sizes compared to feature phones. Many consumers go for smartphones with big screen size because they offer a cinematic view of videos and pictures.

Feature phones on the other hand are smaller in size. This makes them much more easier to slip in the pocket and easier to move around with compared to smartphones.

Judging from the features explained so far, it is therefore conclusive to say that smart phones are more sophisticated than feature phones but there are several situations that make feature phones beneficial.

Looking at the factors that influence consumers’ decision when choosing a phone from two consumer perspectives, which includes individuals and organizations.

INDIVIDUALS

-Anticipated loss, damage, or reasonably rough use: Because feature phones are often more durable, less complex, and more affordable than smart phones, they are often referred to as “travel phones”, and for field use scenarios.

The devices’ low cost means that an eventual loss of such an item is manageable compared to the loss of a smartphone. Feature phones are preferred for travel purposes, because they can contain little or no sensitive information that border officials in some countries are very keen on getting their hands on for any reason.

-Many smartphone users also own feature phones which they use as a form of backup. They use the feature phones for their busy lines to prevent it from going offline due to flat battery, while they use the smartphone for other functions such as browsing, chatting, among others.

-Most elderly people prefer to use a feature phone because they lack complex technologies and are therefore easy to operate. In addition, older generation, except for a few ones, only want a phone for just voice calls.

This is in contrast to younger generation who in addition to calling and texting, want a phone to carry out other activities such as downloading of apps, gaming, social media interaction, multimedia purposes and in most cases make lifestyle statements.

Different phone Brands on display at computer village
Different phone brands on display at Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos

ORGANISATIONS

-Companies and organisations may often want to provide their employees with a simple communications device, and purchase in bulk. This substantially reduces the unit price of each phone.

For various levels of security, companies may require a phone that is lacking a camera, and/or has little to no storage, or no communications functionality beyond basic voice call.

Feature phones are perfect for consumers who want more than just the basic calling and texting function of a phone, but possibly don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fully-fledged smartphone. It’s a very good happy medium.

Consumers who want to enjoy advanced mobile technology, in addition to glamour, should go for smartphones.

Consumers can also choose to go for both depending on the purpose the consumer wants each one to serve.

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Elizabeth Edozie Technology Journalist @Technology Times 08077671659 elizabeth.edozie@technologytimes.ng

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