Six Things to Know Before Buying Your First Smartphone

From Android widgets to dual-core processors, here’s a rundown of the key terms to know before buying your first smartphone.

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Forty-six percent of American adults own a smartphone today, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, and that number is growing rapidly. With so many different smartphones out there, how do you know what to look for when searching for the perfect device? It may seem like a daunting task, but knowing a few common terms—and how they factor into your smartphone experience—can make all the difference.

Mobile hotspot

What does it mean? Mobile hotspots in the past were usually freestanding gadgets that allowed Wi-Fi–enabled devices to access the web through a cellular network connection. These days, most smartphones from Verizon Wireless, such as the Enact™ by LG, have a built-in Mobile Hotspot feature, allowing you to create an Internet connection for up to five mobile devices with just your smartphone.

Why does that matter? You can work virtually anywhere. Never again will you have to scramble to find a café with Wi-Fi to meet that all-important deadline. Your laptop can connect to the web right through your smartphone. For a good starter smartphone that offers this functionality, consider the Enact by LG.

Dual-core processor

What does it mean? The processor determines how fast a phone can multitask—that is, how quickly it can run multiple functions or features at the same time. “Dual-core” means two processors instead of one. The Droid X2 by Motorola, released in May 2011, was the first Verizon Wireless phone with a dual-core processor. Today, it’s a staple feature of many Android smartphones like the Moto X™.

Why does it matter? Phone speed and performance improve dramatically with two processors, helping to save your most precious commodity—time.

Verizon 4G LTE

What is 4G LTE? It stands for “fourth generation Long Term Evolution,” and it’s the latest (and fastest) iteration of the network technology that lets us call friends, use the Internet, and share data using our mobile devices.

Why does it matter? For smartphones and tablets, network speed and load time are crucial. Verizon 4G LTE devices are 10 times faster than 3G devices, providing uninterrupted video, instant web browsing, and game play without lag time. Anyone with a 3G phone has experienced the occasional pain of waiting for their Facebook app to load. With a 4G LTE smartphone, Facebook loads the second you fire up the app. And video calls are smoother and sharper on 4G LTE devices.

Widgets and apps

What does it mean? A widget provides real-time weather updates, news reports, traffic alerts and other information. A widget is different from an app (short for application) in that a widget works and updates itself continuously on the home screen of your phone—unlike apps, widgets never have to be “opened.”

There are widgets and apps for almost anything, from office assistants to dictionaries and translators to social networking.

The Expensify app allows you to record transactions and take photographs of your receipts for reimbursement. Quickoffice® Pro makes it easy to create and edit documents, view PDFs, and generate PowerPoint presentations, either on your phone or in a cloud account.

Android phones feature standard widgets like calendar, contacts, and weather, but there are also widgets to suit your particular lifestyle—like a Google Drive widget, an Internet Movie Database (IMDb) widget, and widgets for your favorite newspapers and magazines, like The New York Times. Flashlight Pro for Android is a great tool that uses your phone’s backlit screen to act as a flashlight. (You can even use it to transmit in Morse code.)

Why does it matter? You can tack widgets and app shortcuts to your smartphone’s home screen, providing you with the information you need in real time. For example, it’s much easier and faster to see the weather from The Weather Channel widget than by searching the web.

microSD™ memory card

What does it mean? Phones can only store a certain amount of content in their internal storage. A microSD (Secure Digital) card is a small memory chip you can insert into your smartphone to increase your phone’s storage capacity.

Why does it matter? The best thing about having a microSD card is that greatly expands the music, documents and applications you’re able to store on your smartphone. Many people call smartphones their “second brain;” make sure yours is smart as you are.

Megapixel

What does it mean? A megapixel (MP) is a unit of measurement that means one million pixels, tiny little squares that compose the resolution, or clarity, of an image. The more megapixels in a camera, the higher the resolution of the pictures it takes. Many Android devices have cameras capable of taking 8-megapixel photos.

Why does it matter? Images captured with your smartphone will look so crisp and clear that you probably won’t need to drag around your standalone digital camera anymore.

This article was written by an author contracted by Verizon’s Insider's Guide to provide helpful information on wireless technology. The thoughts, opinions and suggestions of the author may not necessarily reflect those of Verizon Wireless.

MOTOROLA and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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