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Things To Consider Before Buying Your First Smartphone - Part 1


You got a hand held device or are thinking to purchase one.

Ever wonder what factors you should actually consider when buying the phone? Or ever wonder what your phone really equips?

Well, today's your lucky day because in this series, I will explain the vital parts that you need to seriously consider before making your smartphone purchase. This will also help you know more about our lovely site here as well.

This first part will be based on the brain parts of the smartphone. Which is CPU, GPU and RAM or altogether referred to as System on Chip.

What is System on Chip(SoC)?

System on Chip or Chipset is a collection of Integrated circuits and transistors which perform a specified task. They can be found in the most simplest of things from pocket calculators to washing machines, microwaves to large and sophisticated Supercomputers.

System on Chip in a smartphone comprises of the Central Processing Unit, Graphical Processing Unit and Random Access Memory Chip which altogether are referred to as the brain of the smartphone.

I have divided this article into 3 sections based on these sub-components. First up is the CPU.

Central Processing Unit(CPU):

Central Processing Unit is the main part of the System on Chip. It's the place from where all the instructions go to and for just like a simple PC in your home.

In a simple PC, a CPU controls keyboard, mouse and monitor with other components of the motherboard. Similarly in a smartphone a CPU is used to instruct other devices to properly interact with each other and share information plus be used as a character generator as well. It's used to perform complex calculations to control each part.

At one end it'll be computing instructions with your smartphones to the main server of an MMO game you are playing or on the other hand, it'll be helping you navigate on the map and plan your route to a specific location using GPS. All this is done by the CPU.

As of now, Central Processing Units on smartphones aren't that complex as they are on PCs or so. When buying a smartphone and particularly considering the CPU, following things should be kept in mind.

Clock Speed:

Clock Speed plays a vital role in determining the performance of a CPU. Generally at idle states or performing general browsing activity, a processor runs around 800 MHz to 1.3 GHz or so. While performing a particularly resource heavy task however, it can go up to it's max speed.

When considering a smartphone, you should consider the clock speed of it's chipset seriously because it will determine the rate of doing tasks per nano-second and so. This can also have an effect on picture capturing which rely heavily on CPU processing.

Cores:

People tend to make a mistake when judging a smartphone from it's chipset cores. More isn't always better because it highly depends on the app compatibility and load distribution among various cores.

For Mid-budget Range Smartphones, You should at least get a Quad Core Chipset. If getting an Octa Core, always keep in mind that some chipsets may have 8 cores but only 4 can run at one time.

Basically the Octa Core Chip is divided into 2 parts. One is high level performance chip and the other is a Battery Efficient Chip which is used under battery saving conditions while the latter is for gaming or so.

Some Octa Core Chipsets from Mediatek for instance only have 1 chip with 8 cores but then again it would depend on the app compatibility whether it is able to effectively reduce the load to all eight cores or not.

L2 Cache

A highly neglected area when it comes to buying a smartphone. Level 2 Cache basically supports the Level 1 cache where instructions are stored for a period of time before being passed on to other parts by the CPU.

Most Smartphones as of now have at least 1 MB L2 cache which is sufficient for most tasks. If buying a high level smartphone be sure to check the CPU have at least 2 MB L2 cache to be in the clear.

Architecture

Architecture of the System on Chip is a fairly important part. It defines the technological advancements, improvements and capabilities of the chipset.

Generally all mobile chipsets are classified under the High Performance Mobile architecture or Harvard or so but they can be regrouped as required by the Manufacturers. The Latest architecture from Qualcomm right now is the ARM big.LITTLE Harvard architecture while Mediatek are currently producing chips under Helio X10 with X20 also in the pipeline.

With the introduction of new architectures comes new features, energy efficiency, more performance of course and much more. So this is something to consider while choosing the CPU.

Lithography

Here is another important one, Lithography can also be referred to as die size or the manufacturing process on which the chip is produced. Nowadays all chips are being produced in nanometers.

Lithography is inversely proportional to the energy efficiency of the chipset. And this is the simplest way to put it. When checking the specs of the smartphone, Be sure to see the lithography. Ideally it should be around 20-30 nm or so. The latest die size is currently 14 nm on Samsung Exynos 7420.

Let's move on to the Graphical Processing Unit:

Graphical Processing Unit:

This component of the system on chip is used to render graphics for movies, games or picture editing. It can also be used during the capturing of videos as well as pictures alongside the CPU.

GPUs rely on architecture, Clock Speed and the Accelerated Processing Unit being used in this case of mobile gadgets. While PC segment is more complex, the mobile sector is currently simpler and only a few things to see while choosing your smartphone.

If you have taken care while checking the specs of the CPU then this part is really easy. A good CPU automatically has a good GPU paired alongside it. It should have a minimum clock speed of 450 MHz with DirectX 11.2 or equivalent APIs on it. Architecture is ignorable because all manufacturers have their own naming schemes and methods to produce the chips and also as I said that the mobile sector is currently isn't that much complex as the PC one.

Accelerated Processing Unit(API) is used to reduce overheads between the amount of instructions flow between CPU, GPU and other parts. The more advanced and latest the API is, the better and faster will be the instructions flow which will ultimately result in smooth and detailed graphics within games and movies etc.

Now on to the final part which is RAM:

Random Access Memory

This part requires little explanation. The more the RAM is on the smartphone the better it'll perform in most apps. There is no complexity here but you should always opt for an all round device.

A Dual Core Chipset with 2 GB may not be better than a Quad Core with 1 GB RAM. Most apps require more CPU power rather than RAM so you should consider this seriously when buying your phone.

If you are a heavy apps user, then you'll definitely require more RAM. Select the RAM quantity with an appropriate CPU and you'll be all set to go!

What are the things you consider before buying a smartphone? Are the factors listed in this guide worth noting? Express your thoughts in the comments.

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