Tech Files mailbag: A smartphone for a newbie

I often receive email from readers of my Tech Files column who are looking for advice or recommendations. From time to time, I’m republishing edited versions of some of these questions and my answers here on SiliconBeat.

Q: I am ready to buy a smart phone, but the many choices boggle my mind. What are your top choices for smart phones, and why?

If this is your first smartphone — and it sounds like it is — I would recommend the iPhone 5, which is the latest version of Apple’s smartphone.

In general, the iPhone is much easier to use and understand than Android phones. It has more apps (software programs) available for it than for any other kind of smartphone. And programmers tend to develop their apps first for the iPhone before porting them to other devices.

The iPhone is well-built, has lots of features and has a great camera (for a smartphone). It’s a great choice.

If you decide the iPhone is not for you — and it’s not for everyone — I’d recommend a Samsung Galaxy S III. It’s probably the most popular and best Android phone on the market today. It’s got a big, high-resolution screen, lots of features and lots of available apps.

It’s a bit more difficult to learn to use than the iPhone, but it’s not that difficult. And it offers a very good camera and a feature the iPhone doesn’t have — the ability to transfer photos and other files to another Samsung smartphone by just bumping the backs of the phones together.

You might want to also look at one of the new Windows Phone devices, like the Nokia Lumia 920 or the HTC Windows Phone 8X. Windows Phone devices are about as easy to use as the  iPhone and offer lots of great features. Their main shortcoming, though, is that they don’t offer nearly as many apps or nearly as many of the top apps as the iPhone or Android devices.

(Photo courtesy of Apple.)

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (248 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.