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Android is the most popular mobile phone operating system. Each manufacturer can customise it for their devices, and any developer can create an extension. That's why you'll find a variety of diverse apps on Google Play. Compared to iOS or Windows, however, it puts higher requirements on the hardware and the battery. What are the main differences between the individual Android versions and what are the parameters to consider when choosing a smartphone with this operating system?

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Android version news

Jelly Bean (4.1 - 4.3.1, complete support)

The Google Now assistant allows you to create voice commands, and the drop-down notification bar allows for an immediate response directly from the notification.

KitKat (4.4 - 4.4.4, complete support)

The "Ok Google" command makes it easy for you to search, send SMS, retrieve route information, or play tracks with the help of your voice. The smart dialling function prepares the contacts you call most often to ensure a caller identification and a spam protection.

Lollipop (5.0 - 5.1.1)

It uses a shadow and movement design. With the Android Multiscreen function, you can smoothly switch between your phone, tablet, watch, and Android TV and immediately continue listening to music, using an app, viewing photos, or browsing. The notifications are moved through a locked screen, where they are displayed in order on cards with the option to answer directly from the locked screen. You can also switch user accounts on a mobile phone.

Marshmallow (6.0 - 6.0.1)

The "Now On Tap" function launches the search as soon as you hold your finger on the home button. You can decide what data and features you will share with the applications through the permissions. The new Doze or Standby applications are now available to optimise your battery usage.

Nugget (7.0 - 7.1)

When texting, you can use the updated and new emoji icons (1,500 + 72 new icons) and two languages at the same time. The system can run two apps side by side and combine, for example, a video with a text editor. The Daydream-ready phones have a special Virtual Reality (VR) mode. Other interesting features include enhanced notifications and advanced security and encryption.

Oreo (8.0 - 8.1)

Android Oreo looks just like a rejuvenated 7th version, however, this operating system is much more sophisticated when it comes to its functionality. The PIP (picture-in-picture) feature lets you watch videos while chatting. An interesting novelty is the notification reminder function and their background colouration. Many other changes are not as visible, but you will definitely welcome them - a faster power-up, automatic web form filling, and Project Treble, which allows for updates without depending on the device manufacturer.

Important Parameters to Consider When Choosing an Android Phone

Display size

  • 4-5" - an enjoyable compact size for most users. These devices are easy to handle, and they are also great for watching videos.
  • 5-5.5" - great for watching videos and browsing the Internet, but they are not as compact. You can feel them in your pocket.
  • 5.5-5.9" - these phones are called "phablets". This is a compromise between a phone and a tablet. The size of the display is large enough to be able to conveniently watch videos, browse the Internet and work. However, it can only fit into a large pocket or into a backpack.
  • 6" and more - these phones are specifically designed for productivity. They are great for browsing the Internet. You can also enjoy movies and games, but carrying one in your pocket can be an issue.

Operating memory (RAM)

  • Up to 1.5GB - unproblematic functionality while playing basic games and using only a few applications at the same time.
  • 2-3GB - can handle challenging games and a large number of running applications simultaneously.
  • 4 GB or more - the phone does not freeze even when using the most demanding operations (editing videos and photos). Play even demanding games without any problems.

Storage size

Most Android phones have an internal memory between 16 and 64GB, but the operating system is part of it. Pure Android reduces the capacity by 4-10GB. A great advantage of these phones is the ability to expand their storage with a memory card, up to 256GB. Dozens of movies, games and apps will be able to fit onto this storage.

  • 16GB - can hold several apps and hundreds of music files. This size is only suitable for undemanding users who do not take many pictures or record videos.
  • 64GB - for dozens of apps, games, music albums and several movies. It will be sufficient for most users.
  • 256GB - suitable for the most demanding users who record high-definition videos, store movies, music and many applications.

Camera

  • Resolution - phones with a 12Mpx sensor resolution can take great images. A good front camera has at least 5Mpx. However, resolution is not everything. The image quality also depends on the optical quality of the lens.
  • Maximum luminance - determines how much light passes through the optics and falls on the sensor. A F/2.0 and lower luminance are outstanding (the photos will look good even in the dark or during the night).
  • Optical image stabilisation - the phone tries to stabilise the image itself to ensure unblurred images and a more stable video recording. Unlike the software stabilisation, it is implemented by the optics or a sensor shift.
  • Software image stabilisation - works on the principle of increasing the ISO sensitivity. You capture sharper images but it's not as effective as optical stabilisation.
  • Dual camera - it can accelerate the focus, increase the luminosity, change the focus area after capturing an image, and adjust the field depth. However, dual camera capabilities and features are different and depend on each specific phone.

Design

  • Metal (aluminium) - a very elegant solution. Typically, these phones belong among the mid-range, upper mid-range and premium range phones (they are usually more expensive).
  • Plastic - usually inexpensive phones.
  • Combined - a metal frame with a plastic rear and sometimes a plastic front panel. These are lower and mid-range mobile phones.

Useful features

  • Fingerprint reader - to unlock your phone or access selected applications.
  • USB OTG - allows you to connect a flash drive or an external data drive
  • Notification diode - it flashes when you have unread messages, missed calls, and other unread notifications.
  • Dual SIM - allows you to insert two SIM cards into your phone.
  • A water and dust resistance according to the ingress protection (IP).
  • NFC - a wireless technology suitable for mobile phone payments.

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Android SIM-Free Smartphones

Android phones have many proven advantages and countless numbers of satisfied users. Google Android is a completely free and very flexible operating system. With a seemingly infinite number of applications, it allows you to customise your phone according to your needs. You will be glad to hear that many applications are free to download.

Which mobile phone brand should you choose?

There are many different smartphone manufacturers and we cannot talk about all of them. Therefore, we will mention the general features of the most popular ones.

Samsung

  • Popular with many users
  • The buttons do not take up space on the screen

Sony

  • Great battery life
  • Many types have an IP68 norm water resistance

LG

  • Frameless design even on the mid-range phones
  • Inexpensive flagships

Xiaomi

  • Interesting performance/price ratio
  • Original MIUI extension with wide customisation capabilities

Huawei

  • Often with a Dual SIM functionality
  • Great features at a reasonable price

Honor

  • Premium mobile phones for a good price
  • Dual SIM functionality even with the most equipped models

Lenovo

  • Plus models with large batteries
  • A wide selection of mid-range models

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