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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

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Three of the best back-to-school smartphones
AFP
August 28, 2014
First Published: 10:27 IST(28/8/2014)
Last Updated: 11:01 IST(28/8/2014)

As kids return to school and students head off to college, electronic devices, and in particular smartphones are going to be high on parents' shopping lists, even for those with younger children

If the latest research from Tigermobiles is to be believed, more than half of UK parents with children aged between seven and 15 years old will be out shopping for new handsets as well as textbooks, uniforms and satchels. In fact, of the 2870 parents questioned, 59 percent said that a new smartphone was top of their back-to-school list.

But as well as being the start of the new school year, September also marks the start of the new product year for most major technology firms. Over the next month new handsets from everyone from Samsung, HTC, Sony and Motorola to, of course, Apple are expected to be unveiled. And while they'll definitely be in store in time for Christmas, most of them won't have made it on to the shelves before classes start again.

However, even as a host of handsets are about to come up for a refresh there is currently a great selection of phones on the market to suit all needs and all price ranges. But you still need to pick wisely if you're investing in a handset just before it's potentially updated or even discontinued.

Best budget device Moto G
This handset manages to pack a host of premium specifications -- a great 4.5-inch screen, a very good processor and the latest version of Android -- into a cut-price shell. At just $179 off contract, the phone is incredible value and offers a host of customization features: you can choose the color and finish of its shell or the type of case it comes with for a little extra individuality.

The Motorola Moto G. Photo: AFP

As well as being very well priced, the Moto G doesn't have a user interface ‘skin' -- an extra piece of software running on top of the Android operating system to give it a special look or force unnecessary apps on owners. That makes it faster and simpler to use, and makes it more likely that when Google updates the Android operating system, that the handset will be compatible with and receive the update.

Motorola also offers the even cheaper Moto E but the fact that it doesn't have a front-facing camera, and therefore is unable to take selfies, could make it less appealing to teens

Biggest features in the smallest package: The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

This is a true flagship handset in every sense except for size. It has an incredible 20-megapixel camera, one of the fastest processors currently available, and, perhaps best of all, considering who will be using it, it's water- and dust resistant. And Sony has managed to squeeze all of those features behind a smaller, easier to hold 4.3-inch full HD display.

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. Photo: AFP

Although it comes at a premium, the Z1 Compact could be a wise longer-term investment, even though Sony will be releasing a new mini flagship -- the Xperia Z3 Compact in September -- the Z1 Compact's imaging performance and its processor are so good that it will remain fresh and fast to use even when operating systems get upgraded or new, memory- or processor-heavy apps roll out and become the next teen smash.

The best of both worlds: The Apple iPhone 5C

This is a handset that's as high on style as it is on performance and although Apple products command a huge premium, the recent introduction of an 8BG model alongside the more expensive 16BG, 32GB and 64GB versions has made the iPhone 5C a very attractive premium alternative to a host of low- and mid-range smartphones on the market, if you don't mind looking to the cloud for extra storage. No iPhone has ever supported memory or storage expansion via SD card. But Apple, Google and now Microsoft all offer consumers 10GB of cloud storage free of charge.

The iPhone 5C. Photo: AFP

But what it gives away in internal storage it makes up for in longevity. By buying an Apple handset you know that it will receive regular timely software updates and that the company will continue supporting it -- meaning that it will be able to run the latest operating system and get many of the new features and functions -- for at least three years.


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