AARP Eye Center
Vibrant displays, professional-grade cameras and other awe-inspiring display and performance features are attracting a lot of attention in the latest crop of top-tier smartphones.
Whether you’re a tech aficionado or not, you must admit that taking a decent photo has never been easier, phones have never been faster and you may at least be toying with buying something new. But as prices start at $599 and go way up from there, deciding which phone best suits your needs and lifestyle is key.
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The newest features for iPhones and Androids
Apple. Apple, which had about 55 percent of the mobile phone market in the U.S. in September, went all in on safety with its iPhone 14 series models that debuted that same month for $799 on up. The emergency SOS feature that lets you call for help via satellite when cellular and Wi-Fi are unavailable is a potential lifesaver.
So is the phone’s ability to detect a serious auto accident and automatically summon assistance if the driver or passengers are unresponsive, a feature that has been available on Google Pixel Android phones for a while. Of course, that feature is one you hope to never use, but it’s definitely a sign of the future.
Apple also beefed up the processor in the pricey iPhone 14 Pro devices and replaced the oval-shaped “notch” cutout at the top of the display on other iPhones with a clever new way to showcase notifications, dubbed the Dynamic Island.
Google. Among the features that may draw people to Google’s new $599 Pixel 7 or $899 Pixel 7 Pro Android smartphones is an exclusive tool, coined Photo Unblur. It may not work perfectly every time, but it can automatically sharpen your blurriest photos as well as those you’ve taken with other devices.
For the visually impaired, another attractive Pixel feature is its new Guided Frame, which uses audible cues and vibrations to help you take a selfie.
If you call certain toll-free numbers with the Pixel, you may see wait times on the call button before you tap it. When you do place a call, transcribed menu options appear on the screen for various businesses before they’re spoken. For example, if you call Home Depot, you will see an option you can tap that says, “If you're calling about a major appliance, press 1.”
And Google added an opt-in cough and snore detection bedtime Pixel feature to help you better understand why you are or are not getting a good night’s sleep.
Samsung. People intrigued by unconventional hardware designs may want to look at a foldable Android phone. Budget permitting, they may be willing to splurge on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 that Samsung unveiled in August.
In its unfurled position, the phone boasts a small-tablet-size 7.6-inch display, the largest screen available on a smartphone. The screen may simplify work if you need to multitask. When folded, it fits in your pocket.
But the phone comes with a hefty price tag.. The Fold 4 costs around $1,800, about three times the price of Pixel 7 and double the price of some new iPhones. And iPhones are not known for being inexpensive.
Options to make smartphones more affordable
If you need a new phone but have a tight budget, you can reduce sticker shock by trading in an older handset or stretching out payments over 24 to 30 months. You can also seek excellent feature-rich smartphones at somewhat lower prices by considering models from reliable brands that include Motorola, OnePlus and TCL. Samsung also sells mid-tier models.