The Video and Audiophile’s Guide to Buying a Smartphone

Looking for the best Smartphone for watching and capturing video? Comparing the newest Smartphone video and audio features can be daunting. How is a retina display different from 1080p? How many megapixels should a selfie camera have? Our cheat sheet of audio-visual terms can help even the most tech-savvy Smartphone shopper. If HDs and MPs have you drowning in alphabet soup, read on for our guide to the Smartphone specs you really need to know.

Screen resolution

Smartphone screen resolutions are brighter, better and more lifelike than ever. Here are the terms to keep in mind when comparing screen resolutions and dimensions, so you can get the best viewing experience on the market.

OLED – Stands for organic light-emitting diode. It’s an upgrade on LED, with individual pixels capable of turning on and off. OLED displays both bright, rich colors and deep blacks for greater detail and contrast, so it’s the best of the best for watching video.

HD – Means high definition. Full HDhas a pixel density of 1080p or greater. If you’re watching anything on your phone, a bigger number is better.

PPI – Refers to pixels per inch, a way to measure resolution. The higher the PPI, the sharper and less pixelated your screen will look, even at close range.

Retina display – an HD display with a very high pixel density (PPI) that makes text and images extremely crisp. This term applies to some devices with a very high resolution, too high for the human eye to distinguish individual pixels.

Infinity display –This term refers to the dimensions of a screen, not its resolution. Infinity displays stretch from edge to edge, so the screen size is maximized relative to the size of the phone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 boasts a full HD infinity display, so you can enjoy a big screen and a crisp image at the same time – perfect for mobile viewing.

Camera resolution

Like screens, Smartphone specs regarding cameras are always improving. Whether you’re a budding phone photographer or just looking to upgrade, here’s what you should know.

MP– Stands for megapixels. The higher the MP, the higher-resolution the camera. The LG V30 has a best-in-class 16MP rear camera, while the Samsung Galaxy S9’s front-facing camera is 8MP for selfies as crisp as your landscape shots.

F/ – The “f/” followed by a number is the size of your camera’s aperture. “F” stands for f-stop, the ratio of a camera’s focal length divided by the lens size. The smaller the f-stop, the wider the aperture – resulting in more light capture and better imagery.

HDR– Stands for high dynamic range. HDR is a setting on some Smartphone cameras that historically has only been available to pro photographers. It takes multiple photos of the same shot and blends the best lighting, exposure and balance from all of them to capture more detail.

Video and audio quality

People are streaming, saving and watching more video on their phones than ever. In general, the same rules apply: larger numbers mean higher resolutions and sharper, better-sounding video and audio, whether you’re watching someone else’s or recording your own.

4K – The next resolution tier above full HD. 4K (around 4,000 pixels) is the maximum resolution of almost all digital videos. So if your Smartphone can capture video in 4K, you can play it on a larger screen in glorious hi-res. Note that the maximum resolution for your phone’s native display is 2K, so don’t bother downloading a full 4K video if you’re going to be watching it on your device.

Hi-Fi – Stands for “high fidelity.” If you’re taking video with sound, hi-fi video recording is a must.

32-bitDAC – Another audio term: “bit” refers to the depth of audio, and DAC is “digital-to-analog converter.” 32-bit DAC supports pro-level audio playback from your headphones or paired speakers (though not from your phone’s native speakers). The LG V30 is a good place to test it out.

Looking to upgrade your handheld audio and video game? Browse the U.S. Cellular®collection of advanced Smartphones with the latest technology.