10 things your next smartphone phone should have

Phone technology is evolving quicker than any of us could have imagined.

Phone manufacturers are constantly adding features and capabilities, and models that are even a year old are often outdated. 2011 has already seen some tremendous new capabilities added to phones, and if you want to keep up with the latest technology, here are some things you should look for:

1. A better browser

Support for both HTML 5 and Flash means you can see the Internet the way it was meant to be viewed.

Not all websites have mobile versions, so a mobile browser that can render and support full websites on a small screen is needed. To do that, the browser needs features such as pinch-to-zoom (which allows you to zoom in on text and images) and fast word lookups (so you can quickly Google highlighted words). And it should also support Flash, which is used on a lot of sites.

2. HD video recording

Many phones can capture video in 720p these days, with 1080p on the cards. Some phones, such as the LG Optimus 3D can even capture video in 3D.

The mobile should have enough power to be able to record video at least at 720p. Speaking of which, it should also have at least a…

3. Five megapixel camera

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Neo handset takes advantage of similar technology to what's found inside Sony Cybershot cameras, namely the Exmor sensor technology.

You want to be able to take good photos with your phone, and having at least five megapixels complemented by an LED flash and image stabilisation will help you do that. Image stabilisation is especially useful, since phone pictures are so often taken one handed. Geotagging attaches a GPS reading to the image information, which lets you know exactly where the photo was taken.

4. Live widgets

HTC Sense widgets animate the weather forecast on your screen.

Live widgets are apps that are embedded in your phone’s home screen, giving you a quick glimpse of the weather, your latest emails and tweets, as well as what’s hot on YouTube. They also allow you to customise the way your phone looks and works.

5. Social networking and news integration

As one of HTC's "Facebook phones", the ChaCha is practically designed for Facebook, going so far as to include a dedicated Facebook button on the bottom of the handset.

Some of the best new phones give you fast access to all your social networking information in one place. They gather your Facebook messages, followed tweets and email messages and present them to you in a unified and simple interface, often embedded in the home screen. The phone should also give you a quick live view of your chosen news feeds, so you always know what’s happening in your world.

6. Media sharing

Some phones include DLNA, making it possible to show photos and videos on your TV without the wires.

The phone should have a mechanism for sharing any media stored on the phone. Some very cool new phones can actually wirelessly share media stored on the phone over a network using DLNA. That means that your Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or DLNA-enabled TV set can actually stream the media directly from the phone to play on your big-screen TV, without you even having the plug the phone into anything.

7. Locally stored maps

While all Android devices feature Google Maps, some handsets include premium navigation solutions, such as Navigon found on the Samsung Galaxy S2.

Google Maps is great – especially if you have a constant internet connection and plenty of monthly download quota. If you don’t, however, having maps stored inside your handset means you don’t require an internet connection and don’t require you to wait as the maps download.

8. Solid design, but light and thin

Similar to the MacBook Pro design Apple uses, HTC's premium products are chiseled from one piece of aluminium.

Look for a phone with things like an aluminium shell and Gorilla Glass surface, which make the phone robust, but don’t add too much to the weight. The sweet spot for phones right now is really 130-150 grams.

9. A 1GHz processor

Qualcomm chips power many phones, including those made by Sony Ericsson and HTC.

If the phone’s processor runs at less than 1GHz, it’s probably old technology, and may not be able to keep up with HD video or the latest powerful apps.

10. Long battery life

The Motorola Atrix 1880mAh battery, larger than the 1500s we're used to seeing and one of the largest we've seen in an Android phone.

Don’t get a phone with a dud battery inside. Look for something with a minimum six-plus hours of 3G talk time and 300-plus hours of standby. Even better phones can be found with seven-plus hours of talk and 400-plus hours of standby.