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Author Topic: Help me pick a midrange Android phone?  (Read 12491 times)
daddydave
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« on: June 27, 2012, 07:42:59 PM »

I am window shopping at this point, and have a few other expenses I need to take care of first, but I am thinking of deviating from my normal path of buying a smartphone without the phone and getting a smartphone with a phone. Just so you know, I don't plan on using that much data, and sync things wirelessly from home as much as I can. I don't talk or text that much either, I am currently using a Net10 dumb Java phone for $15 for 200 minutes every month. So I am a bit of a cheapskate so I will try to use a non-contract plan if at all possible. I am looking at Android phones only, and trying to find the exact right one for my needs, that isn't too expensive to pick up as a non-contract phone. I am in the United States.

(Updating requirements slightly from original post.)

Requirements (for Phase 2 phone, see update at bottom)

- Something I can pick up on, say, ebay or swappa for about $150-200 (this is probably the most difficult requirement)
- Replaceable Battery (learned my lesson with iPod Touch)
- 802.11n wi-fi (not just g)
- GPS
- Camera (I'm not too picky)
- No QWERTY hard keys
- At least 10 hours of battery life
- People can hear me on the other end of the "line" (not sure how to determine this without trying it)
- AMOLED or Super AMOLED or anything where I can read it outside in daylight. The phone will be an e-book reader among other things
- REVISED: Born with Android 4 (ICS): capable (rooting OK -- my current rule of thumb is 1Ghz or higher processor Now I have read too many stories about GPS breaking when flashed with ICS)
- At least 3.5" screen, preferable closer to 4"
- Decent RAM (learned my lesson with iPod Touch generation 2 -- seems like Windows Mobile 5 was smarter about virtual memory, not sure how Android rolls)
-    Quad band GSM (maybe I will get a chance to use as a world phone although I am too much of a homebody currently)
- Vibrate notification capable (I mention this because my iPod Touch 2 unexpectedly did not have this)
- REVISED: 2G 900,1800, HSPA+ 1700 and 2100 (This takes care of 3G in U.S. (T-Mobile) and India. Also want quad band 2G. But wait, there's more: in 2013, T-Mobile will push their HSPA+ band to 1900 to make way for LTE, so I need some flavor of HSPA at 1900 too!
- NEW: Speakerphone (to remind myself to check. Samsung Dart (Android 2.2) doesn't have)
- NEW: 32GB storage internal or upgradable to such using a card - (had this in my head but forgot to mention earlier)
- NEW: Supports a carrier which provides a combined voice and data plan of between $30-35 per month (T-Mobile or Virgin Mobile -- however Virgin Mobile doesn't seem to be able meet the multiband requirement, they are U.S. only as far as I can determine)


Negotiable

- Scratch resistant glass
- NEW:8 MP camera

- In spite of the required quad band GSM support, I would like it to be either Verizon 3G network capable (if I go with Page Plus prepaid 3G plans, which use the Verizon network) or Sprint network capable, in which case I go with PlatinumTel. (obsolete section - see above band requirements)


So far the Motorola Photon 4G looks pretty good, and they seem to have good battery life, something that rules out a lot of otherwise solid contenders. Some of those are available used at close to my $200 limit. (swappa link). Any thoughts here?

UPDATED: As time went on, I had a thought to wait until later to buy a phone that meets all the requirements. That brought to mind that I should by a cheaper phone, which I called a Phase 1 phone, to use in the interim (I do in fact need a new phone, two things about my current one are not working, although it makes calls OK)

For Phase 1, the following requirements become optional
- Usable outside the USA
- Android 4.0 (still preferred, but there is a way to get Devanagari script on older versions, so I can try that)
- Replaceable battery

A requirement for Phase 1 is that the cost should be around $100 or less.

« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 01:14:53 PM by daddydave » Logged
Stephen66515
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 08:19:07 PM »

How about this: https://play.google.com/s...ails?id=galaxy_nexus_hspa
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daddydave
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2012, 08:46:02 PM »


If I can see a used one somewhere for around $200, I'll consider it. Seems to overshoot that requirement quite a bit, so I didn't look to see if it met the other requirements.
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 09:28:40 PM »

No real recommendations, but if you're in the US, phones are significantly cheaper than other places. Also, you might want to check out used phones as you're likely to be able to pick up a good one for far below the going rate for most new phones.

If you want an ICS capable phone, that's going to be a newer one though. Not sure if you'll be able to get that on a lower budget though. Being in the US will help there.

For cameras, if you see anything with BSI in it, that's a major plus. (Back Side Imaging - makes pictures MUCH clearer than others. Samsung proprietary camera sensor.)
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Rover
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 10:16:52 PM »

Self confession:  I am an Android phone whore. 

In Dec. I "upgraded" to a Samsung Nexus (google phone) on Verizon.  I despised the battery life and bought the "big" battery.  It was OK with careful monitoring.  Radio's seemed weak.  So I imitated my Profile Icon one night and "lost" it.  Turns out it was just dead on my couch (found it next day), but I needed a phone so I headed to VZW and picked up a RAZR Maxx.  I'm in love.  Best phone I've owned since my thumbwheel, monochrome blackberry. 

It doesn't have ICS yet, but I don't really care.  Batt. life is sick.  Radios seem much better than Nexus.  I was able to root and install No-cost Wifi Access point with minimal effort after visit to XDA-Developers.

I'm not sure if that helps our friends over the pond, but I hope it helps someone.  tongue

These were not my first two 'droids.   huh  embarassed
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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2012, 05:14:53 AM »

These were not my first two 'droids.   huh  embarassed

But were they the droids that you were looking for? tongue
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daddydave
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2012, 05:15:15 AM »


If I can see a used one somewhere for around $200, I'll consider it. Seems to overshoot that requirement quite a bit, so I didn't look to see if it met the other requirements.

I can get an older Galaxy S for around $200 though. I might window shop a little longer to give some of the newer ones a chance to come down in price.
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2012, 05:31:33 AM »

I can get an older Galaxy S for around $200 though. I might window shop a little longer to give some of the newer ones a chance to come down in price.

A friend of mine has both an S and S II, and loves the S II, but isn't very fond of the S. But, he's comparing the S to the S II, so... I was playing around with the S II and it was just spectacular. Not too sure about the S as I never really looked at it. If it's half as good as the S II, then it'll still be a nice phone. 
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daddydave
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2012, 10:17:32 AM »

In the US, you can't get away from the fact that you have to choose a carrier before you choose the phone.

My monthly limit is $40 (I am currently paying $15 month on a Net10 dumb phone, I don't plan on using a whole lot of minutes or data).
"Bring your own phone" (BYOP) has emerged as an important new requirement because the phones the prepaid carriers will sell you never meet my requirements. (Ting used to sell a Motorola Photon which met most of the requirements including long battery life but no more, and they can't make one bought elsewhere work.) As far as band requirements, I would like to simplify them as being 3G or 4G capable in the U.S, but will settle for 2G and quad band GSM elsewhere (did I phrase that right?) I don't know what I am talking about, the cheap data is probably 2G.

My notes so far based on carrier plans and BYOP or lack thereof (and links to plans for those that allow BYOP):

*Big 4*
AT&T: Too expensive
Verizon: Too expensive
Sprint: Too expensive
T-Mobile: BYOP 3G 1700 Mhz / http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans

*Others (MVNOs)*
Boost: No BYOP
Cricket: No BYOP
H2O: BYOP  GSM 850/900/1900 (is that 3G or not?) https://www.h2owirelessno...ageControl.php?page=plans
Metro PCS: BYOP maybe if CDMA and flashable. They seem to have their own network, but I haven't really heard of anyone who uses them.
Net10: No BYOP
PagePlus: No BYOP
PlatinumTel: No BYOP
Red Pocket Mobile: BYOP GSM 850mhz/1900mhz (is that 3G or not?) http://goredpocket.com/plans/
Simple Mobile: BYOP http://www.mysimplemobile...m/Simple-Mobile-Plan.aspx
Straight Talk: BYOP http://www.straighttalk.com/serviceplans
Ting: No BYOP
Virgin Mobile: No BYOP
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 01:33:18 PM by daddydave » Logged
cyberdiva
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2012, 01:41:17 PM »

DaddyDave, I still have a dumb phone, but my husband has a smartphone from Virgin Mobile.  He didn't buy it from Virgin Mobile, but it's one they carry, and they were perfectly happy to accept it even though he didn't buy it from them.  They offer some terrific pricing on monthly fees.  They also have a rather large array of phones to choose from, including a number in the price range you've mentioned.  Given their modest monthly fees and reasonably priced phones, it might be worth taking another look.  http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/beyond-talk-plans.jsp.
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daddydave
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2012, 02:22:09 PM »

He didn't buy it from Virgin Mobile, but it's one they carry
I checked on their web site, but none of the ones they carry seem to meet my requirements, which is par for the course. I don't want to give up on AMOLED screen or 10 hour battery life or replaceable battery just yet. By "Bring your own phone," I mean I want to bring a phone they don't carry but would still be compatible with their network.

So far I am leaning toward the $30/month Straight Talk deal (can't do with SIM only plan)  or the $25/month H20 deal, (too many H2O horror stories) if those deals are available for their SIM card only customers, if I can find a decent phone compatible with either of their networks. I don't even care too much now if it is 3G.

Keep the suggestions coming, everyone, and thanks, I will keep you posted.




« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 07:22:28 AM by daddydave » Logged
daddydave
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2012, 02:45:20 PM »

Btw are there any screen types that are viewable in direct sunlight other than ones with AMOLED in their name?
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daddydave
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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2012, 02:48:11 PM »

Of course, I may not be able to get everything I want...but I am going to give it a good run.
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daddydave
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2012, 04:04:36 PM »

Quite a few H2O horror stories in the comments here.
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daddydave
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2012, 05:05:02 PM »

[.. nevermind..]
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 05:10:04 PM by daddydave » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2012, 07:55:58 PM »

Btw are there any screen types that are viewable in direct sunlight other than ones with AMOLED in their name?
FWIW, I told my husband what you had said about AMOLED and 10 hr. battery life.  He replied that his Optimus V is very good in direct sunlight.  It apparently has several different levels you can set it to.  As for battery life, he has his phone on all the time and often uses it many hours a day as a reader, as well as to read his email, check traffic conditions, read the web, etc., and with that kind of usage he gets FAR MORE than 10 hours of battery life.  But he's not downloading huge amounts of data, watching movies, etc.  And, of course, Optimus V does not run ICS.  But he's very pleased with his phone, and I thought I'd pass along what he said.
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daddydave
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« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2012, 08:38:34 PM »

Btw are there any screen types that are viewable in direct sunlight other than ones with AMOLED in their name?
FWIW, I told my husband what you had said about AMOLED and 10 hr. battery life.  He replied that his Optimus V is very good in direct sunlight.  It apparently has several different levels you can set it to.  As for battery life, he has his phone on all the time and often uses it many hours a day as a reader, as well as to read his email, check traffic conditions, read the web, etc., and with that kind of usage he gets FAR MORE than 10 hours of battery life.  But he's not downloading huge amounts of data, watching movies, etc.  And, of course, Optimus V does not run ICS.  But he's very pleased with his phone, and I thought I'd pass along what he said.

Thanks to you and your husband for the info! I could see myself going down that route then. I also will not be a huge user of data.

NOTE: That particular model only has a 3.2" screen, I am looking at VM's Motorola Triumph though.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 07:23:32 AM by daddydave » Logged
daddydave
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2012, 06:03:09 AM »

Another option: Motorola Photon (BYOP) + ACRS Wireless + PlatinumTel
Then I would have a world phone with above average battery life.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 06:33:05 AM by daddydave » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: July 04, 2012, 01:33:31 PM »

I have a Droid Razr from Verizon Wireless. It's OK..  kinda. But I am disappointed in Motorola. They seem to have gone in whole hog with Verizon on trying to lock you in to a lot of junk. I rooted mine and immediately vanquished a bunch of Motorola's and Verizon's apps, but it's still a PITA when they send an update and try to force it all back on the phone. Plus there can be NO hardware hacking on this thing. The battery and a lot of the guts are soldered in place and can't be removed/replaced without destroying the damned thing.

I wish I had selected a Samsung phone instead. I thought I had done enough homework on this droid - but I apparently didn't.   Angry

Good luck!

Jim
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daddydave
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2012, 07:09:00 AM »

J-Mac, I think we were all assuming that Apple was the only company backward enough to go to the Palm OS days of non-removable batteries, and it is rarely listed in the specs. When I found out some Android devices are doing the same, I started doing Google searches for the device + "replacement battery."

Currently the only way to get ICS on the Photon will disable 4G. However I would not have 4G anyway under either the Virgin Mobile plan (unless I get the Evo V 4g) or the PlatinumTel one. Supposedly the Photon is slated to get ICS from Motorola in 4Q 2012.
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« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2012, 11:00:52 AM »

I'm not concerned about getting ICS on my Razr. From what I read on the XDA Developers forum the folks who have installed private versions of ICS aren't that impressed with it compared to the Razr rooted and modified that way.

Jim
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daddydave
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« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2012, 06:17:45 AM »

Another option: Motorola Photon (BYOP) + ACRS Wireless + PlatinumTel
Then I would have a world phone with above average battery life.

This option is no longer available, the article was updated August 10: "ACRS Wireless is no longer activating Sprint phones on PlatinumTel."
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« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2012, 12:03:10 PM »

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to get an older Galaxy S II unless it has Ice Cream Sandwich installed OEM.  They are very nice phones, but I have dealt with too many horror stories of people who had one with Gingerbread, did the update to ICS and it completely broke multiple functionalities.  If you find, like, and purchase one with Gingerbread, DO NOT UPDATE IT.  It is not worth the pain...
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« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2012, 01:18:29 PM »

802.11n wi-fi (not just g)
Why? Flash memory can probalby not do much more than g speed anyway.

AMOLED or Super AMOLED or anything where I can read it outside in daylight. The phone will be an e-book reader among other things
Good luck finding that - and really, the screen on any phone is too small for that. Heck, I'd say an iPad2 is the smallest resolution as well as physical size where ebook reading is comfortable. On a phone? Ugh.

That said, I've been pretty happy with my HTC Desire S. It's been with me for a year, and survived more than one drunken bicycle crash. It performs decently, has a good-enough camera, a working GPS with fine Google Maps integration, et cetera. I wouldn't have bought a smartphone myself, this was a company supplied phone, so I have no idea if it's in the price range, and it doesn't do ICS (at least not without rooting). But it works pretty damn well as-is smiley
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« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2012, 06:38:18 PM »

...and really, the screen on any phone is too small for that. Heck, I'd say an iPad2 is the smallest resolution as well as physical size where ebook reading is comfortable. On a phone? Ugh.

I probably should stay out of this conversation, since I don't even own a smartphone, but I have to say that my husband reads books on his Optimus V phone all the time.  He has easily read more than 50 books that way.  He used to use a Nook, but he stopped using it when he found out how much he enjoyed reading on his phone.  And unlike the Nook or, of course, an iPad, the Optimus V fits in his shirt pocket, so he always has it with him for reading as well as for use as a phone.  I didn't believe him when he said reading was comfortable on the Optimus V, but then he let me try it out for myself, and I was very pleasantly surprised.  I almost bought one after that, but I couldn't find a decent Scrabble game for Android (I've got my priorities Grin ), so I've kept my dumb phone and my beloved PalmTX, which has the kind of Scrabble game I want (one that allows me to play against the Palm's computer, doesn't have ads, and doesn't require an Internet connection).
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