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Which smartphone should I buy?
Last change: 2019-09-05 – Copyright © 2018-2019 Hans-Georg Michna
Since I updated this article the last time, the smartphone landscape has
completely changed. I used to buy used smartphones on eBay and refurbish them
with the latest version of CyanogenMod and later LineageOS. I picked smartphones with an excellent
performance/price ratio and was thus able to use relatively powerful smartphones
for a very low price.
Now the situation is that quite powerful smartphones are available as new for
very good prices, so it makes no longer much sense to buy used ones. Therefore I
will recommend a few smartphones that seem particularly attractive to me. As
before I do not like Samsung phones because of their poorly programmed
bloatware and because even their hardware is not always very good.
- OnePlus 6T –
Available with 6 or 8 GB RAM (or 10 GB RAM for the €699 McLaren edition) and 128 or 256 GB internal storage (no
Micro-SD-card slot), it comes close in capability to much more expensive
flagship phones. It is mostly free of bloatware, and OnePlus has shown that they
provide the latest Android versions to their phones for three years. (Both the 3
which are now 3 years old, will get Android 9 "Oreo".) Its price
swings around €600, depending on memory sizes. It has two SIM card slots. Meanwhile, its successor, the OnePlus 7 has appeared in
three different versions, and the 7T is around the corner. These may now be the better choice.
Check all OnePlus
phones here. I do not recommend older OnePlus phones, neither new nor used,
because they are too expensive for their age.
- All new Nokia phones
– Check the versions 6 and above, but even the latest Nokia 3—a low-priced phone
(around €150) with an excellent performance/price ratio—may
warrant a good look. I do not recommend phones with low performance,
but if your budget is very
tight or your demands are very low, the latest Nokia 3 may be your best choice.
What makes the Nokia phones enticing is their good quality, their lack of
bloatware, and their use of Android One, which should make system upgrades
easier than on other phones, raising the hope of timely and long support from
their manufacturer, HMD Global. (They bought the Nokia name, but their Nokia
phones are still good.) These Nokia phones have two SIM card slots, one of
which can alternatively be used for a memory card. Check the specifications for
the maximum memory size, which can differ between types of Nokia phones.
- Google Pixel phones.
Most of them are very expensive, but Google has issued two budget phones in 2019, the
Pixel 3a and
the Pixel 3a XL.
They are still comparable in price with OnePlus phones and have somewhat lower
performance, but the general quality is excellent, particularly that of the
camera, which is the same as in the more expensive Pixel phones.
Both OnePlus and Nokia phones used to have a tendency to kill background apps
in a misguided attempt to make the battery last longer between rechargings. If
you don't need background tasks, this does not need to concern you. On the
OnePlus phones they call this, "Battery optimisation", and you can avoid this
behavior by exempting (whitelisting) those apps that you want to run unimpeded
in the background. Nokia is seeing the light also and has removed the
responsible system apps; see
https://9to5google.com/2019/08/27/nokia-adaptive-battery-android/. Please write to me if you
know more or have news.
Both OnePlus and, even more, Nokia, not to mention the Google Pixel phones,
are at the top of the list of product lines that get Android updates for two
years or more and then some security updates. This may be the decisive advantage
of these phones.
See here for details.
Copyright © 2018-2019 Hans-Georg Michna.
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