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New Phone Recommendation(s) / Help

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Mark617

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2004
Location
CA, USA
So, I recently received a letter from Tracfone stating it was time to upgrade my phone. My current phone is almost a decade old. It's a Samsung Flip Phone running 2G and they stated they are phasing 2G out and I needed to move to 4G. Their upgrade options were not to my liking, at least not until I went through my typical research routine. That being said, and after having read many threads here (especially helpful have been posts by hokiealumnus), I am still not sure of an answer nor have I really narrowed down which phone would be best.

That being said, there are certain requirements I have.

- I would like a phone with above average battery life. Charging more than once a day is simply an annoyance I will not tolerate. All I use my phone for is texting and calls, with the possibility of email, so that really should be a non-issue in this day and age.

- The phone must be unlocked as I will be staying with Tracfone, at least for a while. The cost / month is too much with a notable carrier for my current uses. Paying as I go is simply far cheaper. Although, if signing up for a 2-year plan saved money re the phone, that could be an option. I simply have not found this to be the case, though.

- The phone must have good call clarity (although I wonder how much of this is network based versus phone hardware / software).

- The phone must be text friendly. What I mean is, the screen must be responsive and accurate. Having used friend's phones here and there, one thing I find completely unacceptable is any sort of lag / stutter / inaccuracy of the letter / number keys on screen. I may sausage finger around, which is my own fault, but I would like the screen / touch areas to be as accurate as possible (post any individual calibration).

- I also realize that I simply do not know everything. I do not know what the future will hold, so if there are apps / certain aspects I am overlooking for a phone that, based on my history, I will keep for the foreseeable future, please feel free to provide me insight in the matter.

- Money is no object. Not because I am rich, but for two reasons A) I often find paying more results in paying less in the long run. I am more than willing to spend now if it is advisable to do so, and B) Every time I come here with a price range you guys talk me into spending more anyway :attn:

- Size. I DO NOT like big phones. Even the iPhone SE felt big when I held it in person, but I think that's about as small as I will find. Perhaps I simply need to get over the small form factor that was my current / soon to be previous phone.

- Must be 4G capable and compatible with Tracfone (pretty much every phone that is recommended on "best buy" lists is compatible).

- I am not concerned with anything re music, videos, games, internet, etc. I simply do not use my phone for these things. That being said, the internet may be something to consider for "future proofing" my experience, but I can see no future wherein I will need my phone for the other items listed. I have other devices that can handle those aspects. Thus, space is probably not a major concern, i.e. the 16 GB SE would be more up my alley than the 64GB version.

- Camera is an absolute non-issue. Would be perfectly fine if the phone didn't even have one.

- Durability is key. I am actually quite delicate with my phones, as my previous phone wouldn't have lasted these last 9+ years had I been abusive. That being said, I would like a phone that is compatible with protection type items (screen protectors, cases, etc.). If it came standard with the phone so be it, but so long as said phones are of a form factor that allows them to be protected by mainstream products all is well.

- Resale value is not really a concern. By the time I have exhausted my uses for this phone, I doubt, with the way technology works, I will be in a place where it is still relevant enough to be sold. As such, any sort of upgrade program is likely to be irrelevant to me as well.

- Things like Apple Pay and other extra benefits are likely to be of no use to me, but as I stated previously, I do not know everything and have long been out of the "Smartphone" game, so advice here as to what is / could be needed is more than welcome.

Thank you for any help / advice. As always it is appreciated!
 
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TechWizard

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
You should look into Google's new service - It might still be in beta, but I know it is highly affordable.

https://fi.google.com/about/plan/

The only downside is you are currently limited to Nexus phones. The 5X, that hokiealumnus recommends, is one of the phones that qualifies for their plan.

I take it that since you have an old 2G flip phone, you have not seen how far smartphone technology has come. Getting a text friendly phone isn't really a hard thing to do anymore. Screen shutter/lag only becomes an issue when the operating system becomes bogged down by temporary files, corrupt caches, etc. I find that I flash my OS once every year or so and I am an extremely heavy user. I text, talk, game, e-mail, browse the web, etc - I use my phone as if it were my computer when I am not at home. I have the Samsung S5 Active and it is still going strong even 2 1/2 years after its release.

I strongly recommend going Android if you are a power user on your computer. I know you said you use your phone minimally, but once you get a taste of what a smart device can do you WILL play around with it. I have had two iPhones over the years (the iPhone 4 and I currently have a 6s for work) and I am still highly unimpressed. iOS is garbage in my opinion and lacks any of the functionality and customization I desire out of device. I know a lack of customization doesn't necessarily affect you, but I guarantee you working with an Android device will be much easier and you won't be attached to iTunes for backups. Dropping and dragging files is a breeze between the device and Windows and overall usability is better.

I will say, however, my iPhone is much better for productivity because it honestly limits how much you can play with and change around. The menus are not as deep and things are far more defined (hence the lack of flexibility on customization).

I don't know how to help you out on size, every phone these days is on the course of "bigger is better". The SE is the same size as the iPhone 4 and I went from that to a Galaxy Note and never looked back. I enjoy the larger screens and do not have issues carrying my devices around because when I am working they are in a backpack as I carry nothing in my pockets 90% of the time. My S5 fits with no issues in my pockets though when I go out casually and I do not have a case since it is incredibly durable.
 

benbaked

Folding/SETI/Rosetta Team Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Location
WA
As a person who had an iPhone 5 for years and loved it, I bought the iPhone SE at launch and love it as well. It is a great size, lightweight, and really does disappear into the pocket. For your primary concerns above:

- I would like a phone with above average battery life.
The iPhone SE has above-average battery life, particularly for a tiny phone. Depending on usage I can easily get an entire day out of it, sometimes a day and a half to nearly two days if I don't use it a lot. Getting an entire day is no problem. For example, mine is currently at 59% at 8PM, it hasn't been on the charger since 7AM this morning and I've used it for some light texting today, some browsing, app usage, and Bluetooth music while commuting to and from work on my motorcycle. If I use it a bit more through the day it would maybe be around 25-45% battery life remaining at this point in the day. Still much better than any other phone I've owned previously.

- The phone must be unlocked
Unlocked SEs are easier to find these days then they used to be. $399 for an unlocked 16 GB is pretty danged cheap for a brand new iPhone with mostly 6S hardware inside of it.

- The phone must be text friendly.
The iPhone SE has a very responsive screen, it works fairly well even when my fingers are moist or slightly wet. However, being that it's a tiny screen I still make typos from time to time. The auto-correct usually catches them and enters in the right word that I intended. Compared to my Galaxy S6 at work the iPhone SE is heads and shoulders superior. iOS also has a much more superior way of placing the "I" bar into text if you have to edit something. The way to do it on Galaxy phones is best described by me as klunky and half-assed, it has a fidgety responsiveness and it's not easy to select or position text with Samsung's software. It is much easier and more intuitive on iOS with the magnifying glass effect that they use. The iPhone SE uses the same screen as the three/four year old iPhone 5/5s. If you use it in a bulky case like an Otterbox you may find it difficult to type some of the keys on the on-screen keyboard that appear on the far edges of the screen. I have mine in the leather case that they sell at the Apple Store and it doesn't interfere with access to the sides of the screen like an Otterbox case sometimes can.

- Size. I DO NOT like big phones.
You're not really going to get around that much, at least at this point in time. The fad right now is for very large phones. I, too, prefer the small phones and I've always felt that the iPhone 5/5s/SE is a great size and one of Apple's best product designs. Even the plastic 5c was a really slick design. It really does disappear in the pocket in a sense, you may forget that you have it on you, sometimes I do. Some Android makers are starting to make smaller phones but I think they're still around 4.5-4.7" at the smallest, I have yet to see another new phone in the 4" screen size market. There might be now, based on how well the SE has been selling there is definitely a demand for small smartphones so hopefully we'll see more and more tiny phones released in the future.

- Must be 4G capable and compatible with Tracfone
The iPhone SE uses the same radio chips as the iPhone 6/6 Plus. So it supports 802.11ac and 4G LTE. Drop in your nano-SIM card and you're good to go. The matrix below shows the different P/N models for the SE, choose the one that matches the bands that Tracfone uses:

Cellular and Wireless
Model A1662
LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 29)
CDMA EV‑DO Rev. A (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+/DC‑HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Model A1723
LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28)
TD‑LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)
TD‑SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A)
CDMA EV‑DO Rev. A (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+/DC‑HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

All models
802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi
Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology
NFC

reference: https://support.apple.com/kb/SP738?locale=en_US

Thus, space is probably not a major concern, i.e. the 16 GB SE would be more up my alley than the 64GB version.
You might be surprised. 16 GB really shouldn't be the bare minimum size for iPhones anymore, the OS takes about 3 GB of space by itself IIRC. Seeing as how it seems that you're new to the modern smartphone game you might fill up that space on the base iPhone SE rather quickly as you explore it's functionality and download more and more apps. I have over 25 GB of apps on mine right now, granted a lot of those I don't use. It depends on what you use your phone for but seeing as how you keep your phones for many years you may find that opting for the 16 GB over the 64 GB is shortsighted and in the long run the extra $100 for the 64 GB would've been worth it.

- Durability is key.
When the iPhone SE was released some online blogs conducted "bendgate" and crushing torture tests to see how durable it was to other iPhones. The result was that it is not as durable as the iPhone 6/6s, or their Plus versions. As long as you treat it as you would any other electronic product and not abuse it you shouldn't have any problems with durability. If really worried about it, a case will solve the issue. The SE is compatible with every case made for the 5s. iPhone 5 cases will work too but watch out for some of those that cover the home button such as some Otterbox cases because those that cover the home button will prevent TouchID from working. Because the SE uses the same screen as the 5/5s, if you happen to crack or shatter the screen a replacement screen from one of those kiosks at many local shopping malls should be reasonably cheap by now.

Good luck with whatever you decide to purchase for your new phone, and enjoy having a modern 21st century smartphone.
 
OP
M

Mark617

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2004
Location
CA, USA
That OnePlus3 certainly could be a contender, and was one I had not looked at before. As I have been continually looking into phones, it looks like the new Nexus phones (Marlin and Sailfish) will be coming out any time between late Aug. to late Oct., depending on how the release of Android N fleshes out.

My service will be cut off here on the 25th of Aug. I think at that time, since I still have minutes left with Tracfone, I may simply buy one of their cheap $39.xx phones and wait to see the official specs of the new Nexus Sailfish. The released / unofficial specs show it having similar internals to the Nexus 6P and OnePlus3 (Snapdragon 820, 4GB Ram, etc.), dimensions like the iPhone SE, and a release price between $350-$400 for the 32GB version. If all that turns out to be true, I think that will be the phone to get.

One question though, looking at last year's Black Friday sales, it seems as if there were mild discounts on the above / similar smartphones. If I am willing to wait until then, do you think there will be significant sales on the four phones listed above?
 
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ihrsetrdr

Señor Senior Member
Joined
May 17, 2005
I've been in the market for a new phone as well; after examining my needs, and the specs of many different phones, I pulled the trigger on the LG Nexus 5X linked in hokie's post. The price had changed to $279 for the 16GB model, which is the one I bought.

In looking at my micro SIM, I think that I might be able to cut it down to a nano, which is what the LG Nexus 5X uses. I won't do anything until I get a reply from the carrier, regarding them shipping me a nano SIM.
 

hokiealumnus

Water Cooled Moderator
Joined
Oct 14, 2007
I've been in the market for a new phone as well; after examining my needs, and the specs of many different phones, I pulled the trigger on the LG Nexus 5X linked in hokie's post. The price had changed to $279 for the 16GB model, which is the one I bought.

In looking at my micro SIM, I think that I might be able to cut it down to a nano, which is what the LG Nexus 5X uses. I won't do anything until I get a reply from the carrier, regarding them shipping me a nano SIM.

Solid price for an excellent phone. Hope you like it!
 

ihrsetrdr

Señor Senior Member
Joined
May 17, 2005
I liked the Oneplus_3 alot, but it was considerably beyond my price range. Now, I just saw a Oneplus_2 (Available. Released 2015, August)on Amazon that was priced within my reach.