Mid-price, decent-spec smartphones

#1

My well-loved Google Nexus 4 seems to be coming to the end of its life. It’s done me proud - bought in January 2013, it still looks immaculate and runs pretty well. However its spec is starting to drag (8GB storage, no 4G, abysmal battery life even after replacement and so on).

Having seen today on HotUKDeals that you can now get a Nexus 6 for around £265 (after cashback), I think we’ve hit the point where I’m ready to jump ship.

I was cynical about the Nexus 6 when it first came out (having been used to the Nexus range offering extreme bang-for-buck) but now that it’s halved in cost it seems to do just that. There’s not many phones that have surpassed it spec-wise and certainly not available for that sort of money.

However I’m also fed up of the Nexus 4’s shite camera, so ideally would like to go for something that will suffice as a proper digital camera substitute. Thus the LG G4 has come to my attention - similar specs to the Nexus 6, similar screen size but a much better camera. Also slightly more expensive though.

The joker in the pack is the new Motorola Moto X Play. Very similar cost (and highly customisable) and also claims to have a 21MP camera (although that seems like a numbers game rather than it being a genuinely decent camera).

Lastly I was told to check out the OnePlus One. My brother has one and it certainly seems cheap for what it is, but spec-wise mostly only seems to match up with the older Nexus 5. Think I’d rather aim a little more towards the flagship end and try to run it for another 2 - 3 years.

TL;DR - here are my main choices:

Google Nexus 6

LG G4

Motorola Moto X Play** **(actually scratch that, spec is just too low for me).

Any thoughts/other suggestions?

#2

I’ve been looking at a Nexus 6, but as a small bloke, I’m worried that I’ll look like I’m holding a tablet to my ear.

I avoid CostCo for similar reasons.

1 Like
#3

Haha! I do know what you mean though. The Nexus 4 is 4.7" and I thought even that was huge when I first got it. The extra 1.3" seems to make all the difference (wahey!)

I guess that’s another tick in the box for the LG G4 - it’s 5.5", corner-to-corner. Also seems to have a slightly faster processor too.

Argh… But vanilla Android on the Nexus 6! This is tricky.

Ooh - and you can remove the back of the LG, so battery replacement is possible, as is expansion from 32GB to 128GB.

#4

To throw another into the mix, have you had a look at the Sony Xperia range. I have the Z3 compact (I prefer smaller phones) and it it a wonderful bit of kit, brilliant pictures, totally waterproof.

The Z4 range is coming out soon so you might be able to get a bargain on the Z3.

http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_xperia_z3_compact-6538.php

Maybe avoid the Nexus 6 because it doesn’t have a card slot but then 32gb of storage should be plenty.

#5

I love GSM Arena for comparing phone specs :-

G4 v Z3 Compact v Nexus 6

1 Like
#6

Saying that, if you want to replace your digital camera, which a phone will never really do, then the photo compare from GSM Arena would suggest that the LG G4 is probably the phone for you.

1 Like
#7

I’ll stand up for the OnePlus range too. I have the OnePlus One and I’m very happy with it.

I love the fact that I’ve put a GiffGaff sim in it and for a couple of hundred quid and a half, I’ve got a great phone and no real monthly commitment. The major drawback I have with the OnePlus One is that the GiffGaff 4G frequency (O2) isn’t available on the phone.

They recently launched the OnePlus 2, but not sure on availability and I’ve heard mixed reviews.

I think that if the camera is important to you, then you should look at the Sony range. My son did a lot of research using what seem to be very similar criteria to you, and he bought a Sony.

2 Likes
#8

Ooh, that is bloody handy. Pushing me closer and closer towards the LG. The card slot is certainly appealing.

This sounds like another nice feature that I didn’t know it had: “Fast battery charging: 60% in 30 min”.

#9

Yeah, I reckon that 6 months ago I’d have plumped for the OnePlus One, but my requirements have changed slightly since.

Getting the phone upfront and then lobbing it on a GiffGaff sim has been my modus operandi for a few years now and has served me very well. Reckon I’ve probably saved a good couple of hundred quid and I love the flexibility.

Have just looked into the Sony range a bit and although the cameras seem strong, they don’t seem to offer much value in terms of the rest of the spec. Good shout though. I had a few Sony Ericssons just before they branded their mobile arm down to just Sony - it’s good to see they’re heading back to top form.

#10

I took this on my Z3 Compact, it’s been resized by being uploaded to google but I think it shows off the camera nicely :-

#11

Despite not being a particularly small bloke, I can sympathise with this.

My 5s (yeah, I’m an apple guy) broke. So got given the 6+ (work sorted it) as a replacement, and I really hate it.

It’s just too darn big. I can’t hold it properly, I can’t type on it, it doesn’t fit in my pockets. It’s jsut daft.

And yeah, it does look like I’m walking around with a tablet on the side of my face when I’m talking. Bad.

#12

Another one, taken just now :slight_smile:

#13

Originally posted by @Big-pixelated-Bob

Another one, taken just now :slight_smile:

Nice subject, nice picture, but the quality doesn’t look great.

What you need to do is upload your photos in full 24MB mode. Like I did in the helicopter landing thread.

This also has the benefit of pissing off Bear, and costing him money.

#14

Yeah, I was wondering why I felt as if I’d gone back to a 56K modem. Now I know.

1 Like
#15

Smartphones.

Well, I had an HTC One for 2 years. It got me up & running in the world of Android and I thank it for that. At the time it was released a month before the Galaxy 5 and so was the only thing to buy

Late last August it got wet. It fizzled and fried itself and there was no way back. This was somewhat annoying in that I was out of work at the time in a Visa nightmare here but had something incredibly special coming up in late September.

As Stevesweb members know I do a lot of golf stuff & I was actually asked to work at the Ryder Cup. Now, this was a “BIG THING” in my life but I was also broke.

The PROBLEM I faced was that the entry rules banned you taking a camera to the event on match days and yet here I was with the chance to be in the centre of the action up close with the players and knowing that at some point I may just need a camera. The UPSIDE was that Smartphones were encouraged and permitted as they had WiFi across the entire course & apps galore to keep you informed,

Down here we have a very different system, you buy a phone then sign up to a service provider, so an HTC is priced about 20% cheaper than a Galaxy, but still comes in at around $1000… Way out of my budget.

I went to the local Gadget megastore and said "I want a 12Mega Pixel camera that has a Smartphone attached and i have a budget of US$100…

The sales guy laughed but he walked me past the A list names, then past the B list Acer/Lenovo stuff to the “never heard of before” local brands and Chinese imports.

He showed me the Hisense range. Their standard 5" phones were 150 quid. They were Quad core dual sim and came bundled with a 16Mb MicroSD card. Their sdtandard 7" phones were double the CPU spec of the latest HTC & Galaxy with double the internal memory and on special offer at the same price. They had an 8MP camera.

So the point is that the case was cheap plastic sh1t that broke the first time I sat on it, BUT 12 months later it is still working perfectly, annoys the hell out of everyone who paid 600 quid for a Galaxy, the battery life even now is TWO DAYS AT LEAST by using the power save function it came with.

And it took the best photo I will ever get the chance to take which my media pals put on their web sites for sale.

So my advice is most phones start to become sh1t after a year due to battery life. Why pay big bucks when 1) everything is made in China and 2) you can get a Chinese no name with a better spec than "named brands for well less than a quarter the cost? Just ask for a spare plastic case as I did.

(I also won a similar spec Touchmate phone a month later as a back up, Still in it’s box, haven’t needed to use it!)

2 Likes
#16

Hey Ant, which phone, if indeed any, did you plump for in the end.

My missus is after a phone, with a decent camera, to replace her iPhone 5

#17

I just bought an S5 for my missus for around £300. Very nice camera.

#18

Yo, just holding off for another couple of weeks. Heading off on holiday tomorrow and didn’t want to take away a brand new phone. Also it’s widely believed that the price of several current models (including the LG G4, which is my top prospect) will drop after the official announcement of new Nexus 5/6.

The LG’s down to £369 on Amazon and only slightly cheaper elsewhere via Eu/grey imports. Once it hits around £320 with a reputable UK supplier I’ll bite. In that sort of price range only the current Nexus 6 can really touch it. Well, there’s the OnePlus Two, but it’s hard to get hold of and seemingly plagued with quite a few hardware/software issues.

#19

In the end I settled on the LG G4, but was waiting for the Google Nexus announcement to see whether the price would budge. Unfortuately the 5X/6P don’t seem to have set the world alight and the G4 remained too desirable for a price drop.

I didn’t go for the gimmicky leather version but after spending the best part of 3 years being paranoid about the glass back of my Nexus 4, I’m happy enough with the dimpled plastic battery cover of the G4.

Went all-out and got the accessories at the same time:

  • Quick Charge 2.0 charger (Qualcomm-certified). I’d let the battery run down to 27% at work yesterday so just before I left, I put it on to charge for 35 minutes. The result? A 91% full battery;

  • LG G4 battery charging kit - yay for removable batteries! This is cool because you can charge the spare battery externally in the small white box. It then has a carry case for taking out and about. I find carrying a tiny battery preferrable to the bulkiness of a decent capacity wireless charger;

  • 64GB micro SD card - an absolute bargain for £17. The 128GB version is £51 and didn’t seem worth three times the cost. Takes the overall theoretical storage to 96GB (actual - 92GB, or 82.5GB after system installs).

Got a nice, slim, clear case for it too - one-piece construction. I can’t stand big, bulky jobbies. Seems especially daft when a bumper did me proud on the Nexus 4 (no damage or scratches in 2.75 years of usage). This one covers the back entirely, with a lip over the front of the phone.

Things I love about it:

  • The camera is immense. With the manual settings (and LG’s camera app is fantastic for these), you can produce photos that would pass as coming from a reasonable digital camera. Point-and-click auto mode is no slouch though. Also enjoying the gestures/voice activation to take pictures;

  • The physical volume/shortcut buttons on the back;

  • The quad HD screen may be slightly excessive but it is beautiful - possibly the best LCD panel I’ve seen on a phone. It’s also slightly convex which I’m a big fan of. For some reason it makes vertical scrolling through apps very aesthetically pleasing;

  • Removable battery/additional storage. 'Nuff said;

  • Knock Code to wake;

  • LG haven’t massively bloated stock Android. I’ve put Nova Launcher on simply as I prefer it, but the other software tweaks they’ve made (such as a true silent mode) are staying as I’m finding them surprisingly helpful;

  • More of an Android thing, but transferring from the old phone to new was ridiculously easy. Touch them back-to-back and my Google account magically jumped over via NFC. Not only that, but it queued all of the apps on the Nexus 4 for download on the G4;

  • The Quick Charge technology. I don’t think I could have a phone without this now.

1 Like
#20

As a slight aside. I got my Galaxy S6 yesterday as was due an upgrade with EE. Instead of going direct through EE - looked at Uswitch and went via them to http://www.mobilephonesdirect.co.uk/. So, still through EE got unlimited mins/texts +5GB of data for £31 p/m on the S6. If I’d done this direct through EE would’ve cost £45 p/m and £70 for the handset. No idea how that works but I’m happy.