Android phones: Tips, tricks?

Chewy509

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Anyone else had Android 5.1.1 pushed to their devices? My Sony Z3C just got the update, and it certainly feels more fluid and polished than 5.0.1 (which the update replaced), and battery performance is slightly better...
 

Handruin

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No not yet. I probably have 6-10 months before I'll get that kind of update pushed.
 

CougTek

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I've installed 5.1 on my Moto G about two weeks ago, but since I don't nearly use my phone as extensively as you guys, I don't have much to report other than the speed has not been an issue since, compared to Kit Kat, despite what many others have warned me against Lolipoop.
 

LunarMist

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Is G4 still the better choice over S5 at the xame cost? I need the new phone AsAP. Thanks!
 

ddrueding

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It provides what I believe is the minimum level of protection worth having. Before this I went without a case and replaced the glass quarterly-ish. I also take advantage of the mount integrated into the back of the case in the car and on the bike. Cosmetics don't bother me, but I want to reduce the number of times I break the screen.
 

Mercutio

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Damn this phone is huge and barely fits in my in my pants! I don't think there is much room for a case, but what is thin and light?

I put a simple back cover on mine.

The new Note was released and, like the GS6, it no longer has a proper battery or card reader. An amazing number of Slashdotters now seem to think that getting an external battery or battery case instead of having a battery you can just pop in and out is a good idea now.

The G4 is only a tiny bit taller and wider than my Galaxy S4 but it is somewhat thicker. I don't find the slight extra weight to be a problem.
 

LunarMist

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It provides what I believe is the minimum level of protection worth having. Before this I went without a case and replaced the glass quarterly-ish. I also take advantage of the mount integrated into the back of the case in the car and on the bike. Cosmetics don't bother me, but I want to reduce the number of times I break the screen.

Damn, I guess the new phones are fragile. I'm not so thrilled with this phone so far. It's bent for some reason.
 

LunarMist

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I thought the curved back would make it fit better in the front pants pocket?

Oh, it's deliberatedesign? The curves must be for front pocket use since the phone would not survive my ass force. :D
 

ddrueding

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Yeah, I don't know anyone that puts their phone in a back pocket more than once. The curved back is supposed to fit in the pocket and the hand better than otherwise. Of course, the downside is that it won't sit flat on a table while you use the interface.
 

Santilli

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It's only a 5.5" screen. Mine is 6.3" and uses an otter case.

Don't currently see a reason to get a smaller phone.
Don't carry it around the house like a normal phone.
 

LunarMist

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The screen side is slightly curved as well. If you put a G4 face side down on a table, the edges touch but the glass doesn't.

I got a Caseology for it. Now I see there is a memory card slot on top of the SIM card. I found an unopened 32GB BSD card, but of a slovenly type (~15MB/sec. write-45MB/sec. read).
Is that good enough? From what I read the phone does not allow anything important to be written to the card anyway.
 

LunarMist

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It's only a 5.5" screen. Mine is 6.3" and uses an otter case.

Don't currently see a reason to get a smaller phone.
Don't carry it around the house like a normal phone.

I have 9 cordless phones with speakers, so there is no point in using any of my cell phones at home. :)
The LG does just fit decently in the pants pocket and is OK for walking, sitting, driving, etc. Anything larger would really be too much.
The case I received is reasonably protective for the size. It is not an issue if the phone breaks. I don't particularly have any attachment to it.
I probably should have purchased an S5 a year ago.
 

Santilli

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Music?
I got a Caseology for it. Now I see there is a memory card slot on top of the SIM card. I found an unopened 32GB BSD card, but of a slovenly type (~15MB/sec. write-45MB/sec. read).
Is that good enough? From what I read the phone does not allow anything important to be written to the card anyway.
 

Mercutio

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So I have to buy a new phone and I'm super annoyed about it.
I have an LG G8. Specs-wise, it was very similar to the Samsung S10, only without Samsung's bullshit all over it. LG phones can be fixed without much effort and the flagships at least have great screens, headphone jacks and SD card slots. I'm even a fan of the back-mounted instant-read fingerprint sensor, which can be gestured upon. I like a 6" phone. They fit easily in my hand. I wasn't even thinking of replacing it for another full year.

The G8 and the V60 were the last LG Flagship phones. Neither will be supported on my carrier for whatever flimsy, crappy reason, and I've been on a $30/month unlimited-everything service plan I'd truly hate to give up.

So far as I can tell, my options to get an SD slot and a flagship CPU are one of the Samsung S2x phones or the Sony Xperia 1 ii or iii. Most of the other hardware omits the SD card or doesn't ship with a proper amount of RAM or a fast CPU (my insistence on this is my habit of keeping my phones about 3.5 years). I guess I could look at a Moto-something, but that would actually be a downgrade from what I have now, let alone what I might be buying.

The NDAs were lifted on the Xperia 1 iii was lifted today and apparently it's very lackluster, particularly for the screen brightness and battery life. And it's a $1300 phone from a company with a reputation for poor hardware quality (this is coming from an LG person, but Sony has been kind of laughable in that department since it stopped being Sony Ericsson). Sony is offering interesting camera tech, with Alpha-series controls and a very large sensor by phone standards. I guess that's something, but phone cameras aren't at the top of my list anyway.

Among the Samsung phones: The newest ones don't have SD slots. They're right out. The S20s get physically larger as the internal storage and RAM increase. I GUESS the 20+ at 6.5" with 12GB RAM isn't terrible, but now I'm talking about a phone that's glass on both sides, that's a year and a half old and will almost certainly won't get updated past Android 11. The S20FE is cheaper, but it gets to cheaper in part by using a digitizer that would normally be found on a $250 phone; touch accuracy is reportedly a huge problem.

Samsung does have its act together with software updates. There are just an awful lot of small things that Samsung does that don't align with Google's standards or defaults. I can fix all of it, but that plus all the all-glass, curved sides, slow fingerprint reader drawbacks add up to something I'm not gonna like as much as the phone I have right now. And it's entirely possible that the S22 or S30 or whatever will be an even bigger and more expensive shit sandwich.

I think losing LG was really the end of differentiated Android devices.
What a goddamned bummer.
 

Will Rickards

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Why the SD slot requirement? Phones have huge internal storage. I have a cheap moto E5 plus and had to put lineageos on it to get android 11. But no wifi calling. I'm switching to an iphone when the new ones come out. I'm tired of the stupid android lack of update crap and stuff like wifi calling just not working properly.
 

Mercutio

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Two reasons: one is that I have a strong preference for being able to switch my phone's personality between content creation (mostly recording video) and media consumption. The second is that I'm absolutely terrified of losing data when a phone dies. I don't really want a half terabyte of data stuck on a phone unless it's entirely replaceable. I just don't think it's wise to have huge amounts of internal storage that depends on the rest of the phone to function.

I still think iOS is unacceptable. I'm not down with the "One size fits some" approach to mobile devices. I know there's something to be said with having a phone that's on autopilot, but I'd rather tinker and get things the way I want than have the only answer be "This is how Apple wants it."
 

LunarMist

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Can't you backup the phone every day to your giant NAS or SAN or whatever?
Do you trust your data to the Google more than giving it to the Apple?
 

Mercutio

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Mobile devices are deliberately difficult to fully back up or clone. You can do it on a rooted device, but some devices and some carriers are hostile to that as well.

I have a 5TB Google Workspace account almost entirely as a giant space for Google Photos. Google Photos really is a best of breed service.
I don't have a problem trusting Google / Microsoft / Apple for the data I am allowing them to have. It's more that there are some restrictions I like less than others, especially with the limitations on data sharing in Apple's ecosystem.
 

Handruin

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Samsung's stuff has toned down a bit over the years. Aside from the stupid bixby button there isn't much of Samsung software on my phone that bothers me or I notice on my Note 9. That said, none of their phones after this have enticed me. They all feel like steps back in some ways. Depending on what the official specs are on a Pixel 6 pro, that might be a contender for my next phone. Would be nice if the rumors of 5 years of android support hold true.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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Notes are too goddamned big. 7" devices used to be called Tablets. I don't even care about 5G; the closest LTE tower is barely 100m from where I live now, and my phone speed tests north of 30Mbit most of the time. Seems fast enough to me.

Bixby is a sore point for sure, but so are the many places where Samsung drops support for a Google-standard too in favor of something that integrates with a Samsung-specific tool or or something coming from Microsoft. I don't even like the in-screen fingerprint reader on S-series phones. It takes a couple heartbeats to work, particularly since I know I'm paying extra to get that feature. It's just a lot of little things that make me less than jazzed about the Samsung producst, even if I might recommend it to someone else.

On the plus side, the S21FE is strongly rumored to have an SD slot. Rumors say 8GB RAM, but if it has a Snapdragon 888, it'll at least be in the flagship-band of performance. I more than halfway suspect that 8GB RAM is going to seem a little scrawny by 2024, the way 4GB phones are right now.

The language in the communications I've gotten from Tmobile literally say they're going to end all ability for my current phone to operate at the end of 2021. I suppose I can wait until October to see if the S21FE lives up to what I'm looking for.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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Apparently the not-sold-in-the-USA Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 could be workable, if I were willing to accept a 700-series Snapdragon CPU and a certain amount of Chinese spyware. The price is right. They cost around EU$300. This is apparently the phone that cause Samsung to release the S2xFE edition devices.
 

Handruin

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Those don't seem like worthy tradeoffs to me. Do you think the 700 series will hold up over time with newer Android releases and the ever-growing complexity added into apps over the years?

I'd rather the S21 FE assuming rumors pan out.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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I don't think performance will hold up, no. It's interesting that there's a budget-friendly device that's so competitive for specifications with those FE devices, though. Same AMOLED screen, same RAM etc. I suspect RAM is the biggest predictor for long-term usability in Android hardware, not CPU. That's coming from any number of modest Android tablets I've collected over time.

Looking on AliExpress, pricing for those Redmi phones is all over the place. Sometimes as cheap as $250. They all have to be imported and some of them need the Play Store installed, so it would be a total crapshoot to buy one.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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X Com 2, including all its DLC, was released for Android today. It's only supported on about 20 devices, only a couple of them tablets. The install size is 17GB. The texture quality isn't as high as the PC version but it's advertised as a complete port. That's pretty damned impressive for a five year old AAA game.
 

sedrosken

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After 6 months in the trenches with an iPhone SE 2020 from AT&T (bought on promotion) I've decided to abandon carrier again as my service flat out just hasn't worked at home for the entire time I've been living down here. It works fine at work as that's a couple towns over, but screw me if I want to be able to, yknow, receive a call without WiFi. The other carriers aren't spectacular out here either as we're right next to the air base -- you don't tend to get a very reliable LTE connection for data -- but you can at least reliably send/receive SMS and calls.

The fact that iPhones are rather witheringly expensive and as I got it on promotion I haven't even made a dent in the payoff amount -- along with the fact that the promotional model is the lowest-storage one and I'm already ramming right up against the capacity limit with my music library since, with spotty-at-best LTE I can't really stream anything -- and my general frustrations with iOS in general (any keyboard that isn't the Apple default sucks and I've got my gripes with that one too, among other things) has me jumping back into the Android camp as well. iTunes is a buggy mess that works for neither love nor money and apparently syncing is miles better on a Mac -- good for them, I'm not interested.

But I've learned from the mistakes of my past. No more carrier-specific models. No more crippled prepaid models. No more old used flagships that have been ridden into the ground. No more current flagships that make my wallet cry.

I've gone with the 2020 model of the Moto G Power. Why not the 2021? Well, the 2020 is the clearly superior version -- the fingerprint reader is in a less ugly spot, it still has the ultrawide camera, and all the XDA dev activity is happening with the 2020 model in mind it seems. Since I bought the unlocked model directly from Motorola, I can unlock the bootloader whenever I feel like it, which will probably be once the support runs out for the Android 11 ROM it will eventually get from them. Since the 2020 and 2021 model are so closely related, they came with the same version of Android, and will receive an update to the same version before being cast aside.

4GB of RAM is okay -- I don't do a metric ton at once, usually I just like to be able to shove a youtube video in the background while I chat on Discord or whatever, and I managed that okay enough on 2GB (the Galaxy A10e I had before my iPhone was a nightmare for multitasking). The Snapdragon 665 it uses is also okay -- again, I managed just fine on a Exynos 7884 which looks a bit weaker on paper. The headphone jack I can take or leave, the lack of NFC and wireless charging isn't an issue since I don't use NFC and the case I'll be using would make wireless charging impossible anyway. The killer feature of the phone in my opinion is the battery -- 5000mAh is absolutely massive especially coming from my iPhone with its puny ~1800mAh battery. I'm told it can last through moderate usage for a couple days and I honestly believe it, especially with the habits I picked up to keep my iPhone from dying halfway through my workday. I know Motorola is a bit of a shell of their former selves, and I won't be getting anything close to my beloved Droid Turbo, but the way I use my phone has changed dramatically in the last couple years and I can make sacrifices in areas I didn't use to be able to in order to cover what I do need exceptionally well.
 
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sedrosken

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I got the phone yesterday and I'm honestly blown away in every possible good way. For a relatively budget phone it pulls no punches. I've had a couple situations where, it would be installing a system update while running youtube and that'd slow it down quite a bit, but in general use it's perfectly fine. The battery holds up insanely well -- I was poking at it from the time I got it and only had to put it on to charge around midnight because it hit 30% and the system updater refused to keep going because of "low battery" despite the fact that 30% probably would have gotten it through to the next morning at least.

The screen is big, but not uncomfortable to use as I feared it might be -- in fact it dwarfs my iPhone, it fits inside the screen even with an Otterbox on. I've already got a 256GB mSD card installed with all of my lossless music, all of my ePUB/mobi/PDF book collection and all of the ROMs and ISOs for the consoles this thing has the power to emulate with plenty of room to spare.

The thing that concerns me is that this has already gotten its Android 11 update, and Motorola has been getting worse and worse about supplying updates. I hope I have some time before the security updates stop so I have time for the XDA dev scene to mature a bit more before I have to rely on a custom ROM.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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I generally recommend Moto phones to older people. Very often I've found the things that make smartphones confusing for people are Samsung-default or Verizon-default behaviors, like Samsung's bizarre insistence on using the Gallery app instead of Google Photos or Verizon's bullshit storing contacts with the SIM instead of in Google Contacts. Moto is close to stock Android and tends to offer great battery life. The 2021 G Power is a legit 3 day phone for light users, for example. I do still want a phone with a flagship CPU for myself though, and Moto doesn't make those.

I don't understand the push to eliminate SD card access. There are entirely valid reasons for wanting removable storage, even if it's just a matter of a fast switch between media libraries.
 
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