Need a Decent Phone

LunarMist

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I'm still amazed that phones are not all cheap POS like so many mature products, but they keep finding other silly uses for them to maintain high prices.
 

ddrueding

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If there was a good set of AR glasses I'd stop bothering with a laptop entirely and just use the phone. It is plenty powerful, I just want a bigger screen to do actual work on.
 

Mercutio

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I'm still amazed that phones are not all cheap POS like so many mature products, but they keep finding other silly uses for them to maintain high prices.

Most people think phone cameras are the #1 reason to buy a premium phone, but it really does cost money to get a high quality display + a high end SoC. There are places that tear down and estimate manufacturing costs; flagship Samsung S-series Ultra phones have somewhere around $650 worth of hardware in them.

If there was a good set of AR glasses I'd stop bothering with a laptop entirely and just use the phone. It is plenty powerful, I just want a bigger screen to do actual work on.

Samsung DeX actually works really well except that you are stuck with mobile browsers and Android doesn't really have the concept of file browsing in multiple windows or of working with multiple displays. I understand that Framework is working on a sort of multifunction dock that uses its motherboard to make a portable system that amounts to a notebook without a display, which could be a sturdy option if you know you need to move your environment from one full desk setup to another.
 

ddrueding

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Samsung DeX actually works really well except that you are stuck with mobile browsers and Android doesn't really have the concept of file browsing in multiple windows or of working with multiple displays. I understand that Framework is working on a sort of multifunction dock that uses its motherboard to make a portable system that amounts to a notebook without a display, which could be a sturdy option if you know you need to move your environment from one full desk setup to another.
Even just the phone is enough for me these days, if it had a bigger screen. Google Docs and Chrome mobile will get most of my work done, and if I'm messing with files it is while remoted into another machine anyway. The current smallest VR glasses are from Bigscreen Beyond, and they might be good enough?

 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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dd, I am completely serious when I say that a premium 2 in 1 Chromebook might be just the thing for you. I'm familiar with the Samsung Chromebook Go as a 4G internet-connected device, but I have to imagine that we'll be seeing some new devices with the Snapdragon Elite SoCs soon as well.

I currently carry a Lenovo Flex 5 on trips, which is a Windows PC. Before that, I was using a Chromebook with a Mediatek SoC and just remoting to a virtual desktop for anything serious, which actually worked fine for me when I needed to do anything serious.
 

ddrueding

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Merc, I totally believe you. My needs for a mobile computing thing are super low, mostly watching YouTube with the occasional light web research and Google Docs work and very occasional remote into something. Most devices could do it. My phone currently does all of it, and the only reason I bring my year-old maxed-out XPS 15 is because I want a bigger screen and full keyboard. That laptop gets used so rarely that every time I pull it out the battery is low and everything needs updates.

My phone gets used and charged every day, and because it is running all the time updates are unintrusive. I would love to have some simple accessories (BT keyboard and glasses-based display) that could just connect to it when I want those functions.
 

Mercutio

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The Galaxy Tab S9 has a keyboard cover if you want it and can be had with 11, 12.5 and ~15" screens and a Snapdragon 1 gen 2 SoC. It can run DeX just fine and there is a lot of value in the S pen if for example you like the idea of having a drawing tablet permanently handy. I've said before that I would be a lot happier to have a tablet as my main mobile device, because I hate even the concept of telephones in the first place, but too much of the world would break if I didn't have one.

The ipad pro has a similar use case, if you can remotely stand the OS and want to pay an extra $900 for the most expensive version.
 

LunarMist

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The new OS enforced on my Samsung phones this week has suddenly messed with the battery charging limits. :(
 

ddrueding

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I just noticed that there was the option to set charging limits on Android the other day. I'd been hoping for such a setting for a decade.

Is it the OS itself or the institutions management tools that are getting in your way Lunar?
 

Mercutio

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I keep mine on max battery saving mode, so it only charges to 80%. This has been an option on Galaxy S models at least as far back as the S20.
 

Santilli

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DD:
I'm still stuck on 9S+.
I can't find any phones that have an SD card slot.
Big deal, because I like the variety of 230 mb of mp3's.
The 6.8" screen on the S22 isn't big enough?
I was thinking about moving to that size, but passed.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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I can't find any phones that have an SD card slot.

The phone you probably want is a Samsung A53 or A54. The A35 does not have a card slot, but the A34 did.
You can also buy buy one of Sony's premium Experia models, but those only get two years of software updates at most and have inferior screens to Samsung's. Sony's newest flagship model, the Experia 1 VI, is not meant to be sold in the USA at all.
 

Santilli

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I don't know if a move from a 6.2 to a 6.4 screen, 9s+ to A54, hardly seems worth it.
The Sonys are a REAL jump up. 12 mb of RAM?
6.5 wide screen?
HMMMM. Do Sony phones come with Sony junk software, like Samsungs junk software?
 

LunarMist

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How much storage do you need? Most phones are 128 or 256GB. You can store plenty of audio on a phone without a memory card slot. If you capture a lot of video then get 256GB model. If you buy a foreign market phone there are various pitfalls as Merc mentioned. I almost bought an S23 a FE a few weeks ago.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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I don't know if a move from a 6.2 to a 6.4 screen, 9s+ to A54, hardly seems worth it.

You have to choose between the quality of the screen and your desire for an SD slot.
Samsung devices have superlative screens even on their crappy phones.

Sony does not have that, especially in terms of overall screen brightness. Not that you'll be able to tell, because no mainstream brick and mortar retailer in the USA will have Sony phones in stock. It's actually easier to buy someone's for-review unit than it is to find a store other than Amazon selling them.

The Sonys are a REAL jump up. 12 mb of RAM?

You can get 12GB RAM RAM on an s20+ as well, but then you lose out on any possibility of future Android upgrades.
Sony is notorious for providing at most one generation of OS upgrade, then abandoning their hardware. Depending on the model, new Samsung phones carry five or seven years of updates.

HMMMM. Do Sony phones come with Sony junk software, like Samsungs junk software?

Every Android handset, including the Pixel, has some amount of OEM BS on it. It's pretty easy to disable the stuff that can't just be uninstalled. I'm told Moto phones generally have the least BS on them, but for the most part, you can fold, staple and mutilate an Android device to whatever configuration you want. The only Samsung applications on my S24 are Knox, Good Lock and its native camera application. I've disabled or removed the icon for everything else. I don't even like Samsung's Dialer application.
 

sedrosken

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Gotta say, I miss when modding my android stuff was fun rather than irritating and time-consuming for no good reason. Maybe it's just that I have less of it these days. I'm a lot less inclined to use custom ROMs or root or do much of anything these days partly because I'm growing more and more apathetic (some would say growing up, I vehemently deny these allegations) and, some of it I'm sure, being charitable, is that the stock experience on phones has by and large been cleaned up compared to the bad old days of TouchWiz and its contemporaries. There was a time I considered Samsung phones nigh-unusable without a custom ROM or at least a custom launcher. Nowadays they're about the only Android manufacturer I can stand at all. I miss LG.

I can't believe I'm saying this and I can hear my younger self screeching 'hypocrite!' in my mind, but I don't really care for some of the features I used to like microSD card slots and 3.5mm jacks. microSD is too slow for what I'd want to use it for and most phones can't pack the DAC/amp needed to run good quality headphones anyway, so why not let it be something that hangs off of your USB-C port. Since you can't install Android apps to the SD card anymore anyway, half the point IMO of having the slot has been moot for almost a decade at this point. That said, since phones are just black glass slabs these days that don't have much to distinguish themselves aside from the number, we're really starting to hit the plateau like we did with Core2/Sandy PCs in the late 2000s and early 2010s. I honestly see my ip13 lasting until Apple kills it off provided the battery holds up and I don't chew it up too bad. I'd probably still have been on my Xr if it hadn't had a screen problem.
 

Mercutio

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For me, the justification for microSD is the ability to switch the personality of the device. I had a card full of media, mostly music, that I kept on hand for entertainment and I'd keep an empty one in my phone when I was traveling to swap back and forth with my camera so that I could sync data back home passively over my cell plan. I still have an older phone with a spare card in it and I can use my tablet, but neither of those devices has a cell plan, so I'm tied to someone else's wifi if I'm on the road.
 

ddrueding

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I like the picture backup plan. I think you could do that with a USB-C to SD card reader and a modern Android device? I should try it.
 

Mercutio

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I like the picture backup plan. I think you could do that with a USB-C to SD card reader and a modern Android device? I should try it.

At this point, I have a phone set aside for photography functions. It has a 1TB card and I use it with a USB-C to HDMI capture device so that I can display my viewfinder to a model and/or shoot video and photos at the same time and so I can swap it back and forth with my camera to get pictures passively backed up. I just don't like having to use 802.11 for it when I'm traveling. Hotels and AirBNBs don't always have the best networks. When I was in Manhattan a couple weeks ago, even though my hotel was only 5 blocks from the NYSE (also only two blocks from Foley Square, where the Trump is currently still being tried for campaign finance violations), the in-building network was only capable of 25Mbs down and 10Mbs up. My phone saw 300Mbit down over 5G in the same place.

I truly detest portable power banks. I definitely carry one, but I would infinitely rather just be able to swap a battery. I can't wait for the EU regulation for user-serviceable batteries goes into effect.
 

LunarMist

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I thought the main point of internal batteries was to reduce design space and weight and the second one was to prevent use of unauthorized/unsafe batteries.
 

Mercutio

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I thought the main point of internal batteries was to reduce design space and weight and the second one was to prevent use of unauthorized/unsafe batteries.

I don't actually care. The EU has mandated user serviceable batteries. That doesn't happen on phones that are glass on all sides and I'll be happy to see those abominations die.

The EU is of course the only regulator in the world that actually cares about consumer or end user experience.
 

sedrosken

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[...] That doesn't happen on phones that are glass on all sides and I'll be happy to see those abominations die. [...]

To play devil's advocate, plastic backs never really felt very sturdy or 'premium'. Threw up a bit in my mouth typing that. That's almost certainly what most manufacturers will go back to, after throwing up their hands and throwing as much blame at the EU as they can in order to hopefully rile up their fanbase enough to demand a repeal, but I personally hope we see a return of metal backs kind of like how pre-Lenovo Motorola did with the Droid X. I miss that phone, so very very much. Unironically if Motorola reused the exact chassis and display and threw, like, a SD4xx class SoC in it with a couple gigs of RAM, I'd probably buy it for a backup or something to use when I need to disconnect from all the social apps. Honestly if my X supported VoLTE, or indeed LTE at all, I'd probably use it in some capacity still.

That said, I'll be very pleased to go back to buying an extended battery with a thicker back cover to compensate and enjoying days upon days of battery like my Dad got from his Droid Bionic.
 

Mercutio

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Give my plastic all day every day. It's practical. LG sold a few phones with leather backs as well. I don't like leather. It holds smells and I think that's gross, but if someone needs a more premium option, it's an easy alternative.

Just miss me with that glass shit.
 

LunarMist

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All my phones have had material on the back - not glass. My LG part 4 had a removable back and there were leather and other types including one that held a double-capacity battery. There is no point in seeing the guts of the phone like those silly computer cases for the gaming kids.
I've never had any problems with the back of the phone since the case solidly protects it. The LG was the last phone I ever used without a case.
I sometimes have added some Talon grip strips on the sides of the slippery cases. That material is great because it works by having a rough 3D texture, not being rubbery in any way and lasts for a years.
 

Handruin

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Can titanium be used with wireless charging? I assume carbon can, and that would be a neat phone backing but I would be concerned with it chipping when dropped and then eventually delaminating.
 

LunarMist

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Titanium is ridiculous for phone back use other than to be fancy and expensive. Thin titanium does also dent and is paramagnetic. In the early 90s I managed a project and worked with electron paramagnetic resonance and spin-spin relaxation of organometallics. Keeping everything clean and the environment electromagnetically stable was difficult. Even a passing truck could create an anomally in T2 results.
Nevertheless, common sense is that a large metal surface can act as a Faraday shield which is probably not a good idea for what is a radio.
There are plenty of reinforced engineering plastics that are more than adequate for a phone back.
 

sedrosken

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My problem with that is, no one ever seems to use those reinforced plastics. My old Galaxy S4 had a plastic back that feels super cheap and gross and that was a flagship phone in its day. I can definitely see people spending more than a grand on a phone feeling pretty crummy about getting a plastic back deliberately made to feel cheap and blaming the wrong people. Also, it's more than soft-touch coatings -- those eventually turn to mystery goo anyway -- it's rigidity, composition. The thing is, anything plastic these days is made to be cheap, nothing more.
 

ddrueding

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My phone isn't the newest (Samsung S22 Ultra), but it would benefit from something that isn't glass. It already feels like plastic (apparently it is "Matte Finish Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2", and some polycarbonate with high fiber infill or carbon fiber would work just as well and last longer.
 

Handruin

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My s22+ feels the same and because it's glass and slippery, I end up covering it with a 3M wrap anyway, so just make it plastic and/or durable and skip this glass sandwich.
 

sedrosken

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I'm certainly not saying keep it glass -- I hate that too -- but when you tell them to make it plastic you're giving them license to make it as cheap and nasty as humanly possible, unfortunately.
 

Handruin

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I don't think we get to dictate either. They all kinda decided on their own to use plastic and/or glass as a way to differentiate from the competition until everyone was doing the same.
 

jtr1962

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Can titanium be used with wireless charging? I assume carbon can, and that would be a neat phone backing but I would be concerned with it chipping when dropped and then eventually delaminating.
I don't think so. One of two things will happen, maybe both. One, it will act as a Faraday cage, which is almost a certainty. Two, it'll start heating up when absorbing the output from the wireless charger, similar to an induction stove.

As for carbon, consider they use it on bikes. By comparison a phone is a far less demanding use.
 

LunarMist

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Carbon fibres are good under tension and can make very rigid structures, but have several other issues. At the least the designers need to ensure that abrasion and impact resistance is adequate.
Given that the majority of phones have a case installed, I'm not convinced that spending much money in the rear is what the manufacturers prefer. Glass is not so expensive to produce in volume.
 
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