New phone time: old-school

Tannin

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#1
My ancient dumb phone is getting tired. For reasons unknown, sound quality is getting slowly worse and people often have trouble hearing me. I need to replace it.

Now I could get another dumb phone, but I am open to the idea of venturing into the current century. Maybe. Key requirements:

* Decent battery life. (Even as old as it is, I still get nearly a week from my dumb phone. OK, I'm not going to match that, but I'm not going to put up with just one day.)

* Decent sound quality and reception. I assume this is a given nowadays. but it pays to mention these things.

* Readable screen. I'm getting long-sighted in my old age and need reading glasses. Bigger is better (within reason - I'm not going to carry a baby tablet around in my pocket.)

* Sensible cost. I have zero interest in spending more than .. oh ... let's say $250 US.

* Usable keyboard. It doesn't have to be a physical keyboard BlackBerry style, but I'm damned if I'll put up with anything non-qwerty or too small to use easily. I use Gboard on my tablet, which is fine, but I often see tiddly little virtual keyboards on people's phones that are way too fiddly to be practical. Presumably, this is really just a combination of physical screen size and software. I mention it because I have a very small smartphone (never been connected to the phone networks) which I bought purely for testing websites, and it is truly horrible to use. .... Pause while I look for it to find out what it is. Amazingly, I found it straight away on top of the fridge where I left it last time I used it, which would be a year or so back .... It's a Samsung Galaxy T1 Mini. Maybe I could just find a better keyboard to load onto that and save the $250. But my memory of it was that it was truly horrible to use for anyone over the age of 7 with normal-sized fingers. (Tea could use it if she wasn't always drunk.)

I like the notion that Blackberry actually thinks about usability and even issues regular security updates, so an old, cheap BlackBerry might be a possibility. I also like Lenovo products (such as my tablet).

Oh. What apps do I want to run? Well, none to speak of, outside a browser. No intention of using it for email or photographs or any of the BS people use phones for these days, just voice calls, the odd text, and once in a while the web to look at a map or find something out.

(I think I might have posted a similar request here three or four years ago. Wound up keeping the dumb phone, of course. Sadly, the old brick isn't going to go much longer.)
 

LunarMist

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#2
Most of the smartphones have poor sound quality since there is very little space dedicated to the speaker. Only the camera or two are important.
 

Stereodude

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#3
Most of the smartphones have poor sound quality since there is very little space dedicated to the speaker.
I haven't found that to be true at all. Of course it all depends what you are referring to by "sound quality". Their speaker phones tend to be quite good because of the emphasis they all have in media playback through the same external speaker. If you're talking about call audio quality to the person on the other end, well that depends on a lot of other factors.
 

LunarMist

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#5
Not many years ago I searched reviews and found precious little on sound quality from the loudspeakers. I hope he finds one with good sound.
I gave up and use the BlueTooth for conversations lasting more than a few minutes.
 

Tannin

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#6
I meant sound quality using the phone normally. Don't care about speakerphone, I never use it. My guess is that most phones are perfectly OK for both local and remote user, but in the end, the reason I'm getting rid of my existing phone is because of poor sound quality. (Not that there ever used to be anything wrong with it, it's just got old and tired.)
(Not like me.)
(Obviously.)
 

LunarMist

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#7
I meant sound quality using the phone normally. Don't care about speakerphone, I never use it. My guess is that most phones are perfectly OK for both local and remote user, but in the end, the reason I'm getting rid of my existing phone is because of poor sound quality. (Not that there ever used to be anything wrong with it, it's just got old and tired.)
(Not like me.)
(Obviously.)
IDK. I've only had 4 smartphones and used 3 others, but none sounded good like my old flip phone. Any degradation of the signal and lower bitrate is a different issue.
 

Handruin

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#8
Your first requirement may be a deal breaker for most if not all modern smart phones. Without connecting a very large external battery, most last about a day maybe two if you're lucky.
 

LunarMist

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#10
I have an older phone (G4) with removable battery. I was able to buy a double-capacity battery and matching back. The battery life is proportionately longer. I don't know if there are many options for that in 2018.
 

Handruin

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#11
My Moto G5S+ can probably last a week with very light use on a single charge.
Do you...like, turn the phone off in-between using it each time? Very light usage must be really light. Having this phone last a week with a 3,000mAh battery and a Snapdragon 625 seems like a rarity. Do you have a Gsam chart you can post with a week's usage?
 

Stereodude

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#12
Do you...like, turn the phone off in-between using it each time? Very light usage must be really light. Having this phone last a week with a 3,000mAh battery and a Snapdragon 625 seems like a rarity. Do you have a Gsam chart you can post with a week's usage?
Well, it's possible that the battery gauge is lying to me. It indicates the phone uses about 10% of the charge per day sitting (powered up with the radios [cellular / wifi] on). I haven't tried to actually use it for a week without charging it. I charge it daily for about 10 minutes in my car on the drive to work and that's it. It generally gains about 10% during the drive.

Edit: I had 86% battery when I walked into the office this morning a few minutes before 9:30am. As of 5pm it's at 82% and I did some texting / Google hangout messaging around noon. So it's not completely idle.

I just took this:

Screenshot_20180510-165531.png

Click for full size.

So I'm not completely making stuff up here... I admit I've not had another modern smart phone that appears to have battery life like this one. Certainly not the LG G4 I had before or the Samsung S8 I have as my work phone.
 

Handruin

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#13
That's impressive. I've not seen a modern smart phone with that kind of battery life. I looked at the same screen in my LG G6 and it says 17:53 (hh:mm) for estimated battery life.
 

Striker

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#15
I think it probably comes down to the software. Motorola is good about not preloading the phone with a bunch of garbage. Without all that stuff constantly checking in it might make a big difference. That combined with the display not being on a lot.
 

Tannin

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#18
Interesting that you mention the Motorola G5S Stereodude. My own research has identified it as perhaps the second-best smartphone around. (For a given value of "best" - in my case that means things like long battery life and sensible price. I can think of lots of things to do with $900, and none of them have anything to do with telephones.)

This link is typical of a number of broadly similar ones: https://www.techradar.com/news/best-cheap-phones-in-australia-for-2017

On the whole, I'm leaning towards the Huawei Y7, largely on the strength of superior battery life, though in the Motorola's favour is my well-founded love of Lenovo products. The G5S also has a higher-resolution screen. On the other hand, I note that they don't seem to be shipping it with higher-resolution eyes, which is really a non-optional extra for those of us pushing 60.
 

Chewy509

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#20
My wife and I have just gone through choosing new handsets (replacing our current Sony Z3C's), so this thread was of some interest. (We both don't see the point in spending $$$ on a device).

The only hard requirements, are that the handset is hearing aid compatible (my wife now wears hearing aids) and had a decent camera (we've using our phones as P&S camera replacements).

The really, really hard bit was the first one... Whilst the FCC in the US mandates that all manufacturers and carriers provide a HAC (Hearing Aid Compatible) list, there is no such requirement here in Oz. (And since we get different revisions of the handsets, we can't rely on the US lists)... In the end our shortlist came down to 2 handsets, the Moto G5S+ and the Sony XA2. (Nokia, Oppo, Huawei, ZTE don't provide HAC support). HTC does on top end handsets, but only 1 in the price range, and that model gets very poor reviews (very poor battery life)... We did contact LG support to determine which of their handsets were HAC, but none of their tier 1 or tier 2 support could tell us, and we haven't heard back after 3 enquires (2 email and 1 phone) to their Australian head office over 2 weeks ago. (We don't do Apple or Samsung).

We ended up going with the XA2 primarily due to the higher HAC rating and higher-res camera over the G5S+.

* HAC support requires the handset provide Telecoill (T-Coil) functionality to a minimum M3/T3 standard. (M4/T4 being the highest/best support).
 

Stereodude

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#21
Do you...like, turn the phone off in-between using it each time? Very light usage must be really light. Having this phone last a week with a 3,000mAh battery and a Snapdragon 625 seems like a rarity. Do you have a Gsam chart you can post with a week's usage?
Well, my 168 hour challenge is complete. I started with 86% battery and ended with 18%. The cellular and WiFi radio were on the whole time. Bluetooth and location services were not.

Screenshot_20180517-093926.png
 

Handruin

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#22
I'm impressed. I've not seen a modern smart phone capable of that kind of battery life. Thanks for doing the test.
 

sechs

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#23
I feel like this is only a question of optimization.

I can already go two days of regular use on my phone before needing a charge. If I turned off the GPS and some of apps that run in the background, I could probably stretch that out to three or four days. I could probably gain a day just by surfing the web on my desktop instead.

If you run stock Android and are judicious about what you install, turn on, and do, the phone spends most of its power working on being a phone -- which doesn't take that much.
 

Stereodude

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#24
I feel like this is only a question of optimization.

I can already go two days of regular use on my phone before needing a charge. If I turned off the GPS and some of apps that run in the background, I could probably stretch that out to three or four days. I could probably gain a day just by surfing the web on my desktop instead.

If you run stock Android and are judicious about what you install, turn on, and do, the phone spends most of its power working on being a phone -- which doesn't take that much.
Get back to us in 168 hours and let us know how it went. :bomb:
 

sechs

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#25
I'm too lazy.

I can basically go forever just partially charging my phone regularly, and that's good enough for me.
 
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#26
Yup. I don't even bother charging at night anymore. Just connected sitting in the cradle when I'm driving keeps mine in the 50-90% range most of the time.
 

Tannin

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#28
Went down to The Good Guys (probably the best Aussie electrical retailer, now sadly taken over by JB Hifi and about to be gutted) to ask

(a) What sort of SIM I needed for the horrible ultra-cheap little Samsung toy smartphone I already have. (I bought it a year or so ago ONLY for checking mobile compatibility on website designs. It's never been used as a phone, it just gets connected to my LAN once or twice a year to look at sites I've built.) I thought I might as well try it out as an actual phone and see how much it annoyed me before I spent more money on another one.
(b) Will that SIM fit into a new phone, assuming that I nix the Samsung toy?
(c) While here, could I have a look at what they ad in the sort of phone I'd buy?

They had stock of both the phones I was interested in (Motorola G5S, Huawei Y7) at what I thought were very reasonable prices. The very helpful young chap reckoned the Y5 would have marginally better battery life, but of course Motorola is a better company. The Moto was $350 or so, the Y7 $299. I said "bugger it, I'll just buy one", thinking $299 wasn't a lot to spend. He said, "here is your phone sir. Actually, we are selling them for $249 this week". How good was that? Have to love The Good Guys. Damn shame JB are wrecking them.

Then down to the Telstra shop for a new SIM card. They used to charge $20 or so for the service. You ordered one and they sent it to you a week later. Not any more. Another helpful kid programmed me a new SIM, installed it in my new phone for me, tested it, total charge? Zero. Can't argue with that.

A good day.
 

time

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#29
Can we expect Stereodude-like dedication in a 7-day battery runtime test? ;)

Actually, some feedback on battery life would be really useful - I couldn't find out anything about that phone.
 

Tea

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#30
Tannin seems to have forgotten this thread, so I guess I'd better clean up after him. Same as usual.

The Y7 battery life seems to be pretty good. We took it off the charger at 10AM and have had a bit over two hours of talk time since then. It is now 1PM - and get this: it's still got a 67% charge. Pretty good, eh?
 

time

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#35
Congratulations, you are the winner!

I see that the Y7 has a stonking great 4000mAh battery. With the lower resolution (720p) display, I doubt there is anything else out there that can beat it for battery runtime.

It has to be the performance / cost champ as well - people mostly report snappy response. By rights, it should have sold in the US for <$150 outright.

Intriguingly, we found one review where someone bought one after their Samsung Note 4 went to a better place (upgrade killed it). My wife is keen to try it as a stopgap replacement for her own Note 4 (it drives her crazy). RAM is down from 3 to 2GB, but the CPU/GPU specs exceed the Note 4 specs.
 

Tannin

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#36
Up to 6.3 days (6 days, 8 hours) now. I've used another 30 or 40 minutes of talk time. Battery says it has 50% remaining. So it's going to do a week easily. I haven't done anything heroic, turned off and uninstalled a few useless things, plus switched off the GPS (I don't need GPS to know that I am at home in bed. I'll turn it one one day if and when I have a use for it.)
 
Last edited:

Tannin

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#37
I think I'll resort to the charger. It's coming up to 10AM Saturday, which will be 8 days since charging, and I have 37% left. I had another half-hour of talk time yesterday, plus a similar amount of time mucking about on the Internet. (Mostly trying to connect to a customer's wi-fi to debug it - he'd lost all his passwords so we had to build it back up from scratch.) So something like four hours of talk time in total, plus a few other odds and ends, and 8 days' use with 37% remaining. Very light duty by most people's standards, but not untypical for me. And yes, it's official: having resisted smart phones for the best part of a decade on the grounds of battery life, my new smart phone battery lasts 50% longer than the dumb phone.

(Yes, I have retired, but this elderly chap is a nice bloke and really needed help, so I went over to his place. He paid me by cheque. I'm going to make Tea go down to the bank and pay it in 'coz she's probably never seen a cheque before.)
 

Tannin

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#38
A few months on and the report card is excellent.

Battery life is as good or better than expected. It goes for about 9 days, but I usually charge it up once a week. When I travel and use it as a mobile hotspot, than can chew up the juice a bit, brings it back to less than a week.

Battery charging takes a surprisingly long time, two or three hours maybe. This is much longer than the dumb phone took.

Performance is perfectly OK. No annoying delays or sluggishness. YMMV.

Screen remains excellent.

There are too many unremovable apps. But no worse than most other Android phones and better than some. Still, this is an area they could improve on. None of the unremovable apps are annoying. Contrast my Lenovo TAB2 which wants me to back up my contacts every second time I use it. (There are no contacts, and if there were I wouldn't use some untrusted cloud service to back them up. And the app that does it is unremovable. Grr!)

The physical design is good but not great. There is no obvious way to tell which way up it goes, so you have to fumble around when you pick it up, feeling for the wake-up button. (This is a common fault - the Lenovo is the same.)

The plastic case material is sufficiently strong and resists marking or staining quite well, but far too slippery. The phone is awkward to handle because it tends to slip out of your fingers. You get used to it, but they really need to look at using some sort of non-slip finish on it.

It has dual SIMM slots. I didn't even know what this was when I bought it, but it turns out to be a godsend for traveling - I can put a cheap SIM in from a local telco for Internet and local calls, and still have my normal number available on the other SIM for people who want to call me from Australia. That's a real bonus.

People say "but it's a Huawei. What if the Chinese government is snooping?" I say "So what? Google already snoops on everywhere you go and everything you do, as does Facebook, as does Apple, as does Twitter, as does Microsoft, and the US feds back-door into that and share it with Australia, NZ, Canada and UK, why should the Chinese be the only ones to miss out on my data? Besides, they are the only one of the whole damn lot who won't sell the data to the highest bidder or use it to target advertising at me."
 

Will Rickards

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#39
Thread hijack

So I'm in the market for a inexpensive phone as well. Let's say $250 USD. I'm working on getting my Note 4 repaired but let's ignore that story for now. But I'm looking for similar specs / performance (snapdragon 805 / 32GB internal memory / 3GB RAM / 16MP Camera).
But I want t-mobile's band 71 (600Mhz) / 66 (700Mhz) support. And I'd like a phone that gets OS updates or has treble support and can be rooted so that those OS updates can come via the community.
These are the phones that support band 71 according to tmobile.
I've eliminated most of them and unfortunately can't consider phones like the Xiaomi Mi A2 as it doesn't have band 66/71 support.

So I'm leaning towards the Moto E5 Plus, which is said to not get any android updates, and trusting on the community for updates or the LG Q7+.
I have no info on whether the Q7+ has treble support or is rootable yet.
I was considering buying the S8 Active used, but that has no treble support as far as I can tell. So updates will be questionable.

Thoughts?

  • LG Aristo 2 Plus [$150] - Too Small/Slow
  • LG G7 ThinQ [$750] - Too Expensive
  • LG K30 [$200]
  • LG Q7+ [$350]
  • LG Stylo 4 [$250] - No Root
  • LG V30 [$696] - Too Expensive
  • LG V40 ThinQ [$750] - Too Expensive
  • Moto E5 Plus [$225]
  • Moto E5 Play [$150]
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 Star [$175] - Too Small/Slow
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Star [$250]
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 [$870] - Too Expensive
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Active [$850 new / $350 used] - No Treble Support
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 [$720] - Too Expensive
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus [$840] - Too Expensive
 

Handruin

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#40
Have you looked through phones on Swappa to see if you could find a newer phone that meets your criteria but not pay full price for it?
 
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