back to article Bah humbug. It's Andrew's Phones of the Year

When a blind chimp with a shopping strategy based around a pack of darts can come out of Carphone Warehouse with a decent phone - is there any point giving out awards? I've seen dozens of shiny new things this year - and I do wonder why reviews need to be longer than a few words. Maybe they don't need words at all. Perhaps …

  1. jason 7

    LG G4...

    ...I get plenty battery out of my £350 LG G4. Three days if I don't use it like a Gameboy and interact with other adults like we did in the old days. Not a problem. Usually the ones that moan about battery life are the total phone fiddlers that load up their phones with battery optimisation bloat and all sorts of crap they don't need. I run 100% stock. Go looking for help on XDA? All you'll find there are people who mostly don't have a clue and spend all day looking for ways to cripple their phone.

    Great phone.

  2. Bassey

    Security Updates

    Whilst I've had plenty of phones from Manufacturers who don't update their phones (Huawei being the worst) Sony have been fantastic of late. I've had the Xperia Compact Z1 since release nearly two years ago. I've lost count of the number of updates since then. It is currently on Android 5.1.something. The amazing thing is, though, that despite the fact Sony have not put it on the list of phones receiving an update to 6.0 (and I didn't for one minute think they would) it IS still receiving security updates. I've had two in the last few months, the last just a couple of weeks ago. For a phone that has already been superseded a couple of times and is no longer receiving OS upgrades I think that's worthy of praise.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely

    1. iPhone 6s Plus

    2. iPhone 6s Plus

    3. iPhone 6s Plus

    4. iPhone 6s Plus

    5. iPhone 6s Plus

    6. iPhone 6s

    7. iPhone 6s

    8. iPhone 6s

    9. iPhone 6s

    10. iPhone 6 Plus

    Honourable mention:

    11. IPhone 6

  4. graeme leggett Silver badge

    all filler, no killer

    And that's just the article...

  5. W Donelson

    Not impressed with S6 edge plus

    My wife got one of these about 6 weeks ago, brand new. It refused to boot and was sent back. The new unit took 2 weeks to arrive "from Salford UK" and seemed great.

    But when she was playing games, she found two severe problems. Touching things near the right edge was fine, but SWIPING down or up did not work. Others on the internet report the same.

    Also, on the keyboard, the letter O would not work unless the phone was in landscape orientation. We installed updated Android OS, latest. Took it to Vodafone shop 3 times, no joy.

    So we sent it back for a refund and wife got an iPhone 6S plus. Three week now, no problems at all, she Loves it.

    I used to be very impressed with Samsung hardware (never fond of Android though)

    Now I'm not so sure....

  6. Martin Summers Silver badge

    It used to be so clear cut which phone was the best and which was going to be my next upgrade. Now I really don't know and to be honest with the overwhelming choice bundled with lack of differentiation, I'm also starting to feel I don't really care any more. It used to be exciting getting a new phone, now it's not and that's sad. Maybe I'm just old and cynical now.

  7. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

    I will be trying diligently to wean SWMBO off of Apple when her old 4S battery dies (sometime soon); I was hoping the new Xiaomi Note 3 would do the trick, but Xiaomi seem to be going all Apple and pushing style over substance, so the Honor 7 is top of my radar screen right now.

  8. Andres

    Flagships are sinking

    I don't think I will ever pay more than £300 for a phone again when you can get so much for less. Having said that, Vodaphone have the LG G4 for £240 on PAYG!! So I am off to buy one before they sell out.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Security Updates

      This is the main reason I got a Nexus: I know that the device will be supported. Unless and until we start seeing major leaps and bounds on the hardware side again, support is what will differentiate phones from each other.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

      Is there anything fundamentally wrong with the 4S?

      Getting a new battery would be a lot cheaper than buying a new phone.

      Or is there some ideological reason to want to get rid of an Apple Phone?

      At least the 4S is still getting updates. How many Android devices that old are doing the same eh?

      Like one other poster here, I went over to the dark side after my 6 month old Android stopped getting updates. Well it only had one before they stopped.

      IMHO, Google should put their foot down and force any company using the Android software to commit to at least two years of updates. The lack of updated plays right into Apple's hands.

      Until then, the alternatives are what? Apple or Microsoft?

      Make your choice.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Security Updates

      Sony's problem is that they aren't giving me a convincing reason to replace with a newer model. Though if VR and Cardboard (or an equivalent) do come to anything this year I will be awfully tempted by the Z5 Premium when the prices come down a bit, because that 4k screen can display two 1080p images side by side for a largely pixel free stereo/vr experience.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

        Provided your new phone is no worse than the old one, if you have invested in the system by buying things from the itunes/Play/Store then it makes sense to keep with same.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Security Updates

        My Xperia z5 is supported very well, its bang upto date with security patches, and its M update is due in the next month. Sony support older models very well too, easilly as good as Google themselves (if the chipset vendor sdk supports it, Sony and Google support it).

        You csn make an experia look and behave very much like a Nexus device (but one that has a SD card). For me, that makes it the best phone (and tablets) money can buy.

      3. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Security Updates

        > This is the main reason I got a Nexus: I know that the device will be supported

        Completely agree. Why one would want to use a non patchable portable computer holding a trove of personal information is beyond me. You can literally still buy phones that can be pwned by MMS messages (that you don't even have to open BTW); phones that will never see a fix.

        /Posted from my 2013 Nexus 5 running 1 December 2015 patch level on 6.0.1

        1. ZSn

          Re: Security Updates

          However a 2012 nexus 7 can also be pawned. They're not updating it whereas an old winphone 520 is still being updated. Google and Apple aren't the only shows in town...

      4. BenR

        Re: Security Updates

        Sony's problem is that they aren't giving me a convincing reason to replace with a newer model.

        Bang on.

        I had a Z1. Loved it. Couldn't upgrade to the Z2 or the Z3 due to contract lock, but didn't feel the need as beyond minor battery life improvements and a slightly bigger screen, there was nothing worth upgrading for. Waited and waited and waited and waited for the Z5 hoping for a 5.4" screen, 2k, 3Gb of RAM and a 15-20MP OIS camera. Figured that wasn't far off the specs of every other flagship going so there was a decent chance.

        What did i get? Three models that are *IDENTICAL* except for screen size and, in the case of the hellishly expensive Z5 Premium, a 4k screen that slurps so much power it isn't even used all the time. No OIS on any of the camera modules - instead a lot of noise about the speed of focus which doesn't really matter most of the time. If you're trying to take pictures of something that is moving so quick and happening so fast that you need focus times in the microseconds, then you shouldn't really be using a cameraphone to do it.

        I'm all for incremental improvements - Apple have been doing it for years with the iPhone - but you have to at least make the increments big enough so that 2 generations down the line there is a noticeable difference!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely

      More likely

      1. Anything but an iPhone

      2. Anything but an iPhone

      3. Anything but an iPhone

      4. Anything but an iPhone

      5. Anything but an iPhone

      6. Anything but an iPhone

      7. Anything but an iPhone

      8. Anything but an iPhone

      9. Anything but an iPhone

      10. Anything but an iPhone

      Honourable mention for still beating the latest iPhone

      11. Samsung Note 3

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Surely

        I'd have thought the Yotaphone 2 would get the honourable mention for wrapping the back of the device in extremely low power consumption eink epaper stuff, whilst still being a halfway decent phone.

        1. Robert E A Harvey

          Re: Yota

          I nearly bought one till I saw the price

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Yota

            I know, should have called it 'Yowza!'

        2. Phil Kingston Silver badge

          Re: Surely

          I nearly bought one, but then read the camera reviews.

          Maybe the next one.

    5. cambsukguy

      Re: Security Updates

      Amazing... that you think that is amazing. My old WinPhone, in the hands of one of my sprogs, still gets updated - with OS changes, I am unsure what you mean by these 'security updates'.

      Moreover, the same phone and my later, but still two-year-old phone, will receive updates after that update for some considerable time - of that I am sure.

      One of the main reasons I stick with it, that and the camera, UI, reliability, lack-of-malware...

    6. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

      Someone who says they are "trying diligently to mean SWMBO off of Apple" is obviously doing this for his own reasons, so trying to talk him into anything that doesn't end up with his wife switching to Android is going to fall onto deaf ears.

      I wonder what her feelings are in the matter, he was silent on that subject...

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge

        Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

        Some of us have a life outside of the forums, so now is the first time I have logged in since my posting.

        To clarify;

        Other than SWMBOs iPhone, the house is Windows/Android/Ubuntu.

        SWMBO is Chinese, so it is very difficult to sort out her phone problems when the phone is displaying Chinese text, ESPECIALLY if I am not familiar with the Apple OS.

        It doesnt like playing with Windows, at least not when the PC is also in Chinese; we had big problems just getting it to recognise her phone network, needing a 3rd party program to override the OS (I forget the name, but it came from Australia).

        Getting photos off of it can be a biotch, the easiest way is for her to upload them to QQ or WeChat and then for me to download them.

        To be fair, the battery is still nearly as good as when she got it 2 years ago, but that "good" isnt very good, it spends more than half its life plugged into a 10,000mAh power bank.

        If it wasnt for Xiaomi going all Apple, I would have been buying her one as a replacement, at least she could get support in Chinese.

        I would also like to point out that Xiaomi update my phone every week, even though it is now 3 generations old (RedMi Note 3G). Depending on how you want to run it, you can have monthly stable updates, weekly beta updates, or nightly "developer" updates.

        1. dave 76

          Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

          "SWMBO is Chinese, so it is very difficult to sort out her phone problems when the phone is displaying Chinese text, ESPECIALLY if I am not familiar with the Apple OS."

          My son runs his iPhone in Japanese and if he needs help with it, he switches the language to English and hands it to me. It's one setting to switch the iPhone fully from one language to another.

          That happens to be the reason my wife brought an iPhone instead of an android. We looked at a number of phones but the switching languages and keyboards was a bit of a pain on android. We even went to the Samsung flagship store to ask if there was an easier way that we were missing. That was a couple of years ago now so probably much better not, but at the time it was a deal killer.

      2. Ian Emery Silver badge

        Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

        Sorry, missed the bit about her feelings.

        She is OS agnostic, she likes the iPhone, but also likes her friends Lumia 9xx and the Samsung Galaxy 5.

        I got her to play with my RedMi a few nights back, and she was quite happy with it; you get 75% of the equivalent Samsung Galaxy Note for 25% of the price

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I got her to play with my RedMi a few nights back..."

          Requesting permission to snigger!

          1. Ian Emery Silver badge

            Requesting permission to snigger!

            Not sure why you would snigger, you dont rate the phone??

            Yes, RedMi is slang, the phone is a HongMi in Chinese and Red Rice in English; I like to mix the two.

    7. Pristine Audio

      Re: Not impressed with S6 edge plus

      S6 edge plus - best phone I've ever had. Replaced my Note 3 with one in September and absolutely no regrets. Swype keyboard works perfectly, BTW...

    8. dotdavid

      Re: LG G4...

      "the total phone fiddlers that load up their phones with battery optimisation bloat and all sorts of crap they don't need"

      Like the manufacturers do? Or are you claiming I need this McAfee antivirus app on my LG G3?

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LG G4...

      My LG G4 was regularly getting two full days of battery. In fact if I wasn't using it much I was losing less than 10% over the normal day.

      However, just before the Marshmallow update the battery life went downhill (still get a day but much worse than before). The Marshmallow update didn't help much.

      I'm pretty sure it is an app that is doing it but I rarely load new apps on, so it could be just an update to an existing app. I'm struggling to track down the exact cause but I don't think it is the phone itself. I'm probably going to factory reset soon and do a gradual install of apps from scratch to see if I can find the culprit.

      I think that battery life issues are often not down to the phone itself.

      1. jason 7

        Re: LG G4...

        Oh you get rid of that crap too. But most of what the folks on XDA do is total crap too. There are probably 5 or so that know what they are doing and do a valuable job but the rest just dick around thinking they are tech gods but just making it worse. They think that the only way a Smartphone should run is to stuff as many tweaking apps as possible on it and then wonder why they only get 3 hours of SOT rather than the 6+ if they left it stock.

        But you can't leave a phone stock cos that means you don't know anything about tech or smartphones.

    10. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Flagships are sinking

      Many would consider £300 excessive for a phone nowadays. Got Daughter and wife a Motorola G 3re Gen for about £110 each and it does pretty well everything you want to do with a phone in a pretty neat package.

      Not sure what i would be missing out with for that £200 more

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Flagships are sinking

        Motorola G4 user here, tbh no they are not missing anything.

        Its just the usual differences in hardware, the case is kind of nice (Although I had the wrap around one that likes to not only close the screen but pickup everything with metal in around it (Damn where do these paperclips keep appear from!))

    11. Tim 11

      I'm not looking forward to my next phone and that's a great cause for optimism in my book. The fact that the phone market is maturing is a good thing. It means we'll get more reliable and stable platforms, better usability and fewer dead ends.

      But most importantly, we can get on with our lives in the real world using the phone as a means-to-an-end rather than the phone itself being the object of our attention.

    12. kmac499

      Re: Flagships are sinking

      Torpedoed below the water line I'd say.. Especially when you can get last years Flagship on a virtually zero cost upgrade. My biggest personal gripe is making phones bigger. You can't put a 6 inch in a belt holster; and girls, If you keep sticking 300 quids worth of nickable tech poking out of your jeans back pocket don't be surprised when it get's nicked or bent.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Flagships are sinking

        you can get last years Flagship on a virtually zero cost upgrade

        If you're stupid enough to shell out for a premium price, long lock-in contract. Of course your network'll give you a decent upgrade in that case, it's the profit on the likes of you that gets the CEO his new Merc every year.

    13. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      That should mean you can look at it and go, pfft I'll just spend X pounds on a phone instead of the usual £600.

    14. Andres

      Re: LG G4...

      Just FYI - Vodaphone have it on PAYG for £230! A spectacular deal which I will be buying tomorrow. All I need now is a Vodaphone unlocker..

    15. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Security Updates

      >> since release nearly two years ago. I've lost count of the number of updates since then

      Good that you can get updates, just like those of us using IOS or Windows; but so many updates in less than two years? Either your ability to count is very limited or something is desperately wrong with the quality of software design, testing or implementation. Seems like MS Windows and equally advisable to avoid. Or did you get a beta test version?

      I can understand two or even three (exceptionally) per year updates. But so many in less than two years?

    16. Allan 1

      Re: Security Updates

      Sony phones are great, but their screens seem unusually fragile. I have a friend with a Z3, who dropped it less than 2 inches onto a carpeted floor, and the screen literally exploded into fragments. Other than that minor inconvenience, they are great phones.

    17. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Flagships are sinking

      I can't bring myself to fork out £300 now. And I'm not even paying. I could have an iPhone, but resent the cost, even though the company picks it up. Actually I don't like them either. I love my iPad, but as a phone iOS doesn't quite cut it for me. I don't like the email client, or the address book, or the failure to properly separate my work and personal mail/contacts.

      I admit to lusting after the Galaxy Note. But £150 gets a good Motorola or my current Windows Lumia 735. Although from Andrew's rude comments, I'm suspecting Win 10 may kill my liking for the platform, and drive me to Android (which I find a bit fiddly).

      As I've been saying for a few years though, it's impossible to justify flagship phones costing more than the best tablets. Often by hundreds of pounds from the same manufacturers! Only the weird model of mobile purchasing encourages this madness, and it can't last.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    best value phone

    Honor 7 beats the OnePlusX, Nexus 5x, Moto X Play and Asus Zenfone 2? Is there a compelling reason why its better?

  10. ShelLuser
    Black Helicopters

    Problematic market...

    I hold no grudge against any brand and I'm also not a fanboy of one, not even mine. I use a Windows Phone and although I enjoy using it I'm realistic enough to realize that it's hardly the best. However, I do worry a little about the market and the dominance on the market. Not from Apple, but from Google. Maybe unfounded, each to his own, but Google's intrusion into our everyday live worries me a little. Especially because they're doing everything they can to expand on that field as best as possible.

    Sure; they're being open about it mostly, but the parts which they like to hide are also those which worry me. Especially because all the courtesy which Google seems to show us stops the very moment when someone has the nerve to pry on, discovers something weird and then asks them about it. Put differently: when you disagree with Google and speak your mind then will you discover just how cooperative Google is. Like those Android developers who didn't got paid and didn't got any responses from Google by e-mail. Resulting in their forum thread to get locked "Please send us an e-mail instead" and eventually it got purged from history alltogether.

    As said I don't hold a grudge. Because in general Google does play a fair game. Control needs 2 sides afterall: controllers and people allowing themselves to be controlled. Which is exactly what is happening, and it's understandable too: I mean you'd be a fool if you didn't recognize Google's huge potential and the tremendous ease of use which they provide. I most certainly am not questioning that.

    What I do question is the price we pay for all those goodies. Because if there's one thing which us geeks should know: digital freedom doesn't really exist. Most often there's some kind of price attached. A free download? Cool, but they "only" want your e-mail address. That's not free. A free to build and hosted website? Cool! Of course you will get banners and the domain name you get to use isn't yours either. That's not free.

    To me the phone market is no different. Cool: when my phone gets stolen then Microsoft provides me with the option to remote-fry it (I prefer the term ghost-burn, from GiTS). But that comes with a price; they're into contact with my device the whole time and can get all sorts of info from it. Most of that is opt-in (so I'm led to believe) but how sure can you be?

    And that's where I'm getting worried. Less players on the field means less competitiveness which means that the options for market dominance are much easier. Players simply agree to apply $unpopular_feature together and all the consumers can do is to accept it. Its not fully related but still comparable: XBox vs. Playstation. Playing multiplayer games on the Playstation was always free or charge, on XBox you always had to pay a fee. And so we've reached a point where none of them are free anymore. Microsoft and Sony dominate the market and thus they dictate the rules. All the more reason for me to postpone the idea of getting a PS4: instead I'm considering to get a gaming PC and then hooking that up to my TV.

    Phone of the year? I'd say brand of the year and it can only be Android. I'm still using my Windows Phone and if the time comes then I'll definitely try to find something else which isn't Android. Not because I think Android is bad, quite the opposite, but because I think Google is way too intrusive.

    Heck... My browser of choice right now is Opera, I know it's build upon Chromium which is basically the "Google Chrome do it yourself kit". And already some Opera users have noticed a few times that "weird connections" were made with Google's network. It never got confirmation but of course it does. I mean: you get to use the browser for free, but freedom in the digital world? Yeah right!

  11. Cameron Colley

    Just give me a frikking keyboard!

    All these "app stores", fancy screens and the like are fabulous for those who want them but, please, somebody, just make a fucking physical keyboard! As it is I'm on a now obsolete BlackBerry Bold because the thought of using one of these glass slices for email and text chat (my main mobile uses) is just too much to bear. Surely physical keyboards aren't that expensive?

    By the way, I am aware that BlackBerry are still around with things like the Classic but since I like to keep a phone for at least 5 years before changing I worry that BlackBerry may not exist when I come to buy a new phone.

  12. phr0g

    Have the Moto X Play. Cost equivalent of around £250.

    I'm not sure where I am missing out in comparison with the premium phones.

    I also have a work supplied S6 edge, which admittedly looks and feels great, is not a "better phone" in any significant way.

    Not a fan of the iPhones. The plus with the same screen size as mine, is way bigger and clumsier. And having owned an iPhone 5, I wouldn't personally want to downgrade to iOS.

    I did use a Nokia 1020 for a time. Pretty nice phone, decent cam (although no where near as good as the fervent supporters would have everyone believe...and WAY too slow).

    I may give Windows phone another chance next time, but for now I'm happy with a "midrange" Android.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

      I'm more interested in the return of the trackball (or equivalent), which I last saw on a Nexus One. I find that typing on a screen is a much smaller problem than trying to position the cursor. It's almost always just easier to delete and retype than to try to edit when performing basic phone tasks like messaging. I seem to be better on iOS than Android but that's probably only subjective practice.

      1. Ian Entwistle

        Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

        BB Passport... job jobbed, physical keyboard and it acts like a touchpad for positioning the edit box accurately and for scrolling without having your fingers all over the screen. .

        I can't think the last time that I genuinely haven;t got my eye on some new model... this thing is the most productive, intuitive thing I'd owned by far. the hardware is still top spec and best of all the battery lasts two full days of serious use. Add in the Hub for productivity and you can keep your Androids and iphones... I'll stay here quite happily.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. kmac499

          Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

          "I'm more interested in the return of the trackball (or equivalent)"

          Had one of those little doo hickeys on an HTC wildfire. A small glass bead was the optical 'mouse' element in the centre of a press button. Really simple to use, especially useful to navigate within text you were typing.

      3. kefa

        Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

        You get this on the iPhone 6s. Hard-press the keyboard and it turns in to a 'trackpad'.

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Problematic market...

      "And that's where I'm getting worried. Less players on the field means less competitiveness which means that the options for market dominance are much easier."

      And that's why I hope that Apple and Google continue the present system. Apple never had enough market share in PCs to force Microsoft to change its ways, after the introduction of Windows. Apple has enough market share in the US to ensure that Google never gets piece-of-mind dominance, but it also doesn't have enough market share in the rest of the world to force everybody to buy its products to get iMessage etc. Looking back, if it wasn't for the existence of all those missiles the Cold War worked rather better than the post-1990 era with two sides having different areas of influence and keeping one another in some sort of check. Unlike the US or the UK, a two-party system in phones is relatively benign because they are not fighting for exactly the same territory.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Problematic market... (@1980s_coder)

          The main purpose of language transferring the meaning of something from one person to another - and obviously, ShelLuser, could have been on about anything - so yes, thank you for correcting them.

    3. phil dude
      Pint

      Jumping the moto ship...

      I have Moto-E (2nd gen) 4G. I just got a Nexus 6p (128GB). I was a refugee from Nokia and Micro$haft.

      Motorola's incompetence (as with many phone makers) in keeping to a software update schedule, has made it (Nexus) the only pragmatic choice.

      Oh and Google Fi (their phone service), is $20/month cheaper.

      Google's software, Google's phone, Google's koolaid (Icon --> ) ?

      Can we now have (Google) fiber?

      P.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

      I wish I could afford a priv.

      Slider

      real keyboard

      Android but with Added security

      My last "smart phone" with keyboard was the Nokia E65, stupid Nokia killed the widgets and created useless Ovi. The Sony / Experia Z1 is OK, but no updates and the Android apps and Playstore is so much like spyware I only use Camera, Phone, FM Radio, Music Player, etc. Bluetooth, WiFi and Mobile Data are disabled. I had to uninstall Amazon Kindle Reader as it was trying to connect, even when I wasn't using it and even though WiFi and Mobile Data disabled. I can't afford Mobile Data, so the Priv would have to work on my WiFi.

    5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

      I second that motion. I've still got my old HTC desire z floating around and I miss the keyboard it had on it.

    6. Pristine Audio

      Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

      I have a couple of Bluetooth keyboards of different sizes. Can I type quicker than I can Swype? No. Do I want a keyboard on a phone? No

    7. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

      With you on that one, my favourite ever smartphone was my old HTC Touch Pro (Actually an O2 XDA Serra, but I installed the stock HTC TouchFlo 3D on it) and it was absolutely perfect for what I needed. Always hated Blackberry keyboards, must have fat fingers.

      Clearly little demand though, it used to be an HTC specialty but haven't seen one from any manufacturer (other than BB) since the HTC 7 Pro.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

        Can I type quicker than I can Swype? No. Do I want a physical keyboard on a phone? Yes.

        Bluetooth keyboards miss the point, unless I am at a table I need something to hold both devices. I don't care about screen space (I have a tablet for funny cat videos)

  13. gryff

    After trying them all, I still don't know which to choose

    Thanks to some jobs changes my 2015 was

    Symbian-> Blackberry->Android->WinPho 8.1->Apple Iphone

    Blackberry - nice, but deserved to die, the UI needs work. Simple things that were solved years ago on other UIs were a PITA on BB10. Solid hardware, nice keyboard.

    Samsung Android - UI "excellent in parts" and *really sucky* elsewhere. Too much Google/manufacturer/operator fluff everywhere. Too many stories about security holes that don't get patched.

    WinPhone : Usable, I don't miss any apps. But where is the future? Win10 doesn't have HERE maps? Or does it have the integrated MS version? Why are so many "base features" only available via apps? Better radio and call performance than the previous two.

    Iphone : overpriced, overvalued. What is that mess of settings..? So there are a gazillion apps. So what? Its too hard to do basic things. Why are obvious use cases crippled - sharing via bluetooth, setting up my own ringtone without a 15 minute detour through itunes? Why not standard USB? Underwhelming compared to the hype.

    At the end of that odyssey, I don't know who to trust for an Android; hate Apple for its walled kindergarten approach and pricing; won't miss Blackberry and wish there was any credible alternative.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: After trying them all, I still don't know which to choose

      > WinPhone : Usable, I don't miss any apps. But where is the future?

      Well, Windows Phone 10 is the same code as Windows !0 now so the phone will have software as long as Windows 10 has software.

      I presume there will be less choice in phone models as there would be for Android but there ought to remain a fair range, which would seem large enough since there is only hardware differentiation to choose between.

      As Windows 10 gets increasing numbers of Universal apps/programs, I also presume the phone will get them, at least where the minimal extra effort has been made to make the phone build render nicely.

      At least, I very much hope that is the case. It will last long enough for a new Lumia 950 say, complete with updates and support, three to five years or so, minimum, especially as it has a replaceable battery.

      Is any longer really required?

      P.S. Folks talk about investment in apps/iTunes etc. How much do the apps cost to replace? £10, £20, £30 even. A 950 costs £200 pounds less than an iPhone 6S. Unless you really need some particular app or you just can't stand using a web page to buy at Argos instead of an app, no problem at all.

      Personally, just having offline maps and navigation for almost any country in the world, especially the one I live in, makes the lack of apps seems meaningless.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: After trying them all, I still don't know which to choose

        > Well, Windows Phone 10 is the same code as Windows !0 now so the phone will have software as long as Windows 10 has software.

        That is not true. Windows 10 for phones has a subset of the code of Windows 10 PC, and is currently using ARM code. So it is _not_ "the same code". It does have some code in common.

        Windows 10 for phones runs UWPs (and WP8 apps?) _only_. Windows 10 runs UWPs and tens of thousands of Windows [legacy] applications which Windows 10 for phones will not run.

        Due to specific API differences, implementation choices and hardware requirements there will be W10 UWP that will not run on W10M and vice versa.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: After trying them all, I still don't know which to choose

          Yes, I wish people would stop claiming it's the same OS too. It's just a common API - very different beast.

          On another point, the reason so many base features are now installed as apps is to allow updates to be done out of sync with the OS. In the past, to update the email client, the whole OS would need to be updated.

          That said, I miss the hubs from Windows 8 - MS have thrown out too many unique features in Windows 10. AND - don't get me started on the latest camera app.

  14. Fihart

    Like iPhone, hate Apple.

    Just switched from Blackberry to iPhone4 (secondhand). Mostly happy, though I miss the BB physical keyboard.

    But infuriated that I can only download pictures from the phone, not upload them, without faffing about.

    Don't tell me about iTunes or the Cloud or whatever. I just want to be able to drag and drop stuff from my PC to the phone. Pictures or scans to attach to emails -- you know, like I've been able to with every other smartphone I've used.

    I cannot use iTunes -- it's the worst piece of commercial software I've ever encountered. Just try adding your own ringtone to an iPhone and you will be spitting teeth.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: Like iPhone, hate Apple.

      I have to ask:

      I have seen that iPhones can't send a picture or pictures vis Bluetooth. I couldn't send a picture I took of some friends to them without using WhatsApp for instance, which was pointless since they loved the picture precisely because it was taken with a Lumia 1020 and they had no idea that phones could take such good pictures. It was impossible to pair with the iPhone in the first place because it rejected the profiles so it has to pair the other way and offer the fewer profiles it had. Then the photo couldn't be sent anyway. I can send 10 pictures, each of 5MB to my girlfriend's Lumia with an NFC tap and we happily continue using our phones if needed as long as we stay in BT range.

      Apparently, ringtones are an issue too, which explains much of why all the iPhones I hear seem to have stock everything, including rings and that awful text alert.

      I have had to use an iPod running iOS 9.2 and some of it is just awful, the way the menus operate, the inability to terminate an app completely, the UI is functional at best. The fact that plugging one into a PC doesn't even give you a decent way to transfer large files or a large quantity of files. iTunes music is movable I am sure so it is not the investment in that.

      And the keyboard, Jesus, after WInPhone it is beyond dire, it is like torture to one whose ability to tap with two fingers at insane speeds is limited - it also explains why I see iPhone owners tapping like maniacs along with the annoyance of the accompanying noise, which presumably can be removed but , also presumably, never is because it is too deep in a settings menu somewhere. No clever extra buttons for .com/.co.uk when typing web addresses, no added @ when an email box comes up.

      I had a phone with a good keyboard previously, word prediction too, the swipe keyboard on my Lumia is faster by a margin and a damn site less tappy - the addition of a cool cursor positioning joystick on the Windows 10 is even better and the cut/copy/paste/cursor stuff on the iPod had me wailing with annoyance when I had to use it, I just could not get hold of those things easily.

      Why do people just keep paying extra for what genuinely seems less good to me?

      I can see why Americans buy them in such large numbers, there appears to be an iPhone hegemony there and I am sure apps are well disposed towards their market but other countries?

      They genuinely seems to break more easily, certainly more easily than either of my Lumias although a work mates S3 broke falling onto carpet from a sofa.

      I am and will remain perplexed - all I can imagine is that the actual cost is basically small and thus the extra money is just not seen as a big deal, hence higher share in richer markets. That, along with lack of knowledge or FUD or something must be he reason.

      1. D@v3

        Re: cambsukguy

        yeah, the whole 'no bluetooth file transfer' thing is a bit of a pain, but if you are dealing with other people with iPhones (which is obviously what Apple would prefer), there is AirDrop, which is basically the same thing. And when that isn't an option, email seems to work well for me.

        Ringtones? My phone (and in fact many that belong to people I know, iphones or not) spends most of it's life on silent, as the noises these things make are anti social and annoying, I do have a few on their that I have cut together from songs though (for when I am feeling anti-social) I've never really had much of a problem with the settings / menus, (and its even easier now there is a search, but each to their own), those shitty keyboard clicks were turned off within seconds on my old phone, and the setting got carried across to my new one.

        Taking photos off the phone is easy, plug it in and it acts like a digital camera. Putting files on? dropbox.

        "No clever extra buttons for .com/.co.uk when typing web addresses, no added @ when an email box comes up." No idea what your talking about here, I have had this function (contextual keyboard) on mine since, whenever it was I brought my first iPhone, very useful.

        All I'm saying is, there are always (at least) 2 sides to each story / argument, whatever. I have been a happy owner of iPhones for several years.

        Yeah, the windows iTunes software can be a bit shit, but it makes updates and backups easy.

        iOS is consistent which is nice, I don't want to have to re-learn how to use my phone when (if) it gets an update. We use Android devices at work, all the phones (and tablets), even from the same manufacturer seem to be completely different, menus all over the place, and then just as your getting used to the peculiarities of one specific device, it gets an OS update and everything changes.

        I'm not massively invested in the walled garden, (and yes, that does annoy me a bit as well, but no more (or less) than living in Googles 'open' utopia where there are CCTV cameras on every street corner (not being literal there, just in case you thought I might have been)) but in order for me to consider switching to someone else, several things would need to happen. Apple would need to massively drop the ball on the hardware, I get that they haven't done anything 'amazing' in the last few years, but they also haven't screwed it up (the bending thing was a bit crap, but I didn't have one of those, and the people I know who had a 6, it didn't bend), they would also have to give me a solid reason to think, 'no, fuck apple, I'm done'. To complete this, one of their competitors would have to give me an equally solid reason to think 'yes, xYz company, that is exactly what someone needed to do, shut up and take my money'

        Wow, long post, sorry, bit bored in the mid Christmas slump, not much to do at work, think I'll have (yet) another coffee and maybe a mince pie.

        1. Fihart

          Re: iPhone and Dropbox vs USB/Bluetooth @ D@v3

          Sadly because Dropbox and other cloud services depend on internet access they are slower, less reliable (and not free) substitute for a working USB socket. By working, I mean operating as intended -- i.e. allowing files to pass in both directions and allowing access to folders on either device.

          Equally irritating, the iPhone's Bluetooth doesn't work either -- the sole function mine would offer was to play music from my iPhone via my laptop's speakers, which is of zero utility.

          I raise these issues because in the past when I have lacked landline internet I've been able to carry on via a Nokia or Blackberry by (in the most common use I have) scanning material on a PC and transferring it by USB to the phone and briefly using its data allowance to send files out via email.

          Lack of usefulness as a mobile office, arguably, relegates the iPhone's to the kind of users who value selfies and social media above actual work.

          If Apple want the iPhone to be happily adopted by users like me they need to uncripple USB and Bluetooth. Or completely redesign iTunes (hopefully separating the entertainment side) as a reliable, user-friendly hub.

          Having got past the annoying form filling (that demanded a home address and phone number for no good reason when seeking a free app) and impossibly long t&c, I spent some time trying to find Dropbox in the App Store and concluded that the iTunes/App Store are just as hopeless as the present iTunes program. So another change for the better would be to allow reputable software to be download direct to the phone from the source rather than via Apple.

          Of course, that might make it harder for Apple to apply a tax on everything sold via iTunes/App Store -- just as the rigmarole in the iTunes software seems designed to encourage users to buy music rather than copy their own CDs for free.

          Clearly the way Apple operates is to hamstring the operation of their products to tie users into the Apple way of doing things (which runs counter to the whole joyous experiment with which we first embraced personal computers) and cynically wring cash out of users.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been looking at phones but I can't find one that makes me want to upgrade.

    The only features I've seen since I got my S4 are the fingerprint sensor and hardware upgrades I don't need because the pictures it takes are fine and all apps run fast enough. (maps/national rail/email/browsing/profanisaurus/bank app/bins app/Owncloud/kodi/vlc etc etc etc...)

    I don't have to worry about updates because I'm using cyanogenmod and the privacy settings keep apps in check for permissions. (it also dramatically increases battery life, I have an S3 for work that lasts a week with it's original battery.)

    Recently changed the battery (didn't really need to as was getting a day so now I have a backup)

    My contract is £23 per month cheaper.

    Screen repair is £60 or £120 with digitizer though I could probably do it myself for cheaper if I got a heat gun and the tools.

    So basically unless someone comes up with something other than adding a number or letter to the model, useless side bars, fitness/watch's or removes the micro sd/changeable battery then when it dies or even before I'm going to get another S4 for a replacement.

    1. I'm Brian and so's my wife

      Don't install Samsung Knox - it just makes easy rooting more difficult.

  16. 2StrokeRider

    In the US, we're limited due to carrier band/technology differences, often locking a particular phone to a provider. A lot of the 'cool' phones aren't available for my provider. Since I'm grandfathered in to a Verizon unlimited data, I buy my own phone, current is a Moto X Dev that I'll keep flogging until it dies. Next will be a Google, for the update cycle.

    1. bob, mon!

      "...until it dies. Next will be a Google, for the update cycle."

      This. My Galaxy S III just decided its non-replaceable battery was toast, so I'm getting a Nexus. Not through Verizon, they don't update the OS and they do force unwanted bloatware onto the phone. I currently have over 40 updates waiting, all of apps that I don't use and all wanting to be more invasive of my privacy.

      A plague on 'em. If anyone else had coverage in my rural area, I'd go provider-shopping.

      1. phil dude

        Re: "...until it dies. Next will be a Google, for the update cycle."

        @bob, mon! This *exactly*. Buy a Nexus from Google and get a discount, probably...

        You point about updates. I have 5 (and counting) on Lollipop that *all of a sudden* want more perms.

        Hence, since Motorola are too incompetent, I am getting a Marshmallow phone, that actually disables perms on an app basis.

        P.

  17. Mikel

    We aren't going to agree on the best phone

    I think we can agree the selection is amazing though. And who knew a smartphone was going to do all this stuff?

    1. Richard Parkin

      Re: We aren't going to agree on the best phone

      ". And who knew a smartphone was going to do all this stuff?" Steve Jobs, obviously. Let the down votes commence ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We aren't going to agree on the best phone

        About 4 years before smart phones took off a friend of mine after a night out whilst listening to trance music at an after party sat there with his Nokia and said to everyone you know what, in a few years this will be a computer and do everything a computer can do, he even went on to say maps, music (he was a very good dj who used ableton/cubase/reason etc..), video. He got sectioned a few years later.

        It's a funny old world.

      2. jason 7

        Re: We aren't going to agree on the best phone

        I'd say it was a group of tech folks that persuaded him a phone would do it.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: We aren't going to agree on the best phone

      The amazing thing IMO is the disappearance of the landfill android category. With the noname devices genuinely competing on features previously in the midrange, it has forced the previous midrange kings to sharpen their pencils and to add additional bullet points to their feature lists. This in turn means that the cutting edge top of the line devices struggle to justify those prices.

      Interesting times.

  18. Esme

    What I REALLY want in a phone

    Is a Psion Organiser II that can also make phone calls and send and receive text messages. That's it, job done, I've no need or desire whatsoever for the rest of the crap on modern phones. The happy years when I owned a working Psion 2 were the most organised and productive I've ever been. Easy to use, functional, and with a battery life in weeks, never mind hours! I don't even like the secondhand BB's that I have used (due to their physical keyboard) since my original BB died, and speaking of which - the original BB gets my vote for best phone I've used. Still had crap on it that I neither wanted nor used, but it came closest to the Psion III experience as an organiser, and could make calls and handle texts.

    I never have been sure why everyone else seems to swoon over handheld PC's that they have essentially bugger all control over just because they can also use them as phones... bah, humbug!

    Hope you all had a good'un! :-}

  19. Jason Hindle Bronze badge

    Thoughts from a Fandroid

    I tend to judge phones on what they can do, and what services work. So, my priorities, beyond being competent, tend to be:

    - Takes a decent snap

    - Has a fingerprint reader

    - Has NFC

    - Supporrts mobile payments now.

    Only iPhone does it all, though the camera is questionable*. I like Apple Pay**, and use it fairly regularly, and wish Google would hurry up with their own offering! I carry two phones, BTW: an older Nexus 5 and an iPhone (gen 1) 6. My Nexus 5 replacement? Does all of the above and isn't by Apple (see subject), and has a bigger screen. So, a Nexus 6P or similar, I think.

    * That 12 MP snapper just doesn't stack up against the competition.

    **Never did trust contactless sans authentication!

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Funny world

      I guess this is why people will never agree on the 'best' phone.

      I don't want a finger print reader.

      I disable NFC.

      I would never use a phone for payments - I even disable the contactless bit on my credit cards.

      We can agree on a decent camera though ;)

      1. jason 7

        Re: Funny world

        Same boat as you. Its why in the end instead of waiting for a OnePlus etc. I just spent the extra £100 and got the LG G4.

        Its a nice phone and a very nice camera.

        1. 404 Silver badge

          Re: Funny world

          Meh.... I'm going back to my BB Storm 2 after my Note3 goes away...

          One thing you never had to worry about with Blackberry was that BB wouldn't be looking over your shoulder like Google (unless you set BES up that way of course ;)

          I am liking the Priv, just not the Google part.

      2. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Funny world

        With you on NFC, not a fan of the Hipster drive to ban wallets and have everything on smartphones which is just an excuse for them to show the world what (i)Phone they have.

        I'm also one of the few happy with Windows Phone/Mobile as I don't use many apps. Other than email and internet access, camera and GPS (I do still have the HERE apps) I rarely use anything. BBC Sport and the El Reg app (of course!). I mainly use my phone for work so having Office, OneDrive, Skype etc is useful in a pinch but not essential.

        I'd be quite happy with a (reliable) fingerprint reader though.

        1. jason 7

          Re: Funny world

          Why would anyone want to brag about owning a iPhone...when so many have one?

          It's NOT a status symbol. Owning a iPhone is the same as bragging you own a Toyota Corolla.

          I see an iPhone and I just think it shows a little lack of imagination and individuality. Nice phone and all that, but just very boring and much of a muchness.

          1. Franco Silver badge

            Re: Funny world

            Preaching to the choir mate, in South Park terms it's like the goths who call everyone else conformists when they all think, speak, dress and act alike.

            Soon iPhones will need to come with different stickers or cases to differentiate the models (and therefore the affluence of the owner), which will lead entertainment for the rest of us similar to 1980s Escort Diesels with XR3i badges on them.

  20. Hubert Thrunge Jr.
    Happy

    Shenzhen Generics..

    I bought SWMBO a OnePlus One to replace an ageing Sammy Galaxy S3. I'd rooted that and moved it to Cyanogenmod after updates ceased appearing. That's now in the hands of my son, who is happy with it as it plays more games than his Nokia 100 did!

    I was so impressed with the OnePlus One that I bought another one for my daughter.

    At the time I was using a Sony Z Ultra, but after two screen replacements, and one complete device replacement due to it being very fragile, the last hairline crack in the screen caused me to jump ship from Sony to OnePlus myself.

    I bought the OnePlus Two. And I must say it's been brilliant. OxygenOS has proved to be superb with no manufacturers bloatware, battery life is great, and I would recommend it to anyone. While it doesn't have the big brand name slapped on it, the performance and experience is superb.

  21. Yugguy

    Wileyfox Swift

    Not for the amazing spec for price, not for the decent construction, not for the ease of use etc. etc.

    One thing - cyanogenOS Privacy Guard.

    Autotrader app, you don't need to read my contacts, or wake up my phone, you don't need to be able to send a text. So I'm going to switch off those permissions.

    Oh yes.

    1. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: Wileyfox Swift

      I was really surprised not too see Wileyfox mentioned considering all the love ElReg has been giving it. I was so tempted when I Amazon had them for £100 just before xmas but I can't justify killing my incredibly resilient MotoG...

  22. abedarts

    I like dual sims

    Wanting dual sim narrows things down to phones from points east, which means I've tried a few landfill Android phones and ditched them all except, the Moto G. I'm now on the 3rd gen, which has 4G, an SD card, gets updates and can be bought for £170.

  23. Jonathon Green

    No love for the Huawei P8?

    Looks, feels, and runs like a flagship product for 2/3 the price (or less depending on operator generosity), great camera(s), and an absolute pleasure to use (especially since I swapped the stock Emotion launcher for Z-launcher) - best thing I've bought in ages!

  24. PhilipN Silver badge

    Jolla

    Bastards took my money for it but no sign of the frigging tablet!

    That kind of investment should be ring-fenced and illegal to touch for any other purpose. Remember Robert Maxwell.

  25. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    I still like my S3 Neo. It was fairly cheap. The replacement 4.3Ah battery gives me a week (yes, really!) between charges and it does everything I need it to. I like the sound(*) of shatter-proof glass but otherwise I'm fine, thanks.

    (*)It's more of a 'bonk' than a 'tinkle' :)

  26. Really Anonymous Coward

    But which one to buy?

    One Huawei handset that at £469 is a similar price to Sony/Samsung/HTC, and another that it's hard to get in the UK.

    Would it be too much to recommend some of the fabled "mid-range"?

    I'm looking to replace an HTC One M7, criteria

    Not phablet sized

    Good screen res (M7 is 1080p/4.7")

    Better camera than I have now

    Won't smash into a million shards of glass when dropped

    Lasts a full day

    A Z5 compact with full res screen would be ideal but everything seems to fall short in one or more areas, especially battery.

  27. The Quiet One

    Priv

    My Wife has had BBs since the 9700 Bold. She was worried the Priv would be too different but two weeks in and she is loving it.

    I have to say, i am very impressed with the hardware and the way they have implemented their take on Android. I will be watching closely to see what they do over the next 6 months and will seriously consider a Priv or newer model when my HTC M8 is due for a swap.

    Hope this is the turning point for BB.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Inspector71
    Facepalm

    The phone is required, must contain Android or iOS.

    Is there any real hope in the near future for a third way? I am bringing my experiment with what looks like the one and only Jolla phone to an end soon. It was a decent attempt but I can't really see the point anymore (especially as like one of the above posters they took my money for a tablet that I will never see). I've tried Windows Phone over the past few years but have never really liked any of MS's attempts (YMMV).

    The only "other" phone that I might think about is the BB Passport but I am not entirely convinced by that either what with BB10 being on the way out.

    I think I'll go back to my John's Phone in protest.

  30. tinbum

    Just get a OnePlus One and be done with it. Because of the features/hardware? No, because it's cheap, has a decent camera and decent screen.

    There's no differentiation between phones these days, so just get something cheap that does what everyone wants it to do: email/texts, usual apps, photos, plays media, big screen.

  31. Danny 2 Silver badge

    2015 is the first year I gave up on owning a mobile after thirty years, due to increasing police abuse of my tracking device. I can though offer a review of BT 'public telephone boxes'. I happen to live near three, although they are much rarer than they used to be presumably because none of them can actually make a phone call. All the perspex is covered in advertising so inside is too dark to dial unless you take a torch. Compared to a 1980s phone box they are pretty impregnable, so little vandalism, but they simply don't work anyway. They eat your coins and refuse, play you an 'old skool' meaningless tone, and give no refund. I go there mostly for the nostalgia.

    One pleasant and counter-intuitive improvement is that they no longer smell of urine. For some strange reason men, and Scottish women, used to go into phoneboxes to pee, and given that they are now totally shielded from view by the advertising I'd expected that use to have increased, along with drug-use, sexual encounters and so on. But no, apparently even the drunks and the junkies will no longer risk the social stigma of being seen walking into one of them.

    Given the phones no longer work I guess we should call them billboard boxes. To call anyone I wait until the local internet cafe opens up. And if anything defines poverty it is still living next to three phone boxes and an internet cafe.

  32. Metrognome

    Choice of front-runner

    What's the point in awarding first place to a device that's hard to come by?

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