first upgrade in ~5.5 years
In the process of "upgrading" from a pair of Galaxy Note 3s (daily driver being Android 4.4, it was my first Android device, prior I was using WebOS) to a pair of Galaxy S8 Actives. Bought the S8 Actives on Ebay "new never been used" (and they certainly seem that way anyway, though I believe they were used for a few minutes to apply updates as they are running patch levels from early 2019) for about $370/ea combined it seems about the cost of a S10e that I was otherwise looking at. Also have a Note 4 which gets some use when traveling(would get more but the wirelss charging thing I have for it is more clunky as it folds over like a book around the device).
It was a struggle for me to find a newer phone that was the least bad. Seems every year they remove more features and cripple things even more.
I was on gsmarena last month after getting excited about a new Motorola phone (Z4 I think?) turns out couldn't use that as it doesn't support wireless charging(there is a custom back cover for it but at the time it seemed nobody had it new or used, probably stopped making that cover a year or two ago as it was compatible with older versions of the handset). Anyway I input my parameters into gsmarena and basically out popped the S8 active as the most viable device on the list (may of been the ONLY device on the list I don't recall).
What sold me on the S8 Active as being the "least bad" phone for me anyway was:
- Plastic shell w/wireless charging
- "Normal" bezels (ironically screen/body ratio is only 0.2% different from Note 3 according to gsmarena).
- Similar size to Note 3 (is a plus anyway)
- Flat screen (both for less false touches and tempered glass protection)
- Big battery (still having battery anxiety issues mainly about longevity, I am used to being able to easily replace my battery once a year just to keep it fresh. I do have 5 "genuine" S8 Active batteries now though the replacement procedure is still scary, vast majority of times when I take small devices apart they never operate the same again). Installed Accubattery to track battery life(currently at 96%), and try not to charge it too much. Anxiety would go away if I had confidence future smart phones would not continue the trend of locking things down and removing features more.
- SD slot
- Previous positive experience with Samsung Note 3s excellent build quality, hoping similar good build quality from S8 Active over time
apparently the market doesn't care about most/all of those things anymore so those phones aren't being made.
What I do/will miss:
- Replaceable battery (per above I tend to swap once a year, I hope these S8 Actives can last at least 5 years as well)
- Stylus (got a small stylus that attaches to the headphone slot though not as convenient as internal stylus)
- IR blaster (mainly for travel, compensated a bit by the fact that I will continue to take my Note 3s and Note 4 on trips which have IR blasters)
- MHL (I think the USB C devices have something similar have not looked into it but again Note 3s and 4s to the rescue mainly for travel)
- Android 4.4 UI - really really hate the "flat" UI designs, and I will be spending some time to try to extract icons from Android 4.4/5 packages to use on 8.0, after being unable to find similar icon packs for Nova launcher (the only launcher I have ever used)
- Android 4.4 samsung keyboard - I installed a "classic keyboard" which at least gave me dark colors(hated the default white) though the key spacing isn't that great(no gaps between the keys) which I think makes for more difficult typing than what I was used to.
don't care about:
- Rugged nature of S8 Active (I am very careful with my phones, my Note 3s/4 have never needed a repair)
- Headphone jack - it's nice to have though it's rare that I need it, only real time I do so is on airplanes, and if the S8 active didn't have a headphone jack I would use a Note3/4 to listen to music (and/or watch videos). I do not own any bluetooth headphones the only ones I have are wired. For my workouts I use a Sandisk MP3 player with my wired earphones (https://www.usa.philips.com/c-p/SHS3200_28/earhook-headphones are the only earphones I use - most comfortable and stay in place for me)
- running latest android (I would be happy to get the latest security updates but maintain the same major version of android(I'd even pay a subscription service to do that) but that doesn't appear to happen)
- currently running android 8 though there was I thought a 9 upgrade available but maybe I was looking at the wrong page before, currently AT&T's website says 8 is the current version (I don't want 9 and have blocked AT&T's and Samsung's update domains from my network so the phones cannot update, AT&T's site still says Wifi is required to download the updates.)
- bixby button - so far at least I have only accidentally hit it maybe a half dozen times, and apparently I can't disable the button without signing into Samsung's services which I'm not willing to do just yet.
would be nice:
- be able to root/unclock bootloader it (read on XDA developers I think it was that no unlocks exist, and previous Active phones were not rooted either)
(Never unlocked my Note3s/4 either but would be a nice to have ability)
Was real close to buying a Note 9 last year, but then I started reading complaints about curved glass(especially for using tempered glass protectors - I have ~20 tempered glass screens for my S8 actives now just in case they stop making them), and the glass backs being slippery (I don't use cases). Then was close to getting a S10e because it at least had a flat screen, but then of course I decided to look harder and hope to find something that wasn't encased in glass all around.
Been about a month since I got the first S8 Active, I have a new SIM card (old sim card is too big) but have yet to pull the trigger to transfer the service to the S8 active from Note 3 yet.
At this point I wouldn't have a problem dropping $2k on a phone that was in a Note 3 form factor/features with just the newer chips and stuff in it. It would mean that much to me. But that doesn't exist, so S8 active it is for now anyway.