A Tale of Three Smartphones

A Tale of Three Smartphones

For the past few weeks, I’ve been evaluating three smartphones that represent some of the best choices available in their respective pricing categories. Those evaluations are ongoing. But even at this early point, I feel like I can make some recommendations.

This is all Samsung’s fault. When the consumer electronics giant announced its Galaxy S8 and S8+ flagships in late March, I was struck by how dramatically Samsung had appeared to move the needle on a market that, frankly, had been getting pretty boring. And I preordered a Galaxy S8+, at great personal expense, immediately.

But as many of you know, these kinds of expensive purchases don’t sit well with me. In any given market—laptops, smartphones, whatever—I am all about value, and from a morally responsible standpoint, I am no fan of the throwaway culture that has emerged in the wake of the iPhone. Yes, Apple absolutely changed the world with this device. But it did so for the worse, in some ways, as well as for the better.

That’s life, I know: More gray than black and white. But as a reviewer, as a human being, I have a hard time, often, recommending very expensive devices when I know that many readers cannot even afford them to begin. Heck, I can’t afford them either.

I’ve reached out to PC makers recently to see whether I can’t review some less expensive PCs in the near future. This won’t stem the flood of premium devices for a number of reasons—the most obvious being that this sub-market is where the profits are—but I hope it helps.

On the smartphone side, I have fewer official relationships. And while I’d really like to change that, I can also do my part by examining lower-cost smartphones in addition to the usual flagships. This was, of course, the subject of my premium post, Let’s Talk About Smartphone Pricing, which I wrote in the wake of my Galaxy S8+ buying frenzy.

The issue here is simple. The Samsung Galaxy S8+ either will or will not live up to the hype, and it either will or will not be “worth” the firm’s stunning asking price. But what about that majority of people who can’t afford to throw down almost $1000 just because Samsung decided to drop the 21st-century version of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey on us unwitting apes?

Well, you have choices.

Less so on the Apple side, of course: You can pick between a tiny iPhone SE, a year-old iPhone 6S, or a refurbished iPhone if you want to stick with Apple’s platform and save (a little) money. Or you can take your chances with Craigslist, eBay, or similar.

But the Android market is wide open. And I know from past experiences with dozens of handsets that there is great value to be had on the Android side of the fence. Complicating matters somewhat is that Google killed its value-oriented Nexus lineup in favor of me-too Pixel handsets that copy more than just the iPhone’s design: They copy the iPhone’s expensive pricing structure as well. (And unlike iPhone, the Google Pixel does not justify its high price, so it’s a bad value on many levels.)

That word—value—is key here. It’s not enough for a phone (or whatever) device to be cheaply priced. It needs to work well, too. Some devices punch above their weight, so to speak. But some do not.

In Let’s Talk About Smartphone Pricing, I identified and then purchased two smartphones that I think represent the best of their respective price classes. (One might make the argument that the Apple iPhone 7/7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ today represent the best of the premium price class; I can’t disagree.) They are:

Moto G5 Plus. Available for under $200 if you don’t mind a few Kindle-style lock screen offers, the Moto G5 Plus is an entry-level handset with a premium look and build quality, and it can be outfitted with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of expandable storage if you don’t mind spending a bit more. I did just that, and the gold version I purchased cost $285 as delivered directly from Motorola.

OnePlus 3T. There are probably lots of great options in the mid-tier segment, but my choice is the OnePlus 3T, which can be had with 64 GB of non-expandable storage for as little as $440. I upgraded to 128 GB and paid just $480 or so. Put simply, the OnePlus 3T is the Nexus of 2017: It outperforms the much more expensive Pixel XL across the board and offers a similar level of quality.

Rough screen height comparison: Moto G5 Plus, OnePlus 3T, and Galaxy S8+

As you may have seen, I’ve written a bit about each of these devices, including the Galaxy S8+, since receiving them. And I’ll write more going forward. But I’m happy to report that my initial assessment of each held up under scrutiny. Each of these phones—the Moto G5 Plus, the OnePlus 3T, and the Galaxy S8+—represents a tremendous value in their respective price classes. That is, each exceeds my expectations compared to the amount paid, and compared to competing devices.

The OnePlus 3T is perhaps the best value of the lot. This is a flagship-class phone for one-half to two-thirds the normal asking price. The one exception, as I’ve noted, is the camera: Where true flagships like the Pixel/Pixel XL, iPhone 7/7 Plus, and Galaxy S8/S8+ offer “very good” to “superior” camera experiences, the OnePlus 3T is “good,” at best. It’s not bad, at all. It’s just that it doesn’t measure up in this one area.

And that area may be important to you. It is to me, and as hard as it is for me to write this, it means that I won’t be able to use this device going forward. But your needs are likely different. And if an excellent smartphone with a good camera is where you’re at, you will not find a better value than this device.

In the value segment, the Moto G5 Plus presents a step up from the past: This new version of the phone comes clad in a more professional-looking body than previous renditions. And the new Moto look and feel—where each handset features a prominent if superfluous camera bump—adds to the appeal, I think: We typically only see such bumps on higher-end devices. (On a side note, I’ve never understood some people’s aversions to camera bumps. Most of the best smartphones I’ve used have had prominent camera bumps.)

Point being, this is a great looking phone. And I don’t believe anyone would be embarrassed by carrying this device. Better, the day-to-day performance of the Moto G5 Plus is pretty great as well, though I do recommend stepping up to the 4 GB/64 GB models for future-proofing purposes (as I did). And here’s one that will make the cash-strapped grin: The fingerprint reader on the Moto is possibly a thousand times better than the one on Samsung’s expensive Galaxy S8+.

Less successful is the screen, which is a 5.2-inch Full HD panel with no particular strength. It looks fine indoors, but washes out so badly in direct sunlight that it’s basically unusable. But then this is a value computing, and for those with less demanding needs, hey, it’s Android, so you do have that amazing app selection and surrounding ecosystem to take advantage of.

And then there is the Samsung Galaxy S8+, a supercar among more basic transportation.

If you do have the money to spend, or don’t mind credit card debt or monthly installments, it’s very clear that Samsung has raised the bar here, and in dramatic fashion. As I noted previously, the Galaxy S8+ is so gorgeous, and so amazing, that it makes all other modern smartphones look old-fashioned and quaint by comparison. That it matches those looks with powerful, glitch-free internal components just makes the device all the more impressive.

It’s not perfect. The fingerprint reader location isn’t just unnecessary, it’s a crime against humanity. The Bixby personal assistant stuff is even worse than I had imagined. And Samsung still has a bad habit of stuffing its phones with bloatware, much of which duplicates functionality in other Google-supplied built-in apps.

None of that matters. This phone is fricking amazing. And for all the Samsung weirdness in there, I have to admit that this firm may have achieved the impossible in fixing all of the stuff about Android that makes me crazy. I’ve long said that I prefer the iPhone to Android, and a big part of that is the consistency I get from Apple’s devices. Not just consistency in the UI/UX, but consistency in the reliability and performance. Android phones never offer that.

Well, the Galaxy S8+ does, at least so far. I know, it’s early. And I’ll keep using it, waiting for that day where it lets me down. All previous Android handsets have, to be sure. The Pixel, for example, offers a superior camera, but the performance is glitchy. (Even the OnePlus 3T outperforms it.) The Nexus 6P I loved so much offered an even better camera, but that camera was actually pretty slow too. The iPhone camera is fast, but the picture quality is surprisingly bad, with dull, muted colors. On and on it goes.

I’ve been around the block enough to not trust Samsung or this particular device. But the thing is, it just keeps delighting me. This is true of the big things—the camera, which is amazing, the display, which is likewise amazing, the performance, the battery life, and more—but also the little things. All over this phone, Samsung has made little changes, small additions, that just put Android over the top. Where Touchwiz used to be an abomination, now it’s a laundry list of improvements that Google should make to the underlying OS. It’s a better Android.

So we’ll see what happens. But so far, at least, I feel that these three handsets are great choices in their respective price classes. Each is a great value. It just comes down to what you need, and what you feel comfortable paying.

More soon.


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  • mjw149

    24 April, 2017 - 11:04 am

    <p>Android has been letting me down. Even on the &lt;2 year old Nexus 6P, reopening apps just causes them to crash, with no rhyme or reason to it afaict. And it was fine last year when new. I haven't done anything exotic with it. This include first party Google News, too. Kind of a big deal when your first party software doesn't run on a one gen old flagship device. And they're constantly sacrificing Android performance for data collection and search in each update. I think Google just doesn't care, really. Esp when you look at what they've done with tablets, which is worse than nothing, they've been going backwards.</p>

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      Premium Member
      24 April, 2017 - 12:05 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#99728">In reply to mjw149:</a></em></blockquote><p>To fix your issue 1st lets make sure you're not on any beta OS so if you are then that is the problem. If your not then the next step is to factory reset your phone. Go to setting then scroll down to back and reset. Then hit Factory data rest. You will start off fresh as if you just bought this phone so know that going in. This will fix your crashes as I have a 6p and get 0 app crashes.</p>

    • PeteB

      24 April, 2017 - 2:50 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#99728">In reply to mjw149:</a></em></blockquote><p>FUD. We've got 3 x 6P's in the household and none of them exhibit this behavior. They've been flawless for us. You're either trolling or just have an axe to grind.</p>

    • chipwinter

      10 May, 2017 - 9:07 am

      <blockquote><a href="#99728"><em>In reply to mjw149: </em></a></blockquote><blockquote><em>I tend to agree with PeteB here. If he has three phones that aren't exhibiting this behavior, it's unlikely yours is doing what you say. It's just simple logic.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • Narg

    24 April, 2017 - 11:14 am

    <p>One thing we all saw with last year's iPhone 7 release was a deal with AT&amp;T, Verizon and a few others. Trade in a good iPhone 6 (other phones in some cases) and get an iPhone 7 free. I didn't read the fine print, but it sounded quite good. No monthly, and at normal cellular service prices. I think there was at least a 1 year agreement, which is really not that bad. I haven't seen too many of those types offers for the Samsung phones yet (only T-Mobile so far…)</p><p>The carriers seemed eager to dump the phone payment help a few years ago, now they are back? Of course the trade in value required for the "free" unit might offset the cost considerably. And that helps out those who must have the latest hardware. But I'm wondering how long these type of special will last? Personally, I opted for the "last years" model upgrade recently. Saved a little bit at least. Plus I full own the phone, so I will have residual value at some amount.</p>

  • wunderbar

    Premium Member
    24 April, 2017 - 11:15 am

    <p>The camera is always the thing. I love the idea of the $400ish US phones, but it always comes back to the camera.</p><p>I'm also not *as* against the idea of having to buy newer high end-ish phones every couple of years, because of their importance in our lives now.</p><p>I used to dump probably $1000 into PC upgrades every couple of years, as that was my most important computer, the one I spent the most time on, but things have changed. I built a new PC around an i7-4790k 3 years ago this month, and haven't put a dime into it since.</p><p>My phone is now the computer I use the most, and that's by a country mile. When you consider how much we use these things, it is much easier to justify the cost of getting something close to the best.</p>

    • Polycrastinator

      24 April, 2017 - 2:06 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99732"><em>In reply to wunderbar:</em></a></blockquote><p>This. I spent $1500 on a desktop 6, 7 years ago, and I'm still using it. I've needed to replace the motherboard in that time, and I upgraded the graphics card, but overall, it's still great. And if I wasn't gaming the GPU wouldn't even have been necessary.</p><p><br></p><p>My phone is also the only camera I use. As a parent, and with the grandparents a long way away, being able to snap great looking photos is really, really important to me.</p>

  • wocowboy

    Premium Member
    24 April, 2017 - 11:27 am

    <p>If phone manufacturers don't come up with completely new from the buttons on up designs of smartphones EVERY year, the pundits will bitch &amp; moan to no end about them being boring, in a slump, doing downhill, unable to do anything "new", and on &amp; on ad infinitum. And if they do come out with a totally new design, the pundits will nitpick it to no end, complaining about every little bit of chamfering, button-press-feel, etc, in order to get clicks and views on YouTube. It's all ridiculous and I take every bit of it with a huge grain of salt. Paul himself complained when the iPhone 7 came out that it was boring and the same as the iPhone 6 and 6S, nothing new at all, even though it contains totally new internals, from processor, radios, cameras, on through the rest of the device. </p><p><br></p><p>If someone wants one of these "high end" devices, there are ways for them to get them without having to pay the whole high price in one shot, as others have pointed out in the comments. Mid-range phones are fine, but there is always that one must-have feature that they deliberately leave out that makes those phones much less desirable or useful, and that practice is understandable, it is as old as salesmanship.</p>

  • carlrhorn

    Premium Member
    24 April, 2017 - 11:27 am

    <p>This is a fantastic piece Paul and very informative. I have recently emailed you regarding my need to abandon the Windows mobile platform and my Lumia 950XL due to the changes made by the NYC Dept. of Health only issuing their authentication app for IOS or Android. I am not familiar with any of these formats and have never used an android or iPhone. I am seeking your expertise as you are an expert with all of these different phones and operating systems. I have read everything you have written regarding the iPhone 7 plus and your recent experience with the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and honestly get the impression from you that you feel the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is the superior phone at the present time. I guess at the end of the day do I choose the beauty queen (Samsung Galaxy S8+) with its gorgeous form factor, superior camera and gorgeous display or do I trust the girl next door (iPhone 7 plus) with its simplicity and it's consistency? I am seriously leaning toward heading up to the Microsoft Store at the Westchester Mall in White Plains to have my friends set me up with the Microsoft version of the Galaxy S8+. My only real concern is two fold. My first concern is the bloatware and can the staff remove it? My second concern is how smooth the updates will be? I also am also an AT&amp;T wireless customer like yourself. This is a very difficult choice for me to make and I am quite fearful of making the wrong decision. Your writings in the last week or so have gone a long way toward helping me make a decision and if I had to make the decision today I would choose the Samsung Galaxy S8+ based on your writings. Thank you for your work and I am looking forward to seeing yourself, Mary Jo and Andrew at the meet up on Monday. </p>

    • jcalamita

      Premium Member
      20 May, 2017 - 11:18 am

      <blockquote><a href="#99735"><em>In reply to carlrhorn:</em></a></blockquote><p>As a long time Windows phone and Lumia user, may I recommend another phone to look at… The sony xperia line. The Performance x and XZ phones are both great phones and will remind you of the Lumia lines of phone. Not too much bloatware, regular updates and work great on ATT. Camera's a good – great and their software is better than most (for example, it is one of the better messaging apps). The main downside is no fingerprint reader in the US unless you want to do some hacking (it is physically there, just disabled in US due to some legal deal with Verizon…) I have used flagship Samsung and LG phones and still come back to the Sony. best part is they are in the $400 or lower price range. Just another thought….</p>

  • bulls96

    24 April, 2017 - 11:29 am

    <p>Camera for me is a big deal too. But &gt;$500 is still hard for me to purchase for a phone.</p><p><br></p><p>Don't you think the Lumia 950xl is the cheapest phone with the best camera right now? Assuming of course the app gap is not a big deal to the user.</p><p><br></p><p>This is a reason I held on to the lumia. But I'm thinking about the S7 too since they say the S8 basically has the same camera as the S8. Waiting for the price to go down some more.</p>

    • Rob_Wade

      24 April, 2017 - 12:18 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99736"><em>In reply to bulls96:</em></a></blockquote><p>I don't have too much of a problem with the price if I get what I want. I do NOT want a device that's too thin (which, pretty much all current devices are too thin). I do NOT want a device made of all glass or metal (they are all ugly as sin). I DO want color choices that stand out. I DO want a HIGH mp camera that is so far above the competition that there is no competition (no such camera exists–blind tests currently show no VERY clear lead). I do NOT want an Android or iPhone. So, I can pretty much expect there will not be a phone I'm interested in unless MS actually nails the whole "full Windows on ARM" dream (with UI that still gives me the existing phone experience) and OEMs actually embrace it with top notch hardware.</p>

    • obarthelemy

      24 April, 2017 - 5:42 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99736"><em>In reply to bulls96:</em></a></blockquote><p>Last year's GS7 is $450, LG's G5 seems to be $350; both have excellent cameras.</p>

  • carlrhorn

    Premium Member
    24 April, 2017 - 11:34 am

    <p>This is a fantastic piece Paul and very informative. I have recently emailed you regarding my need to abandon the Windows mobile platform and my Lumia 950XL due to the changes made by the NYC Dept. of Health only issuing their authentication app for IOS or Android. I am not familiar with any of these formats and have never used an android or iPhone. I am seeking your expertise as you are an expert with all of these different phones and operating systems. I have read everything you have written regarding the iPhone 7 plus and your recent experience with the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and honestly get the impression from you that you feel the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is the superior phone at the present time. I guess at the end of the day do I choose the beauty queen (Samsung Galaxy S8+) with its gorgeous form factor, superior camera and gorgeous display or do I trust the girl next door (iPhone 7 plus) with its simplicity and it's consistency? I am seriously leaning toward heading up to the Microsoft Store at the Westchester Mall in White Plains to have my friends set me up with the Microsoft version of the Galaxy S8+. My only real concern is two fold. My first concern is the bloatware and can the staff remove it? My second concern is how smooth the updates will be? I also am also an AT&amp;T wireless customer like yourself. This is a very difficult choice for me to make and I am quite fearful of making the wrong decision. Your writings in the last week or so have gone a long way toward helping me make a decision and if I had to make the decision today I would choose the Samsung Galaxy S8+ based on your writings. Thank you for your work and I am looking forward to seeing yourself, Mary Jo and Andrew at the meet up on Monday.</p>

  • shaunw122

    24 April, 2017 - 11:35 am

    <p>I have had my S8+ now for four days and I absolutely&nbsp;love it. It is just so beautiful, fast, smooth, and such a step up from my S6+ </p><p>The fingerprint scanner location&nbsp;is a bit of a pain but you soon get used to it. </p><p>It was a lot of money, but I can just about justify it to the wife as she gets my old S6+ 🙂 </p><p><br></p><p>But as Wunderbar has mentioned in an earlier post, these things are our everyday computers, phones, video recorders, electronic wallet, brain (Evernote is everything), map, satnav.</p><p><br></p><p>In the UK the S8+ is £779 (i.e. $1,000) – but how much have we all spent on video camera's, point and click cameras, or satnav's in the past?</p><p><br></p><p>Good value when you consider the functionality</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • mercblue281

    24 April, 2017 - 12:04 pm

    <p>Not going to use any android until it can be done without google. Until they start cutting checks to users the make bank off… I will not play in their scam. </p>

    • VancouverNinja

      Premium Member
      24 April, 2017 - 1:40 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99741"><em>In reply to mercblue281:</em></a></blockquote><p>Start using Duckduckgo.com … I am pretty happy with it and so is my team.</p>

    • PeteB

      24 April, 2017 - 2:48 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#99741">In reply to mercblue281:</a></em></blockquote><p>Android has never required Google. It's called AOSP.</p>

    • obarthelemy

      24 April, 2017 - 5:26 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99741"><em>In reply to mercblue281:</em></a></blockquote><p>You do know that everything in Android can be done w/o Google already ?</p><p>So be true to your word and get to it now.</p>

    • SvenJ

      Premium Member
      24 April, 2017 - 8:39 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99741"><em>In reply to mercblue281:</em></a> I have a nice Nokia X to sell you. Android, not a hint of Google on it. Nice Russian based app store you can get your apps from. ;)</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • Rob_Wade

    24 April, 2017 - 12:13 pm

    <p>You lost me at "Android". I threw up in my mouth a little.</p>

    • PeteB

      24 April, 2017 - 2:46 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#99743">In reply to Rob_Wade:</a></em></blockquote><p>Why? "Android is the windows of mobile" to quote a wise man (Paul Thurrott). </p><p>iPhone fanboy or just bitter WMobile clinger? </p>

      • Rob_Wade

        25 April, 2017 - 10:35 am

        <blockquote><a href="#99773"><em>In reply to PeteB:</em></a> I hate Apple and Google/Android. While I used to be a HUGE Windows 8 and Windows Phone cheerleader, I merely tolerate what Microsoft has done with the platforms. For me, it's really the lesser evil.</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • jbuccola

    24 April, 2017 - 12:31 pm

    <p>Phone "cost" is more than initial acquisition price – similar to a car, it's more depreciation oriented — I like to think ( price / years ) – resale value. </p><p>On that front, the Android devices perform horribly. While the up front cost is generally low, the OS gets outdated very quickly (or one must wait a LONG time before both carrier and manufacturer release the latest) and the resale value is abysmal. </p><p>This is where iOS devices have a huge advantage – iOS updates keep even older devices feeling 'new' and the resale values are generally very strong (partly because of Apple's update practices).</p><p>So it's a much easier sale for me to buy an Apple product – I can count on a long life and a strong resale value.</p><p>Android? Notsomuch.</p>

    • DixonLeung

      24 April, 2017 - 1:49 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#99747">In reply to jbuccola:</a></em></blockquote><p>That car analogy is not backed up by facts. That's the same analogy kids used to justify buying a Mac laptop to their parents when they don't want to be caught dead with a PC at the coffee shop.</p><p><br></p><p>Apple devices are like BMWs, so they have a greater perceived resale value because you can actually perceive the cash on resale. But Honda's and Toyota's have actually great resale value, according to Kelly Blue Book. </p><p><br></p><p>One can spend ~$700 for an iPhone 6S and get $400 back on ebay, one can also get a good Android phone, like Nexus 5x, for ~$300 and get nothing back, but kept $400, even ignoring time value of $. At this point, neither OS is going to make leaps and bounds in UI or UX. So keeping it 'fresh' is a nonissue. Even if it were, for the price of 1 iphone, one can buy 2 android phones in succession to keep fresh.</p><p><br></p><p>Buy the phone you feel more comfortable with (and can afford). Just don't use false economics to rationalize the purchase. </p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

      • jbuccola

        24 April, 2017 - 4:23 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#99769"><em>In reply to DixonLeung:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>iOS devices, on the whole, offer better resale than Android devices.</p><p>There are some exceptions, of course, but an 18 month old 6s still fetches a decent valuation on eBay / Swappa etc. A Galaxy S6, for example, well…</p>

    • obarthelemy

      24 April, 2017 - 5:24 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99747"><em>In reply to jbuccola:</em></a></blockquote><p>With good enough Android phones going for about the price of 1 year of Apple Care for an iPhone, your analysis only works if you either take the risk of not buying Apple Care, or really really need and use premium stuff.</p><p>And then, because Androids' price goes down quickly (50% in a year, GS7 is currently $450 at Amazon from Amazon), you must also really need the absolute latest, and not last year's flagship.</p><p><br></p><p>To me that leaves about 0 cases where buying a) this year's flagship b) Apple's in particular makes sense, except for the shiny.</p>

      • jbuccola

        24 April, 2017 - 6:04 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#99787"><em>In reply to obarthelemy:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>There are literally a small handful of year+ old Android phones that will ultimately get a current version of Android. Even if they have Nougat today, no guarantee for O or M. That's the risk you run when you acquire a used Android device.</p><p><br></p><p>The iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 are about the same vintage.</p><p><br></p><p>I looked at "new in box" entry level versions and found the 6s fetches $350 or so on eBay. The S6 is $200. Used, complete models in B+ shape of the 6s are $300. The S6 can be had for ~$150. </p><p><br></p><p>iOS units 3-4 years old all have iOS 10. Android units 3-4 years old likely are running .. ummm .. Ice Cream Sandwich ??</p>

        • obarthelemy

          25 April, 2017 - 2:01 am

          <blockquote><a href="#99792"><em>In reply to jbuccola:</em></a></blockquote><p>1- actually, the iP6S got released 6 months after the GS6, which is a lot in smartphone terms, so to be fair your comparison would need to average the 2 iPhones that bookend the GS6. The GS6 is 2 models behind; the 6S is still currently Apple's latest. That's more than biased.</p><p>2- the GS6 can be had new for $430 today (actually, the GS7 too, go for the GS7 ^^); the iP6S is still at $550. So using your own figures, you lose the same amount of money reselling either. Your point ?</p><p>3- Again, updates don't mean the same thing in iOS and in Android. iOS needs an OS update for every little thing ( my iBrother doesn't have iClips because his employer hasn't validated the latest iOS yet), why most Android feature are backported (Wear, Home, Pay, and all apps are independent of the OS itself, contrary to Apple. Ditto security patches). Running a 2-versions-behind iDevice would suck. On Android, it's mostly unnoticeable. My Galaxy Note 2011 10.1 is on 4.1, and it runs all the apps my 6.0 phone does.</p><p>4- you fail to account for all the phones that don't make it to A or B+ shape after 2 years. Their resale value is essentially 0, so you lose a lot more if your phone was expensive</p><p>5- you fail to account for the phones that needed repairs or Care @ $150/yr to stay in A or B+ shape after 2 yrs. That more than wipes out the resale value.</p>

      • PincasX

        25 April, 2017 - 7:53 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#99787"><em>In reply to obarthelemy:</em></a></blockquote><p> I'm not sure I get your comment about AppleCare. AppleCare is 129 for two years (it can't be purchased for a single year). So you are saying a "good enough" is 65 dollars?" </p><p><br></p><p>FWIW, I'm not trying to make an arguement for or agaisnt buying any platform or handset. I'm just trying to understand the math there. </p>

        • obarthelemy

          25 April, 2017 - 8:22 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#100028"><em>In reply to PincasX:</em></a></blockquote><p>Sorry, I got it wrong, I thought it was the price for just one year.</p>

          • PincasX

            25 April, 2017 - 8:29 pm

            <blockquote><a href="#100031"><em>In reply to obarthelemy:</em></a><em> Gotcha, thanks for clarifiying. </em></blockquote><p><br></p>

    • skane2600

      24 April, 2017 - 6:52 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#99747">In reply to jbuccola:</a></em></blockquote><p>The practice of reselling smartphones is rather rare compared to reselling cars. If I felt that I had to resell a smartphone to get full value from it, I wouldn't buy it. Too much hassle.</p>

      • jbuccola

        24 April, 2017 - 8:04 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#99797"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>Rare? Where do you think used smartphones go? Fact is, when you "trade in," it makes its way to resale. It's very much the same as reselling cars – some don't want the hassle and buy new/trade-in, others want value and go resale.</p>

        • skane2600

          25 April, 2017 - 12:59 am

          <blockquote><em><a href="#99802">In reply to jbuccola:</a></em></blockquote><p>Some used smartphones go in a drawer, some in the trash, some are passed on to family and yes, some are traded-in or sold on ebay. I still think that the percentage of cars that are resold is much higher than the number of smartphones resold.</p>

  • DWAnderson

    24 April, 2017 - 12:40 pm

    <p>I'm curious to know how the cameras in these phones compare to that in the Nexus 6P. I currently own the 6P and it is the first phone I have owned for which I am fully satisfied with the camera.</p><p><br></p><p>For example, if I purchased the OnePlus 3T or the Moto G5 Plus in the future, would I end up with a worse camera?</p>

    • wunderbar

      Premium Member
      24 April, 2017 - 12:47 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#99755">In reply to DWAnderson:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>short answer: yes.</p><p><br></p><p>Long answer: yes.</p>

  • ben55124

    Premium Member
    24 April, 2017 - 2:32 pm

    <p>Will be curious to see some examples of where the budget phone cameras disapointed Paul. I have found the Moto G5 and OP3 to be good enough for posting to facebook — my primary use case for phone photos. I would recommend them unless you take a lot of night photos.</p>

  • obarthelemy

    24 April, 2017 - 2:48 pm

    <p>Looking around me, $285 is still more than most people are willing to spend on a smartphone, regardless of social status. Granted, many would like to spend more but can't, but mostly, to many a smartphone isn't important enough and they'd rather spend the money on something else.</p><p>Global smartphone ASP is expected to be $245 this year ( https://www.statista.com/statistics/484583/global-average-selling-price-smartphones/ ) including $700 flagships for around 25% of the market (that's my guesstimate), leaving the non-flagship market with an ASP of (0.75 x X) + (0.25 x 700) = 245 -&gt; X = (245 – 175 ) / 0.75 = $93 Waouh, that's low, can someone do a sanity check on that please ?</p><p>Assuming I didn't go off the rails, even for your developed-market readership $285 seems a bit high, I'd aim to find something $200-ish to review. At this price ($180 actually, 3GB/32GB version), I'm currently recommending the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro, International Edition; camera is a bit weak, rest is very fine)</p>

  • Igor Engelen

    24 April, 2017 - 3:31 pm

    <p>Good article!</p><p><br></p><p>I like high end phones and don't mind paying the price because I tend to use them for quite some time. But cheaper models are important too.</p><p>My kids for instance will never get a high end phone. Because they don't need it but also to set some boundaries that they might encounter later on in life anyway.</p><p>That doesn't mean however that I don't want value for my money. Less money shouldn't necessarily mean less quality.</p><p>Curious to see what other phones we might expect in the future.</p>

  • SDreamer

    24 April, 2017 - 3:53 pm

    <p>I think that the iPhone still offers the best value. Think about how long each of their lines is supported for. You have a 5S you still have support of apps through iOS 10 being available still, and that would be regarded as an ancient device by today's standards. But here you still have a device that can still kick. Sure you pay nearly 800$ for the entry model of the current gen, but it'll last you almost 4-5 years, coming out to be almost 200$ a year roughly. You get one of these phones, every year, with every generation you're just going to be left wanting the newest and greatest, and for some thing turns into a burner phone. You can argue that many iPhone users do this too, but I've met many who don't care until their iPhone breaks. If you can be satisfied with an Android phone and not lust over newer devices and not mind getting updates you could make this a better value for your money, otherwise I'd just go with an older iphone which takes better photos than some of these.</p>

    • obarthelemy

      24 April, 2017 - 5:39 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99781"><em>In reply to SDreamer:</em></a></blockquote><p>You forget that a lot of phones get damaged or lost/stolen/destroyed (for example, 25% of iPhone users have cracked their screens). That means expensive repairs if you want your phone to regain its value, or AppleCare (or equivalent) which costs about the price of a midrange phone each year, or losing a lot of money on a now hard-to-resell phone. Or hoping you'll be lucky and dodge the smartphones trolls (I didn't, got one stolen and one drowned in 10 years).</p><p>If you don't need the premium features (mostly the superior camera, I don't), a $200 midranger makes a lot more sense than a $800 flagship + $150/yr of insurance (with deductible). It'll get 2 years of updates, 4 years of useful life after that (Android is a lot less dependent on updates than iOS, new apps and features are mostly backported to older versions).</p>

  • Brian Hodges

    Premium Member
    24 April, 2017 - 5:19 pm

    <p>I view my phone as an appliance and I'm not going to spend &gt;$700 for a toaster. I recently replaced my Nexus 5x with the Moto 5G+ (4GB) and couldn't be happier. I read all the hand-wringing reviews about the camera but after using it I can't tell a difference. I can remember when a 1.3MB digital camera was the bomb so every smartphone is state of the art by comparison.</p>

    • SvenJ

      Premium Member
      24 April, 2017 - 8:31 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#99786"><em>In reply to Brian Hodges:</em></a> A refrigerator is an appliance too, and you'll spend &gt;700 on one. Just because it is an appliance, doesn't mean it has to be cheap. </blockquote><blockquote>An appliance is typically defined as a device or piece of equipment designed to perform a specific task. That doesn't describe a modern smartphone.</blockquote><p><br></p>

    • Darmok N Jalad

      26 April, 2017 - 11:29 am

      <blockquote><a href="#99786"><em>In reply to Brian Hodges:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes, but if that appliance replaces multiple items, like your phone, your computer (for at least some percentage of your time), your music player, your camera, and your GPS, just how much value are you getting by combining all of them into one device that drops in your pocket? The cost is one thing, but how often you replace it is another matter altogether. </p>

  • Waethorn

    24 April, 2017 - 7:44 pm

    <p>Since you seem to be on a big shopping spree, why not try out some of the Chinese flagships? Xiaomi's phones are primo. You got the MiMIX, which was out last year, NeoWin calls the RedMi4 "the best budget Android phone", and the Mi6 due out any day now. And you also have phones from Oppo that compete fairly well on price and specs.</p>

  • SvenJ

    Premium Member
    24 April, 2017 - 8:24 pm

    <p>"the OnePlus 3T is the Nexus of 2017: It outperforms the much more expensive Pixel XL across the board and offers a similar level of quality."</p><p>"Where true flagships like the Pixel/Pixel XL, iPhone 7/7 Plus, and Galaxy S8/S8+ offer “very good” to “superior” camera experiences, the OnePlus 3T is “good,” at best."</p><p>"And that area may be important to you. It is to me, and… it means that I won’t be able to use this device going forward."</p><p><br></p><p>So in fact it doesn't exceed across the board, and you can't use it. Things are generally cheaper for a reason. The corollary, if you spend more, you get more, is unfortunately not always true.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • chriswong13

    Premium Member
    25 April, 2017 - 12:08 am

    <p> Just picked up the AT&amp;T Galaxy S8. I have a 14 day return period, so we'll see. Could not go with the bigger S8+, after having the Lumia 1520 a while back and not being able to walk up stairs properly&nbsp;with it in my front pants pocket. Love the look and feel of the S8 so far. Gorgeous…</p>

  • jlmerrill

    25 April, 2017 - 12:14 am

    <p>I think Paul is over the top when he calls an iPhone 7 camera bad. I personally cannot tell the difference between my iPhone 7 an an a friends S8. An iPhone 7 has an excellent camera(not bad) and an S8 maybe has a little more excellent camera, maybe.</p>

  • Peter Vassiliou

    25 April, 2017 - 1:17 pm

    <p>This article shows a lot of ignorance for the mobile space. Everyone has his/her own opinion, but the S8 is far from being the best Android phone. Read the Ars Technica review, if you want a serious opinion about the S8. The S7 is a much better choice if you must have a Samsung device. There are so many issues with the S8 that I find it an insult that the press is praising it so much. It looks that Samsung has a lot of people in its payroll these days. The S8 has many issues:</p><p>Does anything really works properly out of box for the S8?</p><p><br></p><p> – broken bixpy</p><p> – laggy UI, everywhere</p><p> – fragile drop survival rate</p><p> – throttly GPU, flawed gaming</p><p> – non-uniform red tint issues</p><p> – useless fingerprint </p><p> – erratic home button</p><p> – terrible audio output</p><p> – very low audio recording</p><p> – scratch loving metal coating</p><p> – fingerprint magnet back glass with no coating</p><p> – distorted imagery display or cropped, choose your poison</p><p><br></p>

  • napkatz

    26 April, 2017 - 12:00 am

    <p>I've had a great experience with the Moto G5 Plus which recently turned awful. First 10 days or so with the device were great, and then I started getting a line across the screen accompanied by horrible screen ghosting. Definitely something wrong with the hardware. Worse yet, the issue started while traveling. Not much choice now but to power down, and return when I get back home.</p><p><br></p><p>Return already filed with Amazon. Debating whether to give the Moto G5 Plus another shot or try a different piece of hardware.</p>

    • obarthelemy

      26 April, 2017 - 1:51 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#100042"><em>In reply to napkatz:</em></a></blockquote><p>I've had enough issues with Moto stuff that I no longer recommend them. They're no better that midrange Chinese OEMs (Xiaomi…), and 50% more expensive. </p>

      • napkatz

        02 May, 2017 - 12:14 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#100157">In reply to obarthelemy:</a></em></blockquote><p>I'm giving the Moto G5 Plus a second chance. Received a new device last night from Amazon. In all fairness, my Lumia 900 from back in the day needed a replacement a month after I got it. Hopefully this is the last swap out.</p>

  • Cakebatyer

    26 April, 2017 - 5:43 pm

    <p>Bought a Galaxy S7 edge for the wife for $480 over the weekend. I paid for it outright from the carrier. I would say its the best value. </p>

  • WiseCraig

    02 May, 2017 - 3:01 pm

    <p>Obviously, some serious photoshopping going on here.</p><p>Dedham is never "Clear".</p>

  • Fuller1754

    09 May, 2017 - 10:26 pm

    <p>Glad to see you mentioned the Moto G5. I bought a Moto G4 last year (my first foray into Android), and it's proven to be a great device for the price. Yeah, the screen, while sharp, isn't as brilliant as my previous phone's (a beautiful Lumia 925), but for two hundred bucks, it a really nice option.</p>

  • john

    Premium Member
    11 May, 2017 - 6:34 am

    <p>I just moved to the Moto G5 Plus after breaking the screen on my Lumia 950XL. Pleasently surprised how much I like this device (I don't need a high end camera) and Android 7.</p><p>Lock screen ads disappear when using the Arrow Launcher.</p>

  • John Whalen

    26 May, 2017 - 3:58 pm

    <p>I have a galaxy s7, my wife iphone 7, son nexus 6p and daughter lg aristo. The s7 hands down has the best camera. Both the kids phones are LG. I am impressed for the price, but where they both really fall short is in the camera department. I really love the camera on my s7. It takes beautiful photos, but I am price insensitive because my work pays for the phone. </p>

    • Boris Ichokaev

      30 May, 2017 - 8:19 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#119976"><em>In reply to John Whalen:</em></a></blockquote><p>Nexus 6p is Huawei phone, not an LG. And btw, I agree what you said about cameras.</p>

  • Boris Ichokaev

    30 May, 2017 - 8:25 pm

    <p>I am a Microsoft fan tru and tru. I have Lumia 950 and I absolutely love it. Windows 10 Mobile, being good or bad I love it too. Anyway, since I am a huge fan of smartphone world, I love all three major platforms (Windows 10 Mobile is my preference of choice). So as i saw more positive words about OnePlus 3T than bad ones, I got that one cuz i wanted to have a good Android device to play with. Lumia 950 is still my main phone (and it will stay for time being). I didn't mind the average camera on 3T cuz i didn't planned to take pictures with that, I have my Lumia 950 for gorgeous pictures. </p><p>I must agree with Paul what he said about 3T. It's the best all-around value smartphone.</p>


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