Android noob seeks new phone
December 14, 2011 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Should I get an unlocked Android instead of a dumbphone? If so, any tips on things to consider when buying a Android phone for a smartphone noob?

My current dumbphone, sadly has finally died (after being thrown in a river, left in 1m of snow in an avalanche zone for 6 hours, and countless trips down the stairs!) and I'm looking for a new one. However, I am totally lost when looking for a new one, especially since I need it to be GSM compatible (I'm travelling in Europe) and unlocked to accept my Lebara SIM card. Ebay has some I think might be ok, but I have no idea if they are good or not

At this point, should I get an Android smartphone to replace my dumbphone? I can't afford a dataplan right now (or an Iphone!!), but like the features a smartphone (GPS, etc.). Also, it seems to be harder to find a decent dumbphone with a decent QWERTY keyboard (my make or break feature)

Things I would like in a new phone:
- Texting with a QWERTY keyboard - I like the slide out keyboard on my current LG phone and would like something similar
- GPS for geocaching
- Occasional WI-FI access or opps I forgot to do something data access (i.e. directions at the airport, what's the pizza guy's number, etc)
- Decent camera would be nice
- Decent battery life
- Needs to be reliable: My last phone was a tank and I will be overseas for the foresable future, and don't want to have to worry about things breaking or returning a phone for repairs.

Things I would not like:
- A blackberry or iphone (out of my price range)

What kind of things should I be looking for in an a decent Android phone? Any recommendations on a not so expensive (<$300) phone you like? Thanks!
posted by snowysoul to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
HP Veer?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:17 PM on December 14, 2011

HP Veer?

Runs WebOS, not Android.
posted by grouse at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2011

I haven't found any Android to be great on battery life (even with juice defender and all the recommended things to do.)

I have an HTC Evo Shift (has another name too) and I like the keyboard a lot. Camera is okay. Rugged? Well, as much as a smartphone can be.

But all your other specs should easily be met by any recent Android.
posted by k8t at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2011

On your price range, Nexus S. It will get an update to Android ICS.

The Nexus line provides you with the true Android experience, the rest is just noise.
posted by helloworlditsme at 3:53 PM on December 14, 2011

In terms of finding a rugged andoird phone, this site should help:
posted by Admira at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2011

Note that the unsubsidized price of a new Android device (and smartphones generally) will be well north of $500. The links above to the Nexus S assume you're buying a locked phone under contract.

An important thing to consider is your desire to use this in Europe. You need a GSM phone, yes, but you also need to make sure you have a phone that can support the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum bans used in the EU. The US GSM operators use 850MHz and 1900MHz so you will want to make sure you find a multi-band phone.

Note as well that if you want to use GPS services you'll need a data connection, which could be WiFi or an operator network.

The cheapest new Android devices are being offered today by smaller carriers like Cricket and MetroPCS but they run CDMA so you wouldn't have EU compatibility.

At your target price point your best bet is going to be find a previously owned device. Here's some search results that might help.
posted by donovan at 5:11 PM on December 14, 2011

Wow, I just checked on Amazon and was stunned to see how quickly prices have dropped since I bought an unlocked Android phone this Spring. Here's a bunch of phones that would fit your requirements.
posted by donovan at 5:15 PM on December 14, 2011

Lots of android phones don't have slide-out keyboards. I thought I would never get used to typing on a screen and thought that not having a physical keyboard was a deal-breaker. But now I've got a touchscreen phone and I can't remember why I objected to them so strongly in the first place.

I really like the Nexus S, and the new Nexus device, the Nexus Galaxy looks even nicer. The advantage of the Nexus S is that there will be a large number of them coming on the second hand market soon with all the people upgrading to the Nexus Galaxy. They're both plastic phones - no glass screens to break or shatter or be expensive to replace.

If you're doing geocaching, and doing it where you don't have mobile reception, you'll find the GPS in any phone handset will be horrible: be prepared to wait 5-10 minutes for a lock and for the lock to be lost as soon as the phone goes to sleep. GPS locks without wifi or AGPS to give it a boost are very computationally expensive, will burn your battery and take much longer than you think they will.
posted by Jerub at 9:39 AM on December 18, 2011

« Older What modem should I get?   |   Snacks to go with Gluhwein? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.