So, then, which IS the droid I'm looking for?
May 13, 2012 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Starting a new job and I am being given a smartphone. Or, actually, $100-$150 to buy a smartphone. My plan will be unlimited on Sprint. What phones do you recommend?

So I start a new job tomorrow (yay me!) and the owner says he would like to offer me a smartphone. (Yay again!) He said that he will give me $100-$150 and let me go out and choose a phone. I will not be contacted very often by work, but this way I will at least have access to email. (A former co-worker, who got me this job, says they almost never call her during non-work hours. It's pretty much a case of the company has a phone plan and they can add additional lines cheaply, so, hey, why not. She has attested to the awesomeness of the owner. In other words, the phone is a genuine perk, not a leash.)

This will be on Sprint. I would love to go iPhone, but at this price range that's flat out. I've been impressed by the newer Android phones. Storage space and the ability to do things (add apps, ringtones, move files, etc.) without having to root the phone is a big plus. So, whatcha think?
posted by azpenguin to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
An iPhone 4 from Sprint is $99.
posted by The Deej at 8:26 AM on May 13, 2012

Well, hot damn, I thought they were $200. But keep the answers coming; I'm interested in what's good out there in Android as well.
posted by azpenguin at 8:28 AM on May 13, 2012

Well, hot damn, I thought they were $200.

The latest-generation iPhone 4S is $200, but Apple keeps their previous-generation iPhones around rather than producing separate low-end models. They've all got the latest OS, though.

(I actually don't have anything to suggest here Android-wise, unfortunately.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:30 AM on May 13, 2012

The Galaxy Nexus ($199 on Spring) is a beautiful Android phone. (I have the Verizon version.) The Nexus phones have the advantage of usually getting the first upgrades on Android.
posted by JMOZ at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Sprint Galaxy Nexus is $150 from Amazon Wireless, with a bonus $50 of Google Wallet funds.

I'm probably biased, since I own the Verizon model, but IMO it's one of the best Android phones out there, due in no small part to the fact that it's essentially a "Google phone," i.e. it's pretty much vanilla Android with no skins or bloatware that is among the first wave to get OS upgrades when they come out. It's got a big screen running at 1280x720 HD-resolution that is about as sharp as the iPhones' Retina display, a decent dual-core processor that runs most stuff very quickly, 32GB of storage built in (no removable microSD though), does 4G as well as 3G and Wifi, is easily customizable even without rooting, and has a nifty NFC function that means you can use your phone to buy stuff via the aforementioned Google Wallet at certain locations (McDonalds, for instance) just by putting it up to a reader. You should check one out a store first, just to get an idea of how big it is (very, but I've gotten used to it), relatively speaking. The battery life on 4G isn't great, but you can usually find the official extended battery for ~$25 and is well worth it.

Amazon also seems to be selling the Epic Touch 4G (aka the Galaxy S II) for a penny, probably because the successor was just announced, and it's a decent 4G phone. It's of a comparable speed and has microSD capability the GN doesn't, but it doesn't have an HD display, and for now is stuck on the previous version of Android (Sprint says it's coming soon).
posted by zombieflanders at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2012

Well the iPhones are $200. The $99 one is the iPhone 4, which is the previous model, not the iPhone 4S, which is the current model that has Siri and some other upgrades. But realistically, if it was the best thing going 7 months ago, it's not like it's chopped liver now. And the Android phones on Sprint that you'd want are all $200. The iPhone 4 seems like the best bet in your price range. One known issue is the antenna, which had a problem with losing reception when you clamped it too much while holding it. They sold a bumper case to get around that. So if you find your reception dropping, try, as Steve Jobs said, holding it differently. And consider a case.
posted by Askr at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2012

Oops, pardon my careless reading. The $99 Android phones will mostly be similarly decent and slightly outdated, just like the $99 iPhone. It's really worth it to see if you can subsidize a bit (if possible) to get more recent technology.
posted by JMOZ at 9:37 AM on May 13, 2012

Are they giving you $100 or $150? If it's not set in stone, talk them up to $200 and get the iPhone 4S. It is the most productive phone so they'll make back their $50 several times over.
posted by michaelh at 10:23 AM on May 13, 2012

The CDMA version of the iPhone 4 does not have the antenna issue that the GSM version has. Your Sprint iPhone 4 will be fine. Or at least as fine as Sprint ever is.

Personally I'd pay the extra $50 for the 4S in a heartbeat. Siri isn't a big deal but it's a lot faster than the 4.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2012

Based on what you've written, the newest and biggest Samsung or HTC (or iPhone) that you can afford should be fine. Like Lamplighter, if it were only $50 out of my pocket to get the newest I'd plump for that.

Is there anything else besides staying in touch with work that would help narrow down the field? A particular feature/app you'd like or thing you'd like to do with it (watch TV shows on the train, navigate while driving, play games or a specific game)? Already using a Mac at work or home?
posted by K.P. at 12:00 PM on May 13, 2012

Target is selling Iphone 4s phones for Sprint for $150 for the next couple of weeks. Not every Target has Sprint phones, but quite a few do. I would call and find a location that can get you what you need.
posted by superfille at 12:10 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I resisted getting an iPhone for a long time because of expense. I instead opted for a Droid Eris. Don't know if they still make the model I got, but I do know that they implemented a software update that made the phone more or less unusable. For example: pressing the "answer" button when I got a call would have no effect, dialing a number took multiple tries, and the texting program would regularly crash. My favorite part? When I took it to Verizon for help, I was informed that they had basically stopped tech support for that model and given up on it entirely to focus on their newer models. (No, they would not replace my unusable phone.)

That experience made me decide give up on Droids entirely, and subsequently eat the cost of an iPhone.

I have the iPhone 4S, which I use for everything. The iPhone apps blow the Droid apps out of the water, the functionality of the whole phone is awesome, the camera quality and usuability is unmatchable, and Apple tech support is so much better. (Maybe Sprint is better than Verizon? Hopefully?) "There's an app for that" is actually true with the iPhone.

If the iPhone 4S is out of your price range, consider getting an iPhone 4. My boyfriend has one and loves it. It works more or less the exact same way that my 4S does, just without Siri. (And for what it's worth, my experience has been that Siri is really fun for messing around with but virtually unusable as a "personal assistant" like in the commercials. It takes too many tries to get the phrasing right when making requests from her.)
posted by hypotheticole at 1:45 PM on May 13, 2012

For what it is worth the Droid Eris is comparable to about the iPhone 3G, so yes, the iPhone 4S is much better than it, but so are many Android phones released in the three years since it came out.

If you want an iPhone get one, in your situation I'd kick in my own money to get a galaxy nexus.
posted by markr at 2:07 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Regarding the $99 iPhone 4 I linked to: yes, the 4S is the latest and greatest. I have the 4 because it was $100 less than the 4S when I was due to upgrade, because I didn't think the 4S features were worth the difference for my uses. And i was feeling extemely frugal at the time I have to say, I am thrilled with the iPhone 4. I would choose it over any Android phone out there. If you absolutely can't pay for the 4S, get the 4 and you will be very happy with it.
posted by The Deej at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2012

It [iphone] is the most productive phone so they'll make back their $50 several times over.

A lot of people I've known who have had iphones say the exact opposite, FWIW. That they switched back to Android for a variety of issues. I guess it's all YMMV. Anyway,

I second the Galaxy Nexus. Smoking fast, the 4G is great if you can get it, display is beautiful.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:08 AM on May 14, 2012

I love my Nexus!
posted by magnetsphere at 5:28 PM on May 14, 2012

Ok, it looks like I'm going to go with the iPhone 4. There's two iPhones in the office and four Androids. Incidentally, one of the Androids belongs to the boss, who said today, "I can't wait until my contract is up so I can get an iPhone. I hate this thing."
posted by azpenguin at 5:10 PM on May 15, 2012

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