Recommend me a 'droid to upgrade to/best starter 'droid phone?
September 3, 2012 12:00 PM   Subscribe

What Android phone should I upgrade to/where to buy *and* what's a good starter 'droid in the current crop? I am SIM only, partner is currently PAYG. Both in the UK.

So, dual question there. I've searched the site and the interwebs but haven't found anything that quite answers my query.

I've been thinking about upgrading my 'droid phone as my current one (HTC Wildfire, about 18 months old) is approaching the end of its reliable life (battery suddenly draining with no reason - do have juice defender installed - internal memory becoming an issue and Froyo doesn't handle shifting to SD as well as later versions. have factory reset it already) and I'd like a better camera. The problem is, since I last prodded 'droid phones, a whole new crop have appeared on the market and I find myself overwhelmed with choice/confused (the Desire C is a step down, but the Desire phones were meant to be the higher end ones? whut?)

I'm currently SIM only with Vodafone - it does what I want, for the price I want to pay - so I'd be buying the handset upfront. I want to stay with Android as I have invested in quite a few apps, plus my tablet is android and I'm comfortable with it. I'm looking at £350 max budget on the handset - so mid-range with a better camera/internal memory than the HTC Wildfire.

I'm used to HTC sense's overlay (before the Wildfire I had a G1, aka the HTC Dream) but am willing to try other overlays - crap stock keyboards aren't an issue as I use swiftkey anyway. I use my phone mostly for Evernote/Calender/Email/Twitter (and occasional browsing). I don't do media on it. I could root but am happy to keep my phone stock because owning it outright means no voiding the warranty until that expires. I need google play, none of this 3rd party limited app availability nonsense.

So suggestions for handsets and legit places to purchase them from? (bonus points if they do trade in credit but that's purely nice to have)

Second question: what starter 'droid would you recommend for someone who is looking to upgrade from a dumbphone but doesn't want too many bells and whistles. I'd give my partner my Wildfire, if it wasn't suddenly draining battery but that's obviously out, so something else will have to be chosen. I don't want to land him with a dud phone from the quite wide ranging crop of starter phones out there, especially as he is likely to be purchasing the handset upfront as well.

Thank you, mefis.
posted by halcyonday to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Not sure about the first, but with regards to the second, The Register recently review 10 Android phones for under £100 - which might be a good fit as it's not a massive up-front investment and are likely to be on the "lighter" side of features.
posted by sektah at 12:05 PM on September 3, 2012

Maybe wait and see if these materialize?
posted by K.P. at 12:24 PM on September 3, 2012

We have a Samsung Galaxy II in our household and LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. There is a III now but the II is in your budget.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:30 PM on September 3, 2012

You can get a Galaxy Nexus for < £300 from Amazon right now.
posted by pharm at 12:42 PM on September 3, 2012

HTC Wildfire, about 18 months old... battery suddenly draining with no reason

Have you tried replacing he battery? A quick check on suggests they're under £10. Might not be what you want, but perhaps it'd do for the partner.

(And: I'm quite happy with my Galaxy Nexus (on t-mobile in the US), but I'm totally ignorant of the alternatives--I mainly just assumed I could trust a Google flagship phone to be better (and longer) supported by Google and by the hacking community.)
posted by bfields at 1:03 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If in England, I suggest that you go to CeX ( who have stores all over and sell second-hand high quality phones at real steals. I got a 2011 HTC Wildfire S for £110 last January, it is now £70. There is a one year warranty and it lets you stay on PAYG.
posted by parmanparman at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2012

NB I got a replacement battery for my phone from Amazon. It is an HTC original product and has a 2-year warranty.
posted by parmanparman at 2:10 PM on September 3, 2012

I have an HTC OneS which I am very impressed with. It has cutting edge chip (28nm, dual core) inside which should make it pretty future proof and an excellent camera. It's getting 'old' now (>6 months...) so should drop in price.

Some users have had issues though, so be prepared to return phone for a replacement (the only known fix) if the 'home button issue' appears.
posted by BadMiker at 4:40 AM on September 4, 2012

Best answer: I only have a couple suggestions, most of which have already been made here:

HTC One series, of which there are three models: the V is the lower-end model, the S is in the middle, and the X on the high-end. Since you're already familiar with Sense these are a logical start, and the latest version of it is actually pretty good for an Android skin.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus, because it's a Google phone and therefore gets the newest stuff (IIRC the non-US LTE versions already have Jelly Bean) and insanely easy to root or otherwise modify. I'd say it qualifies as a midrange phone for now.

Samsung Galaxy SIII, because it's high-end and therefore a little more future-proof. Might be hard to find for £350 unless you do some digging.

Also, FWIW rooting does nothing to your Play Store access. In fact, a lot of apps sold on the store are made either specifically for rooted phones or have expanded functionality for them.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:32 AM on September 4, 2012

I used to have a Galaxy SII and recently upgraded to a Galaxy Nexus in order to get Jellybean. I love it. Fantastic phone. I bought mine directly from Google for us$350.
posted by dobbs at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all, really helped figure out what was worth looking at in the current crop! I've gone for a HTC Sensation XE, arrives on Thursday. 8MP camera and 1GB internal memory (compared to Wildfire's 5MP/521mb).

Partner is plowing through The Register list to see if anything looks good to him, so fingers crossed!
posted by halcyonday at 1:08 PM on September 4, 2012

I suggest a Galaxy Nexus too because it contains all the sophisticated sensors and as a little older smart phone can be found at reasonable prices in the internet. It offers as well the possibility for frequent Android updates by Google while users of other phones from other companies often have to wait a lifetime for an update.
posted by matthiasw at 12:39 AM on September 6, 2012

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