Help me buy a good mobile phone
May 8, 2015 10:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to buy a mobile phone that is unlocked. I want to avoid getting it from the big stores in Toronto, and I am looking online for a good option. I am really not that tech-savvy, and if I had to choose between Android and iPhone, I'd go with whichever has a better deal. Ideas?

My brother broke his iPhone 5 playing a damn game (he was pissed so he broke it). A sturdy phone is a definite plus.
posted by cyrusw8 to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just about any phone will break it if you want to break it. A good case is what you'll need for accidents.

Can you say a little bit more about what you want to use the phone for? Just calls and texts or do you want to be able to play games? watch movies or videos on it?
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:20 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by harrietthespy at 10:25 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have a OnePlus that is fully featured, unlocked, and about $350 US. I know they are now shipping to Canada. It runs on Android. I find it to have a great battery, fast processor and easy to customize. It runs on GSM, AT&T or T-Mobile here in US. I don't play video games so not sure how it does with those, but with mail, text, and many social media apps, it works as well or better than my old Samsung Galaxy S5 or S4.

I purchased a case with a flip cover from OnePlus. I have dropped it several times and no issues. I am not a heavy physical abuser of my phone, so not sure how it would stand up to a hot temper.

If you are truly not tech comfortable, I would suggest an iPhone of some sort though. I do a lot of tweaking and customization with my phone and my launcher. My mother and my kids have iPhones and it is a device that is turn on and use.
posted by AugustWest at 10:26 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just buy an iphone 5c or 5s on swappa, and put it in a case like this(which is, imo the thinnest/leanest "tough" case that actually does anything). The reason i say 5c and not 5, is that there's still brand new 5Ses and 5Cs rolling off the assembly line, and even the used ones will be pretty fresh. The 5 hasn't been produced since the middle of 2013 and a lot of them have VERY tired batteries at this point, and it's non-trivial to swap them out and ~$35 to pay someone to do it.

I never recommend non-apple phones to people familiar with iphones anymore. There's a lot of frustration in the learning curve, and a lot of stupid crapware and inconsistencies to be had.

Whenever someone who always uses iphones asks what cheap/replacement phone to get, i just say a cheap iphone.

I bought my friend an iphone 5 with a brand new battery in good shape for $150 US recently. This doesn't have to be an expensive project. The 5c is about the same price wise. The 5S is more like $250-300.

If i had to pick a specific model though, i think the 5S is at an awesome point in the price/performance/age curve right now though. It's basically just as fast as the newest iphones, has 90% of the newest features, and is a BIG jump in performance and general awesomeness from the 5 despite looking quite similar. To the point that if i lost my phone or it got stolen, i'd probably buy one instead of the 6+ i have right now.
posted by emptythought at 12:15 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

+1 for Swappa. I get all my unlocked, slightly bruised phones from there.
My teens go through them like wildfire, as teens are wont to do, so I don't mind a bit of use and scratches with the chance to save a great deal of money.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 5:23 AM on May 9, 2015

I just recently bought a "motorola moto e global"($100). It's unlocked, not associated to any carrier, and is set up for GSM worldwide. The only drawback I have found is that the camera is not good.
posted by pjenks at 5:39 AM on May 9, 2015

User interface is the best
Hardware and support from Apple is great
No Google spy account needed
No malware apps
posted by Mac-Expert at 7:39 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're buying a phone for someone who intentionally broke their last one, I would go with buying a good deal and something cheap (but reliable).

The OnePlus One is a great phone, but you really need to be a power user who is ready to tinker with their phone.

In your situation, the best deal I can find is buying a Motorola Moto G (2nd Generation). It's widely considered to be an excellent budget smartphone (see this review as an example). At $179 in US dollars, it won't break the bank, and it has a good quality 5 inch screen (which he will appreciate- a big upgrade in size over the iPhone 5's small 4 inch screen, without making it too much of a bigger phone).

In fact, you can even buy it for cheaper from Amazon here.

As you can see it has tremendous Amazon reviews, 4.5 stars.

Then, buy a cheap TPU case like this one on Amazon (these are cases made out of a rubbery, silicone sort of material). They're widely considered to be a good cheap way to add some actual protection to the phone. (Just make sure you're buying it for the 2nd Generation Moto G).

Then you're out the door at a low cost with an unlocked phone, which can be used on GSM networks without having to sign up for a big 2 year contract (carriers like Rogers and a few other smaller ones in Canada).

And if he enjoys it and wants to upgrade, you're not out much money.

I do have to respond to one thing I am seeing in another post.

No Google spy account needed
No malware apps

This is a bit naive. Apple tracks all the same things Google tracks- they don't get Apple Maps traffic information by magic, for example. Also, malware is not something to be worried about in the Google Play store, either. (Now, if you're just going around online and installing whatever you come across, yeah.)
posted by Old Man McKay at 8:38 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

LG G2 + good case.
posted by Poldo at 12:39 PM on May 9, 2015

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