What phone do I want? Android, Verizon, not the Galaxy
January 26, 2018 7:55 PM   Subscribe

My Christmas present was a new phone, which I was supposed to pick out before Christmas, and I still haven't gotten around to it! I use Android, on Verizon, and I don't want a tip-top of the line phone, and it MUST be sturdy (or well-warrantied). What do you suggest?

I've been using a Motorola Droid Turbo, and I'm pretty happy with it. I did use the free screen replacement policy and I was pleased they fixed that free. I have smallish hands, so the 5.2-inch screen on the Turbo is about as big as I can handle. (Even then I can't use the phone one-handed unless everything is reeeeeeal close to the side.) It has to be sturdy because it is subject to a lot of dropping, between my natural clumsiness and my three children constantly being all up in my phone.

Pretty basic use, but I use it all day long -- e-mail, web surfing, GPS, to-do and shopping lists, taking pictures of my kids, playing a few casual games. Sometimes I access documents I've saved on Google Docs or Evernote (like at kid school meetings). 32 GB of memory has been plenty (right now about 9 GB apps and 5 GB images). I don't use my phone to listen to music, and videowise just occasional youtube videos. (In the past, sometimes podcasts, but not right now.)

I don't need anything fancy -- I want it to work for my pretty basic smartphone needs, NOT BREAK, take decent pictures, and have a good battery that lasts a couple years. I think I'm probably comfortable in the $500 range -- $200 phones seem probably too cheap (I don't know, maybe there's a great one in that range!), but I definitely don't need a $700 or $800 phone.

What phone would I like? What's leading the sturdiness pack, even if it's outside my price range?
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Shopping (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In that price range, your best bet is probably the latest OnePlus flagship. (I forget what they are up to now). They're popular enough that even if OP's support period ends up being cut short, there will be no shortage of third party ROMs, so if you can deal with the slightly inferior screen and cameras they use, you can get an otherwise top of the line phone within your budget.
posted by wierdo at 7:58 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

And for sturdiness, get an OtterBox or Pelican case or other similar thing to protect it and it definitely won't break.
posted by wierdo at 8:12 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding the OnePlus 5t. It'll probably be my next phone.
posted by kindall at 8:15 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Moto G5 Plus is similar to what you have now and should be fine for your needs. I have one that I use similarly to the way you use yours (except I listen to music a lot) and I like it and it gets good reviews. It's around $200. I don't see why you would need a more expensive phone than that, unless maybe there are more expensive phones that are substantially sturdier. But it seems like getting a case would be the best way to keep it from breaking. And if you get a $200 phone and it breaks, you can get another one and still end up paying less than the amount you're thinking of spending.
posted by Redstart at 8:28 PM on January 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'd get the Moto Z Play if you can find it. Stellar battery life, clean UI without a lot of garbage that the company won't bother updating when Android updates come out (ahem Samsung), and afaik, no significant reports of major battery drain (because of failure to catch up to updates) or explosions or bulging cases because certain manufacturers (Samsung again) think phones being stylish & thin is more important than phones being safe, so they don't leave enough space for the battery to expand when it's hot because it's updating the OS again. Or, they just make the battery smaller, so you're stuck having to charge multiple times a day. You can do that faster now with the new USB C charger that's out, but still, annoying!!). You can top up your GB with cloud storage (Google). This is the Z Play, the newer Moto Z2 has a less fantastic battery.

It's pretty sturdy, but you might want to get a LifeProof case for it if it can be found. (Or get one for whichever phone you end up with.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:35 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a OnePlus. It does not work on Verizon's network. I would get a refurb Pixel on this deal. Mid 300s. Great camera. Sturdy (or at least mine I have for work is). Unlimited upload of pictures to Google Photos at the highest resolution.
posted by AugustWest at 8:46 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Verizon don’t sell the OnePlus as it doesn’t fully work on their network.

In short, the network bands that the phone supports don’t completely match the ones that Verizon uses. No such issue if you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile though.

Assuming you want to stick with Verizon, I’d look at either a Pixel or Motorola.
posted by mr_silver at 2:52 AM on January 27, 2018

Seconding the Moto G5 Plus! I got one at Costco last year for just slightly over $200 and it's been utterly dependable and pleasant to use. (I tend to use my phone for the same things you do.)

My main issue with it is that it is slippery enough that I wanted a case, and that the camera lens juts out to the point where I wanted to get a thick enough case to protect the lens from being set on hard surfaces. Oh, and the camera is not super fantastic in some lighting situations but it otherwise gets the job done. Everything else about it, though, has been fantastic -- at the time I got it, it was one of the best value phones in its price range and buying it was a total no-brainer.
posted by phatkitten at 4:48 AM on January 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a Moto and it has been sturdy. Why not save cash and get an older model? That way, if it does break, you can easily replace it. I have a jelly-type case for mine, not as sturdy as an otterbox, but it does the job.
posted by theora55 at 8:40 AM on January 27, 2018

I love my Samsung Galaxy Note 5. I'm on my 2nd one, bought the first one at Costco and Verizon replaced it (for free, still under warranty) when the on/off button stopped working. I picked it because of the fantastic camera (see dillonbeachphoto on Instagram for an example of what shots I've gotten with it). It was $529 when I first purchased it in Jan. of 2016. Note: no SD card, if that's a deal breaker for you. It is relatively sturdy but to make sure it would survive the many times I've dropped it, I bought it a Verus case on Amazon. Sorry, I just re-read your question and saw no Galaxy! Eek, please excuse this oversight!
posted by Lynsey at 12:11 PM on January 27, 2018

Two of my older teen-year sons got the LG and are very happy with it. They were prior Samsung users, and like the LG very much.
posted by rich at 2:49 PM on January 27, 2018

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