Android phones for n00bz
July 19, 2018 3:11 PM   Subscribe

Which android phone do I want? Am I going to be as happy as I think I will once Apple is out of my life?

I have had an Apple II and sundry other Apple products over the years, but with the iPhone 7 and the slowdown issue they went too far and I never want to give Apple another dollar. They say that I have been spoiled by the iPhone and will hate having an android; androids are so much less intuitive, they say. But I would like to put apps I make onto my own phone, use the phone as a USB drive sometimes, set it up the way I want it, and have a fucking headphone jack. Also not give Apple any money. If I have to crawl through broken glass every time I want to make a call or something, I'm pretty much OK with that.

Additional Wants:
A nice camera -- front and back would be nice
Ordinary pocket size -- no bigger than the iPhone 7
Being able to change the battery myself? Is that a thing?

Do you have an android?
Are you very, very happy?
Then please tell me your secrets!

Thanks for any recommendations!
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Technology (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have an Android and am very, very happy. I get excellent photo quality from mine, can hotswap the battery, and find it very intuitive. Swipe to access screens on which you have arranged app shortcuts. Click the button at the boot to access everything installed. Easy.

Apple iPhone 7 vs Motorola Moto G6. I believe it meets all your requirements. Most Androids will.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:22 PM on July 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

FWIW, the switch from apple to android was for me about a week or two of feeling completely lost and wondering if I had made a hugely bad decision. Now that I know the system I couldn't be happier.
posted by k8oglyph at 3:35 PM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've only ever had Androids and am very happy with them. The biggest annoyance is that manufacturers can (and often do) bloat phones with their own apps/random games that cannot be removed. I have an Alcatel phone which I like quite a bit, but it has weird "Instant Apps" that run in the background and periodically push "CLEAN UP YOUR PHONE" scammy notifications.

If you want a stock phone, look for a Nexus, which is Google's own product. You can also root any other Android, which may or may not be feasible depending on your level of tech sophistication.
posted by basalganglia at 3:38 PM on July 19, 2018

Non-removable bloatware?! No! I WILL root the phone, despite my level of tech sophistication.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 3:43 PM on July 19, 2018

I ran with Android and dual wielded a droid and a iPhone for a few years when one of my jobs required it. The thing about Apple's market vs. Droid's market is the apps fail safe with apple... droid has... less consistency with its developers. So... when android apps crash, it feels noticable where as apples seem to restart without you ever being the wiser. From a Jeff Goldblum 'it just works' perspective, it feels like nothing ever goes wrong on an iPhone, but... once you see performance and proper functionality on one app on an Android, and then you see it hang randomly and then continue to work on an iPhone... you feel like you were just cheated out of a legitimate error message.

While yes, you can do everything with a single button on an Apple product... once you realize there is something else your other fingers can do - well its just a scaling of efficiency...

I'll be honest, almost every android phone has been about the same for performance - with one exception. Get the one with the longest battery life possible and hopefully that charges wirelessly. And spring for a wireless charger.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

The user replaceable batteries are going away. There might still be a flagship level phone out there that has one, but it doesn't come immediately to mind.

Samsung is generally the Android leader, but I'm not a fan of the curved screen. I recently upgraded from a LG G4 to a G6. I waited until the G7 was announced and confirmed there were no features I needed. The G6 has USB-C, QI wireless charging, Micro-SD card slot, and what I feel are pretty good front and rear cameras.
posted by ericales at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2018

The Moto g series is always a great mid/budget phone.

Ars Technica just gave a good review to the Nokia 6.1
posted by TheAdamist at 4:05 PM on July 19, 2018

If you’re a tweaker and want to make your own choices, Android is the way to go. I would recommend getting a phone which will run on Google’s Project Fi. The Nexus and Pixel phones have excellent cameras and get frequent updates from Google. You don’t need to root the phone but simply make sure you can unlock the bootloader. That way you can move to LineageOS (previously Cyanogen Mod) which is also updated weekly and very customizable. Used Pixel 2’s go for $400-450 on eBay now (just bought another).
posted by sudogeek at 4:10 PM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Low/no bloat Android phones include all the Moto ones (the g6 is an excellent choice), the OnePlus phones (currently the flagship is the 6 which I just bought and am blown away by especially the battery and camera) and the Google Pixels (but they are pricy). There are also a lot of cheap Chinese androids, most of which are terrible, but the Xiaomi phones are pretty good. The A1 is part of the Google One series, which guarantees updates and no bloat. And it's a spectacular phone for its $200 price point.
posted by lollusc at 4:13 PM on July 19, 2018

I've joined the cult of OnePlus. The 3 was a lovely phone, and I recently bought a 6. The OS is mostly stock, but with some thoughtful enhancements that you only notice when they're missing. Most of the extra bits can be disabled, but I doubt you'd want to. They're among the best manufacturers at issuing regular OS updates, as well. The camera's good (not the best, but high-end). It feels better made than most phones in the price bracket. The screen is excellent. I'm more than happy with it.

I've never (that I can remember) have an Android app crash or hang. Maybe I've been lucky.
posted by pipeski at 4:23 PM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Android isn't a guarantee you'll have a headphone jack either; the Google Pixel phones specifically exclude one, so you'll need to look at some other manufacturer if you want one.
posted by Aleyn at 5:17 PM on July 19, 2018

Every modern Android phone over, like, $200 will have all the things you mentioned except most won't have the battery thing. Removable batteries are even less common than physical home buttons these days. For me, having a physical home button was important, so I got a Samsung Galaxy S7 instead of a newer model.

Bigger question is your budget, which you make no mention of. I'd go with a Samsung Galaxy or a Pixel. If rooting the phone is important to you, check first that it can be done. I got the Samsung Galaxy S7 and found out it can't be rooted. Still a great phone, but yeah, I wish I could remove some of the apps Samsung forces me to keep on here.

I'd just look at specs. Get a phone with a good amount of RAM and a fast processor with a lot of cores. You may not know what those numbers should be, but just compare them against flagships, and then compare them against cheap pieces of crap, and you should get a sense of what is good. Android gives you a lot of choice to get exactly what you want.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:49 PM on July 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Project Fi! Holy CRAP that's a good deal!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 6:47 PM on July 19, 2018

One thing Apple does consistently better is manage battery life. My phone is 2 years old and battery life is starting to be an issue. I have a Moto (now owned by Lenovo) and it has good audio, good camera, does what I need.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 PM on July 19, 2018

YES Project FI! I'm a happy Galaxy owner and suspect I'd be a happier Pixel owner. Only drawbacks for me are failures to play nice with Apple owning has no photostream and imessages routinely results in broken text chains, late texts, and regrettably, lost texts.
posted by this-apoptosis at 7:45 PM on July 19, 2018

Pixel 2 wins, mostly because of the stupid cheap and awesome Google Fi, also I can root it without voiding its warranty! You like it, and so does Consumer Reports! No headphone jack, but I have options. The black and white one is sexxxy [img hotlink]. It can even make and receive calls, I think!

When you consider that I am old enough to have had Apple products that did whatever I wanted, and then, over time and little by little, watched Apple take that away because it thought it knew what was best for us, until it ultimately became what we know today... the idea that I can I have, like, a BLANK phone that does exactly and only what I want...!!!

I'm verklempt, you guys. Thank you all for your help!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 8:51 PM on July 19, 2018

I've been android since moving from blackberry. And always the Google developer phones (Nexus/etc) and always rooted and do my own updates. Also a happy Google Fi user. When my internet goes out I plug in my phone to my laptop and I'm back online with no hassle/worries. My next phone would probably be the same. Good choice IMHO.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:31 PM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

FYI, the black & white version of the Pixel 2 (which people call "panda" online) is only available on the XL (aka larger) version. The regular Pixel 2 is the one that is close in size to the iPhone 7.

FWIW, I very much recommend the Pixel 2; I love mine. The camera is really amazing.
posted by Quiscale at 6:13 AM on July 20, 2018

Rooting a phone isn’t really that exciting and a lot of video apps won’t run on a rooted phone for drm reasons. Feel free but do it expect it to be all that exciting.
posted by GuyZero at 7:22 AM on July 20, 2018

I have an iphone 5 and an Android LG something for work, and in my opinion they both have their annoyances but generally they are the same. The problem is the annoyances are different for each one and generally unfixable. So you are just going to be trading Apple annoyances for Android ones.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rooting a phone isn’t really that exciting and a lot of video apps won’t run on a rooted phone for drm reasons

Neither will your banking or payment apps.

You can try to mask the fact your handset is rooted but it's not guarantee to work and could stop working at any time.

I don't know whether or not that would be an issue for you.
posted by mr_silver at 9:50 AM on July 20, 2018

I've been using a Blackberry Passport for a couple of years. Moved to Galaxy S9+ a couple months ago. It took a few days to learn the basic moves. It certainly has a nice display, great speakers, good battery life. The camera which Samsung promotes the snot out of is way too complicated for my liking. I still haven't figured out how to do a simple landscape shot. There are obviously many features built into the camera which I will very likely never use.

Android has a million options, it seems, but once you learn the 5 or 6 you need you're good to go.
posted by rickjh at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Further to my comment above about not being able to figure out the camera on the S9+, I discovered that an app I was running to control screen orientation ("Control Screen Orientation") was screwing up the orientation of my phone's camera function. I disabled the app and presto the camera started to work the way I expected it to.
posted by rickjh at 7:17 AM on July 22, 2018

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