Best not-most-expensive Android phone?
September 3, 2018 8:07 AM   Subscribe

For somebody who barely uses his Google used phone, has never sent a text in his life, maybe would like to, but has so-so eyesight? (In early 70’s).

This individual, though a former software engineer and internet pioneer, has not quite “taken” to the cell phone experience, but would like to get better at it. He,s currently using somebody’s old castoff Google phone which even I have trouble navigating. He does like that it’s small enough to stick in his pocket though.

He currently pays Ting ten bucks a month for basic service but I just got onto a deal with Verizon where I can add his line to my account for no extra charge and unlimited data, so he wants to maybe buy a new phone. However when he sees they cost 400 dollars-plus he may change his mind. Also Apple repulses him so no iPhones. He is an open-source kind of guy. He also reads ebooks constantly, uses a separate little MP3 player for that. Probably a phone with a mini-USB port would be helpful. He's not a Cloud-only sort of person.

Any thoughts about a phone for this hybrid individual? (Note: my current phone is a Huawei Nexus 6p, unlocked, as per AskMeFi recommendations, and I’ve been pretty happy with it. But it was expensive and is massive).

Any thoughts appreciated.
posted by DMelanogaster to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There are so many unknowns here about what he'd actually like once he starts using it that this sounds like it's well into "Fuck it, do what wirecutter says" territory. That's a Moto G6 for ~$250.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:40 AM on September 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have a several-year-old Moto X, and my first thought was also a Moto G. I'll bet there are no-name phones out there that are cheaper. He might also be a candidate for a used phone.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:45 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was going to say Moto G as well. I’ve had a couple and been happy with them. They do what I want them to do. All my other stuff has been Mac, including a several iPads but I wouldn’t choose an iPhone over Android if you gave it to me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:01 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah Moto G.

My wife bought a moto g5 a while ago and it has worked very well. It doesn't have all of the crap installed on it like my HTC does. When I'm ready to upgrade I'm going to also go Moto. The only complaints are the default sounds for things, but other than startup they are customisable and therefore not a problem. You startup your phone maybe once a year as well so the startup also isn't a big deal.
posted by koolkat at 9:02 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

...I’m able to turn it off in my Moto G4. Near the bottom of sound settings is a power up sound toggle
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2018

I have had flagship phones for a bit now, and then the Nexus 6P bit the dust hard and I kept looking at prices and making faces. The Moto G6 that I just purchased is smaller in a way I really, really like, the battery is still good, it's USB-C but that means it charges really quickly. One of the things you might do re: usability is sit down, figure out what apps/functionality he really needs/wants, and make sure all of that is on the home screen and nothing else, and then spend time figuring out the accessibility stuff to cover stuff like font size and if he needs the magnifier set up.

As far as getting him using it more normally, I guess it's hard to say what exactly the use case would be for using it more, but you might try introducing him to podcasts as a thing he'd appreciate, and also some of the handier things that voice can do, like "remind me to call Alice when I get home" or navigation. Or setting a timer for however long the dryer takes to run. That was the kind of stuff that got me into the habit of treating my phone like an ongoing assistant instead of a phone.
posted by Sequence at 9:07 AM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Subsidiararelally question: where does one buy this MotoG? Anywhere? Any discount place? Also interesting Sequence that your 6p died; mine has been doing some odd things lately and it's only a couple of years old. Disappointed.
posted by DMelanogaster at 9:25 AM on September 3, 2018

Honest to God, I'm still using a Samsung Galaxy S4, rooted and with JDCTeam LineageOS 14.1 installed. It's not super-peppy, but I use it for all sorts of communication (Chrome/Facebook Lite/Feedly/Gmail, as well as actual telephoning and SMS) and some light strategy gaming (not the processor-intensive new hotnesses). Old new-stock is well under $100. If his use case isn't very ambitious, going back a generation or three can't hurt if you find a phone with reasonably active AOSP-based firmware development (The S3 is such a phone; others might be as well; existence of LineageOS 14 or 15 ports to a phone are tpically a good sign for an active development community).
posted by jackbishop at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2018

Walmart sells the Moto G unlocked for $200, also the Moto E4 for $130. I don't know anything about the E4, and I don't know how locked/unlocked, etc applies to your contract.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:56 AM on September 3, 2018

iPhone user here since 2010. I bought a Moto G5 Plus last year as an international / backup phone for travel. Hardware wise if compared to my iPhone 6. I liked it enough that we got one for my mother in law (75+). She likes the bigger screen but can still hold it easily.

My iPhone broke in June and I was advised by my phone repair guy to wait for the new models in September, so the G5 Plus has been my main phone for and months. For a trip I bought a Moto G6 (not plus) last month. It is pretty much the same size as the G5 Plus, just a different screen shape.

As for where to buy, these are mostly unlocked phones from the factory. Costco has them as a end display in most of their stores now (or can order online). Verizon carries them online but may not have them in store. Check if they are locked with Verizon. You can get them on Amazon as well but they also may have a "prime" version on there that is about $50 cheaper buy has a lot of bloatware and advertisements hard wired.

BTW, the cameras and screens are great on these phones.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 11:10 AM on September 3, 2018

I picked up our mid-range phones (Moto G5 and Xiaomi Mi A1) off of Amazon.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:24 PM on September 3, 2018

Especially if budget is an issue, I'm quite happy with my Moto E5 Play. However, while I just got the August security update, I wouldn't be surprised if android Pie never runs on it. I believe that moto has commited to getting the Pie update on the G6. While the E5 and G6 are larger than what I really wanted, the G6 is about 30% heavier than the E5, and the E5 has a user-replacable battery. As phones age, battery is in my experience the thing that makes them unusable, and I've not had great luck with getting batteries replaced and not dying a few months later.

As mentioned above, the Xiaomi A1 or A2 are reasonable phones, but at least in Canada, they're pretty much only offered without any warranty.

If small size is preferred, a Xiaomi Redmi 4X is a good combo of large battery, reasonable cpu and small-ish for the 5.5" screen. For approaching upper budget of small phones, any of Sony's "Compact" models are good hardware. Sony is really the only company making high-ish spec'ed but small phones. They also are waterproofi (IP 68) since the Z3 I believe. But definitely not cheap.
posted by nobeagle at 6:32 AM on September 4, 2018

LG V20 and Nokia 6.1 are also good choices. Essential PH-1 if they have another sale.
posted by aerotive at 6:53 PM on September 4, 2018

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