Time for Another Round of "Which Phone Should I Buy?"
December 22, 2018 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm at the point of being super frustrated and fed-up with Apple, and I want to start researching now what brand/model of cell phone to buy after my iPhone 6 ends up dying! Personal requirements inside.

Basically, I want a non-apple phone that fulfills these requirements (or close to):

-a lot of storage (100+GB) or the ability to add storage through a smart card or something
-headphone jack
-decent camera
-not huge (the iPhone 6 is a comfortable size, so not much bigger than that would be great)
-a nice user experience (I know this is subjective, so feel free to just tell me your own experience using your phone!)

I'm with Verizon, if that matters. It would be great if it would be affordable (like not $800-1000, but more like $400-500 if that's even possible these days).

Please send recommendations for make/model of phones I should check out! Or if you have opinions about what to avoid, I'll take those, too. Assume I'm pretty clueless about the mobile phone scene these days but am tech-savvy enough to learn a new interface/os.

Thanks in advance!
posted by carlypennylane to Technology (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in a similar boat, though I'm a long-time Android user. My Google Nexus 5X has just bitten the dust after several years of excellent service.

Consumer reports gives highest android marks to Samsung Galaxy Note9 ($1000) then Samsung Galaxy S9 ($720) --both have headphone jacks-- but I like Google's phones which give the "purest" android interface without third-party bells, whistles, and cruft. The benefit is that Google's phones automatically get updated with the latest android OS where third-party phones depend on their manufacturer adapting andoid and thus lag behind with updates.

So I'm looking at getting a Google Pixel, and wondering which one to go for, probably a Pixel 2 as it has better battery life than the 3 (as well as costing less: $650 vs. $800). The Pixels may not suit you though, as neither 2 nor 3 have headphone jacks.
posted by anadem at 10:57 AM on December 22, 2018

I just went from an iPhone 6+ to an LG V40, which is bigger than you want but has a headphone jack (with a built-in DAC) and will take up to 1TB in external storage. It also has 5 cameras, and if you're into fiddling a bit it takes great pictures.

The reason I bought it, though, was because I traded in my 6+ (which is MAYBE an $80 trade-in usually) and got a $400 credit, which put the LG in the $550 range, which is a really great deal for a brand new flagship phone. It was at AT&T and I don't know if Verizon has the same deal, but you might check for that or trade-in deals on other phones.

The size of modern phones is something that I resisted at first, but it took maybe a week to get used to it and now I could never go back.

I had only iPhones basically since the first one and I couldn't be happier with the switch. Keep in mind that Apple seems to be much better on privacy than Google, and if you use CarPlay it might be tough to switch to Android Auto... in my GTI the texting with Google Assistant hangs 9/10 times, although everything else works most of the time.
posted by Huck500 at 11:40 AM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just got a Samsung Galaxy S9+ a few months ago, and I really love it. The camera is fantastic (this was the primary feature I was shopping for), the UI is very easy to use, it didn’t come overloaded with a bunch of junk, and it’s very fast and responsive. If there’s anything I don’t like about it, it’s the dedicated button for Bixby, which I have no use for, but it really doesn’t interfere with my use of the phone except when I occasionally press it.

The S9 is identical to the S9+ in every way except for being proportionally about 3/4 inch smaller. So the S9 would be closer to your preferences in regard to size. My S9+ does fit in my back pocket without much issue (I’m a woman, so that’s about as good as it gets for phones and pockets).
posted by Autumnheart at 11:51 AM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I chose the S9+ because I wanted a great camera, a headphone jack, and a microSD slot, and I chose the Plus over the regular 9 because I wanted the increased screen real estate.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2018

I have a Moto Z Play and love it, even though the technology is 3 years old. I think the Z3 Play might meet your requirements.
posted by ajayb at 12:10 PM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of LG. With the V40 and G7 being their latest offerings are larger than the iphone 6. And new from Verizon they'll cost $980 and $750 respectively. For a lower price you can buy used, a G7 is $400 via Swappa. Or buy the previous generation G6 or V30 (what I have) again you would have to buy used.
posted by zinon at 12:13 PM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

My OnePlus 6 meets your reqs. (The 6T got rid of the headphone jack.)
posted by AugustWest at 1:54 PM on December 22, 2018

I have been very happy with my LG G6. The G7 didn't add anything I needed.
posted by ericales at 7:05 PM on December 22, 2018

You can get a new Google Pixel 2 for $350-380, unlocked, etc. No SD card but is available up to 128Gb. No headphone jack but come with a dongle which plugs into the USB3 port which allows miniDIN jacks like headphones, earbuds, etc. Nice phone, excellent camera, good battery life (I get 2 days between charges), and built in eSIM (which is not yet supported by most US carriers but is supported by Google Fi) as well as nanoSIM slot.

Higher end Android phones (except Samsung, so far) have moved from replaceable batteries, SD card slots, and headphone jacks. If you want these, a cellphone 1-2 generations ago may be your best choice. My backup phone is a Samsung Note 3 - a real throwback - running Lineage 14.1 (=Android 7.1) which meets all of your criteria, still has an exceptional screen, works well on Verizon, and can be found for around $50.
posted by sudogeek at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can’t be sure it works on your network but the Moto G6 ticks your boxes for about $260. I’ve had a couple of the previous models (which I've read all use a very generic version of Android) and find the autocorrect, voice commands, maps, alarm & calendar entry all add up to up to a MUCH better user experience than Apple.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:13 PM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just got a Pixel 3, which I love so far. I think it's like 128 gb of storage. It came with headphones that plug into the USB-C port. The size is perfect as long as you don't get the Pixel 3 XL (which is just HUGE). The screen is beautiful and so far the camera is 50 times better than my recent Galaxy S7.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2018

I recently got a new phone after my Samsung Galaxy S5 fried its second replacement battery. I did some research and read a lot of reviews on phones that cost less than $500 and decided on the Nokia 7.1. It's an unlocked Android One phone (no carrier bloatware), which shipped with Oreo, but updated itself to Pie after I set it up. It's got 64GB of internal storage and an SD card slot. It also has a headphone jack and Zeiss optics for the camera. I got the steel color which has copper trim and I really like the way the phone looks and feels. The display is great and the price is $349. B&H photo currently has it bundled with free accessories (case, screen protector, photo kit for smartphones). I just realized that it isn't compatible with Sprint or Verizon, so if you're not looking to change carriers, my answer isn't helpful, but it's a great phone if it's an option for you to switch carriers.
posted by danielleh at 10:58 AM on December 23, 2018

I'm in a similar boat. Just wanted to add that you might consider looking into a refurbished phone. The discount might enable you to get a newer phone.

Samsung sells refurbs directly through its website. These are, of course, manufacturer-refurbished and carry a 12-month warranty. They are pricier.

Swappa sells third-party refurbs; they have a return policy but usually not a significant warranty period.

Back Market is a newer refurb company. They offer 6-month warranties. I found it difficult to work with them and didn't end up purchasing a phone through them.

Ebay is also an option, though the steep discounts there may not be enough to offset the unregulated nature of the site.
posted by aquamvidam at 9:55 PM on December 23, 2018

Moto G is great though the camera definitely falls in the decent rather than good category.
posted by typecloud at 4:32 AM on December 24, 2018

What's your aversion to larger phones? I also once avoided them but once I made the switch, I can't imagine going back. It's MUCH better for pretty much everything, especially reading on the phone.

I like the Samsung Galaxy Note series. The most recent is 9, but 8 is the same size and can be gotten cheaper. The 8 was MKBHD's phone of the year last year and the 9 was the runner up this year. (The OnePlus 6T won this year but has no headphone jack).

Both the Note 8 and 9 check all your boxes but size. They also include a stylus, which I find invaluable. I travelled for 10 months in 2017/18 without a laptop -- just the Note 8 and a bluetooth keyboard (a TextBlade). Fantastic.

My website and Instagram are linked in my profile if you want to see what the camera can do (click words+pictures/Oliva on my site's nav -- those were all taken with a Note 5 and a Note 8).
posted by dobbs at 8:41 PM on December 26, 2018

Android Central just posted their best of 2018 and the Note 9 was crowned the winner.
posted by dobbs at 4:18 PM on December 28, 2018

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