I need a new phone. Work is buying.
January 17, 2021 12:30 PM   Subscribe

My iPhone 5S is dying - or rather, the (second) battery is, and the OS can't be updated to the newest version. I want to replace it. My job will get me a new phone (that I'll be able to keep), but I don't want a new iPhone. What kind of (Android?) phone should I ask for? Priorities are: Audio jack, small screen, safety, ease of use, and long battery life.

I love the tiny screen on my 5S and that's the reason I haven't replaced it yet. AFAIK, there are no phones on the market with screens that small; everything is bigger than comfortably fits in my hand. Of course, nothing fits in women's standard pockets. :(

I'm nervous about learning a new OS (I am not good with learning new identically sized and shaped symbols), also nervous about transferring the contents/apps from my current phone to a new one, but would like to get away from Apple.

I use earbuds a lot, and don't want to deal with wireless nor some weird converter that means I can't charge the phone and listen to it at the same time. (I have already lost three pairs of wireless bluetooth earbuds. Not good at keeping track of things I can't plug into the phone and just wrap around it when not in use.)

Probably needs to be AT&T-account compatible. Doesn't have to be an ultra-budget version but can't be the top of the line, either, but I don't need top-of-the-line features and don't want the screen sizes that usually go with them. Ability to transfer my phone number would be great; I have very little idea how that works. I'm currently on AT&T.

I mostly use my phone for phone things (calls, messages), Discord, and a handful of game apps. Good picture quality would be nice, but "better than what I've got" is all that's on the market these days, so I'm not worried about it. I screencap game images more than I use the camera.

I have no particular accessibility issues to deal with. I want something I can put in a protective case and cover with a screen protector, and I'll probably get a neck pouch to carry it around.
posted by ErisLordFreedom to Technology (10 answers total)
The audio jack is going to be the biggest issue; most manufacturers followed Apple's lead and ditched the jack, though there are still some options there. I'd probably lean towards a Pixel 4a as that will get a bit more Google software update support than other options out there, most of which are just older phone models at this point.

If you're willing to forgo that, perhaps using an adapter that provides both charging and headphone jack, your options open up considerably.
posted by Aleyn at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2021

Sonim phones are worth a look into. I think they would meet all your criteria except size.

Not sure about the cost, I got the non smartphone version used for like $40.
posted by aniola at 1:53 PM on January 17, 2021

I *know* you said no iPhones - but I just upgraded to a 12 mini, and it’s basically the size of the 5S. There are some very good Bluetooth headsets out there, so maybe re-think the headphone jack requirement?
The mini does everything I want, and is super fast, with a very long battery life. I intend on using it until they don’t support it anymore, as I’ve found iPhones to be super-durable.
posted by dbmcd at 2:53 PM on January 17, 2021 [5 favorites]

My work recently got me a Samsung XCover Pro to replace my older android phone and so far I really like it. It does have a headphone jack and is marketed as being "rugged" - I don't use a separate case and routinely drop/toss it around with no ill effects so far. It's definitely larger than your iPhone, but it's quite slim (especially since it doesn't need a case) and has a nice hand-feel to it.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:13 PM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As an extra tool to help your search, there's the GSMArena Phone Finder which has a bunch of filters and such for all sorts of features, including OS, sizes, carriers, and headphone jacks. It's a lot of options on that page, but just ignore everything except your brickwall must-haves, and it should give you some options to explore.
posted by glonous keming at 4:14 PM on January 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Something like the Nokia 7.2 would probably fit the bill. They're actually made by HMD Global, but the build quality is still good and, more importantly, they get timely updates for at least a few years and the security updates are generally pushed out about a month from whenever Google releases them, which is a lot better than most Android OEMs manage.

If none of the Nokia phones strike your fancy and you don't want a Pixel for whatever reason, look for some other device with Android One branding. There are minimum requirements about updates and such for a device to use that branding. An updated OS version isn't particularly important, but the guarantee of security updates is important.
posted by wierdo at 7:31 PM on January 17, 2021

I think size is actually going to be your biggest issue, no pun intended. If I configure that phone finder tool so that the size is right for an iPhone 5S (max. height 130mm, max. width 60mm), literally the only current or forthcoming phone it finds is the very tiny Palm, but relax the size requirement and stipulate a headphone jack and you get rather more options. (Even the iPhone 12 mini is wider than the 5S and original SE, which is why I too am eking out the lifespan of my elderly phone for as long as possible.)

However, re headphones: something I learned recently is that you can get adapters to convert wired headphones into Bluetooth headphones, which would let you continue to wrap the cord around the phone when not in use for ease of not-losing. I've bought one of these in anticipation of having to upgrade to a phone without a headphone jack. I... haven't actually tried it out yet, so can't actually vouch for it as such, but perhaps it's useful to you to know that such things exist.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:14 AM on January 18, 2021

Best answer: Seconding the Google Pixel 4a, if you have to have an audio jack. As Aleyn notes if you're willing to use an external adapter you have many, many more wired options.

The other brands I'd consider are Samsung or OnePlus. Looks like some of the new OnePlus phones include audio jacks.
posted by Nelson at 10:24 AM on January 18, 2021

My Pixel 3a is still going strong, and if it weren't I wouldn't hesitate to get a 4a.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:34 PM on January 18, 2021

I wanted a non-Apple phone with many of the features you desire and this past summer I ended up getting a refurbished Pixel 3A. I've been very happy with it.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 9:56 AM on January 19, 2021

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