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Innisfree

Reliable, less-expensive smartphone

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Five years ago I finally plunked down money and got a smartphone; nevertheless, I was a cheapskate and bought the iPhone 4s, pretty much the least expensive I could get at the time.

Within the first few months of using it, I got an update which couldn't load properly. The guy at the Verizon store said that the phone was so out of date that it wouldn't be able to handle updates, so I should avoid trying to load any new ones. :sad: They had *just* sold me the thing.

Still, the phone mostly functioned fine for several years. Today, though, it is undeniably senile. It handles phone calls and texts just fine, but will not load most websites in any functional way. 

I need a new phone. I am still a cheapskate. Dh needs a smartphone, too. He is even cheaper than me about phones.

Can anyone recommend a relatively inexpensive smartphone which will not be obsolete the moment I buy it? I like my iPhone, but would be willing to go with another brand. It does need to be reliably functional for things like eBay business, news websites, map apps, this website, etc.

Verizon is offering the iPhone 6s free with a contract, and the 6s plus for only $5/month. I'm afraid those must essentially be obsolete already. What about the iPhone 7 or 8? Which version should we go with in order to expect the things to stay fully functional for a couple/few years? This time I want to be able to get updates. :blush:

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The 8 is the oldest I'd feel really comfortable with. I just upgraded from a 6s to a XR, and other than battery the 6s was still working well. But still . . .those are getting pretty darn old in phone years.

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I have a 6s+ that I bought new and which still works perfectly, but Apple is supposed to release iOS 13 tomorrow, and there is some debate as to whether the 6s will be included or not, so at the very least I wouldn't buy one until that's known. Even if it's included in the iOS 13 release, it will almost certainly be dropped from the iOS 14 release in 2020, so I would only buy it with the expectation of getting maybe 2 years use out of it.

If you're willing to go with an Android phone, my son has a Moto G5 Plus and loves it. It had rave reviews and was the "budget choice" (under $200) on all the tech websites. Costco currently sells an unlocked G6 for $150, and the G6 Plus is around $210 on Amazon. If I didn't need an iPhone that's what I'd get.

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6 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

I have a 6s+ that I bought new and which still works perfectly, but Apple is supposed to release iOS 13 tomorrow, and there is some debate as to whether the 6s will be included or not, so at the very least I wouldn't buy one until that's known. Even if it's included in the iOS 13 release, it will almost certainly be dropped from the iOS 14 release in 2020, so I would only buy it with the expectation of getting maybe 2 years use out of it.

If you're willing to go with an Android phone, my son has a Moto G5 Plus and loves it. It had rave reviews and was the "budget choice" (under $200) on all the tech websites. Costco currently sells an unlocked G6 for $150, and the G6 Plus is around $210 on Amazon. If I didn't need an iPhone that's what I'd get.

 

Crap, I have a 6.  So does my son.   Not even the s version!  

honestly, mine has been showing signs of not functioning properly, so it is probably time, but, ugh!

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OP:  Twice we have gone "cheap" and gotten a Moto X, whatever version was out.  I have found $200-$250 deals on them and they last a long time.

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21 minutes ago, DawnM said:

OP:  Twice we have gone "cheap" and gotten a Moto X, whatever version was out.  I have found $200-$250 deals on them and they last a long time.

I was going to suggest this if you aren't tied to an iPhone.  I have had my $200 Moto something for over 2 years and it is working just fine.

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There are five (5) Motorola Moto phones in our house.  With a Motorola Android phone there is a lot of "bang for the buck" and they connect well to the cell phone towers. My wife has the oldest one. It is a Moto G3. My DD has a Moto G4 which will go with her to the USA in August and should work fine, on at least 3 of the 4G LTE Bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile in the USA.  Mine is a low end "Moto C Plus" which wasn't sold in the USA. One big "plus" for it is that the battery capacity is 4000 mAh.  I think it will work in the USA too.  If one has a newer model (Moto G7 series for example) the newer phones will have the ability to operate on more 4G LTE Bands. If your provider has local towers at lower frequencies. For example ~700 MHz  That is better if you are inside a building than a high band like 1900 MHz.  If you look at Motorola phones, look on the Motorola.com web site. If the price is comparable, I would rather buy it from them and not a 3rd party. Buy a phone that is UNLOCKED AND UNBRANDED.

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We have 3 (possibly 4) Moto g5 plus phones in our family. Mine does ok, but sometimes apps don't load. I have added internal storage, so maybe that helps. 2 of them cycle on/off unexpectedly, until the battery wears out. The phone is useless when it's going through this cycle. When it no longer has any charge left, it can be plugged in, recharged, and it will work fine for a day or so. One of those 2 phones did an unexpected factory reset. My son didn't do the factory reset, the phone just did it itself. It worked well for about a week and is now back to turning itself on and off. We added additional internal storage to my dd's phone with the hope it would help with the on/off issue, but it didn't resolve the issue. All these phones are about 2 or 3 years old. 

Edited by wilrunner
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So, how long is it reasonable to expect a phone to last? Two or three years seems like a modest usable life, even given planned obsolescence.

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I got a MotoG (whatever was the latest version at that time) Christmas 2015.  So, it is that old. It's a great phone. I like it. The only issue I have right now is battery life. I will likely replace it sometime soon and just get the latest generation of the MotoG. 

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I have a Samsung Galaxy J7 that I paid about $180 for a few years ago. I prefer Android. I've had Samsung phones before and had good success with quality. I tend to text and use wi-fi more than data. I don't load a huge number of apps, but all run fine. 

The only issue I had was a few weeks ago when the battery drained super quickly. It was easy to get into the settings and determine which apps were sucking the battery.  I've not had an issue since. 

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I bought a Moto G6 for myself last summer when my Galaxy s5 was dying.  I think I paid $250 for it at Costco.  Dh and one of my kids needed phones last Christmas and I bought the same phone for less on a Black Friday sale at Amazon.  I have been pretty happy with it.  Lots more space and I have a microSD card that holds more things that I don't need as often.  I think my phone is less than half full.  It is about $150 at Costco right now.  The G7 is out and still way less expensive than an older refurbished iPhone.

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75% of my family have Moto phones. We've been happy with them. Low cost, great reliability. They are not the most powerful and super cool phones, but they take good pictures, text, call, run apps, play music, have plenty of storage, etc for usually about ~$200-$250. The only issue I've had is my battery life for mine (I'm on my second now) tends to run down over the years, so I only get 2.5-3 years of life I'm happy with (translates to not stopping in the early evening to recharge my phone!) I'm content with a phone whose original cost is less than $100/year of service. I'd want to upgrade to a new more feature phone by then anyway!
ETA: We have (I think) a Moto G5, G4, and Z Play. 

Edited by Bambam
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older android notes have still been good.  I replaced my note 3 because we changed service providers - which required a purchased of new phones (won't go into the why's.  even dh ended up with a smart phone.)  I should sell it (worth around $100) - but I've been too lazy.

dudeling is using someone's old smart phone. (we do Samsung.)  it has been fine for him.

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I've been running an old Samsung Galaxy S6 for a couple of years on Tracfone, with no issues. It's cheap, reliable, does everything that I need / want it to do, and is fine for my needs. 

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We have multiple Moto's in this house.  I think the oldest running one is 4-5 years old now.  I don't even bother looking at other brands now because I know I can find some kind of moto that meets my needs with a modest price tag.

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13 hours ago, Innisfree said:

So, how long is it reasonable to expect a phone to last? Two or three years seems like a modest usable life, even given planned obsolescence.

 

I believe my late Samsung, a very low end model, which my wife bought 2nd hand from a Niece, lasted almost 4 years, before the Battery gave up the ghost. It had some issues, but we have a lot of respect for that phone.  It was my phone and when I looked at replacement batteries available for it, they seemed to be older than the battery that had been installed when it was assembled. It died last September.

Our neighbor,  an Electronic Engineer for a major cell provider here told me some years ago that he usually buys Motorola or Samsung. Usually he buys Motorola.  Motorola phones have Android that is closer to pure Android and they cost less. More "bang for the buck".

Based on that one phone, I think 4 years is pushing it for a battery.  I prefer phones that have user replaceable batteries, but that it getting to be pretty rare and if someone needs a New battery, for an Old phone, the only batteries for sale may be very old and probably not have a very good life.

I agree with you that 2 or 3 years should be the minimum useful life of a cell phone. With luck, quite a bit longer.

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Most important.   Don't get an iphone.  

I too am cheap.   I use Tracfone and I buy one of their refurbished phones.   I usually spend more on the case than on the phone.  In fact, I've considered just buying two.  But, it is a pain to switch over.  Lately I've been getting LG Stylus 3. 

 

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Apple launched iOS 13 yesterday, and apparently it will work on a 6s, but not 6 or earlier. I assume they will drop the 6s with the iOS 14 update next year.

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On 6/2/2019 at 11:19 AM, DawnM said:

Crap, I have a 6.  So does my son.   Not even the s version!  

 

After five trips to Apple store, my iPhone 6s was replaced at a cost of $50. The case log for that phone was entertaining as the staff put a new diagnosis each time. 

“These are the devices that will support iOS 13:

My kids ZTE and Motorola phones are working fine though the ZTE’s screen has a crack because DS14 accidentally dropped it. My husband likes the camera on the Motorola but he is using a Nokia 3.1 because he want stock android. 

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On 6/2/2019 at 7:03 PM, Innisfree said:

So, how long is it reasonable to expect a phone to last? Two or three years seems like a modest usable life, even given planned obsolescence.

 

I hope my iphones last 3 years.  Because I buy them generations behind and used I think I more reliably get two years out of them.  My current 7 is 1 year old after my previous phone (6s) was stolen and going GREAT with no interest in replacing.

 

After the iphone was stolen I tried a cheap Android but I'm too heavily invested in iphone apps, etc. so it only lasted about 6 weeks before I replaced it.

Edited by vonfirmath
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On 6/2/2019 at 5:03 PM, Innisfree said:

So, how long is it reasonable to expect a phone to last? Two or three years seems like a modest usable life, even given planned obsolescence.

We get many years from our iPhones. My teens are using our old 5s phones, with us having replaced the battery in each once. They were purchased 4.5 years ago. We buy the batteries and replace ourselves, as the phones are out of warranty by the time they need it anyway. We need to replace one of the phones soon due to screen breakage, but I find the prices on older iPhones aren’t going down as much as they used to (yet you don’t get very much for trade in. Not sure how that works.)  I think most people replace more often than we do, though. 

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I have a $25 refurbished Samsung Luna Pro that I bought on the TracFone site last summer. It works remarkably well with wifi, but web pages load slowly with Tracfone Data (so my guess is that my Tracfone data is super slow because it is so cheap.) However, Waze and Libby work perfectly and so did Moviepass. I bought it when my old Samsung couldn't easily be updated to the latest Android (marshmallow at the time). I'm not a heavy app user other than Libby and Kindle reader, but it sounds like OP isn't either. The best thing about the phone is that it was only $25 so if something happens to it I can just buy another. The battery charge lasts 2 days when I only listen to audiobooks on it.

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It is possible to just get a dud. Dh and I both have the exact same phones, Samsung Galaxy On5's. Low end and mostly considered obsolete by most people but they work just fine for us. We use them as our main home internet connection via tethering and do everything online on or through them. Mine has worked great since the day I got it (I can't quite remember but I want to say it is at least 3 years old, maybe 4?) but dh's is, umm...., quirky to put it nicely lol!

We have had to replace the batteries recently in both phones because they stopped holding a charge. Dh's quirky phone was trying to explode the battery by over charging it in addition to not holding a charge but we caught it before it caused any damage and replacing the battery fixed the problem. It was a $25 fix to get a new OEM battery for both phones on Amazon. That's the only repair we have had to make but dh's phone does act up much more frequently than mine when it comes to connectivity problems and such.

These Galaxies have been the nicest phones we've had and they were just over $100 each when we bought them. We will probably get Galaxies again when we decide to upgrade sometime in the next couple of years.

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 We paid $29-49 for Android smart phones and never had any problems they lasted for years.  My son dropped his tribute in the river it still worked for years.   I just switched to a moto6 because I wanted a bigger screen and it had some other features I wanted and still paid under $100.   We use virgin mobility no contract, unlimited everything $38 total with tax.

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On 6/2/2019 at 5:03 PM, Innisfree said:

So, how long is it reasonable to expect a phone to last? Two or three years seems like a modest usable life, even given planned obsolescence.

My 6s Plus is 3 years old and I hope to get at least another 12-18 months out of it. I think that's how long my previous phone lasted; 4 years seems to be about how long Apple supports each model with updates. As expensive as iPhones are, I would be unhappy with less than 4 years — you could get a new Moto G every year for almost the same cost as an iPhone spread over 4 years. But my laptop and desktop are Macs, so I'm willing to pay the premium to have all my files, notes, calendars, contacts, etc., synced perfectly/instantly on all my devices. 

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2 hours ago, Corraleno said:

 But my laptop and desktop are Macs, so I'm willing to pay the premium to have all my files, notes, calendars, contacts, etc., synced perfectly/instantly on all my devices. 

Just FYI for those considering Android devices after being with Apple. My contacts, calendars, files, notes, spreadsheets, photos, all synced perfectly/instantly with my google drive. I have my photos to only upload when I get on Wifi though.

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This thread is becoming more interesting to me, not that it wasn't before, but my wife did something dumb with her Moto G3 (she stuck a cable into the microphone (?) jack that wasn't correct and damaged it. It has been having other issues, so she needs a new phone, desperately.   I was planning for DD to take her Moto G4, when she goes to the USA to attend university in August. I think it has at least three of the 4G LTE Bands that are used by AT&T and T-Mobile.  My wife said something about maybe buying a new phone for DD and my wife will use the Moto G4 that has been DD's phone.   I am going to look on the web site of the Superstore here where we buy phones that are Unlocked and Unbranded and then on the web site of Motorola in the USA.  I told my wife that if we buy one for DD, it should be purchased in the USA, so it will have a warranty there.

With regard to a PP where they had two identical Samsung phones.  I am surprised to read that about Samsung. Our impression of their Quality Control is that it is very high. However, a bad unit can slip thru, as in that case.  We had something like that, about 15 years ago. My wife and I had Sony Erickson W300i Walkman phones. Purchased from the provider about one week apart.  We could have them on the Dining Room table, side by side. My phone would have the GSM signal and her phone had no signal.  Very bad Quality Control...

I am going to look at the different Motorola Moto models. Especially interested in models with large-capacity batteries, like my Moto phone has. It has a 4000 mAh capacity battery, which is on the huge side these days.  That battery capacity is IMO THE most important thing to look for in a cell phone.

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10 minutes ago, Lanny said:

I am going to look on the web site of the Superstore here where we buy phones that are Unlocked and Unbranded and then on the web site of Motorola in the USA.  I told my wife that if we buy one for DD, it should be purchased in the USA, so it will have a warranty there.

If you're buying a phone to use in the US, it doesn't need to be unlocked and unbranded. As a result, you can get a very decent phone for very, very cheap and use it with Tracfone or a similar service.

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17 hours ago, chiguirre said:

If you're buying a phone to use in the US, it doesn't need to be unlocked and unbranded. As a result, you can get a very decent phone for very, very cheap and use it with Tracfone or a similar service.

 

I know that many people there buy cheap used phones and have excellent luck with them, but we only buy phones that are Unlocked and Unbranded.  I am looking at an MVNO called Red Pocket Mobile, that offers service on all 4 of the cell phone networks, for DD to use for her cell phone provider. Two of those (AT&T and T-Mobile) are GSM networks, which is what we use. The other 2 use CDMA technology, which was phased out here about 13 or 14 years ago.   I know about Tracfone and a lot of other companies, but I think she will get the most bang for the buck (some minutes, some texts and some Data) with Red Pocket, on the AT&T network; or an MVNO called Mint Mobile that runs on the T-Mobile network.  When she has WiFi available, she has the magicApp from the magicJack on her phone and she can place/receive unlimited calls and texts with that phone number. The cell phone service is a backup for the magicApp and to provide Data service if she needs it. And Voice/Text service if she doesn't have WiFi access. The goal is for her to have redundancy and to be able to use the phone as a Hotspot, via Data, if she doesn't have WiFi access.

Last night, I was curious and looked on the web site of Motorola in the USA. If we were buying a new phone today, the Moto G7 Power is the one I like, because of the 5000 mAh battery capacity. That's even bigger than the 4000 mAh capacity battery in my low-end Moto phone. With a larger display, etc., the extra battery capacity is more important than in a low-end phone.  

 

 

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