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Advice on buying a phone / phablet

htc one max nokia 1520 samsung galaxy note 3 htc nokia samsung smartphone camera video display

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#1 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:22

My situation
 
My contract has expired and I'm looking to get a new phone. Currently I'm using the HTC Sensation (4.3", 1.2GHz dual-core, 768MB RAM, 8MP) but I haven't been particularly impressed with it. The camera is pretty poor, the screen is on the small side and ever since the Android 4.0.3 update the phone has been pretty slow and unresponsive. Therefore I thought I'd ask for advice and suggestions from fellow members.
 
What I'm looking for
 
I'm looking for a phone with a large display (as large as is practical), with a decent camera (preferably for video too) and decent battery life. I prefer devices with removable batteries so that I can carry around spares, though I'm open to other options (charging packs, battery cases, etc). The device will be used mainly for reading the news (News Republic), browsing the web, taking photos, recording video and gaming. I don't have a tablet and I'd rather have a single device for consistency, hence the desire for a large display.
 
Devices I'm considering:
 
These are the devices that have caught my eye so far, though I'm open to other suggestions.
 
HTC One Max
 
hbeg.jpg
 
Likes

  • Decent specs (5.9" 1080p display, 2.3GHz quad-core, 2GB RAM, 4MP UltraPixel camera)
  • Fingerprint scanner (which would be a lot more convenient and secure than my current pattern unlock)
  • High quality stereo speakers
  • High-quality screen
  • Custom UI
  • Stylish design and excellent build quality
  • Android-based, so a well supported ecosystem

Dislikes

  • Non-removable battery
  • Lack of removable storage
  • HTC has a shoddy history of supporting devices
  • Camera is relatively hit-and-miss in terms of quality according to some reviews

Summary
 
This was an early favourite, despite my reservations about getting another HTC device. My biggest concern is that the camera won't be strong enough, though it is supposedly very good in low-light situations. The fingerprint scanner would be a big plus, as I find it incredibly inconvenient to keep entering my pattern-code. The UI looks gorgeous and being an Android device the app support will be excellent.
 
Nokia 1520
 
jq9b.jpg
 
Likes

  • Decent specs (6" 1080p display, 2.3GHz quad-core, 2GB RAM, 20MP camera)
  • Strong camera (if the Lumia 920 / Nokia 1020 are anything to go by)
  • Will be good for video recording
  • A lot of Nokia devices are very stylish and colourful

Dislikes

  • Windows Phone 8, so a more limited ecosystem
  • Concerns over how much support it will receive
  • Question marks over the notification system
  • Non-removable battery
  • Lack of removable storage
  • Smaller speaker(s), probably mono

Summary
 
The camera is one of the strongest features on this one, particularly if it improves upon the one seen in the Lumia 920. I'd like to do some high-quality video recording without investing in a digital camcorder and some of the videos for the Lumia 920 are very impressive. I consider the Windows Phone 8 platform to be a disadvantage at this point, due to the lack of support. However, I'm not a huge gamer and support seems to be improving, if a bit slowly, so it may not be too much of a limitation. The UI itself is fine and supports customisation, so the change from Android isn't an issue. There is the concern that Microsoft could pull another Windows Phone 7 and kill off support to focus on new devices, particularly with plans to merge Windows RT and Windows Phone.
 
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
 
mdlc.jpg
 
Likes

  • Removable battery
  • Decent specs (5.7" 1080p display, 2.3GHz quad-core, 3GB RAM, 13MP camera)
  • Removable storage
  • Has a stylus for handwriting / drawing
  • Likely to be well supported
  • 4K video recording (though without stabilisation it's probably useless)
  • Can be paired with Galaxy Gear (even though I probably won't)
  • Android-based, so a well supported ecosystem

Dislikes

  • Design is a bit bland
  • Lacklustre UI

Summary
 
Unlike the previous two phones which haven't even been properly announced this will be available soon. The removable battery is a big plus for me and the stylus is something that could end up being useful, though it's hard to say. The camera looks decent but probably not up to the quality of the Nokia 1520. Samsung has a decent record of supporting devices, plus it's an Android device which is good for apps.
 
Other contenders
 
Oppo N1

LG G2
Nexus 5
 
Final Thoughts
 
At the moment I don't have any clear favourite. The Nokia 1520 is the first Windows Phone to have the specs to compete with Android and will undoubtedly have a great camera, though I'm concerned about app support. I'm not a heavy app user, as keeping up to date with the news and taking photos are more important to me, but of those that I do quite a few haven't been released for Windows Phone. The HTC One Max looks great, has a stunning UI and superb display but the camera is a bit of a question mark - in many areas the UltraPixel design succeeds but it obviously limits the resolution. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a removable battery, removable storage and should be one of the top contenders but there's something about the design and UI that puts me off slightly.
 
Any comments, suggestions or feedback would be appreciated.




#2 incendy

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:26

Galaxy Note meets all your req's, so I think you answered your own question haha.



#3 tsupersonic

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:53

I would at least wait till the Nexus 5 (rumors - probably similar to G2) is released, seeing as all the phones on the list are either unannounced/unreleased or were just released. As of now, it looks like the Galaxy Note 3 fits the most out of your criteria. As for Note 3 Touchwiz UI, you could either change the launcher (easy way out) or root/install ROM of your choice (slightly harder), though you might miss some of Samsung's features.

 

I have the HTC One, so I can speak a little about the camera. It is a great little cell phone camera, but like you said the resolution isn't ideal for taking detailed pictures. My feelings on ALL cell phone cameras are they are just that. Nothing on cell phones (maybe Lumia 1020) is good enough to replace an actual camera (DSLR). Cell phones are great for spur of the moment pictures/posting pics. on social media. Having said all that, I'm content with the One's camera - it takes good enough pics/video, and an improvement over my previous Galaxy Nexus by far. 



#4 DocM

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:36

Check out the LG Optimus G Pro. I upgraded to one a couple weeks ago and am very happy with it. Deals can be had his Walmart online and AT&T. Got mine for $59.99.

#5 OP theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 16:03

Check out the LG Optimus G Pro. I upgraded to one a couple weeks ago and am very happy with it. Deals can be had his Walmart online and AT&T. Got mine for $59.99.

Cheers. I'll read up about it, as I hadn't heard about it before. The only thing is that CPU-wise it's a bit behind some of the other phones I'm looking at and the camera doesn't have 60fps 1080p recording like the Galaxy Note 3.

 

Galaxy Note meets all your req's, so I think you answered your own question haha.

It does, but I figured it would be good to hear other people's opinions. My brother has the Galaxy S3 but he doesn't seem to be particularly impressed with it, so I was hoping to get some responses from Samsung owners.

 

I would at least wait till the Nexus 5 (rumors - probably similar to G2) is released, seeing as all the phones on the list are either unannounced/unreleased or were just released. As of now, it looks like the Galaxy Note 3 fits the most out of your criteria. As for Note 3 Touchwiz UI, you could either change the launcher (easy way out) or root/install ROM of your choice (slightly harder), though you might miss some of Samsung's features.

The Nexus 5 is a bit on the small side at just 5.2", though I'm interested to see if it will have any stand out features that make up for it. Certainly it's likely to be a lot cheaper.



#6 Growled

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 18:04

I'd go with the Note 3. If it's half as good as my Note 2 it may be one of the best phones out there right now.

 

And on looks, if you don't like something in Android you can change it out with something else, new launchers, new icons, etc.



#7 Rayhoo

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 05:07

HTC One, i suggest. 



#8 OP theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 22:01

After watching a few reviews the Note 3 is starting to look like the favourite, particularly with its removable battery and storage. This review was particularly helpful:

 



#9 StandingInAlley

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 22:02

Have you seen Xperia Z1? Great specs and amazing camera:

 

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=DAn-npWpBPI



#10 astropheed

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 22:05

The Note 3 will certainly be my next Phone which I'll be picking up in February. I've used my friends Note 2 and it's so damn awesome. I'm a sucker for all its specs and the removable battery and expandable storage basically seal the deal. It's an awesome device.

 

I (obviously) recommend: Note 3



#11 OP theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 22:17

Have you seen Xperia Z1? Great specs and amazing camera:

 

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=DAn-npWpBPI

I have, and while it has great specs the screen is a little on the small side for what I'm looking for. The battery is also non-removable, which is a disadvantage.



#12 Growled

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 01:21

The Note 3 will certainly be my next Phone which I'll be picking up in February. I've used my friends Note 2 and it's so damn awesome. I'm a sucker for all its specs and the removable battery and expandable storage basically seal the deal. It's an awesome device.

 

I (obviously) recommend: Note 3

 

And you can't beat the battery life. I can use it all day long and still have tons of battery left. You almost can't kill the thing.



#13 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 05:47

And you can't beat the battery life. I can use it all day long and still have tons of battery left. You almost can't kill the thing.

 

I thought you had a Note 2?