[clug] Slightly OT: Smartphone Suggestions

Ivan Lazar Miljenovic ivan.miljenovic at gmail.com
Wed Aug 20 22:30:48 MDT 2014

On 21 August 2014 13:53, Paul Rands <lists at paulrands.com> wrote:
> Hi Guys,
> I am due for a new phone in the next month or two. And
> looking for some direction from other users as to what to go and look
> at.
> The current contracted phone is a Sony Xperia Go. Except this
> thing has proven to be a piece of crap. Annoying slow, crap battery life
> (at best 2/3 of the day with useable charge), crap camera and clunky
> button and socket locations. Also PC manager only supports Windows and
> OSX. It now is stuck in a constant rebooting loop that I can't seem to
> bypass. I was initially keen on the phone because it was the only
> smartphone on offer at the time that was dustproof and water resistant,
> it also weighs half that of the iPhone I was replacing. I was interested
> in the Sony because of the past performance of my Sony Ericsson /
> Ericsson phones from the past.
> The current phone is the old iPhone 4 I
> replaced with the Sony. It works fine using the current iOS and I get
> 1.5 days of battery from full charge. It's a little sluggish, but not
> unbearably. That said it's heavy, the camera isn't that great and the
> home button has clagged out and it's becoming end of life for iOS
> updates as well. I reverted back to this when I left IT and had to hand
> back my company issued iPhone 4S. The biggest thing I miss from the 4S
> is how well Siri worked for sending voice generated SMS and email and
> accurate voice dialling from the home screen.
> So far I have been
> looking at the Nexus 5 and the Samsung Galaxy 4 Mini or the 5. But I
> both have a lot of pros and cons which is making it hard to make a
> decision.
> What I am looking for:
>         * Screen no bigger than around 5
> inches
>         * Voice dialling, voice SMS and voice email from the locked
> home screen
>         * Camera that doesn't get super fuzzy or grainy using zoom
> or in low light
>         * At least 1 day usage from full charge, my call usage
> is around 2 to 4 calls a day, lasting 5 to 20 minutes each. And sending
> 10 to 20 SMS per day. I also play a few games, such as Word With
> Friends, Bejeweled Blitz, and use it for social media and web browsing.
> Watching video and playing games seem to cause the most performance
> issues I've experienced on the Sony and iPhone.
>         * Easy accessibility
> to accessories such as screen protectors, cases, etc.
>         * PC management
> software that I can run under Linux, or the very least Wine or easily
> accessible using tools that I can install via repositories or without
> much fiddling. I found I couldn't access the inbuilt memory of the Sony
> reliably using Ubuntu.
>         * Would prefer expandable SD storage
>         * Would
> prefer charging and headphone connection on the vertical ends of the
> phone.
>         * Also need a clear loud earpiece on the handset itself. The
> iPhone is good in shopping centres, and I don't have to strain to
> listen, but the Sony it's hard to hear even at full volume. I suffer
> from tinnitus and have both whistling and ringing in my ears, and also
> suffer from years of using headphones after working in radio.
>         * 4G
> preferred
>         * Running latest version of the OS, not lagging behind a
> couple of versions
>         * Minimally customised OS by the telco or
> manufacturer
>         * Would also be keen to find a matching 10 inch tablet as
> well

Another possibility you may wish to consider: Blackberry.

I originally got the Q10 because it was the only phone I could find
with a physical keyboard, but the Z30looks rather nice.

In terms of your listed points:

* Z30 is 5"; don't touch the Z10 unless you want it cheap (even then,
they never really did a price-drop in Australia like they did

* I just tried, and unless there was an option I was missing voice
dialling isn't possible from a locked home screen (though you can have
email/SMS summaries).  That said, the voice control isn't as good as
Google's was on my old Android (HTC Desire Z), but I can send basic
text messages via bluetooth when driving.

* I haven't had much of a problem with the camera (though on the Q10,
the default resolution is a square).

* I usually get at least one day's worth of battery life, depending on
how much internet browsing I do.  The battery is replaceable though,
and there's an official accessory to use an second battery as an
external power supply.

* Accessories are a bit harder to track down in stores (as in I don't
think I've seen any ;-), but can be readily found online (the major
case suppliers have various types of cases, eBay has quite a lot,

* No official *nix support, but you can access the internal storage
via Samba, and there are cross-platform (typically either browser- or
Java-based) side-loading utilities (to manually upgrade firmware and
install third-party apps, including Android ones).

* Supports microSD

* Headphone is on the top; charging, however, is on the left hand side.

* I haven't noticed any audio problems with mine.

* Has 4G.

*  Updates in Australia are typically done within a week of release by
the major telcos (or you can always do it yourself with third party

* I bought mine third-party so there's no OS customisation.  That
said, even if you get it from a Telco I don't think there's much
customisable by them there (just possibly a different boot screen and
an extra app or two, which you might even be able to delete in
debug/developer mode).

* Well, HN still sells the Playbook occasionally, but I don't think
there's much point in getting that as it's rather old (and still

Apps are less available than on Android or iOS; you can sideload most
Android apps (especially in the widescreen devices, the only
limitation is that apps requiring/assuming Google Services support
don't work well; apps on third-party Android stores seem to work well,
and you can even install their installers) but they chew up battery
life faster.  That said, the only apps/customisation options I'm
really missing are one to read out the caller's name (I did find one
that does so, but I haven't bothered to fiddle with it enough to get
it working how I want it) and the Woolworths app (which I use just for
petrol prices) tends to crash a lot.  Blackberry Maps are rather
hopeless, but there's lots of Google Map wrapper apps and Navfree
seems to work rather well as an OSM-based one.

> I've been waiting in anticipation for Ubuntu phones to be
> released, but I think I might waiting for quite a while yet. Very much
> looking at Android this time around.
> Thanks in advance, as usual.
> --
> --
> Paul Rands
> lists at paulrands.com
> --
> linux mailing list
> linux at lists.samba.org
> https://lists.samba.org/mailman/listinfo/linux

Ivan Lazar Miljenovic
Ivan.Miljenovic at gmail.com

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