I'll start this article by saying there probably aren't too many of you interested in buying a new smartphone right now. And the...
Thursday, October 3, 2013
[Op-Ed] Why can't I find the right phone?
Buying the first generation of anything can pose certain challenges. And while I love my GNex, it does have some shortcomings. The screen isn't terrible, but better screens have come out in the last year or two. Processor power and speed are always going up, and most importantly, battery life has taken a good jump forward since the GNex was released. So in my next phone, I know I want certain things: I want long battery life on LTE, a fast processor, good to great camera, big beautiful display, and an unlockable bootloader. This would normally all add up to a "Nexus" device, but Verizon will not stand for another Google Nexus product. Apparently unlockable bootloaders will bring down Verizon's network or start the zombie apocalypse or something. So this means that I'm left with a list of slightly imperfect options that force me to choose between the lessor of all evils.
The contenders right now are: Droid Maxx, HTC One, LG G2, Motorola X (Moto X)
Cons: locked bootloader, physical buttons, only 720p screen, Verizon bloatware
HTC One Pros: beautiful design, great screen, good speakers, good specs, potentially unlockable
Cons: smallish battery, physical buttons, Verizon bloatware (stop me if you heard this before)
Cons: smaller battery, only 720p screen, mid range specs, excessive price point
LG G2 Pros: large battery, cutting edge specs, great 5.2" 1080p screen
Cons: unusual design, locked bootloader, Verizon bloatware, LG skin
After going to the various AT&T and Verizon retail stores and visiting all these phones in person, I'm torn. The Moto X and HTC One feel great in hand - both with a premium feel. The HTC One has a nice camera, but the Moto X's camera has been universally panned by every person to review it. The One is a little bigger, the Moto X a little smaller - but the 2300mah battery on the One gives me pause, as the 2100mah on my GNex doesn't last a full day (albeit with an older gen, dual core processor running it) and the Moto X is a little too small for my taste (and its "only" a 720p screen to boot). I'd really like a screen somewhere in the 5" 1080p range, which would naturally push me in the LG G2's direction. But with hardware buttons on the rear of the device and a locked bootloader, I'm not sure if this is really the device for me. The 3000mah battery and cutting edge specs are otherwise very attractive.
The Droid Maxx is, in a word, frustrating. What on paper would seem like the clear winner is held back those annoying physical buttons (which should never appear on a smartphone, IMO) and the decision to use a 5" 720p display panel. The Motorola X8 computing system does have some neat features (always on listening, Active Notifications) but while I'm fond of its footprint and kevlar backing, the wife informed me (her words, not mine) that "we wouldn't be getting because it looks like an ice scraper." While I'm not 100% sure what that even means, she's obviously not fond of the devices overall appearance. Which leaves me back at square one again.
The rumors of the Nexus 5 are intriguing, and its hard to argue against something that looks as good as the below (alleged) pictures of the device:
**UPDATE: I have in fact chosen my new device, and I couldn't be happier! A full review and the thoughts on my decision coming soon...