Strovek Writes


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Choosing a New Phone

I have been looking for a replacement for my aging Desire HD for more than a year and have been holding off until now. At this time, I have decided to stick with Android a decision I made when I moved from HTC Touch 3G (running Windows Mobile 6.1) more than 4 years ago.

I considered the different brands in the market and decided to stick to only the popular brands like HTC, Samsung, Motorola, or Sony. This is based on my experience with HK Video where no upgrade or patches are available and it is impossible to get any custom ROMs. The tablet I bought came with Android 4.1.1 which had two major problems. First was a bug which prevented me from connecting to my office wifi. The second (which is a bigger concern) is that the version of Android is vulnerable to Heartbleed (OpenSSL).

Samsung has the reputation of providing software updates up to 24 months. I have not heard of any other companies providing support for such a long time. If there are any, please let me know. I only received one update for my HTC Desire HD.

One of the criteria I use in choosing a phone is the availability of support centre nearby. HTC, Asus and Samsung have service centres nearby.

RAM is one of the most important components for Android. All my Whatsapp data was lost because of the lack of memory and I have had to reset my tablet and phone because the lack of RAM caused the contact app and other apps to stop working.

LTE availability has just started in Malaysia. Just like it did not make sense to buy a phone that did not provide 3G capability, I felt that I should get a phone that supports LTE since I do not plan to replace my phone for at least 3 years if not more (after this purchase).

I had originally planned to purchase a Samsung S4 LTE when Samsung launched S5. Unfortunately, the S4 LTE was discontinued as soon as the S5 was launched. Only the non-LTE S4 was available.

I finally made my purchase when Harvey Norman had a sale where you get a Samsung Tab 3 with a purchase of Note 3. The price was still RM2399 but included a free Tab 3 7 inch (Wifi only). I had a choice to get the Note 3 which was about seven months old or get a brand new S5. However, the S5 came with 16G memory and 2G ram while Note 3 came with 32 G memory and 3G ram. Even though S5 has some nice features like waterproof and dust proof, I felt that it was not worth sacrificing the memory.

Experience So Far
The Note 3 is already upgraded to the latest Android - 4.4.2 but many of the features introduced in S5 are not included. One thing I found is that the phone occasionally reboots itself. I have not found a pattern nor the reason of why it does that. Since it is not that frequent, I have chosen to live with that.

The phone felt fragile when I first heard it and I was afraid that I might break it into if I kept it in my pocket. So I bought a cover and also a screen protector for it.

Battery life is superior to my old phone, so I am now more willing to use my phone. On my previous phone, I restricted my use for fear of running out of battery. However, should I run out of power, I will have difficulty charging it using my car adapter or using my notebook since the battery is so much bigger.

A few features which I previously obtained by installing apps are now built in. For example:
the ability to take a photo of a name card and recognize the content to add to the contact list.
A pedometer to count my steps.

I missed the contact grid on the home screen which is replaced with a direct dial widget. More flexible, but more tedious to maintain should I move to another phone.

The new features I enjoyed on my new phones are as follows:
  • Block mode, which rejects calls and alerts while in a meeting.
  • Beauty Face mode in the camera which will provide a touch up of the face taking a portrait.
  • Reactivation which prevents others from reactivating the device after it is reset without the Samsung account.

I did not like the number of options available when you pull down the notification bar at first but I am starting to like it.

I had problems getting 4G connectivity, but this was due to the service provider and not the phone. I also found the majority of my friends did not bother with the 4G at the moment, but I expect that to change in the next two years (similar to how it was with 3G).

The GPS connectivity is far superior compared to my previous phones (HTC Touch 3G, Desire and Desire HD).

I have had this phone for less than a month and have enjoyed it, There are still a lot of functions in the phone I have not tested.

My only concern with Samsung is their plan to use Tanzen to replace Android. If that happens, I will have to find another get a replacement from another supplier. I guess that is one of the benefits of Android!