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2017-12-22 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 280 references Ignore this thread
Best Android Deal Out There Right Now
[Comments enabled]

Sorry BlackBerry, you lose.

It's Christmas, you know, and the Motion has not been announced for the US.  It's allegedly around $450ish converted from Canadian money, but with no US support or warranty.... no thanks.

So what if you need a new device, or just want one?

Buy a flagship or some midrange unit?


Buy a slightly used LG V20.

It's last year's flagship and used to cost $700 or thereabouts.  But now it's out of favor, you see, and you can get ones that appear to be NOS -- literally, in that they have March 2017 firmware on them and thus will sit and play "update me" for two hours when first turned on -- for anywhere between $200-250.

What you get for that is a Snapdragon 820, 4Gb of RAM, Nougat (and should get Oreo) Android (7.0 right now), and, in most cases, 64Gb of storage plus a removable battery.  It also has an SD card slot and a headphone jack (both of which are missing on many newer devices.)

The cameras are somewhat-older spec but very decent and will shoot in RAW, which none of the midrange devices will; the main rear camera has OIS as well which is very helpful to reduce shake in low light.

The audio through the headphone jack is really good (it has a very high-quality DAC in it you can turn on; you won't notice it with $20 earbuds, but if you have high quality {not "beats"} headphones and listen to FLAC files you will) and it also has an array of mics in it that make for good recording capabilities, not that I'd ever think someone would do serious audio work from a phone.  It does lack the dual-speaker setup of the DTEK60 and the down-firing single speaker is pretty average in terms of volume and clarity -- oh well.

The removable battery means no water proofing, but it also means a $20 battery change when it wears out.  LG claims it's a "ruggedized" phone for shock although I bet testing that could be a $200 proposition (the screen will still break, I suspect.)  All the other expected things are there including fingerprint scanner, NFC, etc.  And, being that it's an 820 based phone, it's fast.

Finally, this device has pretty darn good RF, which translates into materially lower sleeping battery consumption than those with lesser RF capability.  Expect right near 1% per hour of battery drain when sleeping.

I have one gripe -- the "auto brightness" calibration is somewhat off in dim light.  Specifically, "auto" mode turns it down too far.  It's not a huge issue, but it's there and might make you reach for the manual brightness control in dimmer light (and then swear when you forget to put it back on "auto" and go outside!)  There's only a small range of low-light environments where this is a problem though; at ambient light levels above "dimly-lit room" it's fine.

These phones are big -- so if you don't like "phablet" form factor devices it's not for you.  If you want longer battery life there are aftermarket monster (some as much as 10,000 mah!) cells available that come with a replacement back door -- at the cost, of course, of thickness.  Three day battery life?  Sure, with one of those it's not hard.....

The LG Android software has a few annoying spammy things included but some can be actually uninstalled and others can be disabled --- and it's only lightly skinned unlike Samsung's Touchwiz garbage.  Not bad overall.

Be aware that if you allow the updates to all run you'll wind up with an "anti-rollback" problem should you try to root it in the future.  This is the wave of reality sweeping over the land, so if root + custom stuff is your thing do it on first turn-on and be careful, as it's entirely possible to get into serious trouble otherwise.  I recommend not loading custom firmware simply because none I'm aware of has support for the second screen, and that's a pretty cool feature.  I'm not willing to lose it in exchange.

Apparently there are plenty of either NOS or low-wear units that have been turned in on trade because there is no shortage of these things and the price has dropped like a stone.  For the money right now they're flat-out impossible to beat, especially considering that they have current Android firmware on them now and should get Oreo within the next couple of months.

If you want the BlackBerry Hub suite you can have it for a buck a month from the Play Store which isn't a bad deal at all.  Despite BlackBerry Mobile (TCL, really) basically abandoning the US market just in time for Christmas the software remains available and part of BlackBerry's subscription revenue stream -- and unlike so many other email clients, especially if you need or want encryption and have an Exchange server, just plain old-fashioned works.  Unfortunately there's no replacement for the quick and easy security management available with DTEK.

Don't waste close to a thousand bucks on either an iPhony or one of the new Sammys -- or IMHO even the LG V30.  Yeah, they're nice devices and the cameras are a bit better -- but they're not three to four times as nice, and that's what you're comparing against here.  You give up little against those newer units while keeping a shit-ton of money in your wallet.

I have no idea how long the NOS units (and nearly-NOS ones) will remain available at these nice prices, but right now they're the stand-out deal in the space among Android handsets.

Fuck you BlackBerry Mobile.