Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Shopping for a New Cell Phone

So I recently (yesterday) decided to start browsing for a new cell phone. Partly because my old phone is getting pretty old, and I have to wonder if I can get something better - possibly even something that can do slow motion video, which is something I crave for making videos.

However as I begin browsing cell phones I also start looking at the specs and the reviews of various phones that are available.

For my purposes I am currently looking at Samsung phones, since my old phone is a Samsung and it has worked quite well for me during the past 3.75 years.

Purchased circa August 2012, the phone in question is a Samsung S II i9100 which comes with the following:

4.3 inch screen (480x800 pixels)
8 MP camera with 1080p at 30 fps
16 GB storage
1650 mAH battery life

Originally released in April 2011, it was an older model at the time I got it.

Now compare that to the Samsung Galaxy J1, which came out in January 2015.

4.3 inch screen (480x800 pixels)
5 MP camera with 720p at 30 fps
4 GB storage
512 MB RAM
1650 mAH battery life

Same screen size, a smaller camera, only one quarter of the storage space, half the ram, and the same batter life. It is actually a DOWNGRADE from my old phone. It is also slightly thicker and heavier.

So obviously that phone is clearly a dud. Also the reviews on the website I checked were dismal. It is the kind of phone you clearly don't want to buy.

Okay, fine.

Lets see what else Samsung has to offer.

Note - I won't be listing all the phones Samsung currently is offering, because some of them are remarkably similar to my old phone, or remarkably similar to the J1 above - which makes me wonder if we have reached the limits of how much technology we can pack into into a phone.

The Samsung S5 Neo

Released in August 2015
5.1 inch screen (1080x1920 pixels)
16 MP camera with 1080p at 30 fps
2800 mAH battery life

Now we're talking!!! Bigger screen, bigger camera, double the RAM of my old phone - and extra 1150 mAH worth of battery life over my old phone. This sounds like a dramatic improvement. Also as a bonus it is water resistant, which is something ALL phones should be.

The Samsung Galaxy S6

Released in April 2015
5.1 inch screen (1440x2560 pixels)
16 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, or 1080p@60fps, or 720p@120fps
2550 mAH battery life

Okay, so similar to the S5 Neo, but with a camera with a range of video options that makes me drool, lots of RAM, a slightly smaller batter than the S5 Neo, but still more battery power than my old phone. Definitely on the short list of possibilities. Thinner than my old phone, slightly heavier (likely due to the extra battery power).

The Samsung Galaxy S7

Released in March 2016
5.1 inch screen (1440x2560 pixels)
12 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@240fps
3000 mAH battery life

I was wrong. They have found a way to fit more technology into a phone. With a slightly smaller camera - due to the fact they wanted to make the camera jut out less they decided to make it smaller, but still with the robust range of video options I crave, and a waaaaay bigger battery, and more RAM.

But there is some cost differences.

The S7 is $899 CDN at Virgin Mobile (my carrier of choice).
The S6 is $729 CDN.
The S5 Neo is $549 CDN.
And in case you are wondering the J1 is $129 - for a phone so bad, my old SII is actually better than it.

At present I am leaning towards the S6, mostly because its camera is slightly better than the S7, and because it is slightly cheaper. With a 2 year plan from Virgin I can also get it currently for a mere $149 CDN, which makes it much more reasonable.

Now you might wonder, wait, why aren't I even considering BlackBerry or Apple products.

Several reasons. Yes, BlackBerry is made in Canada, and I love it when products are made in Canada, but I have never liked the BlackBerry designs. They simply don't appeal to me.

As for Apple, Apple products break all the time. They are fragile. Count the number of times you've seen someone using an Apple iPhone with a broken screen because they are stuck in a contract and don't have a choice but to keep using their crappy broken iPhone.

Also I should note that with the exception of the screen and the case, the inner bits of iPhones are actually made by Samsung. Samsung makes all the electronic bits for iPhone, all Apple does is take the technology and repackage it inside a shiny case design and use their own software and their own batteries (see note further below). Thus why would I buy an Apple phone when it is really made by Samsung???

For purposes of comparison here is the Apple iPhone 6s specs:

Released in September 2015
4.7 inch screen (750x1334 pixels)
12 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps,1080p@120fps, 720p@240fps
1650 mAH battery life

Okay, so it has a smaller screen with less pixels. Camera is similar to the S7, but a little nicer. Only half the RAM of the S7, and only about half the battery life too. In fact, the Apple phone only has the battery life of my old SII phone.

What is also fascinating is that the pixel quality is so low that it is significantly WORSE than the camera. Compare to the Galaxy S6 or S7 and you can see they are making an effort to get the pixel quality higher.

Note - Wow. Apple really needs to invest in some better battery technology if they are still using the same batteries from 2011. This is 2016 already and they apparently are being left behind in the dust by Samsung with their 3000 mAH batteries.

We do similar to be stretching the limits of how much technology we can fit inside a cell phone. It might explain why Apple recently started to make their phones bigger, realizing perhaps that we now live in a world with tablets and where people play on their phones a lot - which means they want bigger screens for a better gaming experience. Apple is still clinging to old designs like the smaller 6s, but trying to play catch up by releasing bigger phones like the Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

Released in September 2015
5.5 inch screen (1080x1920 pixels)
12 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 1080p@120fps, 720p@240fps
2750 mAH battery life

In the spirit of one-up-manship it has a slightly bigger screen than the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7 - but somehow has less pixels, which means the picture quality is still lower, the same camera as the regular iPhone 6s, the same RAM as the regular iPhone 6s, and a bigger battery. So basically all they did is make it a bigger screen with a bigger battery. Everything else is the same as the 6s. And still less pixels, and less battery power than the Samsung S7.

Fragile screens, shorter battery life, and the innards of a Samsung does not encourage me to buy an Apple product. It encourages me to buy a Samsung.

After all, why buy a phony rip off like Apple when you can get the real deal from Samsung.

For me, I am going to get the Samsung Galaxy S6. All the phone I need, the camera that I want, and a good price too. In theory I could wait awhile for the price to come down, but I will likely go get it sometime in the near future.

Happy Shopping!

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