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Topic # 185294 17-Nov-2015 15:06
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I’m on the look-out for a phone for my wife; she doesn’t care about getting anything too flash, but I’m struggling to find the best phone in this price range.  

I’m looking for one that:
* costs less than $400
* has a screen of at least 4.5”, ideally 5”
* works on all networks
* has a decent camera
* takes an SD card (or comes with lots of memory), as it will be used for Spotify offline
* is running at least 5.0 (out of the box or immediately upgradable), and ideally will get 6
* ideally has 16GB RAM (not guaranteed at this price point, I know!)
* has decent resolution (as per RAM, understand that many phones at this price point will be 720x1280)
* preferably runs a relatively pure Android (not keen on Huawei or Xiaomi for this reason; similarly it doesn’t make run for a Samsung)

This search shows the range of phones of this size, current OS and price isn’t huge.   I have considered but not keen on:
* Vodafone Smart Prime (it’s great value but looking for something a bit nicer)
* Vodafone Smart Ultra (lack of full Spark/Skinny support)
* Moto G 2nd gen (a bit old in the tooth)
* Moto G 3rd gen (currently too expensive at $448)
* LG G4 Beat (poor camera)
* LG G3 Beat (no light sensor)  

Phones I’ve considered but not yet rejected:
* Asus Zenfones, with a few models available below $400 – any thoughts on these models?
* Kogan Agora 4G Pro (not on its NZ site, but $299 AUS; seems to support all the appropriate NZ frequencies?)
* Earlier flagship models like the Samsung S4, HTC One or Xperia Z (are some/all of these getting too old?)
* Spending a little bit more and getting something like a G3 D855
* Others in that price point include Xperia M4 Aqua models (ranging from $346 to $390) and Samsung J5 ($339-$346)

Any thoughts and advice on the options available would be greatly received.
Cheers
Jonathan

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  Reply # 1429710 17-Nov-2015 15:16
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Hard to go past the Moto G2 with the specs you want, and I don't think you'd be disappointed unless you're expecting cutting edge performance (which you shouldn't be, at this price point).  I've been using a 1st gen Moto G for nearly two years and it's still a great phone.  Well worth getting the genuine Moto flip case

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  Reply # 1429722 17-Nov-2015 15:32
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Of the China phones at that price, try the UMi eMax mini, has everything you ask, for approx $220 NZ.  I found a lot of the other China phones around this price only have vodafone/2 degrees 3G bands.

I have an Elephone Trunk on it's way from AliExpress, but might be a little too low spec for your needs.

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1429750 17-Nov-2015 15:57
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ASUS Zenfone 2 4GB RAM version via AliExpress.




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  Reply # 1429771 17-Nov-2015 16:04
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How about HTC E9?

5.5" 1080p screen, 2GB ram, 16GB storage, SD card slot, 13pm camera.

Can get for $399 now.

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  Reply # 1429786 17-Nov-2015 16:37
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i would look at the vodofone smart ultra 6 for $250  check out the specs and for the price cant be beaten and it's not network locked.


http://www.gsmarena.com/vodafone_smart_ultra_6-7313.php

 

 

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  Reply # 1429788 17-Nov-2015 16:40
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vexxxboy: i would look at the vodofone smart ultra 6 for $250  check out the specs and for the price cant be beaten and it's not network locked.


http://www.gsmarena.com/vodafone_smart_ultra_6-7313.php
 


The OP mentioned Spark / Skinny  which this phone doesn't do but it is good value for money if you're on Voda or 2D..




Regards,

Old3eyes


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  Reply # 1429815 17-Nov-2015 17:39
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old3eyes:
vexxxboy: i would look at the vodofone smart ultra 6 for $250  check out the specs and for the price cant be beaten and it's not network locked.


http://www.gsmarena.com/vodafone_smart_ultra_6-7313.php
 


The OP mentioned Spark / Skinny  which this phone doesn't do but it is good value for money if you're on Voda or 2D..


i know but it's got everything else he asked for so maybe worth changing networks.



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  Reply # 1430181 18-Nov-2015 09:14
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Thanks for the replies.

Any thoughts on the merits (or otherwise) of the new-model Sonys (Aqua range) or Samsungs (A5, J7), or going with an older top-end model like a Xperia Z (perhaps too old?)?

I reckon the website selling the really cheap Galaxy S4 (www.bluecoastline.com) looks quite dodgy, and it's a bit weird the first hit on Google for this site is its page on Pricespy! Enough reason to avoid (unless anyone has actually had good dealings with this site?)

jonb: Of the China phones at that price, try the UMi eMax mini, has everything you ask, for approx $220 NZ.  I found a lot of the other China phones around this price only have vodafone/2 degrees 3G bands.


This looks surprisingly good, for the price, and gets fairly positive comments from what I've read thus far. Has anyone here tried this phone? My biggest concern with buying O/S is the lack of warranty cover; and I've also a concern Chinese-sourced phones are not as straight-forward to manage (eg, one listing for a Zenfone I looked at had some classic warning telling the purchaser not to update the phone via the Google app store). Am I incorrect in this, in that will a phone such as this UM eMax mini operate in pretty much the same manner as an NZ-sourced phone? (eg, ability to use the app store, provided with updates etc.)

NZtechfreak: ASUS Zenfone 2 4GB RAM version via AliExpress.


As per my original post, I've identified these Zenfones as a possibility, but I have the same reservations over this as the UMi (no CGA; concern re operation - especially with that comment on one listing with warnings about updating the phone); would none of these NZ-sourced Zenfones be an acceptable alternative?

vexxxboy: i would look at the vodofone smart ultra 6 for $250  check out the specs and for the price cant be beaten and it's not network locked.


Yeah, indeed I'm after a phone that also operates on the Spark network, otherwise this phone would have been my first pick (I almost bought it for my wife but then I found out this lack of compatibility on the relevant GZ thread). My wife's on one of Spark's Spotify plans, and moving off that would cost us an additional $156 a year (as we'd have to go back to paying $13 a month for Spotify), so it's just not worth it.

shk292: Hard to go past the Moto G2 with the specs you want, and I don't think you'd be disappointed unless you're expecting cutting edge performance (which you shouldn't be, at this price point).  I've been using a 1st gen Moto G for nearly two years and it's still a great phone.  Well worth getting the genuine Moto flip case


This is often where I end back up - with the Moto G2... My sister's got one (on my recommendation!), and it's a good solid phone... If I can't find anything else better for that sort of money, I'm sure I'll end up with this!

nunasdream: How about HTC E9?

5.5" 1080p screen, 2GB ram, 16GB storage, SD card slot, 13pm camera.

Can get for $399 now.


Hadn't come across this one in my search, and will check it out further. I'm not a big fan of the HTC aesthetic, but I have to remind myself the phone's for my wife - not me!

Thanks again...

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  Reply # 1430210 18-Nov-2015 09:51
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Those NZ Zenfones will be fine, just that you're paying similar money for lower spec.




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  Reply # 1430216 18-Nov-2015 10:05
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NZtechfreak: Those NZ Zenfones will be fine, just that you're paying similar money for lower spec.


Are there are no issues with operating the Chinese-sourced Zenfones in NZ? Have you bought one of these off AliExpress, and can you recommend any particular sellers on there?

Looking at the options it seems the specific processor changes with the amount of RAM and storage, eg http://m.aliexpress.com/item/1769383976.html

Storage-wise, I'm happy as long as it has at least 16GB, but to get the 4GB RAM it's either 32GB or 64GB; will the different processors on these varients of the same model make much difference? And, indeed, should I be too concerned about having 4GB of RAM versus 2? (It's just I'll end paying a bit more to get one with 4GB of RAM from China than the 2GB model sourced from NZ, which will at least have the warranty - and I'm not sure how much my wife will need this additional RAM).

The Zenfone phone is quite a bit more than the UMi also suggested above (which is more like $150 US versus $220-230) - will it peform significantly better?

Thanks!

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  Reply # 1430217 18-Nov-2015 10:15
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My experience with a family members Xiaomi phone has been good for updates to the OS.  The UMI is also shipped with 5.1.1, and may or may not get 6.0 as an OTA update.  It seems this brand gave OTA updates to it's other models earlier in the year.Some of the older flagships in the shortlist may not get an update beyond 4.4.

I found the user experience to be the same as any other Android phone.  Xiaomi does a heavy skin over Andriod, but most of the other brands are close to stock Android, including this UMI. The CGA is an issue, you would have to accept that risk with the lower price.  If it is faulty on arrival then AliExpress is good with refunds, but not if there is an issue further down the track.




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  Reply # 1430220 18-Nov-2015 10:16
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Are there are no issues with operating the Chinese-sourced Zenfones in NZ? Have you bought one of these off AliExpress, and can you recommend any particular sellers on there?


I grabbed my P8Max from AliExpress, they have pretty good buyer protections, no issues running it here - you can check which frequencies they have.

Storage-wise, I'm happy as long as it has at least 16GB, but to get the 4GB RAM it's either 32GB or 64GB; will the different processors on these varients of the same model make much difference? And, indeed, should I be too concerned about having 4GB of RAM versus 2? (It's just I'll end paying a bit more to get one with 4GB of RAM from China than the 2GB model sourced from NZ, which will at least have the warranty - and I'm not sure how much my wife will need this additional RAM).


True, may be overkill for the use-case, local warranty is not insignificant.

The Zenfone phone is quite a bit more than the UMi also suggested above (which is more like $150 US versus $220-230) - will it peform significantly better?

Thanks!


No idea on the UMi, specs look reasonable on paper, but then you're dealing with a large established international brand Vs, well, who again? If you're concerned about warranty issues then the UMi seems like a much larger risk. The link to the UMi shows an Antutu score of 17,000, whereas the ASUS 4GB model has ~50,0000. Benchmarks aren't everything and don't correlate to every day use particularly well, but I'd be surprised if so large a difference wasn't noticeable. Would depend on use-cases of course.




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  Reply # 1430224 18-Nov-2015 10:20
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Being on the latest version of Android isn't always necessary. I'm still on 4.4 though I could update to 6.0 using a different custom ROM, because it works fine, and Android 5/6 has no significant advantages to me - and it can have disadvantages like worse battery life. Sure security may be better, but I don't keep anything personal or secret on my phone that's not encrypted.




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  Reply # 1430278 18-Nov-2015 11:40
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jonathan18: Thanks for the replies.

Any thoughts on the merits (or otherwise) of the new-model Sonys (Aqua range) or Samsungs (A5, J7), or going with an older top-end model like a Xperia Z (perhaps too old?)?


I've been running an A5 on the Spark network for the last 4-5 months and found it a great phone. It replaced a dying S3 and my budget wouldn't stretch any further at the time. I still have it on Android 4.4. although there is an upgrade to Lollipop available. Not sure that it's multi-network capable though.

sxz

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  Reply # 1430287 18-Nov-2015 12:02
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Nexus 5.  It's 2 years old, but still a champ.  Has everything you want but the SD card.  32gb model from $425 (which is about what I paid for mine 2 years ago):

http://pricespy.co.nz/product.php?p=2325265

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