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Phone Upgrade

A couple months ago, it occurred to me that Jodi and I would be up for our bi-annual cell phone upgrades this fall.  My initial reaction was excitement only to be immediately followed by confusion.  We both have a Samsung Galaxy Note 4.  And, frankly, I couldn't imagine a phone that would be an upgrade from what we already had.  So, my momentary excitement dissolved almost as quickly as it arrived.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been out for some weeks now and normally I would be considering it my no-brainer go-to for an upgrade.  But, aside from its well publicized potential for exploding, I have several deterrents that are based upon the features that the phone boasts.

First, and most impacting to me, was the removal of the removable battery.  For years, most Android phones have had two major design advantages over their rival Apple products.  Those advantages were expandable memory via a micro SD card slot and a removable battery.  Apple still charges a high premium for their products with more storage well above the market cost of micro SD cards with that same storage capacity.  This is designed to benefit Apple with a higher profit margin and more big-brother-control over their devices rather than bring any value to their customers.

Samsung had removed it's expandable memory micro SD card slot it the Galaxy S6 and quickly realized its mistake.  They corrected it when they added it back for the S7.  So, I couldn't understand why once again they were removing such a prominent feature, this time the removable battery, that had helped catapult them and other Android based phone manufacturers into the top tier of mobile devices.  As a matter of fact, much to my dismay, most of the phones that I would have been normally considering for this upgrade also did not have a removable battery.  I was appalled.

Then, it occurred to me this morning.  Water resistance.  These companies have not figured out how to have both a removable battery and have the ability to be submerged in water.  And, evidently, they have prioritized water resistance.

Jodi and I watched several review videos last night trying to figure out which direction we would likely go when we did upgrade.  Every time I saw someone texting in the rain, or laying their phone down on the bottom of a shallow pool, or rinsing it off in the sink like a dinner plate, I couldn't help but wince in shock.  Granted, these were promotional videos and the majority of people will still make every attempt to avoid water ever becoming in contact with their phones.  I get that.  But, I still don't understand why water resistance has become a higher-perceived value over having the ability to change the battery.

We all know that rechargeable batteries have a finite number of charges and cycles it can handle.  I have had to replace batteries in several mobile devices in my lifetime.  Off the top of my head, I've bought a replacement battery for my Macbook Pro, a Dell laptop I once had, my Samsung Note 4, my wife's old iPod Nano, my wife's Asus tablet, and several batteries for my Canon camera.  That's six devices.  And, the only time I had a device ruined by water was a point and shoot camera I got for my son who accidentally left it outside just before a rain.  I think he was seven years old at the time.

So, aside from my child having an issue with water and electronics, the adults in my household have far exceeded the need for water protection by the ability to change an old worn out battery.  So, I'm afraid that I won't be moving up the Samsung ladder this upgrade.

Which brings me to my next point of irritation.  Why are Apple users so loyal?  Over the years, my wife and I have had phones by Nokia, Pantech, LG, Motorolla, and Samsung.  When we have the ability to get new phones, I do a full comparison of phone features and price.  I watch and read reviews and find customer comments.  I want the best device to compliment our lifestyle that we can afford.

Some features are a requirement for us.  It has to have an Android operating system and it has to have expandable memory.  When I added these two filters to my search on Verizon, I got a result of 18 phones (pictured here) which are produced from six different manufacturers.  What sort of choice does a die-hard Apple customer get when its time for an upgrade?  Exactly.

I've already mentioned how I was turned off by the Note 7's non-removable battery.  I am also not a fan of the rounded edges that the phone sports on both sides.  I suspect that it limits the phone's aftermarket availability of covers.  But, even if it doesn't, I have a co-worker with the S7 Edge who showed me why if he had it to do all over again, he wouldn't have bought the Edge model.  When operating the phone with one hand, the bottom part of his thumb gets detected by the screen and causes issues.  His only fix: use two hands.  Yeah, not cool.

So, I believe that we have settled on a phone choice: the LG G5.  The screen boasts the same resolution on its 5.3" screen held by the Note 7 on it's 5.7" screen.  This means that there is greater pixel density at 554 ppi versus the Note's 518 ppi which will provide a crisper, more detailed display.  It's an LCD as opposed to an AMOLED screen, so the colors are less exaggerated, less cartoonish and more true to life.  The camera has a 16GB rear/ 8GB front (with wide angle) versus the Note's 12/5, respectively.  I realize that megapixels aren't everything but the camera got great reviews and out-performed several of its competition in almost all categories particularly in low-light scenarios and in bright landscapes.  The camera is probably the most important requirement of all.  Coming from a DSLR owner, I have even occasionally preferred my phone's camera over my Canon's in some conditions but mostly due to the fact that I don't usually have my Canon on me, but I always have my phone.  So, my phone captures more of my actual life.

The LG G5 won't have the built-in stylus that I am used to but I only rarely used it with my Note for some tasks that didn't necessarily require it.  I can only recall one game that I played with my son that it really came in handy and helped us.  Aside from that game, every other use of it was more because I was trying to justify having it.

LG's G5 is also a less expensive choice for us.  So, that's a bonus.  The G5 has 4GB RAM just like the Note 7.  My current Note 4 only has 3GB RAM, so I'm looking forward to the increase of speed.  The glass of the LG G5 is the same Corning Gorilla Glass 4 used on my Note 4 that I, unfortunately, dropped a lot yet never had so much as a crack.  The G5 is 11% lighter that my Note 4 so I suspect that a drop of the G5 would be even less likely to result in damage than my Note 4.

So, while I'm disappointed with the Samsung Note 7, I'm not at all surprised.  I couldn't imagine how they were going to get better.  In my opinion, they only got worse.  One bit of curiosity is that the Note 4 had a 16 megapixel camera and the Note 7 has a 12 megapixel camera.  I'm surprised that they did this.  Again, I know megapixels aren't everything, but the general public doesn't really know that.  I wonder how they spun that in the marketing department.


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