I’m normally one of those fevered device-swapping, early-adopting geeks eager to get his or her hands on the next tech device before the present one has barely accrued a layer of dust or a film of fingerprints. However my current mobile phone has served me an unprecedented 3 years simply because I selected a near future-proof model that promised to last more than an end of quarter, in this case the one-time flagship HTC Desire HD. Up to recently it provided everything that I needed from a smartphone, which is now 90% WiFi-related (email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Wikipedia, various newspaper and magazine apps, etc.). I rarely use the phone as a phone these days, that is for voice calls or text messaging. In fact I’ve probably hit the Alarm button more often than I’ve hit the Call button in the last year. I suspect that for many users phones are now more about multi-media consumption and expression as well as practical utilization (clock, weather forecasts, calendar, etc.) than audio communication.
However my tech-venerable device is beginning to show its age. The Desire’s screen is really too small and too pixel-poor for comfortable web or video use, the processor struggles to cope with more demanding tasks, frozen-browsing or crashed apps are common and I think the time may have come to lay it to rest (or rather root it with a newer version of Android and pass it on to a younger sibling).
So I’m now researching for a new smartphone, one hopefully capable of lasting another two or three years. At the moment I’m leaning towards phablet territory, the boundary between phone and tablet, with both the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the smaller LG G2 looking good. However the Samsung is ridiculously overvalued (the price of a good laptop or even better desktop) and while the LG is somewhat cheaper without any noticeable lessening in quality it is still on the high side. Aside from the cost what puts me off both is the custom skins plastered by the respective makers over the base Android user interface. As most tech-savvy users know pure Android free of vendor dabbling is the preferred option since many phones with older flavours of Google’s operating system will be excluded from newer versions by the phone makers after one or two upgrades (hence the DIY industry of rooting or freeing up phones from proprietary systems).
However there may be some hope with Google’s own Nexus 5 smartphone on the horizon, a device that might well be a variation of the LG G2. Up to now I’ve been no fan of the Nexus range, the greatest value of which is the low prices they sell for. However if the Nexus 5 matched or surpassed the G2 (and it certainly will in relation to the UI) and it came at the same cheapish, bare-boned profit margin for Google, then I might be tempted.
There is a veritable internet swarm of websites and blogs out there dedicated to smartphones, particularly on the Android side of things, but I’d strongly recommend Android Beat which regularly does a nice collation of various reviews for particular devices.