Cell phones! Your experiences, thoughts, moods, gripes, etc

Hello! I’m in the market for a new phone AND a new phone plan. It looks like I’ll probably be going with Google Fi, but I get a new phone to go with it! (I have an iPhone mini 12 which I love dearly but has garbage battery life which isn’t great because I commute and need to use my phone on my hour+ bus ride).

What kind of phone do you have? Do you like it? Do you dislike it? What are your thoughts? (All thoughts are good, this is my favorite part of the Phone Research Process).


I have a Samsung S21 (12th Galaxy phone). I previously had the S7 and S5. (And before that, a Motorola circa 2011 or so).

Reasons I got my 3rd Galaxy (The Good): Camera/Photo quality was important, I didn’t want to switch to Apple ecosystem for apps, etc, and I couldn’t/wouldn’t/shouldn’t go with a Chinese brand (Huawei and PlusOne had good reviews but were no starters for me). I wanted a phone with 5g because I got a 3g phone just before 4g came out and that sucked. Galaxies have treated me well re: durability (I’ve dropped them repeatedly and had longer life/less death than husband’s Pixels) (I use a case though). Pretty good/long updates support on a flagship phone.

The bad: Samsung is known for bloatware. Between Verizon and Samsung I miss out on some features including rich SMS (Liking texts, etc) Physically, S21 specifically has developed spots on the screen and seems susceptible to fine scratches, but it doesn’t impede use. But being less durable than my S7 is unfortunate.

I like it but if I had an iPhone I’d probably stick with one, I believe it’s comparable.

Another (Unsolicited) thought: Isn’t an iPhone 12 fairly recent? if the main issue is battery life, can you get it replaced at a repair shop? It’s a common operation, I believe, but it helps to have tools to soften adhesive and pry apart the case. It may not be waterproof after.


I have the pixel 5a. Both me and GM do. They generally seem great, buuuuut very sensitive to small drops if they land the wrong way, even in a case. My phone fell out of my purse 2 feet down onto carpet in an OtterBox case and completely, no-signs of life died. Didn’t shatter, almost seemed like it just had the battery die, but it wouldn’t charge or turn on. Got a refurb replacement for free but I’m mildly annoyed because my refurb will sometimes not last the day from a full charge overnight if I use it intensively and my original one had 2 days of battery life.

GM had a similar incident with his 5a and his refurb has a weird onboard regular mic - it basically sounds like he’s underwater when he tries to use regular phone mode. Oddly speakerphone is fine and he gets by using either speakerphone or bluetooth mic.

TLDR the 5a’s break with little drops, the refurb replacements are satisfactory but not perfect replacements. Battery life on the OG 5as are amazing.


Seconded their fragile nature. Mrs PDM broke the screen on hers checking in with a QR code at a cafe during the covid times. While wrangling a baby and a toddler. It was only a few weeks old. And screen replacement is expensive (at least here) like $350 on a $500 phone.


I have an iPhone mini 13. I love that it works fast and fits in my hand, and the pictures still look good if I print them out. I don’t like learning apple.

Previously I had a series of shit phones because my partner “upgraded” my moto g 7? As a gift and they were all shit. All moto g and e phones I have loved.


I have a Galaxy S21. After 6 months I am fairly happy with it. The most annoying thing is that I’m on an Mac laptop, and Apple really hates moving files from a Samsung.

Actually, I don’t even know if it hates this phone, because trying it with my last ones was so bad, I haven’t even tried with this one (I put things on Google Drive and then download). I’m on a Mac laptop because my last two jobs were on Macs, and my brain imprinted on PC, so I needed not to be flipping between the two worlds. I hate how much Macs hide from me.

Being outside Apple also reduced my ability to use an early stage app, because the iphone was the default, and the android app was 6 months later. When my family set up some kind of iphone specific chat group , I couldn’t reply all, so I broke it. I suppose we could have moved people to whatsapp, but the rest of my family found that too complicated, and I didn’t care enough.


Not a recommendation. Just my thoughts, moods, gripes :slight_smile:

I’ve mostly really liked the Pixel line of phones. My most recent was a Pixel 3, spouse has a Pixel 5a replacing a 2XL. But they were all 60Hz phones until recently (and then only at the high end) and I do better with a faster refresh rate (and DC dimming) so I bought a used OnePlus 7 Pro on eBay for $370.

The hardware is great, and the battery is phenomenal. The camera hardware is very good, but the default camera software is mediocre. Most photos come out great, but sometimes it handles color poorly. But you can (fairly) easily put Google’s camera on there, or choose another camera app to install. Pixel still takes better low light photos.

The OS is… interesting. Oxygen OS 10.3.8 works really well on it. I haven’t tried the latest updated versions of 11.x.x but the first few were really bad. Some kind of hardware compatibility issue. But… I think the reason is that it may have originally been a “T-Mobile” variant of the phone, but the firmware had been flashed to “international” (aka unlocked). So I was able to use AT&T MVNO SIM cards, not just T-Mobile. But I suspect the minor firmware difference conflicts with the hardware when Oxygen OS 11 is installed. So I’ve been happily sticking to the older OS, which is rock solid, performant, and easy on the battery. Seriously with light use I often get 3+ days - with very heavy use, I still make it through a day. It’s also one of the few phones with a completely unbroken screen (i.e. no notch or pinhole camera, no buttons, the whole front is screen) - it has a motorized selfie camera tucked away. I rarely use it, but it’s a fun feature!

But the phone is really huge! I like that - big hands, and it still fits in my pockets. I do think the OnePlus 8 series is worth looking at, though you likely can no longer get it brand new. The 9 is… OK but they went a little crazy with price. The 10 is out and with a lower starting price, but it’s still “brand new, expensive”. None of those is small. The OnePlus Nord N200 5g is slightly smaller, and very affordable, while still having pretty impressive hardware. It is not a very fast phone, but depending on use case, it should be good.

Edited to add: AllHat reminded me - the fingerprint scanner in the OnePlus is super accurate and fast! To be fair, that’s without a screen protector. I had one for a while, but this has a slightly curved screen, and overall I felt like I was letting an amazing screen go to waste. Gorilla Glass has gotten really tough over the years, and the rubber edge of the case should protect in the case of a normal floor fall. (I’ve dropped it plenty of times.) By the way, I’m a fan of Spigen cases. I used to get the extra thin rubber ones, but on this phone, I got a tougher one that includes a kickstand.


What is most important to you in a phone? I get different phones almost every time because I like trying new stuff so I’ve had iPhones and Pixels and right now I have a Samsung s21+. I usually get something pretty high end so a lot of specs are relatively comparable.

If OS is your end all be all and you hate trying new things I think you should just stick with what you know/like. My favorite thing about iPhones used to be the camera software because it was so so so superior to everything else but that’s become less and less true over time. I think they’re still a bit better for portraiture and night mode but not so much for landscapes or zoom. I don’t use video enough to really have a great comparison. What I dislike about the iPhone other than giving money to apple is how not customizable it is and how relatively expensive it is when its lifespan is not any longer than other phones. I also think the battery is terrible if you compare to android.

I’ve had two Pixels and I think they’re getting a lot better over time. My last Pixel had basically no issues other than weirdly not being waterproof, which I think they’ve fixed in newer versions but double check that, and I liked it well enough that I was going to get a third Pixel to replace it (good battery life, camera, apps fine, etc.) but then there was a sale on Samsungs so I thought I’d give them a try since I like their chromebooks.

The s21+ I have is the biggest phone I’ve ever had and I really like the size. The camera is great, I think a bit better than my Pixel but some of it is preference and time, of course. A lot of it also has to do with default settings too and I probably could optimize those more plus you can always download different camera apps and stuff. The only thing I don’t like is that I’ve had some issues with the biometric scanner (fingerprint unlock) and sometimes spotify is buggy on it. The battery life is amazing and the charging is super fast.

I think CNet does some of the best side-by-side comparisons, FWIW. If you’re stuck between two I’d search for an article there. I think they are far superior to Wirecutter. I really think at this point in phone technology, if you’re looking at high end phones, it’s largely preference. They use a lot of the same components. I would make a small list of what’s most important to you: do you require a phone that’s waterproof? do you want a big screen? are you a die hard for a certain os? That’s the best way to determine IMO.

Also I’ve never owned a OnePlus but I have heard v good things about those too.


I have a Galaxy S10e and I love it! I’m sad that Samsung discontinued the smaller Galaxy line. It took some time for me to get it set up my way (to have the interface look like my old Pixel) but it’s been fast and reliable.

I have had really bad experiences with Pixels. My first one had to be replaced twice under warranty, and my Pixel 3 developed horizontal lines on half the screen after 2 years. I gave it to a forum member. My contractor also had issues with his Pixel 3 shortly after the warranty was over. I think Google is good at software but not at hardware.

I was on Google FI for a long time and the service was pretty good. If you have Xfinity in your area, they also have a cell phone plan which is very cheap if bundled with internet and I’ve been very happy with it thus far. They also have free/discounted phone options when you sign up! Marmalade got a free Samsung phone. It’s not fancy, but it works. If you end up going that route, I can send you a referral link.

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I have the new generation of the iphone SE and this is what I like about it:

  • Not giant, fits in my pockets and fits in my arthritic hands
  • long battery life
  • affordable for a smart phone
  • has e-sim capability for when traveling abroad.
  • i like the encryption and security on iphones over many of the other phones, especially for messaging

I use mint mobile for my provider, pay $20/month and find it great. Never run out of gigs, but can buy extra gigs if I need it ad-hoc.

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Oh yea, I should note that I drop my iphone SE in this slim case from the height of my hand onto wood floors, carpet, concrete, and ice approximately twice a day, and regularly have it fly out of my pockets while spinning at high speeds. It’s doing great and doesn’t seem to care.


I’ve got a Unihertz Jelly Pro, technically 2 since my original kickstarter version took a trip through the washer after which I went ahead and replaced it since the battery life had been getting kind of bad anyway :slight_smile: . Stolen advertising photo below, but the main feature is that it’s tiny while still being a dual-sim 4G smartphone. I got the first version when phones were on the constantly-getting-larger trend and for someone who doesn’t carry a purse (and doesn’t have the skill to increase pocket size on pants) there was no way that was going to work so I went looking for the opposite.

Downsides are battery life (~1 day) and the fact that while I can add any smartphone app I want, some assume certain screen real-estate and don’t deal well with less than that. Going on 6 years between the two versions and no dealbreakers, though, plus I can literally hand it to people and they don’t realize that it’s a phone fully capable of taking pictures/recording/etc. :slight_smile:

I’ve also sent it flying (more than once) and while the case is a little chipped up, it’s still in surprisingly good shape.

Phone plan wise I switched from Cricket to Mint Mobile ~6mo ago because Cricket refused to acknowledge that said phone had VoLTE capability (it does–they pulled some whitelisting crap to ‘encourage’ customers to purchase new phones from them) and have generally been pretty happy. The first sim they sent me didn’t work and I had lots of fun going back and forth with the representative, but once she’d finished her required script I had the new sim within 2 days, and the only thing I’ve noticed since is that occasionally I have to remind it to switch to mobile data when I’m not in range of wifi I trust.


Is the new SE the one that is basically the iPhone 8 in an SE case?

I have the old SE, my mum has the new SE and it’s a huge upgrade (esp on the camera). My dad has the iPhone 7 and needs to upgrade b/c it can’t support his office software anymore, thinking the 8 or new SE might be a good choice


Yes, I had the old SE and the new SE is worlds ahead. It’s pretty much an 8 in an se package. Only 2 cameras not 3 in case that is relevant

Hi everyone. I’m late to the party here, but I have a question…How difficult is it to switch from an Apple phone to android phone? I mean, what’s involved? I’m trying to move away from Apple products because, well, frankly, I can’t afford them anymore.

I currently have an iPhone SE, and Cloud backup is turned off because I have too much on the phone and I don’t want to pay for more storage in the Cloud. It has a capacity of 128 GB, of which 52 GB is still available.

My carrier is Koodo. I’m in Eastern Canada and the cell plans suck down here. I’m still using my Saskatchewan number and plan because it’s better and cheaper. Still, it’s $90/mth CAD.

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Depending on how you’ve used your phone, certain things are in the cloud, including

  • Contacts / Phone Numbers
  • Photos
  • Settings / Accounts for specific Apps
  • Authorization / Authentication Apps

Maybe someone with iCloud experience can chime in - you might be able to just log into iCloud from Android to access some of the above.

If you’re moving to Android, then it’s probably worth it to sign into a Gmail / Google account on iPhone, and look for a way to import your Apple Contacts into Google / Gmail.

Ideally you can just copy photos out of the iPhone (or iCloud) onto a computer, or you can look into migrating them to a different cloud provider like Google Photos.

Some apps may have their own accounts in the cloud. With you disabling Cloud backup, I wouldn’t imagine that’s where apps would keep information, but it’s something to look out for.

If you have Authentication apps, the best option is to get the new phone, set it up on WiFi, and set up the Authentication app while still having the iPhone available to authenticate you.

Once those important settings are transferred or available from a non-Apple account, you should be ready to switch. You’ll have to look through the Google Play Store to find the apps you use, or replacements if they aren’t there.

While I’ve never switched between iPhone and Android, most of my information is “in the cloud” already, so I’ve swapped out Android phones every couple years and it’s gotten seamless over time.


Thank-you for that detailed response! I’m saving it. :slightly_smiling_face: