Android Device Research - Pros/Cons of brands etc

Submitted: Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:07
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Have just been looking very carefully at the specs on some of the cheaper model Android phones and notice the following purchase traps so thought I'd warn you.

It's pretty clear that technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years and even a base model phone is really pretty powerful and I would suspect many retirees are looking carefully at expense on such devices. It seems almost all mid-range phones have true GPS in them these days great - so your mapping and tracking will work! Yay, but don't be fooled. Check the specs because sometimes they omit to mention certain "missing" features that you have taken for granted.

We nearly got caught out when looking at the Oppo phones today to make a rapid purchase to replace a broken phone. These appear to represent the best value for money when looking for a low-mid range phone with surprisingly impressive specs on first glace......you can get a 32GB phone with reasonable CPU, a proper GPS, and excellent camera specs for $289 from Officeworks or JBHifi. There's even a 64GB model at under $400. But look VERY closely and you'll find that despite all the glowing features, especially the claims on superior battery efficiency, all Oppo models lack NFC (used for Android Pay, PayWave etc) PLUS due to the use of a cloned Android OS (Color3) which shuts down apps from running in the background to save battery, you won't be able to use the background tracking feature that is so useful in ExplorOz Traveller. And yes, even if you look at the top end models in the Oppo brand such as the $600 F11 it still doesn't have a full Android OS or NFC. Buyer beware! You will want these features.

In contrast for $338 you can buy one of the cheaper Samsungs with NFC plus a true Android OS so is a much better buy than any of the available Oppos. The Samsung J5 we compared also has a lower F stop in the rear camera than most at F1.7 so better pics in low light.

About the only thing I can find that the J series phones don't have is MHL - which you probably wouldn't use anyway. It's a wired technology (Mobile High Definition Link) used to connect your phone to your TV (eg to game on a big screen).

I thought this was interesting info to share - hope it is of some help to someone.
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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:11

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:11
I love Android but I have never use NFC but I do buy name brand, mainly Samsung
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:15

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:15
Fair enough but NFC will be the way of the future so don't discount it as a necessary feature. I have just purchased myself my third Samsung phone and instead of another S model opted for the cheaper A model and am very impressed. But this recent review was to replace our 17 yr old's broken phone so wanted to look at something even cheaper. I know they will use NFC so had to steer them to spend just a tiny bit more.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:22

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:22
Actually I am also a recent convert to Android Pay - NFC required. I can load all my loyalty cards (FlyBuys, Woolworths Rewards) plus can choose which card it defaults to for paywave - so I default to the one that pulls out cash not credit (especially got myself a debit card for this, separate to my credit card). Works a treat. Changed my life. I have downgraded from carrying a handbag and now not even a purse or wallet. I just take my phone and be cashless and cardless. I cannot believe it. I have carried back up for the past 2 months until I got comfortable with it all and now I'm converted. Have yet to convert David - he still prefers cash ;)
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Follow Up By: Member - Darren R4 - Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 10:05

Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 10:05
Good to that some body else is still old school - thanks David. Yep, I do not carry or own a credit card, only a debit card, but I still pay my bill's at the post office in cash. My daughter still thinks i am a dinosaur, just graduated from 2G to 3G and a smart phone. (which is testing my patience). The cook (she who must be obeyed) is the tech savvy person, who just shrugges her shoulders when i bugger up the remote control for the telly.
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Reply By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:14

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:14
Thanks Michelle for the heads up.

Another thing to look out for is low main memory, it is no good having the ability to have a 64 GB SD card if a application needs to be on the main memory.

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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:17

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 at 21:17
Yes I had an S5 with limited internal storage of only 16GB and a problem with the older OS that wouldn't allow use of SD storage for some main app. This problem has been mostly solved now in most phones with the newer OS (V6 and up I think sorted this out). But I wouldn't buy 16gB again. 32GB is sufficient with SD expansion.
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Reply By: Member - Jack - Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 12:08

Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 12:08
Nice write up Michelle. Thanks. I have a Samsung S5 and have wondered about the Samsung J series phones. Nice to know in case I every have to buy another one.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 13:51

Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 13:51
Hi Jack, if you're replacing the S5 at any time go for the A5. I did a lot of research before I bought that for myself (online from Kogan at $440). I've chosen the J5 for another family member as a cheaper option but still has the necessary features. I'm getting that from Officeworks.

Add LG to the list of brands without NFC.
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Reply By: Fuego - Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 18:42

Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 18:42
Michelle, yes, the Samsung S5 is a good phone and I like the fact that is has a replaceable battery as there are some situations where I need to carry one so as not waste time recharging.

However, it is important to note that you should only use a genuine Samsung battery because the NFC aerial is contained within the battery.

I haven't yet found an OEM battery that has the NFC aerial. Your phone will certainly work with these batteries but you will lose the NFC functionality.
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 20:09

Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 20:09
I bought an Oppo 6 months ago after having 2 Samsungs and an iphone as previous phones. I didn't know anything was wrong with it because it seems to do everything that the other phones did but has way better reception, 2 extra bars up from zero at my house, and really outstanding battery life. The screen is very big and easy to use and the web browser is very fast.....I didn't know it was deficient. :-)
The things it can't do mustn't be very important to me. I'd buy another Oppo rather than another Samsung or iphone, especially since it was half the price.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 22:39

Thursday, Nov 23, 2017 at 22:39
Yes Michael that is exactly why I mentioned this. I really need to know what limitations different phones/tablets have to advise app users when they call me saying something isn't working! Knowing the Oppos don't allow background app usage means you can't expect to run tracking so for many in our audience that would be an issue if they purchased without knowing.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 18:13

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 18:13
The internet is awash with instructions on how to stop background apps from running on Oppo phones. If people are trying to stop them, doesn't that mean that Oppo phones must allow background apps?
Your sentence actually says you "can't restrict background usage" which is the opposite of not allowing background usage.
I'm pretty sure I have a stack of background apps operating on my Oppo R9+. I'm getting notified of things all the time.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 03:32

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 03:32
Michelle. Not sure where you get that the OS is a clone? The Color 3 OS is good.ol licenced Android. 5 depending on the phone. Same for NFC. Just.like Samsung. Some oppos have it and some don't.
Oppo do change.some features of Android. But so does LG Samsung etc. That's the reason some people like Googe phones which are pure Android.
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 08:58

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 08:58
Exactly.
Samsung run a highly modified Android.
My A7 is two generations of Android behind. Samsung do not update if they can avoid it.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 16:35

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 16:35
Ah no - Read this
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:09

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:09
If you don't believe me that phone manufacturers put a "skin" on the pure Android OS, then please Read this - it's a bit old, but the point I make is clearly there.

The point i wanted to raise is this - Oppo's current Android skin is Color3.1 and this locks down the all important background app operation feature that you need if you run any GPS monitoring on your device and want to running in the background. It would also stop you receiving notifications of background apps - meaning you would have to open the apps to check for notifications. The reason they do it is to conserve battery usage but they have taken away your choice of enabling that feature should you need it.

In Samsungs and in the pure Android OS, this feature is customisable - giving the user the ability to control if that want to use it or not.

Just be aware, that's all.

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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:23

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:23
Malcolm, that is generally the same with all phones. They get Android updates for around two years and security updates for up to three years after they're released.

It's all a con really - the 24 month plans are timed to get everyone upgrading their phones rather than going off plan. I managed to get my S5 going for 3 years so was off plan when I damaged it but was able to buy an A5 off plan and stayed on the same plan rather than having to be forced to sign up for one of the new expensive plans. Buying a phone outright for $400 is a better deal than paying off the phone in a 24 month contract in my book. And mid-range phones have all the features of what used to only be available on the high-end phones.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking Oppo - I would love to have been able to buy one but this feature is a problem for GPS tracking, which I use heavily.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:33

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:33
"The major difference between Google Android and OPPO ColorOS is that the latter includes some features unavailable in the former."

A fork in software used to mean based on.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:40

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:40
Boobook - if you're going to quote, don't leave out the facts...

The rest of that article said

"ColorOS removes a lot of user controls as well. The settings screen is similar to IOS, rather than all other Android versions. ColorOS does not allow user to restrict mobile app, and services usage. The entire "Restrict Background Usage" is removed. There is no "Data Settings", users may only set alarms when mobile data reaches a certain limit. The user will have to manually turn mobile data off."
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:45

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 17:45
Sorry Michelle, I don't get your point.

Locking things down is no different to Samsung, LG etc. You may not like it, but that doesnt make it wrong. As I said, that's why google release their own pure versions of Android on their phones.

The fact is that a fork is a branch of code that is derived from the main code but never merged back in.

That is completely different to a copy or clone surely. That is my point. It IS Android.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Saturday, Nov 25, 2017 at 17:33

Saturday, Nov 25, 2017 at 17:33
"A fork in software used to mean based on."

It still does. However it does not mean that they simply add things and improve existing things. It quite often means they simplify the package. That has been done at times with the Linux operating system, particularly so that the modern kernel will work on older limited capacity computers.

In this case they have simplified things to the extent that the apps that Mischelle wants to use do not work.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Saturday, Nov 25, 2017 at 18:47

Saturday, Nov 25, 2017 at 18:47
Color Os is a skin that presents what Oppo wants to be presented with custom apps. Its still Android 5 underneath. If you download any Android app it will install and run.
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Reply By: Dean K3 - Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 19:09

Friday, Nov 24, 2017 at 19:09
Had idea android was purely that and as technology improved so did the software O/S and firmware updates.

Maybe I'm wrong, without gettign my head chopped off I am looking at a mid sized tablet ideally with internal GPS or ability to attach one via USB, plus have ability to run porgrams from a micro sd card or main drive .

add little bit of wicked web browsing (checking emails ) via Telstra USB dongle (i won't use free WiFi or telstra hotspot

whats best mid range priced unit be be using I know few known brands don't survive too well (screen cracking or bleeding) when bounced around inside vehicle but some lesser known appear to do quite well
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Follow Up By: gbc - Saturday, Nov 25, 2017 at 06:15

Saturday, Nov 25, 2017 at 06:15
It may or may not suit you but touch screen net books are in that pricerange and size now and they are so much more functional than just a tablet. We got a couple of Acer t300 chi for the kids for school and they are just as powerful/functional as my surface pro. They can still be tablets and can be more as well. Just an idea. Don’t ask me about phones, we are Apple and happy. The kids get our hand offs. There is an old 4 around here somewhere still kicking goals. I trade online and like apples levels of protection.
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