My requirements from my Android phone have always been simple. Here they are, in order of preference.
- Great point-and-shoot camera
- Bloat-free software experience
- OS updates for at least 2 years
Of course, my ideal phone would also have these.
- Notch-free display
- Decent battery life
- Headphone jack
It’s weird that just a handful of phones fit these requirements in 2019!
I mean, lots of phones have great cameras these days — it’s no longer limited to just the iPhone and Pixel. The G7 and V40 from LG, the Mate 20 Pro and P30 Pro from Huawei, the S10/e/+ and Note 9 from Samsung — the list goes on. Huawei in particular has suddenly made huge strides in smartphone photography with the array of telephoto and wide-angle lenses they’re packing in their phones.
Samsung too has thrown its hat into the ring with the S10 series offering multiple lenses to frame your perfect shot.
Software is half of the user experience when it comes to personal devices like phones. Personally, I like my experience to be clean, minimal and customisable as I please. I’ve mostly stuck with this formula with my purchases.
The only exception would be the Galaxy S7 that I got in 2017 at a great deal, just to see what it would be like. I put up with Samsung Experience for almost 2 years — hacking everything from the launcher to the duplicate apps — that I eventually got tired of it. One UI is a breath of fresh air though.
But having my phone minimal under the hood is super important to me. For this reason alone, no force on earth would ever make me buy a Huawei / Oppo / Vivo / Honor / Xiaomi device in their current incarnations, no matter how enticing the hardware may be.
Nokia’s Android One — check.
OnePlus’ OxygenOS — yes please.
Google’s Pixel Experience — hot damn.
The less said, the better. I’m looking at OEMs like LG that sell flagship phones without any promise of even one major Android version update. Motorola used to be pretty slow as well back in the day. Most Chinese OEMs are lacklustre too.
Apart from the Pixel — Nokia, Essential and to some extent OnePlus do a great job here. For the amount of money consumers pay for mid-range phones, the least they could do is get updates for at least a couple of years.
So what are my options?
I’ve been keeping one eye on all upcoming phone leaks for the last few months, and the other on my wallet — I don’t want to spend 50K on a phone. The way I see it mid-2019, I have a few options launching in the next couple of months.
- Google Pixel 3a
- OnePlus 7
- Nokia 8.1 Plus
- Xiaomi Mi A3
- Motorola One Vision
I am genuinely intrigued by these three though — Google, OnePlus and the new HMD-fronted Nokia. Possible future posts about them.
For now, I watch and wait.