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"Best" Smart Phone Options Christmas/New Years 2017
bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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TL;DR? Skip to the scoreboard below.

My finacée, Miranda, got a bench for Christmas from her uncle to use in her daycare classroom. Tonight we stopped by with my Ranger pickup to transport it to the school. I figured on leaving it stood up, and to do so I'd need to remove the tonneau cover.

It's fairly easy to do (just two hand-threaded plastic handled nuts), but I probably overtightened it the last time I reinstalled it so the hook wasn't letting go on one side (or maybe moisture got between and "glued" them together as ice). It was about -15 Celcius (-25 with the wind chill). I tried banging on it with my fist and a multibit screwdriver from a socket set I had in the truck bed, but no luck. To see what I was banging on I had pulled out my Galaxy S5 and enabled the "Torch" application to use as a flashlight.

I took a break to clear some odds and ends from the bed of my truck into the extended cab so they wouldn't blow off on the drive. Then I decided to head inside the door to warm up a bit and report my status. I knew there was a garage full of tools that I could use to free up the stuck fastener, and I just needed to ask permission to be polite. I am confident that I had my phone in hand on my way back inside, and believe to have put it in my pocket before I walked in the door, but I cannot be sure. This is the last that I have any confidence in locating my phone.

There was another phone sitting on the ledge next to the doorway when I walked in, which caught my attention because it was a somewhat awkward spot to leave it. I spent a minute contemplating the reason it was there; had it fallen off the coffee table or couch, was it on a charger, or was it just left there for convenient access from the door?

Miranda's uncle was in bed because he had come down with a bad cold or flu infection. Miranda was standing at the doorway, watching a movie on the TV screen across the room that her aunt had been watching. I figured the movie must have been at a pivotal moment for them to both be so intent on watching it so I stood patiently and waited on it. Some guy got shot with a sniper or hunting rifle, apparently by his father, and both of the women were rather upset by it, but I couldn't figure out what the Hell was going on or explain the character reactions. 5 minutes later the movie ended with me still puzzled.

I was granted a rubber mallet to free the stuck tonneau cover, and succeeded in freeing it from the truck bed rail. As I recall, I did not need to pull my phone out for this part, but it's a blur. I might have. I returned to the womenfolk and the bench was passed out to Miranda and I whom[1] carried it to the truck bed. It was at this time that Miranda informed me that she planned to lay the bench down beneath the tonneau cover. >:( She expressed annoyance with me, and disappeared back inside to retrieve some children's books that were part of her gifts. I fought for a moment figuring out how I could secure the bench upright with a single bungee cord before admitting defeat to myself and reinstalling the tonneau cover to lay the bench beneath it.

I believe the tonneau cover is an Extang Trifecta something or other. It's a pretty decent product, and I believe it's supposed to have a lifetime warranty. I may need to test out what's covered by it because this is the second time that I've torn the foot pads off the truck bed in the cold.

With the bench and tonneau cover secured again I began walking back inside to find out why getting books was taking 15 minutes. As far as Miranda knew, her bench was sitting in a snowstorm uncovered this whole time so I would have thought she'd be a bit more hasty to return. She was already concerned about the snow damaging the bench.

I believe it was at this time that I realized that my phone was missing. I walked back into the heated garage expecting to find the womenfolk chatting, but instead as if from a movie scene was surprised by her uncle instead having a cigarette. We talked a bit to ease the tension as he smoked his cigarette. Miranda and I plan to buy a new TV since the screen is failing on our current model. The conversation grew from there. Eventually the womenfolk joined us, and joined in on the conversation. Shortly thereafter her uncle returned to go back to bed, and I informed the womenfolk of my missing phone.

Up until now I hadn't been overly worried about my phone. I figured I set it down somewhere in the commotion and we'd stumble upon it from searching. I traced my steps back inside the house to see if I had set it down on a bench beside the door. I walked back out to the truck, glaring at the snow-covered drive anticipating an upset phone looking back up at me. Miranda followed me out to the truck and called it from her phone. I was 100% confident that we'd hear a ring and see a screen light up in the bed of the truck where I had been using it as a flashlight 25 minutes prior. I was 100% wrong. I opened the cab of the truck as she redialed. She informed me that it was going straight to voicemail. It was at this time that I realized that my phone battery had died. Along with this realization, so too had died my expectation of locating the phone.

We traced my steps back inside, into the garage, and tried searching the truck again. No luck. We figured it was just difficult to find because of the bulk of bench sitting in the box of the truck, and optimistically opted to drive the bench to the school. We figured we'd search the truck again once we had removed the bench, and discover the phone sitting innocently, waiting in the cold.

I drove to the school, while Miranda remarked her concern over the conditions of the parking lot at the school. We had just received a great deal of snow overnight. Miranda confidently stated that the owner of the daycare would not leave the parking lot untended, even though it was closed down for a 2 week break for the holidays, but I questioned her assertion since last winter the parking lot was known to go unmaintained for weeks even during normal business operation.

The roads were snow covered and glare ice, and the graters and plows were literally in the middle of leveling the snow and smoothing the lanes. One lane I discovered abruptly ended as the plowing must have changed lanes leaving one lane uneven with several inches of virgin snow waiting to suck unsuspecting motorists into the deep ditches. Up ahead, a turning lane had been completely cut off by 18 inches of piled snow stacked up by a passing plow and left for an unsuspecting Prius to hang itself on.

We continued on to the school, shaking our heads at the state of the city streets. In all fairness, it was nearly midnight, but in all fairness the idiots running the city were trying to cut costs with little regard for the practicality of doing so. The roads were relatively quiet. We were among the few idiots left on them. I approached the school with 4x4 already active, from the outside lane, expecting to have to make a harsh entry over the plow's waste into an unkempt parking lot. Sure enough the parking lot was buried deep beneath an icing of snow, and the entryway was even worse. I decided against bursting into it full of optimism in my truck's ability to not get stuck. It was pretty late, cold, and we could think of nobody suited to rescue our truck at this hour with a happy attitude if the worst came to worst. The school had plenty of cots well suited to small children, but Miranda emphasized that they were not comfortable for adult-sized people.

I pulled into a side street and swung back around, trying to talk myself into an attempt. I decided to park across the street and investigate on foot first. Sure enough the parking lot was buried in about 7 inches of snow, and the entryway beneath more like 14 inches. My truck bed was relatively light, the only added weight being a 30 lb bench and the leverage afforded by 45 litres of petrol. My tires sport the ghosts of an all-season tread. In fairness, I believe my truck would come in and out of that without a problem. I've done similar stunts before without any signs of discomfort. Still my ambition to attempt it is limited, and worse still I've completely talked Miranda out of it. She's now terrified that we'll get stuck and have a terrible night dealing with the consequences, and that means that if we do get stuck it's all my fault and I'll never live it down.

We decide against it and begin our drive back to her aunt and uncle's house, retracing our steps in hopes of finding a very lucky smart phone shining brilliantly and pristinely in traffic as if it were a powerup in a video game having fallen after being abandoned and going unnoticed on the surface of my tonneau cover. In the meantime, her aunt now on a call with us ventured back into the driveway to see if she could find it now that my truck was out of the way. No luck.

Scoreboard:

PLAYER | BENCHES DELIVERED | PHONES LOST | SCORE
-------+-------------------+-------------+-------
BAM    |                 0 |           1 | -9999

We have given up and returned home. We're fairly confident that I'm going to need to replace my phone. I just don't know what to replace it with. I had a Samsung Galaxy S5, and while its successors are physically faster, they seem to lack other features, like camera detail, removable battery, or water-resistance. Ideally, in "upgrading" my lost phone I'd like to improve upon or maintain balance across the board, rather than losing features and somewhat "downgrading".

I'm not the kind of person that stays up to date on the mobile device market. I couldn't even if I wanted to. This community used to be full of people with the required skill-set and ambition, and I'm hoping our reduced activity has maintained some of that. In short: what are your smart phone recommendations for me to replace my lost one in case I cannot locate and recover it? I favor Android devices since Apple devices seem more locked down and quirky, and there's probably no real need to mention any alternatives. Samsung seems like one of the more reliable manufacturers, but I have only owned 1 smart phone ever so that may just be ignorance talking.

I appreciate any feedback you can provide. :)

References

  1. Is that it? I still do not understand proper usage of "whom", but that sentence sounded poorly worded so I threw it in for the fuck of it.
Chris Katko
Member #1,881
January 2002
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When my S5 died, I just bought another used one. All the newer phones suck. No SD card. No removable battery. No waterproofing. WTF were they thinking.

-----sig:
“Programs should be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” - Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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I am heavily leaning towards this direction as well. I was able to find a single Canadian model S5 that is "like new" on Amazon Canada for about CAD$250 shipped. While steep for a somewhat dated device, it's apparently in good condition with original packaging and still a fraction of what I'd pay for a newer device that seems to abandon features. Still it seems kind of expensive for a potentially used device. I just don't know what to do... It would also take a little over a week to ship, and while I could easily survive without a phone for a week, I'm not sure Miranda will make it unscathed (but if it's the best option, tough).

Append:

Miranda is an Apple fanboy and wishes I'd buy an Apple device only so that we could use something called "iMessage" and she could see when I read a message or type to her. This sounds like a trap, and doesn't in any way make up for UI/UX inadequacies or restricted freedom (let alone, apparently, as of a few years ago at least, government agencies have much less trouble hacking Apple devices).

Chris Katko
Member #1,881
January 2002
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Keep watching the eBay. They often go for cheaper. I got one for $150-180 with every accessory, wireless charging, etc. 32GB model.

-----sig:
“Programs should be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” - Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
avatar

USD$180 is about CAD$230 so not far off. My CAD$250 price includes CAD$7 for shipping. eBay feels like more a wild-west where Joe Blow will market "Like New" meaning it was in a house fire and it doesn't turn on anymore with the only consumer protections being "Buyer Beware", but I'm honestly not too sure what's different between Amazon and eBay. I've used both, but always on <=$100 purchases treated as gambles (never really been scammed by either yet, but only made a few purchases each way).

Append:

Somebody suggested great options in IRC, but I should elaborate that I'm constrained by my mobile provider's offerings since I will have to rely on their credit options.

That may help narrow the search down quite a bit.

Append:

I'm leaning towards a Galaxy S8. Apparently, it's one of the best, fast, water-resistant, fingerprint lockable (albeit, the fingerprint sensor is frustratingly placed in the back, and the iris scanner is easily beaten by a photograph). It's also expensive, but if I'm doing the math right I get a pretty good deal on it.

I get it for CAD$75 up front and CAD$21 extra on my monthly bill for 24 months (i.e., ). At least, that's what it appears to be. I figured there had to be a catch, and it appears the catch is that they've increased their rates.

I'm currently paying about CAD$64 a month for 1 GB of data and unlimited other stuff (I hope I didn't cause any Europeans a heart-attack). It seems that'll go up to CAD$74 a month if I agree to new terms, but it also seems I'll inevitably have to do that if I have to replace my phone so that CAD$10 hit isn't in my control (unless I can get a new phone without changing my plan).

>:( >:( >:(

Derezo
Member #1,666
April 2001
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I hopped on the cellphone plan bandwagon last year with PublicMobile, and always buy my own device. The plan I have is $120 quarterly for 12GB data and unlimited talk/text (province wide only).

Previously I was just using wifi and a VoIP service (which I still use as well), but this is more convenient even if it is 12x more expensive per year.

I went with an LG G5. I prefer the figer print reader on the back.

"He who controls the stuffing controls the Universe"

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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I kind of wish I had the chance to read that before we went shopping today. :-[ That sounds kind of amazing, but also I could not really afford much of a device right now out of pocket.

I ended up going with a Samsung Galaxy S7. It was $0 up-front and I think it's only going to be $15 extra per month for the "tab" to pay off the phone in ~24 months (and I can always pay it off early if I want to, but I don't think there's interest or anything involved).

I also agreed to a $9/mo "warranty" fee through my mobile provider which should mean if I damage the phone they'll replace it, but I guess I can cancel that anytime. The salesperson suggested canceling after 3 or 6 months when the value of the phone drops. Hard to say no to, but we'll see what this does to my monthly bill, and if they'll actually honor the so-called agreement if something happens. The bill is probably going to jump from about $64 net to like $90 or something stupid. On the other hand, for those two years, I was also "given" an extra 2 GB of data per month, totaling 3 GB of data per month. Not too shabby [for Canada] I guess.

I was up until 6 AM doing research on phones, and ultimately this morning decided on the S7 because it was much cheaper than the S8 and the S8 was only incrementally better according to reviews. We'll see I guess if I live to regret that decision...

We also bought a brand new 4k smart TV because our existing TV screen was failing. The old TV is about 10 years old so it seems like a reasonable lifetime. We ended up buying a 49" Samsung with a curved screen, alleged HDR, that fake "120" refresh rate thing, and as mentioned 4k/UHD and smart TV fixings. It seems pretty great. I'm just hoping my crazy cat doesn't wreck the TV by climbing on it or clawing it. We begrudgingly agreed to BestBuy Canada's "protection plan" for like $200 which is supposed to protect us against accidental damage and any technical failures for like 4 years... But those are always scams so I probably just paid $200 for a crossed fingers promise.

Today was an expensive day, but we made out pretty good for Christmas so it didn't hurt as badly as it could have. Still, it's a shame we blew all of our Christmas money because we are saving for a wedding next year... :-*

OICW
Member #4,069
November 2003
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bamccaig said:

I'm currently paying about CAD$64 a month for 1 GB of data and unlimited other stuff (I hope I didn't cause any Europeans a heart-attack).

No. I was paying like 20 CAD for 1.5 GB (which I didn't use as I don't have a smartphone) with unlimited calling and messaging. Got tired of it after I realised how much I'm paying for nothing as I reviewed last year's phone bills and noting how much goes into my own carrier network and outside and switched to a plan that's 9 CAD/mo. for 500 MB with unlimited stuff that goes inside my carrier network and very cheap minutes/SMS units outside my carrier.

Now I hope I didn't cause a hear-attack ;D But truth to be told, this is sort of special offer available to friends and family members of the provider's employees. Usually, these plans are available to small businesses. Standard unlimited consumer plan with 1.5 GB data limit is around 45 CAD. And still, compared to neighbouring countries we have rather expensive plans :) Oh, and I'm not bound to my carrier - I can switch at any time.

And for almost half a year I was trying to solve the riddle of a replacement for my Samsung S5610 which is getting quirky at times and so far I haven't come up with an idea as all the new phones seem to me like waste of money and effort. Plus my psychological price ceiling is set at $ 235-300 which is not much and I don't want any chinesee brand like Huawei or Lenovo. Also I'd like something up to 4.5" which is not manufactured anymore these days. The closest candinate (I'm not taking iPhone SE into consideration) is Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact which costs around $ 580, so a big no no (also, shitty camera judging by the output it produces).

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