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Worthwhile update from Note 3?

Discussion in 'Android Help' started by codezer0, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    Hi everyone,

    Currently using my SM-N900 Note 3 with T-Mobile. Don't get me wrong, I am very satisfied with the service thus far. However, I have been hearing and seeing notes suggesting that AT&T and T-Mobile will be phasing out HSPA(+) support... which spells bad news for my Note 3, since it doesn't have LTE capability.

    While the phone still is more than satisfactory at handling the processing for apps and stuff I want to run, having a fast signal is forcing me to see the proverbial writing on the wall, in terms that I may have to start looking for another phone. Ideally, I would prefer to just be able to buy it outright, and I would naturally prefer a fully unlocked model that is free of carrier bloat. Though I suppose there is a consolation in that being part of some Advantage program with T-Mobile, I would get an automatic $25 rebate for any new phone I would purchase that is pre-set for T-Mobile.

    That said, I'd been a long time purchaser of Samsung phones, for the power user aspects... not least of which the ease of root, modification, and most importantly, being able to recover should things go wrong. How more recent Samsung phones had been discouraging downgrading already felt like a warning bell... but with their new flagship models dropping the ability to replace the battery or have SD storage is where I have to put my foot down and vote with my wallet. My mindset is to buy such things with staying power, so that I could still use them more than two years satisfactorily. And I've been spoiled with the likes of extended batteries, like the zerolemon one that allowed me to have my S3 running for as long as six days on a single charge cycle.

    So my requirements should be simple...
    • It must be easily rootable.
    • It must be able to allow a removable battery, and have extended batteries available... the last time I bought an HTC phone, it was a removable battery, but nobody would make one for it, and its 3-hour battery life had me return it the very next day.
    • It damn well should have an SD slot; 32gigs for storage might be great now, but might not be so helpful say, three years from now, and would look like an Android Lollipop phone running with only 4GB of usable space does already (looking at the Xperia line for this one)
    • Is it wrong to admit that I got spoiled with the benefits of the Xposed framework? Suffice to say, I would prefer if I knew beforehand that Xposed works on it properly.
    About the only phone I would consider that doesn't have a removable battery though, would admittedly be an iPhone. In part because at least it's easy as heck to jailbreak and to undo it if anything goes wrong. While the more readily available readiness of keyboard accessories does seem nice, I'm just inherently more familiar with Android phones, and would rather keep up with that. That, and there wouldn't be as much I could do with a jailbroken iPhone than a rooted Android - I'd get more use out of an iPod touch than an iPhone in that respect, since I wouldn't need the days-long battery life on an iPod over a phone.

    Ideas? Suggestions? Remarks? Experiences?
     

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  2. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    The silence on this thread has me believing that I will never find a phone that meets the criteria. :(
     
  3. Sept1967

    Sept1967 Android Enthusiast
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    Wouldn't a Note4 cover what you ask?
     
  4. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    Already having problems just getting Xposed on this Note3, and samsung has been real scumbaggy about root in general.

    Without Xposed, I can't use YouTube Adaway. And unskippable ads make my blood boil. :mad:
     
    #4 codezer0, Jan 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
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  5. cjreyes666

    cjreyes666 Well-Known Member
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    LG would be your best bet. Removable batteries are gone with Samsung. Seems that the S7 might have SD card support but no removable battery. The LG V10 looks like a beast.
     
  6. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    I have been looking at some of the LG phones. By logic, I *should* be looking at the G4...
    + zerolemon battery confirmed
    + awesome stock camera
    + 2tb on a microsd? Lol, okay.

    But the only model I can find unlocked is the H815 - the international model. And that doesn't have band 12. At $400 USD for the H815, that's not something I can easily ignore.

    Even more annoying, is that the only phones I can find unlocked *with* the requisite bands all currently share the same problem. More than $300 USD and NRB.
     
  7. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    So, let's see... at least from what I've broken it down to the following models. Honestly, I might let an NRB* phone pass if it were $300 or less, but would be less opposed to spending up to $500 USD if it was one with an extended battery confirmed as well.

    LG G4:
    + Zerolemon battery means days' worth of battery life
    + Absurdly good camera that competes with my dedicated camera extremely favorably
    + LG claiming support for up to 2TB off a microSD?! challenge accepted.
    + 1440p screen
    - Only the T-Mobile locked version (H811) supports Band 12.
    - Only unlocked version I can find (H815) has no Band 12, but has Band 2.
    - H815: ~$400 USD, new on Amazon. H811: $480 according to T-Mobile.com.

    Nexus 6:
    + ALL of the bands
    + Pure Android
    + Still getting updates
    + 1440p screen
    - Non-removable battery. IIRC, haven't seen any tear-downs to suggest it could be replaced in an emergency
    - T-Mobile only has them used, for $400 USD. Amazon even still lists a 32GB model for $350, which is IMO too much for an NRB* phone.
    - No Extended battery possible
    - No SD access
    - Google technically discontinued this one according to their page, and the 5X is such a let-down for the price...

    Moto X Pure Edition:
    + 1440p screen
    + ALL of the bands
    - NRB, and $400 USD everywhere for the basic 32GB model
    - My last trial with a Moto G unlocked showed me an embarrassingly slow charge time, and especially poor battery life
    ? Moto insists they give pure android, but what's the chances they'll keep this one updated?

    iPhone 6S:
    + ALL of the bands for ALL of the carriers
    + Credit where it's due, the A9 chip is hella fast
    + prior experience with a standard iPhone 5 at least gave me familiarity with iOS, so I'm not completely lost
    + aformentioned experience indicates it'd be easy as hell to jailbreak and undo if need be.
    + a wealth of really good accessories, such as a slider keyboard
    - - - Sticker shock. At nearly $1k for a 6S plus, I definitely cannot justify that
    - Need to get the 6S Plus because battery life
    - no SD, obviously
    - no chance for extended battery
    =/= 6S teardowns show it's much easier to replace the battery, but... 'dat price.

    *NRB == Non-Removable Battery
     
  8. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor
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    This would be easier if you'd settle for a power bank instead of a removable battery. A Galaxy A8 nearly fits the bill. Otherwise, go with the LG.
     
  9. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    While I could certainly make room in my usual shirt and pants pockets for my existing Note 3 with its extended battery, there would not be enough room for a power bank large enough to suit my needs. Not to mention it would simply become one MORE thing to get lost or something, one more thing to have to worry about charging.
     
  10. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert
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    Nexus 6 is currently going for $250 (32gb) or $300 (64gb). I just bought a Nexus 6 after 2.5 years with a Galaxy S4 and I'm very happy with the N6

    I do miss the home hardware button for easy turning the screen on... found double-tap to wake mod instead.

    I do miss the ease of accessing the large power button and volume rockers on opposite sides. (Nexus has smaller buttons and all on the same side).

    I do miss the peace of mind knowing I can upgrade storage with new sd card, but I think I'll get over it. 64gb is a lot and things are moving more and more to the cloud.

    I do miss multi-window mode with youtube running in one window.

    The N6 has an unlockable bootloader, so modifications are somewhat more straightforward. Not necessarily simple but more straightforward. Less about following someone else's oddball convoluted instructions and more about understanding basic android flashing using somewhat standard tools (adb / fastboot and twrp recovery)

    I am rocking xposed. Here's what I've done just with gravitybox. One thing I forgot to mention was I setup the volume rocker keys to function as forward/backward keys in keyboard. But it's not quite as handy on my N6 as it was with my S4 due to volume rocker smaller discussed above.

    Overall I'm tickled pink. I'm liking the 6" screen. Phone is very snappy. A great bargain imo.
     
    #10 electricpete, Jan 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  11. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    $250? Where? The only listings I could find were for a used or refurb model on Amazon. And considering it's NRB, I really don't trust anything but a fresh, *NEW* battery. especially for that price. $300 is a lot as it is to have a phone that won't last 3 hours between charges.
     
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  12. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert
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    Here are some announcements about that price (for new phone) within the last week. I don't know if it's still in effect or how long it'll last

    January 11
    http://androidandme.com/2016/01/news/deal-get-a-nexus-6-for-just-249-on-amazon/

    January 13
    http://www.gsmarena.com/nexus_6_dea..._longer_can_this_possibly_last-blog-16030.php

    January 13
    http://www.ibtimes.com/google-nexus-6-massively-discounted-400-2262437

    What do you mean by 3 hours between charges? Sometimes the phone battery is mentioned as in the rough neighbhorood of 3-5 hours of SCREEN ON. A lot more if your phone isn't continuously on. And it charges very fast with the supplied charger.

    I checked my usage for today. Off charger at midnight last night. Right now it's 21 hours later (9pm) and I have 2.5 hours screen on time and battery is 40%. That's better than my s4 ever did. Screenshots attached.
     

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    #12 electricpete, Jan 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  13. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    Other than an iPhone 5 I couldn't even use as a phone (and thus, does not count personally), I've not had an NRB phone that lasted more than three hours when doing anything serious without its battery running flat. Most recently was a Moto G whose battery got stupidly hot and charged abysmally slow regardless of charger used with it; and an Xperia T2 Ultra that both couldn't be rooted, and whose stock charger just flat out gave up in charging the phone while I was streaming a live broadcast. Needless to say, expressing this dissatisfaction is what motivated that Best Buy to allow me to buy the Note 3 I am using now. And its ZL battery, even with its limited bands and power hungry Exynos chip, still gets me ~20 hours of HSPA streaming when Games Done Quick was running live.

    Had the same problem with an original 3DS (non-XL), where after a year, its battery had a hard time even lasting an hour between charge cycles, even when I wasn't using it much. Yet a $20 extended battery from Nyko ended up giving it 2-4 days of usable battery life. But again, I'm much less annoyed by a DS not having battery than I am my phone.
     
  14. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert
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  15. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    Can't find any results about it on Amazon, where they imply it was purchased. But seems everyone was pitching a fit about its buttons being super sensitive.

    Those battery cases are not my thing, because all that means is just that the internal battery (which, again, is non-removable) will simply wear out even faster. Then, you cannot run it without the case until the case's battery breaks.

    Checking those links, and checking again on Amazon, seems they no longer carry any new Nexus 6's, at all. All are used or refurb. Which, given my luck, means I'll spend what they ask and then have to return it in a week because the battery won't hold a charge anymore.

    Why does battery matter that much for me? Well, to put it in perspective; on a typical day, I get up at 4AM and don't get home until 6PM for work. With split shifts, there's usually a fair chunk of time in between. Wi-Fi isn't an option because the wifi available in the break rooms won't even let me access GMail, let alone anything to get stuff done on personal time. Available outlets are at a premium, and compared to those still in school using laptops for homework, I'm not ever going to get to use one. And last but not least, pocket space is at a premium, since I'd pretty much have to carry everything I want or need all day in them.

    As big as it is, even without the belt holster clip, my Note 3 still fits in one of my shirt pockets for work. No external battery bank like some people would keep directing me to will ever fit for a capacity capable of keeping one of those buggers on, in addition to the spare cables I'd also have to carry. Is it making more sense now?
     
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  16. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert
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    Two things to note in evaluating my personal daily usage reported in screenshot above:
    1. I have an android wear watch, used for notifications, checking weather and a few other things while screen remains off.
    2. The screenshot shows 5% for chroma doze app. I used that to provide sound into earbuds with screen off from midnight to 5am and 5:30-6:30am.
    (both of above drain power without adding to "screen on time")


    One thing to note in reading the on-line reviews: most were written when the phone came out in Fall 2014. Battery life was a big deal at that time and many said they couldn't reach 3 hours screen on time during "typical" usage (yes, I know typical is completely undefined, but it was sort of consensus). But multiple software updates (especially Marshmallow / doze) have improved that and I think you'll hear more often nwhere that the "typical" user now sees 4 hours+ screen on time. And that's consistent with my useage: If you project my 2.5 hours (from 100 down to 40) to see where it would be at 10% battery, the time would be 2.5*(100-10)/(100-40) =2.5*(90/60) = 3.75 hours. Considering items 1 and 2 above along with the fact there was already 21-2.5=18.5 hours screen off time by the time I got down to 40%, I think my phone would have easily get 4 hours+ during more "typical" use.... i.e. without watch, without chroma doze, without so much screen off time. (Of course if you stream videos continuously with screen at max brightness I'm sure you'd get much less s.o.t.) Also there's the quick charge, charges up faster than 1% per minute if you have the screen off.

    I'm not saying any of this is good or bad, just more info for consideration. If battery life is main criteria I tend to think N6 battery life is "average" for a big screen phone. I'm sure there are better out there.
     
    #16 electricpete, Jan 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  17. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert
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  18. codezer0

    codezer0 Android Enthusiast
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    Well, an update on my end for this (sorry if it seems like I am necro'ing the thread, but updating as I've been trying to research as well).

    Upon researching many of the sub-models of LG G4, at first I was only able to find the H815 variant, which only had the bands to support AT&T fully. However, I then found a nearby Best Buy selling a different model as unlocked - US991. From the listed bands that it has, it seemed to have full support for AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and even partial support for the Sprint network. More expensive than those limited sales of the Nexus 6, but being that it is a replaceable battery, and I am already aware of the $60 Zerolemon extended battery for it, it seemed much more worth investing in. However, since there was so much disagreement over what it actually supported, or if it was even unlocked at all, I finally broke down and contacted LG directly via web chat. Well, LG hit me with a double whammy. First, they insist that the US991 variant is locked to US Cellular... a company that I've never heard of, let alone have seen a company store for. Second, and even more distressing, is that their policy indicates that regardless of where it was purchased, they do not warranty any unlocked LG phone. Full Stop.

    Needless to say, I find this incredibly distressing. As this means that there are literally no phones worth buying, let alone investing in.
     

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