A bit of a pickle - Which phone to choose (Samsung S3, Xperia Z, wait? (S4)

Discussion in 'Smartphones' started by neenee, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    Hi there!

    It's been a while since my last post, in which I exclaimed loudly and proudly that my next phone would be the Motorola Defy.

    This phone has served me rather well over the past almost-three years, but its speaker died and my attempt to replace it killed the rest of the phone, much like Humpty did not survive his fall (even though the speaker does work now, it is far from element-proof).

    In the trend of being water/dust (dare I say it.. life?) proof, the Xperia Z struck me as the right handset to go with.

    Truth be told, I did not really need a phone that was water/dust proof that much, providing I'm careful - 'user' proof would be good though :)

    However, after reading a rather large amount of reviews/scouring the net for information, I am wondering whether it's really the phone for me.

    I am not sure whether I really need 1080p and it does seem to hamper battery life to quite a large degree.

    On the other hand, I am able to charge my phone almost every day, which might make that 'con' stand out less.

    I do like the look of the S3, but it's of a previous generation by now, even though I'd be getting the LTE version, with 2GB ram for that much more staying power over the years.

    In short, regarding the S3 - I would be worried it's not future-proof enough, but perhaps someone here thinks otherwise and has a good reason to think as such?

    I could wait for the S4, but I read that it won't have an Amoled screen, something I am keen on trying.

    Hm.. This post is becoming a bit disorganized I see.

    Basically, money is not the issue, as I will be getting a new contract which I can start with right away.

    I am wondering how really necessary 1080p is - would I truly be missing out with 'just' 720p? Is it really that much less sharp?

    My main usage of my Defy was watching youtube, browsing the web, taking over remote servers (SSH, RDP, etc - here it would be useful actually), listening to music (headphones).. but mainly tinkering (rooting, trying out a lot of interesting software), the phone could almost be considered an extra limb in that regard.

    Has anyone else run into such questions lately? I would like some guidance, ideas, anything basically that might steer me in the right direction or tell me to hold off for a bit longer.

    That said, at the moment I am using an old iPhone 3G (not even the S), and my tinkering has come to a staggering halt.

    Thank you for reading and any replies that may flow forth :)

    *update* I have no real brand preference, I'm open to any and all ideas.
  2. weegie

    weegie Mobile Deity

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    Hey there neenee :)
    I'm not a big fan of AMOLED screens, especially the S3's version, but it's good enough to be the biggest selling single Android model :)
    What the S3 does have, is versatility in spades imo, the dual core qualcomm SoC is still a great performer, 2GB of ram does improve it's future capability, removable/replaceable battery should it die a couple of years down the road, the best USB expansion in the mobile business, expandable storage, a fantastic software modding community, dedicated Wolfson sound hardware and great camera.

    You only have to wait for another week to find out a bit about it's replacement model though.

    To me 1080 is useless specs for specs sake, but that's where everything is going and there's no point in even debating it.

    Battery life is a big complaint of mine, but if you're ok with charging every day it's not really an issue as pretty much anything will go a day, even with pretty stiff use.

    Devices now are considerably better than 2 or 3 years ago [except battery life], but I doubt there will be the same gap in the next few years because they've already started to plateau with real life performance improvements despite the doubling and tripling of benchmark scores in the last 6 months or so.

    I'd suggest to wait at least until a bit more is known about the Galaxy S4 if that's the preferred size you're looking at, then narrow it down and compare from there, the trouble with brand new tech is that you have to wait through all the review hype and new owner honeymoons to get the real story warts and all.;)
  3. Mi An

    Mi An Endogame

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    I don't normally encourage people to wait too much, but it's only a week till you know exactly what the S4 has to offer, and you don't have to worry about rumors anymore.

    Resolution should always be considered in terms of 1) screen size 2) your own normal screen distance and 3) pixel configurations. The resolution is meaninglessness as a raw number. WVGA (800x480) is very sharp on a 3.5" screen (260ish ppi = pixels per inch), not so much spread out on a 4.5" screen (200ish ppi). 200ppi looks sharp at my laptop distance and not so much held right in front of mt face at my normal phone distances. Samsung and others have been cheating with pentile to make their screens sound (in the listed specs) like they have a higher pixel density than they really do. Pentile shares subpixels across pixels, and as a result, adds a little blur back into the picture. All that really means is you have to boost the minimum pixel density if it's pentile -- so while I expect to be happy with a 250ish ppi RGB (that's normal, non pentile) display, I'd probably demand a 300ish ppi pentile display (because it isn't really 300ish ppi). So while the S3 meets my preferences at >300ppi pentile, the S3 mini does not at 233ppi pentile.

    Now I just laid out my preferences, which I developed by looking at a lot of screens, and which have changed over time as tech has improved, but despite what Apple will tell you, pixel density tolerances vary on an individual basis. It's not just about the perfect eyeball's technical abilities (which may not have been accurately laid out in marketing materials anyway), it's also about what you actually notice. There are layers of subjectivity involved. So ignore the specs, look at some screens (read on one if you're a reader, watch on one if videos are important, etc), and if they don't bother you, don't worry about the resolution too much. Tons of Apple fanatics who would rave about retina now were using/loving frigging 160ppi after the rest of the world had moved past it. With the pixel arms race at full strength, there aren't many screens that aren't super sharp anyway.
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  4. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    I will tell you one thing, current generation of S-LCD screen with 1080p resolution is visually, and clearly better than 720p Super AMOLED screens right off the bat, even though those Super AMOLED screens are still pretty good. Like you can eyeball the difference. You can't eyeball the pixels but you can still experience the collective effect of all those densely packed pixels.

    The other killer aspect of these new screens is that they are surprisingly battery efficient. More so than the Super AMOLED.

    Apparently Samsung also knows where they are heading, as they already bought out Sony in their partnership on an S-LCD plant. Samsung also just made a major investment in Sharp, which makes these 1080p screens. That tells you a lot of things.
  5. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    I have to consciously put my nose up near the Galaxy S III to see individual pixels. 720p is totally fine for phones. Like 1080p on a laptop. Sure, some outdo it (retina MacBook Pro), but have you EVER looked at a 15" 1080p laptop and said "dang it, the pixels are too big?" Its more for more sake, like eight-speed transmissions in cars.

    That said, the S3 isn't perfect. The quality of the screen (in terms of brightness and vibrancy) could be better. And regardless, you should wait a week, because the S3 is going to get even cheaper as soon as the S4 is unveiled. So even if you want the S3, wait unless you really need something ASAP (like I did when I got the S3 about a week ago).
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  6. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    Thank you for the replies, I will wait a week (where does this time-frame come from?, I have not noticed any specific release info myself, have I overlooked part of this forum?) and go from there :)

    I have not experienced amoled myself - there's a definite lack of smartphones around me, most seem to use iPhones which are ofcourse fine, but it leaves me a bit in the dark comparison wise and screenshots can only show so much :)
  7. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta boldly battling the XenForo-ces {squeek!!}

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    Look in 'Headline News' for S4 unveiling info
  8. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    The S IV is being released on Pi day (3/14). I suspect Samsung knows the geek market is key :D
  9. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    Ah, thank you both for the further info, I look forward to Pi day then :)

    I hope my country (Flat, flat Holland) will release it around that time as well ;)
  10. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    Hm.. Seven weeks until the S4 is released in my country apparently, I could order it now, but I've noticed it's quite a larger investment than the S3, naturally.

    I checked out the Xperia Z in a store, it felt rather nice, responded well - the main issues seem to be lackluster camera/battery-life/viewing angles.

    That said, I have a dedicated camera, I can usually charge once a day and viewing angles.. well, it's not often that I would view my phone at an angle, and I do not use my phone to watch a movie with several people.

    The S4 does look interesting, but it's not just the cost of the phone, but also the added cost of a case - I'd want to protect my investment with something sturdy.

    I will wait a little bit longer and see what reviews that pop up, will say. If I'd get the S3, it would have to last me 2 years (end of the new contract) - seeing as how the S4/Xperia Z are not huge jumps in performance, I'd assume that updates would be forthcoming for quite a while for the S3 - though even if not official, I could probably make use of the community at XDA-Developers.

    *gets back in his tree, looking down at the phones passing-by*
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  11. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta boldly battling the XenForo-ces {squeek!!}

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    I totally understand wanting to save money -- I expect to replace my phone (Droid X) with an S3 soon, but am hoping prices will drop a bit more first. My carrier is still charging $199 for the phone (with a contract extension), but other retailers are at $99 for the phone. Hopefully they'll do better for the next big holiday sale…we'll see :D
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  12. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Having read several reviews of the Xperia Z, I'd be very hesitant to recommend it, despite liking Sony overall as a company. First, despite the 1080p, the screen just isn't that good. The colors aren't vibrant and the viewing angles are awful. Second, while no phone has great onboard sound, the Z's is particularly bad--bad if you ever listen to music or watch a movie without headphones. Finally, while "water and dust-proof" sounds great, it'd be really annoying to have to pull off a cover every time I wanted to plug a 3.5mm headphone jack in or a microUSB cable in.

    I'm still of a belief that 1080p is overrated for smartphones, but if you do get one, I'd recommend either the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One over the Xperia Z.
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  13. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    Thank you kindly for the replies. I too feel that, after reading more about it and after my experience in the store, that the Z may not be for me.

    The HTC One seems nice, but I had HTC before and noticed that there was a definite lack of firmware updates, or it was rather slow.

    I just noticed that my country has another phone - the LG Nexus 4, which I will add to my to-watch-list, I have not read anything about it yet really so I do not know how it compares.

    1080p is not a must for me, so it would fit :)
  14. scjjtt

    scjjtt A Former Palm User

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  15. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    Thank you - so far it really seems to fit the bill for me, I'm not sure what to think about the lack of removable storage, but I can make do with WiFi :) *rushes off to read more*

    *update* okay, I really like the look of the Nexus 4. There's only one thing that might prevent me from acquiring it - staying power.

    I (too) believe that devices are rapidly approaching a limit of what is possible for the size of the phone, or the usefulness of such features (1080p for instance, with current battery sizes).

    I think there's a good chance that the Nexus 4 is quite future-proof, as I am not really a phone-gamer, much more a tinkerer.

    *puts on his running shoes for the last stretch* :)
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
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  16. weegie

    weegie Mobile Deity

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    I was going to ask you about getting a Nexus 4 but thought you would have mentioned it in your OP, are they cheap to buy outright in the Netherlands?.
    If you want the most official updates it's definitely the way to go, although Samsung seems by far the best out of anyone else for both official updates and third party developers on their popular models.

    I haven't heard any review say the battery life is bad on it ?, Hook and Magellan don't seem too bothered by theirs.The storage yes, if I get one the first thing I do will be getting back USB on the go functionality so I can at least have additional storage if needed while away or at events without a PC nearby.

    How come you buy on contract?, I'm amazed at some of the prepaid deals in Europe for data and voice [not specifically the Netherlands though]

    Sony, LG and HTC all have a history of slow updates, if at all, maybe it will change a bit this year.
  17. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    @weegie - I am currently in the position of being on a month-to-month subscription, so I would be able to switch over and sign up for a new contract with which I could choose a phone and the plan I am looking at would be less expensive than my current one. My previous phone (Motorola Defy), I did buy without a contract while still on a contract, because of water-damage to the phone I replaced (HTC Hero).

    With 'staying power' I purely meant being future-proof, part of me is wondering/worrying whether this phone would still 'cut it' in say, 2 years (end of contract), or would software outgrow it? I am uncertain of the policy of Google when it comes to supporting previous-generation Nexuses (Nexii?), even though the next Nexus is not out, or even has been announced (that I know of)

    Prepaid might be an option, but then I would still have to pay.. around 450 euros up front, something I'm not willing to do at this time, house/pets/significant other gobble up enough on a regular basis for me to be able to justify such an expense :)

    I'm still a bit on the fence, but I must say I miss having a proper phone, this iPhone 3G I'm temporarily using doesn't really cut it for me, especially being a google-services user.

    HTC One looks interesting, but it's far too expensive to me, new (possibly more expensive) contract + a few hundred euros up front for the phone is a deal-breaker.

    So far the Nexus 4 seems to fit well - at the moment I'm just nit-picking the details.. such as audio quality for my favourite Youtube episodes through the speaker, but I know that the one thing I do with my phone is tinker/try out new software/roms/develop little programs that communicate with work-servers in various ways.

    One of the main reasons for trying out new roms is that it's then possible to try the latest and greatest release from Google, but often those roms are riddles with bugs, big and small (yes yes.. it may well be the price to pay for 'bleeding edge') but if I'd go with a Google phone, I'd be better off I think :)
  18. Hook

    Hook Hookette's edgy lately

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    On Nexus Updates-- Nexus models always receive updates first and they will continue to receive updates so long as the hardware can handle it. So my Nexus 1 started out with Eclair and received Froyo and Gingerbread, but was not updated to ICS.
  19. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    @Hook - I see. Then I'd have to somehow gauge what Android might require in the next two years.. hmm..

    The only real options I can think of are:

    - RAM, which the Nexus 4 has ample of (as much as the SG4 - so I would be no better off RAM-wise getting the SG4).
    - CPU/GPU, I'm not sure on this one - the current phones are much faster ofcourse, but I can't really picture the OS requiring that much more, unless there's some specific 3D feature?
    - LTE/4G/mobile connection? Perhaps 4G will become a requirement somehow, but as not every country/location has it, it would be a bit odd to exclude some markets this way.

    Ah wait.. there's one more - OS size, perhaps Android as an OS will become too large to comfortably fit on 16GB of internal storage next to user files.. but then, if it became that large, it wouldn't be much of a mobile OS.

    All in all, I think it's a pretty safe bet - even though I can't predict what the future may hold :)

    I'll give myself the rest of today to ponder and think and roam around the web/forums looking at opinions/reviews/whatnot :)

    *update* A rather in-depth *and* recent review I found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkOB4uLn06s

    This made me want to order it right away, but as with all big purchases/contracts, I will sleep on it and see what tomorrow brings (not that the day is over, I'll look at more this evening)
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
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  20. neenee

    neenee Mobile Enthusiast

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    Okay, the morning brought doubt and more looking around.. The S3 has snuck back in as an option, especially as how there seems to be no price difference between de S3 and Nexus 4 in the Netherlands.

    Now I'm weighing removable storage/battery, against up-to-date and a clean OS.. the screen of the S3 seems more vibrant, but I am not sure how much it would really matter when just looking at one phone instead of having them side by side.
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