Why Can't I Buy The Phone I Want?
I've been rocking my LG G3 for around 5 years by now, and every now and again it really shows its age - the headphone jack activates google assistant if you bump the cable, the battery has been replaced once already, and it's stuck on Android 5.0
When I first bought the phone the primary feature I was looking for was a good screen: 90% of the time spent using the phone is spent looking at the screen so why not go for something that looks good?
On the other hand the features I didn't care about included the camera - I was actively using a DSLR all the time and didn't need anything amazing, plus I'm not the selfie type. These days I havent touched the DSLR in a while, but since I hardly use the camera it's all a wash.
While I typically eschew from creating more digital waste I'm starting to get concerned about the secuirity implications of running an OS from 2014, so I started looking around for a replacement. I don't feel like my requirements are unreasonable: a similar or better screen, a removable batter, and a memory card slot. Some nice-to-haves would be faster processor and maybe some more RAM.
So why doesn't this exist?
Lets take a look at the latest Google Pixel - the 3a released almost exactly 5 years after my G3. Using GSMArena to compare, and starting from the top lets take a look. An up-to-date LTE spec is nice, but since I watch youtuve at 1.0 speed its not necessary. The sizes of the phone are roughly the same, including the size of the screen (and the screen-to-body ratio!). So far so good!
But wait, the resolution and pixel density on the Pixel is worse - ~440ppi versus ~540ppi on the LG. Moving on we get the obvious OS upgrade, but then we get to the CPU. The LG is using a quad-core, while the newer Pixel uses an octa-core. Good on face value, except the main two cores only run at 2.0GHz while the remaining run at 1.7GHz! Given that android apps aren't known for their amazing use of multiple cores what is this really getting me? More threads to load adverts in the background? Not sure what the usecase is here. Perhaps newer Android versions have more features and require the extra power to hide the bloat.
One more GB of RAM is nice, meaning that I can start closing browser tabs when I get to 30 instead of 20, but its offset by the lack of SD card! How is this acceptable? Its got 32GB more built-in storage, however this is completely unacceptable for someone like me who holds a lot of podcasts, music, and videos for offline consumption.
In pure MP the main camera is actually WORSE. 13MP vs 12.2MP! How is this possible? I'm sure the lense is better, and maybe there is some software trickery going on, however I still find this strange. At least it comes with the headphone jack which for some reason has been dropped from most phones.
Oddly enough the Pixel doesn't come with radio functionality, but I believe that's simply down to American stupidity so I won't hold it against them. The battery however is a different proposition. While both phones have the same capacity the Pixel has a larger processor gulping down more power - this is offset by some clever OS optimisations, however once the battery is dead it really is kaput - it's not removable. This is fine if you're buying a new phone every 1-2 years, but completely unacceptable if you're like me and want to keep the phone for 4 or more years.
While I chose the Pixel 3a here for comparison because of the price range it's fairly representable of the phones being released this year. In many cases it's actually one of the best for the features I require - most have significantly worse screens and don't even pretend to include a headphone jack.
Where did phones go wrong? Am I an abnormal user? Did waterproofing mean that we lost all the other features? Why do I not get more bang-for-my-buck after 5 years?
|||I believe its technically supported up to Android 6, except due to the stupid way Android does system updates my phone simply says that it's up to date.|
|||I could also take the risk and attempt a custom ROM, but considering that this article is about how I cant find a suitable replacement the risk/reward equation doesn't tip the right way.|
|||I believe the same principle applies to my glasses - if I'm going to spend 99% of my waking life looking through some lenses, why not make sure that they're the highest quality possible? If you consider the cost amortised over the time spent using them, then it's a no-brainer.|
|||Yes yes I know its left out for waterproofing reasons.|