Our tech editor ADRIAN WECKLER tackles your trickiest technology problems
QMy husband and I have just paid off our mortgage and are thinking of getting a really nice smartphone. We’ve always made do with basic models, usually Samsung. My husband got a Huawei on his last upgrade. We tend to keep our phones for as long as we can. Mine is almost five years old. Now that we can afford to spend more, is it worth changing to an iPhone? Is there a good Samsung or rival model that’s worth spending the extra money on?
AThe main difference between expensive phones and budget models is that the pricier ones take better photos, have more storage and have more attractive physical designs. They also tend to get the newest features first, like facial recognition.
So it might depend on how much those facets mean to you. Suffice to say that today’s ‘basic’ smartphones are capable of much better things than those a couple of years ago — just look at the features that models such as Huawei’s P Smart (€210 from Littlewoods) or Motorola’s G6 (€190 from Argos) offer for about a quarter of the price. (I’ve written reviews of these budget handsets on Independent.ie.)
That said, the top handsets do have better screens, speakers and more power under the hood. That makes a difference if you’re going to hang onto your phone for a few years, because it means they can generally cope with advances in apps and services that most of us gradually adopt (like Facebook, Whatsapp or Netflix).
Those flagship models rarely stutter or hang and are generally easier to look at outdoors in sunlight. If you’re intent on upgrading and are generally content with the way your current Samsung or Huawei phone works, it probably makes sense to stick with that (Android) operating system rather than switching to the iPhone.
Luckily for you, there’s no shortage of premium models to pick from. Samsung’s S9 and S9 Plus are both excellent phones that look and feel like the expensive handsets they are (The main difference between them is that the S9 Plus’s screen is about 20pc bigger than the S9.)
Samsung also recently released a new flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 9 (€1,019), but it’s not possible at this stage to give a recommendation on this model.
Similarly, Huawei’s top-end phones are amazing and have arguably overtaken Samsung as the best premium Android devices (while costing a little less, too). Huawei’s P20 Pro is probably the best Android phone out there at the moment. This is down to its camera and its battery life: both are the best on the market at present.
(I have written longer, detailed reviews on each of these phones which you can find on Independent.ie.)
Sony’s top-end phones have fallen off the pace in recent years, while HTC is barely hanging in there. However, their pricing reflects this, with Sony’s flagship XZ2 now available for around €600 (from Three) and HTC’s U11 available for €550 (from Harvey Norman).
If you don’t quite fancy heading toward €1,000 for your phone, OnePlus has a brilliant phone (the OnePlus 6) for just over €500 (from oneplus.com). However, you have to buy this directly online.
It sounds like you’ve been sensible for the last few years and are looking for a treat. If so, I’d go for Huawei’s P20 Pro. As well as having the best battery life on the market and an incredible 6.1-inch screen, the camera on this is sensational. It has a feature called ‘night mode’ that produces better low light snaps than most professional cameras.
RECOMMENDATION: Huawei P20 Pro (€899 from Harvey Norman or €699 from Three on prepay)