Goodbye, iPhone: My new $180 Android is good enough


The aluminum, $180 Nokia 6 (right) looks and feels as plain as a $800 iPhone 6s Plus.

Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

I’ve been an iPhone user given a beginning. Occasionally I’ve dabbled in Android, nonetheless my mind usually likes iOS better.

My wallet, however, is increasingly frustrated. Although I’ve been ideally happy with my iPhone 6S Plus, that we purchased scarcely dual years ago, a $849 cost tab caused me substantial pain. Today’s homogeneous — a 7 Plus with 128GB — would run me $869

So when a time comes for a new phone, can we unequivocally clear that kind of responsibility again? Especially when there are large Android-based phones that cost extremely less? The widely praised OnePlus 5, for example, starts during $479, while a likewise well-regarded Motorola Moto G5 Plus comes in during usually $230.

Of course, phones like these couldn’t presumably compare an $800-plus iPhone, could they?

I motionless to find out.

The $180 experiment

For one week, we put divided my iPhone 6S Plus and switched to something allied — during slightest in terms of size. we unequivocally cite a large screen, so we wanted to stay with a 5.5-inch display. (Actually, we cruise I’d be excellent with 5.2 inches, that would means even some-more choices on a Android side, nonetheless for now: apples to, er, Apples.) That ruled out an iPhone SE, that starts during $399 and has a tiny 4-inch screen.

I also crossed out a aforementioned Moto and OnePlus, along with other pricier models, simply since we wanted to see “how low we could go” and still stay in a ballpark, performance-wise.

Ultimately we chose a new Nokia 6, that Amazon sells for $180 (with lockscreen ads and offers). It facilities a 5.5-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel screen, 32GB of expandable storage, a latest chronicle of Android (7.1) and a fingerprint sensor. It also sports a steel frame, creation this “cheap” phone feel like, well, my iPhone.

It has all a same core capabilities as well. It might not be as discerning or have a same modernized cameras, nonetheless as prolonged as we could make calls, send content messages, refurbish Facebook, review ebooks, listen to music, get pushing directions, check a continue and so on, we wasn’t too concerned.

Because I’m accustomed to Lightning ports, though, we was very tempted to select a indication with a USB-C connector — and unequivocally unhappy a Nokia 6 doesn’t have it. we don’t need a week to know that Micro-USB is flat-out evil, as we have to do a close-up investigation each time we insert a assign cable. Alas, not many sub-$300 phones have USB-C yet, nonetheless dual other Amazon Prime-exclusives do: a $100 Alcatel A50 and $200 Alcatel Idol 5S.

Nokia 6 is pristine Android Nougat in a neat aluminium body

Traditional and stout Finnish pattern nonetheless with unskinned Android on board. Nokia ditches Windows OS for a rebirth nonetheless embraces a roots with a stylish retro feel.

by Jonathan Garnham

Day 1: Yep, we still don’t like Android

This was never ostensible to be about comparing handling systems. we knew there would be both training and usability curves in relocating from iOS to Android, even nonetheless we already had some knowledge with a latter. we usually wanted to see if a hardware was comparable.

But when you’re so accustomed to doing things a certain way, even tiny changes can infer vexing. For example, Android still doesn’t have idol badges that uncover how many unread email, content or voicemail messages we have? That’s insane. (Thankfully, badges are finally coming in Android O.) The large confusion of presentation icons along a top? Not a improved solution, in my opinion, nonetheless we suspect I’ll get used to it. Another annoyance: In iOS, we can daub a tip of a shade in many apps to immediately corkscrew behind to a top, nonetheless Android lacks that convenience.

On a other hand, we have so wished for a appropriate keyboard that also affords evident entrance to a microphone. It’s absurd that iOS doesn’t concede that, nonetheless Android, of course, does. Ahhhhh. Similarly, we love that my cue manager (Dashlane) can confederate directly with apps, that creates it forever easier to pointer into all a services we use regularly.

Bottom line: Any iPhone who user who switches to Android is approaching to knowledge a brew of disappointment and complacency — substantially some-more of a former, during slightest during first, since it’s a formidable transition. But, again, this is about a hardware, so I’m spending a rest of my time focused on that.

Day 2: The screen

Apple constantly crows about a high-resolution Retina displays. That’s understandable: The shade is arguably a many critical member in any phone, so we wish something pointy and bright. On a iPhone 6S Plus, that’s a 1,920×1,080-pixel fortitude on a 5.5-inch shade — unequivocally nice.


Screen peculiarity is subjective, nonetheless we find my eye drawn to a picture on a right. That’s a Nokia 6. Both phones were set to a liughtness turn of 75 percent.

Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

The Nokia 6? Same: 5.5 inches, 1,920×1,080. That’s flattering startling given a outrageous inequality in price, and we indeed suspicion certain colors seemed some-more colourful on a Nokia. That’s a biased opinion, of course, but, again, we’re articulate about a $180 phone contra an $800 phone. You’d cruise a latter would be vastly superior.

Furthermore, we was duly tender during how good a Nokia’s shade looked in approach object — something we didn’t design during this cost point. Side-by-side with my iPhone, it was usually as readable.

Bottom line: Phone displays have gotten really good, even a “cheap” ones. we approaching a Nokia’s shade to be defective somehow, nonetheless to my eyes it was simply as good as a iPhone’s. If there’s a reason to spend some-more on shade alone, we haven’t found it.

Day 3: The speed

A delayed phone is a frustrating phone. we frequency had opening complaints with a iPhone 6S Plus, that incorporates Apple’s evidently super-advanced A9 chip. The Nokia uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430, by all accounts a slower processor. we overtly didn’t cruise this would be a large deal; who cares if a Facebook app loads a half-second slower?

Indeed, here’s how we sign speed: Do web pages bucket quick and corkscrew uniformly in a browser? Do videos play nonetheless any kind of stuttering? How prolonged does it take for a camera app to start up?

After 3 days with a Nokia, we have churned feelings about a performance. Web pages installed quick and corkscrew smoothly, and video playback was always fine. But it unequivocally feels a bit slower than a iPhone, and during times there was function I’d report as “laggy.” The camera app, for example, unequivocally takes a few seconds to start — irritating when there’s a shot you’re perplexing to squeeze right now. My iPhone’s camera is during a prepared most some-more quickly.

Bottom line: An inexpensive phone will have a lower-end processor, and if you’re used to something faster, this might infer frustrating during times. But how discerning does a phone unequivocally need to be? If we had to report a Nokia 6’s altogether performance, I’d contend “fast enough.”

Day 4: The camera

I’m kind of terrible during photography; we rest heavily on my phone to make my shots demeanour passable, and a 6S Plus customarily does a decent pursuit of that. It ought to, formed on a volume of purgation Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller did during a phone’s launch in 2015.

The Nokia 6 sports a 16-megapixel behind camera (to a iPhone’s 12-megapixel), nonetheless as we all know, megapixels don’t tell a full story. Here’s a full story: The Nokia’s cameras have wider-angle lenses, that we liked, nonetheless a sensors mostly constructed blown-out highlights and washed-out colors — during slightest in some environments. we shot a pointless sampling of photos, both indoor and out, with a front and behind cameras. Verdict: The same photos snapped with my iPhone looked a lot better.

Ah, nonetheless were they good enough? That’s a worse doubt to answer. This is a biased area, so I’m wavering to contend a Nokia 6’s cameras are subpar. But I’ll unequivocally contend a iPhone 6S Plus produces consistently improved photos, during slightest to my eye.

Bottom line: When we spend $800 on a phone, or even $400 to $500, you’re approaching to get most improved camera sensors than you’ll find during a reduce end. If we wish a best probable photos, this is where it pays to compensate extra.

Days 5 and 6: Everything else


Free app Gravity Screen solves one Nokia 6 shortcoming: no support for raise-to-wake.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

After a severe few days, I’m now feeling most some-more gentle with a phone. we like a plain aluminum build, nonetheless don’t utterly caring for a pointy corners. we missed my iPhone’s raise-to-wake feature, nonetheless afterwards remembered giveaway app Gravity Screen. (That’s a good instance of how most customization is accessible to Android users.)

Battery life seems to be utterly good, definition we can simply get by a day of complicated use nonetheless carrying to find a charger. However, a Nokia 6 takes forever to charge. we overtly didn’t comprehend how discerning my iPhone was in comparison.

Neither a Nokia 6 nor iPhone 6S Plus supports wireless charging, and it’s not something I’d design from a inexpensive phone anyhow. The Galaxy S8 has it, though, and it’s rumored that a iPhone 8 will get it, too. As accessible as that would be, fast(er) charging is some-more critical — and I’d unequivocally cruise profitable additional for quick-charge technology.

The Nokia 6 comes with 32GB of inner storage, and I’ve quick burnt by about half of it. No matter: we can triple a accessible space around a $30 microSD card. That’s always been a large Android plus; we wouldn’t buy a indication that didn’t have an enlargement slot. (iPhones, of course, have no such option. Your usually choice is less-convenient external storage.)

An astonishing perk: The Nokia worked improved in my car. Although my iPhone could bond with my aftermarket stereo, it simply wouldn’t respond to a latter’s play/pause control. The Nokia does. And Android already has a text-message auto-responder (via a Android Auto app) that I’ve long wanted in iOS. It’s finally entrance in iOS 11 — nonetheless not for a integrate months yet.

Speaking of iOS 11: That refurbish will arrive now and globally on concordant iPhones once available. Outside of Nexus and Pixel phones, however, Android updates generally take months, after being vetted by manufacturers and carriers. Nokia’s hardware licensee, HMD Global, has apparently committed to usually dual years of updates. But it’s also pledged monthly confidence updates and timely OS upgrades, too. (HMD didn’t respond to a ask for comment.) Will we get Android O within one month of a release? Time will tell.

But now I’m veering behind to OS issues; for me, these concerns have small to do with $180 hardware contra $849 hardware, nonetheless of march they’re value considering.

Bottom line: Don’t design a low-end phone to offer some of a nicer perks afforded during a high end. To put it in automotive terms, we won’t get exhilarated seats, nonetheless we can still count on arguable transportation.

Day 7: The verdict

So. Can a $180 phone take a place of an $849 phone? Absolutely. Can it do so nonetheless compromise? Honestly, it gets flattering damn close.

Because we tested usually one phone for this experiment, it’s tough to make a sweeping matter about this. For $50 more, would we have been improved off with Motorola’s Moto G5 Plus, that CNET dubbed “simply a best bill phone”? For $80 less, could we have managed usually as good with a aforementioned Alcatel A50? we can’t say.

I unequivocally found myself blank a responsiveness of my iPhone 6S Plus, to contend zero of a improved cameras. But here’s a question: Are those things value a additional $670?

Of march not. Absolutely not. And there’s no doubt that if we spend a bit some-more income on an Android phone, we can get a faster processor and improved camera. Much as I’ve desired a iPhone over a years, it’s no longer probable to clear such a large premium. (The same goes for Samsung’s likewise overpriced Galaxy phones, by a way.) Android might miss some of a gloss of iOS, nonetheless when it comes to hardware, a bill phone can unequivocally get a pursuit done. Maybe I’ll have a change of heart once a iPhone 8 (or even 9) rolls around, presumption it has a severely torpedo feature, nonetheless for now I’m flattering assured my subsequent phone will be a unequivocally affordable Android model.

Now let’s hear your feelings on a subject. Hit a comments and tell me all a things we missed, a contribution we got wrong, a reasons I’m an simpleton and so on. Mostly, I’m fervent for feedback from my associate iPhone lovers: Is it still probable to clear spending that most income when there are significantly cheaper Android alternatives?

More tabs ...

Posted in
Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.
short link