Welcome to 2018. Everything is pretty and fragile and made of glass. But hey, at least your new phone is 1 mm thinner than the last one, which apparently makes the innumerable downsides worth it?
But this isn’t meant to be a rant about how new phones are only good in that they’re faster and more capable than their predecessors which then allows software manufacturers to make more and more bloated crap that clogs up your fast new phone and makes it just as slow as the old one...
No... this is about how I broke my phone by dropping it 2 feet onto a dog bone and how even in 2018 it is still shockingly difficult to find a new phone.
It was Friday night. I was mostly sober and getting ready to head out to dinner with some friends. Being that it is 2018 my phone battery was at 45%. Insufficient to last the night especially as I planned on using Uber/ Lyft to get everywhere. Luckily my phone has (had?) a very non-2018 feature: a removable battery. So, 10 min before I need to call a car I grab my phone, expertly strip it of its case, pop out the battery, remove it from its holder, and kneel down to pick up my fresh replacement battery.
The phone slips from my hand and gently tumbles onto the edge of (extremely low) couch and onto the carpeted floor. I don’t even flintch. The fall height was less than two feet and onto a soft surface. I continue with the swap, slam the battery in, pop the phone back into its case, hit the power button, and continue getting ready.
Ten minutes later I pull out my phone to call the car. I notice a small amount of lint embedded in the speaker and brush it with my fingers to get it out. It isn’t lint. It is shattered glass.
And to add insult to injury, the second battery had a lower charge than the first.
Turns out it actually landed on a dog bone that was sitting at the edge of the couch. This provided a sufficiently sharp landing pad to spider the screen right where the speaker cuts into the glass.
Who thought glass was a good idea for a phone screen again? I’m not mad... I just want to talk...
The replacement rational
I’d actually broken the screen on this phone once before. About 18 hours after it came in from Amazon in December of 2016 it slipped out of my pocket while I was playing with the pups in the driveway. Case-less (the case had arrived not one hour before and was still in the mailbox) it didn’t stand a chance against the concrete. Rather than report the phone as “damaged in transit” I took the high road and had the screen professionally replaced for $140.
Before that, the last time I broke a phone was about sixteen years ago. It was a Samsung flip phone and I dropped it while I was getting out of the car. The phone worked fine for the next year or so until I upgraded to a Nokia brick phone, which I couldn’t have destroyed if I’d wanted to.
Anyway, I say all this to say this phone, the LG G5, has proven to be sort of a jinx. I’ve owned it for about 15 months and in that time I’ve dropped it in a toilet, broken the screen (now twice), and managed to break the GPS somehow. It... hasn’t been a lucky phone.
So yeah, rather than replace the screen again I am opting to replace the phone.
But with what?
The first requirement to go out the window was swappable batteries. I really liked that feature on my G5, even if it ultimately led to its demise, but as it turns out only the G5, V20, and few non-flagship phones have this feature. So that came off the table.
While I felt like I could live without a headphone jack, an SD card slot was a must. No matter what the device manufacturers say, removing this is a naked ploy to sell expensive memory under the guise of making the phone smaller or waterproof.
I also really enjoyed the dual focal lengths on the G5. The ability to switch between wide angle and “normal” made for some interesting shots, especially on road trips, and was handy in tight spaces.
Shockingly, anything outside of a basic parametric search and comparison was exceptionally difficult, even in 2018. Every website seemed to have either an incomplete list, inadequate filters, a thinly veiled agenda, or some combination of all of those. Worse still, I am with Verizon, who seems to have the smallest number of available phones for complicated spectrum reasons.
Eventually, I came up with some contenders. Here was my list in no particular order: (prices are approximate and for Verizon compatible phones)
- LG G5 - Same phone, same issues - ~$180 (refurb)
- LG G6 - IP68, good screen, dual rear cameras, the “Devil I know” ~$300 (refurb)
- Samsung S8 - Nothing exciting, but competent, too bigly - $600 (new)
- Moto X4 - dual rear cameras,
no SD card slot, no headphone jack, low res screen - $300 (new)
- Google Pixel - Old but pretty good, comes highly recommended, no SD, low res screen - $300 (refurb)
- Google Pixel 2 - No SD card slot, no headphone jack, low res screen comes highly recommended $550 (new)
The latter two are interesting to note because I did a call for suggestions on facebook and the Pixel and iPhone people were rabbit. I have generally intelligent friends, but this was just incoherent “IT IS THE BEST PHONE” fanboy garbage. I’ve come to expect this from Apple people, but that kind of device loyalty is always concerning. Maybe it is just a really good phone?
Long story short (too late) I ended up deciding to be a disappointment to my friends and go with the LG G6. Towards the end it was really between the Moto X4 and the G6, but the X4 felt more like a competitor to the G5, with the G6 being slightly better in every way.
Ordered on Saturday afternoon, arrived just before lunch today.
First impressions are good. The phone is large without looking or feeling large (the 2:1 aspect ratio helps with this) and basically feels like an incremental upgrade to the G5.
Not really a bombshell is it?
Here are the dogs “helping” with the unboxing over lunch.