Let’s talk about phones: To upgrade, defect or stay put


phoneWith the imminent arrival of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, we know our mobile-savvy readers probably are contemplating the big question of the moment: Upgrade, defect or hold out for something better, later?

Even among our Frolic team, there is dissension. We’re comprised of both Apple and Android diehards, with a diverse mix of phones in our possession. To help bring clarity on this whole phone upgrade issue, we thought we’d share with you our own phone assessments and aspirations.

tb-ericEric Baranda
Current phone: Samsung Galaxy Nexus 32GB

What I like: The Android OS is all about customization. As soon as I received this phone, I looked into unlocking it and replaced the standard OS with a customized ROM. I currently use Cyanogenmod, one of the more popular and stable customized ROMs for Android devices. Using Cyanogenmod removes bloatware from the phone, along with increased performance. In general, the phone feels snappier with Cyanogemod installed.

What I don’t like: The phone is almost three years old and it shows when running newer apps or even updating old ones. Although infrequent, depending on the hardware requirements of the app, my phone may lag or even freeze. This could be from Cyanogenmod bring installed. Sometimes that’s the price to pay for customization. The battery life is poor, dying after an hour following heavy Instagram and Facebook usage, which I often do on my phone. Finally, I’m not a fan of my upgrade plan.

Upgrade plans: None. I currently have unlimited data with my service provider, which is no longer available for new subscribers. When renewing my contract, I have the option of upgrading my phone at a discounted price. However, I would lose my unlimited data and be under their new data plan, which does not include unlimited. I can buy a new phone outright and still keep my current plan, but new smartphones purchased outside of a contract run up to $600 or more. I plan to stick with my current phone for a little while longer.

tracynewTracy Chan
Current phone: Droid Mini 16GB.

What I like: I’ve always been the odd-person-out Android user on the team. I’ll always go for Androids over the over-hyped iPhone. If I want to root my phone, I can root my phone. I’ve been able to use Swype this whole time to make messaging faster. I like being able to plug my phone in with a standard USB cable, or use my phone as an emergency hard drive, if needed. My compact Droid Mini is a good little droid that fits in my pocket and my hand easily, with a fast, responsive processor that allows me to multitask without slowing down, long battery life (unless I’m playing Ingress) and great call quality. It’s not the best Android phone on the market, but for someone like me who’s on a budget and on the go with very little downtime when I’m out, it just works. If I want to watch movies or play games in high-def, I’ll just go home to my gaming tower and wide-screen HD LCD monitor.

What I don’t like: As a nightlife photographer, the poor performance of the 10MP camera in lower light just annoys me. For daylight conditions, it’s acceptable, but any darker and weird flares and grain start showing up. Plus, the Droid Mini’s screen lacks in contrast and the colors are somewhat inaccurate.

Upgrade plans: It depends on budget and features available when it’s time to get a new phone. With the new iPhones offering more Android-like enhancements, plus more advanced audio and visual capabities and hopefully a better, more sturdy chassis. I might consider it. Possibly. In a year. Maybe. Naw, who am I kidding, I’ll stick with Androids.

tb-melissaMelissa Chang
Current phone: iPhone 5 64GB

What I like: I have been totally loyal to Apple products since the ’80s, so the iPhone syncs with everything I have. Not only that, the camera is pretty darn good in a pinch. I do have a Droid notepad, courtesy of Verizon, and the camera is no where near as good as the iPhone. Also, there are some very cool apps that I use (PicPlayPost, Frametastic) that are only for Apple. So I’m not likely to switch.

What I don’t like: The battery is terrible! It performs well for the first two weeks after you buy it, then it just doesn’t hold enough charge for someone like me. On top of that, you can be at (for example) 13 percent battery power remaining, and it will shut off. When you recharge it, it will start back up at 13 percent again. Why didn’t it just go to 0? Other things I don’t like: Not having a standard cable socket; accessories that are so damn expensive; and the fact that they change size and shape every time they make a new phone. I’m NOT looking forward to having to buy all new cases when I get my new phone.

Upgrade plans: When my contract is eligible for an upgrade in a few months, I’ll get the iPhone 6 128GB. I take a LOT of photos and I need to do more video. I’m a little skeptical that the battery will be better (don’t they say that every time?), but whatever. I’m looking forward to the enhanced camera — although I take great photos with my Sony QX100 anyway — and seeing how my videos will come out.

newmyongMyong Choi
Current Phone: iPhone 5s (I don’t know how much memory – whatever the cheapest one is)

What I like: I really couldn’t care less about all the techie mumbo jumbo. I like that my phone has the gold color on the back. It makes the phone look pretty and that’s why I don’t put a case on my phone, so it doesn’t cover the pretty gold color. Not having a case on it also makes it cool and slick as I take it in and out of my pants pocket.

What I don’t like: That the reception sucks at Aloha Stadium, so I can’t check Instagram and Facebook and post snarky comments about the game on Twitter as a distraction as I sit through yet another horribly boring UH football game. Oh wait, maybe that’s an service provider problem and not a phone problem. Anyway, I don’t like that UH football continues to suck. Oh, and I also don’t like that someday my iCloud can get hacked and my nude photos will be leaked on the internet.

Upgrade Plans: I’ll upgrade whenever I’m eligible; I believe it’s every two years. When I do, I’ll get the current model available. I’m not really that picky about my phone. I once used a Helio phone for a couple of years just to be different. What the hell was I thinking?

olena-blogpageOlena Heu
Current phone: iPhone 5C 16GB White

What I like: I had an HTC Droid for a few years and liked some of the features, namely the camera. I always felt out of the loop since all my friends had iPhones. A couple of years ago I finally got an iPhone. Even though it wasn’t the latest and greatest (4 at that time) I still loved it. I found that it was user friendly and I liked the features that it had when communicating with other people who had iPhones too. I still love my iPhone even though there has been a bit of a movement to move over to Droid from some.

What I don’t like: Once I updated the system, there was an apparent difference with the battery life. I don’t like how it runs out of battery pretty quickly. I wished the phone had other ring options that came stock. But as far as phones go I am not planning to head to another type of device or brand.

Upgrade plans: I have the Verizon flex plan which lets me pay off the phone over time then upgrade to a new phone in a year. I was hoping that I could get the new iPhone sooner than one year from June, but I will have to play with the cards I have been dealt. If I had bought the iPhone 5s and signed the multi-year contract I wouldn’t be eligible for an upgrade as soon. I will get to hear about the raves and reviews for the next six months until I can get mine.

tb-edEd Morita
Current phone: iPhone 5s 16GB

What I like: I’ve been an iPhone user since the first generation. With the exception of my current phone, I’ve always gotten the whole number series and avoided the “s” phones. I like the durability of the iPhone. It always boggles my mind when I see people with cracked iPhones when I constantly drop mine and haven’t cracked one yet. I had the 4 for a long time and only upgraded to the 5s in March because the speaker broke. I’m impressed with the camera features as well as the improved battery life of each successive model.

What I don’t like: Despite the improvements that are made to increase battery life on each successive model, it’s still not enough to get me through an entire day. I’ve learned to extend the battery life by altering my habits like not letting apps run in the background and turning off notifications. Regardless of those practices, I always make sure to have a battery pack and a power cord so I can charge up whenever possible.

Upgrade plans: I was contemplating switching to Android just for a change of pace, however I was not expecting Apple to announce the iPhone 6 Plus. I’ve been wanting something the size between an iPhone and an iPad and the 6 Plus fills that niche for me nicely. I tether my Sony camera so I can view, edit, and share photos quickly and easily. I’m looking forward to testing the photo capabilities on the larger screen. I pre-ordered the 64 Gb iPhone 6 Plus. With the additional storage I’ll be able to download and send full resolution images from my Sony camera.

myheadshotDiane Seo
Current phone: iPhone 5, 32GB

What I like: I bought the first generation iPhone on the first day it came out, and then upgraded every two years since. I’ve loved my collection of iPhones and the fact that my phone is synced with my iPad Mini, MacBook Pro and iMacs. I’m sold on the simplicity and efficiency of Apple products, and I’m not likely to ever go Android.

What I don’t like: My battery doesn’t last the whole day, even though the Geniuses tell me there’s nothing wrong with my battery, and my Mophie battery case is too bulky and heavy. I’ve also outgrown the iPhone5 camera. I don’t like the way photos often look sharp and focused on your phone, but then when you download them to full size, they’re grainy and blurry. My fingers aren’t particularly wide, but the keyboard is also a tad too small for me when I text or email.

Upgrade plans: I just pre-ordered the iPhone 6 64GB. With a $299 price tag (since I’m up for a new contract), it’s a no brainer that I would upgrade. I’m looking forward to the improved battery, the larger HD retina screen, and of course, the enhanced camera. I’m also interested in Apple Pay. It’ll free me from having to carry my wallet everywhere. I didn’t go with the iPhone 6 Plus because it seemed too big for me.

tb-grantGrant Shindo
Current phone: Samsung Galaxy S5 (T-Mobile)

What I like: My very first smartphone was the Google G1 (developer model) and I’ve been a loyal Android nerd ever since. I installed CyanogenMod on my Androids, unlocking lots of features and allowing me the ability to customize everything on my phone. The Galaxy S5 is has a beautiful and bright 5.1 inch display, snappy quad-core Snapdragon processor and an excellent battery for even the most active social media enthusiast.

What I don’t like: I’m not a fan of T-Mobile doing away with their contracts. As someone who takes immaculate care of my phone and have never lost, broken or gotten it stolen, a shiny new top-of-the-line smartphone every two years for a meager $200 was a bargain. Now I have to shell out $750 for the S5 and probably more for future models. My wallet is none too happy. The phone itself excels in every way that I need it to, including transferring photos to and from my camera via Wi-Fi, crystal clear Bluetooth in the car, moving photos to and from Dropbox and Google Drive, all social media apps and the camera software has caught up with iPhone camera software.

Upgrade plans: I just got the S5 earlier this year, and I tend to run my phones into the ground. Previous to the S5 I had a Galaxy S2 for about four years. Considering the S5 has excellent performance and response times, I might be able to keep the S5 even longer before I even think about upgrading. I don’t look forward to shelling out over $1,000 on my next smartphone, but in four years, Samsung will be manufacturing the S9 so I will have some time to save up.

newamandaAmanda Stevens
Current phone: Samsung Galaxy S4

What I like: I had an iPhone so I actually can make the comparison between the two. I went in Galaxy direction for the screen resolution and because size counts, it’s great for viewing fashion videos and photos. When I finally figured out the NFC – Near Field Communication, and I was able to share data with friends with a single “bump,” I was stoked.

What I don’t like: For some reason, my battery life is really bad now. I also periodically have a crazy little app that takes over my phone, and the culprit’s name is TouchWiz Home – hate you. Not sure if this is a T-Mobile thing or a Galaxy thing, but my text messages are deleted more quickly lately and it happened without a warning. I lost a ton a great photos because of it. I thought I had time to download them, but no – they’re gone.

Upgrade plans: No plans to upgrade my plan. I have unlimited talk, text, data, the works. I also have the tethering feature and I actually use it. I have no problem sharing the hotspot with friends. I might be shopping for another carrier after my contract ends in December though. As far as plans to upgrade my phone, perhaps I’ll wait for the Galaxy S6.

mari2Mari Taketa
Current phone: iPhone 5s ??GB

What I like: I got an iPhone only because I was the last member of my generation still using a flip phone, and even then I waited until the phone actually broke in two (try finding a pay phone when that happens). My 4s contract expired just when the 5s came out. Then I waited a month for a gold iPhone to match my new hair.

What I don’t like: The camera could be better. Also I find that iPhones rule my life. Thank goodness that infernal switch-screen keyboard is a deterrent to typing and any kind of coherent composition.

Upgrade plans: Why? You’ll notice my close attention to technological features. Ever since I weaned myself off large, heavy bags, I like things that fit in pockets. iPhone 5s may be the last generation that can fit in a pocket. I’ll wait and see. Maybe pockets will get bigger.


What about you?
Tell us about your phone likes/dislikes and plans in the comments below.