CHOICE membership

Mobile phones review - Best smartphones

We’ve reviewed mobile phones (member content) including the Samsung Galaxy, Apple iPhone, Sony, Google LG and other smartphones to reveal the best performing models. We look at:

  • web-browser performance
  • sound, picture and video quality
  • battery life
  • display
  • email and SMS performance
  • handling
  • durability

Not sure what to look for? Check out our smartphone buying guide.

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I cannot find where I posted suggesting that a review of phones should probably include a look at how they deal with phone calls, but I see call sound quality is now included in the rankings.

Thanks @BrendanMays.

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It is worth cross referencing this post here.

Sound quality and capability to make and answer calls legibly, especially in areas with weak or variable signals, has ramifications that reviewers seem to almost universally gloss over since ‘they are all much the same’ and thus focus on cameras and so on. They are apparently not ‘all much the same’, but aren’t the photos grand?

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Our smartphone review is now updated (member content):

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We review the new iPhone SE. It’s friendlier on the budget than some more expensive models but not an automatic upgrade for all iPhone owners.

https://www.choice.com.au/electronics-and-technology/phones/mobile-phones/articles/apple-iphone-se-review

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Not impressed with the review. I thought it was a bit dismissive, especially with regard to the appearance and the camera. Some of us don’t want faceID, and we do want a Home Button. That means the old design works for us. Camera is not much good in low light? BS! That information is just wrong. It might not be as good as the 11 series, but it works just fine for most people, and even for those of us who occasionally want to shoot in low light.

Here’s another terrible in low light shot

And one of the cat in dead dark, which is terrible and has lots of artifacts. But who shoots with a phone in the dark??

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I had the option of an iPhone 8 or the previous model SE more than two years back when the 8 was not selling. There was little difference in price for a big difference in performance.

In comparison with the latest and greatest iPhone, the 8 seems just as effective. Some of the family seem to have the addiction to upgrade, so it’s no idle comparison by an average user. Why would you?

As the new version of the SE is similar in spec to the iPhone 8 it should be a really good option.

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If I already had an 8, I wouldnt have bothered. However, I had/have an SE and a 7, both of which will reach Vintage status long before the 8 and new SE. I want OS security updates for as long as I can get them :slight_smile:

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I agree, I love my SE which I bought a few years ago after losing my first SE
(It was traced to the Phillipines by “Find my Phone”).
Takes very good photos, it’s what I use on my overseas trips during the day and when I go out on my own taking photos in the late evening.

Only lately the battery discharges fast, but I’m on it a lot with data.

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I have been considering making the move to an iPhone for a couple of months now. My major impetus is security - my current phone gets patched over a month after the latest patch has been released. While I could move to an Android One phone, that still only gives me three years of updates and none of those phones are particularly compelling for a large screen user.

That said, the move between ecosystems is likely to be… difficult. I would be keen to see a CHOICE article addressing this kind of move. (The key issues for me are likely to be podcasts, 2FA authentication app, secure messaging - and the lack of widgets and customisation options.)

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It’s one item that the Choice reviews don’t appear to assess or rate.

Android phone manufacturers for all their good or bad features are not as diligent with updates. The update cycles with some suppliers are slow and soon cease.

Apple has been consistent in providing updates and typically support for longer. There should be a score or review component that reflects the different support offers and performance of each brand/manufacturer. There are models with good ongoing support for Android, and those that do not.

I use both. It would be useful. My crude assessment is it is easier to move from Android to IOS than the other way around. The inherent better security (not necessarily perfection) on IOS and long support cycle made my mind up to use IOS as my everyday phone. I achieved more than 6 years on an iPhone 4S from new. End of update cycle and definitely clunkier, slowing down on some tasks.

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The trouble with many Android phones is that if you get them on a plan from the carrier then that carrier is responsible for rolling out updates. The carrier has generally made ‘one or two’ changes to the phone so it is ‘optimised’ for its network (and has the carrier’s junkware), and so every update has to be tested before it is rolled out just in case it breaks something the carrier has done.

Hence one of the attractions to iPhone or to Android One phones.

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Gaby you do realise the review is of the 2020 SE, not the older one?

Not so much. Apple has a help page for those wanting to make the switch.

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Yes, Sue, and I can see the RAM on the older one is 4GB and the new one 3GB, if I read it correctly.
I find that most reviews are not particularly kind to the SE, whatever
time it comes out, but I’m very happy with it.

My partner replaced her Huawei P6 with an iPhone 8Plus. We waited until we were in the big smoke and hit one of the Apple stores. Purchased outright in store the staff were able to assist with the process of transferring contacts, photos etc between the old Android and new iPhone. It took around 60 mins all up including the purchase. The stores also run classes on a regular basis on using your IOS device. Not something we could fit in with.

So for some the process of changing over can be very low tech experience, with friendly help. In the past we’ve found the same level of assistance rare in the world of Android resellers. Perhaps at the lower end price points you can only expect basic sales and marketing? You do have the benefit with most Android phones of moving your data etc using the SIM card and removable storage, (assuming you are not changing providers as well).

Well, I’ve had mine for a couple of weeks now, I got it on release day, having pre-ordered. I wanted the updated CPU, and the promise of security updates for years yet. I think it will be my last phone. I have the first SE as well as a 7, and I have no regrets about having upgraded to the SE2020, its a good upgrade for anybody except maybe iPhone 8 owners.

Well, as noted on the Apple help page, there is an app, available on the play store, which will aid the process. Apple makes things very easy, even for the tech challenged.

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Our smartphone reliability ratings have now been updated (member content):

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It’s useful to be able to see simplified the typical or expected reliability of each brand. I suspect that there are other underlying trends in how often owners replace or upgrade fir each brand.

One source suggests that the Australian market share by brand and Choice members brand preferences are different.

I’m not sure I read this correctly @BrendanMays?
2450 out of 6009 responses were for Apple product, or 41%. Per statista.com Apple’s market share has been close to 60%, falling noticeably in 2020. While Huawei has had a more significant share (>10%) than the 1% of users who responded.

However the Choice lead into the report mentions 57% Apple and 27% Samsung users which aligns more closely to the market share data.

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