Mobile phones review - Best smartphones

You might mean it rhetorically, but I intend to treat it literally.

Companies at this time in history exist to make profits they can pass on to their shareholders. There are only a few ways of making profits:

  1. Grow the market. Worked fine with mobile phones for a couple of decades, but the market is close to saturated.
  2. Charge more per unit. Well, Apple already does this.
  3. Use cheaper parts/suppliers. Prices tend to go down for consumer electronics anyway, but this helps companies to save on what they manufacture.
  4. Give your product a limited useful life (build in obsolescence). This has been done for decades, but with computers and mobile phones manufacturers and software providers are effectively colluding to ensure people have to upgrade. (Again, in Apple’s case no collusion is required because it sells both hardware and software.) Windows 10 no longer supports older CPUs and motherboards, for instance.

Little of this is consumer-friendly, but companies do not exist to be consumer-friendly.


We reveal the top five phones for battery life and quick charging:


Some 75 phones tested.

That must have made a dent in the piggy bank.

Who gets the top performer?

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I’m not sure that CHOICE operates in the same way as Australia Post.

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Does it matter? I’d be more concerned if I just got the dud. :wink:

On the reviews:
The latest Choice reviews were a real eye opener with the $2,000+ phones at the very top only a few percent different in scores from those closer to $1,000.

Even the now ancient in tech terms iphone 8 and several other branded models scored exceptionally well in comparison and fall in the $700-$999 price range.

With top Samsung and Apple products priced at $2500 or higher, is it just possible “Smartphones, smarter than the average user”?

One $299 model with dual sim looks a great contender for the second phone (For that other network) and travel when it resumes.

The one criticism of the reviews is the lack of any assessment of the signal strength performance of each mobile. I’d rate any mobile with substandard radio/cell performance a fail whether it cost $2999 or $299. More so the former as the latter you might write off or trade in for a different model. Or did I miss that?

Which phone is best for regional and rural use, travellers as well as the non urbanised amongst us?
Is it worth considering @BrendanMays?


I had a similar discussion with Choice a while back, noting test reports had everything except how well a mobile worked as a phone. As for real world experiences there are a few allied topics that affect phones being phones, beside the phones, including

and some now dated input to the question about what is important,


My current phone is going off lease very shortly. Apart from the obvious comment about why any phone provider would think leasing is a sensible model, I have decided to change ecosystems.

In deciding what phone I would get, security and privacy were at the top of my list. The current phone gets basic security updates over a month after they are first published, and that is simply not good enough. That said, I do like a large telephonic device.

So I considered a contract with one of Australia’s mobile phone networks or resellers - but all seemed quite expensive for what one got when looking at the phones that were updated in a timely manner (iPhone or Pixel). The Pixel is also a little small.

My next comparison was about buying a phone outright. This came down to a choice between the Nokia 8.3 (big phone, Android One so is updated as quickly as Pixel) or a more expensive large iPhone model.

I eventually settled on the latter, but have ordered a refurbished device that is a couple of years old. Sure it’s not the latest model, but Apple is still updating phones that are five or six years old - while Android One only promises security updates for first three years (and feature updates for two).

My expectation is that this next phone should last at least three to five years - and unfortunately only Apple seems prepared to support phones for that period of time.

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Battery capacity and battery life are very important when a mobile phone does not work well in the ‘low signal’ area located less 35km from a capital city GPO. Because the phone is constantly scanning trying to find ‘better’ signal, it chews up a lot of energy and depletes the battery state of charge faster than if it was in - just how close to the city centre do you need to be to get 'better than rural signal" in the Telstra network?

It must be worse when, say 50 or 100 km away from GPO, let alone further out.


More so when the signal picked up by the mobile is strong enough to cause the phone to ring, and the mobile is unable to transmit a reliable strong signal to maintain the connection once answered.

Every mobile model performs differently. Some are less capable than others. We need to know.


Since March 2020 one of the things I look for in a mobile phone is “able to be washed”
(cold water, a little bit of soap or detergent, rub with hands - rather like how we all wash our hands frequently these days).


Whilst the signal at our home in Mt Sheridan, and my wife’s sister’s home SW of Innisfail is not very good, the signal at my wife’s sister’s home north of Mareeba is terrible.

My phone normally lasts all day with minimal battery drain, but after we got home from Mareeba after Xmas lunch, I called my sister and spoke with her husband for around 20 minutes.

When the call ended, my phone had an alarm showing that the battery was at 1% charge and it was about to shut down.

The phone had received no calls and had only one outgoing call since being disconnected from the charger that morning but the battery was almost fully discharged due to trying to access the distant cell tower.

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Many are not although some are marketed as surviving water immersion. We use computer screen wipes from Office Works etc instead. Also great for tablet devices.

The marketing of mobile phones with water resistance is reminiscent of the days of watches sold as water proof to 50-100m. Ultimately they were shown to be a shonky claim. Unless the product was a certified and tested divers watch.

The soap and running water test would be an interesting one. Would the testers still recommend a product of it failed?


I think to get rid of viral fragments, the water needs to be hot. So, no, I would not do it and I would not expect that Apple would replace my phone if I was stupid enough to try it. I give mine a wipe over with alcohol wipes.


Like the Apple phones that were called out in Italy (not yet called out here I understand), water resistance can be very subjective. If they meet international rating standards then they should be able to be trusted ie IP67 or IP68 should be good indicators of the ability to be washed (IP66 may also qualify). Cleaning with alcohol wipes would be, and is in my opinion, so much easier and the phone could be of a lesser IP standard so cheaper to the consumer when buying.

Of note if the phone was IP69K rated it could be cleaned with steam jets, but I think that would be an excessive rating to meet or even too strong a procedure to undertake :smile:

A question worth raising is these UV sanitisers that have come on the market, do any work? Is it worth testing any? If they are Shonky should the ACCC be stepping in?


My previous phone was good wrt getting wet:-
IP68 - tested at depths more than 1 metre, and found to be unharmed. All ports except the USB-C were well capped. Sony claimed resistance for water depth of more than 1.5 meters and 30 minutes under water. But using it in chlorinated pool water was discouraged.
IP65 - good at handling water spray, rain, etc. The IP65 test uses water projected by a nozzle.

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Hey @mark_m, I recall we used to run signal strength tests in-person utilising signal towers in regional areas. The phone network and other conditions can affect the results, so we’ve since moved to a lab based testing regime for these aspects.


Both Telstra and Optus have a limited selection of recommended phones for better reception in regional or rural areas.

Only two phones that might be considered more reasonably priced. The Samsung Galaxy A51 from 2019 (Optus and Telstra) and Telstra Tough Max 3. The second was not in the Dec reviews by Choice. No Apple products in the list.

One reasonably complete review on the Telstra option. Note despite high profile concerns over China manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, Telstra have sourced this product from ZTE. It’s also 2019 tech, hence Android updates may be a future concern for those unable to upgrade often or write it off for tax.

Product Review only has 4 user reviews, 3 being very negative. Not unusual.

My old 3G Samsung dumb Flip phone (no Android) with external aerial socket might outclass all. Needs a new battery, fortunately removable. :ballot_box_with_check:


Until 3G is removed (and sorry for the non ad free site)


And some more sad news.

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I was wondering about the end date for 3G - thank you for the link.
Going to get a device that is currently only capable of 3G updated very soon (to “4G where available, and drop back to 3G when 4G not available”