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Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?

Stilly River Sage 12 May 20 - 01:44 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 May 20 - 01:50 PM
John MacKenzie 12 May 20 - 05:01 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 May 20 - 11:13 PM
DaveRo 13 May 20 - 02:24 AM
Mr Red 13 May 20 - 03:54 AM
EBarnacle 13 May 20 - 08:00 AM
Stilly River Sage 13 May 20 - 11:49 AM
Dave the Gnome 13 May 20 - 12:45 PM
punkfolkrocker 13 May 20 - 01:58 PM
Stilly River Sage 13 May 20 - 03:12 PM
Stilly River Sage 14 May 20 - 11:46 AM
Stilly River Sage 06 Jan 21 - 06:15 PM
DaveRo 07 Jan 21 - 03:36 AM
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Subject: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 May 20 - 01:44 PM

It's time to buy a new phone as the U.S. FCC moves to recover bandwidth means the phone companies are dismantling the older G3 and below technology. I currently have an unlocked AT&T phone, but when I switched to my TING account (costs less than half of the old AT&T account), it operates on the T-mobile frequencies they contract with in this area. Meaning my AT&T phone can't use WiFi calling or VoLTE. And at the end of the year T-mobile is taking down many of the things that my phone apparently is using, turning major parts of it into a brick.

I usually buy a phone that is not this year's newest release, and save myself several hundred dollars. That said, I see a model that I could pay about $100 less for the phone that I'm looking at if I choose the one with the Alexa Hands Free features. If you've ever bought a Fire tablet you know that you pay $25 more to get the one that is free of all of the "offers" on the opening screen. Amazon subsidizes devices with their apps installed to make them more attractive.

I have a few Alexa devices in the house; one Echo speaker (a free offer from subscribing to Sirius at a ridiculously low price) and a couple of Fire Sticks attached to televisions. They apparently have Alexa voice features but I've never tried it; I only know that if the dogs act up and I shout at them that sometimes the television turns off. (!)

So Alexa is here but I still resist it much of the time. My phones are always Android, not Apple, so I've lived with Google for a long time. On rare occasions I ask the Google assistant to find something on Google maps, but that's the extent of it.

Are any of you using those "assistants" on your devices? Do you use it on your phone? I've looked for reviews of Alexa on phones but have been unable to find the negative reviews that I'm pretty sure are out there. Here is a ZD Net article from 2018 about the development of an Amazon smart phone vs adding it to existing phones. I can download an app to use Alexa on any phone, and on an Android phone Google is already omnipresent.

What reasons do you have for trusting Google or Amazon more, or less? No, I'm not going to buy an old flip phone with nothing, and I abhor the Apple products. I'm looking for well-reasoned opinions on which 800-pound gorilla to carry around in my back pocket.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 May 20 - 01:50 PM

The phone features I am comparing are battery size and camera quality. I have looked at budget phones with higher battery capacity, but they have inferior cameras. I have looked at the high-end Samsung, where there are some higher capacity batteries, but they are generally overpriced. I have this part of it figured out; what I'm zeroing in on here is the choice of the Google vs Alexa "helper" that comes with the phone, and if it's worthwhile to pay less only to end up with Alexa listening intently to my conversations.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 May 20 - 05:01 PM

Don't know if it helps, but I always buy refurbished phones, which are quite often fairly up to date, but much cheaper.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 May 20 - 11:13 PM

I don't buy them refurbished, though I see a lot of them. I look for what is the newest model and then research the models that came out previously in the year or so before. They drop in price by several hundred dollars once the new one is out.

Do you use the Google assistant or Alexa? Would you buy a phone with Alexa apps installed (I bought a regular Android phone last time and it came with Amazon bloatware that I can't uninstall, so I don't know if there will be much difference).


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: DaveRo
Date: 13 May 20 - 02:24 AM

I have never owned nor bought an Android phone (though I use an Android tablet) but I thought about it a year ago. My main priorities were cheapness and getting updates to the operating system. So I homed in on Android One phones.

Then I was given a phone, an iPhone 5s. This will be a hard act to follow - not because it's Apple (though it's very nicely made) or runs iOS (I prefer Android) but because it's very small - a 4" screen. I use it primarily as a phone - not a smart phone - so I want it in my pocket.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Mr Red
Date: 13 May 20 - 03:54 AM

Depends on how much you value your personal data.

Alexa and the Goggle equivalent are harvesting your location and where you surf to. And anything you ask Alexa will be framed in its preferences (aka sponsored ads), not the best. And many apps want to know your contacts' data.

If you hail taxis/Uber have fast (yuk) food delivered and need to be on Fakebook every hour, none of that will matter to you.

When I bought my first smart phone (S3 mini, still use it) I needed a remote camera app for a Sony camera and I told the guy to install the app, sort of condition of purchase. A good wheeze, because I could have figured it out but he did it quicker and I was assured it did what I bought it for.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 13 May 20 - 08:00 AM

I refuse to own any device that spies on me. My privacy is more important than the "benefits" of hands free operation.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 May 20 - 11:49 AM

Those were the good old days, EBarnacle.

I was an early adopter of the Amazon brand - I bought books for graduate school going back to 1996. "Biggest Bookstore In The World" is how it sold itself back then.

I was also an early adopter of Gmail, so I have certainly signaled my indifference to their sharing my data for many years. If you're not paying for the service then you're the item they value. I just got tired of losing email every time I changed an Internet Provider, and they tapped into that need big time for lots of people. I still have a Yahoo account out there somewhere, but since they charged you to download into a resident program (like the old Pegasus Mail or the one I've used for years, Thunderbird), I never bought into it.

Since I started this thread I did go through on some of the phones on Amazon and read the reviews and shopper questions. You can still use the Google assistant if you want to even on an Alexa branded phone. The bloatware is liable to be in there anyway. The reason batteries don't hold a charge for a long time? Because of all of the crap that wants to run in the background. I go through my phone periodically and disable or turn off stuff, but next pass through there it is, restarted and sucking power from the battery.

My phone now is the last of the phones with a replaceable battery; In the last two phones I've been able to put in a larger battery with a new back for the case. The newer phones have a waterproof feature that is nice, but are not to be opened, so you're stuck with the battery it comes with and you pay a premium to get the larger battery.

It's a question of how annoyed do I want to be with my new phone once it arrives. :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 May 20 - 12:45 PM

I have used Google on my phone but can't say as I speak to it on a regular basis. It's sometimes handy when driving but my latest car has Bluetooth and a speak button. I use Alexa on our various home Echo devices. I don't really see much difference. As to cheap phones, I am quite impressed with my latest Moto G5. Less than £100. Decent camera. Not much memory and a bit limited but does all I want.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 May 20 - 01:58 PM

Moto are superb budget price phones...

Great spec for the price,
and the android installation is near pure,
without any bloated crapware...

Me and the wife now buy identical models at the same time,
so I can know them inside out,
for when she presents problems on hers...

We're still on Moto G5s, with no need to 'upgrade'
until we are forced to by failing batteries,
or Android version 8 becoming unsafe..

The new Moto 8 with the big battery is getting very positive reviews...

Btw.. I dislike any AI loud voiced 'personal helpers' on my phone,
so disable them...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 May 20 - 03:12 PM

Thanks, PFR! I looked at the Moto phones and have one of them still in my "shop and compare" list - there are two that have larger batteries. The reviews of the cameras were not as good as the battery life (I use my phone camera a lot). But I agree, there is a lot offered for the budget price. I tend to use my phone as an extension of my computer, so it gets a lot of use.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 May 20 - 11:46 AM

I made a decision last night based upon battery size and camera, followed by age of the device (hopefully the device that is just one model back in 2019 from new will stay viable longer with that operating system than one manufactured 2 or 3 years ago). And to keep the cost down—looking at otherwise identical phones priced $100 different—I will have to deal with the dueling giants of Google and Alexa in the same phone.

Watch this space for reports and tips.

The newest high-end model in this phone retails at $950. Last year's model new retails at $400. Since I'm looking for a phone that will completely fulfill the technology available at the end of the year after a bunch of stuff shuts down, this phone seems prudent.

Without the ability to purchase last-year's model I would probably go with the newest low-end phone I could get through the phone company for about half that price. Those Moto and a couple of the LG phones would be on that list. There are stylus models that look interesting.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 06 Jan 21 - 06:15 PM

For those with old Android phones:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-should-you-do-with-an-old-android-smartphone-and-how-old-is-too-old/


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Subject: RE: Tech: Name your poison: Google or Alexa phone?
From: DaveRo
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 03:36 AM

That article, while generally true, is slightly misleading, in that even if the Android operating system is not getting updates, some Google services, and many apps will be. So browsers for example will continue to get security updates for as long as they're supported. I have a phone running Android 4.4 and it still gets WhatsApp updates.

In practice, Android 5 - Lollipop - is oldest usable version of Android you can use. Many apps will no longer run on 4.4 - for example Firefox since about 6 months ago.

I wouldn't rely on so-called security apps. The design of Android is such that there's little useful they can do. The biggest risk is the The App Store which is full of fake apps or ones that steal data. Sometimes good apps are compromised by malware, or even sold on to malware pushers. That's the one thing that Apple does better - at a cost (to both the user and the developers).


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