Wednesday 20 September 2017

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems

 

iPhone 7
iPhone 7
HTC U11
Fuji XC 50-230mm
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q: My phone contract is up next month and I'm trying to decide whether to switch from my iPhone 5 to one of the new models from Samsung. Is it any good or should I wait for the new iPhone?

A In your case, I'd recommend waiting for the new iPhone, which is due in September or October. I've tested the newly-released Samsung S8 (see review on independent.ie) and it's a very impressive handset. There are other options, too, like Sony's excellent XZ or Huawei's P10. But if your situation is as I imagine, I think the iPhone might be the better course. Let me explain why.

You don't say how long you've had the iPhone 5. However, it was first launched in 2013, So I'm going to assume you've had it for more than two years, If that is so, it suggests two things. First, you're now probably very used to the iPhone's interface. Second, you don't switch phones that frequently. Both of these factors lean toward a recommendation for as new an iPhone model as you can get, rather than a rival brand or last year's iPhone.

We know from experience that iPhones more than three years old often miss out on getting new features from Apple. This includes camera effects or security. They also often encounter more difficulties, such as slower speed, whenever the newest version of iPhone software is released. So if you intend to hold on to your phone for three or four years, it's a much smarter bet to get the newest model so that it will still be efficient in a few years' time. In terms of what to expect from the new iPhone 8 (or whatever it's called) in September, it's expected to have a new design with an all-glass front. This means that it'll be much easier to watch videos, as well as looking at photos in better detail.

That said, you still have other options. You could get one of the existing iPhone 7 (above) devices which are excellent phones with great cameras. (As an aside, these will fall in price by about €100 when the iPhone 8 is announced.) There are also quite a few Android alternatives. Samsung is the most popular Android phone in Ireland and its devices have excellent cameras and brilliant screens. Indeed, the new S8 model is widely considered to be similar in looks to the upcoming iPhone 8, which is predicted to have the same type of screen design. Sony's XZ phone is a really nice alternative with arguably the best battery life, a great screen and a superb camera. Huawei's P10 device is a worthy rival to all of these, again with a great camera and screen (see review on independent.ie)

However, Android phones such as Samsung and Huawei have advantages and disadvantages. They generally have more features than iPhones, but these can be overkill. While useful to those who are into their tech, ordinary users often get confused by them or leave them untouched. The new iPhone will certainly have some new features, but adjusting to them may not be anywhere near as much of a curve as moving to a Samsung, where basic operations are designed differently.

I should note that these recommendations are at the top end of the branded phones. If you're looking for something cheaper, there are dozens of options. The best might be HTC's recently-launched U Play, a 5.2-inch model that's good-looking and powerful.

RECOMMENDATION: Wait for upcoming iPhone 8

Email your questions to caomahony@independent.ie

Two to Try

HTC U11

(from free on contract, €749 unlocked)

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HTC U11

HTC's latest competition to the iPhone 7 and Samsung S8 comes with a 'squeeze' feature that lets you control certain functions by applying pressure on each side of the lower bit of the phone. A short squeeze takes a photo while a long squeeze turns on the torch. Otherwise, the 5.5-inch M11 has 64GB of storage, fancy speakers and better battery life.

Fuji XC 50-230mm

(€330 from Currys)

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Fuji XC 50-230mm

It's quite rare to get great image quality out of a budget camera lens, but that's exactly what's on offer with Fuji's XC 50-230mm zoom lens. It's the equivalent of around 80-360mm in conventional terms, which is a good range. It may be plastic (the silver version that I got looks a bit nasty), but the quality is all there. Pictures are tack-sharp and colours look great. You could spend three times this amount and not notice the difference in quality.

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