Friday 24 November 2017

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems

 

Moto G5 phone with WhatsApp
Moto G5 phone with WhatsApp
iPhone X
Google Pixelbook
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q. I want to get a smartphone to keep in touch with my kids and grandkids. I haven't had one up to now, but my family all use WhatsApp and I want to be able to join in. What phone can I use for WhatsApp? Is it possible to get one for around €200? Or less if possible.

A Yes, WhatsApp works on just about any smartphone you buy these days. And yes, there are quite a few reasonable models you can get for under €200.

I'm going to recommend one of three devices - Motorola's Moto G5, Huawei's P8 Lite or Three's Prism HD model. They're all Android phones as Apple doesn't make an iPhone for under €400. But they're all fit for the purpose you say you want.

But first, a quick word about WhatsApp. I can see why this is the one that you're focusing on - it is by far the most-used messaging system out there today, having overtaken normal SMS text messages. To use it, you need either Wi-Fi (from your home broadband, for example) or mobile data on your monthly smartphone plan.

But the advantage to WhatsApp, and all online messaging system, is that it's completely free once you're connected to your Wi-Fi or mobile data. There's no paying per text or per thousand texts: it's virtually unlimited. Setting it up is fairly easy, too, although you'll need to download the WhatsApp app from Google's app store (called the Play Store). And for this, you'll need a Google account (if you have a Gmail account, you already have a Google account that will work for this; if not, and you're a first-time app user, you'll have to register for the free account).

As for the phones you can use, there are about a dozen to choose from. Most are competent, if basic: they have medium-sized screens, modest cameras and small amounts of storage. However, in your case, this sounds like it may not be a problem as you say you primarily want the phone to keep up with WhatsApp as opposed to storing large amounts of data from photos or videos.

As for the phones, the one I'd go for - if you can get it - is Motorola's Moto G5 (€199 unlocked from Rea Communications). This gives you quite a lot for your money. It has a really bright, crisp 5-inch screen, a good 13-megapixel camera and extra security in the form of a fingerprint scanner. It also has a bit of metal added into the design of the body which gives it a slightly less cheap look and feel to the plasticky bodies that are typical of sub-€200 phones. So get this one if you can.

If not, try either Huawei's P8 Lite (€199 prepay from Eir) or the Prism HD (€99 prepay from Three). The Huawei device has a slightly larger 5.2-inch screen, which is great for those whose eyesight isn't what it once was. It also has a bigger battery than most phones in its price range, which is a tonic for those who find that smartphone batteries don't match those of older models.

The Prism HD is an ultra-budget model that's locked to the mobile operator Three, so if you're with another operator, this won't be an option. It's a basic smartphone with basic specifications: a so-so 5-megapixel camera and a minimal 8GB of storage memory. However, it does have a 5-inch screen and works flawlessly with services such as WhatsApp and Facebook (although it's a bit slower to react than the other phones on this list).

RECOMMENDATION: Motorola's Moto G5 (pictured €199 unlocked from Rea Communications)

Email your questions to caomahony@independent.ie

Two to Try

iPhone X  (from €1,179)

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iPhone X
 

This is the phone that the world is talking about. But at this price, how many will buy it? We've had exclusive use of one in the last week and it's fair to say that this is best iPhone - and the best smartphone, in general - on the market. Its power, edge-to-edge screen and Face ID (facial recognition technology) make it a fairly unbeatable proposition. There's a small learning curve as there's no 'home' button. But make no mistake; this is now top of the pile.

Google Pixelbook (€1,150, 128GB)

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Google Pixelbook
 

For years, 'Chromebooks' were generally cheap laptops that were web-access devices with little memory or extra features. Google's Pixelbook is no such trinket. With a high-end keyboard and screen, matched by up to 512GB of storage, 16GB of Ram and the latest Intel i5 or i7 processor, this is a serious productivity device.

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