Business Technology

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems


Moto G5
Moto G5
Canon EOS 4000D
Samsung S9
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q Can you please suggest a low-cost Android that will give good quality snapshots under varying light conditions (mainly snapshots of grandkids). I currently have a Bush Spira E3X, which on the face of it has a pretty good spec (21.5MP camera, 4GB rom, 64GB ram dual sim). It works fine for me (a light user) in all aspects except the snapshots which are pretty dismal. Any suggestions would very much be ­appreciated? - BP O'Brien

A I'm going to recommend one of three phones: Moto's G5 (€199), Sony's Xperia L1 (€150) or Huawei's P8 Lite (€199). When you say 'low cost', I'm taking that to mean under €200 (about a quarter of the cost of a modern flagship smartphone). Realistically, you won't get a significantly better camera than Bush's E3X for much less than that price level.

Of the three phones, the Moto G5 is probably the best overall device. But the Sony L1's camera matches the Motorola and also gives you a slightly bigger (5.5-inch) screen, all for €50 less. The Huawei P8 Lite isn't a better overall phone than the Moto, but seems to be available more widely.

So if you're absolutely prioritising the camera over all else while watching every penny, the Sony is the best option. If you think the extra €50 is worth it for a slightly better device overall, go for the Moto or the Huawei.

One issue you'll find when shopping for budget phones is storage. True budget phones generally have no more than 16GB of storage memory, an insufficient amount if you're going to regularly use your device to take photos. To get around this problem, most budget devices also include an extra memory card slot that allows you to put in a card of up to 256GB. Of course, this means that you need to purchase such a card. A reliable 64GB card should cost around €25 if you buy it online.

If this seems too fiddly or expensive, you can always backup photos up instantly to a free cloud service such as Google Photos. This is now quite easy to do: just download the free Google Photos app to your phone and set it so that it automatically backs up any photo on your phone to Google's cloud storage. It's free and unlimited - you can access your photos from any other device or laptop just by logging in to your Google account (which is the same login and password as your Gmail account).

As for the phones you can buy, 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. Sadly, Apple does not make a phone for anything close to this price level. You will see reconditioned iPhone 5 models for sale for around €250 from chains such as Harvey Norman. But while the cameras on these phones are still very good, these devices are reaching the end of their support life from Apple as they're over three years old. They also have much smaller screens than modern budget Android phones, making photos harder to assess.

In the budget phone category, Motorola is arguably the king. Its current G5 gives you a hell of a lot for your money, including a fingerprint scanner, a decent 13-megapixel rear camera and a pretty nice five-inch 1080p screen. The five-inch HD screen is bright with 441 pixels per inch and, unlike posher phones, there's still a headphone port.

Battery life is fine and it uses the older MicroUSB rather than USB-C to recharge.

On the other hand, Huawei includes a lot of useful specifications on its P8 Lite,which has a relatively long-lasting battery (3,000mAh), a fingerprint reader for security and dual sim support.

RECOMMENDATION: Moto G5 (€199, pictured)

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Two to Try

Samsung S9 


Samsung S9

Samsung has unveiled its new Galaxy S9 and S9+ flagship smartphones. The new devices look almost exactly the same as the current S8 models (with similar 5.8in and 6.2in screens). The camera is the big new feature. Samsung has massively boosted the camera's low-light performance, with almost a third more light getting in than the existing Galaxy S8.

Canon Eos 4000D


Canon EOS 4000D

Canon has a new entry-level DSLR camera for beginners. The 4000D has the same sensor (meaning the same quality photos) as the current 1300D and has Wi-Fi too. It also has the same processor, meaning no upgrade in speed.

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