Thursday 15 November 2018

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems


iPhone 7
iPhone 7
Huawei P Smart
Nokia 7 Plus
Fuji Instax SQ6
HP Elitebook 840 G5
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q My iPhone 6 has a cracked screen and the battery life is very poor. I've had it a couple of years and am thinking of upgrading. What's a decent smartphone to get that won't cost me the earth? Should I get a new iPhone or another model? I normally have a contract, but I'd consider buying it up front if it's good value.

A I'm going to assume that if you're used to an iPhone 6, you now want to stick to larger screens in modern handsets.

The good news is that there are lots of them now that do a really, really good job without coming at a premium cost.

(One of them is even an iPhone - the €419 iPhone SE, but it comes with a smaller screen.)

If I had to narrow your choice down to three, I'd pick one of the three following options, based on different budgets (cheap, mid-range and 'sort of premium': I'll skip ultra-premium €1,000 models like the iPhone X or Samsung S9 Plus given your preference for the new model not costing you "the earth").

1. Budget: Huawei P Smart (€279)

Huawei P Smart

This is probably the best budget smartphone on the market right now. Huawei's P Smart model has a decent battery, a nice 5.6-inch screen and dual cameras on the back of it. It works smoothly and you get a very reasonable 32GB of storage memory with it.

2. Mid-range: Nokia 7 Plus (€399)

Nokia 7 Plus

Yes, Nokia is back with what I think is the best value large phone on the market. The six-inch Nokia 7 Plus looks fantastic and performs brilliantly. It has a six-inch screen, which is a lot larger than your iPhone 6 - but that screen goes almost all the way to the edge of the phone, meaning the device is still somewhat manageable in your hand. (This is a matter of opinion, of course.)

Other than its price and its design, what I particularly like about this handset is its superb battery life, which is better than most other phones on the market. It also has relatively high-end specifications, such as a dual camera (one wide, one telezoom) on the back of the camera and a very decent 64GB of storage memory.

3. 'Sort of' premium: iPhone 7 (€649)

iPhone 7

If you're very comfortable with the way your iPhone works and think it might be a bit too much hassle to get used to an Android model, Apple still sells last year's model (and the model from the year before) as new.

That model is the iPhone 7 and it's still an excellent device with a very good camera and it will easily last a solid three years. It will feel totally familiar (it's basically the same size and shape) but is two generations faster and more powerful than your existing iPhone 6.

Its only drawbacks are that its storage (32GB) is a relatively small at this price and it doesn't have a regular headphone port, meaning you have to either use the adapter (that comes in the box) with your normal headphones, use the 'Lightning' port earphones (also in the box) or use wire­­less headphones. If this sounds like a pain, Apple still sells the iPhone 6S (the generation before the iPhone 7), which has a headphone port and is €110 cheaper (€539).

RECOMMENDATION: Nokia 7 Plus (€499) or iPhone 7 (€649), both available on subsidised monthly contracts from Irish operators

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Two to Try

Fuji Instax SQ6  (€139)

Fuji Instax SQ6

Believe it or not, instant cameras are all the rage again. Fuji is way out in front with its Instax range. The new SQ6 model doesn't have the screen preview features of its SQ10, but it still has quite a few controls and pre-photo editing or filter options. The design is really nice (with more than a passing similarity to Instagram's logo) and it comes with a strap. The square photos that come out of the top are 2.4 inches by 2.4 inches while replacement film costs €11 per pack of 10 sheets.

HP EliteBook 840 G5 (from €1,220)

HP Elitebook 840 G5

HP's new EliteBook 840 G5 is aimed squarely as a MacBook Pro rival, with oodles of power, sleek design and a 14-inch touchscreen display. The model I have has a whopping 16GB of Ram and an i7 chip, which makes it a few hundred more than the base €1,200 price. I'm still testing it so stay tuned for a more complete review.

Indo Review

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