Business Technology

Saturday 17 August 2019

Ask Adrian: Our technology editor tackles your trickiest tech problems


Google Pixel 3a
Google Pixel 3a
iPhone 7
Nokia 1 Plus
Seat eXs scooter

Question: I use an iPhone but no-one else in my family does. My grown-up son uses a Huawei and my daughter uses a Samsung. I rely on them for advice and tips for my phone so I'm thinking of switching to one of those devices. Is there any difference? Is it worth getting one of the top ones?


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There are a couple of main differences between an iPhone and an Android phone, although in your case you won't have experienced them much if the rest of your family already uses an Android phone. I think that the biggest day-to-day difference is iMessage and FaceTime.

What often happens now between families that use iPhones (or iPads or iMacs) is that their text, phone or video calls are increasingly Apple's own proprietary systems by default - iMessage for texts and photos and FaceTime for calls and video calls. The benefit to doing it this way is that you don't use up call minutes or texts from your operator because they're all online. Obviously, this doesn't happen between iPhones and Android phones. So I'm guessing that when you and your family text, it's either over SMS or WhatsApp. And the same for photos (if any) or voice calls - either the mobile network (using up your monthly limits) or via free services such as WhatsApp.

There are other differences, but they're mostly to do with shortcuts in getting around the phone, such as adjusting settings or saving a photo to your phone. In other words, almost all of the main apps and services you would use for your iPhone are the same as you will with an Android phone (except you'll be using Chrome for the internet instead of Safari, but they're similar).

Whether or not it's worth getting one of the flagship models (€850 upwards) is a question of your budget and what you want out of your smartphone. If you lust after cutting-edge photography, the longest battery, the most storage and the fastest, zippiest experience, it's worth getting a high-end model. If you only want two (or less) of these top features, it's not worth getting a flagship. I'm going to assume it's the latter option for you (if not, go to my previous reviews and look up the Huawei P30 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, which are the two best Android flagship phones out there at present). In this case I'll recommend Google's Pixel 3a (€479 from PC World), which I think is the best phone you can currently get for under €500.

Its 6-inch display is superb, it feels great in-hand, it has fantastic power, it yields a good amount (64GB) of storage and it has - hands down - the best camera I've ever used in a non-flagship smartphone. Its camera is also wonderful, while its operating system is top-notch and the overall package is something that is on par with some flagship models. I can't think of another Android phone I'd recommend under the very top flagship models I referred to above.

(If you prefer something with a bigger screen for under €500, Samsung's A70 is worth a look for €409 from PC World, but it's not quite as smooth as Google's handset.)

If you're looking for something even more budget-friendly, I'd unhesitatingly suggest Motorola's Moto One (€199 from Lenovo's online Irish shop). For the money, you simply can't get better value in the budget Android arena than this six-inch, 64GB smartphone.

Recommendation: Google Pixel 3a (€479 from PC World


I'm retiring from work and as a result will lose my work phone, so need to buy a new one. I'm used to an iPhone so I'd like one of those, although it doesn't have to be the absolute latest and greatest. Someone told me I'll save a few quid if I buy one up front and pay for the operator separately. Is that right? And could you advise on the best deal out there?


Yes, phones generally work out a little cheaper if you pay more of the 'upfront' cost, either outright (and then keeping your operator plan on a SIM-only basis) or on a slightly subsidised 'prepay' basis. Unfortunately, iPhones tend to be a little more expensive than Android models. So if budget is an issue, the model to get is the iPhone 7, currently Apple's entry-level handset. From Apple, it's priced at €539, but you'll get it from a vendor like Mint (a refurbished model) for closer to €450.

The iPhone 7 has a nice 4.7-inch, high-definition screen that's bright and vivid. It still packs plenty of power via its A10 chip. While you'd normally expect more than 32GB of storage for €500, this shouldn't be a problem if you're not downloading too many things or taking lots and lots of photos and videos. I'd still be wary about that storage limit, though - if you have any flexibility on budget, I'd opt for the 128GB version, which costs an additional €110.

The 12-megapixel camera on the back remains very good. It beats plenty of mid-range rivals. However, if camera is important, it's worth stretching for the larger iPhone 7 Plus (from €669).

Recommendation: iPhone 7 128GB €649 from various retailers)

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Tech Two

Seat eXs scooter

€599 from Seat dealers

Seat eXs scooter

Seat's collaboration with Segway is a large street scooter with a rechargeable battery attached. You kick-off manually, then press a blue button and the battery takes over. Press the opposite red button and it brakes. It travels at up to 25kph and has a range of between 15km and 25km, depending on fast you go.

Nokia 1 Plus

€90 from PC World

Nokia 1 Plus

Want an ultra-budget phone that doesn't look cheap? This is what I think Nokia's new 1 Plus model delivers. While it skimps mightily on internal storage (a mere 8GB, expandable via memory card), everything else on this 5.4-inch Android handset is perfectly respectable.

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