Replacing My One+ One…a not-so-smart-phone

Nexus5 lock screenMy history with Android-based mobile phones isn’t really that long, at least not when expressed by what I’ve owned; T-Mobile G2 (aka HTC Desire Z), Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Nexus 4 and the One+ One. Transitioning away from a Blackberry 9700 in 2010, I liked the G2, adored the two Nexus models, but I regret the decision to buy the One+ One.

I bought it back in February. There were two motivating factors at play; my Nexus 4 had become unreliable, and I was taken-in by the One+ One’s combination of reasonable price, flagship specs and limited availability.

On paper the One+One is great phone. However, it’s been the most frustrating mobile phone that I’ve ever owned. It does more goofy stuff than any other phone I’ve used.

A chronology of smart phones that I've owned; from Blackberry Pearl to T-Mobile G2. Shown proportionally sized.
A chronology of smart phones that I’ve owned; from Blackberry Pearl to T-Mobile G2. Shown proportionally sized.

All on it’s own it will start to play music. The Tidal app will simply start. I’ve had this happen when the phone was in my pocket. That’s not impossible to understand, since some odd form of jostling had perhaps unlocked the phone. I’ve also had it happen when the phone was sitting on my desk, utterly idle and untouched.

Also, the flashlight function will turn on unexpectedly. If in my pocket at the time the phone gets very hot, until I notice it and turned the flashlight off. Both of these behaviors I eventually tracked down to gestures that could be disabled.

At other times the phone would just get incredibly warm and run it’s battery dry very quickly. Looking at the OS list of apps, and their power usage, I could see nothing unusual. I could only reboot the phone and hope for the best.

While returning from a trip to Thorndale TX last weekend I found that my wife’s Nexus 5 connected to T-Mobile’s LTE long before the One+ One, which steadfastly held to a crumby Edge connection.

In point of fact, people have reported many problems with the One+ One. More than anything, my experience with the One+ One illustrates that the stock Android experience of the Nexus range is difficult to give up.

A chronology of smart phones that I've owned; from Galaxy Nexus to One+ One. Shown proportionally sized.
A chronology of smart phones that I’ve owned; from Galaxy Nexus to One+ One. Shown proportionally sized.

When my beloved Nexus 4  became unreliable I should have bought a Nexus 5. T-Mobile supports HDVoice on the Nexus 5. Carrier support for HDVoice is enabled on a per-handset model basis. There’s no such support for the One+ One.

When the Nexus 4 gasped it’s last the newer Nexus 5 was already an older model, and I was holding out for something better. I didn’t want something larger. A hardware refresh of the Nexus 4 would suit me just fine.

I’m one of those who find phablets less the fabulous. The Nexus 6, launched in October, was a non-starter for as it’s simply too large. So I held onto the One+ One, still hoping for something better to come along…hopefully soon.

A few days ago my wife accidentally broke the screen on her red Nexus 5. She likes the phone a lot, and wanted it replaced with something identical. I found refurbished models available for as little as $149, while new ones tend to be around $200. While I was shopping around I bought one for myself as well, to replace the One+ One.

It seems a bit obtuse; replacing a nine-month-old supposed “flagship killer” with a two-year-old Nexus flagship. Nonetheless, I expect that I’ll be happier running Android M, even on the older hardware. In fact, Android M on the Nexus 7 (2013 model) tablet has been great. It’ll be a while before the One+ One officially gets updated to Marshmallow.

There’s a rumor that Apple will offer a new model iPhone in 2016, specifically a new 4” model. I hope that’s true. I further hope that such a move convinces the Android community to revisit that form factor. I still love my Nexus 7 tablet, but it’s not a phone. For a phone something around 4.0-4.5” is ideal.

Finally, I hope to recoup some of the cost of the new Nexus 5 when I wipe and resell the One+ One later this month. Interested? It’s a great phone. Really! A flagship-killer!!

  • Martin A.

    What about the Nexus 5X?

    • mjgraves

      I considered it, but decided against it. No carrier support for HDVoice, AFAIK. Still > 5″. And over 2x the cost of the Nexus 5. Ultimately, the Nexus 5 does what I need without the annoyances I associate with the One+ One. At the sub-$200 price I can use for a while, and see if anything more interesting comes along.

  • Martin A.

    Thanks for the information. I know very little about the native Android devices.

    Whenever I get my hands on one, I can never get over the lack of a forward facing button.

    I’m pretty pissed off right now with my S4. It runs 4.4.2 (Cricket hasn’t released lollipop for it even though AT&T has), and suffers from the VPN leak bug that makes OvenVPN worthless when using the data network. I just ordered the S6 (which Cricket was selling for $249 as part of a black friday promotion) and am looking forward to trying that one out.

    BTW- Love your blog. Been reading for many years.

    • mjgraves

      This is one of the reasons that I like the Nexus range. They get the updates first. I learned early on this with the T-Mobile G2. It took forever to get updated from Froyo (Android 2.2.1) to Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3). In those early days the updates to the OS were huge leaps forward. This compelled my switch to the Galaxy Nexus.

      The S6 is certainly hot hardware. My brother-in-law has one.

  • Martin A.

    And I just learned that Samsung has released a U.S. unlocked S6, which you can buy from Amazon (and Target.com) for about $500.00.

    My experience has been that Amazon typically only releases carrier versions in the U.S. The unlocked versions of prior Galaxy S# series phones have always come from overseas, and often been missing bands that were used in the U.S.

    Since this is a Samsung direct product, without the carrier crap, I’d expect updates to come faster. Hopefully, Samsung keeps doing that in the future…

    Here’s a link:

    amazon.com/Samsung-Galaxy-S6-Unlocked-Smartphone/dp/B014K4Q0CI/