06-18-2015 05:34 PM
- I am planning on buying my first smartphone---most likely the Galaxy Note 3. I am just waiting for the Note 4's to appear and the price on the Note 3 to drop.
For the past 9-10 years I have had the same Motorola flip phone and, frankly, I've been perfectly happy with it. I replaced the battery four times and it has just kept going. I'm ready, though, to step up to something more. I customized my flip phone, with shortcuts and a custom menu---even on a fairly vanilla "dumb" phone---and that is why I knew I would want to go with an Android phone that can be customized so completely.
Here's my concern: It seems like the majority of people move on to a new phone as soon as their 2-year contract expires or as soon as the next new round of smartphones appears. That isn't me---I would really like to get a good phone and keep it for as many years as possible. I am, however, concerned when I read of the anguish that many people go through each time the phone is updated with a newer version of Android OS. I would like to avoid that as much as possible and just get the phone set up the way I like and leave it that way. (Sorry, I know that many of you would consider that boring or not using the phone to its full potential, but it makes sense to me.)
So is there a way to accomplish this and keep a smartphone for what most people would consider many years past its prime? Can I avoid future updates? What if some of the apps are updated and then don't work well on my phone? Can I go back to an earlier version of the app to keep it working on my phone?
I would appreciate it if you would be specific in recommendations (with instructions) for how I can accomplish this---remember, I'm a newby and I'm not even sure how to back up the phone properly, much less avoid or cope with updates of apps and OS. If you were purchasing a smartphone like the Note 3 that is already past its prime, what would you do to try to ensure longevity with the phone?
One last note: I have some very specific ideas regarding how I would like to customize my phone, but none of it involves rooting and I really don't want to consider rooting the phone at this time (and likely not in the future, either).
Thanks for any ideas you have to offer.08-24-2014 03:13 AM
- B. DiddyAmbassadorModeratorCurrently, the best way to forestall obsolescence is to get a Nexus device, because they will always be first in line to receive system updates from Google. The updates will often be less problematic, because they don't have to be modified to play nice with manufacturer skins like TouchWiz or Sense, or with carrier bloatware like Verizon's everything.
The current Nexus 5 is still an excellent phone, with hardware that should assure great performance for at least another 2-3 years. The main downside is the mediocre battery, but I still get a full day of moderate use out of one full charge. The upcoming Nexus 6 will likely be a powerhouse, but it's still at a rumor stage. If you can wait, you may want to hold off on the Note purchase and see what the N6 is like.
You can also consider Google Play Editions of popular phones, but they're getting harder to find on the Google Play Store. These are phones like the Galaxy 4 or the HTC One that have had their manufacturer skin stripped out and replaced with the basic Google Now Launcher. So it's like having a Nexus phone in the hardware of those other phones. These editions should also receive prompt system updates from Google.
Your mention of wanting to customize your phone without rooting also makes the Nexus line a much better choice than any other phone. If you don't root a Note, you're pretty much stuck with TouchWiz, or perhaps an alternate launcher like Nova or Apex.
Also keep in mind that the pace of mobile technology advances has been mindboggling for the past few years, and shows no sign of stopping. As the hardware advances, coders will take advantage of the newer technology and capabilities, and this will become the new norm. Older phones will have to try to accomodate, but ultimately they will become obsolete.08-24-2014 03:39 AMLike 2
- B Diddy, I'll look up some of the information you referenced. Right now I'm not interested in staying on the cutting edge of technology or having a phone that will receive future updates for the next couple years--I'm looking for just the opposite. I think that what I can do with, for example, the Note 3 will serve my needs for some time to come. Therefore, assuming I get my phone set up and am happy with how it is working, is there any way I can essentially "freeze" the phone as is and keep the current functionality? Or do outside forces dictate that I MUST always be changing the phone and updating to something else?
As an example, I have a generic Android tablet that is still running Jellybean and I'm perfectly happy with it. It's not flashy, but it does everything I would like it to do right now.
Incidentally, I am planning to download Nova Prime to accomplish the customizing I have in mind for the phone. Also, my reasons for choosing the Note 3 include: visual difficulties requiring a larger screen, heavy dependence on the stylus for navigating and even keyboarding, a removable battery (Remember the 4 replacement batteries I've bought for my current phone?), and, to a lesser extent, the SD card. OTOH, the basic vanilla Android does have certain appeal, and I will look into your idea of Google Play editions of phones---I'd never heard of that before.08-24-2014 03:52 AM
- B. DiddyAmbassadorModeratorOh, I see what you're saying. The question of preventing system updates comes up a lot, and I'm not sure if there's any foolproof way of doing so short of rooting the phone and installing a custom ROM. From that standpoint, my best advice would be to look at the top last-generation devices, because they will be less likely to get many more updates within the next year or so. So the Note 3 might be a good overall choice, although I don't know what their timeline is for any more system updates.08-24-2014 03:57 AM
- Yeah, strangely enough, the Note 3 being older was also a plus for me---not to mention the lower cost for a phone that has been out for a while, especially once its replacement (Note 4) is released.
My other issue is whether or not future updates to the apps I have installed might start causing problems on an older phone? Or is that not an issue I need to be concerned about? If I should be concerned, should I proactively set the apps not to auto update? Or should I back up the apps that are currently working well on my phone so that I could always roll back to an earlier version of the app, if necessary? If so, how/what do I back up to accomplish this?08-24-2014 04:29 AM
- Much as I hate to recommend it because you've said you're not looking to root or stay cutting edge, I think those may actually be your best option. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but there is a method to my madness...
OS updates: These are usually forced updates to Android itself that the carriers and Google roll out. You can sometimes delay updating, but often times it will eventually install anyway. Like when you're sleeping so you can't delay it again. While there are up sides to them, like security updates and new features, there are downsides like removing features you wanted and potential new bugs.
Apps: You can easily set all apps to not auto update and turn outfit push notices so it's not always bugging you. Once updated, a stock phone can't roll it back and you may not be able to find a reliable source for that prior version you may have liked. The key to updating is to read the reviews for newer versions for a few days before doing so to see if there's any problems with it.
Rooting can help in both cases. It can allow you to block OS from updating (check the phone specific forums for how to root and how to block the updates if needed), as well as allowing use of Titanium Backup to backup an app before you update. To the latter, if you decide to update and don't like it, you can uninstall it, then install the older version from your backup.
There's also some wisdom in getting the best phone you can, even if it's currently overkill. Because mobile development moves so fast, you'll want to future proof as best you can. I'm sure at some point you'll be updating apps, even if not as much as other people, and apps always tend to get more resource hungry. Today's powerhouse will be tomorrows crawler, so you want to try and delay that as much as you can. Just how much phone you can buy will obviously depend on your budget.
Just some food for thought.08-24-2014 05:28 AMLike 3
- You should consider buying a Note 3 with, or upgrading once, to Android L. I think after that you are set for a while. I too am from the buttons and switches era, there are a few of us left. KitKat was a PITA and more of a side step from Jelly Bean.
What I would pessimistically say, coming from 7 Sony Ericsson P910i in about 9 years because I loved it,
is you won't get anywhere near the life span you did with dumb phones, no matter how much you care for them and lock them away at night.
How do you operate every single feature, save power, volume and home? We have to rely on a digitizer to cover every touch point on a screen.
I think in the time span you envisage, in 7 - 9 years time we will have had modular upgradeable phone assemblies and foldable screens (both already on the horizon) and hopefully a return to sanity with ergonomic switches, wheels, buttons, and foldable keyboards and devices.
I think with the current standard of flat screen smartphones, you should look at 3 - 4 years tops. (get plenty of batteries).
3+ years ago I would have been with you on this quest.
Just my biased opinion.08-24-2014 03:20 PM
- Thank you for the added comments, Mooncatt and Madd54. I accept that my next phone won't have the lifespan that my former one did---that seems to be the trend in many areas. I also know that technological advancements may make me want to upgrade sooner, as well. I just don't want to put myself in the position to HAVE to upgrade because I neglected to do something that could have prevented it.
Is there a way to set apps to have to ask for permission before updating? If I did that, could I back up an app (APK file??) that has been stable before allowing the update so that I could roll back to the earlier version if the update caused some problems with my phone? And do I do this on an app-by-app basis or globally?
Two questions about Android L --- What improvements are expected with it that would be worth bumping up from Kit Kat? Is it expected to be released soon enough that I could realistically wait for it to be released before buying a Note 3?
Regarding rooting the phone, would it be possible to run the phone without root (with Nova Prime launcher) for the first couple years, then rooting it at that point. Maybe Android L would be the last OS update for this phone and I wouldn't have to worry about future updates; in that case, it's possible that rooting would be unnecessary, right? Also, waiting a couple years would give me a chance to get use to the basic operations of an Android phone and maybe feel a bit more comfortable with rooting. Also, at least I would have gotten a couple years out of my phone by then, in the event I ended up bricking it.
One last concern about rooting---I know there are a number of steps involved in making some sort of rescue file to restore the phone to stock if something goes wrong, as well as completing the root process. Are the instructions very clear and all of the files I would need located in one place? And are the instructions written in detail so that someone who doesn't have a handle on all the terminology and workings of an Android phone would be able to follow them, even if I didn't totally understand what I was doing?
I just want to say thanks again---you guys here have been doing a great job educating me so that I will feel more confident when I finally make my purchase and feel like I have some idea what I'm doing and why. (I'm starting to get a little impatient waiting, but I know it's worth it to make sure I get the phone I really want and be able to use it easily. I am willing to put in the work it takes to get to understand the phone and to set it up correctly, but the payoff, I hope, will be a phone that will be a good fit for my particular situation.)
PS --- On my tablet running Jelly Bean, I used the following app to back up apps:
It seems that Android updates have stopped this program from working to back up apps?? So is there a way to do so now? Can you back them up individually and restore them selectively? I guess if you can't you could always just restore them all and then delete the ones that you don't want?08-24-2014 05:03 PM
- After reading all this I think that YOUR phone would be a good old S2!!! It's a well made sturdy phone, certainly still on my personal "A" list. Not cutting edge for sure, but not a relic either. You won't have to worry about annoying updates, I am sure you can get one fairly cheap now, and it is a phone that will last you a long time if you take care of it!08-24-2014 05:13 PM
- Is there a way to set apps to have to ask for permission before updating? If I did that, could I back up an app (APK file??) that has been stable before allowing the update so that I could roll back to the earlier version if the update caused some problems with my phone? And do I do this on an app-by-app basis or globally?
Right now, I only know of two ways to backup apps. One is Helium, which doesn't require root, but requires connecting to a computer I think. The other is Titanium Backup, which requires root but can backup right on the phone. There is no stock way to roll back an app after updating it. The only exception is the built in stock apps. Those will give an option to uninstall updates (and often no full uninstall option), and will roll it all the way back to the factory installed version even if you've updated it several times already.Regarding rooting the phone, would it be possible to run the phone without root (with Nova Prime launcher) for the first couple years, then rooting it at that point. Maybe Android L would be the last OS update for this phone and I wouldn't have to worry about future updates; in that case, it's possible that rooting would be unnecessary, right? Also, waiting a couple years would give me a chance to get use to the basic operations of an Android phone and maybe feel a bit more comfortable with rooting. Also, at least I would have gotten a couple years out of my phone by then, in the event I ended up bricking it.One last concern about rooting---I know there are a number of steps involved in making some sort of rescue file to restore the phone to stock if something goes wrong, as well as completing the root process. Are the instructions very clear and all of the files I would need located in one place? And are the instructions written in detail so that someone who doesn't have a handle on all the terminology and workings of an Android phone would be able to follow them, even if I didn't totally understand what I was doing?08-24-2014 05:29 PMLike 2
- Regarding Android L there's a forum on it. Apparently it's due last quarter or early next year. I may have picked that up wrong.
It should be ultra efficient, so the hardware on a Note 3 will be even more effective, I think. There will be some app transition issues but the OS change should be smoother.
I think you should re-evaluate how you are looking at this though.
In the past it was hardware only, and if it worked in a way you / we liked you stuck with it.
The hardware is only now the foundation for an ever moving eco system. Well system anyway.
So my guess is you need to look at apps a different way. You would not want the apps of a few years ago.
You WILL want and need to update apps. New features, facilities, options and most importantly improvements will be beneficial. Take banking apps as an example.
Android L should be the most stable and hopefully need less fixing. They say Android will end and be replaced eventually.
Might as well get a Note 3 that has 4.4.2 installed now, if you are buying new, and update to L when it comes.
Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk Pro08-24-2014 06:17 PM
- After reading all this I think that YOUR phone would be a good old S2!!! It's a well made sturdy phone, certainly still on my personal "A" list. Not cutting edge for sure, but not a relic either. You won't have to worry about annoying updates, I am sure you can get one fairly cheap now, and it is a phone that will last you a long time if you take care of it!
Nevertheless, I do need something more than an old flip phone now, and there are a number of features on the Note 3 that will be very useful to me. So I'm ready to make the jump---just looking for the right time, although it will be soon.
Thank you, everyone, I've got plenty of ideas to work from now. I can see that there's a lot to consider and I might not be looking at the big picture. Still, I like the idea of preserving as many options as possible, even if, in the end, I don't need the option of keeping an older smartphone running with older apps. After all, that's one of the reasons I'm drawn to an Android phone---the multitude of options.08-24-2014 10:55 PM
- I kind of was in the same line of thinking as you a year ago. Last November, I picked up my first smart phone (Nexus 4), just after the arrival of the Nexus 5, and have subsequently researched the blazes out of it. I planned on it lasting for quite a few years, as I could not honestly see getting a new phone just because said phone just came out. The N4 is now running KK 4.4.4 and absolutely no problems.
There is some doubt that the N4 will not be upgraded to Lollipop, so I started to do more research into rooting and eventually CM or some other custom ROM. I came across the towellroot exploit (to root) and boot unlocker to make the rooting process as painless as possible. Of course, because customization is so easy with android, it has become a disease and I was soon installing xposed framework and all that entails.
Now my phone is as customizable as I need and is a pleasure to use. I really don't see a pressing need for lollipop, even if it is available for the Nexus 4, as a lot of the features are available in xposed modules anyway.
And as far as custom ROMs, I also have most of the ROM features in xposed running stock KitKat, so I can't see the pressing need for that either. But then again I told you it was a disease.
The battery issue really isn't an issue as the battery can be replaced in the Nexus 4. It just takes researching and careful use of tools as is in a lot of so-called non battery replaceable phones.
So the whole point of this reply (I new you were going to ask that)? Do lots of research (like you have already done), ask questions on forums (again like you have done), narrow your search for likely candidate phones (like you have done) and see how easy (or difficult) rooting will be when you eventually do decide to root (you more than likely will), then you will have a custom phone that will run for as long as you can stand it, unless of course you drop it onto a cement floor from two stories up.08-25-2014 03:33 PMLike 3
- All your comments sent me all over the web and reading threads here at Android Central and XDA Forums that I hadn't read before. I now have more knowledge but, in some ways, I am more confused than ever. I have been certain for some time that the Note 3 is the phone for me and I've been patiently waiting for the Note 4 to be released and the price to go down on the Note 3 so that I could finally get the Note 3.
However, my carrier is AT&T and I am tied to AT&T for the foreseeable future, and from what I've read there's no way to return a Note 3 to stock AT&T Note 3 after rooting. Also, I remain fairly confused about rooting.in general. I have a lot of questions about root, ROM, Safestrap, etc., but I will save that for another day and another thread. Suffice to say that I think I need to stay with a stock Android, at least initially (i.e., while still under warranty), and learn more before even considering root---especially with this particular carrier and phone.08-26-2014 07:43 PM
Madd54 brings up a good point of waiting to see what devices get Android L.
To discuss futureproofing a little further: To me, that means a device that can be rooted and flash a custom ROM, so that you can keep up with the times. Take for example: I have an S2 from Sprint (aka and Epic 4G Touch Galaxy S2, or E4GT) The E4GT stopped officially at 4.1.x. I am currently running 4.4 thanks to developers on XDA for managing to build a version of KitKat and release it for the E4GT. That, to me, is futureproofing. A device that was released May 2, 2011 (now roughly 3.5 years old) is still up to date (I will post a picture for proof). The device that is not future proofed would be one that is released now, that <random OEM> forgets. A device that has 4.1 and will stay on 4.1. Most of these would probably be carrier featured phones, like AT&T's S4 Active, etc.
I am not trying to convince you to root, far from it. I am merely citing an example as to how rooting can be an option.
As Android progresses, some app developers will begin dropping versions of Android that their device supports. For instance, a new app released now, an app developer would see no point in having his app be compatible fro Froyo (v.2.2) because .7% of devices reporting to Play are still using it. Versions 4.0 is about 10%, and Gingerbread is 13% Dashboards | Android Developers.
Within 6 months, those numbers will get smaller as people upgrade devices.
But I am rambling apparently.....
I would suggest this: If you are in the U.S., wait a little bit. Even until Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Over the past few years, carriers have slashed prices on newly released models to get people in the door on that day. Until then, keep shopping, hold devices, and play with them for a while. This is pretty important as you are going to keep this for 3+ years. You want to make sure the phone you choose will be ok for the next few years.08-27-2014 10:55 PM
- Golfdriver, Thank you for your comprehensive answer. You (and others who have responded here) have certainly explained the realities of a smartphone and how to plan for the future. I really appreciate the explanations.
I am neither for nor against rooting at this point. I just know I'm not ready to do it immediately. I think it's likely that I would like to do so eventually, if I can ever accumulate all the necessary information. Which leads me to my concern with the Note 3----it appears, from what I've read so far, that AT&T has done everything it can to make it difficult to root. If I understand correctly, it can be rooted with Towelroot, but not necessarily returned to stock at this time. I guess that wouldn't matter once the warranty period is past, though?
Here are my reasons for deciding on the Note 3: (1) Size---I have some visual difficulties so a larger phone would be the best. (2) Removable battery----seems like a no-brainer if I am hoping for a phone that I can keep using for as long as possible. (3) Stylus---I use a stylus constantly with my Android tablet, for keyboarding, dialing phone numbers, navigating through screens and menus, etc. I don't really need the full function of an S-pen, but I like the idea of having the stylus stored in the phone so it's always with me. I have searched for a case that would also hold a stylus with a smartphone, but haven't found one. They're available for tablets, but not phones. (4) SD card---seems like a good way to expand the storage on the phone and also to transfer music/other files/apps from smartphone to tablet or laptop. The main deficits in the phone could probably be minimized or even removed IF it can be rooted. Until then, I think with the use of a good launcher and some other apps/widgets, I can get along with the stock phone. Any other phones you can think of that would meet these specs?08-28-2014 02:12 AM
- 08-28-2014 09:46 AM
- 08-28-2014 10:33 PM
- just get a freaking asus zenfone...
they are great fast and very cheap so if it dies you just gt another one...
updates are good in this case
asus fixes EVERYTHING!!!! and adds stuff that the users request.
they are very active and your feedback is being listened to(i talked to them a few times).
zenfone 2 for speeed(4gb ram)
zenfone 5 for a normal user...
it doesnt have a replaceable battery but it should last about 2 years or more... 150 dollars is a fine price for that...
i'm using my htc one x for 2 and a half years and i am running android 5.1.1 it works great(custom rom duh official last was 4.2)
what do you mean forced android update???? ppl wish they would get an update.
android will never update itself... its not windows preview...
apps? you should update these. asus works on the updating apps model... so if there is a bug they fix it via the play store YOU CAN ALWAYS REVERT BACK TO THE FACTORY STATE OF THE APP!(in system apps)
in other apps you can get the apk.
you can almost always go back to older android versions as long as you have a phone that is not version locked or as long as you don't do stupid moves when upgrading.
these are not iphones... they don't slow down when updated.
my htc was slower in android 4.2 and its buttery smooth on 5.1.1
the android ui never changes too much. all the android phones are essentially the same.
you use nova? great choice you can backup your home layout.06-18-2015 05:34 PM
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