Recently I was faced with an interesting task – to pick up a smartphone for my dad instead of the hopelessly outdated Nexus 5. This device was his first Android – a smartphone (before that there were only 'buttons'), and he really liked it. But it was definitely time to change to something modern: the battery, even after replacing it with a new one, lasted only half a day, the case worn out and began to stratify in some places, and the performance in comparison with modern devices was no longer enough. Still 6 years old already a smartphone, no wonder.
The piquancy of this situation was given by the fact that he absolutely did not like third-party shells. He spat terribly from EMUI in Huawei, and even from Flyme in Meizu, and asked to find something inexpensive for him, but always with the original Android. I like the Nexus interface, he says, and want a similar device, both in feel and price. In addition, I personally am an apologist for PCT smartphones and never recommend buying 'gray' devices to anyone. This strong opinion is due to the desire to receive official repairs with official spare parts and at the same time free of charge under the warranty. And in my entire life I had to deal with warranty claims more than once or twice, and these were smartphones from Meizu and Xiaomi to Apple and Samsung.
As a result, I drew up a shortlist for my father and decided to share my thoughts with you, what can you still buy within a reasonable price and on 'clean' or close to it Android.
Xiaomi Mi A2
I don't know about you, but my inexpensive smartphones on 'clean' Android are primarily associated with the A-line Xiaomi. They are quite popular in the 'geek' environment and are respected there.
We look at the specifications and see a strong midrange: 6-inch FullHD-display, 4 + 64 GB of memory (optimal configuration), not the most productive, but time-tested Snapdragon 660 platform, Bluetooth latest version and dual-band Wi-Fi . At first glance, this is an ideal device, especially for the 13,000 rubles that 'white' Russian retailers are asking for.
We start to study the issue in more detail, and it turns out that the main complaint of the owners to Mi A2 is the battery. It is in this model with 3,000 mAh, and, among other things, Xiaomi, probably, somewhere 'tricky' with power consumption. A smartphone lasts less than a day, and many people don't like it. Followed by complaints about the camera, but I take them calmly, because only the flagships are good at shooting, and, as practice shows, not always. There is a lot of built-in memory in Mi A2, but there is no card slot – this is the third complaint. Well, depriving a budget device of 3.5 mm is still a mockery, because the potential audience of inexpensive devices is unlikely to be delighted with the need to buy wireless headphones. Yes, and there is no NFC in it, even despite Android One and the promotion of services from Google inside the device. Everyone, but not Google Pay.
I really liked the feedback from one of the users from Ulan-Ude, who vividly described his experience with Xiaomi Mi A2:
'The phone is good, but as a fashion model on crutches – yes, she's still gorgeous, but damn it with crutches!'
This is the bottom line: the model is not bad and inexpensive, but on crutches.
Smartphone Review Xiaomi Mi A2
Xiaomi Mi A3
A hot new product from the same Xiaomi, but in my opinion it is even weirder than its predecessor.
Mi A3 is simply woven from contradictions that immediately catch your eye:
- NFC never appeared here, which could cross out a number of other shortcomings.
- The display received AMOLED – a matrix, but the resolution dropped to HD +.
- The processor has become more powerful 'on paper' – Snapdragon 665 versus Snapdragon 660, but in fact only within 10%.
- They returned the microSD slot and minijack, but put a protective price tag of 17,000 rubles.
It is strange that the company Xiaomi for some reason suddenly decided that users are ready to overpay for Android One, turning a blind eye to the list of shortcomings. And it’s even weirder to buy a smartphone with an HD display for more than the competition with better displays and other hardware is worth.
I will describe my impressions in more detail in a separate article, in which I will give reasons to buy or not to buy Xiaomi Mi A3.
First look at Android One smartphone Xiaomi Mi A3
This is the only device in this collection that belongs to the flagship category. The OxygenOS shell is not truly 'clean' Android, but it is as close as possible to it, and this is the case when the manufacturer's modifications do not spoil the system, but organically supplement it.
OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro in Russia are not yet officially sold, and their cost even when purchased from abroad can hardly be called affordable. But the price for the flagship before last, which differs from the last flagship minimally, is now quite 'tasty' in official retail. In the same DNS, a smartphone with 6 + 64 GB of memory can be purchased for 25,000 rubles, and I think this is a good price for a device based on Snapdragon 845.
OnePlus 6 is a good display with DCI-P3 support from Samsung, flagship hardware for last year, timely shell updates and Android and a huge community that will help to refine the smartphone in places where the manufacturer failed. First of all, this applies to the camera, which out of the box photographs rather mediocre. But it is worth looking at the well-known forum for a fresh build of Google Camera, and the issue can be considered resolved. Of course, the photo capabilities will not rise to the Google Pixel, but quite to the level of other competitors. But the battery for such “hardware” is rather weak – only 3000 mAh. But this moment is partially compensated by the proprietary Dash Charge fast charging technology, although there are very few third-party accessories with its support on the market, the first time, most likely, you will have to do with the complete charging.
For fans of 'pure' and so on Android, who at the same time have 25 thousand rubles, I would recommend this particular device.
Smartphone review OnePlus 6 (A6003)
Asus ZenFone Max Pro (M2)
Smartphones Asus can hardly be called popular on the Russian market now. And in some cases it becomes even insulting for this brand. For example, let's take a look at the ZenFone Max Pro (M2) powered by Android One.
The device is technically a competitor for Xiaomi Mi A2: Snapdragon 660, 4 + 64GB storage, 6.3-inch display with FullHD + resolution. At the same time, it all has two major advantages – NFC support and a giant 5000 mAh battery, yes, those are the things that Mi A2 is especially criticized for. Moreover, there is support for microSD cards and the slot is not even a hybrid one, but allows you to use both 2 SIM cards and a memory card. Well, for sweetness – a good camera, which was noted in the comparison review by my colleague Roman Belykh. It feels like Asus did the work on the mistakes instead of Xiaomi and created an ideal inexpensive device on 'clean' Android.
But there are some drawbacks here. Users scold the model for the lack of fast charging (with such and such a battery, this is a crime), an outdated MicroUSB connector, a plastic and easily soiled case, and lack of support for 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. But there is NFC, let me remind you.
In my opinion, even despite all the advantages over Xiaomi Mi A2, the cost of ZenFone Max Pro (M2) is rather high. Today, as at the start of sales, it is 18 thousand rubles, which is as much as 5,000 more than a competitor Xiaomi. For 14-15 thousand, it would look much more advantageous.
Review-comparison ASUS Zenfone Max (M2) / Max Pro (M2)
Nokia 7 Plus
If suddenly you are tormented by nostalgia for the old days of the Nokia-era, or you just like the classic and austere design without new-fashioned droplets and cutouts in the display, then you can look towards the Nokia 7 Plus. It can still be purchased here and there, for example, at 'Beru!' or at MTS for 17,000 rubles. Yes, this price looks more interesting than 28 thousand at the start of sales.
Surprisingly, the device looks the most balanced in the entire collection. There is a classic bezel with a rectangular display and an aluminum back with a matte finish. The filling corresponds to the class: Snapdragon 660, 4 + 64 GB of memory, a good 6-inch IPS-display, a pair of main cameras (an additional 'telephoto' with 2x zoom). HMD was able to build a 3,800 mAh battery, which is noticeably more than Xiaomi Mi A2. The Nokia 7 Plus also has NFC, which works seamlessly with Google Pay. At the same time, nothing is 'lost' in the device, as in the case of Asus ZenFone Max Pro (M2): there is a USB-C port, and Wi-Fi 5 GHz, and fast charging, and even FM radio. And they blame the Nokia 7 Plus mainly for the lack of stabilization in the camera and a notification light.
Surprising but true: HMD's product turned out to be the most interesting with 'clean' Android in the under 20k category. And this happened due to the fact that it has everything that is needed and nothing is forgotten.
Review of the flagship of the mid-range Nokia 7 Plus
The listed five devices represent almost the entire selection of devices sold in Russia with Android without shells. It's a pity that no one, except OnePlus, is developing this direction in top-end devices for adequate money. At the same time, Google Pixel in Russia is not yet available and is unlikely to appear in the near future, although the same Pixel 3a thousand for 25 would look interesting. Do you need 'clean' Android or are you used to shells for a long time? Which device would you like to buy from the selection?
Smartphone Review Xiaomi Mi A2 First look at Android One smartphone Xiaomi Mi A3 Smartphone review OnePlus 6 (A6003) Review-comparison ASUS Zenfone Max (M2) / Max Pro (M2) Review of the flagship of the mid-range Nokia 7 Plus