Disappointed with mobile

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It’s been two and a half years since I bought my Nexus 4 and I can say with confidence that I feel disappointed with mobile computing as it is today, both in the hardware aspect and in the software aspect. Let me explain.

In hardware, phone quality leaves a lot to be desired. My Nexus 4 had power button problems after no more than a year of usage, and a few other people I know had the same problem. It was not designed to be pushed dozens of times a day to turn the screen on and lock the phone. After being tired of those problems, I finally took the phone to a local shop to replace the button at a cost of 25 euros. Moreover, two close people have Nexus 5 phones and both have suffered problems too. One of them has been sent to Google to be repaired, unable to boot, fortunately a bit before the two-year warranty expired. Another one had internal storage hardware failures a bit after two years, out of warranty, and had to be replaced with another phone.

In software, quality has been steadily downhill since I bought the phone, and has never worked as good as it was out of the box. With each software update, a few problems are solved and many new problems are introduced. For example, since about the last update a few weeks ago, WiFi and Bluetooth have turned themselves on randomly a couple of times. My wife’s Moto G will not vibrate more than once with the official flipcase closed in vibrate mode when receiving a call. This is a known problem, unsolved despite source patches being available and was introduced with Android 5. The list goes on and on. Furthermore, Google’s position in some technical issues change more frequently than wind direction, and now they say they won’t provide updates for phones older than two years and, in theory, no security updates after three years.

Apple phones are out of the question for me. I don’t want to contribute to such a blatant walled garden approach and being unable to run my own applications in my own phone, and having to pay a fee to see them published in the official applications store.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret having bought the phone. Specially taking into account the state of the market in the middle and low price segments at that moment. Simply, I thought I would be using the phone for around 4 years, but with security updates not available after three years, that’s risky. I’ll have to change phones more frequently than I thought, and taking that into account, I doesn’t make sense, in my humble opinion, to spend more than 200 euros in a phone. Fortunately, that amount of money nowadays gives you access to some pretty decent phones. If my Nexus 4 makes it through until next summer, I’ll replace it with the Moto G or even the Moto E of the day. It’s worth noting both phones may be actually worse, hardware wise, than the Nexus 4 I have in my hands today, so the move wouldn’t make sense in the PC world, were I would simply install the latest software and security updates on the best hardware I have. But mobile, even in the vanilla-Android Nexus line world, has turned out to be different to what I expected it to be. I’ll be buying cheap phones every two or three years instead of good phones every four or five.

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