Thoughts on Buying a New Phone in India

iPhone vs Android

When I had decided initially to buy a high end smartphone this time, I considered buying an iPhone at length. Here are the key reasons why I stuck to Android:

  • I rely on swipe gestures heavily while typing on phone and the Gboard on Android works flawlessly. Typing in the stock keyboard on iPhone is not as good. Even using the Gboard on the iPhone isn’t a smooth experience as word suggestions are fetched from the cloud instead of being stored locally.
  • Android handles notifications much better than the iPhone.
  • Apple Maps is a joke in India. While Google Maps is available on iPhone, it is not built natively. That means Siri can’t access Google Maps search results. Google Maps is miles ahead in the maps department and I rely on it heavily while driving – which brings us to the next point.
  • Google Maps is yet to be available on Apple CarPlay and you are stuck with Apple Maps, which doesn’t offer turn by turn navigation in India! I would be lost in my own city if I were to use an iPhone.
  • I need to upgrade to a new head unit if I want to use Apple CarPlay in my car. On the other hand, the power of Android Auto can be harnessed straight from the phone in case the head unit isn’t compatible. Since I don’t intend to replace the stock HU on my car anytime soon, an iPhone isn’t the phone for me.
  • The much famed Apple Support is not as great in India as it is in Europe or US. It’ll also prove costly after 1st year, even with AppleCare.
  • I am equally concerned about the bricking issues. Remember #batterygate?

Android: Flagship vs Budget

After deciding to stick to Android, I realized I will ultimately settle for a high end flagship phone or swallow a budget phone in the end. I zeroed in on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Google Pixel 2.

Google Pixel 2: Unreliable after sales service

My friends who have used the Google Pixel 2 swear by its impressive camera. According to the WireCutter, Google Pixel 2 is the best Android phone in the market today. While reading more about the phone on the web, I realized that Google doesn’t have a good service presence in India. The internet is rife with horror stories about poor after sales service from Google. In India, the Google phones are presently serviced by a German firm called B2X, who collects the phone from your doorstep and delivers it after repair, but the service is both slow and expensive. The parts are seldom available and have to be imported. Bottomline: Google phones are best bought if you live in the US or Europe, where the after sales service is reliable.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Slow Android Updates

Among Android phone makers, Samsung usually has a reliable service network in India. Earlier I was weary about the bloatware that came with Samsung phones but Galaxy S8 onwards, you can uninstall the bloatware. The latest flagship Galaxy s9 is a stellar phone. However, Samsung is painfully slow when it comes to pushing out Android updates on time. The Oreo update came to Samsung flagship phones seven months after it started rolling out to Pixel and Nexus devices. Now that is a compromise I am not willing to make after spending a large chunk of money on a phone.

Best Budget Android phone: Moto G6

Finally, I decided to stick to a budget Android phone. Among the budget phones. I chose the Moto G6 because the Moto G line of phones consistently features on WireCutter, in their reviews covering the best budget android phones. In their recent review, the WireCutter lists the Nokia 6.1 as the best budget Android phone and Moto G6 as the runner-up. However, the Nokia 6.1 looks boxy and outdated, sporting a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the restructured Nokia is yet to sort out their service network in India. I stuck to Motorola particularly because I am impressed by the Motorola service centre in Kolkata (Salt Lake). I have reviewed the all new Moto G6 in a separate article.