S08E01: The $100 Phone Challenge

It's our 100th episode so to celebrate the team have each bought the best phone they can find for $100. Arguments and cheating ensues.


Ben: Hello and welcome to 361 Podcast, season 8 episode 1.  My name's Ben Smith from Wireless Worker.

Ewan: I'm Ewan from Mobile Industry Review.

Rafe: I'm Rafe from the All About sites.

Ben: It's our 100th episode this week, so we've got a special challenge.

Ewan: That's right.  Our challenge was to go out and buy the best phone you can for $100.

Rafe: So we're going to tell you what those phones are and give our first impressions of them.

Ben: Welcome back for our 100th episode-

Rafe: Woohoo! Yes!

Ewan: Come on!

Rafe: That's excellent. I'm really pleased. Century.

Ben: One hundred episodes. Do you remember where it all started?

Rafe: I do! We were in Cannes and actually we did the 1st recording right on the beach.

Ewan: You actually have to say, "Cannes darling."

Rafe: Oh sorry, Cannes darling, and we talked about app stores amongst other things.

Ben: We did.

Rafe: Is that when Nokia was big and Blackberry was unstoppable?

Ben: That's when we said the app stores were never going to catch on.

Rafe: Did we?

Ben: So our prophetic abilities have really improved.

Rafe: We didn't say that, surely not?

Ben: We said that they were passé and that they weren't really a big deal, and maybe need to evolve, and actually we were absolutely right, they just hadn't evolved-

Ewan: How long ago was that? We were quite young then.

Ben: Three years ago.

Ewan: Did I have children?

Ben: Yes.

Ewan: Yes, I did. Right.

Ben: So standard warning: Do not make investment decisions based on the contents of 361 Podcast. There are high rates of risk, if you make investment decisions investments may go up as well as down.

Ewan: Well done. I'm really pleased. I think this is fantastic that we've got 100 episodes and it makes me feel rather cool that we're in season 8.

Rafe: Ben, we have 10 episodes every season. How have we got to 100 despite only doing 8 seasons?

Ben: Ah well, you see Rafe Blandford, we've got some bonus episodes and of course we also did some special event coverage last year as well, so it all adds up. I've been going back through the archives

Rafe: Just for the benefit of people who are new to this podcast, it's only on 100.

Ewan: Hello Darryl.

Rafe: A great place to start. We could probably explain that we actually record this in person, face to face, and it does make a big difference to the recording.

Ewan: Yeah, we have done some Skype ones and I never liked those.

Ben: Yeah, he doesn't, and we are face to face and it's interesting. We were talking about Cannes, because the initial recording we did sat around a beach table as the waves lapped in the south of France and all the sunshine. Today here we are sat in a sub-basement below a large building in the east end of London. We should say a special thank you to DigitasLBI who are our hosts and providers of the 361 Podcast studio. They've been doing that now for a couple of seasons and it is just fantastic that they make these facilities available to us, so thank you very much indeed. 

Ben: Okay, now, no things of the week because-

Ewan: We're moving swiftly on.

Ben: This is a 100th episode and it's a special 100th episode, 100th-themed, 100th special 100. Did I mention 100? So-

Ewan: Yes, a hundred times.

Ben: So Ewan Macleod-

Ewan: Ninety-nine plus 1.

Ben: Explain to us what this week's challenge is.

Ewan: Right. We are doing the $100 phone challenge, okay?

Ben: A hundred dollar phone challenge. Explain to me how that works, because that doesn't sounds self-explanatory enough.

Ewan: Based on the fact that we've hit 100 episodes it didn't take us long to go, "You know what? Why don't we each go and get a phone or a tablet or something." I hope we've all got phones hopefully, because I exclusively have got a phone. We've had to go and buy, ahead of the recording, had to go and buy $100 phone, or we could spend up to $100 and bring it, show it off, discuss it and talk about why we have purchased that particular $100 phone. Then the kicker is we are going to commit. Each of us will, and look me in the eyes gents, here right? You are both, and me, we are going to use these $100 phones as our primary handset for a week, right? Then we're going to talk about it in a future episode.

Rafe: We should also add that this $100, no messing about with the exchange rates and no buying from dodgy places. This has to be something that someone else could go and buy for $100.

Ewan: Not from your friend or something like that, yeah?

Rafe: No.

Ewan: Publicly available. $100.

Rafe: Not from the back of a lorry either.

Ewan: There is some degree of flexibility allowed in terms of exchange rate, right, so not exactly $100 worth of-

Rafe: No, it is, because you'll lose points for every dollar that you're over $100.

Ben: We will have to discuss this and Rafe Blandford has late in the game introduced the concept of points, which worries me, because I hadn't anticipated scoring this. We may have to notionally count some credits up or down. Okay so those are the rules, that's the game, $100 the bet.

Ewan: What episode? When are we going to come back and talk about that?

Ben: What we'll do is we'll come back in episode 5 and we'll let you know how we're getting on if that.

Ewan: We need to allow time probably to swap SIMs, because you've got the phone job, swap your SIM. You are swapping your SIMs, right? I want to phone your primary number and you'll answer that, right?

Rafe: It will be a recurring theme, we'll talk about our successes and quite probably our failures with our $100 phones for the rest of the season.

Ben: Actually, I reckon also towards the end of the season we should swap.

Ewan: Swap phones?

Ben: Yeah.

Rafe: I don't want Ewan's selection.

Ewan: You don't even know what it is yet.

Rafe: I just don't want it.

Ben: Let's move on and I think Mr. Macleod, since you introduced us you should go first. So now we genuinely have not seen-

Ewan: No, you don't know what-

Ben: What you've chosen, so in the words of a great man, get it out.

Ewan: Okay, it's in my bag here. I had it charging.

Ewan: Okay, here we are.

Rafe: Ooh.

Ewan: What is this, gents?

Ben: It's a Motorola.

Ewan: That's right.

Rafe: It's probably a G, and it's probably the 2nd generation one.

Ewan: Yes, that's right.

Rafe: Excellent.

Ewan: This is the Motorola G.

Ben: Hang on, $100 phone challenge.

Ewan: Yeah?

Ben: How much did you pay that for?

Ewan: I think it was slightly more than $100. I need to point that out, however-

Ben: Slightly more?

Ewan: Yeah, I wanted a new phone, okay. I wanted a phone that I could confidently use. I didn't want any of your rubbish, and I also thought it was about time I checked out Android as it should be. Android as it was meant to be, and this is ... I know it's not quite $100-

Rafe: So tell us, come on, let's have honesty now. Honesty. Tell us precisely what it actually cost you.

Ewan: I'm just going to have to look that up on-

Rafe: I was in Carphone Warehouse and I had a look at this phone today, and it's £149. That's $200.

Ewan: Is it really?

Rafe: Yes. So that's not slightly bending the rules. That's a blatant disregard.

Ewan: I think I can carry the listeners when I say this will be a $100 handset shortly. It's not a $100 handset now.

Rafe: Hand it over to me here. I'll get a hammer. I'll make it a $100 handset.

Ewan: Right, but why I wanted to try that was I think anyone that's been reading my Mobile Industry Review will have seen me slating the LG G3 and saying Android, this type of the top of the range phone, Android just doesn't work very well. I got quite a lot of push back saying that you need to actually try a handset that has stock Android on. So there we go. I have that, I think it's going to be brilliant. I'm really impressed with it. It does take micro SIMs, so I'm going to have to go to the phone shop. I'm going to talk through the benefits of it. It looks pretty cool.

Ben: Okay, so hold there for a minute then and we're going to come back to you and have a quick look at the Motorola G in a moment. Rafe Blandford, you can go next.

Ewan: I bet it's a Windows phone, or some Nokia.

Rafe: I didn't-

Ewan: Oh my God, it's a Windows phone. He's smiling at us. It's got to be a Windows phone.

Rafe: I didn't want to-

Ewan: You could have changed it up a little bit, couldn't you?

Rafe: I didn't want to disappoint the listeners, but I actually I went to Carphone Warehouse at lunchtime today and I thought, "I know, I'll go and look through their $100 phones." Actually I spoke to a very nice salesman who told me that I could have any phone in the store for free.

Ewan: Oh God.

Rafe: Something told me that would probably be bending the rules, because that would have required a monthly payment.

Ben: You've not come in here with an iPhone 6 and gone, "It was free."

Rafe: It was free. It was. The iPhone 6 is sitting right there.

Ben: Yes.

Rafe: That's your iPhone.

Ben: That's my one yes, it's definitely not free.

Rafe: So I had a look through what was available and actually it was quite difficult-

Ewan: Did you seriously buy a Windows phone? Come on! That's just rubbish.

Rafe: It was quite difficult finding phones that were under, and I was drawing the line at £60 on the basis of the exchange rate.

Ewan: Right. Wait a minute, I don't know if I just need to check that. Go on give that-

Rafe: So we're talking £80 cheaper than Mr. Macleod over there, so I did indeed buy a Windows phone. I didn't want to disappoint-

Ewan: Oh my God.

Rafe: All the listeners, and I actually picked up the Lumia 530 running Windows phone 8.1 and this was £59.99.

Ben: Bang on the money.

Rafe: Bang on the money, and you can actually get it in the States for $49 from T-Mobile, so this is a globally applicable price.

Ewan: Yeah. I'm just doing the Siri. What is £59 in dollars?

Siri: Let me check that. £59 converts to about $95.46.

Ewan: Okay, all right.

Ben: Bang on the money.

Ewan: Yeah, fine.

Rafe: So I've actually managed to hit the target. There are other devices that you could choose from. You can go up the range a bit and maybe just stay in $100, but this is really the only Windows phone device that you can buy in Europe and the US that meets the criteria. I looked at various Android devices. The other thing I actually looked at was buying a phone off eBay and getting one 2nd hand does mean you open up a whole range of possibilities. Something like the iPhone 4, even the 4S even if you're willing to accept it locked and slightly ropey condition, just about squeaks in there. It's tricky. You'd have to bid at the right time.

Ben: So I did, I also looked at that when I was thinking about my device. I thought, "Right, I've got to have an iPhone, and I decided that for me I would only get a device that ran iOS aids if I was going to get one at all, because anything that doesn't run IOS aid will soon be obsolete. I reckon that the best I could manage was about £75 for a poor quality one, and unlike Mr. Macleod, I decided to exclude that, because it was way too far over our $100 price point. Mr. Macleod would have gone, "What do you mean? I've got at least another $50 on top of that."

Ewan: Okay, and so why did you choose the 530?

Rafe: It was really about the price, but it was also-

Ewan: Wait a minute. No, it's because it had Nokia written on it.

Rafe: I did think I should meet expectations and I'm pretty certain that no one else was going to buy Windows phone device, and actually wants to introduce the idea of a bit of variety. We don’t want this to be-

Ewan: I've got a 930.

Rafe: We don't want this to be the $100 Android challenge, and actually reflecting the market there are options available now, which is something that is new, frankly and previously Windows phone was at the £100 price point, not the $100 price point. Also for me personally this makes sense, because I can run all the apps that I'm used to or download the backup that's going to be a complete seamless switching process, which is something I suspect the others are going to have some real pain with.

Ben: There we go.

Rafe: Ben, what did you choose? Since you're the third person.

Ben: Since you ask-

Ewan: Oh Jesus, did you buy iPhone?

Ben: I think you really lacked imagination. I think you've both made really predictable choices. You've just gone to the shop and bought a new device, and you've cheated by spending too much.

Ewan: No, I'm going to defend it in a minute.

Ben: I haven't bought an iPhone, because you can't get an iPhone for $100 in the UK on the exchange rates at the moment, and I accept that the-

Ewan: An iOS 8 iPhone.

Ben: One that’s worth having.

Ewan: 5S?

Ben: No, so I look for 4S's. They all run iOS 8, albeit not at the best speed, and you can just about pick them up for £75 or £80 in poor condition and with some other things. So decided that that didn't follow the rules, so.

Ewan: What did you get? What's this one? What is that?

Ben: I got a Lenovo.

Ewan: Oh, good choice!

Ben: A Lenovo A850.

Rafe: Oh, he's gone for the Chinese phone.

Ben: Which I imported from China. Yeah, actually on your recommendation, Mr. Macleod.

Ewan: Where did you get it from?

Ben: AliExpress.

Rafe: I was going to do that, but we didn't have time. How the hell did you do this?

Ben: Now you see, actually what I did was I cheated and I found someone who had already imported one and bought it from them.

Rafe: You see, I was going to do that, yeah, AliExpress rocks, by the way. You've got to have a look at that.

Ben: Okay, so the Lenovo 850 is a 5.5 inch Android device. It's dual SIM, 2250mAh battery I think if I recall rightly. It is a-

Ewan: Mr. Blandford is just sitting staring at the wall going, "What's he done wrong?"

Ben: It is a beast…

Rafe: I think we have to be honest here. Ben has beaten us on the spec question.

Ewan: Is it a quad.

Ben: Sorry?

Ewan: Is it a quad core?

Ben: I will look that up in a moment, because I've got the spec sheet-

Ewan: I think that might be, because that's the one I was going to buy.

Ben: Yeah.

Ewan: Copycat.

Ben: Now there are 2. There is an A850 Plus, which is a higher spec brand, but this is an 850. This came in at $116.

Rafe: Hang on a minute! You just accused him of cheating, you're going over $116.

Ewan: There you go.

Rafe: That's 16% over.

Ben: That was without shopping around…

Rafe: Could you have got it for $100 if you ordered it?

Ben: I could not have bought it for $100, but I could have get it for less than $110.

Ewan: I could have gone for Phones 4U last week and got that for less. It was closing down sale.

Ben: To be honest, you probably got all the Phones 4U for $100, but I decided to give myself a little bit of leeway and decided to give myself the extra dollars.

Ewan: That looks like a very nice handset, that.

Rafe: I can't believe I'm the only one who stuck to the rules.

Ben: Rafe, you've got to be creative in this world, but I didn't go double the budget, so I think I'm defensible on that score.

Rafe: You look good compared to Macleod over there, but honestly just on the basis of points, he's now on -80 and you're on -16-

Ewan: What? By some arbitrary point system?

Rafe: I'm on +5.

Ben: Okay.

Rafe: Over and under the budget.

Ben: Enough bickering about the prices. We are where we are. We made our choices. Before we move on, did you have any 2nd choices?

Ewan: Yes.

Rafe: Yes. I did.

Ewan: Mine was actually anything on AliExpress.com, which I've recently been paying a lot more attention to.

Ben: Yeah, we should just clarify, you and I've both mentioned it now. AliExpress is almost like an eBay looking type site operated by Alibaba, which is the big Chinese retailer. It's a way of buying items out of China, but you do need to import them, but it's absolutely stuffed full of electronics.

Ewan: Yes, my 2nd choice was a Xiaomi handset, but it really didn't matter to me which one, because there were a few around the $100 mark. In fact there's a few actually at $300 or $400, the really top of the range ones.

Ben: Actually, I had plenty of choice at the $100 mark by-

Ewan: Yes, it is actually very impressive. The reason I didn't do that is because I thought we had to have it here, physically.

Ben: You see you just weren't creative enough. Rafe Blandford, were there any second choices?

Rafe: Actually I looked at a couple of things and I decided to go for tablets and sticking with my Windows. I looked at the Toshiba Encore Mini, it's just been announced. It's $120 and it's actually full Windows. It's not the arty version or anything like that. I think there's a lot of limitations for it, which is one of the reasons I've ruled it out, but I also then also looked at other tablets that were under that $100 mark. You get things like the Hudl from Tesco's and equivalents from other retailers, but I had a look on Amazon and came across the Motorola Zoom 2.

I can't remember the exact model variant, but it's bang on the $100 price point again. I've got it here in my bag and it's basically a really big chunky Android tablet. You could quite literally knock a nail in with this thing, but it's in contrast to a lot of the cheap tablets. It feels well-made and put together and you get to that price point, because actually it's quite an old device. So this is the other thing you can do when you're looking to buy $100 device, is go back and buy a 2-year old device, because the price will have come right down.

Ewan: Now when we said it had to be $100 phone I can go and order one, right, but I thought we had to have it now, that's why I went and got this one.

Ben: Yeah, well you just weren't creative enough, were you? I've got my 2nd choice with me and we won't be road testing it, but-

Ewan: What? Have you got another one?

Ben: This is my 2nd choice, now I have to admit-

Ewan: What are you doing?

Ben: I already owned this device. I've got a Ubislate 7 CI. These are Indian-made Android tablets. They're actually primarily produced for the education market. Do you remember DataWind guys?

Ewan: Yes. 

Ben: Yeah. They're made by DataWind who used to make those organizers and things. This is $50, so I can have 2 of these.

Ewan: One for each hand?

Ben: One for each hand, and it's a snazzy little tablet. I think it's about a 6 inch screen. It's not huge, but it's got a camera. It runs Android and if I wanted to I could go ... This one is a Wi-Fi only model, but I could go up to one with a cellular connection.

Ewan: If I'd known we were going to stick to the $100 and actually mean it I'd have gone and got one. I could have got one of those, what's that EE calls the handset? They all call them birds of whatever, yeah, birds of prey.

Rafe: Birds of prey, or something?

Ewan: Yeah, exactly. I could have got an EE one, I could got a Vodafone one.

Rafe: Kestrel 6?

Ewan: Yes. That's it, Kestrel £60, £70 Android. I thought it was just more flexible and a bit loose.

Rafe: The other thing while I was in Carphone Warehouse, I did look at normal feature phones, and it was no sport, but the Samsung and a couple others I saw were around the £10 mark. They were also selling the Nokia 100 for 0.99p. Now you did have to get a top up of £20 with that.

Ewan: Wow, that is impressive for that.

Rafe: It did sort of remind me how far we've come, and it's not unusual. You see a lot of phones like that in the UK. Just thinking you could get 100 of those, almost 75 of those for your $100 limit and sort of liberally just-

Ewan: Do I need to then go and get an actual phone then? Should I go and order one from AliExpress?

Ben: No. You've made your choice. You've made your bed, you have to lie in it.

Ewan: I'm happy to live with it.

Ben: Another avenue I looked at as well, which I didn't go with, was I was thinking I really wanted IOS. I wanted to prove that I could have an iOS device. So I went and looked for iPod Touches that would run iOS 8 and a 99p feature phone. You can't do it yet, because the iPod Touch that runs iOS 8 is still coming in at the $150 mark. Even in respect towards 2nd hand channels. Okay, so now let's kick the tires on these devices a little bit. So you, Macleod.

Ewan: Okay, right-

Ben: Tell us about-

Ewan: I'm feeling a little bit sick now, because I didn't know you-

Rafe: You cheated.

Ewan: I did. That was not cheating; it was just an interpretation of the rules. They were not outlined to me. I needed it to prove a point.

Ben: You've cheated horribly, but tell us-

Ewan: Whatever.

Ben: Tell us how the first few days have been?

Ewan: No, I can't. It just arrived yesterday.

Ben: All right, tell us how the first day was then?

Ewan: Okay, initial impressions are I am really impressed that it's got 2 SIMs by the way, very nice, great work. I can see why this is flying off the shelves. I would have got the Motorola E, which would have definitely put me in... Yes it would, Blandford, don't shake your head. There's about £80-

Rafe: £109.

Ewan: No, it's £80 now. I just done the Google, right? You're nothing, you're a cheat.

Ben: Done.

Ewan: Done the Google, listeners. It's about £80, right, and that's out of from our shops. I think definitely got a Motorola E 2nd hand, but I thought if we've got some flexibility I'll get the latest mid-range handset for Motorola. I tell you what, I'm really pleased with it so far. I haven't put any SIMs in it yet, but the use of it is exceptionally fast. Everything that a lot of the listeners who are haranguing me about it and me when I was saying Android was rubbish, because I think it is rubbish on an LG G3. It seems to be really smart on this Motorola. I'm very impressed with it. The snappiness, the speed and how it feels. The weight of it, it's really good, nice screen-

Ben: I want to hate this, because you cheated and you've gone so far over the budget, but he plastics and build quality feel really nice-

Ewan: Yeah.

Ben: Even for what you paid for it, and maybe if you picked this up 2nd hand I think you'd still break the budget, but you at six months or a year-

Ewan: See, this is my point.

Ben: The screen is very good quality.

Ewan: It is really good. It is a fantastic phone. Do you know what? I can see myself using this. Now that is a massive departure from the post I wrote about 2 months ago saying Android is not business ready, not production ready. I'm actually genuinely looking forward to using this. I'm really keen to actually swap to this. I need to go to an actual shop to get a SIMs change and I will definitely use this for a week.

Ben: Official Google phones, overall the software load is great.

Ewan: Yeah, it's beautiful. It was a nice setup experience. It looks like Motorphone, that's right, Motorola, not Motorphone. Motorola have done a very nice job. This I why it's been really successful I think.

Ben: Okay, Rafe Blandford? It's green, my goodness. That is a green phone. That is the greenest phone-

Rafe: This is a bright green, but it's-

Ewan: You don't say!

Rafe: Quad core, 4 inch screen, 5 megapixel camera. It is right at the lower end of the specification, so there are a few things missing, like compass. There's no front facing camera. There's no flash for the camera and so they have definitely cut things out to get to that price point, and it's SnapDragon 200 processor and so in the first 24 hours of using it you really do notice a step down if you're coming from a higher end device. Of course, most people buy a phone like this probably won't have a high end device.

What has been noticeable for me is actually it's very familiar, because it's the same Windows phone software and the experience you get is actually very similar between the high and the low end devices. It's something I think Windows phones stands out or apart from Android in that you get a very similar experience of. Actually Windows phone feels great value at the low end and just from a personal point of view, because this is a legitimate UK device, because this is a Windows phone, it worked fine. When I first set it up I was able to climb into my Microsoft account-

Ewan: No messing around.

Rafe: No messing around. Downloaded all, had the backup come down. My start screen reappeared as it should do, my wallpaper, my apps, not all the data that goes with it. That's not part of Windows phone yet, but that whole switching process ever so easy for me. It'd be interesting to see, I think you'll have the same thing and honestly, I would have chosen a Moto E. That would have been my Android device, but I wanted to try and make sure we had some variety in the show. It's going to be really interesting. I think you and I are going to quite enjoy switching for a week.

Ewan: Do you know I'm really looking forward to it. I'm actually quite surprised, yeah.

Rafe: I think Ben is going to have a bit of pain from having imported a device, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if you already had paid in the first few days. Judging by the face-pulling going on-

Ewan: How long have you had your phones in?

Ben: I got mine in this morning.

Ewan: Okay, fine, and when did you get yours?

Rafe: I got mine today.

Ewan: Okay, right, so you've been giving the impression you've had it for a while.

Ben: I've been playing with it.

Ewan: Okay, fine, okay right.

Ben: Let me tell you the good news.

Ewan: Yes.

Ben: Quad core, 5.5 inch dual-

Rafe: Wins on specs. I think we can agree to that, Ewan?

Ewan: I think he has bigger.

Ben: Now, screen, it's only 200 pixels per inch.

Ewan: You famously can't read anything that isn't Retina.

Ben: No, I actually literally can't see this screen. Unfortunately it's just this kind of smeary blob now unfortunately. I have to say actually switching from a retina device and any high density display this really does feel-

Rafe: It hurts.

Ben: It hurts a bit. I picked it up after having not used another device for a little while and when you're not doing the side by side comparison there's nothing particularly offensive about the screen from fresh. It's not that the screen is bad and you can't read it. It's just you notice when you're coming from a really good screen. I think compared to your Moto G screen, obviously the Moto G screen costs twice as much because you've cheated, but sorry, I'll just hand it over to you. Wins on specs. Now, build quality I'm going to have to say the reason I picked a Lenovo device to import was it was a brand I knew a bit like Xiaomi. It was a brand I knew and there was a whole bunch of ones I just had no idea about. Didn't know anything about at all, and-

Ewan: Do you know what this is running on, by the way?

Ben: It's running on Android 4.2.2.

Ewan: No Cyanogen or anything like that?

Ben: No, it's got a Lenovo launcher on and thus far that's okay.

Ewan: It's a bit disappointing that it's running 4.2 though, because I'm running Windows phone 8.1 on my device. Ewan's got 4.4 so you're a bit out of date in that software respect.  

Ben: Yeah, a bit out of date in the software and I'm going to come clean. It hasn't been a seamless experience, if I'm honest.

Ewan: So when's the last time you had an Android phone?

Rafe: Have you been able to get important things working, like dare I say Google services and the Play Store?

Ben: Okay, so one of the things I did like was this is a device that does ship with the Google services on it. Of course, that does matter.

Ewan: Yeah, it does.

Ben: I didn't even think to check that before I bought the device. It was a pleasant surprise when it arrived. It starts up with a Russian boot screen, but it does have English as an option. Rafe, you have rather hit the nail on the head though. No email for me today, I'm afraid.

Rafe: Oh, didn't work?

Ben: None. I can't get any of the Google services working at all. It won't log in. So when you put in your Gmail account details, that means that-

Ewan: That's a bit worrying, isn't it?

Ben: That means no Play Store-

Ewan: That it could have been routed through some Russian hacker's server.

Ben: I've done some homework and there's a couple of reasons that that might happen, and I won't go through them because they're all super technical, but basically I read some forums, found some problems. Some are really easy to fix, like correcting simple mistakes in the settings and things like that. Some are much more technical, and actually where I am now is that I've found ... I haven't fixed the problem. I've found a forum post that looks like it's got the correct diagnosis for what the problem could be, but I'm going to have to route the device and make some technical changes to do that. Thus far, and I'll fess up. I know Rafe will laugh at me. I haven't routed any Android device ever before. I've never wanted to.

Rafe: If you go through this grey import process and whether it's AliExpress or somewhere else, it's something you need to be aware of when you try and get something on the cheap. You are getting a phone that's designed for another market and it may not-

Ben: Unless-

Rafe: Be what you expect, because you'll be able to send yours back to Amazon if something goes wrong, and I can go back to the Carphone Warehouse, walk in and say, "It's not working, give me a new one." Ben, the return process, if there is one at all, it's going to take you ages.

Ben: I think I have to be honest and say I think that for the price of the device, the amount of time it would take, we have to assume it just wouldn't go back. It would go in the bin before it went back.

Rafe: Yes.

Ben: The build quality-

Rafe: It's not bad.

Ben: It's not bad, but it is very shiny plastic next to your Motorola G.

Ewan: Which is shiny plastic as well.

Ben: It feels like quality plastics.

Ewan: It's not the plastic fantastic of the 530, which actually feels pretty good in the hand for a device that's essentially a third of the cost to what I chose. That looks as though there's a sticker on it. Oh, there is a sticker.

Ben: It's just come out the box. You notice Rafe Blandford has boxed it back up.

Ewan: Clearly that's very nice of you, yeah, okay fine.

Ben: So in terms of where we're at then. So yours is all working fine. You're good to go?

Ewan: I'm just really excited. I hope the listeners don't think I'm a total tool, to quote what's-his-face, yeah. The guy who was complaining last series, because this decision was made out of the good intent, right? In that it will shortly be $100 handset. I need to re-emphasize that, right? I think it is time that I use Android properly. I've been playing with it today and I think it is going to be a good Android experience. I'm really excited.

Rafe: I hate to say this to you, Ben, but when it comes time to swap handsets I think I'm going to be going after the Motorola G.

Ben: Yeah.

Ewan: Ah. Interesting.

Rafe: Not just because it's the more expensive device, but actually I used it originally-

Ewan: Is it? You're privately loving the fact that I've done this and publicly hating.

Rafe: Yes, that’s spot on.

Ben: The thing is that I accept that because the G costs twice the budget, it looks like the best phone on the table at the moment, but the problem is, yours is great quality build, nice software if you don't like Windows phone, but the trouble is it looks small. It looks to me like a toy device, because it is small. It's got a small screen, and I think that Ewan and I have got phones that from a distance look like regular popular phones. From a distance you could mistake mine for one of the larger Samsung devices.

Rafe: I agree. You've actually gone for the mainstream approach. I quite like the fact that the 530's a 4 inch screen. I'm going to look forward to going back to using a smaller screen, instead of using 5 inches. One of the things I don't like about yours is that I think it's too big and its starting to verge into tablet territory. So it's going to be interesting to see how you get on with that as somebody who's not really a fan of the big screen phones.

Ewan: Yeah, can I just declare that if I had bought a Motorola E, right, an older one which would have killed me, right? If I had bought a Motorola E, which is, let me just quote from Google, £89, would you still have a problem?

Ben: Yeah.

Rafe: Yeah, because you'd still be over budget.

Ben: The budget is £60, maybe £65.

Ewan: What is it in real pounds?

Ben: More.

Ewan: What is £89 in dollars? Come on, Siri.

Siri: Checking my sources.

Ewan: Yeah, okay, sources.

Siri: £89 converts to about $144.00.

Ewan: Hey that's wouldn't have been too bad.

Rafe: That's 44% over!

Ewan: Right, okay. Well you did 16% over, because I can go and get an E, right, if that will keep you quiet, I'll go and get an E.

Ben: No, we're going to stick with it. So I will confess, I am apprehensive about using mine, because having hit a few problems. The apps on there work well and the browser works well and all that kind of stuff, but having hit some problems I am now anxious that it's not going to be reliable. I also think that when I've got the apps on there I need, I've got my email working, it's going to be a device that's the right size and-

Ewan: It's very fast, isn't it?

Ben: It's fast, it's large battery, large screen, I'm going to be able to live with this device. I think Rafe, you are not going to be able to live with that device.

Ewan: Yeah.

Rafe: Yeah. I think you're right, but I think also if I'd gone for the same budget constraints that you drew up, I could have gone up to the 630, which has the bigger screen. It's faster, has a few extra hardware features and would actually measure up to those two. So I'm just going to be deeply satisfied that I'm the only one who stuck to the budget.

Ben: I'm within specifications.

Ewan: No, you're not.

Ben: I think-

Ewan: If you're not I'm not, so-

Ben: I think that you are going to love that device and you-

Ewan: Right, do you think I'll be a new Android convert, being a-

Rafe: I think you'll be an Android fan, boy, I-

Ben: I think you will enjoy that device and I think it would be really interesting to hear how you get on with the apps, because I am apprehensive about apps as well, because I'm going to need to go and find some new ones. My favorite IOS ones also on Android. I also think that you would not be able to make the step down to the E. The specs and screen drop are such that the things you like are the value from $100 to $150. That's what's putting the icing on the cake for you.

Ewan: I tell you what, generally if you could buy a new, as in the current generation E at £80 I would have done that.

Rafe: What's interesting here but kind of emerging is $100 is a price point that often gets talked about but there is actually a significant gap between £100 and $100. I think in the UK market we see £100 regularly talked about. It's kind of the big thing in Christmas time with all the retailers, but when we actually come and try out these devices, it seems to me that the bottom end of the market is still a bit much of a step too far. However, you have to remember that the vast majority of smart phones are actually being sold in that $100 to $150 price range.

Ben: So I've got one question, right. We're running out of time. So I've got one question before we wrap up, we move on, we go and live with our phones. If I can buy a quad core 5.5 inch screen singing and dancing Lenovo phone for just a smidgen over $100, why in the UK, if I went out and bought a device of that spec, would I be paying north of, I think, probably north of £100 at least, if I was buying an operator branded handset or one of the other cheap Android platforms?

Rafe: The cost of a phone isn't just about the hardware components. What you've done by doing the grey import is effectively go and buy one not quite at cost, but by the hardware components. When you're buying from somewhere like Carphone Warehouse or even Amazon, you're actually also buying a warranty. You're buying kind of the UK retail text and marketing budget and all those kind of things. So when you see the bit of materials which is the kind that cost of all the components in the device, that's one thing. When you actually get to the retail price, there are other considerations, and actually that can be both pluses. Others are talking about their warranty and marketing costs. It can also be negative in the sense that quite a lot of the UK networks offer subsidies on pay as you go devices.

Ben: I'm benefiting from that on the 530. Ewan, I've just had a terrible thought.

Ewan: Go on.

Ben: The guy who arranged this device for me.

Ewan: Yeah.

Ben: He hasn't told me what the import duty is on it. Damn.

Ewan: Ah ha, right, listeners, let's just quickly, what was it called? No.

Rafe: That will be 20% I believe, Ben.

Ewan: I'll just going to have a look and see at AliExpress.com.

Rafe: Oh dear.

Ewan: I was looking genuinely at that phone as a proper look. Let's-

Rafe: No.

Ewan: What was it?

Ben: Okay, let's end the episode there. We will come back to this and we will find out. I think I might take a hit on ... I think I might be verging up into Ewan's territory. No, not as much. I think I'm going to take a hit on price points. I had completely forgotten about import duty, but there again there's a lesson there. That buying from overseas is not the price listed on their website. Damn. I thought I'd been really clever.

Okay, right, welcome back. I hope you've enjoyed this first episode of season 8. As ever you can find us on 361Podcast.com. You can Tweet us @361Podcast. Jump onto the website, which is nice and mobile responsive. Let us know what you would have chosen and why, because I reckon that our listeners probably would make even better choices. Remember, the only rule is that you must buy it from a legitimate source and somebody else must be able to repeat your purchase. Thanks very much for listening. Thanks for all of the lovely feedback we got about season 7. We got a deluge of emails after season 7 finished, and we will be back next week. Bye-bye.