Since such titans as Samsung and Apple dominate the smartphone market, it's not easy for consumers to find lesser-known yet decent alternatives.

PissedConsumer interviewed Juan Carlos Bagnell, a tech reviewer, who shared his insights into the current situation in the smartphone market, alternatives to Samsung and Apple phones, and gave tips on choosing a phone that would cater to your needs.

Here are the points a tech expert discussed in the interview:

About Juan Carlos Bagnell

Juan: My name is Juan Carlos Bagnell. I host all around the internet as Some Gadget Guy. I'm a tech reviewer and also comment a lot on tech politics issues like right to repair and net neutrality. I do a lot of contract work for a number of other outlets, organizations like Slick Deals, trying to help consumers shop better deals for gadgets and electronics.

Apple or Samsung: Challenging Smartphone Market

Juan: Between Samsung and Apple, that's roughly 80% of the North American smartphone market. Now that they occupy that space, they've been increasing prices, removing features, and making their products more difficult to repair. Both companies are responsible for initiatives that are severely harming the right to repair movement in the United States.

This is a bad direction because it will be harder to keep phones running longer, making it more cost-effective to buy phones more frequently—a planned obsolescence meets hyper-consumerism situation.

Smartphone Market Players: Motorola, Pixel, OnePlus & TCL

Juan: Motorola is now the number three smartphone producer in the United States. They have a portfolio of devices that are interesting in the mid-range and premium tier phones that tend to be less expensive but feature-competitive compared to Samsung. For example, last year's Edge Plus was $100 cheaper than a base model Samsung phone but came with four times more storage and pen capability like the Samsung Note. It also had the capability to be plugged into a monitor to turn into a full computer.

OnePlus has been making phenomenal devices over the last couple of years, and TCL, known for making big TVs, has a line of very affordable smartphones. And of course, Google, the Pixel A series is probably one of the absolute best bang-for-buck phones on the market today. The Pixel 6A full MSRP is like $450. It's very regularly found on sale for like $399. And I would say it competes very closely, not exactly but very closely, with an $800 iPhone 14. So it's hard to say an iPhone 14 is twice as good as a Pixel 6A. And there are a number of things that the Pixel 6A can actually do better. I'm a big fan of those features.

Latest Smartphone Features: Pros and Cons

Juan: Sony has made this new camera sensor. It's a one inch type sensor and it's larger than 16 millimeter film and it fits in a phone that lives in your pocket and the photo quality and the video quality is just astounding. Especially in North America, we've been selling these camera gimmicks for so long that I think consumers have lost sight of what a real camera upgrade looks like.

And this is a camera sensor that's now closing in on the performance of some of our entry level mirrorless cameras and it fits in your pocket. So for the person who is into photo composition, they're wanting to be a content creator, they have an eye for what they're trying to shoot in photo and video, they're looking to edit those projects. These phones are incredible resources in being able to get that work done on the go.

smartphone features

What Is Right to Repair

Juan: Right to repair is a movement many techies feel requires government intervention to alter the business strategies of large corporations like Apple, which has vertical control of their products.

This control can be harmful to consumers, as evidenced by stories like a Canadian news outlet finding a cheaper third-party fix for a MacBook that Apple claimed was irreparable.

Samsung is following similar practices, which makes it more profitable for them to limit repair options and push for faster device turnover. This isn't just a matter of voting with your wallet because the momentum is on the side of these two companies that dominate the market. It mirrors the right to repair movement's origins with John Deere tractors, where overly complex and proprietary repairs caused significant issues for farmers.

Budget-Friendly Phone Alternatives

Juan: To save money, go to your carrier's website and look at other options. There are many phones beyond the newest, most expensive iPhones and Galaxies. You might get a Galaxy A series or a Motorola Edge with a stylus for note-taking and a good camera. This model has 512GB of storage, which is four times more than a similarly priced Samsung. Set a budget and look at phones offered within it. You might find a phone like the Pixel A series for significantly less, cutting the cost from your monthly bill.

My recommendations always start with the person's personality. Be honest about what features you actually use on your phone. Check what apps you use and your camera roll. From there, set a budget and stick to it. You will be better prepared to look at the pros and cons of different devices. The general all-rounders, like the Galaxy S and iPhone, are expensive for covering the basics. If you're not using $800 worth of phone, that's a waste, like buying a sports car and driving it through school zones at 15 mph.

There are options for phones with tactile keyboards, not the same as Blackberries but helpful for messaging.

Consider software and support. Google's Pixel offers five years of security patches, which is reasonable protection. Samsung offers longer support for its newer phones, like the Galaxy A series, but only because of competition from Google. iPhone owners have fewer options, and the iPhone SE isn't a great buy anymore. Older iPhones can be good buys, like the iPhone 11 and 13, but Apple's refurbished sales strategy is expensive. Buying used phones can save money but comes with risks about the phone's condition.

Have you explored any of the alternatives to Samsung and Apple? Share your experience and opinion in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay updated on the latest experts’ videos and consumer video reviews. 


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