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Want small rugged cellphone with long battery life

  • sheepish Top 10 Forum Poster Monday, April 24, 2017 5:54 AM Reply

    If you have any Android mobile phone related questions- Just shoot!

    Why root?

    I did come across a CAT phone with FLIR. Very fancy.

    I saw yesterday that Asus have a Tango phone. The screen is pretty big but not as big as the Levovo phone with Tango.

    What's the least expensive Android phone with a hardware compass?

    Remembering 30 years.
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  • Ignatus Tuesday, April 25, 2017 9:18 AM Reply

    Hi Sheepish,

    Little correction: My phone has a 4850mAh battery.  -It would drive me nuts to charge my phone on a daily basis.

    “Why root?”

    Various apps that I use require root. e.g.:

    1.) Unbeloved Hosts - blocks ad-servers phone-wide across all apps. So, even free apps that normally have some ads will function fully without any distractions.

    2.) Various voice activated apps that I use to manage LED lights and power sockets for household applications - fans , water-cooler etc…, need root.

    3.) AFwall- a Firewall that allows me to block 3G/4G data usage per individual app - to keep cost low when I don’t have wifi needs root access.

    4.) Youtube Background playback modul - Makes it possible to play youtube (music) in the background when the phone screen is off.

    5.) Some apps that stream videos to my google chrome cast  device, which is connected to my TV , require root as well. So, my recorded videos , photos etc can be streamed to our TV.

    6.) Another major one is a Battery charging app , it allows me to charge to any level of my choice- I charge only up to 90% of the rated capacity… to have more battery life-cycles.

    7.) Access to the root level of the device enables me to create complete back-ups of the phone’s  “Hardisk”  (eMMC) to SD card or to a USB flash drive.

    8.) Google Inc forces Phone Manufacturers who use Android 6.0  to enable the disk-encryption security feature by default. Data encryption and decryption is very resource hungry,—  taxes the CPU, RAM, reduces write cycles of the eMMC , reduces battery life etc..  basically bad for performance on low-end and mid-range phones.

    Unfortunately, there is no user-friendly way within the Android Operating system to simply disable disk-encryption. The only way to switch this off is via root access. Install a script. that switches this resource-hog off and also factory reset the whole Operating System.

    The reason is, because the manufacturer was forced to switch disk encryption ON by default , parts of the system were encrypted the moment you switched on the phone first time ever after unboxing the device.

    -So, if there was an option to just switch this feature off, then the parts of the system that were previously encrypted can’t be read anymore and that would render the whole phone un-usable.

    “Asus Tango Phone…”

    TANGO? - I had no idea that you are into Augmented reality. Sorry, I can’t comment on it. -Pokemon & Co is just not part of my life.

    Otherwise, Asus is generally pretty reliable. They have extensive manufacturing know-how and care about quality. I’ve used their PC motherboards and various Laptops for many years.


    Entry and mid-level Lenovo products have a very high failure rate! Just check the Lenovo phone reviews on Amazon. I stay far, far away from them after I’ve personally had multiple very bad experiences with their products, including Laptops.

    Cheapest Android with compass sensor?

    Well, I’m  sure one can find really cheap Android phones for around  $60-70 with a compass sensor.   - But will it last longer than a few month?

    How is the :

    a.)sound /audio quality, signal reception, display quality/ IPS, battery life, Version of Android at least 6.0?, Camera quality is also not only determined by amount of pixels. Sensor made by whom- Sony? Optics by whom Zeiss? What about other camera specific  features? HDR? continuous autofocus? 4K photos? Panorama? Video recording 1080p at 30 fps? Slow-motion recording at 100 or 200 fps or none at all?

    ^^^Want all that plus accelerometer, gyroscope , magnetometer and IR sensors for as less as possible?

    I’ve learned my lessons and I won’t dare to waste my hard earned cash on electronic junk, because it makes my heart ache. It's a waste of cash and a waste of the very finite resources of this planet.

    - Buy cheap, buy double.

    A major issue is that cheap phones are created via bad manufacturing processes. E.g.: Manually assembled and many times some components and connectors are soldered by hand - by a tired labourer who doesn’t give a s__t  about the phone.

    Then one wonders why there is a fingerprint inside on the screen. -  Top that off with bad quality control processes…

    Most low-cost generic branded China phones are quality checked manually:

    Stick Sim card in > Check for Signal Bar Indicator > pop sim out  > and ready for the retail box !

    Serious manufacturers do quality checks with a test jig.  Also, most cheap manufacturers tend to use very low quality RAM and eMMC chips.

    Anyhow, for tight budgets I’d recommend Xiaomi.

    Just make sure that you get a phone that comes with a Global ROM (Operating system) pre-installed, if you don’t want the hassle to flash a Global ROM yourself !

    However, It is relatively easy and I’m happy to walk you through the boot loader unlocking, rom flashing and rooting steps if you happen get one without a Global ROM.

    All Chinese Roms from Xiaomi work well and can be switched to English within the OS menu, but there are sometimes apps included that were not translated and some can’t be easily removed.

    Also, most of the time the Google apps, Playstore etc. are missing and will need to be added manually, if it is not a Global ROM.

    So, if you go for go with Xiaomi - a pre-installed Global Rom will give you zero work and comes with all the bells and whistles - in English,  inclusive of  Over the Air (OTA) Operating system updates - that are enabled by default. 

    Also ensure that Xiaomi has a Global Rom available for download, for your specific model on their website, before the purchase.

    On another note: Most of the Xiaomi phones have a large screen, but “only” 1080p or sometimes even only 720p resolution. I’m very happy with that because all text and icons are nice/big if the screen is 5.5” or 5”.    -I don’t want a 4K display on a phone.

    Anyhow, my recommendation:

    SKU: 461831  one of the latest ones! Cost is  $165 with Global Rom elsewhere!! Maybe Dx can do a price-match?

    are  a few  Xiaomi models on the market called Mi Note 4.  The lowest
    has 2GB RAM and 32 GB ROM - couldn’t find it  on DX, but I anyhow don’t
    think it offers value for money.

    The middle one  has 3GB RAM,
    32GB ROM and  is a good deal for $165,  another one  but with double
    storage capacity- 64GB ROM is also reasonably priced here on DX SKU:

    The 4000mAh battery will last for at least 2-3 days or longer depending on your usage scenario.

    field sensor (compass) and Infrared sensor, properly working
    call-recording app built in,  spam caller database feature is built in ,
    free online cloud back up service for all your phone  data, phone lock
    down,  remote data wiping  if your phone is lost or stolen is built in
    too.  Free templates to change the design of your screens & buttons
    available for download — those are are among the most notable features.

    Another much cheaper alternative would be the Xiaomi 4A SKU: 455212

    as a power user I would not be too happy with just 2GB RAM and the
    somewhat small 16GB eMMC , but one can always add an SD card

    is a very decent phone at a really economical price point. USD 116 here
    at DX and USD 99 elsewhere!  Maybe DX does a price match?  

    has a reasonably sized 3000mAh battery, 5” inches screen at a low
    720x1280 SD resolution,  - That means all text and icons will be big and
    easy on the eyes.

    Dx selsl only Champagne Gold and Rose Gold coloured ones. There should be a Titanium gray one available, but I could’t find it.

    sure if Dx sells the Global ROM version. As usual nothing is very
    specific here. … Also,  DX claims that it contains a compass sensor as
    well as a fingerprint sensor. I’m 95% sure that this product info is
    INCORRECT, but I could be wrong.

    These are the only phones that I know to be low-priced, of good quality and built by a reliable company.

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  • Ignatus Tuesday, April 25, 2017 9:20 AM Reply

    You wanted rugged, waterproof and small?

    Sorry, I don’t think those words are part of an engineer’s or
    designer’s vocabulary when they create trendy looking consumer
    electronics for the masses, which are supposed to break one week and
    one day after the warranty expires…. or how else could they sell you a
    new one if it is so rugged that it lasts for all eternity?

    Fun fact:

    Apple’s water-resistant iPhone 7 is not covered by Apple’s Warranty against water damage!


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  • sheepish Top 10 Forum Poster Tuesday, April 25, 2017 9:35 AM Reply

    Thanks for those thoughts. Pokemon et al aren't part of my life either. I wouldn't buy a Lenovo laptop because of the "sending data to China" issue a while back.

    Remembering 30 years.
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  • ozOzo Top 10 Forum Poster Tuesday, April 25, 2017 12:50 PM Reply

    Hi Ignatus,
    It's nice to know there is someone to whom we can address Android questions... that is, I'm assuming your offer to help was not exclusively for sheepish. I won't be bothering you too much as my very limited understanding of modern technology would probably make your answers of little use to me and a waste of your time. I should explain that at 77, I claim to be the forum's most senior senior citizen, so be gentle!

    I spoke earlier in this thread: http://club.dx.com/forums/forums.dx/threadid.1447972?paging=no#1468891, about ordering a phone (sku.852458964) for my wife, whose hearing has reached the stage that text is her only means of communication. One thing that surprised me is that this phone has voice to text messaging and even more surprised how well that works!

    Can you tell me if there is an app or some means of taking an incoming voice call and have it shown in text on screen? I've never heard of any such thing but it sounds like something that should be available. 

    Worldwide 4G bands list:
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  • ozOzo Top 10 Forum Poster Tuesday, April 25, 2017 2:12 PM Reply

    Going back over this thread I see some things we were discussing that I now have answers to. Firstly, you are not bound to using 900MHz (B8) just because that is the SIM you have now. That's 3G anyway. Optus use Bands 1 and 3 for their 4G networks and most phones you will be looking at will have those.

    You also asked about transferring stuff to a new SIM. I know you can definitely do so with your contacts so I imagine other data can be transferred too if it has been saved to the SIM. When my son set up the new phone, it required a new Micro-SIM instead of the standard one in the old phone. They sent it out next day (I think it cost $5) and he phoned the supplier and they recorded the data he wanted transferred to the new card, fitted the new SIM and rang them back with a password and they zapped it onto the new one. You only get one go at it, so make sure you get it right.

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  • sheepish Top 10 Forum Poster Tuesday, April 25, 2017 5:00 PM Reply

    Thanks Oz. Sadly they assured me it wasn't possible, and in the last year I've put a whole bunch of contacts on my "new" phone, so that's really beside the point now. But it was more the text messages I wanted to transfer.

    Remembering 30 years.
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  • Ignatus Tuesday, April 25, 2017 5:47 PM Reply

    Text message threads and text messages greater than 160 characters cannot be copied to a SIM card. Some old phones used to have the option to “Copy to SIM”  text messages individually.

    However, the amount of data that fitted was extremely small and depended on the sim chip used by the operator.

    Hi Oz,

    77? Wow ! Congratulations for being so active at this age. I doubt I would have your patience at that age, to deal with people’s problems here on DX.

    Android and computer questions are always welcome. I’m an IT geek and help is not limited only for Sheepish. However, I’m usually not observing the forums on a regular basis/ as much as you are.  If I come across some questions by chance, or if I were to get a PM -I’ll most likely answer to the best of my ability.

    “Can you tell me if there is an app or some means of taking an incoming voice call and have it shown in text on screen? I've never heard of any such thing but it sounds like something that should be available.  “

    Well, voice/speech dictation to text apps - there are many and recently Google has been putting in a lot of effort to be able to voice control a phone, send dictated text messages etc.. all without ever touching the phone. One doesn’t even need to rely on 3rd party apps for that anymore.

    - Therefore, it wouldn’t be far fetched to assume that there should be an easy solution to have live calls being transcribed to text, on-the -fly.

    Unfortunately, according to my knowledge this is not the case, yet.

    The main hurdle are security layers and the way the Android system is built. The idea was that Android should be secure and it was initially designed so that incoming voice should not be able to be recorded for security purposes.

    That is one of the main reasons as of why most of the answering-machine apps and  voice-call  recorder apps on the Google playstore do not function properly/reliably and is also the main reason for the answering machine being carrier operated... and you have to call a number to hear your voice messages.

    However, considering that Xiaomi has successfully managed to build a customized Android version that is able to intercept and record any voice-call without fail, I would assume there should be a way to develop this function as a feature, based on a modified Android  ROM (operating system). 

    Unfortunately, that is not something that is done easily, but I’ll put your idea on my project list. -There are 70 million hearing impared people on this planet. Looks like a good project to me.

    There are a few apps that can do LIVE voice call to text, but they are all paid services.

    Most need a high speed internet connection, they charge for the service a fee and people complain that they don’t work very well.

    Point is that they use a VOIP connection to circumvent the Android voice interception security issue to be able to provide the service. Try the services for free before signing up!

    The reviews are very mixed! From 5stars to 1 stars, because VOIP calls are never very crisp, these services suffer from bad transcriptions and lag.

    PEDIUS: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.client.pedius&hl=en

    ROGERVOICE:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rogervoice.app&hl=en

    This next one is as far as I understand totally free and doesn’t need an internet connection, but the reviews are horrible. Still, if it costs nothing to try it out… give it  a shot:

    Audible: Deaf Communications :


    The only free and “works without high speed  internet connection” with a higher accuracy  DIY solutions  that I can come up with are:

    Solution 1.)

    Get 2 phones ?!?

    Your wife uses any phone (mobile or landline)  to initiate or receive a call via speakerphone/loudspeaker and positions a  second Android phone’s microphone close to it,  which then transcribes the first phone’s caller’s voice to text.... live - which she can then read on the Android phone.  

    There are many good dictation apps that work on Android, even the latest Google inbuilt feature works superb. So, it doesn’t have to be an identical phone like the one you already have.

    Solution 2.)

    Your wife uses any phone (mobile or landline) to initiate or receive a call via loudspeaker/speakerphone and positions a microphone which is connected to a PC close to the first phone. Then her computer runs a dictation program that live transcribes all incoming voice calls to the PC monitor?

    Solution 3.) This would need some testing, but should work fine with some fiddling.

    This mainly is an Apple computer based solution, but I assume this would also work on a Windows based PC with some similar software, if it is available.

    I am aware of a specific Apple PC program called LOOPBACK from a company called Rogue Amoeba. It allows a user to route audio data from any audio software to any other program that can interface with audio.

    I also know that most data dongles don't allow incoming and outgoing calls, because usually the carrier plan is just for data.

    However, some carriers have internet dongles that offer voice calling features. Alternatively, one could buy a non-carrier specific, unlocked dongle that has the calling capability / software based dial-pad driver, and then use a regular mobile sim in it.

    -Connected to an (Apple) computer, one could then route the audio from the 3G dongle to a dictation program to be able to read a conversation live!

    Another simpler solution without a 3G dongle is to get a VOIP number, for example a Skype VOIP phone number, and divert all landline and cellphone calls to the VOIP number on an Apple computer.

    -Then with the help of the program LOOPBACK one routes all the VOIP audio to an audio dictation/ transcription program and can easily read the conversation live on a big screen.

    The same should be possible on a regular Windows based PC. I'm just not familiar with a program that is similar to Loopback for the WIndows Platform. - Would need to do some research....


    Edit: Added Solution #3

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    post edited by Ignatus on 4/25/2017 at 6:57 PM
  • ozOzo Top 10 Forum Poster Thursday, April 27, 2017 9:02 AM Reply

    Thanks for the info Ignatus and for taking the time! When I get time to get my head around your suggestions I'll do some experimenting. I was not aware of the Android security aspect but yair, that figures.

    The technology must be there, to create a function whereby a call can be carried out by voice to one end and text to the other in real time but I can see how Xiaomi and other more reputable brands would have to tread lightly. There seem to be plenty of less reputable ROM-writers though, unconcerned with copyright, legal or moral obligation that make one wonder whether it is already in use in China. :)

    I can't complain about our new phone though. It has the Miui version of Android 7 and although I know nothing of previous versions, the voice to text message writing is remarkably accurate (as long as no-one else is yapping too close by). It makes me think it's an improvment on previous ones. The camera is my only disappointment... supposed to be 13MP+ 2MP dual camera which does some gimmicky stuff like pretend 'depth of field' like an SLR zoom, but not a patch on my 7 year old Nokia with Carl Zeiss optics and 12 real MP.

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  • Ignatus Thursday, April 27, 2017 6:51 PM Reply

    Hi Oz, you are welcome and I hope you'll find a solution that works for you.

    Using two phones, one for calling and anotherone for transcribing voice to text might be the easiest way, for now.

    Yes, you are right. Plenty of Rom-modders/coder out there and it is actually relatively easy to modify an original MIUI Rom and repack it. As you may know, there are many alternative MIUI Roms available online with added tweaks and sometimes removed features, from hobby coders.

    The core of Android itself is open source. So, neither Xiaomi nor any other company would get into trouble for building an application that can intercept and transcribe a call to text.

    I assume that none of the bigger players ever thought that hearing impaired people are making phones calls, and that is possibly the main reason for them not building a related app.

    Anyhow, since the MIUI Roms were build by Xiaomi with the possibility to record a
    call, access to the audio data stream is definitely available! Now one needs to only figure out how to route the incoming audio to the note-taking app instead of the inbuilt call recorder app.

    - It shouldn't be that difficult. It possibly takes a week or two of coding work, to modify an original MIUI ROM to be able to transcribe voice to text. Unfortunately, I'm swamped with other work for the forseeable future, but as metioned, I've put it on my project list.

    Alternatively, you may want to ask on the XDA forum. Good chance that somebody there is up for the challenge.

    Edit: Typonese fixes

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    post edited by Ignatus on 4/27/2017 at 9:45 PM
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