2017 smartphones: avoid these devices

HTC U Ultra,smartphones

The year has really delivered in terms of smartphones, as LG, Samsung, Sony and others delivered great flagship devices.

We’re not saying that all the phones were fantastic though. In fact, there are a few you should generally stay away from…

BlackBerry KeyOne

Now, this one is a great phone for a BlackBerry-branded device, but is it worth the R9000+ price tag? No. No it isn’t.

For your cash, you get a mid-range Snapdragon 625 chip, a 12MP main camera that’s pretty great and a 3505mAh battery. The combo of Snapdragon 625 and battery means that two days of usage is certainly possible. But you can pretty much get a similar combination in the cheaper Huawei Nova and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (review).

What you can’t get in rival phones is a physical keyboard though, with the KeyOne being unique in this respect.

TL;DR: It’s overpriced for the specs, but physical keyboard fans have no other choice. Everyone else? Skip.


For R6000, the LG Q6 brings specs that really belong on a much cheaper phone. You’re paying for the brand more than anything.

There’s a budget-oriented Snapdragon 435 chip, 2GB/3GB/4GB RAM (depending on which storage option you get), a solid FullVision display (2160×1080), 3000mAh battery and a 13MP f/2.2 main camera that feels like every budget camera ever.

It doesn’t help matters that the camera app is rather barebones on the Q6, offering no manual controls.

TL;DR: It’s got a high screen/body ratio, but everything else on the LG Q6 feels low budget. The two saving graces are that you could get a free smartwatch and R1000 cashback when buying the phone.

HTC U Ultra

The Taiwanese company’s phones haven’t been available in South Africa for about two years now. But if you do plan to buy one of their phones, make sure it’s not the U Ultra.

It lacks water resistance and a headphone jack, features last year’s Snapdragon 821 chip, has a ho-hum main camera according to reviews and lacks microSD expansion. You can miss one or two of these features, but all of them? No thanks.

HTC fans will want to check out the U11, which ups the camera quality, introduces a squeeze gesture for shortcuts, offers a Snapdragon 835 chip and microSD expansion and brings IP67 water/dust resistance.

TL;DR: The HTC U Ultra doesn’t have one fatal flaw, but many that quickly stack up. Get the U11 instead, which fixes almost all the issues (still no 3.5mm jack though).

Lamborghini Alpha One

Have more cash than sense? Then the Lamborghini Alpha One is for you, picking up the overpriced luxury crown that Vertu dropped.

For US$2450, you get last year’s ZTE Axon 7 in tacky clothing. So that means an older Snapdragon 820 chip, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Axon 7 specs don’t stop there, featuring a 20MP f/1.8 camera and 5.5-inch 1440p AMOLED screen.

Price and dated processor aside, the biggest issue with the Alpha One is the crappy custom skin, reminiscent of 2013 Huawei. Speaking of the Chinese brand, I can’t help but feel that the Mate 10 Porsche edition is a better luxury phone than the Alpha One, toting a better camera setup, processor and an attractive design.

TL;DR: You’re paying a ton of cash for a US$400 ZTE Axon 7. The Mate 10 Porsche seems like the better luxury buy.



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