The camera hardware in my old Samsung Galaxy Note 4 died, so I treated myself to a new phone. I thought seriously about trying the Essential PH-1, which seems to have some really innovative features, but ultimately for me a phone needs to be a workhorse that can withstand abuse, and the PH-1 has a battery that’s not only sealed in, but by most accounts is not replaceable even by an expert.
After some research I bought an unlocked new LG V20 from about two years ago ($200). A bunch of new/old stock V20s are floating around on eBay with two bulk-sellers. It was the most recent model I could find that still supports user-swappable batteries.
Love most of the LG tweaks to Android. Far superior to the SAMSUNG flavor. And as an added bonus, it’s got a USB-C port, so I don’t have to figure out whether I’m holding the micro-USB cable right-side up before I plug it in to charge. Someday, on my deathbed, all I will ask for is the return of all the time I spent flipping MFing USB cables over to get the polarity correct. Oh, and that the inventors of USB should please burn in Hell.
It was built as a Verizon model (flashed to CDMA), and I use AT&T (GSM thankfully), but it was unlocked, so a few minutes googling APN configs got me the magic settings to connect to AT&T’s 4G network.
I suppose, unfortunately, this is the last phone I’ll ever own with a user-swappable battery. Such a useful feature couldn’t possibly survive in a world where all the handset makers want everybody on the planet to be forced to buy a new phone every 18 months or so.
FYI, the APN settings I used, which gets me access to even 4G speeds on AT&T’s network, are as follows:
NAME: net 10 via AT&T Tracfone;APN: tftdata; Proxy: Not set; Port: Not set; Username: Not set; Password: Not set; Server: Not set; MMSC: http://mmsc.mobile.att.net; MMS Proxy: proxy.mobile.att.net; MMS Port:80; MCC: 310; MNC: 410; Authentication type: PAP; APN type: default,mms,supl,hipri;APN Protocol:IPv4;APN roaming protocol:IPv4; APN enabled; Bearer:LTE