The best upgrade options for 10 classic smartphones

By Team Digit | Updated 11 Jun 2015
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We see new smartphones coming out everyday, yet we hold on to our precious old phones that we are used to. Most of us only upgrade when our phones are on their last legs, which usually occurs two (or three) years after purchase. When you buy a new phone, you are usually looking for something that is similar to your older phone, yet better.

We look at some classic phones from the last two years (The average upgrade cycle) and suggest the best alternatives for you. The smartphones are selected based on how similar they are to the older phones, and how they improve upon them. 

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The Classic: Samsung Galaxy S3

It released a year after the extremely successful Galaxy S2, and eclipsed the popularity of its predecessor. The S3 flew off the shelves, and was one of the most popular phones of 2012, and for a few months, it continued to be ahead of its successor, the Galaxy S4.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Samsung Galaxy S3

Moto X (2014)

Price: Rs. 21,999

We see the Moto X as one of the most obvious alternatives to the Galaxy S3, because it improves upon it in nearly every aspect, while not compromising on much. You have a compact design, a dazzling Full HD Screen and a blazing fast Snapdragon 801 Processor. You also don’t have to wait for updates unlike the S3, which still hasn’t seen the Lollipop update.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S6

Starting Price: Rs. 39,000 (approx)

The Galaxy S6 is a representation of a shift in Samsung’s design philosophy. Those looking for an upgrade to the S3 won’t be disappointed, since it is still very compact and has an excellent screen, a great processor and thankfully, Samsung doesn’t go overboard with the customizations in Lollipop.

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The Classic: Apple iPhone 4s

iPhones have come and gone, but the 4s has withstood the test of time. A testament to this is the fact that the 4s is still selling in many countries, and the latest software update doesn’t withdraw support for the 4s, as it does for older devices. Still, the 4s is not like it once was and you do need an upgrade.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Apple iPhone 4s

Apple iPhone 6

Starting Price: 43,500 (approx)

It is a marked change from the design of the iPhone 4s, but it is still pretty compact and comfortable to use. Not much is to be said about iOS, which is still and excellent operating system. The iPhone 6 is the 4s, with a better screen, a better processor and a better Camera, in a bigger package.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Apple iPhone 4s

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Price: Rs. 32,000 (approx)

The one thing most people love about the 4s, and even the iPhone 5, is its compact size. But the market has shifted towards bigger smartphones, with no smaller flagships except for the Xperia Z3 Compact, which is neck to neck with the Z3, but in a smaller package. You want a small phone, you got it.

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The Classic: Nexus 4

It was the first relatively inexpensive Nexus Phone, and the first Nexus to actually appeal to the masses. It has a really nice design, with glass on the back. The Nexus 4 is still a great phone, and chugs along great on Lollipop, even as phones from that era struggle with daily tasks, and haven’t even received the Lollipop update.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Nexus 4

Moto X (2014)

Starting Price: Rs. 21,999

The Moto X is an excellent phone, and while it is bigger than the the Nexus 4, nearly every phone is. It offers an experience as close to stock as possible, and Motorola has been doing a good job with the updates. It also has some goodies like ‘Always on Listening’ and a few other features that you may like.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Nexus 4

OnePlus One

Starting Price: Rs. 18,998

If you are looking to compromise on size but improve on just about everything else, you got the OnePlus One. Technically, it isn’t stock Android and it runs on Cyanogen OS, but there are no major UI Customizations, and Cyanogen is updating it fairly frequently.

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The Classic: Blackberry Bold

When you think of classic phones, the image of a Blackberry is often one that pops up. Blackberry phones used to be extremely popular, and just about everyone desired them. The Bold was the last classic Blackberry Phone, and now, the market has moved on to touchscreen smartphones. No longer do we find those QWERTY keyboards anywhere, and for those looking for a phone that supports extensive typing, the only option is to stick with the Bold.

But is it, really?

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Blackberry Bold

Blackberry Q5

Price: Rs. 19,000 (approx)

Yes, Blackberry still makes phones, and yes, they still have the excellent keyboards. The Q5 is faster, has a better screen and is available in a wide-variety of colors. We would have recommended the Q10, but we feel it is too expensive for what it offers, and the Q5 is mostly the same anyway.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Blackberry Bold

Apple iPhone 6

Starting Price: 43,500 (approx)

Yes, it is a whole different ecosystem but it is definitely the better ecosystem. Provided you’re okay with moving away from a physical keyboard, the iPhone 6 is an excellent phone, and for a size just slightly bigger than the Blackberry Bold, you get a large luxurious screen, and with a bit of practice, you can type fairly fast on it. Sure, typos run abound, but in exchange for that, you get access to a great ecosystem.

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The Classic: HTC One

Once Android Phones weren’t known for their design. They all had plastic shells and uninspired designs, while their rivals, the iPhones were clad in aluminium. The HTC One M7 changed that, with a phone fashioned out of a single block of Metal.

The design remains timeless, but the internals do age, which is why it is time to upgrade.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the HTC One

HTC M9+

Price: Rs. 48,000 (approx)

If you liked the design of the M7, but it got a little slow for you, the M9+ is the obvious upgrade. It maintains the same design but with a few tasteful upgrades. It has a top of the line Mediatek true octa-core processor that gives you blazing fast performance. What you get is the M7 from the outside, upgraded from the inside.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the HTC One

Samsung Galaxy S6

Starting Price: Rs. 39,000 (approx)

We said it once, and we would say it again, the S6 is one of the best Android Phones on the market, and we would happily recommend it if you are looking for an upgrade to the HTC One.

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The Classic: Motorola Moto G

At a time when inexpensive Android phones were pretty terrible, the Moto G came out to change the game. It released at an extremely low price, and had a good screen, a good processor and ran the latest version of Android. It wasn’t a flagship killer, but it was just enough. A just enough at a good price was the perfect formula, and the Moto G sold millions of units all around the world.

You may be looking for an upgrade now, for an affordable phone with great specs. And we think we have found excellent alternatives.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Motorola Moto G

Xiaomi Mi4i

Price: Rs. 12,999

The Mi4i is hands down one of the best phones available in the budget segment. It has a blazing fast processor, a dazzling Full HD Screen and ample amount of RAM. Plus, it is extremely affordable.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Motorola Moto G

Asus Zenfone 2

Starting Starting price: Rs. 12,999

Sure, it is not as well-known as the Mi4i, but the least expensive variant of the Zenfone 2 is a pretty capable phone. It is not absurdly powerful, but it is pretty great for day to day usage, and that’s why it is the alternative to the alternative.

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The Classic: Nokia Lumia 1020

Everyone knows that Nokia makes some great cameras. It introduced the Pureview technology in the Pureview 808, and it was absolutely amazing, putting 40 megapixels of data in 8 extremely detailed megapixels. The technology evolved to the Lumia 1020, the first Windows Phone with Pureview tech, and got rave reviews for its camera.

We all are waiting for the Lumia 1020’s successor, but it is nowhere to be seen. But we did find some capable alternatives.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Nokia Lumia 1020

Lumia 930

Price: Rs. 29,000 (approx)

It has a faster processor, by virtue of which the 20MP Pureview Camera is much faster than on the 1020. It captures very detailed photos, is fast, and Windows Phone looks great, which is why we have no qualms in recommending it.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Nokia Lumia 1020

Samsung Galaxy S6

Starting Price: Rs. 39,000 (approx)

You are probably tired of seeing the S6 mentioned again and again, but there’s no denying it: The S6 is the best phone in the market, and it has a camera like no other.

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The Classic: Sony Xperia Z

The Xperia Z series marked the time when Sony got serious with its Android flagships. It had a great design that still looks great, and it was pretty fast, but its screen was absolutely terrible. Now, Sony isn’t doing anything unique with its flagships, which is why it’s time for an alternative.

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Upgrade Alternative for the Sony Xperia Z

Samsung Galaxy S6

Starting Price: Rs. 39,000 (approx)

We promise, this is the last time. The Xperia Z was a flagship, and a capable one at that. And we feel the S6 is the best upgrade you can get.

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The Classic: Samsung Galaxy Note

Some would praise the Note for putting the spotlight on the phablet market, and some would curse it. The fact is that the Note is a very notable phone, with a big screen and pretty good performance. But lots of time has passed, and you sorely need an upgrade.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Price: Rs. 40,000 (approx)

Yes, four generations of the Note have gone past, and each was much better than the last. The Note 4 has a 5.7 inch Screen in a 5.5 Inch body, and while it is bigger than the original Note, it is also narrower, making it more portable. The Note 4 offers blazing fast performance, and that’s why we are recommending it.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Samsung Galaxy Note

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Starting Price: Rs. 50,000 (approx)

Sacrilege! You may turn your nose up when we recommend the iPhone 6 Plus, which got into the phablet game too late. Yet, the iPhone 6 Plus has a great ecosystem, a great camera and is one of the best phablets on the market.

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The Classic: Lumia 520

The Lumia 520 is one of the most successful Windows Phone devices, and that’s due to it being very affordable. There are quite a few alternatives now.

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Upgrade Alternative #1 for the Lumia 520

Lumia 535

Price: Rs. 7,000 (approx)

If you are looking to stick with Windows Phone, you always have the Lumia 535, which improves upon the 520 in the areas you want.

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Upgrade Alternative #2 for the Lumia 520

Yu Yureka

Price: Rs. 8,999

If you feel the Windows Phone ecosystem is too limited, why not switch to Android, which has a much larger app ecosystem? The Yu Yureka is a great phone in the sub-10K segment, and is truly value for money, with a great processor, a great screen and regular updates.

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