by Rick Broida April 10, 2017 5:14 AM PDT @cheapskateblog
CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.
I use an iPhone 6s Plus, and I like it just fine. But the time will come when I need to replace it, which leaves me with a dilemma: I will not buy a phone that lacks a headphone jack, meaning this is very likely the end of the road for this longtime iPhone user.
The other dilemma, of course, is that a lot of Android-powered hardware is soooo much cheaper. And cheap Android hardware is getting soooo much better.
Case in point: For a limited time, and for Prime subscribers only, Amazon has the unlocked Motorola Moto G5 Plus (32GB) for $184.99 shipped. That's $45 off the regular price of this new phone, which hit the streets barely a month ago and was already a solid deal. (Want the 64GB model, which also has 4GB of RAM instead of 2GB? It's $239.99, down from $299.99.)
This is what I'd describe as an embarrassment of riches, at least at this price. Let me run down a few of the cooler perks: 5.2-inch 1080p screen, metal case, fingerprint reader, 12-megapixel camera, microSD expansion slot (meaning this can turn into a 64GB phone with the addition of an $11 memory card) and Android 7.0.
Oh, and it's compatible with all the major carriers, to say nothing of the smaller ones. Anyplace you can BYO phone, you can bring this one.
CNET hasn't yet reviewed the G5 Plus, but this hands-on preview hits the highlights. I think anyone considering this model probably starts by asking the same question: What's the catch? According to Patrick Holland: "There isn't one."
Actually, there are two: The battery isn't replaceable, and this is one of Amazon's "with lockscreen offers and ads" phones, meaning you can't customize the lockscreen with, say, a photo of the dog, the kids, your partner, etc. Instead, you'll see what Amazon wants you to see, which is invariably going to be some kind of product.
I have no problem with that on a tablet or ereader, but I suspect it might bug me on a phone. Granted, you typically see the lockscreen for all of a second before you swipe or fingerprint-read past it. And, hey, some of Amazon's offers are actually pretty good. But I like seeing Mrs. Cheapskate's face, even if it's just for a second. So I don't know if this could be the phone that replaces my iPhone. Certainly it's representative of some the amazing Android hardware you can buy for a fraction of the cost.
Why haven't I already made the move? Simple: I don't like Android. I can get used to it, but I just like iOS better.
Unfortunately, I can see the day coming when I'll have no choice but to switch. Thanks a lot, Apple.
Bonus deal: Remember desktop publishing? The need still exists, yet the software has just about vanished. Case in point: Serif PagePlus, one of the all-time great DTP programs, is now a legacy product, meaning you can still buy it, but there will be no updates, and the only available tech support comes via community forums. (Serif is developing a replacement, Affinity Publisher, but it's not yet available -- and it'll certainly fetch a higher price.)
If you can live with that, there's a great deal to be had: Serif PagePlus X9 for $24.99. (If you're good at backing up your PC, you can opt out of the $2.99 download insurance, which appears in your cart by default. Oh, and for heaven's sake, don't buy the user guide for $14.99; it's readily available online as a PDF.)
That's the most recent version of the software; it debuted a little over a year ago. PagePlus helps you with any and all page-formatting tasks you might have: newsletters, invitations, invoices, flyers, brochures and so on. If you've ever tried to build such documents in a word processor, you know that's some tough sledding.
In PagePlus, it's a breeze to assemble text, graphics and other elements, then output your documents in various print or electronic formats. I'm a huge fan of this product, and happy to see it's available on the cheap -- though I guess there's a bit of caveat emptor here given the lack of support and updates. Your thoughts?