I researched what was out there and made some guesses about what was coming up. The HTC U11 seemed to hit the sweet spot for me. So far I have been very happy with the purchase.
Pros of the U11
- Much faster. Pretty obvious that is is a newer device + processor so it should be
- Nice to not have to look at USB cable every time you plug it in - no upside down mode
- Responsive - I am not seeing lag when starting apps etc.
- Solid sound. Note 4 was tinny at best and easy to block speaker when holding it normally
- Rounded - easier on all parts of the hand to hold this device
- Fast charging
- Solid battery life even with lots of screen usage
- Can finally do slo-mo videos
- Solid camera
- Comes with noise cancelling ear buds - sound good and do block the noise
- I have Nougat
- Squeeze to access camera. I think this is a handy usable gimmick.
Cons of the U11
- Lost my Stylus - did not use it a ton but when I did it was very helpful
- Screen is not as vibrant with its colors - everything is crisp though
- Non-removable battery. I did replace the battery on the Note 4 as it aged
- No headphone jack but I rarely use headphones and it did come with a dongle to use with older headphones / earbuds.
- No IR blaster. Another thing I used from time to time but did not rely upon.
The pros greatly outweigh the cons. This was a great upgrade and I am super happy with my purchase. Ordered off Amazon along with a few extra USB-C cables. We had some in the house for my wife's Axon 7 but not enough as I needed one in car, one at work, one for laptop and one for computer room where I use phone for debugging.
Surprised I had to install the HTC software on the Mac to be able to debug over USB. Mac usually does not care about drivers. Once configured it worked great and beats the heck out of using Android file transfer crap when I do want to get photos off the phone. APKs push so much faster to the device as well. Probably a mix of USB-C and faster device.
I don't have any complaints about the phone. It has taken everything I have tossed at it.
I did switch from Llama to Automagic. Llama was free and worked for years but it has not been updated in years and it was showing some issues with Nougat. Since Automagic is not free I tried the 10 day trial version off their website. After a day I paid for the full version. It has worked like a champ. I had to configure more to get my standard flows to work but it is more powerful. Wife was ready for a change as well so she is running Automagic now too.
My setup is pretty basic:
Enter house -> enable WiFi and connect to it
Leave house -> disable WiFi, set phone to normal sound
Enter work -> enable WiFi, connect, set phone to vibrate
Leave work -> disable WiFi, set phone to normal sound
10:30 PM -> set phone to vibrate only mode
6:30 AM -> set phone to normal sound
As for other phones I considered:
Waiting on Pixel 2. I knew it would get near instant Android updates but the current series was hard to find in stock, had crappy speakers like the Note 4 and probably would cost a couple hundred more than the U11. Plus my birthday / father's day was great time to do a phone upgrade. The wait was going to be for longer that I was willing to hold out.
OnePlus 5. I am just iffy on their long term support. After it came out I was happy I skipped this one. I like the quad res screen over 1080 especially for Google Cardboard.
Newer LG phones. Seems the boot loop issue and other quality issues around LG continue to haunt them. Nothing on the phones really jumped out at me.