Wow, phones really advance quickly, don’t they? It’s been just over a month since we last discussed which phones should replace your CrapTaculStar 9200 (and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be reading this unless it were true), yet so much has changed! As before, I’ll try to keep it simple and break it down by who your phone-self is (rather than simply what carrier you are currently on).
Oh, and one caveat: I’m leaving the actual work of finding/looking at details/buying these phones up to you. I would recommend searching for these devices on Phone Arena before making any decisions.
Person 1: I’m not really sure what I want, except it should be like, really fast right? Oh, and a touchscreen. It should have a touchscreen. I’m not really sure if I’m an “Apple person.”
Phone: Apple iPhone 4S (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint)
Price: $200 on contract
Once again, let’s just stop pretending that you want to put much thought into this purchase. As we all know, the iPhone is wildly popular and for good reason: it’s fast, simple, does almost everything, and is small and stylish. Earlier last month there were reports of an odd battery bug, where the phone was unable to hold a charge for very long, but this has basically been fixed with a software update. The jury’s still out on Siri, the cool but perhaps useless “personal assistant” that responds to your voice and knows where you are. Scared? It also packs an upgraded camera and a faster processor that the iPhone 4. Interestingly, the T-Mobile merger by AT&T appears to no longer be on the table, with some unusually spiteful language from the FCC. Sadly, that probably means an iPhone is still not in the cards for T-Mobile lovers. Otherwise, you’re good to go on any carrier, and the Verizon and Sprint versions are even world phones, which means they’ll operate anywhere with GSM (which is almost every country), with an added international data plan of course. Finally, the older iPhone 4 can still be had for $100 on contract, although it of course lacks the fancier features of the iPhone 4S. It’s still a great phone, though.
Person 2: I hate Apple, Steve Jobs, and the color white. Is there not a phone out there for me?
Phone: Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Price: $299 on contract, unofficially (Verizon, others to follow?)
Remember when I said this one was most likely coming out in mid-November, so I felt confident recommending it early? Yah well it’s still not officially available on Verizon, which is a major bummer. There’s no clear reason why, but many suspect it’s Verizon’s doing; they’d rather pump their other, arguably less note-worthy phones (the Droid RAZR and the Rezound, more on those below).
It has been released in Europe, and all of the reviews essentially say it is the best Android phone ever and quite possibly the best smartphone period. It has Android 4.0 (technically 4.1) on board, which is the biggest overhaul of Android yet. Everyone says that the operating system is smooth and intuitive — generally not what’s said about Android phones — and now that Google finally has books, music, and movies (in addition to apps, obviously) there’s very little that Apple has over it. The promise with Android has always been that it’s open and customizable, so you can make it whatever you want, but the reality is that it’s often complicated and sluggish as a result.
The current rumors have the Nexus’ release as 12/9/2011, so more than likely it will be available by the time you read this. My only hesitation is the price, which at $299 is not cheap, although it comports with the other high-end phones on Verizon. It’s not a small consolation that you’re getting 32gb of storage rather than the usual 16gb.
Fare warning: this is a large phone. With a 4.65″ HD display, it is large, but it is also very thin. Plus, it omits buttons on the front and has a thin screen bezel. Coupled with the tapered design, it is apparently very comfortable in the hand. Or at least, more than you’d think, for being so large.
This will be my next phone.
Oh, and while only Google has so far confirmed it’s coming to Verizon, it’s safe to assume the other carriers will get it eventually. Why am I getting it on Verizon, then? Aside from being the first to carry it, Verizon will also probably be the only one with LTE (aka, true 4g speeds). There is a very slim chance AT&T will release an LTE version, but it’s more likely they’ll sell the European version (which incidentally, works on AT&T and T-Mobile right now…if you’re willing to pay the approximately $700 full price).
Person 3: I have T-Mobile. What is this iFone I keep hearing about?
Phone: Samsung Galaxy S II
Price: $179 on contract
Not to be confused with the Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy S II is still an excellent phone with a speedy processor and graphics, a beautiful screen, a great camera, and an elegant if perhaps unremarkable design. For T-Mobile, this is as good as you’re going to get for a while. Sadly, there aren’t really any major phones rumored for T-Mobile’s near future. I suspect back when the merger with AT&T still seemed likely, they didn’t worry about having so many phones lined up for the end of 2011/beginning of 2012. “Oh, fuck it, by then we’ll be in the loving embrace of Ma’ Bell!” This seems unfortunate if you’re tied to a contract, but the Galaxy S II is no slouch. It’s not my first choice, but I wouldn’t be upset if it were my phone. Two months ago everyone was saying it was the best Android phone ever. It’s currently not running Android 4.0, but Samsung promises an update…at some point.
Person 5: I really cannot operate my phone without a keyboard. A smartphone is a tiny computer, and computers have mice.
Phone: Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon) / Samsung Captivate Slide (AT&T) /HTC myTouch 4G Slide (T-Mobile) / Samsung Epic 4G (Sprint)
Price:Varies by carrier.
Once again I must ask, are you sure? Have you played with someone’s iPhone or large-screen Android phone for 10 minutes and definitively determined you just cannot type on a screen? I am definitely not against keyboards — I’m using one now in face — I just think that once you get your fancy keyboarded phone and really get down to using it for a long period of time, you’ll probably end up using the keys much less than you imagined. Yet you’ll be stuck with those keys. I would estimate I’m 30/70: keys/screen.
Interestingly, the Droid 4 is coming out less than a year after the Droid 3 (which itself came out less than a year after the Droid 2). Can we expect the Droid 6 by this time next year? Reviews are still not yet out on the Droid 4, though we can expect it to perform similarly to the Droid RAZR (i.e., just fine, but not amazing…with a maybe not great screen) except obviously with keys.
Whereas the first three phones all have modern processors, I’m loath to recommend the Epic 4G at this point since it is still using the aging processor from mid-2010. Sadly, there really is no other option on Sprint. They seem to have put a lot of effort and money into getting the iPhone, and you can see it in their recently lacking Android phones. Plus, this is a WiMax phone — like all of Sprint’s other 4G phones — which is unfortunate considering Sprint announced they would be switching to LTE (the much preferred 4G technology, widely used by Verizon and soon-to-be AT&T) by the middle of next year. Still, it just received an updated to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which is something I guess.
Person 6: And the rest…
Phone: HTC Rezound (Verizon) / Motorola Droid RAZR (Verizon) / LG Nitro HD (AT&T) / Samsung Epic 4G Touch (Sprint)
Price: Varies by carrier.
Not that any of these phones are as terrible as yours, but they’re just not at the top of my list. I include them only because, perhaps there is a person out there who just can’t wait for the Galaxy Nexus, which is by nearly all qualifiers just plain better. None of these phones will be released with Android 4.0, so you’ll be stuck waiting months (as opposed to those who have the Nexus) for the cool new features. It is an unfortunate part of owning an Android phone, but maybe you don’t care, in which case sure! Just blow your brains out on one of these phones! They all have the 4g’s and the dual-cores and the absurd names you’re craving.
Person Z: I needs me my Blackberry!
Phone: Aha ha ha ha ha ha
No one really knows what the fuck is going on with RIM (Research in Motion…they um, make your Blackberry) these days. They’ve posted some pretty bad quarterly losses recently. Their aging Playbook tablet is definitely a flop. They released a bunch of phones over the summer that would have been amazing…had they been released in 2009. RIM does have something mildly interesting on the horizon, but they haven’t really released an specifics (specifications, price, release date, carriers), so it’s obviously impossible to make a recommendation. This is extremely nerdy, but in case you’re wondering why, it’s because RIM chose to acquire QNX — a company that makes robust embedded operating systems (like for machinery and shit) — but still hasn’t figured out how to adopt it in their phones. Just look to the Playbook, which lacks native email!, as guidance on that front.