Monday, June 13, 2011

Which Android Phone Should You Carry This Summer? Best and Budget.

 Remember the good ol' days of smartphone yore, you had your iPhone on AT&T, your proprietary quasi-smart/feature-phones on each carrier, You had your Blackberry, and you had one or two emerging Android devices on each carrier. Now that question is not nearly so cut and dry, with over a hundred devices of all shapes and sizes world-wide, ChicagolAndroid tries to sort it all for you and give you our 2 best picks for each of the big 4 providers. One a high range latest greatest "Super Phone", and a good deal bang for your buck phone that will still have all Android can offer. 

   ** I debated on whether or not to include phones that are scheduled for release this summer but are not as of this writing available to purchase and decided to add a section for a personal wishlist of yet to be released Super Phones. This makes me wonder if this article is a bit  premature as what appears to be what I deem Android's "3rd generation" of phones are on the verge of release. Stay tuned for my next post, A first look at the next gen devices.

  We'll start this one off with Sprint:

 Right now if you want their best phone get the Nexus S 4G. 1Ghz Hummingbird processor, 512 Mb RAM, 16GB onboard flash memory for storage. It's sleek and sexy and fast. For one of the last of the single core top of the line phones, it's the best out there. It's a pure Google phone which means it is Android untouched by other manufacturers. I don't say this to bad mouth what manufacturers do to Android but only because you will get OS updates as fast as Google releases them. I actually like some of the things other manufacturers have done to Android, I just hate waiting for updates. A couple things to consider however if you are on Sprint is if you have a large media collection the Nexus S does not have a removable SD card. Also If you prefer a slide out qwerty keyboard consider the Epic 4G. It is so close to being as good as the Nexus as to have almost won me over in this comparison.

    For those looking for the best deal and can't quite see spending that kind of dough on a phone, don't worry Sprint also has a great line of entry level Android phones that do about everything the above do in a slightly smaller package.
 My pick would be the LG Optimus S.

This is a steal at $19.99 with a contract $299 without. It comes in black or purple has a 3.2 inch display and runs Android 2.2 froyo need I say more? 600Mhz processor, 512 mg RAM, comes with a 2GB Micro SD card expandable to 32 GB. for your storage needs. The 3.2 display is plenty big enough to use a virtual keyboard. We have an old MyTouch I use to test apps on for screen size and have no problems navigating the buttons. But once again if you prefer a hard keyboard I would suggest spending a little more and getting the Samsung Transform, even though I still think the LG a superior device.

   Keep reading though if your willing to wait because Sprint has a soon to be released phone that will be one to watch for.

    Moving on to T-Mobile:

 For the Top Dog, this is the LG G2X shown above. the first dual core nvidia Tegra 2 powered phone for T-mobile. This thing is sweet all the way around. Comes with an 8MP rear camera and a front facing camera for video calls. The screen is 4 inch Gorilla Glass which is non-scratchable. Most phone tech blogs agree that 4 inches is the sweet spot for screen size. I am one of them.   This phone will run on T-mobile's HSPA+ which they call 4G, and will work on AT&T just fine if the merger goes through.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
It is advertised to come with Froyo 2.2 but will be upgradeable to gingerbread 2.3.

I had a very hard time in choosing a recommendation for the budget device as T-mobile carries such a wide selection of phones running Android.

My pick was once again an LG Optimus but this time with the "T" label for "T-Mobile" I've inserted a side by side above of both the T-mobile version and the Sprint version. They have very minor differences in look but are both  great devices. This one shows a few colors ranging in price from free with contract to $39.99 with contract but all appear to be $189 off contract which in my mind is a steal.

  -As an aside, before doing research for this story I had not considered LG as having such a solid Android line-up. I'm surprised to find they are making great phones and even a tablet you should check out called the "T-Mobile G-Slate"

Next up in the comparison is Verizon Wireless:

    Verizon's winner in the Super Phone category has to be the Droid Charge by Samsung (above). This device is a bit pricey at $299 on contract but worth it if your on Verizon as they are by far the most expensive of the 4 for handsets. It has the 4G LTE that everyone is banking on to be the next technology in high speed long range wireless data, along with all the bells and whistles a Super Phone of today should have. I'm talking 4.3" display, GHz hummingbird processor, 8MP rear camera with a front facing camera also. My only disappointment is that it is not shipping with a dual core chip.

   Now onto the entry level device. Once again I am all but blown away at the shear number of phones that run Android! especially on the last two carriers T-Mo and Verizon. Verizon is kind of the odd one here because as of this writing the only inexpensive devices are the Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate at a whopping $49.99 on contract or the Motorola Citrus for free with contract. I'm sorry folks but that has to go to the  Fascinate (below)

This one however is by no means in the same ball-park as the other entry level devices. I own a Samsung Galaxy S phone on T-mobile and it is still a monster by today's standards. It's slim, sexy and fast with a 4inch super Amoled display and 1GHz hummingbird processor. Now granted some of the first Galaxy S phones were "laggy" but updates have fixed that problem mostly. My personal phone is highly modified and uses a Linux EXT 4 file system thanks to the Supercurio at XDA, and is arguably more responsive than any but the Nexus S. Bottom line is this is an unbelievable deal.

   Ok now for AT&T:
    I present to you folks the Samsung Infuse 4G*! this one you can pick up for $199 on contract, $549 out right. I actually went into this thinking the Atrix was was going to win. But after many times mulling all the info over and taking my reader's best interests to heart I just have to concede that the single core Infuse wins over the dual core Atrix. Why? it has a better camera, a 4.5 inch Super-Amoled display and you have not seen these you Super-Amoled screens you do yourself a disservice. Nothing looks so clean and pure. Blacks are actually true black with no power at the crystal. saves battery and creates a very high def plasma-like experience that actually is viewable outside. Storage was another selling point. Much like my Vibrant it comes with a healthy 16GB internal with an SD slot to add up to 32GB more. It also has an 8 MP camera rear, front camera, HDMI capability and tons more features.

For the budget Android I chose the Sony Xperia X10 (below)
This phone originally caught flak because at the time of release it still had Android 1.6 while the rest of the world had at least 2.1 or 2.2. It now runs Android 2.1 and has a lot of great hardware specs that make the $29.99 on contract price tag well worth it. I like the look of this phone. It is not the cookie cutter iPhone replica we see a lot of lately and It's no slouch. It has a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and plenty of on board storage for all your apps. It also has an SD card slot . One thing that really sets this apart for the price is the camera. It comes with an 8MP camera so if photo's are your thing, this would be a good bet:)

I hope this article has helped some of you find a great Android companion. It is truly amazing the world we live in and Android has sure made my life much more enjoyable. Of course I'm a tech head and major geek.

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