Holiday Guide 2012: Best Android Phone of the Year
Every year, it seems that we are inundated with a greater number of smartphone options. In fact, this choice is part of what makes Android great when compared to other alternatives. But at the same time, it can also be a bit overwhelming. So we’ll be breaking down the available options for this year’s Holiday season by carrier, as well as some carrier-independent options.
Big Red has one of the largest selections of Android devices in the industry. They also have not only been the most restrictive regarding bootloaders, but they also really want to see what you do with your device. That said, here are our top options for the Holiday Season.
HTC Droid DNA
The HTC Droid DNA is undoubtedly a special device. HTC’s late 2012 flagship packs powerful specs, a remarkably high resolution screen, and sleek curves to make any gadget lover drool. Along with its Japanese cousin the J Butterfly, the Droid DNA packs the first 1080p mobile phone display. Given the 5-inch display size, this equates to a remarkable 440 ppi.
Not just pretty to look at, the Droid DNA also packs a punch thanks to its 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, LTE connectivity, and 2020 mAh battery. While the development potential has yet to be seen, the DNA’s hardware is certainly top notch.
Also Consider: Motorola Droid RAZR HD
The Motorola Droid RAZR HD features a 720p, 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD screen, an 8 MP rear-facing camera capable of shooting 1080p video, a 1.3 MP front-facing camera, NFC, 4G LTE, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, and up to 24 hrs of battery life.
This is all packed into a thin Kevlar fiber case with waterproof coating. The RAZR HD is also global-ready, making it a perfect option if you’re on Verizon’s CDMA network in the States but need to travel internationally on occasion.
Big Blue has consistently brought high end devices in the market into their inventory, and this year is no exception. Adding to the carrier’s allure is their use of the same GSM frequencies as the majority of other carriers across the globe. Because of this, international devices will work on their network.
Sony Xperia TL
The Sony Xperia TL is the newest top-of-the-line device from Sony. With LTE connectivity, a 4.6-inch display packing a 720p resolution, NFC, a 13 MP rear-facing camera with 16x zoom, a 1.3 MP front-facing camera, and a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, the Xperia TL is certainly a powerful device.
And if that’s not enough, it’s also the device that James Bond uses. How could you go wrong?
T-Mobile continues to hang around, defying the odds for quite some time now. Some thought the failed acquisition by AT&T signaled doom for the carrier, but it seems to have re-energized their direction, and they’ve begun to expand again. Because they use slightly different frequencies than AT&T, not all international devices will work. But thanks to the failed acquisition, they were able to acquire additional AWS spectrum and more and more AT&T devices can work on the T-Mobile network.
Samsung Galaxy S III
The Galaxy S III is the successor to Samsung’s best-selling Galaxy S II. It has a bigger, 4.8″ 720p Super AMOLED HD display. Aside from the upgraded screen, the device also offers 2 GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 for all US variants.
It ships with Samsung’s Nature UX interface, which is the latest version of the OEM skin TouchWiz. It’s available in 16, 32, and 64GB configurations. It’s also available in pebble blue or marble white.
Sprint remains as the #3 carrier in the US, and this isn’t changing in the foreseeable future. Sprint has a habit of only carrying a few top-of-the-line options, but that looks like it might be changing thanks to recent additions to its lineup.
LG Optimus G
A close relative to the Google Nexus 4, the Optimus G is a quality device. The Optimus G delivers the same quad-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB RAM as it’s brother, but differs from the Nexus 4 with a 13MP camera and official support for LTE.
Needless to say, it offers top notch specs that ensure the phone won’t be outdated any time soon. It is also a global-ready device, giving you loads of flexibility when visiting other countries. If you’re looking for a very capable device on Sprint, we recommend taking a closer look.
Sometimes flagship devices are deployed across multiple carriers. It wouldn’t be fair to just list that one device and not pay attention to the other quality devices available for each carrier. Because of this, we have a separate category for this year’s flagship device that set the bar high for each carrier.
Samsung Galaxy S III
The hype for the Samsung Galaxy S III began the moment the Samsung Galaxy S II launched in early 2011. When the SGS3 debuted in early 2012, it was met with mixed reviews.
One thing that all US variants had in their favor was that the device would remain the same across carriers, allowing accessories to be interchangeable. Similarly, the internals were also the same across the board, with the exception of the radio. All variants feature a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2 GB RAM, a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD running at 720p, an 8MP rear-facing camera with 1080p video recording, and LTE on the Sprint/Verizon/AT&T versions.
After selling over 20 million units in 2012 alone, the SGS3 definitely deserves mention as a device to consider, even with the brick-bug debacle and the lack of Exynos source driving away custom development on the international variant, the GT-I9300.
Anytime you can buy something without the chains of a contract and reliance on a specific carrier, you, the consumer, wins.
Google Nexus 4
The Google Nexus 4 was just recently released, and it sold out across the globe within hours of being made available for purchase. Due to the Nexus 4’s ability to be used on all GSM networks in the US and abroad, it’s a great option (if you can get one) for those looking for a new device to use on any GSM carrier. With this being the first Nexus phone offering such top-of-the-line specs, it is certainly a device to look into.
The LG-built Google Nexus 4 is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, featuring four Krait cores and the class-leading Adreno 320 GPU. In addition to the fast processor, the Nexus 4 also packs 2 GB of RAM and either 8 or 16 GB of internal storage. The device also features a 4.7″ 720p display, delivering 320 ppi. Most importantly, the Nexus 4 is one of the two lead devices for Android 4.2, the revamped version of Jelly Bean.
Something a Bit Different…
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is another device from Samsung that rolled out across carriers in the world, and it is selling at an amazing rate. The Galaxy Note 2 doesn’t seem as monstrous in the hand as the original Note did, but still is a large device in comparison with a standard smartphone.
With a 5.55-inch PenTile-free Super AMOLED HD, 2 GB RAM, S Pen functionality, an 8 MP rear-facing camera, and a 1.9 MP front-facing camera, the Galaxy Note 2 is the preeminent business traveler or phablet-lover’s dream. And because the device packs the powerful 1.6 GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 processor, it is certainly no slouch. Feel free to check out our full review!
Now, we’d like to hear what is your favorite Android-powered smartphone for 2012!
Access our entire Holiday Guide 2012 by clicking the links below!
- Android Apps / Utilities of the Year
- OEM of the Year
- Best “Other” Device
- Best Windows Phone
- Most Hackable Phone
- Most Hackable Tablet
- Best Android Phone
- Best Android Tablet