gGadget > The Top 5 Smartphones of Early 2012
It seems like new phones are being announced every day. The onslaught can make it hard to choose the right phone for you. The gGadget team thinks there are some standout options if you’re looking to buy this year. We went through dozens of phones to find you what we consider to be the best of the bunch. Some came out late in 2011 or early 2012 and one hasn’t even been released yet. The Apple iPhone 4S, Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, LG Nitro HD, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and HTC Titan II are our picks for early 2012. Find out which phone fits your needs below.
Everyone knows about the iPhone. If you haven’t heard of it you’ve been under a rock for the last five years since the original model was released. The 4S model is just the latest in the line. Each iPhone looks and feels very similar, but Apple adds new features and functionality with each update. The latest innovation is a personal assistant named Siri.
Siri won’t pick up your dry cleaning or scoop the leaves out of the pool in the fall, but she’ll handle many other requests you can throw at her. Siri is essentially a program that responds to all your questions and requests. Think about how many times you’ve called your children for help with some technology or another. Last time it was your laptop, and next time it might be your DVR that’s causing issues. Siri can answer all those questions and more.
Simply call Siri up by taping on the phone and ask her your question. If you say, “My laptop won’t start, what do I do?” Siri will scour the web for the best solution so you can fix the problem. Siri also follows commands, so you can ask her to dial numbers for you or compose text messages. You’ll be able to stay connected safely while travelling in the car. You can also use this feature when your fingers get tired of typing on the keyboard after a long day. GadgetReview had some issues with Siri being unresponsive at times, but Apple has since worked out the kinks.
The iPhone is also top-notch when it comes to build quality. The phone isn’t as large as some of our other choices, which means you will sacrifice some screen size for portability. Much of the phone is glass (including the touchscreen on front) so the phone can be fragile without a case. Fortunately there are plenty of case options to protect your investment. The phone costs $200 to $300 depending on storage space and is available for use with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint plans. If you want a rock solid, medium-size phone with a personal assistant built right in the iPhone 4S is for you.
Remember the Razr phone? It was one of the early flip phones and its rise to fame and popularity came because of how thin it was. It’s likely you or someone you knew had the phone at some point as there were 130 million sold. The Droid Razr Maxx is the phone’s bigger second cousin.
The Razr Maxx is all about three things: It’s big, it’s thin and it’s built to run for a long time on a single charge. The first two items on the list might seem mutually exclusive, but that isn’t the case here. The screen is quite large, which means you won’t have to strain to see or type on this phone. Flip the Razr on its side and you’ll realize that thinness runs in the family. The phone was designed to be thin despite having a large battery, which lead to the expanded screen space.
Remember the last time your phone ran out of juice? Maybe you didn’t charge it the night before, or you had to take more business calls than normal throughout the day. According to Gear Diary, that won’t be an issue with this phone because it has an amazing 21.5 hours of talk time on a single charge. You’ll be hard-pressed to run the Razr’s battery dry in a day or even two. Some people might find the phone a bit cumbersome because of its size, but we think the thinness and extra battery power more than makes up for it. At $300 on Verizon, it’s at the high end of the price spectrum, but the functionality is also off the charts. If you’re the person who’s always looking for an outlet to charge your phone then the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx is for you.
LG has long been a player in the cell phone market. You might have had a flip phone carrying the LG insignia before smartphones were in anyone’s wildest dreams. The company has advanced with the times and has several models on the market. The one we like best is the LG Nitro HD on AT&T. The HD in the name stands for high definition, so you know the viewing experience is going to be the main draw here.
Think about the long march of television technology. The latest and greatest benchmark for what makes a good TV has to be high definition. If you’ve already made the switch you know how many options there are to choose from and how difficult the process can be. Fortunately, you won’t have the same issue with phones because there aren’t many that can claim to be HD. The Nitro uses similar technology that is sized down into cell phone form. You won’t need to squint with this phone, whether you’re inside at home or outdoors on a very sunny day. The screen is bright and will make you want to take your TV shows and movies along with you. If you’re waiting for an appointment or on lunch at work you’ll be able to pull out your phone and watch your favorites like you’re at home with your flatscreen.
We won’t get into the particulars, but there’s some amazing technology to make the screen such a powerhouse. The important thing for you is that your days of squinting and trying to hold the phone at just the right distance and angle are over. According to reviews from Coolest Gadgets, the LG Nitro HD’s screen is the epitome of clarity and perfect color in every situation you can imagine. For $200 you can have the joy of knowing you’ll never struggle to see your phone’s screen again.
Are you a Googler? Then you’re the kind of person who will look up information just for the sake of knowing it. Google and the advent of the smartphone mean that there’s never an argument or wager about facts that can’t be settled on the spot. You might not have heard, but Google has been in the phone business for a few years now. Several “Google phones” exist, and the latest is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Google makes things easy. It started when your tech-savvy brother created your Gmail address for email and it has blossomed from there. Now you use Google Docs to keep track of your writing and spreadsheets, and Google Calendar is the only way you know what’s on tap for the day. If this sounds like you — or if it sounds like who you want to be — then the Google phone is for you. MobileBurn.com says the Google experience on the Galaxy Nexus is better than any other. The Nexus is also at the forefront of Android, which is Google’s operating system. Other phones have Android, but the Nexus is the first phone to get the newest build called Ice Cream Sandwich. The experience is much better on this phone as a result. It also comes with new features like facial recognition. That’s right, you can lock your phone and make it so only you — or your identical twin — can open it. Overall, the Android experience is top notch in the Nexus, in everything from scrolling to the new and advanced web browser.
Even if you’re not a Googler (yet) you’ll find plenty to appreciate in this phone. The connection is blazing fast in cities where Verizon has started to offer its 4G service. Think about the normal download time for your phone now and minimally cut it in half and you’ll get an idea of what we mean. The battery isn’t quite as advanced as some of the options we’ve discussed, and the screen isn’t quite up to HD standards. The $300 price tag might seem a bit steep as a result, but the true Google user will appreciate seamless experience you can’t find anywhere else.
You can get all of the previous phones right now, but you’re going to have to wait a little bit for the HTC Titan II. The phone will be available to AT&T subscribers in mid-March, but the buzz is already building around one core feature of the phone. HTC is stepping into uncharted territory by including a 16-megapixel camera in the Titan II. To put that in perspective, the other phones listed here top out at 8 megapixels.
To refresh your memory, megapixels are an integral part of the quality of a camera. The more megapixels the camera has, the bigger and better your photos can be. You would probably never consider using your cell phone to take your family portraits, but that wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for the Titan II. The 16-megapixel camera means you could take the photo and print off an 8 x 10 glossy without having any issues with pixilation or quality. You can compare this cameraphone to regular cameras any day. Canon’s top point-and-shoot model only has 14.1 megapixels and Nikon’s has 16.
The phone has been seen out in the wild, but only by a select few. DailyMobile.se has a video of the phone that will give you an idea of what you can expect when the phone is released. Photographers who appreciate a wonderful image should consider waiting for this hardware. The Titan II will also be a good solution for you if you are tired of lugging around so many gadgets. For an expected $200 you can buy the HTC Titan II and leave your digital camera at home.
The gGadget staff thinks all of these phones are worthy of being the best in one way or another. The choice is up to you and your preferences. Use this information and the included diagram to find the phone that’s right for you.