Christmas is right around the corner and we’re going to help you find the best tech gadgets currently on the market so you can be showered with praise when someone gets one as a gift! Everybody can use a smartphone, especially the people who don’t want to give up their own flip phones from 10 years ago. My brother went from a phone that couldn’t even text to the iPhone 4S. Now it’s hard for him to do anything without using his phone.
We’re going to review the top 5 smartphones that you can buy (or hopefully receive) this Christmas 2011. This article is not going to be a review of each phone, so I’ll make sure to add links to relevant and in-depth reviews written on other sites if you want to get all the info.
Of course, the main difference you’ll see in the phones listed is the operating system: Android or iOS. I personally don’t this any of the Blackberry’s do an adequate job to make it into the top 5 smartphones, especially with the latest operating systems, iOS 5 and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
Without a doubt, the iPhone 4S is one of the most popular smartphones to buy. It’s the 4th generation iPhone and even though it looks exactly like the iPhone 4, there are some huge differences between the iPhone 4 and 4S. On top of that, iOS is on version 5 and has a lot of great features that Android is catching up to. The App Store also has the advantage of having a lot more apps than the Android market. The Android OS and market has it’s advantages too, but more on that in a moment.
The iPhone 4S is a big upgrade, even if you have used or owned the iPhone 4. There are a couple of major upgrades that make the iPhone 4S really awesome to use:
1. Siri – You’ve heard all about Siri and what it can do. As an iPhone 4S owner, I can say that it’s one of the best features of the new phone. I don’t ask it a lot of questions per say, but I use it a lot to dictate emails and messages and it’s way faster. Android is not even close to the level of Siri at this time, though they have realized that and will probably have something similar soon.
2. Camera – The camera is incredible for a phone. It’s way better than any camera phone out there, including the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung. It takes awesome pictures and video, even in low light. I have completely replaced my point and shoot camera with the iPhone 4S and don’t miss it one bit. Of course, I still have a DSLR, but sometimes use the iPhone 4S because it’s so small and convenient to take around.
3. Dual-core processor – The iPhone 4S has the processor of the iPad 2 and it makes a big difference. Everything is smooth and snappy and there is no lag in taking photos or videos either.
Of course, other advantages to getting an Apple device is that you will have iOS 5 and iCloud. These are only really useful if you have other Apple products like the iPad, MacBook or Apple TV. If other people in your family have the iPhone, then it’s also useful because you can use iMessage and PhotoStream.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the third iteration of the Google phone and this is the second one made by Samsung. I have to say I never liked the Nexus One or the Nexus S, but with the Galaxy Nexus, things are a bit different. Here’s what I am liking so far and what a lot of other people are liking too:
1. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) - This is a big upgrade to the operating system and it’s way more clean and user-friendly like iOS. I’m not going to go into a ton of details, but I’ll post a link below that goes into great detail about the new features of 4.0.
2. Super AMOLED Display – I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed that Apple did not change the screen on the iPhone 4S. It’s a nice screen, but it’s not as nice as the Galaxy Nexus 720p display (1280×720). It’s a 4.65 in beauty. If you love big displays, then this is the phone to get. The only downside I’ve heard to the huge screen is that you have to keep adjusting the phone when using it because it’s so big.
3. Pentaband phone - This is huge because it supports 5 frequency bands including the 21 Mbps HSPA+ data network. You can pretty much use this phone anywhere in the world, which is a huge advantage over other phones like the iPhone.
The design of the phone is also a major improvement over previous two models, though it still uses a lot of cheap plastic, which stands out in contrast to the metal and glass used on the iPhone. It’s still not available in the US, but it’s soon to be released on Verizon as a 4G LTE phone.
Check out the links below for full specs, reviews and pics:
Samsung Galaxy S II and S II Skyrocket
If you can’t wait a week or two for the Google Nexus phone, then you can get your hands on a Galaxy S II or the newer S II Skyrocket. These are some pretty nice phones also, but they don’t currently run Android 4. 0. It will eventually be upgraded, but as of now you’ll have to live with the older version. This is usually how Android works and why I don’t like it. There are 20 different versions running on 100 different phones and it’s confusing to say the least.
Other than that, though, the phone is great and it’s one of the top-selling Android phones right now. If you can manage or don’t mind AT&T, you can get the Skyrocket, which ups the specs a little bit including 4G LTE. It has a larger 4.5 inch display and a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor. Other than that, it’s the same as the S II. It’s got the awesome Super AMOLED Plus display, which has super vibrant colors that most phones can’t match.
If you’re looking at price, you can probably get one of these and skip the Nexus. In a few months, you’ll be able to upgrade it to Ice Cream Sandwich and you’ll have a top of the line phone for a lot less. It depends on whether you are a phone enthusiast or not.
Galaxy S II Review: http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/19/samsung-galaxy-s-ii-more-diamond-less-rough/
Motorola Droid Razr
The Motorola Droid Razr can arguably be one of the best Android devices for the holiday season. Technically, it’s even better than the Samsung Galaxy S II if you look at the specs. It’s a 4G LTE phone, comes with Ginerbread, but upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich, 8 megapixel back camera with HD video support, HDMI-out, LED flash, DLNA support, and has a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED display. It also has a Kevlar fiber scratch-resistant back and Corning Gorilla glass on the front.
The phone is one of the thinnest out of all mobile phones, clocking in at only 7.1 millimeters thick. It’s a pretty big phone, but all Android phones are huge. The other benefit is that it run on Verizon’s super-fast 4G LTE network, so you can get some pretty incredible speeds. With the Samsung Galaxy S II, you’re stuck with AT&T and if you hate them, then that’s not an option.
The phone also has a great batter life, which is lacking in some of the other popular Android phones like the HTC Vivid mentioned below. This one will set you back $299 with contract, but it’s an awesome phone. If you can hold out though, I would probably wait for the Galaxy Nexus when it arrives on Verizon.
Next in line is the HTC Vivid, which is the second phone that was released on AT&T which supports their 4G networks. Networks is plural because they have support for both the LTE next-gen network and the current 4G HSPA+ network. In terms of specs, it’s only slightly lower than the Galaxy S II with a 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16BG of internal storage, and a microSDHC slot. It has an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash.
It can record 1080p HD videos and it also has an HDMI-out port plus integrated DLNA support. These two are pretty huge and I would love for them to show up on the iPhone. With HDMI-out, you can connect your phone straight to your TV and watch all your HD videos and pictures. With DLNA support, you can stream your videos and pics from your phone to a DLNA certified device like an xBox, Playstation, Blu-ray player, etc.
This phone is also running Anrdoid 2.3.4 Ginerbread, which is nice, but definitely not Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course, you’ll be able to upgrade eventually, so that’s not a big deal. The phone performs very well and runs very fast. The only downsides I’ve read about are the fact that it’s made of cheap glossy plastic that shows fingerprints, smudges and dirt easily. It’s also super heavy, coming in at 6.24 ounces. The iPhone is 4.9 ounces and the Galaxy S II is only 4.7 ounces, so you’ll be carrying a brick around in your pocket with the Vivid.
So what phone are you planning on buying this holiday season? Something different altogether? Post your favorite phones in the comments and what you’re excited about! Enjoy!