Top 5: Aaron's top five Android phones (April 2011)Aaron Baker - Director, Content and Partnerships
Don't kid yourself. Deep down, you love a top five list as much as I do.
Yes, we love to rank things here at PhoneDog, and given that Android devices launch every few hours (or so it seems), it's fitting to do another list of the top five Android devices that are on the market right this second. Knowing the super fly Android devices that are scheduled to launch this year - HTC EVO 3D, T-Mobile G2x, and Samsung Galaxy S II, just to name a few - this list will likely change a few short weeks from now. But hey, that's what makes it fun, right?
Keeping that in mind, I'm proud to provide my April 2011 list, with the full knowledge that 60 days from now, it'll be completely different. Enjoy and hit the comments section with your thoughts!
1. HTC ThunderBolt (Verizon Wireless)
The top dog at the moment is easily the HTC ThunderBolt, HTC's greatest slab 'droid to date and Verizon's first 4G LTE device. It's sporting the familiar 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU, 4.3-inch display, and 8-megapixel camera, but it steps it up a notch with a kickstand, awesome external speaker, front-facing camera, and HTC Sense 2.0 running atop Android 2.2.
The downsides? Terrible battery life even with moderate use, some audio/video hiccups, and some LTE issues that are probably the typical growing pains that come with a newborn 4G network. The issues aren't enough to deter most from purchasing the device, but if you're a hardcore media buff or you need that battery to last for a full day, you may want to put that 14 day return policy to the test.
(If you're on Sprint or AT&T and have no desire to switch, the HTC EVO 4G and HTC Inspire 4G are very similar to the ThunderBolt.)
2. Motorola Atrix 4G (AT&T)
From a hardware perspective (internally, at least), the Motorola Atrix 4G has it all. 1 GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor aside, it packs a 4-inch qHD high-resolution display, 1,930 mAh battery, and a cool little biometric fingerprint reader that you can use in lieu of the usual Android unlocking mechanisms. Adding to the appeal is a great accessory ecosystem that includes a laptop dock, multimedia dock, and Bluetooth keyboard.
It's a powerful device that packs everything that one could want in a high-end smartphone, but it's destroyed by Motorola's MOTOBLUR user interface. Not only is it aesthetically unappealing (subjective opinion there), but it's absolutely counterproductive and makes the Atrix lag in areas that it shouldn't. The hardware is a bit lacking as well; in an age of metal, glass, and other premium materials, the Atrix's plastic casing doesn't cut it.
3. Google Nexus S (T-Mobile, Sprint)
If you're in the market for an Android phone that runs a clean version of the OS, your choices are few and far between unless you invoke the mythical powers of the root gods - or you buy a Nexus S. Like most of the high-end Samsung handsets in the States, the Google Nexus S has a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor and sports a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, 5-megapixel camera, front-facing shooter, and NFC (Near Field Communication) support. As if the specs list wasn't strong enough, it's the only retail device to have Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) installed, which should please the Android die-hards.
You can snag the T-Mobile version at Best Buy now for $199.99, while the Sprint flavor - which adds 4G connectivity - will be available "soon."
4. T-Mobile myTouch 4G
The myTouch 4G is going to have competition in the coming weeks with the T-Mobile G2x and Sidekick 4G, but for now, it's the reigning champ on T-Mobile. Powered by a 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU and rocking a 3.8-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, front-facing camera, and Android 2.2, it's one nice piece of phone. The metal battery cover gives it a nice weight, and on that note, the battery life is surprisingly decent for an Android phone.
The only downside is the screen size - at 3.8-inches, some may prefer something a bit larger. For the rest, the myTouch 4G is an excellent option for newbies and advanced users alike.
5. Samsung Galaxy S 4G (T-Mobile)
The Galaxy S 4G is nothing more than a Vibrant with a few updates, namely 21 Mbps HSPA+ support, a large 1,650 mAh battery, a front-facing camera, and a new battery cover. That said, it places it on par with the new wave of devices that are launching as we speak, and gives it a bit of an edge in the battery life department. It goes up against the T-Mobile myTouch 4G, T-Mobile G2, and the forthcoming T-Mobile G2x, so this could be the first and last time this phone is on a top five list. Some users will prefer a device that's not made of plastic, but for those looking for a nice balance between price and features, the Samsung Galaxy S 4G should fit the bill nicely.