Making a top five list isn't easy. Especially when phones are releasing almost weekly and slipping into obsolescence just as fast. I toyed with the list, reworked it, revised it, rearranged it, and reworked it some more to finally establish a list of my top five Android phones that I am actually comfortable with.
With countless handsets on the horizon, this list is sure to slip into a state of irrelevance in a matter of weeks. But without further ado, here are my top five Android phones of April 2011.
Currently holding the crown is HTC's latest phone, the ThunderBolt. It is the first phone capable of accessing Verizon's rapidly growing LTE network and a close relative of the ever-popular HTC EVO 4G. The ThunderBolt comes with a 4.3-inch Super LCD, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 8-megapixel rear shooter, and a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor. What truly set this phone over the top though, are the kickstand (for both portrait and landscape), the awesome Dolby Surround Sound speaker, and the latest version of HTC's popular custom UI, Sense 2.0.
Many consider this phone to be somewhat disappointing as the new standard is shaping up to be a dual-core processor inside. In actuality, the Snapdragon single-core is plenty fast and yields minimal to no lag. However, the pitfalls of this device come with some consistently underwhelming battery life and some woes with LTE connectivity. Many others have had issues with audio when using the video recorder. Nonetheless, this phone is a solid and well-rounded device. The blazing fast network speeds are enough to keep me from complaining too much – a task in itself.
The Samsung Nexus S is the second in Google's Nexus line, which are known for their pure Vanilla versions of Android and being remarkably easy to hack. The Nexus S comes with a contoured, 4-inch Super AMOLED display, a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, 5-megapixel rear camera and VGA front-facing camera. It also comes equipped with NFC capabilities, a technology that is rapidly gaining the attention of companies around the world.
This phone wasn't everything we were hoping as it was only a minor upgrade over the preceding Nexus phone. Nonetheless, it is a high-quality device that offers the much coveted pure Google experience. If you want to be the guinea pig for first-run NFC payment systems or you want first dibs on the latest versions of Android for smartphones, the Nexus S may be just the phone for you.
The latest coming from Motorola's doors is the Atrix 4G, which is available from AT&T. On paper, this bad boy should be the best phone for some time to come as the only gimmick it's missing is a 3D display and cameras. The Atrix has a 4-inch qHD display (960 by 540 pixel resolution), a biometric scanner built into the power button, a 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core processor, and a plethora of docks that can turn the phone into an instant work station.
Where some custom interfaces can improve the Android experience, others can greatly diminish it. Motorola's MOTOBLUR is not only aesthetically distasteful, it is sluggish too, which counteracts the dual-core processor and can lead to some frustration. I feel Motorola also should have focused more on top-notch hardware over throwing every gimmick in the book into one phone. The gimmicks were enough to place it in my list, but not enough to take the throne.
The myTouch 4G could almost make this list on battery life alone. Nearly all of my woes with Android have been centered around having to carry spare batteries or charging my phone multiple times per day. This is not the case with the myTouch 4G seeing that it actually offers impressive stamina. But HTC didn't stop there, they coupled this device with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 3.8-inch display, and a pair of decent cameras to boot. This phone also runs a slightly different version of Sense UI called Espresso, which is a fresh and welcomed change from the version we know so well.
HTC is renowned for making phones with excellent build quality, but they slightly missed the mark with the myTouch 4G. It has physical buttons versus capacitive (I'm aware some people favor this), which tend to creak and can be rather hard to push at times. Overall, it is a wonderful device that offers one of the most consistent Android experiences to date.
As much as I wanted to omit this phone from my list – mainly due to it being almost the exact same phone as the ThunderBolt and already having two other HTC phones listed – I felt compelled to include it as a testament to its timelessness. The EVO is already a classic and still regarded by many as the best Android phone out there. Its 4.3-inch display, front-facing camera, and WiMAX radio made this phone a first in many different categories. It also comes equipped with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a kickstand, and an 8-megapixel rear shooter.
With the help of a few other phones like the Nexus One and Motorola Droid, the EVO kick-started the revolution and helped turn Android into the worldwide sensation that it is today. Soon to be followed up by its 3D toting sibling, the EVO legacy is sure to live on for years to come.