Aaron's Top 5 Android smartphones (June 2011)Aaron Baker - Director, Content and Partnerships
You know the drill: another day, another eight or so Android handsets. Joking aside, the pace of 'droids landing on today's market is hard enough to keep track of. That's why I'm here to help...or at least list a few of the awesome Android phones available out there in a semi-organized list.
Here are my top five Android handsets as of late June 2011. Agree with me and think my selections are the best ever? Disagree with me? Get your top five lists ready, and praise me or thrash me to bits in the comments section! If Twitter's your drug of choice, I'm on there too, and don't bite (@PhoneDog_Aaron). Ready? Let's do this.
1. Samsung Galaxy S II (unlocked)
Yep, Samsung's Galaxy S II continues its reign at the top of my list. Available for a jaw-dropping $780 (give or take) unlocked, the Galaxy S II is the must-have Android device for those that want speed, speed, and more speed. On top of that, it's thin, light, and the overall design differentiates itself enough to where hearing "is that an iPhone?" should be a rarity.
It's sporting a 1.2 GHz Exynos dual-core processor, 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, and Android 2.3 with TouchWiz 4.0, a much-improved version of the company's Android overlay. From browsing the web to downloading apps to listening to my collection of 80s pop music (don't hate, it's a life choice), it handles everything with incredible ease.
The downside is obviously the price. It's not available from a US carrier just yet, so if you want to experience the Galaxy, you're going to have to shell out somewhere in the neighborhood of eight Benjamins at an online retailer like Expansys USA. Rumors about the Galaxy S II coming to the States continue to swirl, so here's to hoping we see it sometime soon.
2. HTC Sensation 4G (T-Mobile)
If this list were "Aaron's Top 5 Sexiest Android Handsets," the HTC Sensation 4G would top the charts. The build quality is absolutely fantastic. The metal and grey plastic compliment each other nicely, and the 4.3-inch curved qHD display rounds it out and gives it a real premium feel.
Yes yes, if Androids could talk, they'd be hating on the Sensation 'cause it's beautiful (Pretty Girl Rock reference, anyone?) - and at least on paper, quite powerful as well. In addition to the 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU, it ships with Android 2.3 and HTC's newest version of its wildly popular user interface, Sense 3.0. Throw in an 8-megapixel shooter and a front-facing camera, and you have a top-notch smartphone.
Despite the awesome specs, I've found the Sensation 4G to be somewhat laggy in even the most basic day-to-day tasks. Chalk it up to the 768 MB of RAM or some secret thing that T-Mobile did to it (because Sprint's similarly-spec'd EVO 3D isn't as laggy), but the slowdown is disappointing. T-Mobile Android fans that are looking for sheer speed should be pleased with the T-Mobile (LG) G2x, which also makes an appearance on this list.
3. HTC EVO 3D (Sprint)
If you're an EVO fan, you're automatically thinking something to the effect of "this handset is the bomb diggity! Why is it in third place?"
(If you're a die-hard EVO fan, you're probably taking it a step further and plotting a super-snarky comment for me below this post. That's ok. I welcome all challenges!)
There's no denying it, the HTC EVO 3D is the best Android handset on Sprint. Like the Sensation 4G, it packs a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snadragon CPU, 4.3-inch stereoscopic qHD display (no glasses required for 3D!), and Android 2.3 with HTC Sense 3.0. It's up-to-date in almost every way, and packs a whopping 1 GB of RAM for good measure.
That said, it's still laggy from time to time, and the 3D abilities of this device are limited due to the fact that there's no 3D content ecosystem at the moment. Additionally, the wireless radio pales in comparison to other Sprint smartphones like the Samsung Nexus S 4G and Epic 4G. If your mobile agenda consists of phone calls first and you frequent fringe areas, this may not be the device for you.
4. T-Mobile (LG) G2x
The combination of vanilla Android (2.2, if you're keeping track) and the 1 GHz Tegra 2 dual-core CPU makes the T-Mobile G2x the fastest Android phone available from a US carrier, period. I still maintain my argument that stock Android isn't for everyone - I'd recommend HTC's Sense or Samsung's TouchWiz UI to non-advanced users - but for those comfortable with the little green bot, the G2x makes for an exceptional device.
Other specs include a 4-inch display, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording capabilities, and an HDMI port. Since it's sporting a Tegra 2 CPU, the G2x ships with NVIDIA's "Tegra Zone," an app store full of games that will put that processor to the test. Long story short, it doesn't offer the hardware and software eye candy that the Sensation 4G does, but it's more powerful.
5. Samsung DROID Charge (Verizon Wireless)
Verizon's zippy 4G LTE service may be the primary selling point for most, but the real winner for me is battery life. The Samsung DROID Charge is the only Android handset I've used that has taken me through an entire day without requiring a charge (there's a potential pun here, but I'll let it slide). Charge also gets high marks in my book for great call quality.
Aside from the 1,600 mAh battery, the Charge offers a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 8-megapixel camera, and Android 2.2 with TouchWiz 3.0 (older version). The older version of TouchWiz may be a turn-off for some and you're going to notice a speed difference when using it alongside a dual-core device, but it should get you through most tasks without an issue.
At the end of the day, call quality plus awesome battery life plus great 4G speeds equals a win for me (and a spot on my list).