It has been a while since I've made a Top 5 list – since September of last year, to be exact – and a lot has changed. A ton of new devices are out and after two major electronics shows, there are quite a few on the horizon now. In other words, my Top 5 lists have been shuffled, rearranged and flipped since I made my last one.
That said, it's high time to make another, even if it might be irrelevant by next week. So without further ado, here are my top five Android phones for March:
1. Samsung Galaxy Note (AT&T)
The Galaxy Note has been a controversial device since its international launch late last year, and that only returned with its recent launch in the States. Some say it's a tablet, some say it's a phone. The rest call it a phablet. At the end of the day, I don't really care what it is or what it's called. All I know is that I want it. Now.
The Samsung Galaxy Note is huge. The AT&T version, which launched in January, features a 5.3-inch (1280 by 800 pixels) Super AMOLED display, 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon (MSM8660) chipset, LTE connectivity, 1GB RAM, 16GB built-in storage, 2,500mAh battery, an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It ships with Android 2.3, which has been skinned by Samsung's TouchWiz interface. The other unique feature – if that's really what you want to call it – of the Note is the S Pen, or the stylus. The S Pen comes with its own software development kit (SDK) and has several native functions and is compatible with most (if not all) of Samsung's custom apps.
Love it or hate it, the Galaxy Note is different. It's a conversation starter, and it packs a punch. And I want it. Bad. If you want one, too, you can make it yours for $299.99 with a two-year agreement with AT&T. And there have been sparse rumors of a similar device coming to Verizon once the exclusivity with AT&T is up. Fingers crossed, people.
2. Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Verizon, Unlocked)
Next up is the Galaxy Nexus, which was also a bit of a controversial device. People were irate when they learned that the 2011 Nexus would also carry the Galaxy moniker and wouldn't come in its pure Android form on Verizon's network like it had in the past. Name and the few pre-loaded apps aside, the Galaxy Nexus is still on sleek device.
It's specifications, though no longer top of the line, are nothing to scoff at. It touts a 4.65-inch HD (720p) Super AMOLED curved display, 32GB (or 16GB for international version) of built-in storage, LTE connectivity, 5-megapixel shooter capable of 1080p video capture, 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460 chipset and a 1,850mAh (or 1,750mAh) battery. It also comes bearing the latest software version from Google, Android version 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich.
Overall, it's a pretty slick phone. In fact, it's one of my favorites to date, despite the overly mediocre camera and battery life. The display is beautiful and the body is slim. Not to mention, the face of the device is as clean cut as it gets with no capacitive buttons. You can currently pick the Galaxy Nexus up on Verizon Wireless for $299.99 with a two-year agreement. You can also import the international version, which is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's 3G and HSPA+ bands.
3. Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX (Verizon Wireless)
The DROID RAZR MAXX is a bit of a unique item. It's one of the few – if not the only – Android phone that can last a full day of very heavy usage without the prying, tweaking hands of the development community. It packs a 3,300mAh battery, along with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced (qHD) display, 8GB storage, 1GB RAM, 1.2GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 processor with PowerVR SGX540 graphics, LTE connectivity, an 8-megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. It also comes with Android 2.3 beneath Motorola Applications Platform (MAP).
The real, and possibly the only reason, the DROID RAZR MAXX makes my list is due to the battery. The Galaxy Note's 2,500mAh battery is big. The RAZR MAXX's 3,300mAh battery is insane. Plain and simple, every OEM needs to do this with their phones. To get your hands on a DROID RAZR MAXX, you can purchase one through Verizon for $299.99 on a two-year agreement.
4. Samsung Galaxy S II (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile)
Dubbed Phone of the Year for 2011 by several different outlets, shows and contests, the Galaxy S II is still hanging in there. It comes in many different sizes and comes bearing varying specifications. Choosing one out of the entire crop is a fairly difficult task. At the end of the day it comes down to a toss-up between the Epic 4G Touch on Sprint and the Skyrocket on AT&T.
The Epic 4G Touch comes with a 4.52-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 16GB storage with 1GB RAM, 8-megapixel camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor and 1,800mAh battery. The Skyrocket, on the other hand, comes with a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 1.5GHz MSM8260 Snapdragon chipset, LTE connectivity and 1,850mAh battery. They both currently have Android 2.3 skinned by TouchWiz UI.
It really comes down to the processor, but depending on who you ask and what benchmarks they have run, one phone will sweep the other. That said, they're both fantastic devices. All of the Galaxy S II devices are. Samsung wouldn't have sold more than 20 million worldwide if they weren't. If you're interested in a Galaxy S II, you can find the Epic 4G Touch on Sprint, the Galaxy S II and Skyrocket on AT&T and there is also a Galaxy S II on T-Mobile. The Skyrocket HD will launch on AT&T in the near future, too.
5. HTC Rezound (Verizon Wireless)
Lastly, we have the HTC Rezound, which features the highest density display in any Android phone to date. It features a 4.3-inch 720p S-LCD display, 16GB storage, 1GB RAM, LTE connectivity, an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p recording, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1.5GHz dual-core Scorpion CPU with Adreno 220 graphics, Beats Audio and a 1,620mAh battery. It also comes with Android 2.3 beneath Sense UI, which is a hit or miss with consumers.
Of all of the phones in the list, the Rezound is the one I have spent the least amount of time with. It's a good phone, don't get me wrong. But it is a direct reflection of everything HTC got wrong in 2011. It's chunky, Beats Audio is gimmicky and battery life was an afterthought. The one thing this phone does have going for it, however, is the incredible display. The phone and Sense UI, though, just aren't my cup of tea.
That said, there are a lot of HTC fans out there who have enjoyed their Rezounds. Personally, I'll be waiting for an HTC One device, though. If you're interested in the Rezound, it can be purchased through Verizon Wireless, and its next of kin, the Amaze 4G and Vivid, can be purchased on T-Mobile and AT&T, respectively.
So there you have it, folks. Feel free to share your top smartphones in the comments below, and don't forget to vote for your favorite smartphones in our official smartphone rankings this week!