Looking for the perfect smartphone is exciting because you know that the device well brighten you day-to-day life, but it can also be a dizzying experience. With a constant flow of smartphones coming to the market and dozens that are news-worthy at any given time, it’s not always easy to make sense of which smartphone you really need. And that’s why we’re here: we do the leg work, so you don’t have to. Many people ask “what’s the absolute best smartphone”? Such a thing does not exist, but you can certainly find the best smartphone “for you”. In this guide, we are going to give you a “lay of the land”, and reduce the scope of your research. Sometime, less is more.
Samsung Galaxy S3
As of late, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has been on a roll, and for good reason: for millions of users, this particular smartphone represent a great combo of size (4.8” AMOLED display), weight (4.69oz) and speed (dual or quad-core). It is loaded with features like 4G LTE, near-field communications (NFC), microSD slot, a great 8 Megapixel camera… and more. The 4.8” AMOLED display delivers impressive images whether it is for photo or movies. The levels of black are very deep and the color saturation is off the charts. For more details, read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Nokia Lumia 920
The Nokia Lumia 920 is one of the most exciting phone that has been recently announced. It may just be the best Windows Phone 8 handset of the holiday season, although there are a few more coming… The new mobile operating system from Microsoft has seen its code base merged with the upcoming Windows 8 for desktop. This means that new features are coming to the Windows smartphones, and developers are going to be able to port apps to the smartphone very easily.
More importantly, the Lumia 920 has great hardware features too (read our Lumia 920 hands on). When we played with it, the display looked very good and the main camera performed admirably – above and beyond anything on the market now. That’s because it uses a unique stabilization system that keeps it steady enough to use slower shutter speeds. That means that more light hits the image sensor, which translates into better photos. It’s dead simple, but extremely efficient. Did we mention the wireless charging and NFC? Keep an eye out for the Lumia 920 pre-orders, and you can also check the current Lumia 900 if you just can’t wait.
Motorola Droid RAZR M
Launched recently by Motorola, the Droid RAZR M has been designed with a simple goal: to provide a fast, compact and affordable Android phone with a big battery. At 2000mAh, this phone features as much battery capacity as phone that are noticeably bigger (20hrs of talk-time according to the specs). It is small, but thanks to its thin-bezel construction, Motorola has been able to cram a 4.3” screen in a small chassis. Yet, being small does not mean being slow: the Droid RAZR M is equipped with 4G LTE and with a processor that is fast enough to run games at 30FPS. Finally, the RAZR M surprised us by running Skype video calls better than many larger smartphones – that was a very good surprise. Read our Droid RAZR M Review.
HTC EVO 4G LTE
The HTC EVO 4G LTE was one of the best HTC smartphone we have tested recently. It is available with Sprint and proved to be one of the fastest Android phone of its generation. Built for multimedia, it features a 4.7” 1280×720 display which is great for watching movies. Talking about that, the HTC EVO 4G LTE even comes with a kickstand which is the signature design element of the HTC EVO line. We found this smartphone email and calendar to be very good in terms of readability and general productivity. HTC has done a good job on the typography of those apps. If you would like to use a different carrier, look for the HTC One X which comes in dual-core (U.S AT&T) or quad-core (Unlocked, International). Of course, don’t miss our complete reviews of the HTC EVO 4G LTE and HTC One X.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
By introducing the first Galaxy Note, Samsung has created a whole new category of 5″+ “phablets” which means “phone/tablet hybrid”. Observers doubted that anyone would want such a large phone, but it officially became a success after it hit the “2 million sold” mark in March, and recently, it has gone past the 10M mark.
The Galaxy Note 2 keeps the same overall body size, but the screen has grown even larger, going from 5.3” to 5.5”. It also features a speedy quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note 2’s greatest feature is its ability to use a stylus that can sense 1024 levels of pressure. Armed with that acute sensitivity, it is much easier to reproduce a natural stylus “feel” that ordinary touch phones simply cannot match. The Galaxy Note 2 will be supported by 5 major carriers in the U.S. If you are looking for more options, you may also want to take a look at the LG Intuition, which is LG’s competitor to the Galaxy Note line.
Apple iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S
No smartphone guide would be complete without representatives of the second largest eco-system in the smartphone world: iOS. Depending on your budget, you may opt for the iPhone 4S or the iPhone 5. If you are out of a contract and can benefit from the carrier subsidy, the iPhone 5 is the obvious choice. It has newer, faster and slimmer hardware, and besides the current 4-week wait time, there is no downside in choosing it over the iPhone 4S.
However, if you have a smaller budget, or want to buy an used/unlocked phone, the iPhone 4S should work nicely. With the recent iOS 6.0 upgrade, you get most (if not all) of the iPhone 5 features anyway: new maps, Facebook Integration, Video chat over 3G… In the end, in the Apple world, the choice (or the lack of) is pretty easy.