As we enter the final months of the year, smartphone makers are bringing in the big guns. While most of the attention will undoubtedly be focused on Apple’s new iPhone 4S, Android fans have been spoiled for choice this holiday season. Anticipation is building with Android 4.0 (code-named Ice Cream Sandwich), which is expected to arrive sometime now.
We’ve got high hopes for Microsoft’s refurbished mobile platform, too, but we’re still waiting for the latest Mango-powered hardware in the U.S. Waiting to reach the shores. Specifically, Nokia’s first Windows Phone device. Notably absent from this update in the Smartphone Buying Guide are webOS devices, which were put on life support last August. RIM’s BlackBerry devices have also failed to impress lately, so you’ll note that the company is represented by one model, the BlackBerry Bold 9930.
Without further ado, check out our pick of the most popular tools currently available. Each phone is listed along with its feature highlights, specs and prices, broken down into three categories based on the time of release. We’ve added metascores from each phone plus our product finder engine to help you make a well-informed decision on your next purchase.
Samsung’s latest flagship is the world’s first handset to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, introducing a new look and feel to Google’s mobile platform. Galaxy Nexus flaunts a curved 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED display running at 1270 x 720 resolution, 1.2GHz dual core processor, 1GB RAM, 5MP rear camera with zero shutter lag, backlit-illuminated sensor, built-in stabilization and LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera for video chat. The unit is powered by a 1,750mAh battery and measures 8.9mm at its thinnest point.
Motorola has revived its popular Razr brand with the new Droid Razr. The device has a stainless steel frame with Kevlar on the back and includes a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a 4.3-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass, and an 8MP camera. This ridiculously thin 7.1mm phone can run on Verizon’s LTE network and features what Motorola calls the Moto Cast a “personal cloud,” which lets you share files in the cloud. It also offers a wealth of optional accessories, including a screen and keyboard dock and a portable charger.
The iPhone 4S packs an 8MP rear camera with an upgraded A5 dual-core processor, faster wireless networks, and better optics. The 4S retains the same shape and size as the iPhone 4, classifying it as an evolutionary upgrade rather than a revolutionary device. Its standout feature is a new voice assistant program called Siri that’s described as an “intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.”
The second generation of Windows Phone with upgraded specs and Mango preloaded is set to arrive this holiday season. We’ll have to wait a bit longer until they officially hit U.S. shores, but there are some interesting possibilities on the horizon: HTC will release the high-end Titan, which features a 4.7-inch sLCD display, dual cameras, and single cameras. will be core. 1.5GHz processor, as well as the Radar, has a 3.8-inch screen and a 1GHz processor.
Meanwhile, Samsung is adding the Focus S and Focus Flash to its lineup. The first is an update to the original Focus with a slim 8.55mm body, a 1.4GHz processor under the hood, and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display. The Focus Flash is a low-end offering but still has a 1.4GHz CPU. It has a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen and a 5MP shooter at the back.
Very few details have been given about Nokia’s first Windows Phone handset, but we can hear some news at the Nokia World trade show, which takes place October 26-27 in London. Rumors include an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a 3.7-inch Gorilla Glass-protected touchscreen.
The first iteration of Motorola’s Atrix smartphone promised a lot. It had a 4-inch “QHD” (960×540) display, slim body and the ability to achieve PC-like functionality with a laptop-sized expansion dock or HD multimedia dock. Although it wasn’t quite the hit the company was hoping for, its follow-up picks up speed with a better camera, more storage, and ‘true’ 4G speeds (AT&T’s HSPA+ network topping out at 21Mbps). You’ll also get a 1GHz dual-core processor and the same expansion capabilities that its predecessor offered—all for a lower price tag starting at $100.