Best Android-powered smartphones

Summary:Rather than price, I'm going to look purely at features.

After the post I did on the best Android-powered tablets the other day, I was expecting this question to land in my mailbox:

In your -- not so humble ;) -- opinion, what are the best Android smartphones currently available?

When I looked at Android tablets, price was a major factor in determining what was best. Smartphones are tricky because it's almost impossible to compare them on price because subsidies vary from carrier to carrier, and even based on how good a customer they think you are.

Because of that fact, I'm going to ignore price as a differentiator. All I'm going to say on the subject of pricing is that if you're on contract then it might be worth you shopping about for the best deals. And for those of you not on contract who are looking to buy an unlocked handset, then you might want to sit down before looking at the price. Some of these handsets are very expensive.

Rather than price, I'm going to look purely at features.

Note that I am only covering handsets that are currently available -- which is why the Samsung Galaxy S III isn't in the listing.

Best Android-powered smartphones


Image Gallery: Best Android-powered smartphones
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Image Gallery: Charge

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

This handset tops my list for a number of reasons. First, it runs the latest Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' operating system. It has a gorgeous contour display that has to be seen to be believed. It's also unlocked, so you can use it on over 200 GMS networks worldwide.

An excellent all-round Android handset.

HTC One X

Here's another excellent handset powered by Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich'. It features a stunning screen, an excellent camera, and a superb built-in speaker system. When combined with AT&T's LTE network, it also offers blazingly fast browsing.

Samsung Galaxy S II

The first handset in this list not powered by Android 4.0. This one features the older Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' operating system. Still, if you can look beyond the operating system, you'll find that the Samsung Galaxy S II is a very capable handset.

Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX

Another awesome handset powered by Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich'. This one comes fully-loaded with a fast dual-core processor, Verizon 4G/LTE high-speed data, and excellent battery life -- enough for a 21-hour conference call.

It's also tough, constructed form DuPont Kevlar fiber and Corning Gorilla Glass, and features water-repellent nanoparticles to shield against water, even on the internal circuit boards.

Probably my favorite handset in the list.

Motorola Photon 4G

Another handset in this list not powered by Android 4.0, this one also features the older Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' operating system. Don't let the older operating system put you off, though; this is still a very capable handset.

The unique feature of this handset is that it can be combined with an optional $129 desktop dock to turn the smartphone into a webtop system running a bare-bones version of Linux.

Image sources: Google, HTC.

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Processors, Security, Smartphones

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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