4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

Summary: Each of the four major US wireless carriers have, or will soon have, outstanding smartphones this summer so you can easily stick with your preferred carrier and be quite happy with your device selection. Take a closer look at the top smartphone on each of these carriers.


A few weeks ago I posted my Top 10 smartphones of 2010… for now article and after trying out the Sprint HTC EVO 4G along with seeing the iPhone 4 announcement I would say my top four are still good choices with the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS in the second spot. We have enough information now that I can present you with the top smartphone for each carrier that will be available this summer for you to enjoy. The mobile phone market moves fast though so I imagine by the time we get ready to head back to school there will be more Google Android devices, maybe a new Palm webOS device, and possibly a new BlackBerry or two.

For now though let's take a closer look at the top smartphones on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon that are either now available or should be by the end of June. As you look over this list, I think you can see that the choices were quite easy to make and obvious for the most part.

AT&T: Apple iPhone 4

We just saw Steve Jobs lay it on thick (too much rhetoric IMHO) at the WWDC and officially announce the iPhone 4 device. AT&T has some older Windows Mobile devices, lame Google Android devices, and several BlackBerry models, but the iPhone 4 is easily going to be the best smartphone on this carrier and if you are on AT&T I see no reason why you wouldn't want to get this new iPhone device.

The Retina Display looks amazing and I heard from many friends that it is better in person than you can really imagine. I heard the same thing about the slim, sleek size and solid construction. A new back camera and front facing camera are also included on the new device. The iPhone 4 also rolls out with the new iOS 4 operating system with some multitasking support, folders, advanced Exchange support, iBooks, iAds, Face Time video calling and more. I am a bit leery of the iAds and really have no desire to have ads served up on my smartphone since I get enough of them on TV, no matter how great they may look. I was a bit surprised that Apple did not announced a 64GB model, especially with a high resolution camera and HD video capability.

The 16GB iPhone 4 will be available for $199 and the 32GB model for $299, which are now actually priced at the high end of the powerful smartphone devices. You will also see a 2GB cap on your $25 monthly data service, additional pricing for text messaging, additional pricing for GPS navigation, and minimum $39.99 individual voice plan.

Sprint: HTC EVO 4G

I personally just paid the ETF and canceled my Palm Pre Plus on Verizon after waiting in line for a couple hours last Friday to buy my own Sprint HTC EVO 4G. I guess I just answered the question in my post about the EVO 4G possibly being a carrier changer, huh? The HTC EVO 4G has some of the best specifications on any current device and has outstanding Sprint service offerings to boot, even with the additional $10 monthly data premium.

The HTC EVO 4G has a large 4.3 inch 800x480 pixel resolution display that looks awesome and is perfect for web browsing or reading. The device is rock solid with a solid metal kickstand, 8 megapixel camera and dual LED flash, front facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video calls, HDMI out, 3G and 4G WiMAX radios, and a fast 1GHz Snapdragon processor with Google Android 2.1 and HTC Sense. Sprint has some of the best plan options and for just $79.99 per month you get 450 minutes to call landlines, unlimited calling to any U.S. mobile on any carrier, unlimited text messaging, TRUE UNLIMITED (aka no 2GB or 5GB cap) 3G and 4G wireless data, free Sprint Navigation service, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, and Sprint Football. You can also turn on the WiFi hotspot functionality to share your connection with up to 8 devices at once for $29.99 per month. The EVO 4G is available for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate.

The HTC EVO 4G sold out across the country in the first couple of days and is backlogged on sites and in stores for a week to three weeks so you may have a tough time finding one to buy.

T-Mobile: Google Nexus One

I was thinking of putting the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S here for T-Mobile that is rumored to be coming at the end of July, but I personally cannot stand Samsung TouchWIZ user interface and with the Google Nexus One running Android 2.2 (Froyo) I think this 6 month old device is still tops on this carrier. The Android 2.2 update is easy to install and adds some great functionality to the Nexus One, including WiFi hotspot tethering, support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1, better Exchange support, easy Gmail account switcher, new task switcher, improved Android Market, and much more.

The Google Nexus One still has awesome specifications with a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 3.7 inch OLED display, 5 megapixel camera with flash, multi-color trackball, and more. The Nexus One feels great in your hand and is extremely well constructed. There are desktop cradles and automobile docks for the device too so you can trick out your Nexus One. You can find the Nexus One for $529 unlocked or $179 with a 500 minute plan.

Verizon: HTC Droid Incredible

I almost swapped my Palm Pre Plus for an HTC Incredible because this smartphone may actually be the best Google Android device currently available. If not overall, it clearly is the best on Verizon Wireless. I took a look at the Droid Incredible and loved the sleek form factor, 8 megapixel camera, HTC Sense user interface, and powerful RF reception on Verizon Wireless.

The HTC Droid Incredible has the now familiar high end Google Android specifications of 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 8 megapixel camera, 3.7 inch 480x800 pixel resolution OLED display, and more. In a bit of a departure, the Droid Incredible does have an 8GB integrated flash drive with support for expandable memory via the microSD card slot. The HTC Droid Incredible also sells for $199.99 with a 2-year contract and minimum voice/data plan.

Which is my favorite?

It is quite amazing to see three of four of the devices above are Google Android devices that are all made by HTC. I sincerely think Apple could take a huge lead over everyone if they would launch an iPhone on every carrier, but it looks like there will be no carrier expansion in 2010. This leaves the door wide open for Android to dominate the other carriers and they are doing just that.

I have a five phone family plan on T-Mobile that I have had for almost 10 years so am primarily using the Google Nexus One with that SIM. I just signed up for Sprint and am really enjoying the HTC EVO 4G, especially since I live and work in areas covered by 4G. As I said, I almost swapped to the Incredible, but found the Sprint pricing plans more attractive. I have been debating about getting a new iPhone 4 and am sure it will be a wonderful piece of hardware, but I will not go back to AT&T and their constant dropped calls and high service fees since I rarely even use my iPhone 3GS as it is on T-Mobile. I do have an Apple iPad and prefer to use my iPhone apps on the larger display of the iPad.

[poll id="13"]

Topics: HTC, Android, Google, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones, Telcos, Wi-Fi

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  • one original

    wow, one original and three copycats. look how far we have come since the iphone was introduced 3 years ago. now all smartphones look like an iphone and run a poor, geeky, patent infringing copy of iOS.<br><br>remember the days when the carriers had iron fisted control over handsets? and how that had brought any innovation in the handset market to a crawl over a decade? than the iphone came along, reinvented the phone and changed the rules of the game. and look what an unbelievable wave of innovations is has unleashed. even the android lovin' apple haters should just pause for a moment and thank steve jobs and apple for that copycat piece of hardware they are holding in their hands right now that otherwise woudn't have been possible.
    banned from zdnet
    • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

      @banned from zdnet
      What did you expect?
      This is the "normal" business model.
      The Android devices are quickly surpassing iOS functionality and Apple hardware design.

      Normal scenario:
      Someone design/invents something new and cool.
      It has "gaps" noted by the buying consumer.
      Additional businesses and models roll out to fill the gap.

      The issue for the original company is how to maintain the forward thinking and development it started. Very tough to do.

      Apples problem: They are trying to maintain absolute control and are being out-engineered by a horde of Android developing companies.

      Best of luck Apple!
      • While I agree that there are copycats...

        @zenwalker: ... that doesn't mean that they are out-engineering the original. What it does me is that they choose to pander to the noisemakers and give them what they want, even if what they want ends up giving them a poorer final product.

        That said, I fully understand why Android is doing so well--as is obvious from this article, Android is on every provider where the iPhone is on only one. Based on the description of the iPhone 4, however, this could change with the mere swap of a micro Sim chip. Apple may not be able to officially sell with a different service provider until the exclusivity agreement expires, but it appears that if someone really wanted to use it with a different provider, they'll be able to make the change. Once people realize this, there's a good chance sales of iPhones will accelerate once again.
      • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

        @vulpine<br>I may have been a bit unclear....<br>Give me a small group of engineers and they will come up with wonderful ideas. (Apple)<br>Give me a bunch of small groups of engineers looking at a wonderful idea and they will take it places the original group never envisioned. (Android + Hardware Folks)<br><br>For the iPhone going forward - they may be able to reignite the magic if they can get onto other providers - I just think they are painting themselves into a corner.<br><br>I have a 3GS and like it. Unfotunately due to the "work-arounds" I have had to develop and the lack of improved business functionality I am becoming an Android user.<br><br>The iPhone 4 was more of a "wow" instead of the "WOW" users where hoping for...<br><br>To me the iPhone is looking more like a game/media device - kinda like a downsized iPad.<br><br>Not what I need in a business/personal smartphone.
      • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

        @zenwalker The only problem with the iPhone is the exclusivity in some countries. I happen to live in Belgium, where the local law prohibits Apple from requiring a customer to be hooked up with a subscription.

        When we're talking about Apple being a authority in our iPhone lives: it feels good. The App Store "system" provides you with much more advanced apps than Web apps, but native apps can be dangerous and can crash your whole phone. Apple refuses that. The Web is the (pretty) uncontrolled universe where you can do anything, except crashing the phone and installing malware (except for new undiscovered ones).

        From a customer's perspective, I wouldn't give a $CW$ if Apple finally allows an uncontrolled app universe for customers that aren't afraid for the (eventual) consequences. You know: Apple telling the customer: "your warranty will expire if you do this, but we accept the act of doing it".

        But I have to tell: Apple can and has to innovate much more than what they're doing now in order to be and stay the best in any time in the near future.
    • RE: one original

      @banned from zdnet <br>It's called a shift key. Look into it.
    • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

      @banned from zdnet
      nobody denies the fact that Apple did an awesome job with the original iPhone, but as we stand today, ANDROID is the new big dog in town, the iPhone cant keep up neither with the fast software iterations of Google nor with the army of hardware by HTC Dell, Samsung, Motorola etc...

      for Apple it is a lost battle, they rather look for the next new flashy thingy for their crowd.
      • Big dog in what exactly?

        @samiup <br><br>Seems like the iPhone is keeping up pretty well, especially being just one phone against an army of Androids. The iPhone is still way ahead of Android in market share and the all important mind share, with again just one phone and one carrier in the US. Overseas Android is even worst. But the Android 'geek' targeted community may disagree I guess. This reminds me of how PlaysForSure army of mp3 player manufacturers were going to crush the walled garden iPod. Or the army of digital music providers were going to crush "closed" iTunes. All failed. While geeks scream about more bullet point specs, the mass gen public just wanted the device that was the easiest to use; the device that worked the best with the #1 store (iTunes); had the most accessories and the best support case of a problem (local Apple store). Although the smart phone market is a very different market, I see the same thing happening again. <br><br>That being said, I do think Apple will have to open the iPhone up to other US carriers if they want to keep their lead. Not everyone who wants an iPhone is willing to switch carriers for it like we've seen years before (ie. 17 percent Verizon users want an iPhone).
    • Bitter?

      @banned from zdnet
      Copying is often considered the highest form of flattery. Don't feel bitter about it. Rejoice and be glad that others have recognized what Apple has demonstrated with its ability to create a device that consumers love. The competition will only make for a better selection for us consumers. I'm not sure why people are so emotionally invested in brands; it's rather sad.
      • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

        Great comment!!
    • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

      @banned from zdnet Are you that high on Apple or somethin'? I wont comment on the "patent infringing" comment though iOS 4 feels more like a catch up to Android then anything truly. As an iPod Touch user, some new features for iOS are ONLY new to iOS and have existed on others long before iOS 4. Like home screen wallpaper, for example.

      To sum things up, competition breeds innovation and choice among consumers. I'm just not sure how long Apple will be in the ongoing spotlight with newer devices such as EVO coming out even before iPhone 4.
      • evo

        competition is good yes, flat out copying, no. and you saw the lackluster evo sales? despite of all the noise of the geeks and IT doofuses around here this hailed iphone killer sold a mere 150.000 at the first weekend. that is around 8% of what apple sold the first weekend for the 3g and the 3gs. what a success!
        banned from zdnet
    • No so original

      @banned from zdnet <br>As is typical for Apple, they took some great ideas from other companies, waited until the technology was affordable and advanced enough to do better, then executed very well.<br><br>Saying that Android is a copycat of Apple iOS is egregiously inaccurate, unless you also say iOS is a copycat of ideas that came before. The only truly original Apple discovery is proving there was a larger market for smartphones than business users on expensive plans.
    • do you mean palm?

      @banned from zdnet ... By "orginal" do you mean palm? Most of the stuff in iPhone is copied from previous similar devices.
      • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

        @pupkin_z Like the Newton, you mean?
      • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

        @pupkin_z ... I agree. Palm was the original touch-screen hand-held device. Of course, Xerox copiers had graphical touch-screen interfaces long before that, if this is an argument over touch interfaces in general.

        It's a historical fact that Apple ripped off the idea of a graphical OS and mouse control from Xerox, so they fail across the board.

        Check Wikipedia to confirm:
    • They all copied the HTC Touch

      @banned from zdnet <br>One of the first full screen touch screen gesture enabled smartphones out there and it came out <b>before</b> the iPhone. So I love that you are accusing HTC (among others) of copying itself! If we applied Apple zealot logic, we would have to admit that OS X Snow Leopard was a copy of Vista since they look the same and Vista came out before Snow Leopard.<br><br>Cue the double standards...
    • And this is different how?

      @banned from zdnet
      Seems to me that it's the same story that we saw 5 or so years ago. The Moto RAZR was THE hot phone, and everyone and their brother made it a point to make their phones THIN...
    • Copycats?

      @banned from zdnet ... Everything they have was a rip-off of Xerox innovation. Check these Wikipedia topics to see how horribly Apple is a copycat:
      - Graphical_user_interface
      - Mouse_(computing)
      • RE: 4 carriers and 4 super smartphones; which is your favorite?

        @BitSmacker Apple [i]licensed[/i] the tech from Xerox in return for stock options... what the next lie of your I can debunk?