Top 10 smartphones to kick off 2012

Top 10 smartphones to kick off 2012

Summary: It was a bit easier to pick my top 10 smartphones to start 2012 and I ended up with four of them being Windows Phone devices. Which is your current favorite?


As we head into April, I think it is appropriate to once again look at the current smartphone market and see what I consider the top smartphones available or coming soon to the U.S. market. CES and MWC is behind us with CTIA coming in May so the majority of new smartphones for the first half of 2012 have been revealed. This post includes phones that have been announced, but does not include any rumored devices in the top 10 list. Some do not have exact release dates or pricing, but they should all be here within the next couple of months. You can check out several product photos of these top 10 devices in my image gallery, but I also highly recommend you visit your carrier store or local electronics retailer to get some hands-on time with a device before you make your purchase decision.

Image Gallery: Check out photos of my top 10 smartphones to kick off 2012. Image Gallery: Nokia Lumia 900 Image Gallery: HTC Radar 4G

Just so you know where my personal perspective is coming from I am a long time (over 10 years) T-Mobile subscriber with five phones on a family plan and also have a Verizon account with the Apple iPhone 4S. I had an AT&T account (mainly used only with data) for a couple of years and was a Sprint subscriber for about a year with devices like the HTC EVO 4G. I do have some experiences with each of the four major US wireless carriers and have also been purchasing SIM-unlocked smartphones for over 7 years. I personally will switch and pay the ETF to get a new device and jump to a carrier that offers me more for my money, but like most of you the quality and reliability of the carrier is more important than the device itself.

IMHO, smartphones today are all very good at helping you stay connected and get a lot done on the go and while I have some preferences I also switch around a lot and enjoy every mobile platform. So, without further rambling, here are my Top 10 Smartphones to Kick Off 2012.

Number 1: Apple iPhone 4S

The Apple iPhone is an extremely popular smartphone and after using my iPhone 4S on Verizon for several months I have to say it is one of my favorite phones ever. It may not give you all the customizability you want and the fastest data connection available, but the camera is fantastic, Siri is very useful, applications are outstanding, battery life is decent, signal strength is better than I have seen on any other Verizon phone, and the display is still better than anything else in the smartphone market.

You can now purchase an iPhone 4S on Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T so the majority of mobile phone customers can choose this device and stick with their existing carrier. I'm not sure what Apple can do to make the iPhone better, other than supporting LTE data, and imagine the next update will be focused on that aspect since everything else is already excellent.

Number 2: HTC One X

HTC announced that the One X will be coming to AT&T this spring and the device looks to take the lead as the top Android smartphone with amazing hardware, camera features that blow away nearly every other device, and audio enhancements that are sure to impress the audiophile. The HTC One X sports a Snapdragon S4 duel-core 1.5 GHz processor, 4.7-inch, 720p HD screen crafted from contoured Corning Gorilla Glass, HTC Sense 4.0 with Ice Cream Sandwich, Bluetooth 4.0, 8 megapixel camera with f/2.0 lens, and Beats Audio. Dropbox is integrated too so integrated storage isn't much of a limitation.

The HTC One X on AT&T will support their LTE data network so should be one of the fastest Android devices around. We don't know the price yet, but looking at other LTE devices I imagine it will be around $299 with a 2-year contract.

Number 3: Nokia Lumia 900

Regular readers know I am a major fan of Windows Phone and as we saw at CES this year, the Nokia Lumia 900 looks to be one of the best Windows Phone devices of 2012. AT&T just revealed the Lumia 900 will be launching for just $99.99 on 8 April and I am seriously considering adding an AT&T account and making this my Windows Phone device.

The Nokia Lumia 900 has that lovely form factor we saw on the N9 and Lumia 800 with a larger 4.3 inch AMOLED ClearBlack display. You can also find an 8 megapixel camera, 1 megapixel front facing camera, LTE, 1.4 GHz processor, and more.

Let's check out numbers 4 through 7 »

Number 4: Galaxy Nexus from Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was the first device to come with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, and I enjoy using my SIM unlocked model on T-Mobile. It is the best Android smartphone I have ever owned and I would have rated it in the top three if it would have came with a better camera and battery life. It is one of the best Nexus devices though with rather high end specifications that include NFC, a barometer, 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 4.65 inch Super AMOLED HD (1280x720) display, and HSPA+ or LTE support.

You can buy the Galaxy Nexus from Verizon for $299.99 with support for LTE. You can also buy the SIM-unlocked one to use on AT&T or T-Mobile through US importers, such as Negri Electronics.

Number 5: HTC Titan II

In addition to the Nokia Lumia 900 with LTE, AT&T customers are lucky enough to get to choose from yet another high quality Windows Phone device in the HTC Titan II. The Titan II builds upon the Titan with LTE support, a 16 megapixel camera, 4.7 inch Super LCD, 1.5 GHz processor, and 1730 mAh battery. I used the device a bit at CES and even though the display is 4.7 inches it doesn't feel that large due to the thin form factor.

The HTC Titan II will also launch on AT&T on 8 April for $199.99 with a 2-year contract. With the Nokia Lumia 900 coming in at half the price I have to believe most people will pick up the Lumia 900 with cool form factor and design.

Number 6: HTC One S

The smaller brother to the HTC One X is the HTC One S and it will be launching this spring on T-Mobile so I am likely going to pick one up to try. The One S has a smaller 4.3 inch qHD Super AMOLED display, 1.5 GHz dual core processor, 8 megapixel camera, Beats Audio support, and HSPA+ on T-Mobile's 42 Mbps network. Other than the display type and size, it is basically the same as the HTC One X. We don't yet have a launch date or price.

The HTC One S comes with HTC Sense 4 and Android 4.0 so it packs quite a punch in a smaller form factor that feels great in your hand.

Number 7: Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx

Motorola and Verizon launched the new Droid RAZR late last year and then just a couple months later released the Droid RAZR Maxx. The RAZR Maxx has an incredibly large 3300 mAh battery that should easily get you through a day or two without charging. The device supports Verizon's super fast LTE and comes with an 8 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture capability, 4.3 inch Super AMOLED display, dual core 1.2 GHz processor, and more.

You can pick up the Droid RAZR Maxx for $299.99 with a 2-year contract. It comes with Android Gingerbread, which is one reason I won't rate it higher than other Android devices since all new high end Android devices in 2012 should launch with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Let's check out numbers 8 through 10 and my closing thoughts »

Number 8: Samsung Focus S

I think the Samsung line of Windows Phones were the best available during the first year of this new operating system. Samsung upgraded their top of the line model with the Samsung Focus S and it is definitely a device to still consider on AT&T. The Focus S has the latest Windows Phone OS and comes in at only 8.5 mm thick. It has a 1.4 GHz processor, 8 megapixel camera, 1.3 megapixel front facing camera, 4.3 inch Super AMOLED display (Samsung knows how to make excellent displays), and support for AT&T's HSPA+ network.

This is not a LTE device and is priced at $199.99 with a 2-year contract. I think you should consider the Lumia 900 or HTC Titan II before this device, but some people enjoy Samsung smartphones.

Number 9: Samsung Galaxy S II

The Samsung Galaxy S II has variants on three of four major US wireless carriers (Verizon never ended up with one of these), and on several regional carriers, and is an extremely successful line that I still think deserves some consideration. The Galaxy S II is now getting the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update that makes it even better than it already was. The devices sports a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus display, dual-core 1 GHz processor, 8.49mm form factor, 21 Mbps HSPA+ support, 8 megapixel camera, integrated memory and microSD card, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, and more. The camera is much better than the one found on the Galaxy Nexus (there is really no excuse for what Samsung did with the Nexus camera).

The great thing about the Galaxy S II is that you can find it on every carrier ranging in price from $9.99 to $229.99.

Number 10: HTC Radar 4G

The HTC Radar 4G may not be one of the newest Windows Phone devices, but I have tried most of them and find it to be my personal favorite and one that I use every single day. It is inexpensive at just $99.99 with a contract and is a rock solid device that runs the latest version of Windows Phone without any problems or lag.

The HTC Radar 4G comes with a 1 GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera (takes decent photos), front facing camera, WiFi hotspot functionality, and support for T-Mobile's HSPA+ network.

Final thoughts on my top 10

It is clear that Android rules the smartphone world here in the US with carrier and device selection and as you can see in my list I have five Android devices. However, I also have four Windows Phone devices and feel quite strongly that this platform is a fantastic choice for consumers. I am seeing more and more people using these devices and think it is just a matter of time before Windows Phone gains dramatically in market share. Note that I have NO RIM BlackBerry devices included this year. Their BB OS 7 devices are decent, but cannot really begin to match other devices we see in 2012.

As you can see there are four devices from HTC, three from Samsung, one from Nokia, one from Motorola, and one from Apple.

I thought about putting the Samsung Galaxy Note in my list, but it is more of a tablet than a smartphone so it really stands alone. There are a lot of other Android devices to consider, but I think I honestly picked the top ones for my list above.

There are some other devices coming in 2012, either announced or rumored, that could be serious contenders for the top 10 of 2012 later in the year. These include the announced Nokia 808 PureView with 41 megapixel camera that has no release date or location or an estimated price, the likely Samsung Galaxy S III, and Apple iPhone 5.

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Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Wi-Fi, Verizon, AT&T, Software, Smartphones, Samsung, Processors, Networking, Mobility, Microsoft, HTC, Windows

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  • Hmm

    I guess roughly 80% of your readers disagree... Maybe the new phone to get is the Lumia 900 huh.
  • If Battery Life is an essential factor...

    I'd definitely go with the Droid Razr Maxx. I have enjoyed this phone immensely. The phone has gone as long as 4 days when I just used it for occasional calls, checking email, and Facebook-ing. I'm not really that concerned with the lack of it not coming with ice cream sandwich which probably will be upgraded at a later date.
    • Razz has only better battery life when compared to ther Android devices

      The iPhone still smokes the Razr and the Nokia Lumia has better battery life than the Razr too.

      So suggesting the Razr as a battery life essential is completely ignorant to reality.
      • @wackoae - I'd like to see...

        the iphone go for as long as the Razr. Saying the iphone's 1400 mAh battery compares with the Razr's 3200 mAh battery is ignorent.
  • "and the display is still better than anything else in the smartphone marke

    Hmm, IMO I think there are much better screens out there now in the shops than the Retina Display.
    • Sooooooo

      What say you give some examples when you try to suggest that there is something better than the retina display?
      • ok

        The htc rezound has the best display. Not only does it have a 720p HD screen, but it's 4.3" size is much larger than iphone 4s 3.5" and STILL has a higher pixel density! The rezound's ppi is 342 while iphone 4s is only 326! So since pixel density determines how sharp and clear a display is AND the rezound's color rendering is as accurate as you could want, the rezound wins hands-down.
    • iphone does not have the best display

      A little research proves it doesn't
  • Titan vs Lumia?

    I want both. I love my Titan! Even though my android phone was a good phone my HTC Titan is very robust. The battery life is great and the screen is awesome. I just took a call on my friend's iphone while driving (passengers seat) but could barely see the screen. My Titan was very veiwable.

    And the Lumia 900 is so good looking. I have always loved Nokia design and respect the quality of their products. I can't choose. I really want to get it and swap days!
  • htc

    htc has become my Smartphone "Goto". With dumb phones, I always found myself going back to Nokia, after having consistently bad experiences with other brands - over the years, I had about 8 different Nokias, an Ericsson, a Samsung and a Motorola v66.

    htc seems to be in the same position for me with smartphones. I had an htc Touch Pro (Win Mob), then an iPhone 3GS, then an htc 7 Mozart and a Sensation. The htc Touch Pro was, IMO, better than the original iPhone, but when my renewal came up, I went with a 3GS. It became so slow and unreliable - corrupting my Audible books 3 times in 1 week, plus syncing the corruption back to my iMac, that I went out and bought the Sensation (unbranded, unlocked).

    I have a 7 Mozart as a company phone and I was very pleased with it at the time. The only downside is the lack of Gorilla Glass, the display is badly scratched, even though it has been transported in the same pocket as the iPhone and the Sensation, both of which are still pristine.

    I find WP7 much more intuitive and informative than iOS and in some ways, it is better than Android. Android is better than Windows Phone 7 in some ways, especially in configurability, but it lacks in some other areas.

    I would say that WP7 is ideal for the average user and Android for the more techy user. iOS is starting to feel old, in its styling, although it still provides a very consistent and user friendly interface.

    I am looking forward to the htc One X, the quad core processor looks very nice and it has a nice design (the dual core is only on LTE networks in the USA). That said, the ICS update for my Sensation arrived this morning and is currently updating - I love flat rate data plans.
  • Is there really room for three ecosystems?

    Is there really room for three ecosystems? I'm not so sure. Unfortunately for Windows Phone, it's caught between Android & iPhone... and gets compared to both... and, therefore, always seems to fall short.

    For example, when Windows Phone didn't have LTE it was a big deal, a big deficiency. But the iPhone doesn't have LTE... but people just shrug. This type of double standard happens to Windows Phone all the time.

    So what does this mean? It means, I suspect, that there really isn't room for three ecosystems. There is only room for two... which means that if Microsoft can't wedge itself into the mobile market with Windows 8 & 9... then it may never be a player.

    I think there's an opportunity for Microsoft because a lot of Android users are dissatisfied; however, at the moment, they don't even consider Windows Phone as an alternative. There's only one alternative to Android right now--the iPhone. Microsoft needs to change this... and they need to do it soon. I think it's very possible for Android to become the next Blackberry... but it will only happen if there is a viable alternative available. Microsoft needs to fight tooth & nail to be THAT alternative.
  • Hot Mobile App

    I also agree with the above comments. Android will be the 2nd position after Blackberry. The following link may help.
    • I don't agree

      I don't agree with you. Look at this site . Here many people vote for smartphone on Android. And Android smartphones are the best selling smartphones now.
  • Spot on!

    I think you have nailed this one! Great article.

  • I choose HTC!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I think HTC is really in a great demand, I recently bought a HTC Explorer Royal from @ Rs.8,499/- after 35% discount????????????I think it is a good deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I choose iPhone

    Think about it, this how it goes. Blackberry hottest phones since around 2006-2009 when Android came out it over topped iPhone because it was way faster with the 4G so iPhone had to step up with the IOS system. When the new body shape and new system on iPhone that became popular. With the discontinuing of the Evo1 Evo 3D and Evo Shift, that had shot down HTC big time which gave a chance for Samsung to come out with something better. But as along as either Android, IOS, blackberry, or Nokia or other phones keep coming out with better systems and phones. There will still be a continuing argument on which phone is the best. Personally I don't like big phones so i go for iPhone. Not only that I love iCloud and the IOS system plus the IOS6 that is going to be coming out soon. So it will still be the battle of the phones.
  • what about the features that matter???

    who gives a *** about the camera or the display quality.
    what about the important stuff: email, contacts, other apps, keyboard quality, voice quality, battery life... you know the stuff people buy smart phones for.
  • The market share of Google's operating system has risen to more than 50%

    The market share of Google's operating system has risen to more than 50%

    Internet analytics company ----comscore, its Mobilens service data report shows that in the three months from December 2011 to February 2012, the Google's Android operating system in the U.S. market share of the smart machine, and in February of this year exceeded the 50% mark, and it’s also the first time in history to occupy more than half of the market share. In addition, Microsoft's Windows phone and RIM blackberry system is continued to slump. Equipment manufacturers, Samsung has once again become the actual manufacturer of the largest U.S. market, the next four, respectively, LG, Apple, Motorola, HTC.

    The smart phone operating system market share ranking:

    From the above table we can see that the number of smartphone users in the United States more than 104 million people, growth of 14%. Google is the first time more than 50% share of Central, an increase of 17 percent over the same period last year. The next row is the second Apple operating system, the market share of 30.2%, Central, an increase of 5% over the same period last year. The next RIM BlackBerry operating system accounted for 13.4 percent, 3.9 percent of Microsoft's windows mobile operating system, 1.5% of Nokia's Symbian system , three operating systems have more or less recession traces.

    Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) market share ranking:

    According to the data, the number of mobile phone users in the United States over the age of 13 to 234 million. Samsung once again ranked first in market share of 25.6%, another South Korean mobile phone maker LG is followed, ranked second with 19.4 percent share. Apple is a share of 13.5 percent ranked third, and a solid upgrade. Fourth Motorola is a 12.8 share, and continued to subside phenomenon. Finally, the HTC moved up to fifth, 6.3% of the market share.
    Additionaly,the dual sim android smartphone are becoming more and more popular among young people for its multi-function,like TV,GSM + WCDMA dual sim android card.
    Dual smartphone
  • How to maximize the battery life

    How to maximize the battery life of a my 3G dual sim androidphone?

    Learn how to increase and extend the battery life of the dual sim android smart phone.
    Despite being a powerful new smartphone based on the Android operating system, like any smartphone the 3Gdual sim android smart phone drain it's batteries quickly.
    Instead of putting the phone down, let’s maximize the Battery,inspiron 1300 battery life.
    Saving your battery life isn’t rocket science—the general principle is to get rid of the things that are draining the battery the most, and trim down other things that you need to use, but maybe can tweak a little. Keep reading for the full explanation.
    First, to maximize the battery life of a 3Gdual sim android smart phone., press the "Menu" key on the Home screen. From, select "Settings" to enter the phone's settings screen.
    Next, go into "Data Synchronization" under "Settings" and disable automatic sync. This will prevent the 3Gdual sim android from frequently updating mail and calendar, thus using power. Instead, email and calendars will be updated manually every time you open then.
    Now decrease the screen brightness and also decrease the timeout length for the screen to switch off when not in use. Additionally, to conserve 3Gdual sim android Battery life you can press the red End key when you are done using the phone to turn off the screen.
    If you do not use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth often, turn these connectivity features off to conserve power. They can always be activated when necessary.
    Additionally, GPS can be deactivated if you do not have a need to use this.
    There’s a number of other things you can do to extend your battery life a bit—one of which is to use a rooted phone and install the Autostarts utility, which you can use to keep applications from launching themselves automatically. Since this isn’t something you can do on a stock phone, we’re not covering how to do it here.
    You can also use an application called Tasker to automate certain actions, like turning on or off the GPS or Wi-Fi when you launch a particular application, or scheduling a time of day to make sure that Wi-Fi is disabled. Lifehacker has a great guide to using Tasker to automate your phone, and they also explain how to use a configuration to scale back data usage at night.
    Have any of these tips helped your Android phone? What other tips do you have for your follow readers?
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