Top 5 hottest smartphones this summer

Top 5 hottest smartphones this summer

Summary: There are tons of smartphones available from your carrier, but I think there are 5 that stand out from the crowd this summer. Which is your favorite?

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Readers tend to enjoy my top device lists here on ZDNet so with most smartphone announcements made for this summer I thought it was appropriate to share my top 5 smartphones. You can check out several product photos of these top 5 smartphones available this summer 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 5 smartphones that are hot this summer. Image Gallery: Samsung Galaxy S III

I have five phones on a family plan on T-Mobile, an individual grandfathered unlimited data account on Verizon, and a new AT&T individual account for my Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC One X. Here are my Top 5 hottest smartphones of summer 2012.

Number 1: Samsung Galaxy S III

I just received a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S III to evaluate and after I return from vacation I will post my review, but I can already tell this will most likely be the hottest smartphone of the summer. The success will be due in large part to Samsung's ability to get it launched across the board with virtually the same hardware on all the major wireless carriers in the U.S. Not even Apple has been able to achieve this level of broad carrier adoption and I am sure the Galaxy S III will set record sales numbers.

The hardware is fine (typical Samsung plasticy feel to it), but the real innovation looks to be in the software that Samsung provides that work with some hardware elements. The Samsung Galaxy S III sports a 4.8 inch 720x1280 Super AMOLED display, Android ICS with new TouchWiz overlay, NFC, 2GB of RAM, 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 8 megapixel rear camera, 1.9 megapixel front facing camera, 4G LTE and/or HSPA+ support, and 2100 mAh battery.

Software elements include Smart Stay where the sensor notes when you are looking at the display and keeps the display turned on during this time, Direct call that will initiate a call when you lift the phone to your ear during a text conversation, Smart alert that vibrates your phone when you come back to it if there are pending notifications, S Voice voice command software, enhanced sharing functionality, and more.

After just a day, I am seriously considering pick up a Verizon one to use with my current unlimited data plan or a T-Mobile one since I am finding the HSPA+ speeds to rival Verizon's LTE in my area. I will post my review after a week or more of using the device. You can find models with integrated 16GB and 32GB memory for prices between $199.99 and $249.99 with a 2-year contract.

Number 2: AT&T Nokia Lumia 900

I am sure readers will have some issue with the placement of this pick, but after a month with my own white Nokia Lumia 900 I can honestly say it is my daily go to phone and works best for ME. I LOVE Windows Phone, despite its lack of current market share and Nokia did an excellent job with the Nokia Lumia 900. It is available for just $99.99 from AT&T, lower from Amazon and other places, and IMHO it cannot be beat at that price.

The Nokia Lumia 900 has that lovely form factor similar to what 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. It will be getting the Windows Phone 7.8 update with the cool new Start screenin the next few weeks as well.

Number 3: HTC One Series (X, S, EVO 4G LTE)

IMHO, HTC blew it by not being able to do what Samsung did with the Galaxy S III and get the HTC One X on all the major carriers. When you hold an HTC device next to an equivalent Samsung device you immediately choose the HTC one in terms of feel and build quality. The HTC One X is simply gorgeous and as I wrote earlier it is the best HTC device I have ever used.

I am including the HTC One X from AT&T, HTC One S from T-Mobile, and HTC EVO 4G LTE from Sprint in this single pick because they are all basically the same internally with just a few customizations and changes made by each carrier. I love the small size of the HTC One S, the added features (microSD, kickstand, camera button) on the EVO 4G LTE, and the simple elegance of the HTC One X.

All three devices sport the Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, HTC Sense 4.0 with Ice Cream Sandwich, Bluetooth 4.0, 8 megapixel camera with f/2.0 lens, and Beats Audio. The screen sizes vary between 4.3 and 4.7 inches and LTE is provided on the AT&T and Sprint models. $199.99 is the going price for these three smartphones.

Number 4: 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. I actually traded away my iPhone 4S because I become bored with the UI in the OS, but still recommend it to many family and friends looking for a solid first smartphone. The Android and Windows Phone devices are getting much better though and with ICS in Android I am finding that more people are looking around as well. The iPhone 4S 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 excellent. It is a bit small for my taste though and I like having more glanceable information on my display.

You can now purchase an iPhone 4S on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and other regional carriers 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.

The iPhone 4S ranges in price from $199.99 to $399.99, depending on the integrated storage you select, 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB.

Number 5: Nokia 808 PureView

This selection may draw some criticism from readers, but honestly the 41 megapixel camera technology used in the Nokia 808 PureView is stunning and given that you likely will be capturing lots of pictures in the summer I thought it was worthy of a spot in my top five. I almost purchased one and may not be able to hold out, but with my oldest daughter now off to college I am becoming a bit more selective when I purchase phones.

Symbian Belle on these latest Nokia smartphones is actually very similar to Android with a pull down shade, widget home screen panels, and more. I don't think many people have given Symbian a chance lately with iOS and Android dominating the market, but it really is still a very powerful mobile operating system that deserves consideration.

I still carry around my Nokia N8 thanks in large part to the amazing camera with Xenon flash. The Nokia 808 PureView is a pentaband device so you can use it with the 3G networks on T-Mobile and AT&T. It will not work on Verizon or Sprint and is available only as a SIM-unlocked phone, currently as a pre-order on Amazon for $699.

Summary thoughts on my selections

Each modern smartphone OS is actually well represented in my top five list with Android taking two of the top five spots. This makes sense given that Android is at the top of the food chain right now. I like various aspects of all platforms and wish you all could try each one out too and give them all an honest try.

I think there is something to what I keep saying to people about Windows Phone though. I gave the four ladies in my house opportunities to use Android, Symbian, and Windows Phone devices (the iPhone doesn't work on T-Mobile 3G) and all four are now sporting Windows Phone devices and loving the fluid user interface and custom Live Tiles. I imagine when Nokia brings one with the PureView image technology it will be even more compelling.

We will likely see a new Apple iPhone, new Galaxy Nexus with the Jelly Bean operating system, new Windows Phone 8 devices, and new BlackBerry 10 OS devices this fall so a brand new list will have to be created in time for the holiday season.

Related ZDNet posts

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Topics: Mobility, AT&T, Smartphones, Samsung, Nokia, Android, Microsoft, iPhone, HTC, Hardware, Google, Verizon

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82 comments
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  • top phones for summer

    Major props for 2 outta 5 being Nokia's, too often they over-looked but Nokia makes the most rock-solid phones on the market
    mixmast3r58@...
    • The Nokia Phones on this list

      Are not as well built as the rest of the phones. The Lumia series phones use "double-sided" tape to reduce cost (a.k.a. cheaply made crap). The other Nokia phone is only listed because of it's over-sampling image sensor. Well that and Mr. Miller is a Nokia fanboy.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • The Nokias, including the Lumias, are the best build quality phones on this

        list. The lumia also has the most reliable and secure os, as well as the one with the best usability. That it also runs the most beautifully designed apps is also a plus.
        Johnny Vegas
      • Beside your need to justify your Troll

        license fees, do you have any objective proof? Didn't think so. Once again the Microsift Fanboys/Trolls/Astroturfers, can't handle the truth.The Lumia phones are built like Bic lighters, Cheap ans disposable.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Troll

        Thanks fanboy
        a hobbit
  • Hmm

    I would have put the Galaxy Note on there instead of the pureview but that is just me. Interesting though that the 4s cannot keep up with phones that will not be updated or will be slow to update. I guess ZDNet over emphasizes the importance of that huh?
    slickjim
    • To be fair, iPhone 4S is *much hotter* than anything else

      And I do not mean opinions, it is just sales results -- nothing could be more unbiased that this.

      SGS3 is on the second place. To be more competitive, Samsung has to provide a phone with honest Retina-class resolution, SGS3 is seriously lacking in this. However, it is good that Samsung managed to achieve similar graphical performance as iPhone 4S, it does not lag, and surpassed Apple's device in integer calculations. Build-materials can not be compared to steel and glass of iPhone, size of SGS3 is too big for most of buyers, and the media library and applications ecosystem are weaker on Android platform. This has an advantage of more flexibility and configuration possibilities, but such features could only be used by a pro-users, not regular customers which actually do the "hotness" Matthew talks about.
      DDERSSS
      • What?

        The Samsung GSIII already has a higher resolution than the iPHone 4s, it's a 720P screen.

        popular doesn't always mean "better" I truely hope you do not base your purchasing decisions based on popularity? Do you ?
        jonandkelly
      • sales not equal hotness

        @DeRSSS
        [quote]And I do not mean opinions, it is just sales results -- nothing could be more unbiased that this.

        SGS3 is on the second place. To be more competitive, Samsung has to provide a phone with honest Retina-class resolution, SGS3 is seriously lacking in this. However, it is good that Samsung managed to achieve similar graphical performance as iPhone 4S, it does not lag, and surpassed Apple's device in integer calculations. Build-materials can not be compared to steel and glass of iPhone, size of SGS3 is too big for most of buyers, and the media library and applications ecosystem are weaker on Android platform. This has an advantage of more flexibility and configuration possibilities, but such features could only be used by a pro-users, not regular customers which actually do the "hotness" Matthew talks about.[/quote]
        If sales = hot, then a Toyota Camry is a hot car and an Audi R8 is not hot at all.
        Who cares about Apple's retina display when all the premium Android phones all have super sharp screen resolutions. Gimme screen size thanks.
        As for UI performance, I can run an iphone style static icon launcher on Android and also have no lag. Show me an iphone with animating background & live widgets with no lag.
        As for media library, Androids have UNLIMITED library. You can use any media in any format from anywhere, even from itunes!
        As for build quality, don't even try to equate that with durability. Iphone 4/4s is a great example of superficial design that is prone to damage.
        You do not need to be a "pro" to use Android features. In fact, I'd say you'd need to be a pro to get around the limitations of an iphone. Want to send a file by bluetooth? use a song on your phone as a ringtone? Android: it just works. Iphone: doesn't.
        the iphone is not a hot phone, it is just a default choice by a lot of people who know nothing better. The other main reason people buy iphones is because they have paid for apps and feel that they need to get an iphone to keep using those paid apps. Those who don't feel committed to the ecosystem and accessories are switching.
        warboat
      • Not sure where you're coming up with it doesn't work.

        [i]use a song on your phone as a ringtone? Android: it just works. Iphone: doesn't.[/i]

        I am using custom, as in made myself, ring tones on my iPhone. Fairly simple process but not as simple as it used to be before iTunes 10.

        With that said I do like Android...unfortunately Cricket doesn't have the higher end Android phones so I ended up buying an iPhone 4S.
        ye
      • Did you read the message? Do you understand what "honest resolution" means?

        @jonandkelly: SGS3 has poor PenTile matrix instead of actual resolution one. It can not compete with iPhone's screen. It also has oversaturated colours, and it the screen gets worse in picture only like 1.5-2 years of use.
        DDERSSS
      • Retina class?

        Arguing over pentile & RGB pixel arrangement is just splitting hairs when the pixels are so fine you can't see the difference. Anyone who says the S3 display is lacking definition or colour simply hasn't used one in their hands. The retina tag is sooo 2010.
        As for Amoled burnout, the display won't wear out anywhere near the same rate as the locked-in battery in an iphone. Argument is kinda lame anyway, its unlikely that premium phone users would even hang onto any phone for more than 2 years.
        warboat
      • You can see the difference very well; every reviewer confirmed that the ...

        @warboat ... image quality of SGS3 is lacking.

        And no wonder since iPhone's screen is twice sharper in honest pixel density.
        DDERSSS
        • ha, funny joke

          Please tell me you are joking. The s3 screen is incredible. If you look at it for 5 minutes you will despise going back to the puny iphone screen. You have obviously not seen the screen. If you are making a joke, kudos, it was funny.
          Eric Richardson
    • Galaxy Note instead of the iPhone 4S

      The iPhone 4S is not one of the hottest phones for this summer. Maybe you could have said that last Fall, but not for this summer. And that 3.5" screen looks more ridiculous every day.
      mrxxxman
      • Galaxy Note

        The gnote is a phone without any equal at the moment. Even the S3 can't tear me away from the gnote.
        The only other phone that really interests me is the Asus Padfone. This is the future of transformer phones. If Asus could make a 5.x inch version of the Padfone with a pressure sensitive stylus like the gnote, I'm there in a flash!
        warboat
      • Small screen on iPhone

        Actually,since I bought an iPad,the small screen doesn't really bother me that much. I only use it for going on-line rarely.
        elvisfan0108
      • Tiny Phone in big hand

        Isn't it scary when you see a huge guy with a big hand and a tiny little phone??
        microsoftmissionary
    • Amen!!

      I love Android and Windows Phone and Blackberry and think the Galaxy Note is big and beautiful especially with the S Pen. It is only on AT&T though.
      microsoftmissionary
  • Nokia is dying fast

    What's the point in buying a Lumia when everybody knows it's not upgradeable to WP8? Besides, since Microsoft hugged Nokia, Nokia is dying in Microsoft's caring hands.
    coco montoya