Because there's a stampede of Android smartphones barreling into the market -- including both excellent models and a few duds -- many people feel a little overwhelmed when trying to choose one. I get a lot of the "Would you get this one or that one" questions as well as plenty of requests to rank my favorites.
So I've decided to do something a little dangerous -- create a leaderboard of my top 10 Android picks. It's dangerous because this is very subjective stuff. The smartphone that is the best fit for you is going to depend heavily on your needs and preferences.
But, since I've had my paws on virtually all of the Android devices and I've written reviews of the best ones, I'm going to rank them in terms of the overall quality of the devices, with much more emphasis placed on the smartphones themselves than on the wireless carriers that they're tied to.
I also keep this leaderboard up to date. So, as I review new Android devices and decide that they deserve a place on the list, I will add them and bump other phones down or off the list. With this update, the new entrants to the list are the HTC Desire and the Motorola Droid Pro.
Caveat: This ranking is primarily based on US smartphones. In each country/region, the telecom carriers tend to name these devices by different names. In many cases you'll be able to find a close match between the devices on this list and devices in your area, but not in all cases.
SlideshowYou can also view this list as a slideshow and see larger photos of each of the devices.
1. HTC EVO 4GPound-for-pound and feature-by-feature, there's still nothing out there in Android land that can hang with the HTC EVO 4G. With its 4.3-inch WVGA screen, 8 megapixel camera, 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU, front-facing VGA camera, Micro HDMI port, 3G Wi-Fi hotspot, and 4G WiMAX capability, the EVO has it all. And, with its large on-screen keyboard and handy kickstand for watching video, it's a device that's easy and pleasant to use. When I reviewed it, I called the EVO "The Hummer of smartphones" because it's so huge and it's such a power hog, but there's no denying that it is the elite device of the Android fleet. worst tech products of 2009. So when Samsung announced the Galaxy S, its first line of Android devices, expectations were fairly low. But, despite the marketing confusion of naming the Galaxy S something different (and giving it a slightly different configuration) on every carrier, the product has been a big hit, selling over a million units in its first 45 days on the market. The best of the Galaxy S models is T-Mobile's Samsung Vibrant, which is thin, powerful, has a great screen, and does the least amount of fiddling with the stock Android OS.
4. HTC DesireThis smartphone bears a very strong resemblance to the Nexus One and in the first half of the year it was released in Europe and Australia, where it became a popular choice in both markets. It has since spread to other international markets and became available in the US through regional carrier US Cellular. The Desire has nearly-identical hardware specs to the Nexus One and a very similar, high-quality outer shell that gives it an excellent build quality. The biggest differences are that the Desire has hardware navigation buttons instead of touch-sensitive buttons, an optical touchpad instead of a trackball, includes HTC Sense UI and an FM tuner, but lacks the second microphone for noise cancellation and the pins for a dock connector. Also, keep an eye on the HTC Desire HD (with a larger 4.3-inch screen) and the HTC Desire Z (with a slide-down keyboard). unveiling at CTIA 2010 in March, the response from Motorola and Verizon (the previous darlings of the Android world) was the Droid X. It matched the HTC EVO with a 4.3-inch screen, an 8 megapixel camera, a Micro HDMI port, and mobile hotspot functionality, but it lacked a front-facing camera, 4G connectivity, and the extra polish that HTC puts on Android with its Sense UI. This version of the Samsung Galaxy S is the one that departs most significantly from the standard form factor. That's mostly because it integrates a full 53-key slide-down hardware keyboard. But it's not just any keyboard. With it's large keys and dedicated row for number keys, it is arguably the best hardware qwerty on any Android device. It also features a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, a zippy 1 GHz Samsung processor, and Sprint's 4G WiMAX service. I could certainly make a case for ranking this phone as high as number three on this list.
10. Motorola Droid 2The fact that this phone is all the way down at number seven on this list is an indication of just how competitive the Android market has become, because this is an excellent smartphone. The original Droid really kick-started the Android revolution and remained one of the best-selling Android devices on the market throughout the first half of 2010. The Droid 2 simply updates the design slightly, improves the keyboard, and replaces the internals with more powerful hardware. For those who prefer a physical keyboard and Verizon's top-notch coverage, the Droid 2 remains a great choice.
11. HTC AriaThe HTC Aria might be one of the best kept secrets of the Android world. HTC could have honestly named this phone the EVO Mini. It looks a lot like the EVO, but in a far smaller package. In fact, while the EVO is the biggest Android phone, the Aria is the most compact, with its 3.2-inch screen. That's its primary appeal -- along with a low price tag (it retails for $129 but you can usually find it for much less than that, even free, based on promotions). The biggest problems with the Aria are the underpowered 600 MHz CPU and the fact that, like the Galaxy S, AT&T has loaded it up with lots of crapware and limited it to only the applications in the Android Market.
12. LG AllyThe LG Ally is not very pretty -- except for being pretty underpowered -- but it does have a few redeeming qualities that can make it attractive. It has a great little hardware keyboard -- the best hardware keyboard on an Android device next to the Epic 4G. It's also very compact, though not as compact as the HTC Aria, since the Ally has the slider keyboard that makes it a little more bulky. But, the best feature is the price: $49. And, like the Aria, many customers will get it for free with the right promotion. For 50 dollars or less, this phone is a nice value.
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This article was originally published on TechRepublic.