World’s Best Android Phone – July/August 2011
It’s time we discussed it out: Which one is the world’s best android phone, after all, each and every major Android phone manufacturer has got its best dual-core powered machine out now. HTC is proud of its Sensation, Motorola has already launched 2 dual-core phones (Atrix at AT&T and Droid X2 at Verizon), LG’s been first to make dual-core appearance with Optimus 2X, Samsung’s now busy finding a hole to launch its Galaxy S 2 (under more than one moniker) in US and Sony Ericsson, well, the company is yet to understand the age of dual-core phones has arrived.
With all beasts at stake, there is still so much ruckus in the android power users’ community caused by Google’s own single-core outings in Nexus S – probably the last single-core design from the mountain view based search engine giant. And then there are phones like Galaxy Ace, Motorola Triumph, SE Xperia Mini/Mini Pro, that now challenge the last year’s bestseller in specs. Looking at their spec-sheet get the perfect idea of how much technology has advanced since these medium-segment devices are now boasting the RAM and 1 GHz powers of yesteryear’s powerful phones.
And yet there is an android phone launching almost everyday.
But one thing looks certain, no major (game-changing phone) launch is on the horizon. And that emphasizes our belief further that the time is right to find out world’s best android phone for once-and-all, or at least until we see the likes of Nexus Prime/Nexus 3, HTC Vigor, New Atrix, etc hit store’s shelves — which could be a matter of leaks, discussion, rumors and what not in the coming few months.
Ranking has been done in the Decreasing Order. [You know why!]
(Note: Phones at No. 10 and No. 9 — Galaxy Ace and Xperia Mini / Mini Pro — have secured their ranks based on cost-benefit factors. Both of these phones offer rich experience despite costing around half of the other phones listed here and are of course, not that high in specs, too.)
10. Motorola Triumph/Samsung Galaxy Ace
Motorola Triumph is the latest launch by Motorola which is limited to Virgin mobile in US only for now. So, we’ll cover up the Galaxy Ace first which is available worldwide after which we’ll tell you all good things about the Triumph.
You may be wondering how come the Galaxy Ace from Samsung, an 800 MHz processor powered phone in the age of dual-core phones which still runs Froyo (that is, Android 2.2) has made it to our top 10 android phones list. But make no mistake, this is the best budget phone available worldwide. And one meant for those looking up to this post to find a good phone with respectable screen real estate and a decent processor while proving a good bargain. Well, all that sums up to Galaxy Ace. Not only the hardware is impressive, software is worthy of praise too. Samsung’s software team has been first to release Android 2.3.4 on non-Google android phones and in fact, has even updated Galaxy Ace to Gingerbread in some regions while the global release is being launched gradually.
Galaxy Ace’s 11.5 mm thin body with 3.5 inch TFT screen, 800 MHz processor and Android 2.3.4 update completely worth its price it’s selling for near you. In India, it’s selling now for INR 13900 (which is 315 dollars or 221 Euros) which is a contract-free price. Those looking for a budget phone with a slightly bigger space — ahem, that of iphone — at 3.5 inch screen (and bigger than Xperia Mini’s 3.0 inch screen), should think well about the Galaxy Ace.
Motorola Triumph: Well, it’s the latest of all phones discussed here and easily brags the title of world’s best budget phone. Too bad, it’s available only in US and that too on Virgin Mobile, which is why we gave the title of best budget phone available worldwide to Galaxy Ace, and we know Motorola is too shy of launching its cool phones outside of US. It boasts Qualcomm’s 1 GHz processor, very cool 4.1 inch screen, 5 MP camera capable of shooting at 720p, a front facing camera, 512 MB RAM, 2 GB internal memory, etc, all of which make up the best spec-sheet for a budget phone. Cost? Just 300 dollars without contract. If it’s available near you, buy this phone – it’s totally worth.
Alternate: Apart from Galaxy Ace and Motorola Triumph, Optimus Once from LG is available worldwide too (under different names, albeit). It’s mediocre in specs and should be your choice of purchase only if you like the design too much 9which isn’t possible anyway) or both of the above phone are not available. Also, HTC’’s Wildfire S is the next best too here.
9. Xperia Mini and Xperia Mini pro
These twins hit the retail stores only last month and are yet to ship worldwide. But these are very cool phones and best buy if the user is a student, college girl, lady or simply those who don’t want too much screen space. Xperia phones design are best suited to part-poopers too, just FYI.
Both Xperia Mini and Mini pro are powered by a good deal of 1 GHz processor and come pre-installed with Android 2.3 gingerbread with Sony Ericsson’s nice UI atop it. These are tiny Android handsets capable of putting to shame many biggies of year 2010. Xperia Mini and Mini Pro are identical devices with the major difference being this – Mini Pro has a qwerty physical keyboard attached to it.
Common features in Xperia Mini and Mini Pro include 3.0 inch LCD screen, 1GHz processor, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), 512 MB RAM, 320 MB Internal Memory, 5 MP Camera capable of HD 720p recording, etc. but there is no secondary camera, which is okay. As for the differences — due to presence of physical keyboard — they differ in size (including thickness) and weight. Mini is 88 x 52 x 16 mm and weighs 99 gms while Mini Pro is 92 x 53 x 18 mm and weighs 136 gms. Admittedly, the thickness might disappoint some people, but the real world feel of these phones is pretty good and they prove to be very handy and suitable for one hand use. Not bad at all.
Mini and Mini pro have already launched in UK and will be shipping soon worldwide as all SE’s phone are. Without-contract price in UK is set at 240 pounds which is well worth the phone but is a hair higher for a budget phone with very limited screen space.
Alternate: Well, truly, Xperia phones’ designs make any phone near to its price range, look awful. So, really, no second best here. Mini and Mini pro have limited client set — which mostly are women of all ages and classes — and these serve them the best, whether it’s in terms of device size, price, looks and feel, while not compromising on hardware and software at all.
8. Xperia Play
If you’re looking for Gaming phone, nothing bests the Sony Ericsson’s android initiative for gamers, the Xperia Play. It’s 1 GHz processor is old in the current generation of dual-core processor powered devices, but with Sony producing/launching with collaboration games exclusively for this, it remains a best android phone for plenty of gaming. Want more, Android market is still there to download and play games like normal people. Since it features a gaming pad, it weighs heavy (175 grams) and is pretty thick too (16 mm) — almost the double of Galaxy S2. And for what it’s worth, it runs Android 2.3 gingerbread, which is the latest android OS available.
Alternate: None. No other gaming dedicated phone with PlayStation Pad exists.
7. Xperia Arc
Xperia Arc looks awesome, better than any other phone on earth and what’s so great about its design is that it suits women, men, girls, boys, equally well. And it’s fast too. But, it’s a little bit low on spec-sheet and that’s why it cannot manage to go up in this list.
Arc finds the same processor used in play – 1 GHz Qualcomm chip. RAM is low at 320 MB which is good enough for an average user. But if you’re an enthusiast, wanting to install and test lots of apps and home launchers, you’ll be disappointed and phone will get slow, even hanging regularly. But if you aren’t the one who would install too many apps, it’s fast in daily usage and won’t disappoint. We wish it had dual-core processor and solid 1 GB of RAM, because with that together with its excellent looks, it could have been second best here. Really!
BTW, SE challenge’s to top device is over here at rank 7, with no dual-core beast launched by SE yet. But, there is a rumor about Xperia Duo from SE, which would house pretty impressive dual-core chip, with even greater specs in other departments. Check SE Xperia Duo Specs here — it’s hell of a device, which should put SE right on track.
Alternate: If you’re looking for a relatively smaller sized phone, that of a 3.7 inch screen, look for HTC Desire S. And if 4 inch is good for you, HTC Incredible S may be able to impress you well. Both these HTC phones are bulky and their surface is a good friend to scratches, so be careful while choosing these. I’ve used Incredible S, so I can tell, but I gotta say, IS is fast, has loads of RAM (768 MB) and acres of space to save apps. It won’t disappoint enthusiasts like Arc does but if placed side by side to Arc, even a 5 year old would have no problem picking up Arc for its great design.
Update: Things very close to heart often gets forgotten. And we think our dear Galaxy S would understand it, which was last year’s blockbuster device and is one of the best thing to happen to Android OS platform last year, selling as many as 14 million units. Anyway, the point is, some users have asked where their beloved phone, the S1, ranks currently. More because the device ranking 3rd here, the Samsung-made Google Nexus S, is its clone, boasting a spec-sheet completely borrowed from the S1 with an addition of NFC chips. So, as for the Galaxy S, it’s still a very strong device whose screen is anytime better than the Incredible S, Arc, etc. But despite boasting a superior-in-graphics single core 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, it isn’t as fast as Arc, or Incredible S. And both IS and Arc have superior cameras. Leaving these two features aside, and further comparing with Arc and IS, Galaxy S packs in a better graphics processor, better screen (the Super AMOLED display), plays .mkv files better, and offers more internal space (16 GB), all of which is awesome. And tell you what, body of our year old Galaxy S is still almost scratchless as compared to barely two month old Incredible S on whose black aluminium body, scratches can be spotted quite easily (blame the mini-USB cable for that, too, apart from the poor finish of HTC). As for the screen, Arc’s the worst because of absence of Gorilla protection on its screen something which both S1 and IS have to guard themselves against keys, coins, etc in one’s pocket. So, how would I rate all the devices mentioned here? Well, the order would be: Arc, Galaxy S, Incredible S, Desire S (just 3.7″, duh!).
6. T-mobile G2x by LG
Almost every manufacturer of android device has a nasty habit of customizing its device, by overlaying its own user interface (UI) atop the Android OS. It may go as deep as HTC’s Sense UI and might get as ugly as LG did it with Optimus 2x, but SE’s custom UI has shown how it’s done fine while Samsung’s own TouchWiz 4, as found in galaxy S 2, has improved a lot and in fact, impressed us well. BUT, a phone without any sorts of customization (i.e. no custom UI) is what many people actually seek, and G2x is the only dual-core phone in that category, offering pure stock Android experience.
LG G2x has competition from the Nexus S which also boasts stock (read: default/original) Android OS as made by Google, without any customization. But the latter is a NEXUS phone, meaning it’s right from the Android’s mother, Google, and is one step ahead in performance despite being powered by a single core processor — all thanks to great integration made possible by Google’s software team. You’ll talk more about the Nexus S later, for sure.
If you want a dual-core phone without customization, LG G2x is your only choice — too bad it’s limited to U.S. only. Other than the stock Android experience and Tegra 2 dual-core processor, everything else is industry standard: 8 MP camera capable of shooting at 1080p, secondary 1.3 MP camera in the front, Android 2.2 (should get a upgrade to Android 2.3 soon), dimensions – 124.5 x 63.5 x 10.2 mm, weight – 141.8 gms, 4.0 inch IPS LCD screen capable of producing 16M colors at the resolution of 480 x 800, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB internal memory.
Alternate: Well, none for now.
5. Motorola Droid 3 / Milestone 3
Droid 3 is easily world’s best android phone with physical qwerty keyboard. Droid 3 will be launching at Verizon and supports its CDMA network only but its global twin, the Milestone 3 — which is meant for non-US markets — will support GSM networks. So those in US and at Verizon wanting a physical qwerty android phone, Droid is the phone for you. And obviously, Milestone 3 for those outside of US.
Droid 3 has dual-core processor, qHD display (one you find in Atrix 4G, Droid X2, HTC Sensation, etc.), 4.0 inch screen (0.3 inch bigger than Droid and Droid 2) and the physical keyboard is qwerty and boasts of 5 rows — which are great for faster typing since one row is dedicated to numbers alone. Specs-wise, it’s great and comparable to other best phone we’ve here, so no worries here.
The phone’s dual-core processor is a new one by Texas Instrument with two cores clocked at 1 GHz each. And its good, but not enough to beat Samsung’s 1.2 GHz dual-core Exynos processor. But for all of its quite-good looks and physical keyboard, Droid 3 weighs too much — 184 grams, heavier than any other android phone available today.
Alternate: Not many quality physical qwerty phones exists. But if you’re desperate, last year’s Samsung Epic 4G (with 1 GHz single core processor and overall avg in specifications now) might still impress you.
4. Motorola Atrix 4G / Droid X2
While the title of world’s first dual-core processor powered phone goes to LG’s Optimus 2X, the first one for the U.S. is Motorola’s Atrix 4G, launched at AT&T. It’s powered by NVidia’s dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 processor, the same processor you find in most of the dual-core phones today; except HTC Sensation and Galaxy S 2, with former being the first phone housing Qualcomm’s dual-core processor while the latter boasting the Samsung’s own produced Exynos processor, touted by many as the world’s best dual-core processor. Oh, let’s not go too far on Sensation and Galaxy S 2 and their processors and other parts because that would spoil the fun I’m trying to save for the end of this post.
The Atrix 4G is fast, amazingly fast, but it’s still somehow leaves some things wanted, esp. after you’ve used the Galaxy S2. Motorola’s own UI atop Android 2.2 (still!) slows this phone a very little bit but an upgrade to Gingerbread should improve the experience.
But since the Atrix 4G is available only in U.S. it’s case is limited by that. Moreover, the Droid X2 — successor to a great device, Droid X, has the same features as that of Atrix 4G but since it mimics the looks of Droid X, I would personally rate Droid X2 higher than Atrix 4G. Too bad, Droid X2 too is limited at Verizon in U.S.
Apart from the dual-core processor, Atrix 4G’s — and Droid X2’s — other source of power is 1 GB DDR2 RAM, which first surfaced on the Android scene with Atrix only. Then, you’ve a nice 1930 mAh battery, 16 GB Internal memory, 4.0 inch TFT display with gorilla glass protection and resolution of awesome 540 x 960 pixels, biometric fingerprint reader, etc. It’s worth mentioning that if you purchase the webdock available it, shelling out another $300, you can attach Atrix to it and use the webdock coupled with phone as a laptop, too — but that’s not that useful, practically!
Alternate: If you aren’t in US, you can’t buy these device, at least straight forward. Your obvious choice narrows down to none other than LG Optimus 2X then, which got its point cut down due to LG’s poor customization and integration, which leaves one with too many bugs to fight with, daily. But before buying it, do read this post in full — you’ll know which phone to buy, that’s why.
3. Google Nexus S by Samsung
Well, it’s a Nexus phone — launched by Google itself. It’s not powered by today’s well known dual-core processors and in fact, it’s very similar to original Galaxy S, both in specs and looks. But, since it’s a nexus device straight from Google, the performance of this phone is too good, even for the likes of dual-core phones like Atrix 4G, Droid X2, etc. Yes, really. And it offers pure stock Android experience without any bloatware from the manufacturer — which is what many people crave for, and acts as a big plus for this phone. t;s also available in 4G variant, as Nexus S 4G, which is of course a better choice than Nexus S because of the presence of higher 4G speeds.
The phone’s display is Super AMOLED, which bests the displays of all the phones listed here — except for the Galaxy S 2’s Super AMOLED Plus display. And the 1GHz hummingbird processor from Samsung isn’t bad too — it’s tight integration by Google with Android 2.3 means it’s still one of the best performing android device of our world.
Software updates are issue on Android — for example, Atrix still runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo), which is one year old now. Now, Nexus S runs on the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) right from it’s launch. Since it’s a Google phone, there is no problem whatsoever with updates here. it’s the first device to get android update right now, every update launches on this very device.
But that’s not all. The Nexus S is very low priced. It’s really a steal at the price it’s been offered worldwide. Check your local stores and you would find that it is indeed relatively cheap and when we know that’s it’s least buggy and incredible fast, it surely deserves a 3rd spot ahead of dual-core machines like, Droid 3, Atrix 4G, Droid X2, etc.
2. HTC Sensation (4G in US)
This is HTC’s first dual-core phone, and the company’s best phone too. If you are a fan of HTC’s build quality — metal body, heavy finish, no-plastic-anywhere on the phone, bulkiness, weight, etc. — this is the phone to buy for you. Otherwise, it’s no better than Galaxy S2 anywhere, which is the case with every other android phone right now except for Arc’s looks and aesthetics that are simply beyond any phone, even S2. But that’s not to say Sensation is any short of qualifying as a great phone. In fact, save for the Galaxy S2, it would be world’s best in many features, in all of which Galaxy S 2 wears the crown right now.
HTC Sensation features Qualcomm’s 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, good deal of 768 MB of RAM, Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and HTC’s own UI Sense UI 3.0 — the UI actually ends up slowing the phone sometimes. Mind you, Sense UI — whether as v2.1 or v3.0 — is integrated too deep with Android by HTC, which affects phone’s performance. The screen size is 4.3 inches and features a qHD display — that is, resolution of 540 x 960 pixels — which is fine. Ah, the thickness — it’s 11.3 mm, which is okay going by today’s standards; btw, it pales in front of Arc’s 8.6 mm, Galaxy S 2’s 8.5 mm (*phew*) and even last year’s Samsung Galaxy S was 9.9 mm — you get it, right!
All in all, HTC Sensation is a great phone but since its competing with Galaxy S 2, I would recommend this phone only if you want a slightly thick and heavy phone with metal body. Otherwise, the phone you want is just below — have a nice peek.
Alternate: None. Wouldn’t it be unfair to HTC if we pick up just one from their large collection of android handsets and give a alternate choice for that too?
1. Samsung Galaxy S2
This is the phone of the year. It’s the best Android phone right now — the Samsung Galaxy S 2.
The S2 is successor to Samsung Galaxy S — the very popular device from 2010, which the Korean outfit managed to sell 10 million units in just 6 months. And by god, the original Galaxy S couldn’t hope for a better successor than the Galaxy S 2 — which has bested the S1’s 5 million units sold in 85 days by same number of units sold in just 55 days. it’s selling like hotcakes, even more than that. Ever since it was announced in the CES event back in January 2011, the whole world was just waiting for it. And this phone truly delivered well the above the expectations.
While many criticized Samsung a lot for slower Android OS updates for Galaxy S, it seems that problem is completely gone now. Not only did Samsung launched Galaxy S2 with the Android’s latest version 2.3, it has also updated Galaxy S to Android 2.3 too, and done that well before any other company. Incredible work from Samsung, really!
The Galaxy S 2 features a 4.3 inch screen with Super SMOLED Plus display with Gorilla Glass protection atop. It’s powered by Samsung’s own 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor, which keeps laughing on you no matter how many apps, tasks, home screen aps, etc you throw at it. There is no doubt that both the processor and display are world’s best and once you use this phone, you get to know how a phone should be — silky smooth, very responsive, no-lags-whatsoever, etc. – oh! the list goes on. And wait, this thing is just 8.5 mm thick — making it the world’s slimmest android phone available worldwide.
The only downside is the use of plastic display in the back, which some people — yep, only some — aren’t fan of. While we found it completely fine, and actually admire it because it helps phone look new even after one year (looking at out year old galaxy S) as against HTC’s metal body which gets scratches too often that in some 2-3 months it looks like a 2 yr old device. The plastic body helps reducing the phone’s weight to just 116 grams (lighter than any other phone we’ve discussed here) and its quality is good too, but that of Arc is even better.
S2 also features Samsung’s custom UI, TouchWiz 4.0 which is pretty cool. Not only does it look good, it adds very useful shortcuts and visual over the Android 2.3 that you may find it hard to replace it by any other custom ROM not featuring it. And this in fact results in one more accolade to Samsung — the phone is as fast as it can be despite the Samsung’s custom UI, something which Motorola and HTC couldn’t manage and LG failing flat on this. Sadly, same wasn’t the case with Galaxy S which was slowed down by TouchWiz 3.0, but with recent updates, even Galaxy S is flying.
Back to S2, once again, it’s the best Android phone right now and we don’t see any phone releasing soon able to challenge S2’s crown. The threat that was presented by HTC Sensation is well over. Now, unless Google launches its own nexus dual-core phone by the year end — which could turn out to be a quad-core phone, and may feature Android’s next update, Icecream Sandwich — we believe S2 will have no trouble maintaining its pole position among the BEST ANDROID PHONES.
(BTW, Galaxy S 2 is yet to launch in U.S. but it would launch soon with 3 major carriers in U.S. — AT&T, Sprint and Verizon as Attain, Within and Function.)
Alternate: Are you kidding? If you really wan tone, wait another 5-6 months. Chances are very much that better-than-Galaxy S2 will arrive only when Samsung makes one next year. No, really! Because Samsung’s gorgeous screen isn’t available in market and Samsung uses it for its own devices, and that of nexus if it’s making the nexus. Same for processor. And other’s can’t make a phone that light and thin — looking at you Motorola and HTC, only SE stands a chance.
So, that’s it.
Don’t forget to brief us with your views. What do you think about the current status of android phones? Is Samsung winning the war by far margin? Have you already bought Galaxy S2 and are happy with it? Or a dual core Nexus device is what you’ve your hopes and wallet’s weight tied for? Shout out in comment below, we’re sure it’d be fun.