The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
One of the most common questions I get as a person who reviews cell phones for a living is, "Which one is your favorite?" Usually when this question comes up, I feel the briefest flash of annoyance. The question is only a little bit annoying, though. The overwhelming majority of people can't be expected to know or even care about the differences between modern smartphones.
Most people see a smartphone and think "Oh, that's cool." They don't see a new phone and think "That phone has the new quad-core Tegra 3 chip! Sweet!"
The average person don't know that there really isn't a single "best" smartphone. Just about every phone out there has its own merits. It's really just a matter of finding the phone which has the merits which you prefer. One of the joys of being a technology journalist is that I get to enjoy the benefits from a whole lot of different phones. Thus, I don't really have favorites.
That's why I have an Android phone and an iPad. Yay for not being a fanboy!
That's why the question of "Which one is your favorite?" annoys me. The person asking the question isn't really asking which is my favorite, they're asking which is the best. And there is no objective best phone for everyone in the world.
There is, however, a "best" phone for your individual needs. That is why I put together this helpful guide of phones. With a new school year coming up, some people will probably be looking to buy a smartphone for college or high school or whatever. Buying can be a little confusing sometimes, so here is a very shortened guide to smartphones this fall.
Android or iPhone?
This is the first big junction in smartphone buying. If you don't recognize the name Android, I would advise buying an iPhone. Android is a type of smartphone, similar to the iPhone. If you see a smartphone that isn't an iPhone, chances are that it's Android. They're also the ones with confusing names like the Galaxy Nexus or HTC Evo 4G LTE.
iPhones are a bit more recognizable. They are, in my experience, easier to use. Apple is all about making things simple. If you're the type who is technologically-impaired or would rather not mess around with your phone and have everything "just work," buy an iPhone.
Android, on the other hand, is awesome for hardcore geeks such as myself. If you're willing to roll up your sleeves and do some modifications, an Android phone can be hacked to run much, much faster than an iPhone. Considering most people don't know what a kernel is or why root access matters, the amount of people who care about hacking their Android phone is rather small. Still, the results are pretty sweet.
Truthfully, most people buy Android because it's cheap. These days a low-quality Android phone can be bought for $50 or so, depending on your carrier. Be careful buying these cheap phones, though, as they run very slowly. You can bring their performance up to acceptable levels with some creative hacking... but again, only if you're the type who cares enough to hack it.
Good Phones, as of June 2012
I highly recommend the iPhone 4. It's pretty cheap right now at $100. A single Benjamin is a hell of a deal for a phone with an amazing Retina display, decent processor, and tons of great apps. Side note: don't bother with the iPhone 4S. You're essentially paying another $100 for Siri, and it's not worth it. If you buy an iPhone, get the 4, not the 4S.
If iPhones aren't your style, check out the HTC One X. It's commonly acknowledged as the best Android phone out there (and depending on who you ask, the best overall smartphone). For some unknown reason, the Sprint version of this phone was renamed to the HTC Evo 4G LTE, which may be the stupidest name for a product since the Wii U. The One X and Evo 4G LTE are essentially the same awesome phone, though. They come with a crazy fast processor that makes the iPhone 4S look like a NES.
These phones can be pretty expensive, unfortunately. The iPhone 4 is about $100 on Sprint, but that's only with a new contract of two years. Basically, if you want a phone on the cheap, it'll cost you a whole lot more in data charges for the next two years with whatever carrier you pick. Data charges are awful. There's no way around that fact.
That's about it, really. One thing that you should definitely remember when phone shopping is to not buy the first thing that looks cool or the cheapest phone in the store. Make sure to google "(phone name) review" before buying. Smartphones are expensive. Spend your money wisely. If you have a question about buying, leave a comment and I'll be happy to help.
Do you guys have a smartphone? If so, what kind? Would you recommend it to other people?
I owned an iPhone 1st gen, as I have shared with you at a time before. However, Apple doesn't support factory resets of 1st gen anymore, and it's basically outdated.
When Jailbroken though, that 1st gen iPhone really kept up with the best of 'em, for all intents and purposed. Opening up folders, multitasking, and hardware un-limitations relieved a lot of problems that I had encountered before. Now I'm stuck using a Blackberry knock-off GoPhone...
I want to own an Android phone, will be stuck to my Nokia phone for a few more years..
I never really bothered to buy a smartphone. Maybe because I'm to lazy to pay for one. lol
Just got my new Smart Phone, would recommend it to nearly everyone, especially if it is your first Smart Phone. Motorola MB612, very awesome. Runs pretty darn fast off of 3G, has the nice touch screen at the top, and on the bottom is a fancy, easy to use keyboard. For those of us that are not big fans of touch screen keypads, best phone out there.
On the iPhone/Android debate, it has always seemed pretty simple to me. The iPhone has a similar interface to most quality android phones, except it typically runs for a significant amount more. Apple has always sold a product of lesser quality with a shiny case, and sold it for a ton more. Only recently(Last 10 years) have people taken to buying these products in mass numbers, and thats because they have incredible marketing.
When looking at a phone or any product, you need to determine how important a brand name is to you, even if it wont improve the quality.
Had an iPhone 3G before, while I liked the phone, something just annoyed me about it. Now I have HTC Desire S, and I have to say, I like Android more because of more custmization options.
This is actually quite helpful. While nowhere near being able to afford a data plan (I use a flip phone that generally comes free) I've sighed at cool gadgets a time or two in my life. Someday.