New is always better. I know it, you all know it, Barney Stinson probably knows it best. But sometimes, old may not be so bad after all. It’s not better, but it can be satisfactory.
Okay, let’s drop the vagueness, because I’m this close to forgetting exactly what I was trying to say. Which is that you don’t necessarily have to buy the newest smartphone to get a good, solid, long-lasting piece of mobile technology.
Why buy an old smartphone?
Sure, gadgets are not like wine and so they don’t get better with age, but some at least stay young for more than just a few months. Plus, there are a bunch of advantages that come with scoring an aging handheld.
For one thing, you can get high-end (-ish) technology at an unbeatable price. For instance, how much do you have to pay for a top-notch, new Android these days? $800? $700? Well, you can get yesteryear’s flagships for half as much.
Second, as everyone around you tries to keep up with the times, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that, by getting a slightly older device, you’ll at least stand out from a crowd. And last but not least, I’ll let you in on a little secret.
The Galaxy S4, HTC One, LG G2 and all the other big guys of today are not so much better than their predecessors. Surely not twice as good, as their prices might hint. And let’s face it, some of their extravagant new features, like quad-core processors or Full HD screens, are mostly for show and don’t bring noticeable improvements to the table.
With all that said, how about we see what are the five best older than one-year Android smartphones money can buy?
5. Sony Xperia S
Unjustly ignored at the time of its release (February 2012), the petite and distinguished Xperia S will not be overlooked any more. Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean starting a couple of months back, this 4.3-incher sports a 720p LCD screen that’s in many ways better than Xperia Z’s Full HD 5-incher, plus a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor that can still hold its own against plenty of mid-rangers these days.
True, most high-enders will leave the S in the dust in terms of raw speed or battery life, but Sony’s sleek little guy can be had for around 320 bucks sans contractual obligations, which is a pretty super duper deal.
4. Google/Samsung Galaxy Nexus
This is another fella that can’t really keep up with the GS4 or HTC One when it comes to pure performance, but on the whole it’s also a phone with a wicked quality-pricing ratio. Probably wickeder than with the Xperia S, as it costs $300 or less outright while sporting a still sensational 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen with 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution.
And don’t even get me started on its design, which hasn’t been undermined by more than a couple devices (i.e.: the HTC One and maybe the LG G2). The cherry on top is the software support, which continues to be… well, worthy of a Nexus family member. The two year-old runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean already, which I think I don’t have to tell you how cool, smooth and sleek is.
3. HTC One X
Criticized by many for not being able to supply solid competition for Samsung’s Galaxy S3, the One X has really improved its reputation with time. Most of the initial software glitches have been remedied by updates, the industrial, elegant design is probably more appreciated now than back in the summer of 2012, while the specs are decent though of course not groundbreaking… anymore.
You get a large 4.7-inch IPS panel with 720p resolution, a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU that’s both zippy and easy on the battery (or a dual-core Snapdragon S4), Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (with 4.2 and/or 4.3 incoming), 8 MP rear camera, 1 GB RAM, 16 or 32 GB of on-board storage. And all that for around 350 bucks off-contract. Nice, eh?
2. Samsung Galaxy Note
This was one hell of a game-changer back in the fall of 2011, so it shouldn’t really come as a shocker it’s a goldie and not an oldie in late 2013. Heck, I could see myself loving and owning a first-gen GNote even two or three years from now.
The “phablet” is large, but not beastly, at 5.3 inches, it’s sturdy yet not fragile, packs a massive 2,500 mAh battery underneath the hood, as well as an Exynos 4210 or Snapdragon S3 CPU. Not to mention it comes with S Pen support, so it wins a lot of points in the productivity department compared with the One X or Galaxy Nexus.
In terms of pricing, considering its age the GNote is not quite dirt-cheap. But at $400 or so, the overall bang for the buck factor is exceptionally strong.
1. Samsung Galaxy S3
What can I say about the GS3 that hasn’t been said before a hundred times? That it’s the most profitable phone in Android history? Probably the most impressive ever, given the number and magnitude of updates compared with its predecessor?
Nah, that’s not it. Maybe that it’s today, running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (and soon 4.3) and costing $400-$450, the wisest, most sensible option an experienced mobile technology user could go for when looking for a new phone. Even if it’s not technically new, having been released a year and three months ago.
That’s about it for our top five of today, but be sure to sound off in the comments section below if you feel we’ve messed the rankings up or forgot about your favorite device.