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Top 7 Android smartphones with physical QWERTY keyboards

Phones with QWERTY keyboards aren’t getting much love with the major manufacturers these days, but you can still find some high end phones with a physical keyboard.  In this June 2017 update, we’re recommending the Blackberry KEYone as the best QWERTY keyboard smartphone on the market right now.  

ProductBrandNamePrice
BlackBerryBlackBerry KEYone GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone (AT&T, T-Mobile) - 4G LTE – 32GBBuy on Amazon|$268.99(Price as of 02/18/2019 06:31 ET)

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If you can’t stand using the touch keyboard phones that’s dominating the market, give the KEYone a shot.  It’s highly unlike you will find another smartphone with physical keyboard that will beat the Blackberry KEYone, since most manufacturers simply do not make these type of phones anymore.  You can find the specs here for this Android phone with QWERTY keyboard.

Blackberry Priv

BlackBerry, a company that was once renowned for their business-oriented smartphones with physical keyboards, has to fight for significance in a world dominated by virtual keyboard typing experience. Just like Clark Kent dressed in casual clothes, the BlackBerry Priv looks deceptively ordinary, perhaps with the exception of the curved display. But it takes just a quick slide to reveal Priv’s 4-row QWERTY keyboard hiding underneath the display.

The keyboard also features an integrated trackpad and several programmable keys for launching apps and changing the position on the screen. You can swipe up across the keyboard to access a full-sized virtual keyboard with special characters and symbols. Clever stuff, indeed.

Also hiding under the 5.4” display with 540 ppi is the powerful Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808 chipset, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage space, and Adreno 418. With such high-end specifications, the Priv is a productivity beast with ample power to fuel any multitasking (or gaming—we won’t judge) frenzy.

While the Android operating system looks close to the pure Android experience that you get on Nexus devices, BlackBarry has made a lot of changes under the hood. Privacy and security have been given a special attention, for example, with the BlackBerry DETEK app, which can tell you how secure you are and what improvements you can make.
Pros

  • 4-row QWERTY keyboard
  • Beautiful curved display
  • Sharp, vivid camera
  • Good performance
  • Increased privacy

Cons

  • The smartphone is slightly top-heavy

Talk QWERTY to me
The age of the Q is over. There’s no point denying it, arguing it or sugarcoating it. Flagship physical QWERTY phones are long gone, and they’re not coming back. Sad? Damn straight, as we all remember how we used to be able to send like five texts a minute on a full-size keypad-boasting handheld.

Since phone manufacturers simply aren’t seeing too much demand for Android smartphone with keyboard, they just aren’t releasing too many new variants of these.  But if you really need that keyboard, a good work around is to get the latest and greatest smartphone you can find, and get a mini bluetooth keyboard that you can carry around with you and sync with your phone.  If that doesn’t work for you, then check out these smartphones with keyboard currently on the market.

Yes, they were bulky, clunky, even ugly, but they got the job done in a way no touchscreen-toting iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S will ever get close to. Whatever “highly intuitive” apps like Swiftkey or Swype evolve into.

It’s also odd though how each and every mobile player (save for BlackBerry, maybe) turned their backs on productivity-centric gadgets all of a sudden, especially when Samsung, LG and Sony are so vocal about the diversity of their product lineups. Cater to the needs of everyone, my arse. Where’s my Galaxy S5Q, my LG G2 Slider and my Xperia Z2 Chat?

QWERTY meme

Heck, right now, I’d probably settle for a Galaxy S3Q or LG Optimus G Slider. Any semblance of a decent, upper mid-range Android QWERTY phone would be nice. Instead, the seven best physical keyboard devices of March 2014 are these old geezers:

7. LG Mach

Still stuck on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the 15 month-old Mach basically makes the cut here because there are no half-decent alternatives. I mean, I wouldn’t touch this thing with a ten-foot pole nowadays.

Not only is it four software generations behind the times, it’s mostly unavailable stateside and restricted for use on Sprint and Boost Mobile. The latter sells it online for $180 with prepaid plans, whereas if you want Now Network’s version, you’ll need to reach out to some fairly obscure Amazon sellers and cough up $360 (!!!).

LG Mach

Yeah, right, like anyone would be so nuts as to drop that kind of money on a chunky little fellow tipping the scales at 168 grams and packing a 4-inch 800 x 480 pix res touchscreen, dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, as well as meager 1,700 mAh battery.

6. Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2

Despite its retro (read fugly) design, and overall underwhelming hardware, the Verizon-exclusive Stratosphere 2 is clearly not the worst QWERTY option around. Up for grabs via Amazon and Best Buy free of charge in a contract-tied flavor, the slider is on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, weighing 14 grams less than the Mach.

Galaxy Stratosphere 2

The juicer is a tad beefier, at 1,800 mAh, but sadly, the Super AMOLED panel is equally as mediocre. The dual-core 1.2 GHz SoC too. Bottom line, the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2 is obviously not an ideal choice for productivity fanatics.

5. Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G

Though its two months older than the second-gen Stratosphere, the S Relay 4G is superior to its Verizon counterpart primarily in the aesthetics department. Less pronounced curves equals more elegance, not to mention the Relay is slightly slimmer while retaining the 1,800 mAh ticker.

Galaxy S Relay 4G

Hardware-wise, the T-Mo-restricted S Relay resembles the Stratosphere 2 greatly, but ups the processing power ante with a 1.5 GHz CPU. On-board software? Android 4.1 Jelly Bean starting April 2013. Price? $205 outright on Amazon.

4. Motorola Droid 4

One of the last remaining Mohicans of a lost era, the Droid 4 has aged rather gracefully, but it has aged nevertheless. Almost harder to score than the LG Mach, Moto’s once mighty slider is $220 with Verizon branding but no pacts via Amazon. Oh, and it’s pre-owned.

Worth the dough? Refurb products are always a gamble, two year-olds especially, yet the Droid still has a few things going for it. Like a decent 4-inch 960 x 540 pixels resolution touchscreen, 16 GB built-in storage, 8 MP rear-facing camera with image stabilization, 1 GB RAM, microSD support and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Motorola Droid 4

Downsides? For one thing, the dual-core TI OMAP 4430 is ancient and laggy. Also, the 1,785 mAh battery is pretty tiny, plus non-removable. Finally, have you ever carried around a brick in your trouser pocket? You will if you buy the Droid 4, as it weighs a staggering 179 grams.

3. LG Optimus F3Q

The youngest of the bunch, released but a few weeks ago on T-Mobile, the F3Q looks like a violent blast from the past design-wise, with a funky turquoise blue physical keyboard and an even swankier textured rear cover.

I personally think the blue-black color combo is a bit too much, but hey, kids may dig it, and in the long haul, it could help QWERTY phones become hip again. Available for $0 upfront and $312 full retail price, the device is hardly a powerhouse, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 running the hardware show, aided by 1 GB RAM.

LG-Optimus-F3Q

The 4 GB on-board storage is cringe worthy, as is the 14 mm waist, yet software upgrades beyond 4.1 Jelly Bean could be on the horizon, and that should count for something. Also, it packs a gargantuan 2,460 mAh battery, capable of holding a single charge for up to 16 hours of talk time and 16 days (!!!) of standby time.

2. LG Enact

Yes, I realize the Enact and Optimus F3Q are in many ways virtually identical. From the design language to the CPU, RAM and battery life. Yet I like to think of Verizon’s Enact as F3Q’s classier brother. Sure, the Big Red fellow is chubby as hell (15.8 mm thickness, 170 grams weight), however it replaces the tacky blue keyboard with a black-and-silver one.

LG-Enact-Verizon

And the rear looks better too, in my humble opinion. Also on 4.1 Jelly Bean and likely to be upgraded before long, the Enact doubles down on storage, and costs a penny with contracts, as well as $400 without a service plan.

1. Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE

Not sure whether we should laugh or cry seeing a mid-2012 phone top a 2014 list. But that’s how behind the market is for QWERTY aficionados. And mind you, the Photon Q was hardly a high-ender when it first saw daylight, back in July 2012.

Up for grabs for free with 24-month Sprint agreements, the big guy weighs in at a massive 170 grams, however it offers the most generous screen real estate of all seven QWERTY world champion title candidates: 4.3 inches.

Motorola-Photon-Q-4G-LTE

The resolution is decent, 960 x 540, there’s scratch-resistant glass on top of it, a dual-core 1.5 GHz chip beneath the hood, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB storage, 8 MP primary camera with LED flash, 4G LTE and microSD support. Compared with, say, the Galaxy S5, it’s a featherweight, but like I said, it’s all we got.

At least until the Motorola Droid 5 goes official, if it’s ever to go official. Any thoughts? Maybe some other contenders we unintentionally snubbed? Anyone else out there rooting for a QWERTY revival? Sound off below.

ProductBrandNamePrice
BlackBerryBlackBerry KEYone GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone (AT&T, T-Mobile) - 4G LTE – 32GBBuy on Amazon|$268.99(Price as of 02/18/2019 06:31 ET)

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Top 10 Android smartphones capable of fingerprint recognition

Fingerprint scanners. Can’t have a flagship smartphone without one in this day and age, but the Android handhelds that do support the futuristic method of biometric authentication are often accused of shoddy, gimmicky execution.

Fingerprint scanner

Even when done properly, the technology continues to stir up controversies, although Apple fans were very quick (and proud) to adopt so-called Touch ID recognition on the iPhone 5s, then the 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus models, as well as the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro.

Many will argue Cupertino managed to deeply integrate the feature into iOS straight off the bat, letting its customers not only unlock devices via fingerprint, but also seamlessly authorize online payments, and logins in various proprietary apps.

Then again, as Samsung Pay gears up to roll out to a bunch of Galaxy stars, including some that don’t shine as bright as the S6 Edge+, and Android Pay looms large on the horizon, as part of Marshmallow’s basic set of native goodies, it’s time we took fingerprint-capable gadgets more seriously than ever.

Android Pay

To that end, we’ve gathered a handy list of ten Android smartphones available on Amazon today which support fingerprint magic. Before long, this will noticeably grow, as the Xperia Z5 trio, 2015 Nexus duo, and others join the party, but once again, let’s focus on the now:

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus – $710 factory unlocked international

First and foremost, let us stress we’ve tried to make today’s top ten as diverse as possible, so as not to be accused of Samsung fanboyism. Otherwise, we risked the Android manufacturer kings taking over nearly the entire ranks, having introduced mobile fingerprint compatibility back in early 2014, with the now ancient GS5.

Galaxy S6 Edge+

That said, the S6 Edge+ predictably headlines the roster, despite its extravagant price tag, with silky smooth touch-based fingerprint functionality, Samsung Pay around the corner stateside, and an entire slew of unrelated ultra-high-end features, like a dual-edge 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen, Exynos 7420 SoC, 4 GB RAM, and 16/5 MP cameras.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – $698 and up

Galaxy Note 5 fingerprint

No flashy curves, no European availability… just yet, a bundled S Pen accessory that you should be extra-careful with, and as for everything else, it’s the same as above. The fingerprint sensor is integrated into the home button, and unless a super-skilled, super-vicious hacker makes you his target, authentication and payments are nice and secure.

HTC One M9 Plus – $509

htc-one-m9-plus

Technically unreleased in the US, the MediaTek Helio X10 powerhouse is up for grabs on Amazon via import specialists sans an American-valid warranty. The home key-incorporated fingerprint scanner is actionable by touch here too, and it allows you to set up to five different profiles for sharing the device, and its state-of-the-art data protection, with family and friends.

Why haven’t you heard more chatter about the M9+? Well, the cameras aren’t great, battery life is somewhat underwhelming, and HTC’s marketing moolah was wasted on Iron Man.

Lenovo Vibe P1 – $459

Hello there, battery monster that literally just got unveiled at IFA 2015! It’s excellent to see you commercially available, even if likely in very limited, imported inventory. It’s even nicer to hear Lenovo hasn’t skimped on fingerprint recognition quality, promising half a second unlock times.

Lenovo Vibe P1

The overall quality-price ratio is what makes the Vibe P1 stand out from the crowd, with octa-core processing power in tow, 2 gigs of memory, a 13 MP dual-LED flash rear cam, 5.5-inch Full HD display, 32 GB internal storage space, microSD support and, above all, a gigantic 5,000 mAh ticker.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 – $419 factory unlocked

Speaking of giants, the Mate 7 is no, not 7 full inches in diagonal, but pretty close, at 6. Much like the P1, its key strength is endurance, courtesy of a slightly smaller 4,100 mAh cell. The IPS LCD panel is 1,080p-capable, the 16 GB ROM microSD-expandable, and the Kirin 925 SoC octa-core-packing.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

Too bad the rectangular fingerprint rig is a little harder to operate around the phablet’s back, and Android Pay capabilities baked into 6.0 Marshmallow are a sweet but unrealistic dream, as Lollipop hasn’t even replaced KitKat yet.

Meizu MX5 – $387

Stop being skittish about Chinese brands who haven’t officially penetrated the American market. Meizu’s time, for instance, will come, mark our words, either when the MX5 spreads worldwide, or when the just-announced Pro 5 takes off.

Meizu MX5

What makes the MX5 special? Take your pick – an always reliable touch-manipulated fingerprint ID apparatus, 5.5-inch FHD AMOLED display, octa-core Helio X10 CPU, 3 GB RAM, 20.7 MP photography virtuoso, 3,150 mAh battery, etc., etc.

Meizu MX4 Pro – $365

Meizu MX4 Pro

Don’t let the first part of the name fool you. The MX4 Pro is as high-end as smartphones came in late 2014, touting 2,560 x 1,536 pixels resolution on a 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen (resulting in 546 ppi), Exynos 5430 octa punch, 3,350 mAh juice, and 20.7 and 5 megapixel camera excellence.

Lenovo ZUK Z1 – $379

This brand and this device essentially came out of nowhere last month, with so-called 360 degree U-Touch tech among the primary selling points, plus Cyanogen OS support, a clean, minimalistic design, USB Type-C connectivity, and massive 4,100 mAh battery endowed with fast charging functions.

ZUK Z1

Expected out “internationally” in the near future, the Z1 should be in line for a Marshmallow update in a few months, which means Android Pay is coming to seal the already tempting deal including 3 GB RAM, 64 GB ROM, a 5.5-inch 1,080p screen, quad-core Snapdragon 801 chip, and 13/8 MP cams.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha – $284 AT&T unlocked

When’s the last time you thought of the venerable metal-framed 4.7 incher, the upper mid-ranger that started the high-end aluminum construction trend, and also registers and remembers your fingerprint… once you swipe it across the home button repeatedly.

Galaxy Alpha

Okay, so the implementation is seriously flawed here, the margin of error way too large, and the real-life utility of the biometric authentication mechanism almost nonexistent. But if you’re looking for bragging rights over owners of phones caught behind the times, and don’t want to spend a fortune in the process, this is still an option.

Besides, it’s supermodel skinny (6.7 mm), lightweight yet fairly robust, compact and Lollipop-running, thanks to a recent software makeover.

HTC One Max – $333

HTC One Max

Aged 2 going on 3, the cumbersome 5.9 incher belongs in a museum rather than a user’s (humongous) trouser pocket. But it’s affordable… at last, welcomes all your content on a 32 GB ROM and microSD card slot, Full HD-sporting, 2 GB RAM-packing, and LTE-enabled on GSM networks. The actual fingerprint scanner is pretty glitchy, we’ll be honest with you, and almost impossible to reach, as it’s situated on the rear of an 164.5 x 82.5 mm slab tipping the scales at 217 grams.

Seven stellar smartphones with Android 5.0 Lollipop you can buy right now

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is coming. HTC’s One M9 as well. Plus, the already unveiled LG G Flex 2 is just about ready to see daylight stateside. And then you have a slew of mid-rangers on the horizon, like Sony’s Xperia M4 Aqua, HTC’s Desire 626 and 826, or LG’s Magna – Spirit – Leon – Joy quartet. Not to forget Motorola’s respectable entry-level Moto E 2015.

Lollipops

What do these all have in common? Silky smooth, minimalistic, hopefully glitch-free pre-installed Android 5.0 Lollipop software. On the not so bright side, if you have an itch to scratch, and feel you’ll explode staying on KitKat any longer, none of the above can help you.

Sadly, their commercial releases, at least on American shores, are days, weeks, perhaps even months away in one or two cases. Fortunately, there are alternatives available today. Not as many as you hoped when Lollipop source code rolled out back in November, but still, we’re in double digit land. As in, tens of smartphone models around the world give you a chance to feast on 5.0 treats.

Android Lollipop

This side of the pond, of course, OEMs like LG and Samsung take their time sending out updates, often obstructed by bloatware-hungry, laggy carriers. Nonetheless, if you absolutely need to have Lollipop today, we’ve compiled a list of the top choices on sale via Amazon:

Samsung Galaxy S5 – $470 in factory unlocked international flavor

To avoid controversies, know we’ve arranged our 5.0 “magnificent seven” in no particular order. We’ve started with the GS5 not by chance though, but because it’s by far the top selling handheld on our list. Therefore, millions should be delighted to hear the Exynos version has recently scored Lollipop.

galaxy_s5_lollipop

Furthermore, up-to-date S5s can be purchased on Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. The white-coated Big Red model is a buck with contracts, the Now Network charges $80 and up for white, gold and black GS5s, and Magenta will settle for $530 on full retail when dealing directly with the “UnCarrier”.

Not too shabby for a water-resistant, fingerprint-scanning 5.1-inch Full HD beast packing 2 GB RAM and 2,800 mAh battery juice. Then again, maybe it’s time for Verizon, Sprint and AT&T to go free with pacts across the board.

HTC One M8 – $504 unlocked international version (no warranty)

Alas, even if it’s just as old as the Galaxy S5 and nowhere near as popular, the SIM-free One M8 remains mighty expensive. $730 with valid US warranty?! Forget it. We’d rather just tie ourselves to a 24-month carrier agreement on, say, Sprint. Why Sprint? Because AT&T and Verizon aren’t yet ready to offer 5.0 for this all-metal beaut.

htc-one-m8-lollipop

Besides, Amazon charges nada for the on-contract Now Network M8, making it one of the best Android deals around. Oddly enough, T-Mo, the other operator with Lollipop currently en route to the 5-inch device, no longer sells it online. Their loss.

HTC One M7 – $310 unlocked

Ah, the original, uber-handsome, Full HD, aluminum unibody HTC powerhouse. Okay, maybe it’s not such a powerhouse anymore. But it’s still gorgeous, decently zippy, a multitasking champ, thanks to 2 GB RAM, and all caught up software-wise “internationally”, as well as on Sprint.

HTC One_M7

Too bad the only way to jump on Sprint’s M7 bandwagon these days is through various Amazon third-party sellers. An option we can’t wholeheartedly recommend, especially with used and refurbished phones offered.

America’s number three (four?) service provider extends a glimmer of hope by listing the 4.7 incher as “out of stock” instead of nixing it entirely. But don’t hold your breath.

LG G3 – $395 factory unlocked international version

Once again, the no-warranty factor has to be taken into consideration when exploring an unlocked purchase. Overall, you’ll see it’s not worth it, particularly with the G3 unlikely to go “out of fashion” anytime soon.

LG G3 Lollipop

For crying out loud, we’re talking a 5.5-inch Quad HD titan here, with 75 percent screen, robust and elegant build materials, quad-core Snapdragon 801 oomph, 3 GB RAM, 3,000 mAh cell capacity, and 13 MP OIS dual-LED camera.

Plus, Android 5.0 Lollipop on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. No T-Mobile love? Not yet, but the circle should be completed in a matter of weeks. Days, maybe. The three contract specialists are all willing to practically gift you a G3, as long as you’ll stay committed to their networks for two whole years.

Moto X 2014 – $499.99 GSM unlocked

It’s weird, but Motorola may have chased too many rabbits at once, trying to spread Lollipop love all over the place and ultimately failing hard on the gadgets that mattered most. The Droid Turbo is still waiting, and that’s for all intents and purposes the OEM’s flagship.

moto-x-lollipop

The original Moto X is also stuck on KitKat, apparently because of its decrepit processor, and the second-gen X only made the step forward sans carrier obligations and on Verizon. Wait, we’re being informed AT&T is joining the exclusive party at long last. Hopefully, it’s not too late.

By the by, the Verizon X+1 edition starts at a penny, and AT&T’s take on the Full HD 5.2 incher is $50 and up. Bad AT&T!

Google Nexus 6 – $650 unlocked with 32 GB storage

If “pure”, vanilla Lollipop is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the N6. The same goes for sheer gargantuan size, beautiful Quad HD glass, and top-tier muscle. The downside is you may need to rob a bank to procure the money for the Nexus 6.

nexus-6-lollipop

Even with Sprint and AT&T pacts, this thing is pricey, at $200 and $180 respectively. And as much as this writer subjectively loves the cutting edge phablet, a few flaws are immediately apparent. Like underwhelming camera capabilities (for ultra-high-end standards), or microSD expansion absence.

Moto G second-generation – $180 unlocked

You didn’t really think we’d wrap this up without tackling at least a budget option, did you? The 2014 Motorola Moto G was the no-brainer choice as a low-cost listicle closer, somehow making $800, $700, even $600 gear feel ridiculous by comparison.

MOTO-G-2014

Sure, the mid-end 5 incher can’t hold a candle to its 2014 X cousin, the Nexus 6 or HTC One M8. But it packs so much respectable hardware for 180 bucks that its recent Lollipop promotion is the cherry on top of a guaranteed blockbuster appeal.

720p screen resolution. Quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 power. 1 GB RAM. 8 MP rear camera with LED Flash. 2 megapixel front snapper. 2,070 mAh battery. Shall we go on? Let’s not. We don’t want Samsung or HTC to get embarrassed about their sub-par, overpriced low to mid-end soldiers.

Top five dirt-cheap China-made Android smartphones worth your while

No way to escape from it, no reason to want to in the first place and no way to deny it. The age of the uber-cheap smartphones is upon us and, before you know it, the ruthless spec wars will be replaced by price and bang for buck wars.

android-in-china

And we owe it all to a group of ambitious, up-and-coming mobile phone manufacturers based in China. A few of them in Taiwan. But mostly in China. Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Oppo, Meizu, Coolpad, Xiaomi, they’re all looking to make it in the Wild West, and the only winning card they have against heavyweights such as Samsung, Apple, Sony, LG or HTC is affordability.

Even better, affordability sans too many corners being cut. True, gadgets conceived by the above are still few and far between on most West European or American store shelves. Which is why we’ve compiled a little guide featuring five of their best low-cost handhelds available in the US of A.

Lenovo Huawei ZTE

And by available, we mean up for grabs via a legit, trustworthy retailer or third-party Amazon seller. Unfortunately, our list is light on sub-$200 smash hits like the recently unveiled Xiaomi Hongmi, Huawei Honor 3X or ZTE Redbull. But surely you’ll find $240 or $260 is not a lot to ask for these budget-conscious powerhouses:

5. Huawei Honor 3C – $255

Damn import taxes! Were the Honor 3C to land stateside at a price point comparable to its retail value in China, the 5 incher would have no doubt topped our list. With ease. I mean, $255 is pretty decent, but $130 is outright unbelievable.

Granted, design ain’t 3C’s strongest suit, with an odd, much too squarish chassis making it look, well, repugnant. However, the spec sheet is impressive, and I’m sure many of you care about hardware more than aesthetics.

HUAWEI-HONOR-3C

There’s a quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek chip inside the hood, 1 GB RAM, spacious 2,300 mAh battery (considering the razor-thin profile), plus the display boasts 1,280 x 720 pixels (aka HD) resolution. Oh, and the cameras are beauts, packing 8 and, get this, 5 MP sensors. With LED flash on the rear. Not bad, huh?

4. ZTE V987 – $217

Stuck on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and unlikely to ever get promoted to KitKat, the 5-inch handheld also known as the Grand X Quad is in many ways similar to the Honor 3C. Nearly identical. But it’s cheaper, so it was this close to making the podium.

ZTE-v987

The juicer is larger too, at 2,500 mAh, which is no easy feat since V987’s profile is skinnier. On the not so bright side, the MediaTek CPU is clocked a little lower (i.e. 1.2 GHz), and the front snapper isn’t exactly ideal for selfies, thanks to a mediocre 1.3 megapixel count.

3. Huawei Honor 2 – $188

Clearly older than the 3C, the second-gen Honor (aka Glory 2) trumps its spin-off as it’s bizarrely both cheaper and punchier. Too bad it’s so old, having seen daylight in October 2012, and barely upgraded to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with no KitKat in sight.

Huawei-Honor-2

But boy oh boy, is the hardware config a whopper given Honor 2’s price range. 2 GB RAM?!? I actually double and triple-checked that tidbit, as I didn’t believe it was possible. Yet it is. Also, Huawei’s homebrewed K3V2 processor may well outperform MediaTek’s low-cost SoCs.

And yes, I realize the smaller footprint (4.5-inch panel here, not 5 incher) could be deemed an inconvenience by many. In my book though, a compact form factor is an upside, and so is superior pixel density – 326 ppi.

Huawei-Honor 2

Ending things on a low note, let’s mention Huawei’s Honor 2 measures 10.5 mm thick and tips the scales at 145 grams, which doesn’t quite spell sophistication.

2. Lenovo S930 – $244

I won’t lie to you, one of the reasons I saved two Lenovo devices for the top spots here is I trust them probably more than Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi and Meizu combined. They really mean business, taking over for Google as Motorola’s management, and I reckon they’re the biggest Chinese threat for Samsung and Apple’s shared world domination.

Of course, brand reliability and awareness isn’t everything in this business, so good thing the S930 is a well-balanced gizmo spec-wise too. Personally, I’m no fan of gargantuan 6-inch phablets. But I get why people love them.

lenovo-s930

Now, the S930 is big, has a massive 3,000 mAh battery keeping the lights on, a quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek chip, 8 MP rear-facing camera, 8 GB built-in storage, microSD card slot, dual SIM support, Dolby Digital Plus sound enhancement system (neato), and pre-loaded Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with a 4.4 KitKat bump imminent. That’s what I call bang for buck.

1. Lenovo P780 – $235

It doesn’t take an in-depth knowledge of the mobile tech world to tell what P780’s main selling point is: mind-blowing autonomy. Courtesy of a 4,000 mAh battery (sic), the 5 incher can supposedly last a record-breaking 25 hours in continuous 3G talk time and 840 hours (!!!) in stand-by on a single charge.

Lenovo P780

All-day battery life? How about all-week battery? The 1 GB RAM and 8 MP primary shooter definitely help P780’s cause, proving it’s not just a stellar slab endurance-wise, albeit the VGA front cam and 4 GB on-board storage are disappointing.

So is Android 4.2 Jelly Bean… at the moment, though I bet KitKat is close by. Now what say you come up with a sequel priced around the same mark and easier to find outside of Asia, Lenovo? It doesn’t even have to be branded as a Motorola to pique or interest. Would you or would you not go nuts about something like that?

What Phone Should You Buy for Christmas? Top Picks for Every Budget

Is an Android smartphone all you really want for Christmas but can’t make up your mind as to what exactly to purchase? Thinking of playing secret Santa for mobile tech-loving friends and family?

Android Christmas

Missed out on the multitude of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, yet know very well additional rounds of promotions are due sometime before December 25? Then you’re all in luck, as we’re about to do all the heavy lifting for you and recommend the best Android handhelds to buy this Christmas. And possibly, beyond.

We have something for everybody, no matter the budget, carrier of choice, size or specifications. Show time:

Top pick for under $200: Motorola Moto G

The Moto G is hands down the best budget-conscious option around and basically the only fault you can find with the 4.5-incher is its meager built-in storage, combined with a lack of expansion options. I personally couldn’t imagine making do with a measly 8 gigs of space, so you should probably ignore the model slapped with a $180 price tag for the 16 GB-er, costing an even $200.

moto-g

Don’t forget about cloud storage when deciding to go for the G or pass it and also remember there’s no CDMA version landing earlier than January 2014. Therefore, if you’re unable to part ways with Verizon or Sprint, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere or give it time.

Top pick for between $200 and $300: Samsung Galaxy S3

Currently available for well north of $300 in a truly unlocked form, the oldie but goldie GS3 can be had for $250 with Virgin Mobile prepaid plans and $290 on a similar deal via Boost. Besides, it’s high time the 4.8-incher got a serious unlocked discount, so fingers crossed to see it at $300 or less come Christmas time.

samsung-galaxy-s3

But how come I’m recommending a device released in May 2012 for a December 2013 purchase? Simple, true excellence doesn’t depend (solely) on age, so while the Galaxy S3 is no bottle of wine and thus not better as it grows old, it’s darn solid and snazzy, what with its spacious 720p panel, sturdy battery, 1 GB RAM and imminent Android 4.4 KitKat update.

Top picks for $300 to $400: Moto X, HTC One mini, Galaxy S4 mini

None of these three bad boys go for a penny under 400 clams at the time of this writing, however they should all lower the bar as we near “the season to be jolly”. The Moto X will actually be $350 on December 4 and 9 following the Cyber Monday debacle, the One mini can be had at $430 give or take and the S4 mini is $400-$420.

moto-x-box

Now, provided they’ll be valued at around the same price, which should you get? That very much depends on personal preferences, as the X is bigger, customizable and already on KitKat, the One mini aluminum-clad and thus sturdy and reliable, and the S4 mini compact, light and sleek.

Top pick for $400-$500: Google Nexus 5

I know, I know, Google and LG’s latest-gen Nexus is technically up for grabs starting at $350. But with inventory running low basically from the day after it launched, scoring one this time of the year via Big G’s Play Store could prove problematic.

Nexus 5

So ultimately, you’ll probably crack and get it from Sprint or another third-party retailer for $400 or $450. Which is still a fantastic deal, mind you, as the 5-incher sports Full HD resolution, quad-core Snapdragon 800 power, 2 GB RAM and Android 4.4 KitKat out the box.

Top picks for $500+: Galaxy S4, LG G2, Sony Xperia Z1, HTC One

Money’s no problem but settling for anything less than the absolute best is? Then you’re faced with a nearly impossible decision. All the four candidates are awesome, blazing fast, super-elegant and pack outstanding batteries and cameras, but at the same time they all have their little flaws.

Galaxy S4

In terms of raw speed, the $550 G2 and $600 Xperia Z1 have the edge, being newer and coming with Snapdragon 800 CPUs in tow. However, the $580 HTC One is the most visually striking, being also more compact and pocket-friendly.

And then there’s Samsung’s $560 GS4, which possibly maybe provides the most competitive balance between processing performance, looks, autonomy, camera capabilities and software support. Too bad it doesn’t truly excel in any of the departments.

Top phablet picks: Galaxy Note 3, HTC One max, Xperia Z Ultra

As much as I dig the exterior of the One max and Z Ultra’s slimness, the Note 3 comes out on top rather easily. It’s not incredibly pricey, at $650 or so, comes with S Pen support in tow, an unrivaled 3 GB of RAM, plus top-shelf specs all around.

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-3

Meanwhile, the $700 One max is not bad, but packs now dated Snapdragon 600 speed, and the $550 Z Ultra is, well, too darn big. Even for a phablet.

Top on-contract picks

If you thought choosing a $500+ SIM-free phone was hard, then wait until you hear your options here. Options that essentially include all the above, save for the Moto G, Sony Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra. Also, the GS3, S4 mini, HTC One mini and Moto X are not worth tying yourselves up for 24 months to one carrier, since they’re pretty cheap outright. The N5 too… if you can find it on the Play Store.

Christmas-Season-Android

Hence, you are left with the S4, LG G2, HTC One, Galaxy Note 3 and One Max. Of the bunch, the first three went for free with pacts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and are destined for Christmas repeats. The One max is mighty expensive and will remain that way for a while, so ultimately you can forget about it, whereas the Note 3 won’t probably go for a penny under $100, which still makes it a top pick.

Whichever of these top dogs you end up splashing the cash on, enjoy your purchases, gifts and holidays. You deserve it.

Oldies But Goldies: Best Android Smartphones Aged 1 Year And Over

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.

Galaxy S3 Galaxy Note

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.

galaxy-s4-s3

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.

Sony-Xperia-S

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.

Samsung-Galaxy-Nexus

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.

HTC_One_X

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.

Samsung-Galaxy-Note

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?

samsung-galaxy-s3

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.  

AnTuTu Labs Semi-Annual Report names top devices

AnTuTu Labs Semi-Annual Report

The AnTuTu Labs Semi-Annual Report has been released. The report names the top 20 smart devices based on hardware performance the most popular smartphones in selected markets in Asia. It covers the period between January 1 and June 30, 2013.

antutu-labs-semi-annual-report

Top 20 smart devices based on hardware performance

The smart device with the best-performing hardware is the Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa), whose score surpasses the 25,000 mark. Following the Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa) are the Samsung Galaxy S4 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset with a quad-core 1.9 GHz Krait 300 CPU, and the Xiaomi MI 2S which appear to have the same scores. The list continues with the HTC One, vivo Xplay, Asus Padfone 2, ZTE N5, Xiaomi MI 2, and HTC J Butterfly, among others.

These results are similar with the list of the fastest smartphones that were identified using Geekbench benchmark tests. In such test, the Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa) is also the top-performing smartphone. It is followed by the Samsung Galaxy S4 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset and the HTC One. However, some smartphones did better on the Geekbench tests than on the AnTutu tests. These include the LG Nexus 4, LG Optimus G Pro, and the Sony Xperia Z.

Most popular smartphones in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan

The AnTuTu Labs Semi-Annual Report’s list of the most popular smartphones is based on active device volumes. In China, many of the most popular smartphones come from China-based manufacturers. In the top 5, the only manufacturer to come from another country is Samsung. The most popular smartphone in China is the Xiaomi M I 2S. According to AnTuTu, these results are due to the preference of Chinese consumers for affordable handsets with powerful hardware.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Samsung dominates the list. There are five Samsung devices out of the ten that are in the list. Three out of the ten devices are made by Sony. The most popular smartphone in Hong Kong is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

AnTuTu points out that large smartphones, specifically those whose display is larger than 4.5 inches, are preferred by many of the consumers from this market. Furthermore, due to the popularity of brands like Samsung and Sony in the Hong Kong list, the report surmises that said consumers consider brand to be an important factor in deciding which device to purchase.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is likewise at the top spot in the Taiwan list. It beat the HTC Butterfly, which is a product of a Taiwan-based company.

Lastly, in Japan, the Sony Xperia Z, a smartphone from a Japanese manufacturer, is the most popular. Samsung, however, has four devices in the list of ten most popular devices.

via androidcommunity

Top Seven Android Smartphones With The Most Gigantic Batteries. Bonus: Five Future Contenders

Many smartphone manufacturers claim that battery life is not so important for most users. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, how can you even enjoy a “superphone” when you have to remember to plug it in every evening and, even if you do, there are no insurances it won’t run out on you at the worst possible time?

smartphone battery

We’ve all been there. We let the HD screens, quad-core processors and LTE speeds fool us, we cough up 700 bucks on what’s basically a tiny computer and we end up with a gizmo that starts out capable of holding its own for a measly 10 hours between charges, then drops to eight hours, then before you know it it’s down to six hours.

How long are we going to accept that? I say no more. It’s time to let them know they have to step it up in the battery department. How? Simple, we’ll just buy one of the handful of phones that actually pack decent tickers nowadays.

Here are the top seven choices, selected only based on how ginormous their batteries are.

android battery

Quick disclaimer: Big batteries don’t automatically translate into long lasting phones, so be sure to check out reviews and autonomy tests before going for one of the below. Also, keep in mind that we haven’t taken into consideration devices that are not yet official or can’t be scored in the US at least off-contract. Now, let the games begin:

7. Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Battery size: 3,050 mAh

Type: Non-removable

Claimed autonomy: Up to 16 hours in talk time; 820 h stand-by

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Availability: Unreleased in subsidized form, hard to find unlocked, but available via Negri Electronics for $699.50 (HSPA+ version)

Other strong suits: Quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU; 6.5 mm thickness; 2 GB RAM; Android 4.2 Jelly Bean; resistance to water and dust; microSD support; 6.4-inch Full HD screen.

6. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

3,100 mAh battery, removable, rated at 16 hours in talk time, 890 h stand-by

Galaxy-Note-2-battery

Available with Verizon, AT&T and Sprint contracts starting at $50 through Amazon; also available in factory unlocked version for $494 and with T-Mobile for $0 upfront, plus 24 monthly payments of $24 each

Other strong points: 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen; S Pen support; 16, 32 and 64 GB storage options; microSD support; 2 GB RAM

5. LG Optimus G Pro

3,140 mAh removable battery, rated at 21 hours autonomy in talk time, 550 hours in stand-by

LG_Optimus_G_Pro

Available with AT&T contracts for $59.99 via Amazon, $599.99 outright. Also available through GSM Nation for $549 in unlocked flavor.

Other strengths: 5.5-inch Full HD IPS Plus panel; Quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor; 2 GB RAM; microSD support; 13 MP rear camera.

4. Motorola Droid Razr Maxx and Razr Maxx HD

3,300 mAh non-removable batteries, rated at 21 and 380 hours and 32 and 372 hours respectively

Droid Razr Maxx currently out of stock with retailers such as Amazon or Best Buy; only available via websites like eBay for $370 and up off-contract

droid-razr-maxx-hd

Razr Maxx HD available with Verizon contracts for $99.99 via Amazon

Other strong suits: Razr Maxx – thin profile; microSD support

Razr Maxx HD – Kevlar coating; splash resistant chassis; microSD support; 720p Super AMOLED panel.

3. Motorola Droid Maxx (new version)

3,500 mAh non-removable battery, rated at up to 48 and 600 hours of autonomy

droid-maxx-battery

Not yet released, available for pre-orders for $199.99 with two-year Verizon contracts via Wirefly

Other strong points: Large 5-inch 720p display; custom-made Motorola X8 processor based on Snapdragon S4 Pro; 2 GB RAM; 32 GB internal storage; 10 MP rear camera; optimized software (according to official claims); Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

2. Lenovo P780

4,000 mAh non-removable battery, rated at up to 45 and 840 hours autonomy

Lenovo-P780

Unavailable with US contracts and unlikely to be ever picked up by a major carrier, the P780 can be found at a number of third-party Amazon sellers for $340 and up sans contracts.

Other strong suits: Low price (see above); Android 4.2 Jelly Bean; large 5-inch 720p display; microSD support

1. Huawei Ascend Mate

4,050 mAh non-removable battery, rated at up to 32 and 216 hours of life between charges

Huawei-Ascend-Mate

Also unavailable with US contracts (now and for all eternity), the Ascend Mate can be found unlocked on Amazon for prices starting at $450.

Other upsides: 6.1-inch 720p display; Quad-core 1.5 GHz CPU; 2 GB RAM; microSD support; Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

More to come

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Expected out in late September or early October with 3,450 mAh battery, 5.7-inch Full HD screen, 2 GB RAM and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

Sony Honami

Also due in October with 3,000 – 3,200 mAh ticker, 5-inch 1,080p display and 20 MP rear camera.

Sony-Honami

Changhong Z9

Though it’s to be manufactured by an obscure brand and is likely to remain China-exclusive, the Z9 is worth a quick mention, since rumor has it its battery will be a record-breaking 5,000 mAh unit.

HTC One Max

Leaked a number of times already, the One Max is tipped to see daylight by October with a 5.9-inch Full HD screen and 3,300 mAh battery.

HTC-One-Mini-HTC-One-Max

Oppo Find 7

This is another phone that might never make its way to American shores, but chances are Oppo will sell it with international shipping by the end of the year. Still mostly covered in mystery, the giant could pack a 4,000 mAh battery.

There you have it folks, seven superphones that are pretty super as far as battery life is concerned and five potential stars of the future. It’s not exactly ideal, but it’s definitely a start and we can all contribute to the progress of smartphone batteries if we give these big guys all our attention. Are you in or are you out?

Best Petite Android Smartphones (Under 4.5 Inches) – US Edition

Does size matter? Is bigger automatically better? Those are two of the questions that have been on the minds of men ever since the Stone Age and on the lips of women since Eve got Adam (and herself) banished from the Garden of Eden.

Phones

But we’re not here to talk about the sizes of… you know what. Instead, we’d like to focus on smartphones. It’s what we know best after all. However, we’re not going to join the size debate in relation to gadgets either.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste and choice and you know better if you need a big slab of silicon, with plenty of screen real estate and whatnot, or a compact, petite gizmo that you can comfortably hold with one hand.

What we intend to do today is offer choices for the latter category, since sadly finding a small yet technically capable mobile phone has become an almost tougher quest than taking the Ring to Mordor.

Big phone

Okay, I’ve digressed much more than I intended to, so let’s begin our quest for finding the best smaller than 4.5-inch smartphones available. A little disclaimer first, as I’ve only taken into consideration for the below ranking gadgets that can be currently bought through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile’s online stores.

If you don’t live in the US, fret not, as a similar post is in the making and should go live by this time next week. Now, here we go:

5. Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2 – Verizon

This fellow ticks two boxes that used to be very important when buying a mobile phone not long ago: it’s both small and comes with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Because of the keyboard though, I wouldn’t exactly call the Stratosphere 2 compact, light or very portable.

samsung-galaxy-stratosphere-II

It does weigh 154 grams after all, plus it measures a whopping 13.5 mm in thickness. But technically, it only sports a 4-inch screen, so it qualifies for being called “petite”… in a way. Unfortunately, it’s far from a powerhouse and packs some specs that are not even mid-range material anymore – 800 x 480 pix res panel, 5 MP rear camera, 1,800 mAh battery.

On the bright side, it does run Jelly Bean starting a couple of months ago, plus it’s powered by a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, along with 1 GB of RAM.

4. LG Escape – AT&T

Also featured in our article about the best free Android smartphones, this guy is the textbook definition of a compact handheld. It weighs in at 128 grams, measures 9 mm in thickness and is overall slim, elegant and stylish.

LG Escape

Too bad it doesn’t score very many points in the performance department, coming with a run-of-the-mill 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and just 4 GB of on-board storage in tow. But it does have a couple of other aces up its sleeve, like 4G LTE speeds and a comfy 2,150 mAh battery.

3. LG Lucid 2 – Verizon

Another LG phone? Indeed and the company does seem to be one of the few that still cares about “mini” devices. This thing is a little thicker than the Escape and one gram heavier, but it also packs an even more generous battery – 2,460 mAh.

LG Lucid 2

Other than that, you can say the Lucid 2 is essentially a Verizon-made variant of the Lucid 2, with the same 5 MP rear cam, dual-core 1.2 GHz SoC and Jelly Bean running.

2. Samsung Galaxy S2 – T-Mobile

You see where this continuing quest for bigger, heftier devices has brought us? We’re midway through 2013 and our second best compact smartphone is a two year-old. Sounds sad, but at the same time we have to hand it to Samsung – they’ve done such a good job with the S2 that the phone actually seems to get better with age.

T-Mobile-Samsung-Galaxy-S2

Especially T-Mobile’s model (SGH-T989), which comes with a 4.5-inch display in tow, plus a 1.5 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 8 MP rear camera (LG, take note) and 16 GB of internal storage. And yes, the S2 does have a couple of flaws, but these are literally a couple… you know, two: the low-res screen (800 x 480) and meager battery (1,850 mAh).

1. Motorola Droid Razr M – Verizon

And the Oscar goes to… probably one of the most underrated, overlooked smartphones to have seen daylight in the fall of 2012. Not only is this small (4.3 inches) and uber-slim (8.3 mm in thickness and 126 grams weight), but also unexpectedly robust, plus fairly impressive tech-wise.

Droid Razr M

Given its price (it’s available for free with Verizon contracts), you can say the Razr M rocks dreamy specs, including a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 MP camera, 2,000 mAh battery, 4G LTE, NFC, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and so on and so forth.

And no, it’s no match for monsters like Samsung’s Galaxy S4 or the HTC One, but it has all it needs to lead the upper mid-range smartphone generation of today. And that should be enough for some of you out there. As for the rest, you should check out our series of comprehensive comparisons between some of the best high-end, larger than 4.5-inch phones available.