Top Five Android Phones for 2012

Category: Mobile

The number of Android smartphones on the market keeps growing; at this point, the selection is vast and bewildering. But competition among phone makers is a good thing, pushing the envelope of features and speed to new heights. Here are five of the best-performing Android phones on the market today...

Which Android Phone is Best?

What do you want in a smartphone? Raw speed, slick design, a thin profile, or maximum battery life? Certainly price can play a factor, but you might care more about the camera or audio specs. The availability of 4G for high-speed surfing is a make or break issue for me. Taking all those factors into account, I've put together my list of the top Android smartphones for 2012.

If you're an iPhone lover, maybe nothing can tempt you to stray from the Apple fold. But the latest batch of Android phones are pretty hot. No matter what you're carrying, I encourage you to take a peek at these five top-selling Android phones. You might just find a reason to upgrade, or switch!

The $299 Motorola RAZR Maxx is offered only with Verizon Wireless service. It sports a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and fast Verizon 4G/LTE data service that can download at more than 20 Mbps in certain privileged service areas. The RAZR Maxx is somewhat larger than its predecessor (5.14 inches long by 2.75 inches wide by 0.35 inch thick and weighing 5.1 ounces) which may be a problem for people with small hands.
Top Android Phones 2012

Its 8 megapixel camera is adequate but nothing to brag about, but at least the hump on the back that surrounded the lens is gone. Battery life is improved nearly twofold thanks to a 3,300mAh battery. The OS on currently shipping Maxx's is Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, but it's upgradeable to the latest "Ice Cream Sandwich" release. See my companion article What's New in Android 4.0? to learn more about Ice Cream Sandwich.

I'll confess that after buying the Droid Bionic just three months ago, I'm a little jealous of my friend who just showed me his Razr Maxx. I'm still very happy with the Bionic, and although the two phones have very similar specs, it would have been nice to get a slimmer model with double the battery life, for the same price.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus does feature Ice Cream Sandwich with all of its improvements. Even better, the Galaxy Nexus come unlocked for use with any carrier. Of course, you'll want a carrier that supports 4G/LTE data for the fastest speed. Although the retail price for the Nexus is $650, you can get it a lot cheaper if you get it from a carrier under contract. Amazon Wireless is offering it for as low as $99, with a Verizon two-year contract.

This handset is also rather large (5.33 inches long by 2.67 inches wide) but ultrathin at just 0.35 inches. It weighs only 4.76 ounces. The 1,280x720-pixel Super AMOLED display is bright and colors are exceptionally vivid. The main camera has a 5 Mpixel maximum resolution. There is also a forward-facing 1.3 Mpixel camera. The batter lasts a full day.

AT&T has a winner in the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket ($200 with contract). Powered by Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, this phone is speedy if you live in one of the cities where AT&T LTE service is available. The .5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display along with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, and an NFC chip for payment using your phone. It also supports Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), and GPS. The battery is rated for 7 hours of talk time and over 10 days on standby. It includes a an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera.

The HTC Rezound ($200 with Verizon contract) is a bulky but capable phone at a good price. It ships with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread but Ice Cream Sandwich will be available in the future. It also boasts an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 sensor, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor, 1080p HD video capture, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. The Rezound includes Monster Beats audio technology for a superior listening experience. Data speeds on 4G/LTE are very impressive; 18 Mbps down and 9 Mbps up. However, with a 1,620mAH battery this phone drains pretty quickly if you use the wifi and multimedia features heavily.

For Sprint users, the best Android phone is the HTC EVO 3D, which sports a beautiful black and red design in a 5 x 3 inch form factor. The textured rubber backing keeps it from slipping out of your hand, and the 4.3-inch 3D touchscreen is made of tough Gorilla Glass. The jury is still out on whether the 3D effects are wired or tired, but there's a switch on the side to revert to 2D mode. The EVO 3D has a speedy 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, but some users report that call quality is flaky at times. This is a 4G phone, but Sprint is just starting to roll out 4G service in selected areas, so to get those faster web surfing and download speeds, you'll have to be in the right place at the right time.

I'm sure that by listing only five of the top Android phones, I'm going to hear from many readers who have a favorite that's not on my list. And that's a good thing! I'm hoping you'll post a comment and tell me why your phone is awesome, or maybe leave a cautionary tale about an Android phone that you're not loving so much.

What's your favorite Android phone? Post a comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Top Five Android Phones for 2012"

Posted by:

Ken Mitchell
03 Feb 2012

I beg to differ on the Samsung Galaxy IIS "Skyrocket". As a pocket computer, it's great; fast processor, nice screen, lots of apps. But as a PHONE, it leaves a LOT to be desired. There's no voice dialing; I've been trying for a MONTH to find one that works, and they don't. (My year-old Sprint EVO phone came with an excellent voice dialing app preinstalled.) It frequently - as in, more than once a day - loses its connection to my Bluetooth headset. The screen timeout is about 20 seconds, and it blanks out too quickly no matter WHAT I set the screen timeout to be. To hang up a call, I have to press the power button to unlock the phone, then swipe the screen, before I can hang up.

Definitely NOT recommended if you intend to use it as a PHONE.

Posted by:

03 Feb 2012

I am a sprint customer and had the original HTC EVO and switched to the Motorola Photon and I have to say I am impressed.I wear this phone out and it never disappoints.I love the video capabilities and GPS is awesome and pictures as well.

Posted by:

Dave S
03 Feb 2012

I just purchased the ReZound. It has the best voice quality I have ever experienced on a cell phone. But I do NOT have wi-fi enabled and I don't use the multimedia features, yet the battery drains in a matter of far the worst battery life I have ever had in a phone. Since this is used for work, it's extremely inconvenient.

The problem I see with the Razr, even the newer one is that the battery is built in to the unit so that as the battery loses the ability to keep a longer charge, it can't be easily replaced.

I had read that the Nexus had some issues with connection problems. One of my co-workers is experiencing this first hand. He is also somewhat disappointed by the camera. For some strange reason whenever he tries to dial in to our conference bridges at work with his Nexus, he has problems connecting...and it's only from that cell phone. But he still likes the phone quite a bit.

Posted by:

03 Feb 2012

Hi Bob,

Do you have a list of good Android phones for us who prefer the much more affordable (non-contract) plans? Thanks, signed, A Non Sheeple

Posted by:

Bob Newman
03 Feb 2012

I love my HTC Amaze from T-Mobile!!!
I did have Motorola Clik XT and the phone was awful. We had to change 2 phones 4 times each because of many problems. When we had problems with the 4th phone for each my wife and myself (total 8 phones)we were able to get help from the executive offices at T-Mobile to switch phones, I did much research for a week and said that this was the model that I wanted. I have no regrets the phone is like having a hand held computer and it is 4G and very fast. T-Mobile is great and I have been with them for many years.

Posted by:

03 Feb 2012

2 months ago I renewed my T-Mobile contract for another 2 yrs and got the HTC My Touch 4g for $129. I wanted a slide keyboard, and this was the only 4G slide they have

So far, I really like it. In the SF Bay area my serivce is good, very few dropped calls, and good speed. I tether to my laptop a lot and have good upload/download speed even in 2g service areas.

I like the phone a lot so far.

Posted by:

Bob N
03 Feb 2012

My research did tell me about the voice dialing and also the wi-fi problems with the Galaxy IIS. I found a GREAT app to preserve the battery, it is called Battery Defender and it is fantastic!

Posted by:

03 Feb 2012

I love Android but I will NEVER again own any Motorola device. I worked for T-Mobile for 5 years and the Motorola devices were, and still are IMO, the worst. I thought with Android maybe they've improved, but I got my wife a Motorola Cliq XT a few years ago and it was horrible. Motorola even refused to upgrade the software so it was stuck with Android 1.6. I've since upgraded her to a Samsung Galaxy S 4G and am glad I did.

I recently purchased a T-Mobile G2 (aka HTC Vision) and I couldnt be happier. I love the physical keyboard. I rooted it, installed CyanogenMod 7, and bumped up the processor from 800mHz to 1.4GHz so it runs like a dream. (No, not the HTC Dream lol)

For Kevin who was asking about the non-contract plan/phones. I cant speak for the other carries, but IMO T-Mobile is the best for this department. The ability to simply put your SIM card into any T-Mobile (or unlocked GSM) device is the best and easiest thing to do. I would suggest the Samsung Exhibit II. It's a great phone without most of the bloatware that comes with these phones from the factory.

Posted by:

03 Feb 2012

I finally, got my AT&T Motorola Atrix 2 and LOVE it!!! I honestly, can get 4G calling, with this phone and I am not in a very good area, for calling reception. The talk quality is superb and connecting with either WiFi or my Bluetooth, is a breeze. It truly remembers, all of the WiFi's that I have connected to and just does it, automatically. I really like, that feature.

The battery life, is ok, better than most. We all must remember, that today's Smartphones, use up the batteries fairly fast. There is just too much that Smartphones require and IMHO, the batteries with these phones, are not powerful enough.

My only real complaint is, why didn't AT&T give the same amount of internal memory of 16GBs to the Atrix 2, like they did for their first Atrix phone? However, I found an excellent deal on a microSDHC Class 4 card, at!!! I got it for $14.99, with Free Shiping. It really pays, to investigate the ins & outs of the phone, you are planning on purchasing, so that you will be prepared, when it arrives or when you get it at a store.

I also, have a Mobile Anti-Virus and Security program, on my phone. I personally feel, with any Android phone, this is a MUST!!! You can find Free or Paid Anti-Virus programs, through Android Market. I found NetQin, through Android Market. It simple works for me and is one of the cheapest paid Anti-Virus/Security Programs available. I can keep track of my data usage, throughout the month and all of my downloads are scanned for viruses, spyware and malware, plus, NetQin lets you know, that the download is safe. Plus, NetQin doesn't take up a lot of resources, I really like that.

Overall, I am mighty pleased with my AT&T Motorola Atrix 2. }:O)

Posted by:

04 Feb 2012

In response to Kevin's question, I have been very pleased overall with the LG Optimus V from Virgin Mobile. While it's no powerhouse with only a 600 Hz processor running Android 2.2 Frozen Yogurt, it does nearly everything I need and fairly well. Flash still seems to be an issue with this phone. At around $125 for the phone and $35/mo. with no-contract it's hard to imagine doing much better at the price. This service level provides 300 minute of air time and 3G speeds for the first 2.5 gig of data. More minutes are available at 45 and 55 bucks a month, but I rarely if ever go over the 300 and if I should it's not an issue as long as I keep a few extra dollars in my VM account.

This same phone is available from Republic Wireless for $200 and $20 a month for service. It uses VOIP for calls and data when Wi-Fi is available and this limited use of cellular connections helps keep the price of service so low. One caveat is that Republic service is still in Beta, so that may affect your decision to go with them.

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