The Motorola Razr packs impressive specs inside a super-slim body that's bound to appeal to the fashionistas who want the latest tech in their skinny jeans. Sadly, it's not running the latest version of Android and it's unlikely that an update will be along before 2012.
While it may be packing powerful components, it's not giving you a boost in performance over the Samsung Galaxy S2. As you can get the latter handset for free on cheaper contracts, it's difficult to recommend the Razr over Samsung's offering.
When ranked alongside the latest mid-range Android efforts, the BlackBerry Curve 9360 comes across as a disappointment. There's no touchscreen, dual-core processor or HD video recording. The selection of apps available to download is lacklustre.
However, when compared to previous Curve phones, the 9360 cannot be seen as anything other than a massive improvement. The super-thin design is gorgeous and BlackBerry OS 7 runs as smoothly as silk -- despite the humble nature of the 800Hz CPU. BlackBerry Messenger 6 is as great as ever and is sure to keep many a text-loving teen loyal to the brand.
But therein lies the problem -- RIM is effectively preaching to the converted. There's little here that is likely to appeal to anyone who doesn't already own a BlackBerry device. While the company should be commended for improving on its previous efforts, it arguably should be looking at what Google's hardware partners are up to in the mid-range market.
That 2.44-inch screen looks weedy next to the 4-inch display of the Xperia Play, but it has a high pixel density.
Phones such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray and Xperia Neo cost around the same price as the Curve 9360, yet they offer more power, larger displays -- touchscreens, to boot -- and a wider range of games and applications.
Having said that, the 9360 is unquestionably the best Curve yet. That is likely to be all that matters to hardcore BlackBerry fans shopping on a budget.
For those of you who are unsure, we'd highly recommend that you take a look at what Apple and Google are offering right now before laying down your moolah.
The HTC Sensation XL is an impressive phone for the music-obsessed, thanks to its beefy sound quality and a fantastic set of bundled Beats buds. It plays a good amount of audio file formats too, including uncompressed WAV. The only potential black mark against its music capabilities is the limited amount of storage space.
Aside from that, it has friendly user interface and all the general Android-related advantages in its corner. But its large and pretty screen isn't the sharpest available and it's definitely last year's phone when it comes to processing performance.
It's a decent package overall, but take away the music skills and there are many better Android alternatives out there -- not least the excellent HTC Sensation XE, which has a better (if smaller) screen, a faster processor and all the Beats gubbins. If you want the best possible screen on your Android phone, we suggest you hold your horses until the Samsung Galaxy Nexus arrives.
When we reviewed the Orange Monte Carlo, we were impressed that ZTE had managed to include a wide range of features in such a cheap device. The same naturally applies to the Skate, as it's the same phone in all but name, and a slightly different user interface.
The 4.3-inch screen makes a world of difference when it comes to usability. There's no comparison when you put it alongside rival budget handsets. We're also very pleased that ZTE has included Android 2.3 (and the stock version, to boot), especially when you consider many of Samsung's low-cost phones are stranded on 2.2.
With a thickness of 10mm, the Skate is surprisingly thin.
Of course, there has to be a catch. In the case of the ZTE, there are several. The 800GHz processor feels sluggish and there's not enough app storage space for serious users. The cheap, glossy casing is also likely to put a few people off.
Another big sticking point with the Skate is that it's currently only available SIM-free, which means you'll have to pay more than the £120 the Monte Carlo retails for. While the rough guide price of £200 is still excellent value for money, it does place ZTE's phone slightly outside impulse purchase territory.
Regardless of this, the ZTE Skate is a solid purchase for serious Android fans who can't afford an expensive SIM-free phone like the HTC Sensation XE or the Samsung Galaxy S2 -- both of which will cost over twice as much outside of a contract.
No other low-cost phone can offer such an expansive screen and such a clean, uncluttered version of Android as this -- it's just a shame that it wasn't given a little more power under the bonnet.
The BlackBerry Curve 9360 might not be the flagship device in the latest RIM BlackBerry launches, but it is a solid handset that adds the capabilities of OS 7 to the tried and tested BlackBerry formula.
There is a lot about the HTC Sensation XL that we like. Watching videos and listening to music is an absolute joy. In fact the Android experience is a joy, be it browsing the Internet, flicking through Twitter or a chasing stars on Angry Birds. Many of the day-to-day things just feel and look good on the Sensation XL because of the size it offers.
But what it lacks are the elements that take this from being purely a big phone, to an exceptional phone. The specs limit what it will do and restrict the potential of the phone at the cutting edge in the future. The screen resolution doesn't measure up, so you lose one of the advantages of a richer visual experience of your rival. The HTC Rezound deals with some of these issues, but the Samsung Galaxy Nexus blows it out of the water.
As a media proposition the lack of a microSD card is probably the biggest problem, as you lose one of the things that people really like about Android. Beats Audio is great, but we feel it has more value from a brand point of view than actual audio enhancement when put up against the likes of Dolby Mobile or SRS. All are good, but it's the headphones that really make the difference here, and third-party support is badly needed.
The final result is a phone that we want to love, but can't. Having initially thought the screen would be too big, we now accept that 4.7-inches works. But the list of things that don’t quite work leaves the HTC Sensation XL feeling like a stopgap and us eyeing a replacement in early-2012. For the hardened Android fan that might be a problem, especially if gaming is on the agenda, but for those that want to browse the Internet, listen to music and just enjoy the simpler things about Android, the HTC Sensation XL will still serve you very well.
In spite of my minor complaints about its design, this tablet is worthy of consideration. Asus's aggressive pricing, coupled with its above-average display, make the Transformer a serious contender. Even if you factor in the extra cost of the docking station, the costs are offset by that module's expandability and functionality. The big question, as with all early-round Honeycomb tablets, relates to the unknowns of Android 3.x's evolution and its thus-far slow-to-grow app environment. If neither of those issues is a deterrent, the Transformer + Mobile Docking Station could be a winning combination of productivity tool and entertainment demon.
At £450 the Razr isn’t a cheap phone but it is worth every penny of the asking price. If you were to put a gun to my head and ask me to find fault other than the seemingly wayward Wi-Fi reception, I’d be stuffed because I can’t think of anything. It’s thin, light, fast, handsome, solid, graced with one of the best screens on any phone and is built to a near weapons grade specification.
The combination of a gloriously fast, big-screened handset and a brand-new, slick and feature-laden OS makes the Ice Cream Sandwich-toting Galaxy Nexus a perfect smartphone storm.
It’s a very close call between it and Apple’s iPhone 4S, but one thing is for sure – this is the best Android phone we’ve ever seen.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus: Verdict
While it might be too big for everyone’s taste, the Nexus is a beautiful handset. The screen is vibrant and one of the best we’ve seen on any handset to date.
With the addition of Ice Cream Sandwich, which marries great performance and slick features to the already an already potent operating system, it’s one of the best smartphones available at present.
There is a major problem, however. As we enter 2012, a 5MP camera on a top smartphone, which you will be potentially tied to for two years is not good enough. Yes, it’s capable of good results, but imagining what could have been is truly disappointing.
For many this will be a deal breaker, and while there’s plenty of enchanting and life simplifying features, this smartphone is one feature short of being truly awesome.
HTC Titan: Verdict
Compared to the rest on test, the Titan is a big screen with an ever-improving OS underneath... but we can’t help but think the Sensation XL (the same phone running Android) is a better bet.
However, if you’re after something different from an Android or iPhone device, and want to take the plunge with Microsoft (plus loving the thought of big screen media on the go) then the HTC Titan is certainly not without its charms.
BlackBerry Curve 9360 Verdict
The Curve 9360 might have a few foibles here and there, but on the whole it’s a top quality smartphone with sumptuous lines, a feather-light chassis and some future-proofing thanks to the inclusion of the beepy NFC technology.
It lacks the power and prowess of its bigger brother, the Bold 9900 - but given that costs twice as much with roughly the same functionality, you can see why we really rate this budget blower.
Motorola RAZR Verdict
A new benchmark for the Motorola brand, the RAZR is an impressive, high-end, well functioning handset but one that is not quite a market leader or on par with the likes of the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S II. In a less than appealing way Moto has managed to make a large handset feel big beyond its size with what should be a dominant display feeling beautiful but lost.
We had real high hopes for the Galaxy Nexus and genuinely expected it to take the place of best smartphone on the market today. But it hasn't.
That is not to say it's not a good handset because it is a fantastic piece of kit. But if you were to take away Ice Cream Sandwich, hardware-wise, you'd not have much to write home about compared to what else is out there.
ICS does bring a lot of new stuff to the Android table and we are genuinely impressed with the way it looks. It feels savvy, futuristic and both competent and confident.
But it just doesn't bowl us over and give us that 'wow' factor in the hand the way it did when we handled it for a few minutes at Google HQ.
The fact of the matter is that we think it still lags behind the Samsung Galaxy S2 – albeit not by a massive margin. But this will also be a lot more expensive than the S2 at launch for the simple reason that it's Google's latest device (and being plugged heavily could lead to stock shortages).
Put it this way, if we were to find one wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning, we wouldn't berate Santa. But unless you're a massive 'Pure Google' fan, we'd suggest your call St Nick up on Boxing Day, ask if he had the receipt still, point out you'd been exceptionally good this year, then go swap it for a Galaxy S2 - or wait to see what the rest of the manufacturers manage when their creative bods get cracking with Ice Cream Sandwich.
It's another good performer from Sony Ericsson. The Xperia Active is little more than the company's Xperia Mini in a chunky, water-resistant case, but if that's what you want... this is it.
We're used to 'outdoor' mobile phones coming in awful shells and lacking features, but that's not the case here. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is a fast, usable, modern smartphone, that just so happens to be a bit better sealed off from rain and coffee than most.
The only possible competition for the Xperia Active comes from Motorola's Defy and the newer Defy+, which, with their huge screens and extra-bulky builds, are aimed at completely different people.
If you want a perfectly capable, cute, light and small phone that's waterproof and doesn't compromise on performance, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active's a fine choice. Your only choice, but still a perfectly good one.
Speaking of which, the price is the biggest stumbling block for Sensation XL as it stands. As a mid-range, big-screen handset, HTC would be onto a genuine winner here. But the price puts it in the firing line of the Sensation XE, the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S. And, frankly, it comes out at the bottom of that list.
The Samsung Galaxy W isn’t perhaps the prettiest Android phone out there, but it turns out to be a pretty nifty handset to use. It's comfortable to hold, has a good screen and camera, and its 1.4Ghz processor keeps things moving at a spritely pace. Add in the fact that it's available at very modest price either on PAYG or contract and you've got a very appealing package.
At its most basic level the HTC Rhyme is a nice handset. It's simple design is lovely, it has enough performance to get by, and the included speaker dock is a nice addition. However, the Charm accessory and headphones don't really add much to the package, and given you do pay a small premium for them it becomes hard to recommend this phone. It's a perfectly decent mid-range handset, but no bargain.
Originally published at OneMobileRing.com