What’s the best smartphone on Verizon right now? My twin-brother (fun fact!) asked me that very question last night. It’s one of the hardest questions we have to answer as tech reviewers, but it’s also what makes our jobs so fun — we get to play with every smartphone that passes through U.S. carriers (and sometimes international ones, too). Yesterday, we published a guide of the best smartphones on AT&T and today we’re following it up with what to pick on Verizon Wireless. We cover our favorite devices, the best option for new smartphone buyers, what to avoid and even a wild card device that could pop-up in the near future.
1. Our Favorite – Samsung Galaxy Nexus
The Galaxy Nexus launched late last year but it’s still our favorite smartphone on Verizon Wireless. It was the first device to run naked Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and sports a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED contoured display a 5-megapixel camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. This will be among the first devices to get Google’s latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, too, although it could take a bit to get through carrier testing on Verizon. The device is certainly bested by the Galaxy S III, which is our runner up, but it costs $50 less and is available now.
2. Closest Alternative – Samsung Galaxy S III
We admittedly haven’t had much time with Verizon’s Galaxy S III yet, but it’s definitely worth waiting for. It will run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network — the largest in the nation – and offers 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage, an 8-megapixel camera, NFC, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, expandable storage and so much more. It’s basically an improvement over the Galaxy Nexus in nearly every way, but it packs TouchWiz and doesn’t offer the pure Android experience that some users prefer. The only trouble is you’ll need to wait until July 11th for your unit to ship, and that’s if you’ve already pre-ordered it. Other amazing features include Buddy Share for combining your photo albums with friends, a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and Samsung’s S-Beam technology for quickly transferring small or large files between other Galaxy S III devices. This would definitely take our top spot if it were available now.
3. Best Phone For First-Time Smartphone buyers – iPhone 4S
We said it yesterday in our AT&T smartphone guide and we’ll say it again: The iPhone 4S is the best smartphone for first-time smartphone buyers. It packs the necessities, including a solid 8-megapixel camera, a front-facing camera for FaceTime, an amazing iMessage application and access to Apple’s unparalleled ecosystem of movies, music books and applications. We regularly recommend the iPhone 4S to new smartphone owners because the first question they tend to ask us is: “Well, my friend can do this on his or her smartphone, can I do that, too?” Typically, the person asking us the question is referencing a popular application and the odds are that it’s available for the iPhone 4S. Plus, as we said before, Apple takes care of its customers and will update the iPhone 4S to its latest iOS 6 operating system in the fall. iOS 6 packs an enhanced Siri experience, Facebook integration, turn-by-turn navigation with Apple’s new Maps application and much more. Our only issue is that the iPhone 4S is the only phone we recommend that’s not on a 4G LTE network.
4. Don’t Buy – HTC Trophy
Look, we love Windows Phone devices, but the Trophy is old. It was first introduced in November 2010 and Verizon Wireless is still selling it for $149.99. That’s crazy. If you’re a true Windows Phone fan you’d probably be better off with the Lumia 900 on AT&T, which supports 4G LTE networks, or holding off until Windows Phone 8 devices land later this year. Verizon has already confirmed it will launch Windows Phone 8 devices, too. The Trophy will likely receive Windows Phone 7.8, but it’s vastly underpowered when you take Verizon’s other phones into consideration. This should have been a free handset a year ago. Pass.
5. Wild Card – Motorola DROID RAZR HD
We’ve heard whispers that Verizon and Motorola are planning to launch the DROID RAZR HD, but neither company has officially confirmed the phone’s existence. Still, it could be worth holding out for… if the Galaxy S III isn’t up your alley. Rumors suggest the handset will pack a 1196 x 720-pixel HD resolution display, Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (or maybe Jelly Bean, at this point) and a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Plus, the phone allegedly features a full Kevlar back, a crazy huge 3,300mAh battery and a 13-megapixel camera. Talk about high-end, eh?