It was about a year ago that we brought you our last top five smartphones for Sprint, and we’ve already delivered our top picks for AT&T and Verizon. The industry has changed and, with it, we’ve been treated to several new smartphones across the big four carriers in the United States. That means faster processors, better cameras and more features than we’ve ever seen before. The smartphone landscape truly is more powerful than ever, and that’s why we know it’s time to bring you our latest picks yet again.
Sprint has had its fair share of new flagships over the past several months, though its Windows Phone portfolio has been lacking until now. We know that it will soon offer two new devices, one from HTC and one from Samsung, but we’re keeping them off the list until we’ve had a chance to play with them. For now, here’s what we think are the best phones you can possibly buy from Sprint, though they are in no particular order because we know a smartphone operating system is typically a matter of taste.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has earned its spot on all of our top five lists, but for good reason: it’s one of the best Android smartphones you can buy right now. Not only because it offers some of the best hardware specs, but because it also comes chock-loaded with custom software from Samsung. And it also runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the latest build released to manufacturers at this point. You’ll find a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor under the hood, in addition to 2GB of RAM, for ultra speed performance. There’s also 4G LTE support, a truly amazing 5-inch display with a full 1080p HD resolution, a quality 13-megapixel camera, and more. On the software side, we’re treated to AirView, for previewing emails, calendar events and more without touching the screen, support to run multiple applications side-by-side, and really solid battery life.
You won’t find a better industrial design on an Android smartphone than what HTC offers on the HTC One, and we’ll be surprised if another handset can beat the build in the next several months. That’s why we love the HTC One on the surface, but it also packs great software features. Our favorite is the highlight reel, which compiles your photos and three-second Zoe video shots into a quick video summary of your day. We also love that it runs Sense 5, the latest custom software from HTC that provides a “BlinkFeed” aggregation of news and social feeds right on your home screen, amazing BoomSound front-facing stereo speakers and a super fast Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor. The toughest part of making your purchase will be choosing between an S4, with a removable battery and expandable storage, and the HTC One. Rest safe knowing that either choice is excellent, however.
The iPhone 5 is a crowd favorite, we know that because Apple’s currently leading the U.S. smartphone market by sales volume. Even though the phone is almost a year old, and even though we know the iPhone 5S is coming soon, the device still deserves a seat in the top five. It offers a dead-simple user interface, and Apple always delivers its latest software to older a devices, a clear indication that you’re going to be taken care of for a few years at least–though, to be fair, not every feature available on the iPhone 5S will be supported on the iPhone 5. You’ll get an excellent camera, an iOS 7 update coming soon, and access to one of the most robust app stores out there. You may want to hold out for the iPhone 5S, especially because it often means a price drop for the current generation iPhone, but the iPhone 5 is still a great choice.
Galaxy Note II
We love the Galaxy Note II, especially because it has an amazingly huge 5.5-inch display and comes with a super useful S Pen for taking notes. It may be replaced by the Galaxy Note III in September, but the phone still reigns as one of our favorite phablets to date. Sprint’s model offers a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 4G LTE support, an 8-megapixel camera, up to 15 hours of talk time (you’ll get at least a day with moderate usage), a removable battery, a microSD card slot for adding additional storage anmd a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. No, you won’t get the 1080p screen on the Galaxy S4, or the more powerful processor, but if you want a big screen and find yourself jotting notes frequently, this device should be at the top of your list.
LG Optimus G
Sprint’s Optimus G is a fantastic smartphone, though it has largely slipped under the radar due to the launches of the HTC One and Galaxy S4. It’s not as powerful, but it comes in with a price tag that’s $200 less. It packs a 13-megapixel camera, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and a great “QuickMemo” feature that lets you capture a screen shot and draw on the screen, which is great for circling a point of interest on a map and sending off to a friend. Again, it’s not the most powerful option on the market right now, and we wish Sprint offered the Optimus G Pro in its place, but you can’t go wrong with this device if you’re looking for an Android smartphone on a budget.
As with Verizon and AT&T, we’re expecting Sprint to launch several new smartphones in the coming months. That list includes the leaked Moto X, which seems like a mid-range device at this point, the iPhone 5S in September, and the Galaxy Note III this fall. That’s in addition to a range of devices that may also hit, but which haven’t been leaked yet. As we noted in the beginning of this article, Sprint will also deploy the HTC Windows Phone 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo at some point this summer, though we haven’t had change to play with the final builds of