Cult Of Android 2012 Holiday Gift Guide: Android Smartphones

If you’re still trying to figure out which Android smartphone you should pick up this holiday season, let us help out by laying out a few of the great options available. We’ll give you a few choices for the various carriers and possible deals hosted by sites such as Amazon Wireless and Wirefly.

Whether you’re buying for yourself or gifting, trying to choose the right Android smartphone from the plethora of choices can be quite a daunting task. Features like expandable storage, LTE, removable batteries, etc. are enough to have even the most Veteran of users reaching for the Tylenol.

So which Android device do you choose? That’s a completely personal decision, but here’s the devices we recommend.

AT&T

Recommended:

Our top recommendation for an Android device on AT&T is the Samsung Galaxy Note II. However, if you don’t fancy a large smartphone, then avoid our recommendation at all cost. If you’re not sure whether or not the Note II would be too large, head into an AT&T store and pick up a display model to see how comfortable or uncomfortable you’d be holding this bad boy.

So why do we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Note II? Well, for a lot of reasons really.

The Galaxy Note II has about every function and feature you could ever want in an Android device. You may not need all of these options, but we feel better knowing they are available versus some devices which do not include them at all.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II on AT&T features:

  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • 1.6 GHz Samsung Exynos Quad-core processor
  • 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED Plus display
  • Enhanced S Pen (6.5)
  • Dual cameras – eight MP with video and flash, 1.9 MP front-facing
  • 16 GB ROM, 2 GB RAM, MicroSD card slot supports up to 64 GB
  • NFC technology
  • 3100 mAh battery

The Galaxy Note II may be a bit more expensive than most Android devices, and depending on whether or not you’re a new customer or simply upgrading, you’ll want to check out Amazon Wireless before purchasing from your local AT&T store.

Other recommendation:

  • HTC One X+ – If you like your devices large, but not as large as the Galaxy Note II, then you’ll want to take a look at the HTC One X+. It’s a beefier HTC One X with specs that include a A 4.7-inch 720 x 1280 Super IPS LCD2 display, a 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor with LTE, 64GB of internal storage, 1GB of RAM, a measly 2100mAh battery, and Android 4.1 with HTC Sense 4+.

    New customers can score a One X+ for as little as $129.99 via Amazon Wireless or just under $200 for those with an upgrade or looking to purchase via AT&T.

Sprint

Recommended:

Why are we recommending the Samsung Galaxy S III on Sprint? Because it’s a great phone that will only cost you a penny via Amazon Wireless (if you’re a new customer). The Samsung Galaxy S III may not be the newest device out there, but it offers everything you need and then some. It beats out the Note II for our Sprint recommendation solely because of price.

However, if you are upgrading, then the Galaxy S III becomes $99.99 — a price at which we would then recommend the Note II (unless, of course, you have decided the Note II is too large).

If you’re a new customer, you can get one hell of a device for just a penny:

  • 1.5 GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU (MSM8960)
  • Qualcomm Adreno 225 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB With MicroSDHC slot
  • 4.8 inch, 1280×720, Pentile AMOLED Display
  • 2100 mAh Removable Battery
  • 8MP Rear Camera, 1.9MP Front Camera
  • NFC (with Google Wallet)
  • Android 4.1
  • And more!

Other recommendations:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note II – We’ve already recommended it as the top device on AT&T and it barely takes second to the S III here on Sprint. New customers can score a Note II on Sprint via Amazon Wireless for $99.99 (the lowest price of all carriers) or upgrade for the price of $199.99.
  • HTC EVO 4G LTE – The HTC EVO 4G LTE is another great deal for anyone looking to grab a top notch device for next to nothing. The HTC EVO 4G LTE features 3G/4G LTE connectivity, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 4.7-inch HD 720p display, 16 GB internal memory, 32 GB expandable memory via micro SDHC, 1 GB of RAM and Android 4.1. Add to the fact that you can pick this up for just a penny via Amazon Wireless (new customers) and this is an easy recommendation.
  • LG Optimus G – The Optimus G on Sprint is another good choice due to its low price via Amazon Wireless. While the LG Optimus G has some impressive specs, we’ve ommitted it from our other carrier recommendation because of its price in comparison to other options.

    However, at $49.99 for new customers via Amazon Wireless, this is a definite recommendation. The Optimus G features an amazing Ultra Bright 4.7-inch true HD IPS WXGA display, 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 4G LTE, 32GB Internal Memory, 2GB RAM plus 50GB Box Cloud Storage.

    You’ll also find a whopping 13MP rear camera but a measly 2100mAh battery — not to mention last year’s Android 4.0.

    You simply won’t get a better display at this price, so give it a look and see if the rest of the specs fit your needs.

T-Mobile

Recommended:

In my opinion, T-Mobile is the worst carrier when it comes to smartphone choice. The majority of phones that we would like to recommend are well above the cost of most other carriers, making it hard for us to justify (especially given T-Mobile’s lack of LTE and less than stellar coverage.)

There’s honestly only one Android device I would recommend picking up for T-Mobile and it’s the one you’ll probably have the hardest time getting a hold of — the Nexus 4.

Unfortunately right now, both the 8GB and 16GB Nexus 4 devices are sold out on the Play Store and I don’t recommend buying it from T-Mobile. Instead, I’m asking anyone on T-Mobile to simply stick with what they have until the Nexus 4 comes back in stock or until something new lands on T-Mobile.

The only other device I might recommend is the Samsung Galaxy Note II via Wirefly. You can pick up the Note II for T-Mobile at around the average carrier pricing of $299.99 from Wirefly. Otherwise, it’ll cost you $329.99 via T-Mobile.

I personally prefer the Note II to the Nexus 4, but it doesn’t make the best financial sense given you can grab the Note II for much, much less via another carrier.

Verizon

Recommended:

Call me superficial but it pangs me to recommend the Galaxy Note II on Verizon with that horrendous logo placed on the Home button. Thankfully there’s an aluminum cover to take care of that.

I still believe the Note II to be the best available device on Verizon and one that beats out the new DNA because of its larger battery, expanded storage, and S-Pen functionality. Read my AT&T recommendation for more info on the Note II.

New customers are treated to a $199.99 price via Amazon Wireless while the upgrade price isn’t as attractive. If you prefer a somewhat smaller device, you can check out my other Verizon Wireless recommendations below.

Other recommendations:

  • Samsung Galaxy S III – Read my Sprint recommendation. Although the Verizon Galaxy S III version only comes with 16GB of storage and no SD expansion, it’s still a great device that will only cost new customers $59.99 via Amazon Wireless.
  • Motorola DROID MAXX HD – If you don’t mind spending double the cost of the Galaxy S III, the DROID RAZR MAXX HD is a fine choice on Verizon. It offers a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD display, 32 GB onboard memory, up to 32 GB microSD, 1 GB RAM and a fantastic 3300mAh battery. Add some Jelly Bean to that and you have a great Verizon device for $149.99/$199.99 via Amazon Wireless.

There’s around a week left before Christmas, so be on the lookout for special offers from the various carriers. While these are our recommendations, you should always weigh out the pros and cons of any device you are considering and choose what fits you best.

Happy shopping!

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