Shopping for a smartphone might seem to be an overwhelming task, given the range of devices and options. The Brighthand staff makes the selection process a bit easier though by highlighting the Top Five, based on our review criteria and results for the month of December 2012.
This list is based on the rankings these phones received from our staff of expert reviews, as well as the editors' own thoughts about these products, informed by their years of experience with a wide range of handsets.
The Samsung Galaxy S III was surrounded by tons of hype prior to its release, and with good reason. Providing possibly the stiffest competition to the Apple iPhone to date, the Galaxy S III sports a sleek and sexy design, even in spite of its generous 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display. Throw in a powerful 1.5 GHz, dual-core processor, 4G LTE connectivity, and S Voice commands (Samsung's answer to Siri), and you've got one powerhouse of an Android phone. But a quick word to our overseas users: while the international versions of the phone come with a quad-core, Tegra 3 processor under the hood, they subsequently sacrifice 4G LTE connectivity.
The Galaxy S III is offered by every major wireless carrier in the United States, making it the most broadly available smartphone in this country.
Rating Average: 9.0
The latest generation smartphone from Apple has a 4.0-inch touchscreen, slightly larger than any of its predecessors, and with a higher resolution too: 1135 x 640 resolution. This display has a pixel density of 326 ppi.
It is the first iPhone with support for 4G LTE. The device also sports an A6 processor. One of the strengths of this smartphone is the huge array of third-party software available for it.
Currently, this handset is available from Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.
Rating Average: 9.0
HTC released the One X, its new flagship Android smartphone, earlier this year to rave reviews thanks to its excellent camera, beautiful 4.7-inch display, and a powerful 1.5 GHz, dual-core processor running the show. Other features include Beats Audio, HTC's Sense 4 overlay, and 4G LTE connectivity, though it is worth noting that, like the Galaxy S III, the international version of the phone does not have LTE, instead swapping out that feature for a more powerful quad-core processor.
While our reviewer gave it a slightly higher score than the Galaxy S III, the Samsung model comes out slightly ahead because it is much more widely available -- at this point the One X is only offered by AT&T.
Rating Average: 9.2
#4: Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX
The Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX was released only a matter of months after the initial release of the Droid RAZR, coming on the heels of complaints regarding the original model's battery life. Motorola more than adequately addressed the problem, releasing a phone that is marginally thicker than its predecessor, but also packing a 3300 mAh battery that provides many more hours of battery life. Combined with high-end specs like a Super AMOLED display and a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, the Droid RAZR MAXX took a good phone and made it great.
This device is a Verizon exclusive.
Rating Average: 9.0
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is something of a polarizing device in that some people may take issue with its size, while others may laud its roomy, 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display that allows for the usage of Samsung's S Pen stylus. The device spawned the term "phablet," as it's big enough to be considered a smartphone/tablet hybrid, but it also has more going for it than its massive size. 4G LTE connectivity and a powerful 1.5 GHz dual-core processor are some of the Galaxy Note's "noteworthy" features, so if size isn't an issue for you, this is definitely worth a look.
It is offered by AT&T and T-Mobile.
Rating Average: 8.0
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