The new school year is drawing closer, so it’s time to start thinking about what school supplies students are going to need. Back in the day, all Little Johnny or Janie needed was a pencil and some paper, but times have changed. Now a smartphone is likely to be on the list, especially for college students.
Students generally need a powerful phone, as it will be their major way of communicating with friends and family, whether it’s by text, IM, or social networking. Plus, a smartphone can be an invaluable tool for keeping up with a hectic schedule, or blowing off steam with a game or two. And they might even use it to call someone at some point.
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes close to being a laptop that you can fit in your pocket. Despite its sleek design, it offers a generous 4.8-inch high-res display. Thanks to Android 4.0 and a powerful 1.5 GHz, dual-core processor, 4G connectivity, an 8MP camera, and S Voice commands (Samsung’s answer to Siri) it is one powerhouse of an phone.
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. And a version with a quad-core processor is widely available in other countries around the world.
The flagship phone from Apple has sold by the million, to the point where it and its predecessors have become cultural icons. This device has a 3.5-inch Retina touchscreen, 1GHz dual-core processor, 5MP camera, and 3G,but Apple’s smartphones have never been about cutting-edge specs. Instead, they emphasize ease of use, simplicity, and an almost astounding number of apps.
While the iPhone 4S is still popular more than 9 months after its launch, a replacment is expected in early fall — those who can afford to wait might want to do so.
This model can be fround at AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.
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.
#3: Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX
The Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX was released 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.
The Samsung Galaxy Note is something of a polarizing device in that some people may take issue with its size, while others may laud its roomy, 5.3 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 the 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 now, and will coming to T-Mobile soon.
A more affordable version of the HTC One X, the One S is more modestly specced, with a slightly slower dual-core processor? and a smaller, lower resolution (4.3-inch, 540 x 960) display. Nevertheless, the processor of the One S, a dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon with two Krait cores running at 1.5 GHz, performs admirably, to the point where it’s almost indistinguishable from that of the One X. Also appealing is its sexy, slim build, measuring only 7.8 mm thick, making the One S a cheaper yet almost equally attractive offer as its big brother.
Currently, this handset is available only from T-Mobile.
For more information, check out the rest of
our Back To School Special Report.