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I’m Upgrading My Android Phone This Year, But What Do I Get?

Posted by on February 26, 2013 at 10:36 am
The direction I'm leaning.

The direction I’m leaning. Well, not exactly…

It’s been nearly a year since I told people to not buy a phone. The first half of the year is crowded with price cuts and secondary phone makers who are only bringing an extra half-step with their post-holiday offerings. That said, I don’t qualify for an upgrade until the end of August, so that’s giving me a lot of time to ponder the offerings and whittle down what I want in my next phone. Let me at least block out some absolute choices here.

OS: Android

Android wasn’t my first choice when I shopped for a new phone in the late summer of 2010 because I’d been waiting years for the Windows Phone to come to reality. With my Palm Pre on its last legs (after a dismal fifteen months) and no bright future in sight, I needed to ditch the well-conceived but ill-supported webOS for something new. The biggest shock came, however, when Microsoft announced that CDMA-based Windows Phones wouldn’t even be available until early 2011 and I needed a phone right there and then. My Epic 4G on Sprint (my biggest reason to wait for a CDMA release) introduced me to Android at a time when it still wore the hat of utility rather than form, but that would change when I picked up my current phone, the Galaxy Nexus, right as it became available on Verizon. Android has matured, Google under Larry Page has allowed for a much better design, and it has all the functionality I need to get things done. I still want to love Windows Phone, but years later, it still feels like a step or two behind.

Maker: Motorola

I mentioned my first Android phone was a Samsung Epic 4G, Sprint’s iteration of the original Galaxy S, but the day I stepped in to pick it up, I was actually hoping to walk out with HTC’s first EVO. With a slightly bigger screen and a $50 larger price up front, I settled for the Samsung phone out of necessity. I knew people who had picked up the Samsung Instinct a few years prior and hated it, so I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I loved it. Coming off my Pre, I was sure I’d use the hardware keyboard often. Nope. I was sure I’d be disappointed by the smaller screen. Nope. The Epic also convinced me of the validity of SAMOLED as a display with its over-saturated colors and whitewash/backlight-free display that allowed for the darkest blacks and biggest contrasts. (This became a liability on my Galaxy Nexus, though: the screen has already begun to burn in the portions of the screen not covered by the permanent OS bars on the top and bottom of the screen.)

So why Motorola? Two reasons. First, Motorola – now a division of Google itself – is rumored to be working on an X Phone, an experimental device brought to life by the Google X group under Sergey Brin that’s developing marvelous stuff like self-driving cars and Google Glass. I don’t even know what kind of effect that would have, but it can be safely assumed that it’ll be running stock Android as a result, rather than the tacky skins of other makers. Secondly, I need the battery. Motorola is the only phone manufacturer that seems to understand that while a razor-thin (or rather, RAZR-thin, amirite?!?!) phone is a great bullet-point on a one-sheet, having a slightly thicker and still acceptably small phone with a gargantuan amount of battery life – as they’ve done with their Maxx models – is something that us productive types need more of. I want a phone I don’t need to switch out batteries when I’m on the E3 show floor or riding around Los Angeles all day.

Carrier: Verizon

The 4GB cap, which I only got over the standard 2GB cap because of a promotion – haunts my busiest months, which look to become more frequent going forward. That said, the price is fair and the high-speed LTE coverage is good and getting better. Getting 11-12Mbps speeds out of our new hometown of Phoenix just screams ‘sexy’ all over. It also means I’ll have the best shot at getting the best hardware selection of the factors I mention above.

Of course, knowing exactly what I want means it’s gonna be a long six months.

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