While everyone loves to gush over flagship phones, the truth of the matter is that for many customers, cheaper phones - be they last-gen's flagships or this-gen's budget devices - are the route of choice. Traditionally, the former route tended to work out better, especially for enthusiasts; after all, generation-old flagships tend to still outperform and out-feature current-gen budget devices. Plus, high-end devices generally have a ton of developer support and are usually better supported by the manufacturer. But is buying a used flagship still the better option for a budget-conscious consumer? After spending some time with a brand new budget phone from Pantech and Verizon, I'm not so sure.
Verizon is possibly pushing out an over-the-air update v4.03.605.1 to the HTC Rezound which only just received ICS (v3.14.605.12) last week. The 104MB update is pretty hefty for only a few weeks of work, which has puzzled many XDA members and made things turn pretty ugly in the relevant thread. The reason I'm saying "possibly" is only one person at XDA has received it so far, which may indicate there's some sort of soak testing going on.
Update: A commenter (Cody) chimed in and let us know he's currently getting the OTA as well. Anyone else?
Having now read through 20+ pages of comments about half of which are literally baseless and ignorant garbage written by trolls with nothing better to do (what XDA update thread would it be without these, right?), I have pieced together a few details and confirmed that the OTA is indeed legitimate by verifying the update's cryptographic signature and checking with a source close to Verizon.
There's no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S III is the best phone on all four major carriers right now. If you're considering picking one up on Big Red (despite its locked bootloader), you can now score the 32GB version in white or blue from either Amazon Wireless or Wirefly. Yeah, we know: it's a tough choice. First you have to decide which color to buy, then which vendor to buy it from. To make it easier, you could just do a couple of coin tosses. Maybe you'll end up with white from Amazon Wireless. Or perhaps the blue one from Wirefly.
Last week, we took at a look at the best tablets for students and parents alike. Today, we've picked through the hundreds of offerings out there to pick the best overall and best on-a-budget smartphones on all the major carriers. As a bonus, we took a look at the latest offerings on some of the more popular pay-as-you-go carries, which can oftentimes be the best choice for a student.
With that, let's get started.
For the first time in the history of forever, there is one clear winner for "best Android phone" on all major carriers:
The Samsung Galaxy S III
As I started working on this roundup, I realized after completing two carrier breakdowns that nothing would trump the GSIII on any of the Big Four (or U.S.
If you still had any doubts at this point that the HTC Rezound Ice Cream Sandwich update was indeed rolling out as reported by the first batch of users, let me dispel them right now. Verizon Wireless just updated the official document detailing the Android 4.0.3 rollout (it's indeed HTC build version 3.14.605.12 and Sense 3.6). Here are some screenshots of the doc along with the changelog:
After countless leaks, a rumor of questionable origin, and a missed target release timeline of June-July, it looks like Verizon has opened the flood gates, and the HTC Rezound ICS update has started rolling out to the first batch of users, just a few days late.
Update: Verizon just officially confirmed.
The 299MB OTA bears the same version 3.14.605.12 that we heard about a few weeks ago and may take several months to become fully available to 100% of devices. That's the bad news.
The good news is that we've actually been in the possession of the full .12 RUU for a while but haven't bothered releasing it unless we could verify it was indeed the final OTA (it seemed too minor compared to the previous .10 leak).
In a post to Google's Android Building group today, Jean-Baptiste Queru once again acted as the bearer of good tidings for developers and tweakers everywhere, announcing that "a new set of proprietary binaries for Jelly Bean are available."
The new batch of binaries includes those of the Nexus S and Nexus S 4G (Crespo and Crespo4G respectively), the latter of which we just recently saw added into the AOSP fold.
The set also includes updates to the both the GSM Galaxy Nexus (maguro), and Verizon's Galaxy Nexus (toro, which itself is ever so close to full AOSP support).
Conspicuously absent from the party is Sprint's variant of the Galaxy Nexus, but there's no surprise there.
The FCC and Verizon settled out an ongoing dispute about Verizon's removal of tethering apps from the then-Android Market for devices operating on its network, stating that the "Block C" spectrum rules it agreed to when it purchased the frequency bands obligate it to provide its customers open access to software. Those rules, if you haven't seen them before, are essentially:
[Verizon] shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee's C Block network.
The scope of the FCC settlement (meaning Verizon decided it was no longer worth fighting) is quite narrow - Verizon must now allow customers unfettered access to tethering apps, and in return the FCC will end the investigation.
Verizon just announced a new handset for its 4G LTE network, claiming it's the "perfect crossover for basic phone customers switching to a smartphone." What makes it perfect, you ask? The device features a "dual-interface" setup, allowing users to choose between "starter" and "standard" mode. Basically, while power users try to get their devices to to as much as possible, the Marauder allows users to dumb-down their smartphone. How ironic.
There's probably some appeal there, as the device also packs a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, but some rather modest specs for a budget device:
- 3.8" display
- 1.2GHz dual-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 5MP rear shooter
- Android 4.0
For those interested, this simpleton of smartphones will be available beginning on August 2nd for $50 after a $50 mail-in-rebate.
Last month, both Amazon Wireless and Wirefly offered a promotion for a $40 credit with the purchase of a new 4G LTE phone on Verizon Wireless. Now, Amazon Wireless is offering a similar deal for anyone who purchases a phone on Verizon and activates a new Share Everything plan.
Basically, if you purchase select Verizon phones from Amazon Wireless between now and August 2nd, you'll get a $40 credit on your bill (which may "take up to three bill cycles to process").
If you were planning on pulling an upgrade anyway, you might as well go ahead and jump on this deal.