We review a lot of high-end phones here on Android Police. In fact, we probably review a disproportionately low number of entry-level and mid-range devices, because many of them are, well, boring. We also know that you, our readers, are rarely interested in the often no-value value-proposition that these handsets tend to represent, especially in the US. Here, a wireless contract is two years long whether you're buying a refurbished Galaxy Nexus (ew!) or a shiny new Galaxy S4.
How do you follow up the most popular Android smartphone ever? That's the question Samsung had to ask itself after the Galaxy S III became a worldwide sensation, and arguably the only widely-recognized competitor to Apple's iPhone. Despite a less than totally-enthusiastic reception from some critics, the S III was apparently the recipe for success that sent Samsung's mindshare into the stratosphere. That, and the massive marketing budget that successfully plastered its mug on televisions, billboards, magazines, and websites the world over.
Giant smartphones are becoming increasingly popular the world over, and for the last two years, it's a market Samsung has absolutely and utterly dominated. The Note and Note II are both excellent devices, and Samsung had the rare luck of getting something right the first time with the Note line. If you want a big phone, and money is no object, the Note II stands alone. It seems LG, though, has something to say about that.
Yep, I'm calling it: the HTC One is the most important smartphone that will be released this year. And I know, this year is far from over - but let me explain why I think it will hold true regardless of what's to come.
Right now, the smartphone industry is slowly but surely evolving into a duopoly. Samsung and Apple control a larger piece of the proverbial pie than ever, as almost every other major Android OEM's market share shrinks - a trend that has continued for nearly two years now.
The Xperia ZL is the 'little' brother to Sony's recently-unveiled Xperia Z, and to get the most pressing question out of the way immediately: what's the difference between the two? Well, the ZL isn't waterproof (and thus has a different chassis and design), has a hardware camera button, and uses a minutely larger (by 40mAh) battery. That's really it. The display, the chipset, the camera, and the software are all near as makes no difference identical to those on the Z.
In a world where Samsung and Apple dominate the smartphone sphere, and multi-billion dollar companies like Sony, LG, and Motorola struggle to maintain single-digit market share, it's rather easy to convince yourself that real innovation and excellence costs lots of money. And, as an extension of that thought process, that there's little reason to look outside the current crop of popular phone makers.
But you'd be wrong.
Known mostly in the United States for its Blu-ray players (yes, really), Oppo is a Chinese electronics maker that is easily ignored.
If you're a Verizon Wireless customer, and you're not looking to spend over $100 or so on an Android smartphone, your options aren't exactly limited at this point. If you want one that's relatively current, though, the RAZR M and Incredible 4G are basically your choices, one of which we actually really liked.
Both of those phones, though, by modern Android smartphone standards, are relatively small, with 4-4.3" qHD displays.
The latest and greatest from Verizon and HTC's ongoing DROID partnership marks something of a shift in strategy for the two companies. In the past, if you wanted an HTC "DROID," your options were basically limited to the Incredible brand, which has become decidedly, well, less incredible over time. And while the Incredible started out as a top-of-the-heap smartphone back in 2010, it too was quickly eclipsed by bigger, better phones.
The HTC One X was (and still is) a fantastic device thanks to its solid hardware, excellent build quality, and stunning display. But it's a little long in the tooth, partially because the newest high-end smartphones have both quad-core CPUs and LTE, and partially because in the smartphone world, anything that's 7 months old is (unfortunately) outdated.
That brings us to the HTC One X+, which is more of a mid-cycle refresh than an all-new model.
Since its announcement, many internet comments (and tech bloggers, frankly) have lambasted the 2020mAh battery inside the DROID DNA as obviously being too small. A 5", 1080p display, quad-core processor, and LTE - with a 2020mAh battery? HTC must be nuts. Well, it turns out, they actually aren't nuts and actually do know how to make a phone that doesn't die after half a day off the charging cable teat. Surprising, I know.