There is no better time than now to purchase a smartphone. Apple’s iPhone 4S and the soon-to-be released Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Motorola RAZR are setting new standards in smartphone functionality, reliability and design.
In fact, these top-of-the-line devices are setting a higher bar for everyone else in the cellular industry. Top-selling smartphones and one-time household names are increasingly becoming obsolete. And while less advanced and older-model phones will no doubt be discounted to compete, you will still end up paying in the long run. You will likely spend several hundred dollars to use your phone over the course of a two-year contract. So you’re better off ponying up more at the time of purchase to get the best possible device.
With that in mind, you should think twice before purchasing these popular smartphones.
This is not a terrible phone by any means, and when released last May was viewed as one of the best phones to run on Google’s Android operating system. But with the new and improved RAZR on the horizon, and already-released Motorola devices like the Droid Bionic, Droid 3, and Atrix 2 available, the Droid X2 is starting to look a little long in the tooth. To its credit, the Droid X2 does rock a dual-core processor, which makes surfing the web super-fast. Yet this capability is becoming standard among top-of-the-line smartphones including the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus (dubbed the Nexus Prime), and the Motorola RAZR. Further, the Droid X2 doesn’t offer 4G/LTE capabilities, and was plagued with issues when Android released a software update earlier this year.
While BlackBerry Curve model smartphones are — like the ads say — slim and stylish, they aren’t exactly “easy to use.” Being slim is actually a detriment to these newer Curve models, which were released earlier this month after an initial delay. Both the BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Torch models offer far more screen real-estate to make your smartphone experience a little bit smoother. The Curve is also plagued by poor battery life, which for many BlackBerry addicts is a deal-breaker. BlackBerry creator Research in Motion, which also a few short years ago was the most respected smartphone manufacturer in the world, is having even bigger issues. The company recently suffered a huge outage that cut service for approximately 70 million users around the world. While this may have been a one-off incident, worries about the network’s durability are likely to prevail for some time.
As the first 4G smartphone on the nation’s first 4G network, Sprint subscribers with a need for speed couldn’t pick up an HTC EVO fast enough when it became available last year. This is still a respectable device and offers good value for the money with its big 4.3-inch screen and WiMax capabilities. However, for Sprint subscribers who want an Android phone, there are newer and better options today. The EVO 3D boasts similar specs, but offers more than just a 3D camera. Upgrades for the EVO 3D include a dual-core processor, better screen resolution and a bigger battery. The phone is also less bulky. The recently announced HTC EVO Design, smaller and less powerful than the original EVO 4G, offers dual bands which is great for international travel.
Many of us who owned handheld comptuers before smartphones have a soft spot for Palm, a pioneer in personal data assistant revolution. In recent years, Palm loyalists could still look forward to new devices put out by HP that ran on the underrated WebOS mobile operating software. Today, you can pick up a trusty Pre 2 for $149.99 with a new two-year Verizon contract. However, don’t expect to get much out of the Pre 2 aside from a nice nostalgic effect. This past summer, HP announced that it was getting out of the mobile operating software business completely and that it would longer be releasing new smartphones. Support for webOS might not be forthcoming in the future, so if you run into software problems with the Pre 2 or any Palm device, you may have a hard time fixing them.
The Titanium was already outdated by the time it was released in June. Motorola curiously shipped the Titanium with the older Android 2.1 software (codename Eclair). This was two generations of software behind what was available for Android phones at the time. This means that many new apps and games available for other Android phones could not be downloaded to the Titanium. The Titanium’s elegant and sturdy hardware and novel ‘push to talk’ walkie-talkie capabilities do not make up for its internal deficiencies.
This smartphone runs on AT&T and uses Windows Phone 7 as its operating system. The HTC Surround has been touted for its impressive audio qualities with Dolby surround sound and pop-up speakers (instead of a slide-out keyboard, little speakers emerge instead). Trouble is, it’s a little thick and heavy. While its interesting audio capabilities are nice selling points, it doesn’t excel in other areas. For starters, there are numerous complaints about the device not syncing with non-Exchange Microsoft Outlook accounts. What’s the point of having a Microsoft phone without reliable Outlook access? If you need a Windows Phone 7 device, there are certainly better options available like the Samsung Focus.
The original Samsung Galaxy series includes the Fascinate on Verizon, the Epic on Sprint, the Captivate on AT&T and the Vibrant on T-Mobile. These Android phones were released last year and boasted vibrant displays and plenty of horsepower. Trouble is, they are completely superseded now by the bigger and better Samsung Galaxy S II and upcoming Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The already available S II ups the ante with its higher-definition screen, dual-core processor, more RAM and a better camera. It’s a device that will hold up a lot better over a two-year contract, and will likely continue to receive upcoming Android software updates, which the original Galaxy S may not. While original Galaxy smartphones can be purchased quite cheaply, and still perform competently, for a few extra bucks it is worth investing in a device with a brighter future.