2011 Holiday Shopping List: Top Five Smartphones

Michael Convente December 18, 2011 5
2011 Holiday Shopping List: Top Five Smartphones

Santa’s trip around the world is only one week away, but there is still time to send a last minute gift request to the North Pole.  If a smartphone is at the top of your Christmas list, then chances are you will want to send Santa a hint about one of the five models highlighted below.  Don’t forget the cookies and milk.

HTC Rezound (Verizon) – $299.99 w/ 2-year contract:

Taiwanese HTC has powered into the US marketplace over the last few years, and their momentum is not expected to decrease any time soon.  Of course, it helps that the electronics company makes a sweet line of smartphones, including their latest release, the Rezound.  Branded for the active yet stylish techie, the Rezound offers a plethora of features that make it a top-notch choice for people looking to make a statement.  As the only phone with built-in Beats Audio technology from Monster, the Rezound will blow away any other phone in terms of audio processing.  Plus, each phone will come with a pair of Beats Audio earbuds to take full advantage of the audio processing power.  Users looking to use their phone for photo and video capturing will be drawn to the Rezound’s 8 MP camera and 1080p HD video quality.  There also is an action burst mode to capture your best moves in motion.  To top it off, the Rezound is 4G LTE capable, so downloading music and uploading videos will be super fast (just make sure you keep your charger on hands at all times, since LTE drains battery life very fast).


Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket (AT&T) – $179.99 w/ 2-year contract:

The Galaxy S II Skyrocket has been Apple’s biggest competitor the past year, and for good reason – it is a spectacular phone.  The phone features a very large 4.5″ Super AMOLED Plus display, which Samsung touts as the brightest and clearest in the world.  Keeping up with its peers, the Galaxy S II Skyrocket features an 8 MP rear-facing camera and a 2 MP front-facing camera.  With 16GB memory, this phone is able to easily store tons of music and videos.  It is still running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, and while there are newer versions of the OS now available, this phone is still quite capable and now priced a good amount lower than it’s original starting price.  If you are a first-time smartphone buyer and are hesitant at the high prices even with a contract, then definitely considers the Galaxy S II Skyrocket.




Motorola Droid RAZR (Verizon) – $299.99 w/ 2-year contract:

Motorola saw the writing on the wall after Apple released its revolutionary iPhone in 2007 to massive fanfare and sales.  Either produce a legitimate competitor – and fast – or see the company become like the “snows of yesteryear; gone from this earth”.  Thankfully for Motorola, the company lived up to their do-or-die moment and released the Motorola Droid, powered by Google’s Android mobile OS, to equally massive fanfare and sales.  Several years later after surviving the ultimate test, Motorola is still a top cell phone manufacturer, and they plan to take over Apple’s top spot by resurrecting one of the most popular cell phones ever produced – the Droid RAZR.  The new Droid RAZR is the thinnest smartphone on the market, keeping true to its ancestor’s design roots.  But don’t let that fool you into thinking this phone is easily destructible.  It’s shell is made with Kevlar (you know, the same material used in bulletproof vests).  So while we don’t recommend slamming it against the ground on purpose, it should be able to take a nice beating.

The Droid RAZR is capable of being upgraded to the latest version of Android (4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich), which means you can keep it for the long haul.  The phone is also 4G LTE capable and has a dual-core processor, which means super fast downloads and super fast processing power.  At $299.99, the Droid RAZR is near the top in terms of cost, but considering you will be able to keep it for more than two years and still have a top-notch phone, it is definitely worth a strong consideration.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Verizon) – $299.99 w/ 2-year contract:

The Galaxy Nexus is Samsung’s latest smartphone from their popular Galaxy brand, released just in time for the 2011 holiday season.  The Galaxy Nexus features an even larger screen (at 4.65″) than the S II Skyrocket, and it is built with the same Super AMOLED Plus display technology.  The Galaxy Nexus is the first Android smartphone to feature the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich mobile OS built in, which gives users the absolute latest in OS technology.  This phone features a 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor and 1 GB from RAM, giving it top performance.  The cameras, however, are actually a bit low in resolution compared to other elite smartphones (only 5.0 MP for rear-facing and 1.3 MP for front-facing).  Nevertheless, the Nexus is poised to be among the elite Android smartphones going into the holiday 2011 season.





Apple iPhone 4S (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) – Starting at $199.99 w/ 2-year contract:

Last, but definitely not least, is the iPhone 4S from Apple.  Apple started the smartphone revolution back in 2007 with the release of their original iPhone, and they have been on top of the smartphone (and electronics) world ever since.  With a clean and modern design, impressive processor power, and an intuitive mobile OS, the iPhone has been the smartphone leader for over 4.5 years.  In that time literally dozens of companies have been founded to cater specifically to iPhone users, either by offering limitless numbers of cases and accessories to those strictly involved in the digital realm via the App Store.  Devices like the iPhone are why Steve Jobs was considered a genius and visionary, and the latest version of the iPhone only adds on to his already lofty reputation.

The iPhone 4S design is identical to the iPhone 4.  It’s list of improvements are hidden beneath the familiar casing.  The iPhone 4S features a dual-core A5 processor, which provides extremely fast performance.  The battery life is a bit shaky, despite Apple’s initial claims that the iPhone 4S would actually rate better than the iPhone 4, though users can tweak the settings to improve battery life.  One of the coolest features is the worldwide capability of the phone, as it features both a GSM and CDMA antennas.  The rear-facing camera has been upgraded to 8 MP, and HD video quality has also been upgraded to 1080p.

Perhaps the funniest part of the iPhone 4S is Siri, the fun, witty, and sarcastic personal assistant built in to iOS 5.0.  Plenty of sites and YouTube videos have popped up with users asking Siri funny, macabre, or just plain bizarre questions – only to be returned with equally hilarious and creepy answers.  While Siri has been fun to play around with, as an iPhone 4S owner, I honestly haven’t used it much at all.  For all of auto-correct’s failures, I still trust it more than voicing my texts via Siri.


Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of the above smartphone options.  Not surprisingly, BlackBerry is noticeably absent from the above list.  The company has tried in the past to make a more classical smartphone, but it was extremely buggy and did not sell well (i.e. – BlackBerry Torch).  CES 2012 is just around the corner, so it will be interesting to see if BlackBerry can make one last attempt to forge their way into the smartphone marketplace.  But if not, next year’s list will feature many of the same companies.



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