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Android Operating System
The Android platform has claimed the top spot in the competitive smartphone market. In a few short years this versatile OS has leapfrogged the competition and beaten back strong opponents like RIM, Nokia and even Apple (to some extent). One of the reasons for Android’s stunning success is the fact that the platform places no restrictions on manufacturers (unlike Windows Phone 7 for example). This has led to an explosion in the development of Android phones and there are models aimed at every segment of the market now, from budget through to the most powerful high-end options.
Android’s lack of restrictions extends to software developers too. The swift rise in free Android apps and great Android games has obviously also been a factor in the adoption of the platform. However, in this article we focus on the hardware, these are the best Android phones currently available or about to hit the stores.
We’ll break it down by manufacturer and there are three companies that have enjoyed major success with the Android platform. We’ll take a look at the rest of the field at the end, but the best Android phones so far have come from HTC, Samsung and Motorola.
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HTC Android Phones
It almost feels as though HTC is in a race with itself to release increasingly powerful Android smartphones. For a time the HTC Desire was the best smartphone on the market last year but it was quickly eclipsed by the HTC EVO 4G, named as our best smartphone of 2010. That has now been followed up by the HTC EVO Shift 4G.
There were also a few offerings at the budget end of the market such as the HTC Wildfire and the HTC Gratia. Now we are into a new year and those awesome devices just keep coming. The HTC Thunderbolt is selling fantastically well. The HTC Incredible S is the follow up to the successful HTC Droid Incredible. There’s also the HTC Inspire 4G and the 3D display boasting HTC EVO 3D.
Having built a name with Android, HTC is clearly here to stay. Although they have also been releasing Windows Phone 7 devices, their focus seems to still be with Android.
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Samsung Android Phones
The big competitor for the HTC EVO last year was the Samsung Galaxy S. Samsung enjoyed huge success with this phone and they released branded versions with slight tweaks for all the major carriers. The Galaxy S and all its variants sold amazingly well and could be the biggest Android success story of 2010.
With no intention of resting on their laurels Samsung has continued to develop new offerings. Like HTC they have released a few options to mop up the budget end of the market but that doesn’t mean they are skimping on high-end Android phones, as the Samsung Galaxy S 2 can testify. They were also chosen by Google to manufacture the Google Nexus S, the follow up to the Google Nexus One.
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Motorola Android Phones
Motorola was in a pretty steady decline when they adopted the Android platform. There were people in the mobile industry predicting a slow death but Motorola fought back with the Droid range. They created a branding and awareness for the new platform that rescued them from the brink. The Motorola Droid was the first really successful Android phone and they continued to build on the range. Last year there was the Droid X, Droid Pro, and Droid 2.
This year they are set to make a major impact. The Motorola Atrix 4G and the Motorola Droid Bionic are the best Android smartphones on their current list. The Atrix is designed to be able to connect to a laptop dock so you can effectively use your smartphone as a laptop. It remains to be seen whether this is a gimmick or a valid direction for the smartphone industry. The Droid Bionic is a solid smartphone with good specs, a dual core processor and a lovely display.
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LG Android Phones
The most successful Android newcomers last year were undoubtedly LG. They launched the Optimus range and, like Samsung with the Galaxy S, they launched slightly different versions for the different carriers. Phones like the LG Optimus M seem to have gone down pretty well as entry level Android phones. LG is now making a play for the high-end market with the LG Optimus Black, the LG Optimus 2X, the LG Revolution and the LG Optimus 3D.
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Other Android Phones
The exciting release from Sony Ericsson is the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, the long awaited PSP phone. As they continue to build on the Xperia range there’s also the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc. At the cheaper end of the market we have the Xperia X8 and the Xperia X10 Mini.
Speaking of the cheaper end of the market there are also a few options from lesser known manufacturers that offer great value for money. They may not be contending for the best Android smartphone title but they will suit some people perfectly. In that category we have the Huawei Ideos X5, the Huawei Ascend and the ZTE Blade.
If you’re looking for something a little different the Kyocera Echo, with its dual display, might interest you.
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What is the best Android phone?
So just what is the best Android phone? To be honest the answer to that question keeps changing because more and more Android phones are coming out and they’re getting better all the time. There are loads of awesome Android phones out now and plenty more due to hit the market soon. The range of Android phones is now really diverse and people with limited budgets have more options than ever before. For those of you determined to have the latest and greatest there is a new candidate every couple of months.
The Motorola Atrix 4G is an interesting idea, the HTC Thunderbolt is a good solid release and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is great for gamers. What’s the best Android phone though? Well, examining the specs, the most exciting prospect is the Samsung Galaxy S 2. It is not going to be easy to top, but give the manufacturers another few months and they’ll find a way.
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- Android, http://www.android.com/
- HTC, http://www.htc.com/us/products/thunderbolt-verizon
- Samsung, http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxys2/html/photos.html
- Motorola, http://mediacenter.motorola.com/imagelibrary/default.aspx?CSubjectId=20&MediaTypeId=1
- Sony Ericsson, http://www.sonyericsson.com/cws/products/mobilephones/overview/xperia-play?cc=gb&lc=en#a
- LG, http://www.lg.com/uk/mobile-phones/all-lg-phones/LG-android-mobile-phone-P990.jsp