Aug 17 2012
For the last few months we have been publishing a monthly buyer’s guides for Android, things where hectic and it was hard to keep up. This month we are going with a new idea. If you do have questions on which phone to buy, refer to last month’s buyer’s guide because it is still relevant today! That being said, do read on. We have some phones out now that may seem like a good deal right now, but we have good reasons why you should avoid them (and help avoid buyer’s remorse).
4G Phones and Sprint
The term “4G” is thrown around now days so much it seems like it really has no official meaning. 4G speeds are basically whatever a carrier determines them to be. Over the last two years the carriers have used three forms of technology for their 4G networks. Verizon went with LTE, AT&T and T-Mobile used HSPA+ and Sprint went with WiMax. Verizon today is still going strong with their LTE, and AT&T is now incorporating LTE with their HSPA+. However, the problem for the purpose of this article lies with Sprint and their WiMax.
Sprint bet on WiMax for the future of their 4G service, much like Verizon did with LTE. Sprint quickly abandoned WiMax, though, and switched over to LTE. Sprint and its partners stopped expanding WiMax towers months ago, and the company is now lighting up their LTE towers. The problem is that Sprint is still selling the rest of their inventory of WiMax-based 4G phones. If you have WiMax in your area, these phones could possibly be a good deal for you, but only if you’re willing to have limited 4G service for the next two years of your contract.
The only phone I could find that Sprint is still pushing with WiMaX 4G is the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G (GS2). The GS2 can be found on Amazon, Best Buy, and Sprint; ranging from a penny to 99.99. While these prices may seem attractive, especially for a big name phone like the Galaxy S II, you will probably be better off buying its younger brother, the Galaxy S3 (which has Sprint’s new LTE service).
Low End/Cheap Android Phones
Avoid low end or cheap Android phones. This may seem like common sense, but with so many low end phones available, someone must be buying them. Low end phones are at the heart of what generally give Android a bad name. They are cheap for a reason: corners have been cut when these devices where being designed. Many of these devices have been built with low memory, small amounts of storage, cheap small screens, and tiny batteries. They often are on non-contract providers such as Boost Mobile or Virgin Wireless, or are commonly free (on contract).
In my experience with Android phones, I have found certain brands are synonymous with cheap, and generally should be avoided in most situations. Companies such as Pantech, ZTE, Huawei and Kyocera can all be lumped together in the do-not-buy list of low end phones. Although some of these companies do have plans to release higher-end phones stateside in the upcoming year, it probably is better to be safe than sorry and not buy from them. While these unfamiliar companies are easy to spot and avoid, there are some bigger names in the business that do release low end/cheap phones to the masses, these may be a little harder to spot. LG, Samsung also have low-end phones that are the same price as older flagship phones on the same carrier.
If you are looking for a cheaper Android phone there are plenty of them. First time buyers are more susceptible to get roped in to two-year contracts on phones that where outdated a year ago. If you’re looking for a cheap LG on Verizon, pick up the Lucid instead of the Enlighten (both a penny on Amazon with contract renewal), in this case the Lucid being a much better phone. If you’re looking for a cheap Samsung on AT&T get the Captivate Glide (for 49.99) is a much better deal than the Doubletime (for a penny). While prices are bound to change, it pays to shop around and do some research. Because picking up a low end phone and being stuck with it for two years is no fun. If nothing else, stop in at your local Best Buy, browse around and ask questions. They will be more than happy to help you find the best device in your price range, and they will often price match the online competitors.
Phones with skins? How about phones with bad skins?
Custom UIs (skins) on Android have existed almost since the beginning. At first they added features and uniqueness to phones that a company released. As time went on we started seeing skins actually causing more problems than they were fixing. Many phones became bogged down and difficult to use. As the basic Android OS has evolved and grown, the need for custom skins has become pretty much non-existent. That being said, most manufacturers today still put these customs skins on their phones.
Comparing all of the manufacturers’ skins, some are better than others. Companies such as HTC and Motorola seem to be toning down how deep their skins are integrated with their phones, while others like LG and Samsung are doing the opposite. From my experience and the opinion of people around me, the company with the worse integration of their custom skin is LG. It’s slow, clunky, and buggy. On the other hand Motorola has gone from having one of the worst skins with Moto blur, to it being toned down so much with the release of Android 4.0 that Blur almost doesn’t exist. Along with these two companies are Samsung and HTC, both having their own approach to their skin. While Samsung is adding more and more features to their phones, it’s done in a way that is functional and elegant. HTC on the other hand is taking the road of less is more, much like Motorola.
Skins are a way of life with Android, but some are generally better than others. Although LG has made some headroom with their latest phone, all their previous phones have a terrible skin on it. The other big three of the Android world are fine, but the only real way to know if you like HTC’s Sense, Samsung’s TouchWiz, or Motorola’s Blur is to try them out for yourself at your local phone dealer or BestBuy.
It is an ever changing world for us and Android. To be happy with our devices we need to make the right purchase. Oftentimes our lack of satisfaction is due to a rushed purchase. I hope with the help of this guide, some hands-on time, and a little more research, you will be able to find the right phone for you.
This article, Think before you buy: here are a few phones not to buy now, and why , was originally published at AndroidAuthority.com - Your Android News Source.