Want a new phone? One with voice control, LTE, HD displays? I’m not going to knock the iPhone 5, but there are lots of new phones that have more features, including bigger screens, micro USB connectors, removable batteries, voice control and more.
The smartphones below (and others), can deliver real alternatives to the iPhone. They have bigger screens, more flexible hardware, and may offer cheaper data plans than AT&T or Verizon.
- Galaxy Nexus. Runs Android Jelly Bean, Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 CPU, PowerVR SGX540, 4.65 in AMOLED, 1280×720 px, Autofocus camera, LED flash, 1080p video recording, Micro USB 2.0 with USB On-The-Go, Bluetooth (3.0 enabled, 4.0 compatible hardware). No LTE, but it’s $349 (unlocked).
- Samsung Galaxy S III. Runs Android Jelly Bean, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, a 4.8-inch (120 mm) screen with 1,280×720-pixels, 4G LTE, S Voice, a 8-megapixel rear camera, 1 GB RAM, up to 64 GB microSDXC, and a 9-millimetre (0.35 in) thick chassis.
- Lumina 920. Runs Windows 8 Mobile, dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU, a 4.5-inch screen with 1280 x 960 px, 2,000mAh battery, NFC, integrated wireless charging and an 8-megapixel rear PureView camera capable of 1080p video.
- Motorola Droid Razr HD. Runs Android Jelly Bean, Dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm 8960, 4.7 inch screen with 1,280 x 720 resolution, LTE, 8 MP back camera, 1.3 MP P2P Video, 8x Digital Zoom, Auto Focus, LED Flash, 1GB RAM, expandable with microSD card.
- LG Optimus G. Runs Jelly Bean, 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro, including the Optimus G’s Adreno 320 GPU, Bluetooth 4.0, MHL and NFC capabilities. A 4.7-inch screen (1280 x 768), 2GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera, LTE and 2,100mAh battery, all while measuring only 8mm thick.
- HTC One X. Runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with a NVIDIA Tegra 3, a 1.5 GHz quad-core CPU, a 4.7-inch 1,280×720 IPS display, 1 GB of RAM; a 1,800 mAh battery, a dual-band 802.11n WiFi radio, Bluetooth 4.0 with GPS, NFC, and 32 GB of internal storage. An 8 megapixel camera with a maximum aperture of f/2, autofocus, an LED flash. A Micro USB 2.0 port that doubles as a MHL interface.
T-Mobile is “refarming” their PCS band (1900-MHz) frequency to enable HSPA. T-Mobile’s AWS band is unsupported by the iPhone, so an unlocked iPhone 4S could potentially get HSPA now on T-Mobile. You could probably pick up a used iPhone 4S for $250 – $300 on Craig’s List.
T-Mobile’s no-contract plans are competitive with Virgin Mobile and cheaper than AT&T and Verizon. AT&T mostly uses 800MHz for voice, 1.9GHz for HSPA and 700MHz for LTE.
A basic 16GB iPhone 5, if you’re currently on an AT&T contract will cost the full $650 list price, rather than the $200 discounted price for those who sign a two-year contract. That’s a $450 difference.
If I go over to Verizon as a new customer, I’ll pay the $200 discounted price. I’ll also have to pay my AT&T termination fee. That started at $325, then was reduced by $10 for each month I had the phone. It’s now $225. Adding that to what I’d pay Verizon means the total price of my iPhone 5 would be $425. That’s $225 cheaper than staying with AT&T and paying full price.
Personally, I’m always a generation or two behind. I tend to buy a smartphone off Craig’s list and go off contract. What can I say. I’m cheap. I also like the ability to swap the battery and avoid the e-waste fate of every Apple phone and tablet.