Android devices have always struggled with a stigma of being a bit low-class compared to Apple’s lofty products. This may have been deserved when the first products hit the market years ago, but manufacturers have been working harder to catch up.
Today, there are many options for the enthusiast that can go toe-to-toe with the best products running any other operating system. This is true among both phones and tablets. Let’s have a look at the current Android vanguard.
The ASUS Transformer has always been a bit of a press darling. It was the first tablet to introduce a keyboard dock and it was among the first to use an NVIDIA Tegra processor. ASUS has revised and expanded the line since its original release, culminating in the Transformer Prime Infinity.
The Infinity offers a fast Tegra 3 processor, 1080p display and an optional keyboard dock that can extend battery life to about 20 hours. This makes it the most impressive Android tablet on the market, period. It’s fully capable of rivaling the iPad 3. Prices start at just under $500 for the 16GB version and end at around $700 for the 64GB model.
The Infinity is great, but also expensive. If you’re looking for a more affordable tablet the Google Nexus 7 is the current tablet of choice. It starts at $200 and comes with the same Tegra 3 processor, which means it isn’t lacking for power. Nor is it lacked for pixels. Though its resolution of 1280×800 is not as impressive, it’s packed into a 7” display, giving the Nexus 7 respectable pixel density.
This tablet also benefits from being small. It is light and can be managed with a single hand. Its engineers smartly coated the rear of the tablet with a rubbery material that provides traction, making it more difficult to intentionally drop or slide the device. And while inexpensive, the Nexus is built every bit as well as the Infinity. Which makes sense – ASUS is the company that builds this tablet for Google.
HTC is an interesting company. It came out of seemingly nowhere to establish itself as a manufacturer of excellent Android handsets. The One X is their latest flagship, and it’s a heck of a phone.
Build quality is a boon. The One X uses a polycarbonate back which is both attractive and sturdy, providing this phone with an look and feel that is more substantial that the Galaxy S3 and most other phones on the market.
The One X also is an extremely fast phone. In most global markets it ships with a quad-core processor – in North America, however, it ships with a dual core. It also ships with a gigabyte of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.
Buyers who can’t nab a HTC One X should instead take a look at the HTC EVO 4G LTE. It has a different exterior, but its specifications are extremely similar.
Samsung’s new Galaxy is the other flagship phone worth talking about this year. Like the One X, the Galaxy S3 benefits from a large display, quad-core processor and a gigabyte of RAM. North American and Japanese models have to make do with a quick dual-core instead of the quad.
The Galaxy S3’s display is probably its standout feature. It uses AMOLED technology which allows it to provide excellent black levels and vibrant color without using much power or space. Some users do dislike the “pentile” arrangement which can make individual pixels easier to see, but not all users will notice this problem.
While flagship phones like the Galaxy S3 and HTC One X dominate, they have a problem. They’re flagship phones. Which means they cost quite a lot of money on-contract and even more if you acquire them off-contract.
That’s where the Motorola Atrix HD comes in. This phone provides many of the advantages of other high-end Android handsets including a brilliant 4.5″ display and fast processor. But it usually costs half as much as flagship phones when bought on-contrast. Unlocked versions are starting to pop up for under $400, as well. Buyers looking for a powerful yet affordable Android handset need to give the Atrix HD serious consideration.
There are a lot of other Android products that almost made the cut. This includes the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, the HTC One S, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx and many more. Choice is the Android ecosystem’s greatest strength. There are far more products available, so you’re more likely to find something that works for your needs.
What’s your favorite Android device? Is it a tablet? A smartphone? Or something more creative, like an Android mini-computer? Let us know in the comments.