Affordable price point
Taking into account the $99.99 on-contract price attached to the HTC 8X right from the onset, it's at an attractive price point that would handedly reel in some curious bystanders. To HTC's credit, we absolutely love the direction they went with the 8X's design, as it seemingly stands out magnificently from the staple of cold industrial designs we're normally bombarded with.
Colorful and eye-catching design
The 8X is available on AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, so you have no excuse not to pick one up. It's a toss-up with the Lumia 920: if you love music, the 8X is for you. But if you're a shutterbug, you can't beat the 920's outstanding camera. In the end, only choose either if you don't need obscure apps, because you won't find them on Windows. But if you're willing to give the software a shot, the 8X is a solid choice.
Elegant, latest WP8 OS
When we reviewed earlier Windows Phone handsets, we were told the platform needed time to bed in.
It's had that and it's evolved but we can't help feeling there are still a few areas it really is left lacking. Things like the poor media support are inexcusable and these are places where Microsoft is to blame more than HTC.
We're sure it will be fixed but it takes the gloss off a new purchase when things like this don't work flawlessly.
Boasts a 1280x720-pixel HD resolution
I am going to hold my hands up and say that I used to be a massive fan of anything made by HTC. I have owned, in total, around seven different Android handsets by the Taiwanese giant, including the Hero, Desire, and Sensation XE. But whilst my love has been transferred to Samsung in more recent years, I was very keen to get my hands on the 8X and to see what HTC would do with the Windows Phone 8 operating system.
Rubbery finish is pleasant to the touch and aids grip
The HTC Windows Phone 8X is the best all-rounder of the Windows Phone 8 smartphones we've tried. It has a different and less comprehensive selection of pre-loaded apps to Nokia models, but the hardware is better than the identically priced Lumia 820.
Gorgeous design and cool colors
The HTC is unique looking, absolutely stunning and we love the color selection. It's a quality piece of hardware with an excellent HD display, Beats audio and it's plenty fast. Windows Phone 8's app selection is gaining steam and the OS is now robust enough that it's a good time to try Windows Phone. The HTC 8X's biggest problem in the US is the bargain priced yet high end Nokia Lumia 920 that sells for less and doubles storage while adding excellent free navigation.
Sleek, comfortable design
The LG Optimus L9 brings a great budget option to T-Mobile's lineup. It is of course not as good as the forthcoming Nexus 4, but it absolutely holds its own with similar offerings from HTC and Samsung. The 4.5" IPS display is wonderful, and the dual core TI OMAP processor delivered smooth performance. We would have preferred a better camera, but at $80 on contract we can't complain too much.
Blazing speed on 4G, Updated design
While internal hardware certainly underscores the "you get what you pay for" adage, there is a enough packed into this little gadget to impress you with what you pay for it. T-Mobile currently offers the L9 for $48.99 plus a fee for a two-year contract. Or, you can pick it up for $199.99 without an annual contract. For someone on a budget who needs a smartphone, the contract is an attractive offer, but just be sure to check the T-Mobile coverage in your area.
Solid performance at an attractive price point
The LG Optimus L9 seems to make itself pretty comfortable in its little niche. Flagship-sized screen and solid performance at an attractive price point is certainly a combo many will be happy with. And considering there's virtually no competition (at least until the Galaxy Grand arrives), the L9 has every chance of making it big. We'd say it will be well deserved.
Almost Perfect for Under $100 Just got Patched to Jelly Bean!
It's not perfect, and it's obvious that LG had to cut some corners to keep the price low. There's no 8 MP camera with lots of functions, high-end processor, 8 or 16 GB internal storage, or super-high resolution screen. The camera could be better, so could the data speeds, and the loudspeaker needs some work, but for what it is, I can't find a better handset out there.
Better specs, a bigger screen
I still find the Final Thoughts of the L-series of smartphones from LG hard - they're budget phones, but I can't find myself recommending them. The Nexus 4, also made by LG, is less than $350 - and offers twice the specs, and twice the phone.
What LG have done with the Optimus L9 is finish off a series of smartphones with a better 'bang'. The L9 has better specs, a bigger screen and is the much better performer of the three L-series phones from LG.
Bright Clear Screen, 8MP Camera
LG has done a pretty good job with the L Series and the L9 in particular. There are only one downside in the hardware design which I raised but apart from that it's a very classy phone to hold and be seen using. The L Series is certainly a well thought out and designed range of phones and LG is definitely a respected hardware manufacturer who has delivered a quality product in the Optimus L9.
Good low lighting camera performance
On the surface, there's nothing cool or hip looking with the Nokia Lumia 810, which is a shame considering it's a Lumia device, but yet, it's lacking any of the distinct design cues to make it a part of the family. However, once you're able to overlook its boring design and discover its inner beauty, the Lumia 810 really shines as an entry-level smartphone. Interestingly enough, the Windows Phone 8 experience here is identical to what you'll find in Nokia's flagship in the Lumia 920.
Keyboard is a wonderful addition
If you're looking for the perfect couch or bedside companion that boots instantly and won't attract virii like Windows, but has a desktop-like web browser, email, PDF viewer, music player and more, then the N810 is attractive. It sells for significantly less than list price (often under $400) and for that price it has a lot to offer then Internet-addicted set. The keyboard is a wonderful addition, though the GPS excites us less thanks to the subscription fee for navigation and slow fix times.
The Nokia Lumia 810 is an undoubtedly solid smartphone, but its ultimate undoing is the Lumia 920, a better device that costs less money. If you're unwilling to jump ship from T-Mobile, Nokia's custom software also throws a wrench in the equation, because you'll need to choose between superior hardware that does less (HTC 8X), or a relatively inferior smartphone that does more (Lumia 810). Alternatively, you could also wait for the Lumia 920 to break free of its six-month AT&T exclusivity.
A new breathe of fresh air. After using using various phones of Blackberry, iPhone and Android for the last 5 or 6 years I never imagined that I will go for another OS. Not too long ago whenever I travelled overseas I met and heard people praising their Nokias. I used to be an Apple fan but lately was somewhat becoming disappointed. So I was ready to try something new. As Nokia for Windows Phone 8 was announced I started waiting for Nokia eagerly.
ClearBlack coated AMOLED display
If you're looking for Windows Phone - or maybe just an excuse to try Windows Phone - the Lumia 810 is free on T-Mobile with a new contract. Despite the fluid transitions and animations, I have a hard time believing this phone is going to last the full two years of a carrier agreement though.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is a spectacular phone. A big part of what makes it spectacular is its incredible specs sheet. Yeah, although its specs can easily be rivaled by strong competitors like the HTC One X, which also has a quad-core processor and the other beloved tech goodies, the Galaxy S III manages to shine brighter, thanks to its superior user experience.
Excellent battery life
So to summarise: if you've been waiting feverishly for the new Samsung Galaxy S3, you will not be disappointed. It's fast, it's sleek and it packs the latest technology that will get your pulse racing.
The recent update has made it an even better phone, and we've been using it out of choice for the last few months - given we've got the choice of most handsets out there, that's a pretty big recommendation for any phone.
Good design and build quality
Subject to further testing, the Galaxy S3 has turned out to be an excellent smartphone. It offers a good design and build quality, despite our small niggles. Samsung has put together an impressive set of hardware resulting in silky smooth performance and extensive software features.
Fast, big display and a great camera
Is the Samsung Galaxy S III an excellent smartphone? Yes it is. Given the millions of preorders, I suspect many of you would buy this no matter what I said about the phone. That speaks of Samsung's momentum in the smartphone market and their excellent track record. Is this Samsung's best Android phone ever? Yes it is, but there is room for improvement. I'd love to see Samsung use high quality materials and cutting edge designs in their top tier phone.
If you can somehow see through the boring design of the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G, you'll find a superb Android smartphone that manages to be a good device in the mid-range category. In this day and age, it seems that the sweet spot for mid-rangers tends to be at $100, and at $150 with a 2-year contract, some might think the Relay 4G to be overpriced. Instead, we find it fitting knowing that it's one of the few Android smartphones being released nowadays with a fantastic keyboard â??
Dual-core Snapdragon S4 chipset
Overall, it is hard to call the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G the company's finest effort at the QWERTY theme. Given the relative lack of competition, combined with T-Mobile's traditionally large crowd of hardware keyboard lovers, the handset will likely sell well, with its buyers bound to pick one up with their thumbs, not their hearts
Improved Sense user interface
The HTC One S is simply a fine smartphone. It shows that HTC still knows how to build devices that elicit feelings of lust and desire, and it shows further that the company realizes that its Sense interface has seen better days and needs to get back to the basics. And the basics are what the One S does best. Call audio? Check. Web browser? Check. Camera? Check. Aesthetic appeal? Double check.
Very good call quality
The HTC One S might be the middle child in the new One lineup, but it can't realistically be called mid-range just because the screen is qHD instead of HD. Upper mid-range would be a good fit, if you are a categorization nazi. We loved the compact and sturdy design with a very light and premium feel. In fact, the One S feels higher-end in the hand with its sexy slim metal body, toned by the anodized coating, than the flagship One X, made of fancy plastic.
Beautiful slim but strong design
The HTC One S is a really difficult phone to judge. On the one hand its plasma-etched and super-slim design, fast processor, decent screen and good camera all add up to make this a major improvement over top phones of last year and certainly competitive with many current handsets. But, on the other hand, that plasma finish may not be as tough as first thought, it only packs 16GB of storage and the AMOLED screen is far from perfect.
The HTC One S is one of the top Android phones. The HTC One X has a bigger, higher-resolution display and LTE connectivity (not much use in the UK for now). Hopefully the call quality issues I experienced with my test HTC One S are an isolated incident. The lack of a storage expansion port is a shame, but other than that the HTC One S is a winner.
Stunning design, lovely display
The HTC One S is one of our top picks among Android smartphones. Not only is it one of the few to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, we also like the evolution of HTC Sense. The gorgeous, elegant and durable anodized aluminum unibody casing, impossibly thin profile and attention to detail are hard to beat among Android phones and the Super AMOLED display is super colorful and sharp.
Dual-core Snapdragon S4
Sporting a thinner and lighter design, the One S doesn't deserve to be hidden in the shadow of its pricier brother. With the latest dual-core Snapdragon S4 and noticeable improvements to HTC's Sense UI, as well as Android 4.0 and a potent camera, this phone is likely to play a large part of the manufacturer's renewed efforts after a shaky 2011.
What we like about the BlackBerry Curve 9320 is that it's honest. It's not trying to be better than it is and is quite happy to portray itself as a budget smartphone with a few little extras. And for the people it's aimed at, those who want a phone that makes calls, sends texts/emails and has a good battery, it comes up trumps. Web browsers and cameras are nice to have, but won't swing a sale here. So on that basis, it gets a thumbs up.
Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is not a bad phone in its own right. It offers an established, functional platform with a no-fuss interface alongside elegant styling. However, at the midrange price point, there are simply better-equipped devices to be had.
Even if it were priced lower, the Curve 9320 would still be a hard sell in a market obsessed with touchscreen. RIM has obviously realized that, and has invested highly into recreating their own platform along those lines.
Easy to use core features
There's no two ways about it, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 isn't a phone that will excite many of you. Its screen is small and low resolution and the selection of apps on offer is fairly poor. But, if you're in the market for an upgrade to your old budget BlackBerry or you just want a capable messaging-oriented smartphone with a great keyboard then this phone is well worth a look.
Value for money
The BlackBerry Curve 9320, unlike a lot of budget Android handsets we see, offers two things that are very important and extremely rare at this end of the market: functionality and value for money. RIM has been honest with the marketing it's a phone that's all about social networks and being connected and hasn't attempted to make it into something it's not, and we like that far too many company's these days attempt to oversell their frankly under-specced handsets.
Comes loaded with all the connections you'd expect from an Android phone
All in all, we're impressed with the BlackBerry Curve 9230. The fact that this lower mid-range BlackBerry comes loaded with all the connections you'd expect from an Android phone is reassuring. The OS browser is a pain to use, the app selection isn't great and the Huawei Ascend G300 does offer more for less, however with its keyboard and messaging prowess, it's definitely on the money for a certain type of user.
Great battery life
RIM no longer produces smartphones that compete with the desirability of Apple products and the younger market which once craved BBM is now rapidly migrating to cheap yet stylish Android smartphones and iPhones which now boast iMessage, a more than capable BBM rival. The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is average in almost every way but will still appeal to BlackBerry fans and anyone after a best in class keyboard and upgraded BBM. As a smartphone, it's actually one of the simplest ones out there.
Creaky, plasticky backplate, Tiny, low-res screen
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is a budget option for BBM addicts and those who love the feeling of physical keys under their thumbs. No touchscreen, iffy build quality and a poor selection of apps mean you might be better casting your eye elsewhere, however.
Solid 5-megapixel camera
With the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, you're looking at a solid midrange Android smartphone that packs a punch, and has a reasonable initial price tag. T-Mobile customers wouldn't go wrong with the handset, especially if they don't want to pay top dollar, but it isn't for those looking for the cutting edge.
Fast data when available
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G is an impressive device with great ergonomics and speedy performance. Apart from some issues with the display, it is also built very well. Even if you don't live in an area where you can access T-Mobile's super fast 42Mbps HSPA+ network, the Blaze 4G is a joy to use. Of course, the experience is only that much better if you can take advantage of the high-speed data services while on the go.
Great calling quality
Good things are still found in small packages. In fact, that's essentially what we find with T-Mobile's Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, as it's able to impress us in so many ways. To tell you the truth, we weren't expecting a lot out of this one, especially when the Samsung Galaxy S II is out there floating around, but it's evident that the Blaze 4G is a wonderful alternative for those who prefer a device that's more compact without sacrificing the goods in the specs department.
Well built, fast, and pocket friendly
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G packs enough functionality to keep every potential Android user, who thinks that a screen over 4" in size is too big happy. It is well built, fast, and pocket friendly. It's also got some powerful hardware that makes it relatively future proof.
The smartphone however, is far from perfect. Its Super AMOLED screen has remained in 2010.
We're certainly excited to see dual-core processors trickle down into T-Mobile's mid-tier, and thanks to some well-tuned software, the Blaze 4G is an excellent performer. It's an admirable handset that offers top-notch battery life and network performance, pristine call quality and a beautiful, sturdy enclosure. That said, it's a good handset that stops just short of greatness. To justify its high price, Samsung could've included a better display and its superior 8-megapixel camera.
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