Help me pick a new phone.
April 18, 2012 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Long time AT&T iPhone user. Switching to Verizon. Help me wade through the sea of non-iOS smartphones.

I moved to an area that has almost no AT&T service. I've been using the iPhone since the first generation and currently have the iPhone4.

Verizon is basically the only game in town. I shaved down a tmobile sim card and still have terrible service. The iPhone is factory unlocked so I'm just going to sell it on eBay. The iPhone5 will probably be out in less than 6 months but I don't have much desire to stay with iOS when the device seems so inferior to similarly priced phones.

SO, that brings me here. I know nothing about the droid phones. I plan on rooting whatever phone I get.

I just want to know which one is really the best for the money. What phone do you like? Why?

The sea of reviews really havent clarfied anything for me and I don't live somewhere where I can easily go play with each phone. Does the Samsung galaxy nexus really offer that much over the x2 which I could get for $150 less? Etc...

posted by zephyr_words to Technology (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you're going to be rooting your phone then you're probably best served to pick a device that is (a) recent enough to be future-proofed and (b) supported by CyanogenMod - such certification means you'll be able to load a reliable version of Android onto the thing once you root it, and doubles as an assurance that the device can in fact be rooted easily; everything can be rooted to some degree or another, but there's a wide gap between “download file, press button” and “go through a six-step process that must be repeated every time you power-cycle.”

I've got a Thunderbolt, which has been pretty good for me but I wouldn't recommend it over other current options unless you can't find anything else for cheap. It's easily rooted, but has major battery-life issues (you pretty much have to buy an extended battery) and the single-core processor chugs noticeably when you push it. They're flaws you can easily get past, but in a market where the Nexus and its ilk exist I can't see why you should have to deal with them at all.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:17 PM on April 18, 2012

I think this comes down to manufacturer. If I am you, I go one of two directions.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus - Samsung is solid, but the perk here is that you get the untouched google experience and the knowledge that you will get all of the new android goodies soon after release. This might be significant for a rooter (and they will have a large userbase of people who will be developing roms and what not).

HTC Rezound - I think HTC's high-end phones are really nice (I have a Thunderbolt). The Rezound is the nicest, newest one on the Verizon website. I like HTC because I think that that their middleware (HTC Sense) is actually pretty nice (vs Motorola Blur, which is terrible). This won't matter to you because you will probably be wiping the damn thing anyway, so the only point for you on this is that HTC moved to having unlocked bootloaders (making rooting less hazardous and "illegal"). HTC just came out with three new phones (or announced them or something) the "One" series... They seem nice, but it does not look like Verizon carries them.

One thing I learned when I was waiting for my Thunderbolt is that timing sucks. Get the best, nicest phone you can get when you are ready to get it. On the Android side of things, the more you wait the more phones will come out. It is a constant and steady flow, not like Apple where you need to wait for the next big thing every time.

Good luck!
posted by milqman at 3:20 PM on April 18, 2012

Check out Motorola Bionic. I got one in January and i totally love it. I got mine super inexpensive at Amazonwireless; Searswireless has similar pricing. The Bionic has pretty much every feature available. Great size, sound, camera, video, etc.
posted by j810c at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2012

I have a Galaxy Nexus and I love it.

It's fast, screen is great. Easily rooted _and_ gets updates quickly, open source builds available from Google direct.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:43 PM on April 18, 2012

I second the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Samsung smartphones have been great in my experience.
posted by kitsully at 3:44 PM on April 18, 2012

Argh, I didn't preview. The AOSP build for Nexus doesn't work on the CDMA (Verizon) version. However, I am pretty sure the larger mod community supports it.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:44 PM on April 18, 2012

We're on VZW and my husband recently went through the "what phone do I get to replace my old crappy phone" thing. After months (I kid you not, I upgraded when the iPhone 4s came out and he has been trying to pick a phone since at least then), he chose the Nexus, for a lot of the reasons others here have mentioned. It's a good phone. I caution you, though -- it's BIG. coming from an iPhone, you may also find that it feels weirdly light, which may make it feel cheap to you. If the size isn't an issue for you (it's way too big for my hands), I'd say it's your best bet on VZW.
posted by devinemissk at 4:35 PM on April 18, 2012

Get the Galaxy Nexus. Motorola's Android updates have had... issues. The Nexus will get updates the quickest and it's a fantastic phone as-is.
posted by GuyZero at 4:47 PM on April 18, 2012

I got a Droid Razr. Here was my logic, but each person will have their own, and all of the leading phones out there are nice.

I started by wanting a Galaxy Nexus, but I use the camera quite a bit, and in every trial I saw, and the ones I did myself, its photos were clearly the worst. This may not bother you though; it's "worst" out of a pretty stellar group.

The Rezound's camera was considered the best, though it has yellow tones and some minor post processing artifacts. The Rezound was my next supposed winner. It has a great form factor (fits well in the hand), an impressive screen resolution, and great audio. But I found the screen hard to see in sunlight; I like the more vivid screens of the Razr and Galaxy Nexus. Worse, it was kind of laggy in a way I never quite got over.

So I started looking at the Droid Razr. The camera was a close second, and without some of the yellow. It was super fast. Then the Droid Razr Maxx came out, with three times the battery. So, even though I couldn't afford that one, it persuaded me that Droid might end up with more of the market and developer attention.

The Droid has been fine for me. I've been lately getting tempted to swap it for a Rezound or Nexus, though, because both the screen quality and the sharp edges have come to bug me more, rather than less, over the six weeks I've owned it. But I think on balance, it's still probably the best one for me.
posted by slidell at 8:20 PM on April 18, 2012

Is there a particular reason you're moving away from the iPhone? While your AT&T phone probably won't work, Verizon has had the iPhone for quite a while now.
posted by xedrik at 9:57 PM on April 18, 2012

Id just caution on the logic of:

I don't have much desire to stay with iOS when the device seems so inferior to similarly priced phones.

... I know nothing about the droid phones.

If at all possible, get an android phone you can use for a while before you decide. You may find that iOS is not inferior at all
posted by Patbon at 4:39 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Nthing the Galaxy Nexus. I was in the same position as you (AT&T iPhone to Verizon Android) and it was easy enough for me to switch. The GN is insanely quick and easy to root: I went from stock to unlocked bootloader, rooted with custom recovery, and custom Android ROM (AOKP) in the course of a single lunch break. The stock battery sucks, so get the extended version (it's worth the money, especially if you can find it for half-off at Verizon or Amazon) and the still camera is sub-par but if you don't use it much, it's not a big deal. FWIW, the 4G speeds blew my mind and the screen is beautiful. Play around with one at a store for a while to see if the size is an issue, since it can be a bit of a shock. It took a couple minutes, but now looking at iPhone screens gives me a headache, and with screens the size of an entire iPhone with case, you need HD to get the same detail as Retina displays.

Other suggestions for any phone purchase:

1) Check out Amazon Wireless. They usually have pretty good deals (I got my GN for half-price 1 week after launch) and the account setup and transfer went rather painlessly.

2) Check out custom ROMs like CM9 and AOKP for a ton of extra stuff that neither the stock Android nor iOS can do with the interface and operations. You also don't have to wait for the carrier and/or phone manufacturer to catch up weeks or months later with OS upgrades. It also means you can choose not to have all the cruft that gets put on a stock phone (HTC's Sense and Motorola's Blur Android skins are getting better, but still make things more difficult than they need to be) unless you want to put it there.

3) Double-check with Verizon to see if they're running deals on doubling your data plan on signup or with a free upgrade. I'm paying the 2GB rate for 4GB of data, which gives me a lot of breathing room. If not, don't forget to either turn on data usage monitors (for an Android 4.0 phone) and/or install Verizon's app to keep track.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:48 AM on April 19, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Cheers on the amazon wireless recommendation. I got the Nexus for $50.00 shipped. Through my company website or it was much higher, $249.99 with a 2-year contract.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:35 AM on April 19, 2012

Response by poster: The Nexus came in yesterday and I like it a lot. It was a really easy transition from generations of iPhones but I'm also a techie.

Very fast and performs wonderfully. I've always disliked iTunes but that's really the only thing I've missed since switching. The music management definitely takes a bit more effort but no big deal.

Phonedeck is awesome! I really like replying to text messages that way.
posted by zephyr_words at 12:23 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

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