Verizon Phones as of right now

Time to upgrade?

There are four contenders for your smartphone money right now if you’re on Verizon:

  • Galaxy Nexus
  • Motorola Droid Razr
  • update… Droid Razr Maxx now available with a much larger, but still non-removable battery.
  • HTC Rezound
  • Apple iPhone 4S

Really short version: I’d reluctantly get the Galaxy Nexus over the Razr, but I can’t help wondering if there’s another Verizon phone to be released in December. (Update: I got the Nexus and I no longer think Verizon will release anything else this year. Might push out the Droid RazrMaxx next year before getting into the quad core phones.)

Longer version: All the phones are really quite good and you can’t really go wrong with any of them, but all have rather tragic flaws. The Nexus has the least important tragic flaws and ships with ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich – latest flavor of the Android OS). Whichever Android OS phone you get, you can look forward to 4 times the ram of your current OG Droid (if you, like me, are still rocking one!), and the upgraded processor (between 1.2 and 1.5 Ghz) will be dual and powerful. Apple underclocks their processor to 800Mhz.

Detailed version:

  • Galaxy Nexus Good: LTE enabled, pure Android (no bloatware dropped on top of ICS should make it a very responsive beast), has NFC (near field communications), good-looking screen, ships with ICS (the latest version of Android), quick camera, os will be supported and updated by Google (rather than Samsung), good guts to the phone, removable battery.
  • Galaxy Nexus Bad: screen is not Gorilla Glass (it will scratch easier than your OG Droid… (Update!) although… this video suggests it’s pretty damn scratch resistant), lots of plastic, no removable data card, camera is 5MP instead of the standard 8MP (might not be a big deal, but it needs to be noted).
  • Motorola Droid Razr Good:  LTE enabled, good hardware guts, badass shell of kevlar and steel, Gorilla Glass screen, removable data card, thin body, most masculine design of the four, some of Motorola’s bloatware is actually pretty cool (energy settings according to time/location).
  • Motorola Droid Razr Bad: ships with Gingerbread (Motorola says it will upgrade to ICS in 2012, but doesn’t give a date), battery is NOT removable (although the new Razr Maxx makes this less of an issue since the battery has so much more capacity), no extended battery option as you can’t swap the stock one out, screen is lower resolution than the best smartphones (tradeoff).
  • HTC Rezound Good:  LTE enabled, good hardware guts, pretty screen, 8MP camera, comes with expensive ear buds and Beats technology (great if you listen to hip hop… somewhat gimmicky if you don’t), nice looking phone, apparently will ship with a wireless charging back cover.
  • HTC Rezound Bad: screen is not Gorilla Glass, fat phone, tiny (although removable and replaceable) stock battery, bloated Sense software on top of Android (slower responses), ships with Gingerbread (although HTC promises to upgrade to ICS in 2012).
  • Apple iPhone 4S Good: smallest phone (good or bad depending upon how you look at it), fast and clear camera, Siri (if you’re into her), clear display, can be cheaper depending upon which model (storage size) you get, ios is more mature and less fragmented than Android, potentially better battery life (although ios seems to have some bugs degrading battery performance at the moment).
  • Apple iPhone 4S Bad: not LTE enabled (you cannot use the fastest data speeds available from Verizon), no removable battery, it’s the smallest phone (good or bad depending upon how you look at it, its hardware specs are significantly lower than the three Android phones, and both the glass back and the screen are rather fragile. The iPhone is due for a complete redesign next year that will doubtlessly include LTE functionality and make you hate your older iPhone 4S.

Miscellaneous Andy notes:

  • If you want to buy the Razr or the Galaxy Nexus, call/visit your local Costco to see if they sell the phone. Costco usually sells the phone at the same price as Verizon BUT they often add a bunch of goodies for no cost (extra chargers, docks, cases, etc.). (Update… Nexus package is NOT worth it at Costco. Crappy case, crappy holster, and another charger cable isn’t worth the extra 20 bucks.)
  • I want to and may still get the Razr because of the badass shell and tougher screen, but I’ll probably end up getting the Galaxy Nexus due to the faster software release schedule and removable battery. If the Razr had a removable battery and/or shipped with ICS, I wouldn’t even look at the Nexus, but in aggregate, the Nexus wins on points. (Update: I got the Nexus. It’s great; it would have been better if it came in the Droid Razr housing. Battery cover on the Nexus is pretty flimsy. The rest of the phone seems pretty solid. LTE is completely worth it.) (Second update: check out the Droid Razr Maxx if the battery issue was scaring you away from the original Razr.)
  • Battery life could be a real issue with this ENTIRE generation of Android phones. Thirsty processors and LTE will suck em dry pretty fast. This is another potential downside with the Razr, as you’re out of luck going the extended battery route. This is a potential upside to the iPhone 4S, as you’re trading power and LTE for battery life.