HotHardware Holiday Gift Guide: Smartphones

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This Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Epson—makers of the World’s Fastest 2-sided inkjet printer, the Epson WorkForce Pro. Run your business at full speed with Epson.

We hope everyone is able to spend the holidays with the people that mean the most to them, but we also recognize that sometimes it's impossible to get everyone together. When you can't be there in person, a phone call may be the next best thing. With these smartphones, you'll be able to call your far-away siblings, parents, and other important people in your life to wish them Happy Holidays, perhaps even with a direct video chat for quality face time.


Apple iPhone 4S (HotHardware Review)

Apple's latest iPhone has been a big hit this year. Given its popularity, chances are good that someone on your Christmas list might have their eyes on this smartphone. Although the iPhone 4S isn't dramatically different from its predecessor in form, the latest iteration of this popular smartphone features a faster dual-core A5 processor, improved 8MP camera with 1080p video recording, iOS 5, and Siri.

The latter of these features—Siri—is a compelling feature to many users. After all, who can resist a phone that can do so much for you using only voice commands? Ask Siri for suggestions for pizza nearby; she'll give you directions to various pizza joints in the area and you'll be on your way in no time. Forgot to send your sister some suggestions for Mom's gift? No problem, just tell Siri what you had in mind and you'll have an email sent to your sister.

The iPhone 4S has one more thing going for it this holiday season: It's now available through AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint. This is the first time an iPhone has been available through Sprint, and many customers across the country are very happy the iPhone has arrived on their network.

Contract Price:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Although this phone isn't available yet, it's shaping up to be one of the hottest phones of the year, due in no small part to the fact that this phone will be the first smartphone to offer Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. This new OS will be the first version of Android that is designed for use on both smartphones and tablets. We don't have a specific release date for this phone, but Verizon Wireless has said that it will be available yet this year.

In addition to the new OS, the Galaxy Nexus will feature a 1.2GHz dual core processor, a curved glass 4.65 inch HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1280 x 720, 16GB or 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, and a 5MP camera. Available through Verizon Wireless, the Galaxy Nexus will also support 4G web browsing on the carrier's 4G LTE network. This phone is expected to measure 9.47mm (about 0.37 inches) thick and weigh about 5.29 ounces.

With Ice Cream Sandwich, you'll get a redesigned home screen, web browser, email application, and more. Android 4.0 also features improved multitasking functionality, interactive notifications, home screen folders, lock screen actions, a spell checker, voice input engine, and more.

Contract Price: TBA

Samsung Galaxy S II (HotHardware Review)

Samsung's Galaxy S II smartphone has been a huge hit both overseas and in the US. To date, Samsung has already sold 10 million units. The smartphone is currently available through Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Each carrier's version of the smartphone is slightly different, but many of the specs are comparable. 

Some of the key specs on this phone include a vibrant 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, a dual-core processor (1.2GHz on the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch from Sprint, 1.5GHz on the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket from AT&T, and 1.5GHz on the Galaxy S II from T-Mobile). Other key features include 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage, an 8MP rear camera with 1080p HD video recording capabilities, and a 2MP front-facing camera.

In addition to plenty of power under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy S II also features a thin and lightweight design that measures about .38 inches thick and weighs 4.6 ounces. The Epic 4G Touch, the Skyrocket, and the Galaxy S II from T-Mobile all feature 4G connectivity as well, so you'll enjoy fast speeds while surfing the web from this phone.

Contract Price: $149.99 (AT&T), $199.99 (Sprint), $199.99 (T-Mobile)

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OptimusPrimeTime 3 years ago

"Got a chance to play around with the Samsung Galaxy S II, it's fast, the screen is vibrant and takes nice video and pics. loved it. Plus, the video playback quality is oustanding "

AKwyn 3 years ago

There are some phone choices that I can agree with but it's a shame that your placing these phones on the gift guide without really reviewing them. I mean the HTC phones look great, so does that Samsung but we want to know what HotHardware thinks of it.

Speaking of which, wheres that review for the Droid RAZR?

Manduh 3 years ago

Another great gift guide for anyone wanting to upgrade their phones this Christmas! I know a few people who will be interested in this :)

omegadraco 3 years ago

Love these gift guides hopefully my friends appreciate posting them for their viewing pleasure :)

I am definitely looking forward to the review of ICS and the Nexus when they become available although I am not due for an upgrade for a while still.

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Drake_McNasty 3 years ago

Thanks for the list Jennifer, definitely lots of great options out right now. I actually picked up the Rezound the first day it came out. I love it, the razr and the galaxy nexus are large phones, i need/want something i can pocket comfortably. There were a few reasons I picked up the Rezound: screen(awesome!), extended battery option, sense 3.5, upgradable to ics, and the beats headphones.

A lot of other sites are rating them as razr>rezound>galaxy nexus but for me the rezound beats the nexus, The galaxy nexus doesn't have anything besides a few extra features that I probably won't use. I don't see myself using google wallet or the touch to share info features. I'm old school, give me a call and I'll save your number!

gazd1 3 years ago

Good to see this review! Good to be informed!Yes

Resin 3 years ago

My phone is ridiculously old and dumb as a brick, so I've been thinking of upgrading.

I would like to be as budget conscious as possible, but at the same time not get annoyed with poor connection, browsing speed, or short battery life.

I think contract length and company might be as important as the device itself. I'm currently with ATT and was just reading an article about how they are the lowest ranked in customer satisfaction two years running (sounds about right with my experience of them).

This article was some what helpful, although for me its hard to know how to put a $ value to all the different features and figure out what I actually care about.

InfinityzeN1 3 years ago

I just picked up an EVO 3D for $50 during the sale that ended Friday. Gotta say, thing is nice. I threw on the Infected Eternity ROM after a couple of days and performance skyrocketed. Plus the Beats Audio is nice.

SCJaredJ 3 years ago

No wifi calling on the SGSII for TMO is a major buzz kill. Not as bad as no GSM Nexus Prime available in the states, but still something to consider.

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