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HotHardware Holiday Gift Guide: Smartphones
Date: Nov 28, 2011
Author: Jennifer Johnson
Stay Connected To Those You Love
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)
More Phones To Keep You Connected


As one of the thinnest new smartphones available today, the Motorola DROID RAZR is definitely attracting plenty of attention. In addition to its thin body which measures just 7.1mm (0.28 inches), the DROID RAZR is also durable and features a KEVLAR backplate, Corning Gorilla Glass display, and water repellent nanocoating.

In addition to a thin and durable design, the DROID RAZR features a 1.2GHz dual core processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display with qHD (960x540) resolution. This smartphone also supports 4G LTE connectivity where it's available on Verizon Wireless' network. For storage, the DROID RAZR comes with 16GB of internal memory and a pre-installed 16GB microSD card.

Like some of the other popular Motorola smartphones this year, the DROID RAZR can be used with a number of accessories including the Lapdock 100 ($249.99) to expand the functionality of the phone. With the Lapdock 100, you'll basically be able to turn the phone into a slim laptop, complete with a 10.1-inch screen, keyboard, and touchpad mouse. Of course, there are other accessories available as well, such as a vehicle dock and an HD dock, which are also sold separately.

Contract Price: $299.99

HTC Rezound

Audio lovers will appreciate the fact that the HTC Rezound features Beats Audio integration. Thanks to the partnership between HTC and Beats, this phone makes it possible for users to "hear music the way the artist intended with unique audio tuning by Beats that delivers thundering bass, soaring midrange and crisp highs." 

To help ensure the best audio experience, the HTC Rezound comes with lightweight Beats headphones that integrate with the Beats audio profile on the device. These headphones can also be used for hands-free calling with a built-in microphone and an on-cable remote that can pause, advance, or rewind your music and answer a call mid-song.

In addition to the HTC Rezound's audio and multimedia capabilities, the phone features a 4.3-inch HD 720p display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB DDR2 RAM, 16 GB onboard memory, 4G LTE connectivity, a front-facing 2MP camera, and a rear-facing 8MP camera. The phone comes with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and the latest version of HTC's Sense user interface. HTC has said that an upgrade to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) will available in early 2012.

Contract Price: $299.99


Featuring the largest screen of any Windows Phone, the HTC TITAN is designed with multitasking and multimedia entertainment in mind. This phone features a 4.7-inch screen (480x800 resolution) along with a thin design that measures 9.9mm (about 0.39 inches). Other key features include a 1.5GHz processor, 16GB of onboard storage, 512MB of RAM, and 4G connectivity via AT&T's HSPA+ network.

The HTC TITAN is available through AT&T. This phone runs on the latest version of Windows Phone 7.5, also known as Mango. With Mango, you'll get new voice control functionality, linked email inboxes, battery saver settings, Office Hub, and more.  

Multimedia enthusiasts will appreciate this phone's Zune and Xbox LIVE capabilities. The TITAN's 8 megapixel camera is designed to give you better than average photo taking abilities on this phone with a F2.2 lens, dual LED flash, and BSI sensor for capturing images in low-light settings. On the front of the TITAN, you'll find a 1.3 megapixel camera as well.

Contract Price: $199.99 (AT&T)

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