HotHardware's 2012 Back To School Shopping Guide

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Smartphones

HTC One X

If you're happily on AT&T, this is a fantastic option -- particularly at the new $99 (on contract) price point. The phone is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM 8960 dual-core SoC, which is paired to 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. It also has a 4.7” HD screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and it features both front and rear facing cameras.


In our full review, we found that the HTC One X performed very well throughout our entire battery of benchmarks and in all of our real-world testing. The responsiveness of the device is top notch, the screen offers excellent viewing angles and image quality, and battery life is more than acceptable for such a high performing device. The benchmarks show the 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM 8960 dual-core SoC at the heart of the HTC One X easily outpacing other dual-core chips thanks to its more advanced architecture and graphics performance was very good as well. The camera in the HTC One X was also very fast and produced nice images in a variety of lighting conditions.



Samsung Galaxy S III

The hardware specifications for the Galaxy S III are impressive. The US variations of this phone feature a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen (1280x720), a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB RAM, 16 GB or 32 GB of internal memory, an 8MP rear-facing camera, a 1.9MP front-facing camera, and a 2100 mAh Lithium Ion battery. And all of the Galaxy S III smartphones run on Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich right out of the gate. Best of all, this phone can be found on a ton of US carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular.



The Galaxy S III performed exceptionally well in our benchmark tests and in all of our real-world testing. (Our full review is here.) The phone is very responsive, the screen is vibrant and colorful, and the longevity of the battery is among the best we've seen on a smartphone.  Samsung also added a handful of extra features to the Galaxy S III that you won't see on most other phones, and although S Voice isn't 100% accurate, it did a reasonably good job during our tests and definitely competes well with Siri. In addition, Samsung's NFC and sharing features are really cool, and something we're excited to see more and more manufacturers implement.



Samsung Galaxy Note

If you need a phone that's larger than average--much larger--it's got to be the Galaxy Note. Equipped with an S Pen (stylus) and a giant 5.3" screen, the Note is an innovative balance between tablet and phone. While many of today's newer smartphones offer faster dual-core processors and 1GB of RAM, alongside plenty of onboard storage, one of the easiest differentiating points between smartphones today has become the screen--size, resolution, and screen technology are all considerations. This smartphone, or phablet if you prefer, offers one of the largest screens we've seen from a phone yet – 5.3 inches. In addition to being large, it is also a gorgeous display which uses Super AMOLED technology and offers a resolution of 1280x800.

It's now available with Android 4.0, and can be found on AT&T and T-Mobile. It's perfect for taking notes, which could come in handy at school, wouldn't you say? Our full review is here.
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