The 2 year contract on my Galaxy Nexus is up for renewal, so in order to make it easier for myself (and likely others) I decided to do a comparison of the current high-end Smartphones.
My Smartphone Usage:
Even though I work with some of the latest technology on a daily basis due to my software development work, my actual Smartphone use is rather limited.
The #1 reason is for me to carry a phone of some sort is to be reachable in case my wife needs me. Communication with friends and family I do mostly by email (and Google Voice), but with my wife's health issues, being able to reach me quickly has grown more and more important.
In addition to that, the rest of my Smartphone use is more entertainment-oriented. I don't text, but being able to watch a video while taking her or her parents to a medical appointment, being able to look up product information/reviews while at a store, and the occasional music streaming and GPS stuff while in the car.
Of course I also use the phone for work-emails. Having the ability to answer a quick support question while I am not at my desk makes things a lot quicker and easier for my customers.
Looking at how I have been using my Galaxy Nexus since release, it spends more time laying on a cabinet, but with the recent trips, it got used a lot as a video player, connected to the TV, taking some pictures and as an internet access point in order for me to be able to work on the road.
The Galaxy Nexus:
While the gNex has been a great phone for most of the things I do with it, I was somewhat disappointed with the device after coming from a Droid X.
The main reasons for me to upgrade was the newer operating system (official versions, because for development purposes, I don't use rooted/modded devices), the larger, higher resolution screen (1280x720 vs 854x480) and the nicer-looking design. 4G was a nice bonus, but considering I am stuck using a 3G signal booster in order to get a signal at my desk, I never had much use for it. In fact for more than a year, I had 4G turned off in order to get a bit more battery-life out of the gNex.
And battery life is my biggest annoyance with the Galaxy Nexus, aside from the lack of a memorycard slot. It mostly just lays on top of a cabinet, and aside from the daily call from "Ann from Cardmember Services" (yup, daily, sometimes more than once a day), it gets maybe used for calls 3-4 times a week, but still it requires a daily charge.
My Smartphone Needs:
With the above out of the way, here is a list of my needs, which is what I will use to determine which Smartphone will replace the Galaxy Nexus for me.
* Battery life, wireless charging or both.
Due to my work, I have a lot of devices in arms reach, and to eliminate one cord from my desk would be nice.
* Video playback.
Due to my work with DVD Catalyst and MovieGallery, this is mandatory. But, since anything Android/iOS/Blackberry etc works fine with video, it isn't something that should affect the search.
Pretty much standard. I am a bit worried with Apple's navigation app due to last years issues. I'm sure its accuracy has improved, but I would have to look into this more.
* Bluetooth music streaming.
I use Pandora whenever I am in the car. I have some songs in the cloud on Google Music as well, but those can be moved elsewhere if needed.
* Internet tethering.
Mandatory for when my wife and I are on the road. With an unlimited data plan with tethering added, it enables me to use a Surface Pro to work on the go.
* Memory expansion.
I have a nice collection of MicroSD cards that I use with multiple devices, and it would make it a lot easier if there was a MicroSD slot on the phone. Otherwise, plenty (64GB or so) of memory would do.
The reason for high-end:
My needs are quite minimal, so even a mid-range Smartphone will do just fine, however, since I will be forced to renew my contract for another 2 years (or give up my data plan in the process), picking a high-end model now will keep things running smoothly for that duration.
Below a collection of the Smartphones that I will be considering as a replacement for the gNex. While I don't worry too much about the specifications of the device, which processor model, what Ghz it runs, how much dpi the screen is etc, certain things will make a difference for me in how the device can be used.
In Part 2 of this article series, I will be looking at the actual specs, which will likely result in a few of them being ruled out, and maybe others (who knows) added for consideration.
Apple iPhone 5S
Apple - iPhone 5s
I have been using iOS devices since the beginning, and while do have an iPad 3 and an iPod Touch 4, both of which my wife uses mostly, the majority of devices I have used these last couple of years are Android-based.
Specifications on devices have increased (resolution, processor etc), and operating systems have been tweaked, aside from a couple of new visuals, there is not that much difference in using a Droid X or a Galaxy S4, or from an iPhone (first gen) to an iPhone 5. Of course this makes it easier for people to upgrade to a newer model, since everything works mostly the same, but since I work with Android devices all day, I'm leaning towards trying something else for my personal phone.
Similar as that I am considering the iPhone 5S, the Blackberry Z10 is also on my list.
While it failed to bring success for Blackberry, the 2 year old Blackberry Playbook is still one of my favorite devices. What it lacks in apps and features, it makes up for with the way its operating system works.
The Z10 is the first Blackberry Smartphone with (a modified version of) the operating system used on the Playbook, which makes it interesting for me. But with performance issues when released earlier this year, and Blackberry's attempt to sell itself, I'm not sure if locking me to this phone for 2 years will be a wise decision.
BlackBerry Z10 Smartphone - BlackBerry 10 Touch Phone - US
While I'm not fond of Windows 8 on a PC, on a Smartphone it works quite well, and similar as my reasoning for the above 2 phones, I am also considering a Windows Phone. While it has been 10+ years, Windows Phone (Windows Mobile 2003 to be exact) has been one of the reasons why I do what I do today.
All Phones - Nokia - USA
Samsung Galaxy S4
Of course the Galaxy S4 is on the list. The biggest competitor for the iPhone 5S, and currently the best selling Smartphone of 2014.
Explore Galaxy S 4 Smartphone, Features & Accessories
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Just announced, the bigger brother of the Galaxy S4, which, thanks to the pen and the larger size, might be a better choice for me in order to be able to get more work done on the phone itself.
Explore Samsung Galaxy Note II Smartphone, Features & Accessories
Often overlooked, but a worthy competitor of Samsung's Galaxy Note. While not with a Pen, the size itself and the performance are making this an interesting consideration.
A Phone Inspired by You ? The LG G2
LG Nexus 5
Not much is known about the Nexus 5 so far, but supposedly its specifications will be close to that of the LG G2. Because it will be the successor of the Nexus 4, it will be an affordable model, so it will likely see some compromises in areas such as storage and camera, but even so, I am looking forward to this one as well.
Nexus 5 round-up: release date, price, features, specs and all we know so far
The HTC One is marketed against the Galaxy S4, and while it is not the success HTC hoped it to be, the phone itself has seen some great reviews. I like the design a lot, so it is one I do consider as well.
HTC One Overview - HTC Smartphones
Sony Xperia Z
Quite a few different models to choose here. The Z Ultra is quite interesting, but a phone the size of an iPad Mini/Nexus 7 is a bit too big for me though. Not sure which one from these, but the Z1 Honami is a likely contender.
Phones | Android Smartphones - Sony Smartphones (US)
As mentioned above, for Part 2 I'll be digging into the specifications of these Smartphones, and how those would affect my choice on selecting one or another.
Of course, if you have any suggestions, let me know.
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