Sunday, June 12, 2011

Android phones rule, for a little longer!

With Apple not committing to a release date for iPhone 5, the spotlight shifts back to the slew of Android launches with cutting edge hardware. Among the manufacturers of Android phones, HTC and Samsung in particular have always raised the bar on hardware specs, keeping geeks' salivating and interested in the platform. Let's be frank - the hardware has often compensated for the buggy OS, or even for the sheer frustration of waiting for updates.

But now, more than ever, seems a good time to spring for an Android handset. The platform is stabilised and Google has begun to work on measures that reduce fragmentation, including regularising of updates across manufacturers, and checks within the Android market place to ensure compatibility of apps with your phone.

Here are some of the hottest handsets that I have had an eye on:

1. The Samsung Galaxy S2
The S2 is a successor to the popular Samsung Galaxy S, whose sales crossed 10 million units this year. While this may pale in comparison to the 100 million units of iPhones' sold, in the fragmented Android market, Samsung has certainly struck gold with the Galaxy S. The S2 continues with the Galaxy pedigree - it packs a super fast dual core processor, has a vibrant Super AMOLED Plus screen, and as a bonus, it is super thin despite its 4 inch plus size.

It's available now on Flipkart or on letsbuy for just Rs.30,990 which I think is pretty reasonable for a phone of this calibre. Both sites are offering a package of free accessories, but letsbuy's deal is a little sweeter, with screen protector, case and HDTV adaptor all thrown in.


(Image from Techradar)

2. The HTC Sensation
The HTC is pretty neck on neck with Samsung in specs. While HTC's Adreno 200 GPU is faster and more advanced especially for gaming, Samsung has gone for a Cortex A9 processor which is blazingly fast.

TechRadar has bravely done a head-on comparison of both phones. As there is little to choose in terms of hardware, it boils down to personal preference. HTC has better build quality and the superb intuitive Sense interface. The Galaxy S2 has a way better screen especially for outdoor viewing, larger inbuilt memory, a bigger battery and longer battery life and as per Tech Radar tests,  it has superior call quality. Finally, Samsung has an unlocked bootloader, facilitating you to root your device and load custom ROMs. HTC has also promised to unlock bootloaders (Sony has already started doing this) so it may not remain a competitive advantage for Samsung for very long!

It's too close to call between both the phones, and the best way to decide would be to try both

 From practical experience, I would tilt towards the phone with better battery life, simply because it matters in daily life. As an aside, it's becoming almost impossible to find spare charging points at any busy airport these days, and I hate having a stress that my battery is going to drain off any minute.

HTC Sensation is listed on letsbuy for Rs.30,499. No freebies with this one.


(Image from TechRadar)

3. And the runners-up got cheaper...

If you do not want to invest at the top of the ladder for a phone, then it's worthwhile to look at the cheaper Android phones which were last year (or last month's) flagship models. They do not have dual core GPUs, but they are plenty fast enough for most daily tasks you would want from a phone.

The Samsung Galaxy S is available for Rs.22900 on FlipKart with Super AMOLED screen and for Rs.19,999 with a regular LCD Screen. While the Samsung Nexus S is also just Rs. 19,999. If you want a slightly obsolescence proof phone, the Nexus is a safe bet as it will load the later iterations of Android without being dependant on the manufacturer rolling out updates.

And if you are an HTC fan, the Desire HD is hovering around the Rs.25,000 mark and the Incredible S at Rs.26,000.