miniListings Buyer's Guide – March 2012

The mobile industry”s flagship conference, Mobile World Congress, was held in Barcelona this past week, and the major phone manufacturers previewed the phones their releasing later this year. So before I dive into this month”s recommendations, I”m going to do a quick recap of the show so you know what”s coming. Bottom line, I”d wait 2-3 months to make a purchase as there are some impressive phones that will be coming out as summer approaches.

MWC Highlights
Quad core phones
The next generation of high-end phones will have four CPU cores compared to the two in today”s high-end models. If two is better that one as I”ve said earlier, than 4 CPU cores is surely better than 2, which it will be. The next generation of quad core devices will be faster and more powerful. Let”s just hope they don”t kill battery life in the process.

HTC One Series

HTC One Series: HTC One S (left), HTC One X (center), HTC One V (right)

HTC One Series
HTC has been faltering a bit lately, but the “One” Series they announced at MWC is impressive. The One Series is a reflection of HTC”s new strategy to focus on fewer phone types and reduced Sense UI emphasis. The One Series covers the low-end with the One V, the mid-range with the One S, and the high-end with the One X. AT&T and Sprint are already in line for the X, while T-mobile will be getting the S. I”m especially excited about rumors that the One X may come to T-mobile with a stock Android build.

Huawei and ZTE shine
Huawei Ascend D QuadTwo Chinese companies that you probably haven”t heard of announced impressive smartphones, Huawei with the Ascend D Quad and ZTE with the Era. Huawei and ZTE are established companies that have been focusing on lower end handsets for emerging markets. Their latest offerings show that they are ready to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Apple, Samsung, HTC and Motorola at the high-end, too. In an article I wrote earlier this week, I point why you should take note and remember these names. No word yet on when the phones will be available in the US and on which carriers.

Samsung emphasizes tablets
I was really hoping that Samsung would announce a third generation Galaxy device, but instead their main focus was on tablets at the show. Rumors continue to swirl around the Galaxy S III, with expectations that they will make an announcement later this month or next. The best rumor I”ve heard is that .

Nokia and Microsoft strengthen ties over Windows Phone
Nokia and Microsoft continued their push to make Windows Phone a viable alternative to the iPhone and Android devices. While not quite there yet, the Nokia 900 due out later this year could be the device that changes things. I suspect Windows Phone will start making progress the second half of this year around the time Windows 8 is released. In the meantime, I”m wondering if it”s just a matter of time until Nokia sells their hardware business to Microsoft – all signs seem to be pointing this direction.

Where”s Apple?
Noticeably absent from the show was Apple, which wasn”t a surprise. Apple only participates in events they conduct, so no one expected them at MWC anyway. It”s still amazing how much buzz they can make even when they”re not at the show – the March 7th invitation to their iPad3 event that was sent out had everyone at the show talking about them even though they weren”t there. Anyway, no major rumors have surfaced regarding the iPhone5, except that it is expected to be released between June and September, will likely contain 4 cores, and support LTE on both Verizon and AT&T.

BlackBerry, BlackBerry, BlackBerry,…
Remarkably absent from the news out of Barcelona was BlackBerry. For a company that is bleeding market share rapidly, you”d think they would take every possible opportunity to show they”re still alive. Unfortunately for BlackBerry fans, the lack of news is further cementing my view that BlackBerry”s best days are behind it. If you”re currently a BlackBerry user, you need to choose something different for your next upgrade.

If you can”t wait and need to buy a phone now, here”s this month”s recommendations. I”m going to keep it short since it”s not much different than last month. You can review February”s guide here for more details.

Best overall phone
I still feel the RAZR MAXX provides the best mix of styling, features and battery life than any other device out there. It doesn”t hurt that it also comes with access to Verizon”s super-fast 4G network.

Verizon Wireless
Best phone: DROID RAZR MAXX by Motorola
See above.

Runner-up: Galaxy Nexus by Samsung
This is my personal fave, mostly because I”m a huge fan of Google-experience Android devices.

AT&T Wireless
iPhone 4SBest phone: Apple iPhone 4S
Yes, there is a reason Apple is killing it – the iPhone is that good. The only thing keeping it from showing up on the Verizon list is the lack of 4G capability.

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy S II (Skyrocket)
For now, the Galaxy S II remains the best alternative to the iPhone.

Best phone: Samsung Galaxy S II ( Epic 4G Touch)
The 4G gives the Galaxy S II the edge over the iPhone.

Runner-up: iPhone 4S
You won”t be disappointed if you decide on the iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S IIT-mobile:
Best phone: Samsung Galaxy S II

Runner-up: HTC Amaze 4G
A solid alternative, especially if you”re a fan of HTC”s Sense UI.

As always, if you have questions about any devices, feel as though I left one out, or have personal experience with any of devices that you’d like to share, sound off in the comments.

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