It's that time of the year again - all of the big Android manufacturers have proudly announced (or even released!) their flagship phones for 2012. It looks like a massive host of upgrades over last year's lot, including faster phones, more clever software and even some entirely novel features. Let's have a look at how these superphones compare!
HTC One X
We'll start off with the only Android superphone to be released so far: The HTC One X. The phone debuted at MWC and was made available to the public soon afterward in April.
In terms of hardware, the HTC One X is a strong contender. It was the first phone to launch with Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 chipset, giving it a substancial power boost over last year's dual core generation. It also includes a high quality 4.7" Super LCD display that avoids the Pentile folly that afflicts most AMOLED screens. The screen runs at 1280 x 720p, the standard nowadays for high-end phones.
However, the HTC One X does fall down in one critical aspect: Though it includes a lauded polycarbonate chassis which is a real work of art and measures only 8.9 mm, the price paid was that of customisation and self-repair. It's not possible to replace the battery or augment the internal storage through micro SD. This is a growing trend among leading phones (both the iPhone and Lumia 900 follow the same pattern) and could turn away consumers for whom storage space or battery life is critical.
In terms of software, the HTC One X is a decidedly more mediocre contender. While it comes with Android 4.0 out of the box (yay!), it also comes with a heavy dollop of Sense, HTC's own UI customisations (boo!). Sense isn't terrible, but it errs on the side of changing things just for the sake of making it different - not because it's necessarily better. Case in point is HTC's take on multi-tasking - where in Android 4.0 you can fit four apps simultaneously to switch between or close, in Sense 4 you can only see one at a time.
So a mixed bag there.
Samsung Galaxy S3
Our next contender is the Samsung Galaxy S3, which was announced last week. This handset launches at the end of May and includes some top-level hardware and some rather unique human-centric, nature-inspired additions to Ice Cream Sandwich.
As far as hardware goes, the Galaxy S3 is just a bit better than the HTC One X. The quad-core Exynos 4412 processor is faster in most benchmarks than the One X and when paired with the 2100 mAh battery should last longer too. The screen is 0.1" bigger - 4.8" instead of 4.7" - although it's Super AMOLED instead of Super LCD, and therefore uses the oft-hated Pentile matrix. Even the chassis is 0.3 mm thinner.
Where the Galaxy S3 really pulls ahead is in that weak point of the One X we mentioned earlier: It has a removable battery and a micro SD slot. Better yet, the battery can be charged wirelessly if you pick up a wireless charging pad - it's the first phone to ship with that functionality out of the box.
The Galaxy S3's software also looks a bit stronger. Instead of just changing the look and feel, the Galaxy S3 software includes a few dozen noteworthy additions. I don't have room to discuss all of them, but here are a few:
Smart Stay ensures that your smartphone doesn't dim or lock as long as you're looking at it. Pop Up Play puts a picture-in-picture video window on top of any app. S Voice is a polished Android version of Siri. S Beam combines NFC and Wi-Fi to transfer files between phones at high speeds at a touch.
The Galaxy S3 then looks rather more hopeful, but the proof will be in the pudding when the handset is actually in the hands of reviewers and consumers.
What other Android superphones are on the horizon? There's still a few left, but less has been released about them so I'll keep it brief.
LG Optimus LTE2
We'll start with the LG Optimus LTE2. The phone was announced on the same day as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and offers roughly similar specifications - a 4.5" IPS display (again, no Pentile), 2 GB of RAM (a smartphone first!) and a wirelessly rechargable 2150 mAh battery. The CPU is unknown but expected to be a relatively powerful Snapdragon S4 dual core, which should provide about 40% more battery life than the first LG Optimus LTE.
Huawei Ascend D Quad
Another contender is the Huawei Ascend D Quad. This quad-core handset from up-and-comer manufacturer Huawei will have a 4.5" IPS screen, 8 GB of internal storage expandable via micro SD Dolby 5.1 speakers (?!) and of course Huawei's own-brand K3V2 processor running at 1.5 GHz and a 16 core GPU. There's also the quad XL, which includes the same specifications but with a massive 2500 mAh battery. Both handsets are expected to retail for around 20 - 50% less than similarly powerful handsets, making this one a great budget option.
Panasonic Eluga Power
We'll finish up with a look at the Panasonic Eluga Power. This upscaled version of the Eluga smartphone that launched in Japan this month sports a waterproof design and a massive 5" 720p display. Inside, there's a dual core CPU running at 1.5 GHz powering a relatively stock Android 4.0 experience.
So there you have it - five Android superphones compared. With only one handset out yet, it'll be interesting to review them properly once they've all been released to the public. At the moment the HTC One X looks like the most stylish option, the Galaxy S3 has the opportunity to have the best software and the Eluga Power satifies that phone / tablet niche.
So what do you think - which one do you reckon will be the best Android superphone once it's been released? Let me know in the comments below!
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