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back to article Ten... Premium Android smartphones

Android handsets have been steadily stealing Apple’s smartphone thunder for a while now, due in part to their variety – the range runs the gamut from cheap and (not very) cheerful to the heights of the very latest technology. This round-up pulls together the latter type, with the very best on offer from the major manufacturers. …

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Dell Streak

The Dell Streak out performs and looks nicer than most of these

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Anonymous Coward

customisations

I wonder if manufacturer's customisations will keep android users faithful to the brand or not? I like sense on my HTC but I like the fact that if I move to another android phone manufacturer I'll still know how thing work, and will still have access to my apps etc.

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Samsung S2 - poor battery - ftw?

I just upgraded from a HTC desire to the Samsung S2 and my experience of the battery life on the samsung is that it is considerably better than the HTC and under light use conditions can even.squeeze two days out of it (unheard of on my desire).

I think HTC make fantastic phones but they need to come up with a way to improve the battery life. In the case of HTC Desire gingerbread upgrade might be a good start....but why rush it out when yiu've got lots of new HTC Desire S phones to sell.....cynical eh!

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Thumb Up

Exactly the same.

Came from a Desire to the S2, and I'm seeing better battery life. The screen's got a lot to do with that I think, no power to the black areas and all that. It's an amazing phone.

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Desire Z ---> Galaxy S2

I have just upgraded from a Desire Z to a Galaxy S2 and I have to say my heart said go with the HTC Sensation but in the end I had to go with the Galaxy S2. The two things that bug me with HTC phones (very good as they might be) are:

A. The cameras. In my experience and on phones of friends that I have tried out they are never poor quality as such but usually somewhat mediocre. On my HTC Desire Z you really had to fiddle with settings in order to get a decent shot and fiddle again every time the conditions changed. In a smartphone for spontaneous snapping it does irritate! It seemed to have particular difficulty taking decent face images of people with darker complexions in bright light rendering my holiday photos from Kenya a series of "guess who" silhouettes and earning my HTC the (joke)- title of "my racist phone". The camera was always a pleasure to use in terms of the UI but the results were often lacking. Shame.

B. The speakers. Or that should be speaker. The loudness/quality of the speaker/s on a phone is important to me (not to blare it out at the back of the bus) but as I like to listen to online radio/podcasts whilst doing jobs around the house/garden - without headphones or a mini speaker although on occasions I do use both of these. As is common with most phones these days since Nokia lost the plot a few years ago they only have one speaker, which may not be unreasonable - but the sound quality -when compared against, for example, my previous Nokia E90 or 5800 XpressMusic- is universally mediocre through the speaker on all the HTC phones I have tried out! They seem to have managed a decent speaker on the HTC Surround - why not on their Android handsets? The Galaxy S2 is quite loud and quality acceptable (quite a bit better than the Desire Z) but still could be better/louder and nowhere near older Nokias.

What I do miss from the Deisre Z is Sense and the overall "look" of the UI. I'm getting used to the Galaxy S2, but I have to say if HTC could improve on the above my next phone would be an HTC once again. Battery life on the Galaxy S2 so far does seem pretty good in comparison.

Just my two penneth....

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SGS2 battery life

I'm not sure how you can get 2 days, I can only get about 8-10 hours. Although I am still using the 3 customised KE1 firware, it's possible that it might improve with the stock KE7 firmware.

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Desire S is a great work phone

Might not have some of the more advanced multimedia capabilities, but the Desire S is a good example of fixing the flaws with a phone. The battery life is vastly improved to the point where the phone is actually chuffing usable, and I don't have to worry about charge constantly. It's also fast, the touchscreen is really good, and I get better signal strength than I used to. Well worth fobbing my old Desire off on one of our users as an upgrade. ;-)

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Boffin

Samsung Galaxy Ace

FYI in your article you say it has 320*240 resolution - that'd be pretty poor given the size of the screen. It does in fact actually have the typical pre-retina display iPhone resolution of 320*480.

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Thank you

I came here to point that out, so thanks!

I'd agree with the reviewer that it stretches the "premium" definition somewhat, being more of a Wildfire S competitor, and with the same mere ARMv6 processor (the reason for no Flash support, and probably other compatibility issues further down the line). I'm not sure I've seen a single user review that agrees about "excellent battery life" - that is generally the #1 complaint, with the consensus being this is one of the worst Android phones in that regard.

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@ David Gosnell

It's interesting - I've heard a lot of people complain that the battery life on the Galaxy Ace is terrible. But I've had mine for about 2 weeks now, and it will last around 2.5 days on a charge with medium usage. Granted I can drain it pretty quickly if the screen is on and streaming videos, but I guess that's the same for all smartphones.

I wonder if we'll ever get to the day when battery use will improve, or if we'll end up habitually charging every night as we do with out laptops.

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So if I want a decent top end smartphone with a proper keyboard...

I'm SOL?

Anything on the horizon that might replace my N900 yet?

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Nope.

Motorola decided Droid 3 isn't coming here, and Desire Z is being discontinued.

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Unhappy

My thoughts exactly.

I hate touch screens with a passion and have heard lots of stories about problems using them in the cold etc.. I want a proper qwerty keyboard dog-damn-it!

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@ Piro

Where did you hear about the Desire Z being dropped - I've just had a hunt around as it was news to me and can see nothing.

It is possible that there's a new model in the offing, after all HTC have been producing keyboard versions of their high end smart phones for a good long time now (I'm on my 3rd of them having gone TyTn -> Touch Pro -> Desire Z)

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Nokia N9?

Read some rumours yesterday that the N9 might be announced next week running MeeGo. I'm also wondering where to go after my N900, and that caught my attention.

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Re: Nokia N9

I've heard the same rumours - however I've also heard that it won't have the QWERTY keyboard, which if true makes it a non-starter :(

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It's a slider

There was a video on YouTube for a very short time before Nokia got to it, and it was a slider. Angled screen, too.

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Pint

Hmm...

Maybe I imagined it, apologies if that was faulty information. Still, it's not the newest handset, and I imagine it will be end of life some time in the near future.

I could find one site that seemed to suggest it had been discontinued, but it didn't look too reliable.

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RE: Desire Z

The discontinuation is mentioned in this article about the Milestone 3 (another qwerty phone) not coming to the UK:

http://www.reghardware.com/2011/06/16/motorola_milestone_3_not_coming_to_uk/

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You want more?

You've not been put off enough by the N900 that you want more of what Nokia is shovelling?

Another lacklustre handset loaded with a soon to be dead OS? - The only redeeming feature will be the camera.

You are aware of all of this right?

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Lacklustre?

Sure, the OS got dropped immediately, but MeeGo is not Nokia's baby alone by any stretch. And how exactly is the N900 lacklustre? It's chuffin' Debian! It came with Flash long before Android did, the integrated chat/social networking kit is just brilliant, the camera is great, the multitasking is as good as it gets, and in terms of customisation and actually getting stuff done, it's hands down the best phone I've used.

Put it this way - bouncing an SSH connection off the office to sort a Tomcat installation on our test server whilst waiting for the train is 10 times easier on an N900 with an integrated Bash terminal and a physical keyboard than it is on my (admittedly nice) Desire S with a touchscreen board and a crappy SSH app.

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xperia pro

xperia pro is coming soon... http://www.sonyericsson.com/cws/corporate/products/phoneportfolio/specification/xperia-pro

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Good for you........

I'm sure 99% of users will never want to do that.

Yes I have heard the N900 can be very versatile in experienced hands, and that it has a decent modding following who can do damn near anything to the phone.

I've also heard plenty of normal users complain at the resistive screen, relative lack of apps and the stock OS that just wasn't as good as hoped.

It's Horses for courses but at the end of the day Nokia want to be selling larger numbers of phones to Joe Bloggs, not a neice market of IT pro's.

Their current efforts just don't stack up against the competition, I'm doubtful their future efforts will either.

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Pint

I'm rooting for it

even though I just took delivery of my SGS2, I'd still be excited to see a good Nokia phone with Megoo...

I think even Elop realizes by now that he can't save the company on Windphone7 alone...

Personally, I'd prefer Megoo over Android, if it was available on phones that aren't using last year's hardware...

Its always the same thing: there is one phone with a really nice case you'd like, but its got last year's hardware (Sony Arc) or the one with the best quality casing, but the camera is mediocre (HTC Sensation) and so it goes on...

I really liked Nokia's N9/N900 (which one was it??) case design from the picture I saw, but I didn't even bother checking out the hardware cause the article said something about Symbian Anna...

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Unhappy

In the same boat

> Anything on the horizon that might replace my N900 yet?

Waiting to see what the Pre 3 is like - but not getting my hopes up too high.

Don't like iWalledGardens

Not particularly keen on Windows onna Phone

Not sure about Android

Blackberry seems to be on the verge of doing a Nokia

And Nokia are going going going.

What's left?

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Way to deliberately miss the point

"I'm sure 99% of users will never want to do that."

What, multitask, use flash, and chat to people? Or are you just focusing on one thing I use it for? In either event, saying it's now too advanced for most people kinda contradicts it being "lacklustre".

Sure, it's a nerdy phone - you act like there's a problem with that. Non-nerds have the N8 and the upcoming Windows stuff, but I like that Nokia still make a range proper smartphones, with an emphasis on the smart over the stylish.

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Alien

You must have a different Atrix to mine.

I don't have 1080p video recording - just 720p, 480p or VGA.

What's your secret?

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"under light use conditions can even squeeze two days out of it"

This year's festival season is going to be hilarious; Glastonbury will host 140,000 punters, with at least 50% owning phones that need to be recharged every day (and also raises the interesting prospect of the charging points having £20 000 000 of handsets passing through them)

Meanwhile my antique candybar Nokia 2310 will last the full week, and even makes those, you know, phonecall things...

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Just buy a festival phone

E.g

A motorola F3 will last a week and costs a tenner. If you're spending £400/500 on a phone then I'm sure you can stretch to a tenner for a substitute.

Well worth it - not even because of the battery life just if you lose it in a puddle or it gets pinched.

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It's not THAT bad

"Meanwhile my antique candybar Nokia 2310 will last the full week, and even makes those, you know, phonecall things..."

If you use a smartphone only for calls and texts it will also last much longer than one or two days. They are not all the same with standby power needs and background apps sucking power but basically these things run down their batteries that fast because you do so much more with them.

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Pint

haha very good point...

Moreover, most people probably have drawers full of old phones that last a week they can stick their SIM in for a week..

Of course how will you record the concert with one of those...?

I'm relying on you to post some highlights on YouTube since sadly, I am unable to come myself.

Unfortunately, retarded record companies can't be relied upon to bring out a DVD set I could buy. So user videos are the only thing to preserve some of the greater moments of modern culture.

I think we should have a new law: If the wonderful "Rights holders" fail to preserve what they "own" They shouldn't be able to complain about what the rest of humanity preserves without their help.

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Anonymous Coward

title

"This year's festival season is going to be hilarious; Glastonbury will host 140,000 punters, with at least 50% owning phones that need to be recharged every day (and also raises the interesting prospect of the charging points having £20 000 000 of handsets passing through them)

Meanwhile my antique candybar Nokia 2310 will last the full week, and even makes those, you know, phonecall things..."

A tip for Android users - if you disable your data connection - just add a 1 to the IP in the APN settings if your device doesn't have a specific option for it - and your battery life will go to about a week.

Using an N1 like this will last about 5 days with light use (SMS/few calls).

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Anonymous Coward

workarounds

Yes any old dumbphone is better as a simple phone.

I do carry an extra battery in my wallet for my Desire though. It is slim and light enough, and reassuring to have an extra day or two's worth of juice in my pocket.

Just one of the reasons I did not go for an iDevice. There are times when I'm away from a plug or a USB port, or don't have time to wait around until the damn thing recharges.

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Anonymous Coward

Criteria

Having just got a Desire S, what criteria are you using for your testing/analysis?

I'm impressed by the handset, screen is super sharp and it chugs along fine. Loads of apps open and its still very responsive. Camera is good and opens all types of media.

I thinks its great and having only paid £354, its a steal.

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Thumb Up

A thumbs up for ...

The Samsung Galaxy SII :)

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Anonymous Coward

Bit like personal computers...

They all do the same thing, compete on variations of worse versions of a skin and a spec list that makes any model olders than a month obsolete. Don't get the attraction to any of these cheap looking devices at all.

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Dell Streak #2

Four downvotes for Gregianos, but really, what's not to love about the Dell Streak? Yes, it's a bit big, but you get used to that within a few days, and once you're over the shock, you're left with a device that's just a luxury to use. It's big, fast, powerful, stable, and anything that can benefit from a larger screen absolutely shines on its 5" display. There's nothing on that list that I'd swap my Streak for. And why you featured the Galaxy Ace rather than the Streak defies any understanding.

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Linux

Am I being too picky?

All of my friends, every single last one of them, thinks my continued use of Nokia phones is now an unhealthy obsession. And while they all admit that an iPhone is a little on the basic side for me they all continuously push various high end Android phones at me. And with this article I thought I would finally be able to see which ones could be in line to replace my N8 if I give in and jump ship. But. What on earth is going on with these camera's? I had assumed that by now that most of the device makers would of struck deals with Carl Zeiss or someone similar to build them some proper phone camera's. OK so some of them record video at higher resolutions than on my N8 but I'm much more interested in the stills quality, and as far as I'm concerned the video quality from my N8 is not in anyway shape or form bad. I'm not exactly a professional photographer but I do really like having my N8 with me and being able to trust in it's camera abilities. My second point. HDMI out. Does any Android phone come with a standard HDMI mini output socket? What about an adapter to link said socket to a full size HDMI cable in the box? Why no mention of USB on the go features? How many of these support this? I have a 16GB card inside my N8 with music etc. but as far as movies, TV series and podcasts go I have those on a pair of 64GB USB memory sticks. And it's such a boon being able to play whatever I feel like off of one of these. Even when out and about it makes for a commendable entertainment hub. It seems as if everyone has a 2mm Nokia charger in their house, and as the HDMI out also pumps out Dolby Surrond sound up to 5.1 out, my N8 has been plugged into several amp's, plug in either a memory stick, or a powered external HDD and give it a charge and off you go! And don't get me started on Ovi Maps. Although I will now concede that Sports Tracker is out for Android as well now.

Many of my friends say I'm not "getting" the whole point of Android. But I thought the whole point of getting one of these high end devices was that as well as making phone calls and sending text messages etc they also offered all the latest advances in terms of hardware. Or am I really not getting the whole point of Android?

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Stop

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Why do you need an HDMI cable - MHL is the way forward. Allows video output and chargers at the same time (provided your TV supports it). And why should every manufacture provide a cable/adapter in the box? Is everyone going to be hooking their phones up to the TV?

Also SGS 2 allows you to use the USB socket as a host.

And have you not seen the quality of some of the photos these devices are able to take - specifically SGS 2?

And seeing as micro USB is a requirement for phones sold within the EU - it seems everyone will have one of these in their houses.

And finally it's nothing to do with not "getting" Android - your points are merely questions about what the hardware provides.

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MHL

Right so you buy the extra cable and plug it into the micro USB socket. Then it goes off to the TV and you can plug a separate micro USB charger into the adapter as well at the same time to charge the device. So how do you plug your removable media into this at the same time? MHL does not seem to pass out Dolby Digital 5.1 either. But feel free to prove me wrong on that point. Can you control the phone via bluetooth while it is streaming to the TV?

No I fully except that not everyone will use the functionality that is on offer. But, if I were to buy, for the example the Samsung Galaxy S II, I would look at passing/selling my N8 on. And I would then be looking to offering the whole package so I would then be getting ready of the adapter I already had. I fully expect that if a function is offered then the manufacturer should be expected to pony up the needed cables in the case of phones.

Camera. Yes I've heard about the "great" camera on the SGSII, but come on! It has no manual camera button, yet still has an autofocus and it still relies on a LED for flash! But even ignoring those points, even in outside everyday normal conditions, at best the camera on the SGSII barley manages to beat the best of the EDoF equipped Nokias.

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Happy

@Insane Reindeer Re. "Am I being too picky?"

The short answer is "no you are not". If camera quality is a key criteria for you and you can poke up with Sybian then the N8 is IMHO the best cameraphone on the market today as far as still photography is concerned. Precisely in fact the reason why I bought the N8 for Madame AF's birthday. The picture quality produced by that phone is amazing - I scored major league in the marriage brownie points stakes I can tell you!

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jef

So... to get a 5 row QWERTY the only option now or in the foreseeable future is Windows Phone OS? HTC Touch Pro2 or HTC Pro 7? Bah.... I hope I am wrong (and that somebody will enlighten me...).

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QWERTY keyboards

It doesn't have a 5 row qwerty, but for those interested in a phone running Android with a physical qwerty keyboard there is always the Motorola Pro.

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Silver badge

If you are going to list that many phones...

...then we need a chart listing all with frequencies, CPU, RAM, SD Card size, battery life (talk and standby), screen res, etc. Half those phones will not work on my network and I need to know those things to make an informed choice.

I travel a lot and need a "World" phone. From your review I have no idea which ones will fulfill that.

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Hardware keyboard

To those who are concerned about the lack of a hardware keyboard, it took me a lot of considering to move from the Athena (and the Wizard before) to the Desire, but then I found Swype.

My friend bought the Z and he never uses the keyboard.

What's missing in my mind, is a pocketable 7" screen/keyboard combo (if only the Libretto W100 had a keyboard instead of the second screen) and i'll just Wi-Fi hotspot it to my Desire. I'm happy not having the hardware keyboard on my 'phone' though.

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QWERTY

Have not used Swype but I understand that it still involves touchinig the screen thus covering up the text you are working on somewhat in the process.

Want the hardware keyboard for 'emergencies' when needing to travel super-light!!

Only other option is a little bluetooth keyboard I suppose but i don't like having too many 'things'. Was waiting for the Milestone 3 but now it's looking like no UK release it may have to be the HTC 7 Pro. Though I miss being able to drag and drop music etc to files and folders etc on my iPhone and cannot stand iTunes. Not happy having to move to a similar sort of thing with Zune.

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"My friend bought the Z and he never uses the keyboard."

I bought the Desire Z and I use the keyboard all the time. The phone manufacturers can keep their NFC chips, dual core processors, HDMI ports and 4" plus screens, give me a hardware qwerty keyboard over those features every time.

As nice as the specs on something like the HTC Sensation are, the Desire Z is nippy, includes all important things like Flash support and the battery life is pretty decent, possibly due to 'only' having an 800Mhz processor. I'm not even that fussed about whether it gets Gingerbread or not, it already does everything I need it to.

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Happy

Re: Hardware keyboard

I just treated myself with a Desire Z and I absolutely love its keyboard!

Daniel

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Desire S

Just bought one for £350 and I'm very impressed. Went to a festival last week and it lasted for a full two days and nights, I turned off 3G and turned it on when I wanted to check email, internet etc, used the camera a bit and made a couple of calls. In general I have it syncing email, facebook etc every hour and use wifi when at home, I work 12 hour shifts and when I get back there's always at least 50% battery left.

This is far from the nightmare stories that I heard about with most smart phones and the original desire. Other than the need for a shutter button to operate the camera I've not got any complaints.

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So you think...

it is normal to have to switch on/off functions all the time in order to get some decent battery life? Nah, mine is the one that you you have to manage to the n-th degree in order to keep it working.

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