The Top Rated Smartphones Of 2011

After consulting reviews on Consumer Reports, CNET, PCMag, PCWorld, and Amazon, we’ve chosen the best smartphones from each major carrier as well as one unlocked smartphone. Here is a round-up for the top rated smartphones of 2011:

Apple iPhone 4S – AT&T/ Verizon ($200)

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4 out 0f 5 stars – Excellent
  • PCMag: 4.5 out of 5 – Editor’s choice; “The best media playing phone on the market.”
  • PCWorld: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Apple iPhone 4 is a welcome upgrade and major improvement upon its predecessors. Running on Apple’s iOS 4 and with access to Apple’s 225,000 apps, it’s super speedy and is considered the best smartphone for multimedia. But if phone calls are your priority, then you may want to look elsewhere. The 5.0 megapixel camera has been improved, capturing high quality photos and HD video. The iPhone comes in 2 memory versions; the 16GB for $200 with contract or the 32 GB for $300 with contract. The iPhone is virtually identical between the 2 carriers of AT&T and Verizon though the antenna and a few buttons are in different locations. With Verizon you gain faster data speeds and Wi-Fi tethering for up to 5 devices (with a monthly charge), yet you lose the ability to surf the web and use apps while talking.

The Apple iPhone 4 is available on Amazon and Best Buy.

Samsung Infuse 4G Android Smartphone (AT&T)

Samsung Infuse 4G Android Smartphone (AT&T)

Samsung Infuse 4G Android Smartphone- AT&T ($200)

Pros:

  • Massive and vivid 4.5 inch touch screen in a thin design
  • Loaded with multi-media capabilities for mobile entertainment
  • Fast web browsing
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • Text can look pixelated
  • Average call quality
  • Larger size may not be appealing to some

Top Review Sources:

  •  Consumer Reports: Highest rated smartphone; Excellent for display, ease of use, and web browsing
  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars; 9 out of 10 for design
  • Amazon: Average 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on 31 customer reviews

The Samsung Infuse 4G is AT&T’s latest Android Smartphone offering, running on Android 2.2, or Froyo. The large screen will attract the media consumer, as it’s best for those who like to watch movies or surf the web while traveling. The 8-megapixel camera offers many options including panoramic view and takes better than average photos for a camera phone though some inside shots have a reddish hue. Video recording in HD performed well for reviewers. The touch screen is easy to use and the display remains vibrant even in bright sunlight. Cost runs around $200 with a 2 year contract.

The Samsung Infuse 4G is available through Amazon.

HTC Evo 4G Android Smartphone

HTC Evo 4G Android Smartphone

HTC Evo 4G Android Smartphone- Sprint ($100)

Pros:

  • Excellent for web browsing and social networking
  • Large 4.3 inch touch screen
  • Features a Leap Screen that easily gets you to your most used apps
  • Wi-Fi Hot Spot feature connects up to 8 devices

Cons:

  • Screen glares in bright sun
  • Short battery life in 4G
  • Not the best for photos and recording video

Top Review Sources:

  • Consumer Reports: Recommended, 70 out of 100; Excellent display, ease of use, and web browsing
  • PCMag: 4 out of 5; Editor’s Choice; “Terrific platform for streaming media and Web browsing.”
  • Amazon: Average 4.3 out of 5 stars, based on 178 customer reviews

The HTC Evo is the first to run on WiMax, Sprint’s 4G network. Now updated to Android 2.3, or Gingerbread, the award-winning HTC Sense interface features user-friendly widgets for a customizable home screen, contact management, and social networking. Call quality is good both for talking and listening. Streaming video from Sprint TV, access to the Amazon MP3 store, and Friend stream that combines all your social networking are just a few of the features that turn the HTC Evo into a portable multi-media device. While the camera may not replace your digital camera, the bonus 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera is a nice feature for video calls. Currently, the price for this phone is around $100 with a 2 year contract.

The HTC Evo 4G Android Smartphone is available on Amazon.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G

Samsung Galaxy S 4G

Samsung Galaxy S 4G Android Smartphone- T-Mobile ($200)

Pros:

  • Slim design, highly responsive 4.0 inch touch screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Sharp display performs well even in sunlight
  • Fast data connection

Cons:

  • Small internal memory
  • Pre-installed apps can’t be removed
  • No flash for camera

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars, Excellent design and features
  • Consumer Reports: 78 out of 100, the highest rated T-Mobile smartphone
  • Amazon: Average 4 out of 5 stars, based on 21 customer reviews

The Samsung Galaxy S 4G is the follow-up to the popular Samsung Vibrant with a faster operating system of Android 2.2.1 or Froyo, 4G, and a front facing camera for video calls. With T-Mobile hot spot capability you can connect up to 5 devices. Call quality is excellent and calls can be made with Wi-Fi. Included is a 16 GB SD card which will be needed to hold extra apps. Other features include Google services, including voice command search, Microsoft Exchange, and access to T-Mobile TV. Price averages around $200 with contract.

The Samsung Galaxy S 4G is available through Amazon.

Samsung Galaxy S II Smartphone (Unlocked)

Samsung Galaxy S II Smartphone (Unlocked)

Samsung Galaxy S II Smartphone- Unlocked ($675)

Pros:

  • Dual-core processor
  • 4G and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • One of the best displays available with Super AMOLED Plus
  • Large 4.3 inch touch screen in a slim and light design

Cons:

  • So-so battery life
  • No camera button
  • Expensive

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars, Editor’s Choice 2011; “Samsung’s most advanced and successful smartphone to date.”
  • TechRadar: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon: Average 4.6 out of 5 stars, based on 18 customer reviews

The Samsung Galaxy S II seems to be the smartphone to beat for 2011. Carriers are available for it in Europe and Asia, though no word just yet for a U.S. carrier, so it’s available unlocked. In addition to the speedy performance and high resolution display, the 8 megapixel camera and 2 megapixel front-facing camera take great pictures and video capture performs equally well. Using the TouchWiz 4.0 interface, content is broken up into 4 hubs: social, game, readers, and music. At $675 the price is a bit steep, but this is expected to decline once a carrier picks it up.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is for sale on Amazon.

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