The Best Smartphones According to Consumer Reports

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I‘ve been in the market for a new smartphone. As much as I love the iPhone, I just can’t take the horrible data network offered by AT&T Wireless. And with Verizon releasing an iPhone soon and the many Android phone options, there are plenty of smartphones to choose from. The question is which one is the best. In the latest edition of Consumer Reports, there is an excellent rating (subscription required) of some of the most popular smartphones from the four major cell phone carriers.

I found the ratings very helpful in deciding on the Droid X. So I thought I’d share a few of the Consumer Reports’ recommended phones from each carrier. I bought my phone from Amazon Wireless because it is absolutely the cheapest way to buy a smartphone (I’ll write about that experience soon). So the links below take you to Amazon Wireless where you can get more info on each phone.

Verizon Smartphones

Motorola Droid XMotorola Droid X: I’ll start with the phone I purchased. The Droid X runs the Android OS, of course, and sports a 4.3 in. display. One very important feature for me is that for $20 a month, you can use the phone as a hot spot to give up to 5 devices internet access. I’m currently paying $65 a month for a wireless card, so it will be nice to save $45 a month. In addition, the phone has just about every feature you could ask for. Perhaps the only downside for some is that it is a bit bulky. It’s a thin phone, but with a 4.3 in. display, it will take up a lot of room in your pocket or purse.

Cost: From Verizon Wireless the Droid X costs $200 after discount. I get the phone for $20 from Amazon Wireless. The price at Amazon changes daily (I’ve seen it for as low as $.01 and as high as $49), but it’s always cheaper than what you’ll pay at Verizon Wireless. To see today’s price for the Droid X, click here.

Samsung Fascinate SmartphoneSamsung Fascinate: Like the Droid X, the Fascinate can be used as a hot spot. It’s compatible with the V Cast Music with Rhapsody service. This service enables you to buy and download songs through your phone. And the V CAST Video on Demand service allows you to watch full-length TV shows plus news, sports, weather, and live entertainment video clips. The Fascinate is a 3G phone with GPS, and was rated equal to the Droid X by Consumer Reports.

Cost: The Fascinate is also $200 after mail-in rebate from Verizon Wireless. From Amazon Wireless, however, the Fascinate is currently $39.99. To see today’s price for the Fascinate, click here.

Sprint Smartphones

Samsung Epic 4GSamsung Epic 4G: The Epic has both a touch screen and a physical keyboard, a feature that is ideal for those who do a lot of texting. It’s also considered one of the best phones for gaming due to its “Super AMOLED touchscreen display.” The phone sports a 5.0-megapixel camera/camcorder with auto-focus and HD video recording (720p). And as part of Sprint’s 4G network, Epic offers peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps, peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps, and average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps.

Cost: The Epic is currently $99.99 at Amazon Wireless. To see today’s price for the Epic, click here.

HTC Evo 4GHTC Evo 4G: The HTC EVO 4G has a 4.3 inch display and a built-in kickstand for easy viewing of videos. You can watch Sprint TV programming or HD movies captured on the 8-megapixel auto-focus camera. And because the Evo also has a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, video calls using the two-way voice and video service are a snap.

Cost: The EVO is currently $99.99 from Amazon Wireless. To see today’s price for the EVO, click here.

T-Mobile Smartphones

Samsung VibrantSamsung Vibrant: The Vibrant, optimized for watching videos and game play, offers a 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor and 4-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display. It’s equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with digital zoom and autofocus, and it also captures HD video. The phone comes pre-loaded with a variety of games and video, including The Sims 3 Collector’s Edition and James Cameron’s blockbuster, Avatar.

Cost: The Vibrant is currently $99.99 from Amazon Wireless. To see today’s price for the EVO, click here.

T-Mobile G2T-Mobile G2: The G2 comes with a 3.7-inch screen and a unique hinge design that opens to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is ideal for updating your status on multiple social networks and replies to e-mails and messaging. It also includes a virtual onscreen keyboard with Swype technology. If you’ve not seen Swype in action, it’s really cool. Basically, you can slide your finger from letter to letter on the touch screen and Swype figures out what word you are trying to type.

The G2 runs on on Android 2.2 and offers seven customizable home screen panels, including a dedicated panel with one-click access to your favorite Google applications such as Android Market. The G2 has a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, and it can capture HD video (720p). The G2 is powered by the Snapdragon MSM7230 mobile processor with an 800 MHz CPU and optimized power-saving capabilities.

Cost: The T-Mobile G2 is currently $129.99 from Amazon Wireless. To see today’s price for the EVO, click here.

AT&T Smartphones

Samsung CaptivateSamsung Captivate: At 0.39 inches thin, the Captivate is the thinnest Android smartphone on the market, and it packs in a 16 GB internal memory plus 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with auto-focus and HD video recording (720p resolution). Other features include fast Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking (802.11b/g), Bluetooth 3.0 technology for hands-free devices and stereo music streaming, microSD memory expansion (for optional cards up to 16 GB in size), and just under 6 hours of talk time.

Cost: The Captivate is currently $49.99 from Amazon Wireless. To see today’s price for the EVO, click here.

Published or Updated: January 27, 2011
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. mary says:

    Neither Verizon or AT & T get reception near Boone, NC. Suggestions?

    • DR says:

      Mary, isn’t that frustrating. We live near Washington DC but get terrible reception at our house. Have you tried T-Mobile or Sprint? If those don’t get reception either, I’d suggest contacting each carrier to find out if they have plans to build cell towers in your area. It may even be worth contacting your local government to see what they can do.

      Best of luck!

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