Best smartphone picks for the US holiday season

The holiday season is upon us and many of us are hoping for a new phone in our Christmas stockings, or are wondering which phone to purchase for a loved one. If you’re bewildered by the sheer choice available we’ve rounded up some of the very best smartphones on offer right now for the US holiday season including the Nexus 4 and Galaxy Note 2 (Note II). There are some impressive choices across all of the major US carriers so you should be able to find something just right for you or someone special.

All of us look for different things in a smartphone. To some a larger screen is most important, while others want a decent camera set-up on their phone and some just hope for a good battery life or a large amount of internal storage. Most of the phones we’ve picked have come out over the last few weeks although there are one or two that should be on any best smartphone list that have been out a few months longer. We’ll give you a brief rundown of the main specs and features of each one so you can get an idea of what they have to offer.

We’ll start with the phone of the moment, the LG Nexus 4, also known as the Google Nexus 4. This is the latest pure Android Nexus smartphone and has seen huge demand, so much so that it has already sold out. Hopefully stocks will be replenished before Christmas as this is on many people’s wish lists as it has high-end specs at a very affordable price. The Nexus 4 is available unlocked through Google Play at $299 for the 8GB version or $349 for the 16GB version and is also available through T-Mobile although most buyers will choose the unlocked route. Key specs include a 1.5GHz Qualcomm quad-core Krait processor, 4.7-inch True HD IPS display with resolution of 1280 x 768, 2GB of RAM and 8 or 16GB of internal storage (non-expandable). There’s also an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, a 2100mAh battery and NFC support but no LTE connectivity and it runs on the very latest Android operating system, 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Moving on then to another brand-new handset the HTC Droid DNA, which has just released on Verizon at $199 on the usual two-year contract. This also has a 1.5GHz Qualcom quad-core Krait processor, a 5-inch Super LCD3 display with resolution of 1920 x 1080, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage (non-expandable). The Droid DNA also touts an 8-megapixel rear camera, 2.1-megapixel front-facing shooter, a 2020 mAh battery, NFC and LTE connectivity and launched on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, upgradable to 4.2 at some point. We should point out if a brilliant display is important to you then the Droid DNA display has won huge praise for its display, said to take display specs to a new level.

Another excellent choice has to be the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and this would seem to be the obvious choice for anybody preferring a whopping great big display. This one has also been flying off the shelves and is available on multiple carriers starting at around $299 on the usual two-year contract. It has a 1.6GHz Exynos quad-core Cortex-A9 processor, huge 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with resolution of 1280 x 720, 2GB of RAM and 16, 32 or 64B options for internal storage, expandable via microSD. Add to that an 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera, 3100 mAh battery, LTE connectivity, NFC, and launching running Android 4.1.1 ICS and you have a great all around package.

If you’re looking for a notable smartphone with an excellent battery life then you need look no further than the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD, another phone carried by Verizon. The extra battery power doesn’t come cheap though as this one will set you back from $299 on a two-year contract but many heavy users will consider that worth paying for around 22 hours of talk time or day and a half of mixed-use activity. Other specs and features include a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display with resolution of 1280 x 720, 1GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD. The DROID RAZR MAXX HD also sports an 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing shooter, effective 3300 mAh battery, LTE connectivity, NFC and runs Android 4.0.4 ICS, upgradable to 4.1.

Although the Samsung Galaxy S3 (S III) has been around for a few months now we make no apologies for including it in our best smartphone picks as it’s still a really good all-rounder and would suit most people’s needs. This is available on multiple US carriers on a contract price starting around $199. There are various models of the Galaxy S3 for different carriers so we’ll give you spec details of the Verizon one here. This includes a 1.5GHz Qualcomm dual-core processor, 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with resolution of 1280 x 720, 2GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD. There’s also an 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera, 2100 mAh battery, LTE connectivity plus NFC and it runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Of course not everybody prefers the Android platform and it’s difficult not to include the latest Apple iPhone in any best smartphone pick and so our last suggestion is the iPhone 5. This came out in late September and is available on all of the major US carriers except from T-Mobile, with a starting price of $199 on a two-year contract. This has a 1.2GHz Apple A6 dual-core processor, 4-inch IPS TFT display with resolution of 1136 x 640, 1GB of RAM and comes in 16, 32 or 64GB storage options. The iPhone 5 also has an 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1440 mAh battery and LTE connectivity and it launched running Apple’s latest iOS, iOS 6. The iPhone 5 does not have NFC support though.

That concludes our pick of some of the very best smartphones available right now but please bear in mind that prices we’ve given may well change over the next few weeks, especially with various deals on offer. Obviously we could not give you every single feature of these smartphones or you’d still be reading this at Christmas. Hopefully though we’ve give you enough to be able to decide a good choice suiting your requirements as there’s really something for everyone among our selection.

We’re always interested to hear from readers about their views and opinions. Do you have a preference for one of the smartphones above and will be adding it to your holiday wish list? Maybe you have a suggestion of another smartphone that you think we should have included in our choices? Let us know with your comments.


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