Best Android smartphones of fall 2012

by: Mike AndriciOctober 4, 2012

best android smartphones 2012

Fall is upon us and the Thanksgiving holiday season (and all the numerous sales and discounts that arrive around that time of year) is getting ever closer. As was the case every single year, smartphone manufacturers are gearing up right about this time to provide the “best and latest” of the Android ecosystem, in an attempt to gain a place in the smartphone consumer’s heart, mind and wallet.

Some manufacturers have already laid out their cards, while some are preparing to do so in the next couple of weeks. At this point, one can paint a rough image of the best Android smartphones for the fall 2012 season. So without further ado, let’s take the time to review the flagship Android smartphones of fall 2012!

Samsung Galaxy S3

The Galaxy S3 is the best selling Android smartphone ever, so what better way to start our list than with this blockbuster? The hype surrounding the Galaxy S3 has surely faded in the past couple of months, but rest assured that the S3 is still a flagship Android smartphone in the true meaning of the word.

  • Display size and type: 4.8 inch Super AMOLED
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720 (306 PPI) – PenTile
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz quad-core A9
  • GPU: Mali 400MP
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Android version: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (4.1 Jelly Bean update scheduled for October)
  • Release Date: May 2012

Although the Galaxy S3 was launched back in May this year, the third incarnation of Samsung’s Galaxy S line is still the best Android smartphone currently around. The 1.4 GHz quad-core A9 Exynos 4 processor is the fastest processor currently available on the market, while its 4.8 inch SAMOLED display features a 1280 by 720 resolution (306PPI, but PenTile). While the supremacy of the Exynos 4 Quad SoC is likely to end once OEMs start implementing Qualcomm’s S4 Pro (quad-core Krait) SoC, the Galaxy S3 is still very well prepared to face competitors in the fall 2012 season, and perhaps well beyond. In addition, the Galaxy S3 will only get better once Samsung releases the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update for it, an event that Samsung has scheduled for October.

Note: As our tech-savvy readers have undoubtedly noticed, I have only talked about the international version of the Galaxy S3. The US version of the Galaxy S3, one that uses a Qualcomm S4 (dual-core) SoC is still a good smartphone, but it’s really little match for many of the flagships listed in this article.

HTC One X+

When HTC announced their One X flagship smartphone back at MWC 2012, many considered it to be one of the slickest looking device to ever reach consumer’s hands. The HTC One X + is basically an upgraded version of the One X, one that keeps the same sexy design and amazing display, but with a little more processing power.

HTC One X+ Specs

  • Display size and type: 4.7 inch Super LCD 2
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720 (312 PPI)
  • Processor: 1.7 GHz quad-core A9 Tegra 3
  • GPU: GeForce ULP
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Android version: 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Release date: fall 2012

While the One X + doesn’t really bring a whole lot more to the table when compared to the international version of the One X, the best thing about the One X+ is that its US AT&T-bound version will retain the upgraded Tegra 3 processor, instead of using a Snapdragon S4 processor as its older brother did. The display is as amazing as it was on the One X (many experts still call it the best display to ever grace a smartphone), the internal storage space was bumped to 64GB, while the quad-core Tegra 3 processor has been overclocked to 1.7 GHz per core.

Another great thing about the HTC One X+ is that it will come with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean pre-installed. I’m just dying to feast my eyes on benchmark results for the HTC One X+, which will be available on AT&T carrying the same specs as the international version. Tegra 3 + LTE: it’s an interesting combination.

Motorola Droid RAZR HD

Motorola has been less present in the news for the past six to eight months than other smartphone manufacturers, say Samsung or HTC. The US Android manufacturer (now owned by Google) is still one of the few manufacturers to add that touch of “unique” to their smartphones, which is something many feel is missing from today’s flagships. The Motorola Droid RAZR HD is basically an upgraded Motorola Droid RAZR, but this doesn’t mean that the latest flagship from Motorola is a poor smartphone (not by a long stretch).

Motorola RAZR MAXX HD Specs

  • Display size and type: 4.7 inch Super AMOLED
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720 (312 PPI)
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4
  • GPU: Adreno 225
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Android Version: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Release date: October 2012

Starting off with the good things, the Motorola RAZR MAXX HD has a great display, unique design, and probably the sturdiest case around (the back is actually covered by Kevlar, although I wouldn’t suggest using it to protect yourself against a drive-by). Another good thing is the fact that Motorola has mostly done away with Android UI customization, meaning that the RAZR MAXX HD offers a pretty close experience to that of stock Android.

On the downside, the dual-core Snapdragon S4 onboard the RAZR MAXX HD is slower than the S4 Pro or the Exynos 4 Quad, not to mention that the reason why Motorola (remember: a Google-owned company) would use 4.0 ICS instead of 4.1 Jelly Bean eludes me. All in all, a great smartphone, although there’s the feeling that Motorola couldhave done a bit better.

LG Optimus G

Given that LG is a company that many Android fans don’t keep close to their hearts, you’re probably becoming a bit skeptical right about at this point. But if you can go beyond your LG-suspicion (assuming you have such feelings for the second-best Android manufacturer based in South Korea), you’ll find that the LG Optimus G is likely to be the best Android smartphone of the fall 2012 season, period.

LG Optimus G Specs

  • Display size and type: 4.7 inch True HD IPS PLUS
  • Resolution: 1280 x 768 (317 PPI)
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro
  • GPU: Adreno 320
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Android Version: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Release date: fall 2012

At a time when other smartphone manufacturers release their first Snapdragon S4 (dual-core) smartphones, LG is really pushing it by announcing a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro flagship. Judging from leaked benchmarks, the S4 Pro really blows everything right out of the water. Add 2 GB of RAM memory and it becomes clear that the LG Optimus G is a beast, albeit a good looking one if you ask me.

The display is up there with the best of them, there’s a 13 MP camera on the back (although in the digital photography world it’s really not all about pixel counts). The way I look at things, the only reasonable downside to the Optimus G will be the LG Optimus UI v3.0, which is regarded as one of the worst custom Android interfaces around.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

galaxy note 2 [aa]

On to the phablet territory, the Galaxy Note line has recently accommodated its second member, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The improvements over the original Galaxy Note are evident and make up for a phabulous device.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Specs

  • Display size and type: 5.5 inch Super AMOLED HD
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720 (264 PPI)
  • Processor: 1.6 GHz quad-core Exynos 4
  • GPU: Mali 400MP
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Android Version: 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Release date: October 2011

The Galaxy Note 2 is definitely not for those of you on the lookout for an easily pocketable phone, but if you can handle the large footprint, Samsung awards you with 5.5 inches of SAMOLED goodness (the display isn’t running PenTile, so this is probably the best SAMOLED display currently around). The 1.6 GHz quad-core processor is a beast, the 2 GB of RAM make sure multitasking isn’t a pain in a sensitive place, while the S-Pen (along with the S-Pen optimized apps, of course) makes drawing on the Galaxy Note 2 as smooth as silk. An incredible smartphone overall!

Oppo Find 5

I admit it, when I first read about the specs Oppo is planning to fit inside the Find 5, I stood up, took a couple of deep breaths and read it again. I just couldn’t believe that such a powerful device could come from a basically unknown company such as Oppo. Fortunately, my eyes did not deceive me.

Oppo Find 5 Specs

  • Display size and type: 5 inch LCD
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (441PPI)
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro
  • GPU: Adreno 320
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Android Version: 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Release date: fall 2012 (rumored)

The specs above mean that Oppo will probably be the first company to release a smartphone with a full HD display. At this resolution and size, the PPI spikes like crazy, meaning videos and images will be crisper than ever before. Pack that together with a quad-core Krait processor and 2 GB of RAM, and the Oppo Find 5 is definitely one the most exciting smartphones that I wrote about in the past couple of years.

And like this still wasn’t enough, the Chinese manufacturer claims that the Oppo Find will also be just 6.65 mm thick. If the specs turn out to be real (and judging by the fact that they come via an official press release and not some sort of leak / rumor, I’m betting that they will), this is my next smartphone, and the best smartphone of the fall 2012 season (currently, we have no official release date, but rumors place the Oppo Find 5 release date at some point during this fall).

What’s your favorite?

So there you have it, these are the best Android smartphones of the fall 2012 season. Which one grabs your attention the most? Let us know which way you swing by dropping us a comment in the section below and answering our poll!

[poll id=”160″]

  • Galaxy Nexus is still my pick out of all of these. Stock Jelly Bean blows away the rest of those phones.

    Really hoping for a 4.3″ Nexus with a 720p SLCD screen this fall. That’s the only thing I’d consider upgrading too.

    These phones are all too big. 4.7″+ is kind of ridiculous for a phone. If I want a bigger screen, I have a Galaxy Tab 8.9 and a Kindle Fire.

    • Johnny Stangton

      Honestly the 4.8″ on the galaxy S3 I thought was going to be big actually is perfect for me. I was coming from a skyrocket though so maybe I was used to not already

    • But the Galaxy Nexus has a 4.65” screen… The next Nexus cellphone won’t have a smaller screen. :/

  • Remcom00

    Xiaomi Mi-Two! :D
    Can’t wait until it’s for sale in Europe/

  • Victor

    The rumord HTC one x5 or HTC nexus 5. The same specs as the Oppo, only with a known brand and service.

  • Garry DeWitt

    While the razr HD maxx really seems almost like a mid range phone by most of its specs, two things make it the winner for me: build quality and GOD DAMN 3300MAH BATTERY.

    The one, ONE complaint I have about my S3 is the inability of it to last a full day with heavy usage, just barely. I hate extended batteries because they make the phone look like a whale. Motorola has managed to keep the phone looking sexy while shoving a gigantic battery in there.

    I am sad it wont have the S4 pro or 2GB ram, though given what they’ve done with the space constraints I understand.

    • Jared Persinger

      Maybe it’s just me but I would have rather had them back it a very tiny bit more thick so that it had 2 GB instead of 1

      • Garry DeWitt

        I do agree, I wouldn’t mind a full millimeter added for a quad core and 2gb,but sadly they do mind. As long as the phone can still manage to look good it can be a bit on chubby side

  • carlisimo

    Big, big, big… all this “choice” we supposedly have is bogus if we want and are willing to pay for a high end device.

  • MasterMuffin

    The next nexus!!! And oppo is really great but i’m afraid that the build quality and support will not beso great…

  • TheAquanox

    If the HTC One X was neck to neck with the S3… the improved battery, new processor, fantastic design, expanded storage and Tegra 3 gaming makes it hands down the best smartphone of this fall. LG is spec wise a beast, but the design and software are a major let down to me.

  • aholsteinson

    The S3 is my favorite.. Totally amazing.

  • Jeff in Indy

    I upgraded to the S3 from my S1 and my only complaint is my hand is too small :-) I was so used to being able to use my right thumb for almost everything that it’s taking me a bit to adjust… other than that I love it!

  • Rasty

    sony xperia S not the best but should be in the list..shame!

  • Jamie Cottrell

    Oppo find 5 is the best, problem is updates, repairs and general manufacturer support

  • Jason

    How about xiaomi2 ? anyone heard bout it ? >.<

  • jaysann22

    If the HTC One X+ went with a removable battery, expandable storage, and available on all carriers, i would have been sold immediately…

    • lol and shitty ui lag is the main feature of htc phones.

      • s3oodan

        I agree with you, sense is so laggy, even though it is the best ui. It seems that HTC does not know how to program and tweek their UI like Samsung…i was shocked about how fluid GS3 UI was, while HTC One X has more powerful Nvidia 1.5 quad core!

    • Sheik Mohamed

      HTC with removable battery & external memory? you can just dream for that like i did

  • Jay-R Flores

    Pantech Vega R3 should be on the list.

  • jgg

    I’ve had the Galaxy S3 for over a month now and it still blows me away with its performance and functionality. Yes, the battery barely makes it through the day with HEAVY usage, but what phone really does? Just bought a battery charging kit for $50 to take care of the only problem I have with it. I don’t think any phone on the market would last more than a day with the usage I put into this phone. I wish the phone came with this kit out of the box, which comes with a second battery and a charger. Now that I have the kit, phone is perfect!! Haha

  • Glycerin

    I have a Huawei Mercury which i put ICS on, and it’s pretty awesome. Battery lasts over a day.

  • Chance

    The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is my favorite android phone. It only has a 5 megapixel but if don’t really care about pictures. It has 4.1 Jelly bean and I really like Google Now

  • note 2 if it keeps its exynos quad or lg optimus g because it will not have a different NA variant like the S3, One X, I dont care about battery or whatever,. They tease use with quad core versions everywhere else in the world and then offer use a dualcore .

  • The Galaxy Note 2! :)

  • Andrew Mezzi

    Well, I like the Nexus, but hardware-wise, I’ve always liked Motorola phones the most.

  • a certain guy

    *cough* Xiaomi mi-2 *cough* *cough* *cough* damn cold.

  • Waiting for the new Nexus devices

  • Tech Hunter

    Glad you mentioned the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 here, we’ve given it a spot in our top tech Christmas wish list feature, you can read the full rundown here:

  • tunisien14

    padfone 2 !

  • rk2000

    at the end of the year the best smartphone on the planet is htc droid dna or butterfly what ever u wanna call it .look at the specs man its way better than the samsungs