Buying guide: Best Android phones – Canada, May 2013
This spring a variety of top-notch Android devices have been released, including Samsung’s fourth generation Galaxy S smartphone, the fully aluminum One from HTC, and the Xperia Z, a sleek high-end phone from Sony.
Android has truly become the benchmark for all mobile operating systems. Sure, the market is fragmented and filled with cheap devices that no one wants or needs, but there are also some truly fantastic devices available, that have groundbreaking features and stunning designs. Many exciting announcements have come over the last few months, and it is no wonder that Android is holding its throne at the top.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Android phones available in Canada this month, on contract and on pre-paid.
Best phones on contract: high-end
In recent years, HTC has been losing the momentum it once had. They released too many flagship phones with confusing names and have fallen behind in marketing compared to Samsung. With the One, HTC is trying to bring itself back into the game as a true contender to Samsung’s flagship.
HTC has vastly improved Sense with the new version 5.0, presenting it with a cleaner, more responsive interface. The Taiwanese company has also added in extra features, such as BlinkFeed, a Flipboard-style news feed that resides on the One’s homescreen, and Zoe, which brings your photos to life. There is also a range of added camera features to go along with the improved four ultrapixels sensor.
The ultrapixel sensor is one of the most impressive features of the HTC One, allowing it to take fantastic, dynamic photos, even in low-light conditions. The secret is the novel technology that allows each pixel to capture more light, thus packing more information in each image. However, the low pixel count can be worrying; in some situations, the low-resolution sensor causes images to turn out blurry or lacking in details.
HTC One video review
HTC One availability and pricing
- Rogers – available for $149 on a new 3 year plan
- Telus – available for $149 on a new 3 year plan
- Bell – available for $149 on a new 3-year plan
- Virgin Mobile – available for $149 on a new 3-year plan
Samsung Galaxy S4
After building up Apple-style hype, Samsung launched last month the new Galaxy S4, sending shockwaves throughout the industry.
The Galaxy S4 is filled with software features, but some of them come off as gimmicky or of questionable utility. These new features include things such as scrolling a website with your eyes, hovering over the screen for previews, a useful health app, and a lot more. They are not necessarily groundbreaking, but they do add a lot to the user experience.
Much ink has been spilled over the fully plastic build of Samsung’s flagship phones. Plastic is perhaps not the best material in the world, but it does ultimately hold up well and doesn’t take away from the user experience. It also allows the back cover to be taken off, revealing the replaceable battery and SD card slot, which are widely considered important smartphone features. We thoroughly enjoyed this device and found it to be the best contenders in many categories, with its super-fast quad-core processor, stunning display, and brilliant 13-megapixel camera.
Samsung Galaxy S4 review
Samsung Galaxy S4 availability and pricing
- Rogers – available for $199 on a new 3-year plan
- Telus – available for $199 on a new 3-year plan
- Bell – available for $199 on a new 3-year plan
- Virgin Mobile – available for $199 on a new 3-year plan
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
With the success of the Galaxy S3 on their belt, Samsung proceeded to introduce the second generation of the Note series, which was remarkably successful amongst consumers.
The Note line was introduced with the primary aim to make a phone which doubled as a tablet. The result was a device with a large screen, though not large enough to be considered a tablet. Despite the massive size, many people find the idea of such a large device appealing, especially when combined with the S Pen.
One of the unique features of the Galaxy Note 2 is its S-Pen, which is a stylus that can perform many tasks around the Galaxy Note 2, such as the ability to write down notes quickly and without hassle using the fabulous S-Note app.
The Galaxy Note 2 is no spec monster by 2013 standards, but it still holds up well, with its 5.5-inch 720p screen, quad-core processor, and 8-megapixel camera. It also features a removable battery and an SD card slot. So, If you’re looking for a compromise between a phone and a tablet, with lots of extra features added on, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a solid choice.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 availability and pricing
- Rogers – available for $149 on a new 3-year plan
- Telus – available for $149 on a new 3-year plan
- Bell – available for $149 on a new 3-year plan
Sony Xperia ZL
The Sony Xperia ZL is the smaller brother to the Xperia Z. It retains the same 5-inch Full HD display, high-powered quad-core processor, and 13-megapixel camera that the Xperia Z has, but in a smaller, more portable package, which helps with one handed use. The handset is running Sony’s custom UI, which is not the best interface on a smartphone, but it does add some extra features and is smooth and reliable.
We have however, noted that the display lacks great colors and wide viewing angles, which could potentially be a problem, but if you look past the display, the Xperia ZL is still a great on-contract choice.
Sony Xperia ZL review
Sony Xperia ZL availability and pricing
Next page: phones on contract (budget) and unlocked.