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Best AT&T 4G Android Phones of 2011 [Infographic]

June 1, 2011

Not only has AT&T upgraded its mobile broadband network to fast High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) connectivity–it is also deploying Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the other major fourth-generation (4G) wireless/mobile broadband (the other being WiMax). Read on to find out more, and be sure to check out the full infographic comparing this great lineup of advanced 4G Android superphones!

AT&T announced last week that it will start rolling out 4G LTE initially to five major U.S. cities this summer: Chicago, San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta, and Houston.

According to AT&T, once it finishes its 4G LTE upgrades across its mobile broadband network, AT&T will be the sole mobile carrier offering two-layered ultra-high 4G speeds on both HSPA+ and LTE. Currently, AT&T claims network speeds of up to about 6 Mbps on HSPA+ combined with enhanced backhaul. With LTE, network speed will be even faster.

If you’re already enjoying the wind on your face with 3G today, you’ll get blown away with 4G, as Gizmodo aptly and wittily illustrates in this graphic:

3G and 4G comparison

Seriously now, speed is just one of 4G’s most attractive perks. There are others. For instance, lower latency, which simply means lesser processing time for data to travel through a network. Reduced latency bodes well for smoother and faster two-way video calls and online games, among others. LTE also promises connectivity to more devices, better-quality video streams, and other applications that have yet to see the light of day outside an incubation lab.

As AT&T approaches high 4G speeds, what best AT&T 4G phone would you pick from the Android line? Currently, you have four superphones to choose from–three already available (Motorola Atrix 4G, Samsung Infuse 4G, and HTC Inspire 4G), and one upcoming (LG Optimus 3D / AT&T Thrill 3D).

Motorola Atrix 4G

Motorola Atrix 4G front view and laptop dock

The Motorola Atrix 4G is power packed into one tiny 4-inch-screen device. Said to be AT&T’s main crowd-drawer and awards-reaper in its line of Android superphones, the Atrix 4G enjoys dual-core strength from an NVIDIA Tegra 2 running at 1 GHz. Throw in 1 GB of RAM, and you’ve got more than enough juice for running even the most demanding Android apps.

That and a 960×540 screen resolution on a 4-inch qHD screen display–the largest among the Androids in AT&T’s line of 4G superphones–clearly make the Atrix 4G outshine its peers. Think about it: it’s got the smallest screen size with the highest resolution.

The Atrix 4G is also built with accessories in mind. Foremost among them is the Laptop Dock, to which the Atrix 4G will act as both brain and engine. When docked, the WebTop application automatically launches and you can access your phone’s content on an 11.6-inch laptop screen with a laptop keyboard. There’s also the HDI Multimedia Dock that allows your Atrix 4G to connect to an HD TV, as well as to USB peripheral devices.

Briefly said, the Motorola Atrix 4G is a power-packed smartphone that can also be a lappy.

Samsung Infuse 4G

Samsung Infuse 4G

If the Atrix 4G has the smallest screen, the Samsung Infuse 4G’s claim to fame in AT&T’s pool of 4G-capable Android superphones are its largest screen (at 4.5 inches) and its ultra-thin design. Its Super AMOLED Plus screen provides this superphone the charm of an incredibly vivid, colorful, and bright display.

Although you would expect a 4.5-inch WVGA screen like this to display pixelated graphics, the graphics and fonts are amazingly smooth and crisp at its full 800×480 screen resolution. It may have the biggest screen and you would expect this superphone to be thick, fat, and heavy–but no, this one’s only 0.35 inches thin and very light at 5 ounces.

Though the Infuse 4G is powered by a single-core Samsung Hummingbird processor (1.2 GHz), one can be quickly beguiled by the lure of the dual-cores, or even the quad-cores. Yet, the Infuse 4G can quite capably catch up with the other 1-GHz processors’ power and speed. Reliability is one thing that the Infuse 4G can lay claim to when it comes to multitasking. Sweetly swift, I should say, despite running on one processor core.

HTC Inspire 4G

HTC Inspire 4G

Big, broad, and inspiring. These three words sum up the HTC Inspire 4G.

It is big on processor juice–with a 1-GHz single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8255. Benchmark tests find its performance fast and impeccable, earning for the Inspire 4G better benchmark scores than other single-core superphones.

It is broad on HTC-customized applications, notably the HTC Sense 2.0 user interface that serves as your doorway to social networking and integrated services from the cloud on

It is inspiring when one looks at the high quality of entertainment that the the Inspire 4G can deliver. Plug in your headphones, play a movie, and enjoy the flick with SRS WOW and Dolby Surround Sound on a 4.3-inch, 800×480-resolution WVGA capacitive touchscreen.

LG Optimus 3D / AT&T Thrill 3D (Coming Soon)

LG Optimus 3D (a.k.a. AT&T Thrill 3D)

The LG Optimus 3D, also known as the AT&T Thrill 3D, is the only superphone featuring glasses-less 3D in AT&T’s set of Android smartphones for 4G. The glasses-less 3D graphics and videos displayed on the Thrill 3D’s 4.3-inch, 800×480-resolution qHD screen actually gives it an edge over the other three Android superphones.

Being glasses-free, the Thrill 3D lets you do away with crazy blue-and-red 3D eyewear just to see more depth and texture in stereoscopic images. For menial tasks such as navigation, texting, or browsing, regular 2D rendering kicks in, yet remains crystal clear. Its user interface can even be viewed in 3D, as a rotating carousel bearing your app icons.

The Optimus 3D runs on a 1-GHz, dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and 512 MB of RAM. Add 8 GB of storage, a 5-megapixel camera capable of capturing both HD and 3D video, and a 1,500-mAh battery–and I can easily say the LG Optimus 3D / AT&T Thrill 3D carries quite beefy specs.

What do you think is the best Android phone on AT&T in 2011? Ultimately, for us, it’s a very difficult choice to make. If you want raw power, the LG Optimus 3D / Thrill 3D is an obvious choice. If you are looking for the greatest expandability and best-in-class battery life, I would go for the Motorola Atrix. For those seeking a pleasure-filled mobile experience with amazing visuals, then the Samsung Infuse is sure to satisfy with its delightful Super AMOLED Plus display, but it lacks the dual-core power we’ve come to expect from today’s most advanced Android devices. How about you? What matters most?

Images: BGR, Engadget, SlashGear, HTC, AT&T, Gizmodo / Videos: Engadget, SlashGear, infoSync World, CGFun (via Viddler)