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AT&T Buyers Guide: February 2012

Best choices for any budget
February 18, 2012

This is our new monthly column that will feature the best from AT&T for each month. We are doing one for each carrier in the US. We are going to bring you current promotions as well as our picks of the best Android device in a range of categories that are available on AT&T’s network. Please feel free to provide your feedback in the comments so we can make this column even better for you. Also, be sure to share this with all your friends on AT&T, so if they are looking to upgrade you can give them advice based on our knowledge.

Buying a new phone from AT&T today can be a slippery slope, leading to buyers regret. With AT&T’s LTE network coming into existence and Mobile World Congress (MWC) right around the corner, it’s hard to know what phones won’t be completely obsolete by the end of the month. AT&T markets many phones as 4G while in reality they are 3G+ (HSPA+). By no means are they a slouch, but are simply not up to par with their LTE counterparts. So, here we are to lead you in the right direction! Check it out!

High-End Phones

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket 4G

First up is the Samsung Galaxy SII Skyrocket, one of the first 4G LTE phones available for AT&T’s new network. With a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, HDMI port, and 1GB of RAM, there is nothing you can’t do with this phone. This phone is currently equipped with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) but has been promised it will be upgraded to Android 4.0 (ICS) in the near future.  Lastly, this phone is available in black and white so you have at least some options to choose between.

Whereas this is one of the best phones currently available on AT&T’s network, it’s good to know some downsides to this phone. First is: on top of Android 2.3, most Samsung phones come with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, love it or hate it it’s there. Although the screen is Super AMOLED, the screen is not HD (720 x 1280) or even qHD (960 x 540). The phone comes with a  resolution that is 480 x 800 pixels. The 4.5″ screen at this resolution may be too low for some, and for those with sharp eyes, they would be wise to consider the alternatives, with crisper HD screens.

HTC Vivid 4G

That leads us to the next phone on the list. Known as the HTCVivid; this phone was released alongside the Skyrocket. It is also a 4G LTE device sporting a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, a 4.5 inch qHD (960 x 540) super LCD display, HDMI port, and 1GB of Ram. This phone is also equipped with Gingerbread, and has been promised an upgrade to ICS in the near future. This phone is also available in black or white, so have your pick.

Again, while this is one of the best phones currently available on AT&T, it does have its possible downsides. The Vivid, like the Skyrocket, comes with a custom skin laid on top of Gingerbread known as Sense; although known as the most functional skin out there, it has been known to slow down even dual-core devices.  Unfortunately, the battery is also one of this devices weak points too. It is ridiculously small when compared to any other 4G phone out there today. Running at 1620 mAh, it is around 200 mAh less than the Skyrocket @ 1850 mAh, something that you may want to remedy with a larger battery.


Slide-Out Qwerty

Samsung Captivate Glide

Today, slide-out QWERTY keyboard phones are hard to find (especially the higher quality ones). AT&T has a very limited selection of phones available with a slide-out keyboard, and though they do have a few, the only one I found worth buying was the Samsung Captivate Glide. It is not as flashy as the Skyrocket or the Vivid; nevertheless, the Glide is a surprisingly capable phone. Spec wise, it holds its own with a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 4″ (480 x 800) Super AMOLED screen and a 4G connection (HSPA+). ICS has not been confirmed to be in the future of the Glide, but I would not be surprised if it eventually gets it. It’s certainly capable, hardware wise. For anyone who needs a QWERTY keyboard, this will do the job; and, I highly recommend it over any other QWERTY on AT&T’s network.

Again this phone has its downside much like any other phone out there. First is the processor. It’s a Tegra 2. By no means is this processor sub-par, but it’s a year old and it’s starting to show its age against other dual-cores currently available. Next on the list is the screen. Much like the Skyrocket, its resolution is low (480 x 800) when compared to many other of the new phones being released today. Last is the OS; while it is currently running Gingerbread, its future is up in the air as to whether or not it’s getting Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. None of these factors make this a bad phone, but it will seem outdated much sooner when compared to the phone technology that is currently available today – or soon to be.

Budget Phone

Motorola Atrix 4G

Last is the Motorola Atrix. This was the first dual-core phone available on AT&T’s network. This phone is near the end of its life and may be hard to find, but for the price, it can’t be beat.  It has a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a qHD screen. It has good specs with 4G data speeds (not LTE), and solid build quality. In most cases this phone will be a penny on Amazon Wireless, and is well worth the price. The only real downside with this phone is the screen it uses; the PenTile technology can sometimes bother one’s eyes so make sure and check the phone out beforehand if possible before buying it.


Where to buy?

Depending on your situation it is hard to recommend where to buy your phone. Often for new customers, I would recommend buying a phone through Amazon Wireless. You get great deals without having to haggle with customer service, and it will be shipped right to your door. If you are looking for a brick and mortar for some face to face customer service and to be able to see the phones “hands on”, Best Buy often will price match Amazon. Lastly, if you have been with a mobile carrier for an extended amount of time, you often have special upgrades available they are willing to throw at you to keep you around, but this may take some haggling. As always, I recommend shopping around to see what the best deal is available to you.


Next month after MWC I am thinking this list will change greatly, so keep an eye out, and prepare to hold out for a bit if you want the very best. Good luck!