Haven’t you heard? Apple’s (AAPL) latest and greatest smartphone is now available nationwide. Anticipation for the iPhone 5 had reached an all-time high, with launch-day preorder stock selling out in less than an hour at Apple and total sales during the first 24 hours of availability topping 2 million units. Despite the bad press surrounding Apple’s new Maps app, the company is expected to sell as many as 10 million units during the iPhone 5′s first weekend. While the new iPhone has its perks, not everyone is interested in iOS, the iPhone or even Apple in general. If you decided to pass on the iPhone 5, or if you are just sick and tired of all the Apple news, you have come to the right place. Read on for the best iPhone 5 alternatives that will be available this holiday season.
The obvious alternative to anything from Apple is Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system. The platform is offered across all major U.S. carriers and most of the smaller regional ones as well. An advantage, although sometimes a disadvantage, with Android is the number of manufacturers and near endless supply of smartphones that are available from companies such as Acer, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Panasonic, Pantech, Samsung, Sony and ZTE. It can be hard to pick a winner among all these options, however, so here are some of our top picks:
Samsung’s (005930) Galaxy S III smartphone is the choice of many Android users, and for good reason. The handset can be compared very closely to Apple’s iPhone thanks to features such as S-Voice, Google Maps and the TouchWiz user-interface that even looks similar to iOS.
Unlike the iPhone, Samsung has included NFC capabilities to allow for mobile payments, tap and go sharing and more. While the South Korean manufacturer previously struggled with updating its smartphones to the latest version of Android, Samsung seems to have improved lately and the Jelly Bean update for the Galaxy S III will begin rolling out in October.
In the U.S., the Galaxy S III features a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a pixel resolution of 1280 x 720. The screen doesn’t match Apple’s Retina technology in terms of clarity, although its pixel density of 306 ppi comes very close. The phone is equipped with a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 4G LTE connectivity, NFC, a microSD slot for expandable storage and an 8-megapixel rear camera that is comparable to the iPhone 4S.
Unlike Apple, Samsung has made the Galaxy S III available on all major wireless carriers in the U.S.
Alternatively, if you have massive hands or just want something a little bigger, the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II is worth a look and it will be coming to all major carriers ahead of the holidays.
For the more tech savvy Android enthusiasts I recommend the Galaxy Nexus. While it may be dated, the smartphone’s hackability and the strength of the developer community give this phone an unmatched experience. The Galaxy Nexus features a 4.65-inch, 1280 x 720-pixel display with 316 ppi. The device includes a 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP 4460 processor, 1GB of RAM, NFC, 4G LTE connectivity on select carriers, and the latest and greatest version of Android.
The Galaxy Nexus is Google’s flagship smartphone and, unlike other devices which can become obsolete due to lack of updates, it will be relevant for at least the next two years. The smartphone is available SIM-unlocked for use on T-Mobile and AT&T (T), and it is offered by both Verizon (VZ) and Sprint (S) with 4G LTE variant.
Motorola recently announced improvements to its RAZR line of smartphones, including the DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD. There could be great choices for many users, as the wholly owned Google subsidiary is known for its superior build quality, thin designs and impressive battery life.
The DROID RAZR M is an affordable 4.3-inch qHD smartphone with an edge-to-edge display. The rugged device is equipped with a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 4G LTE, NFC and a microSD slot for expandable storage. The bigger DROID RAZR HD and RAZR MAXX HD are equipped with similar internals, although they feature a 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 resolution displays with a pixel density of 312 ppi, and a larger 2,530 mAh and 3,300 mAh battery, respectively.
The DROID RAZR M is exclusively available from Verizon Wireless in the U.S., and the HD and MAXX HD will be as well when they launch this fall.
As I mentioned above, Android smartphones are released almost every month and if you aren’t looking to upgrade immediately, you may be interested in the LG Optimus G, HTC’s rumored 5-inch phablet, or Google’s next Nexus smartphone, which is rumored for a November launch.
Windows Phone 8
You may only see Android and iOS smartphones on the street, but Microsoft (MSFT) is looking to make a splash with its Windows Phone 8 platform later this month. The software giant has partnered with Nokia (NOK) and HTC (2498) to produce four very impressive devices that may give Android and the iPhone a run for their money.
The Nokia Lumia 920 features a 4.5-inch IPS PureMotion HD+ display with 1280 x 768-pixel resolution and 332 ppi. The device sports a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 4G LTE, NFC, native wireless charging and a class-leading 8.7-megapixel PureView camera.
The lower-end 4.3-inch Lumia 820 also includes a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 4G LTE and a smaller 8-megapixel camera. Unlike its big brother, however, the Lumia 820 features a microSD slot for expandable storage.
Both the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 are expected to be available from select carriers this fall.
HTC shook things up this past Wednesday when it unveiled the Windows Phone 8X and the Windows Phone 8S, its latest Microsoft-powered smartphones.
The 8X is equipped with a 4.3-inch 720p HD display, a 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, NFC and an 8-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture and 28mm lens. The smaller 4-inch 8S includes a 1GHz dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, a micro SD slot and a rear 5-megapixel camera with an f/2.8 aperture and 35mm. Both devices also include Beats Audio technology.
Both phones will launch this fall on a variety of U.S. carriers.
Research in Motion (RIMM) is making one final push with its BlackBerry operating system. If you are a fanatic who isn’t impressed with what Android, iOS or even Windows Phone 8 has to offer, you could certainly wait to check out the latest and greatest out of Waterloo. The first BlackBerry 10 smartphones won’t launch until the first quarter of 2013 at the earliest though, so if you choose to go this route, you’ll be sitting on the sidelines this holiday season.