It's a good time to be a student. Last year, there were some solid picks, but it was still very clear that those willing to scrimp and save a little longer had a much better experience. This year, it's a people's revolution. Thanks to cutthroat competition, there are some exceptional phones out there, even for those of you hoping to avoid eating ramen noodles for a month. Software has taken a leap forward too, with many phones now offering a vital way to remember when that term paper is due... or to procrastinate at the pub. We have nine choices of phones in our shortlist, spread out across three categories to serve everyone from the I-just-need-a-phone freshman to the overloaded doctoral candidate. While you're eying the selection, don't forget to enter our giveaway and potentially ease the burden -- who knows, you may get a phone you want rather than the one dictated by your student loan.
Nokia Lumia 900
The Lumia 900 now sits in the budget category thanks to a price cut, although you almost wouldn't know it from the features. LTE? A 4.3-inch screen? A capable 8MP camera? Check. And while some look at that simple Metro interface and the smaller app market with a jaded eye, Windows Phone is a good pick if you're new to smartphones and like living in Microsoft's ecosystem.
Key specs: 1.4GHz single-core Snapdragon CPU, 4.3-inch WVGA display, 8MP rear / 1MP front cameras, Windows Phone 7.5.
Price: $50 on AT&T
You might also like...
Don't be put off by the up-front price -- look at the $35 monthly plan on Virgin Mobile and you'll know how much you'll save in the long run. Mating a Retina display, a still-solid 5MP camera and iOS 5 with a cheap unlimited data plan? That's an easy choice if you're at all drawn in by iOS or just love a media-savvy smartphone.
$550 (without contract) on Virgin Mobile
HTC One V
It might be the baseline of HTC's 2012 smartphone triumvirate, but the One V is no slouch. That rigid design, 1GHz processor, pretty 3.7-inch WVGA display and capable 5MP camera add up to a compelling starter smartphone. Android 4.0 also stands out in a crowd full of basic devices running last year's Google OS flavor. Combine all those with a rock-bottom, off-contract price and the One V is hard to top for the money.
$200 (without contract) on Virgin Mobile
Samsung Galaxy Nexus HSPA+
If it weren't for the need to (normally) use AT&T or T-Mobile instead of a low-cost carrier, this would be in the budget category. It's that much of a value. While the Galaxy Nexus is now strictly middling in terms of processing power, having the world's first Android 4.1 phone for this kind of off-contract price more than makes up for the difference. The new OS makes it exceptionally responsive, and Google Now will help you find out just how late you'll be to class if you miss the bus.
Key specs: 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460 CPU, 5MP rear / 1.3MP front cameras, 4.65-inch Super AMOLED HD display, stock Android 4.1.
Price: $349 on Google Play
You might also like...
HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE
Some will decry the smaller screen, down-clocked 1.2GHz chip and the lack of burst photography versus the One S at T-Mobile -- fair enough. But the lower price, better-quality display and LTE make this the more tempting mid-range phone. You'll still get a top-notch rear camera, a smartly customized Android 4.0 build and traditional expansion via a microSD slot.
$150 on Verizon
Motorola Atrix HD
Outside of the battery life, the Atrix HD is a great value for the money: it's mating a 4.5-inch, high-quality display with a fast 1.5GHz processor, all at half the contract price of similar-spec handsets. Motorola has also smartly scaled back the customization to let Android 4.0 shine brighter. If you like the aesthetic of Google's new hardware brand, it's a winner.
$100 on AT&T
Money's no object
HTC One X
Now that it's just $100 on a contract, the One X just edges out its Samsung rival as our pick for the top end. Yes, it sheds the removable battery and microSD slot -- we know the impact. But the One X delivers a leaner interface, higher build quality and arguably the best display of any phone, all at half the up-front price of its peers. Performance (both in the 1.5GHz chip and LTE data) is top-notch, and the 8MP camera enjoys both longer burst shots as well as a simpler, faster interface for capturing Frosh Week escapades.
Key specs: 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU, 1GB RAM, 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display, unibody design, 8MP rear / 1.3MP front cameras.
Price: $100 on AT&T
You might also like...
Samsung Galaxy S III
Don't worry, we still like what the Galaxy S III has to offer. A gigantic and beautiful 4.8-inch screen, a fast 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and all the removable expansion you'd like make it a go-to device for Android fans. The best part is knowing that you don't have to think much about your carrier: all the majors are offering it largely unchanged, so you don't have to compromise to get your Galaxy fix.
$200-280 on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile,US Cellular and Verizon
Apple iPhone 4S
While it's likely going to be replaced partway into the fall semester, the iPhone 4S is still a pleasing pick even several months into its lifecycle. Get over the small 3.5-inch screen; the 4S is surprisingly fast, and it has what's still considered the gold standard for 8MP cameras. Siri may be quirky too, but it's handy for reminding yourself to study for that next exam.
$199-399 on Apple
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)