Sprint Buyer’s Guide for Android (November 2014)

In the hunt for a new smartphone from Sprint? Regardless of whether you’re buying your first Android or upgrading for the fourth time there’s something for everyone. And, as you might suspect, Ma Bell has plenty to choose from. In fact, counting variations, there are roughly two dozen models to choose from today.

As the last of the big four carriers to adopt Android, Sprint is doing a bang-up job in supporting the platform. It seems we’re constantly hearing about an exclusive model or head start on the competition.

Defining high-end

Today’s top Androids feature big, gorgeous displays, fantastic high-resolution cameras, and lots of memory. Toss in some quad-core and octa-core processors and some killer high capacity batteries and you’ve got mobile devices that would rival your computer from just a few years back.nexus6_chargerAs 2014 draws to a close and we look at the hardware from late model Androids it’s not uncommon to find screens hovering at 5-inches or larger. Thanks to ever-shrinking bezels we have phones with massive displays that also happen to fit comfortably in our hand. And, they’re not only big, but they’re sharp, too. Resolutions across the the top models are 1080p and higher. For what it’s worth, we’re starting to get our first glimpses of 2K and Ultra HD screens. It can be argued that average users cannot discern much beyond 720p/1080p on such a small device.

If you’re not coming to the table with at least a quad-core processor and 2GB RAM then you’re not going to sit at the big boy’s table. Most of the bleeding edge stuff you’ll find today comes with 3GB memory and chipsets of around 2.3GHz – 2.7GHz.

Storage capacities, for the most part, haven’t moved forward quite as quickly as other areas. You’ll still routinely find 16GB and 32GB models in most models though some are creeping into the 64GB space. Given that many handsets offer external storage via microSD cards it should matter little where you start out – especially if cost is a factor.

Another important factor in determining a smartphone purchase is the version of Android. Typically, it’s a simple case of “the newer the phone, the newer the operating system”. Today’s most recent phones are powered by Android 4.4.4 KitKat but anything running at least 4.4 should suffice for the average person. You will still find an occasional straggler, though, running something older.

Flagships & Exclusives

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Launched in October, this is Samsung’s annual plus-sized experience. Thanks to the release time-frame, these are typically a step-up from the Galaxy S series of smartphones. Standout specs include 32GB storage, a 5.7-inch Quad HD display, 3GB RAM, an S Pen stylus, and a 3220mAh battery. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: The first device of its kind, Samsung’s plus-sized smartphone is the best of the Note series with some extra ticker-width screen on the side. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Samsung Galaxy S5: Released in spring 2014, it’s the most popular series of Android models to date. Hardware includes a 5.1-inch display, 16-megapixel camera, 16GB storage, and a 2800mAh battery. Sprint | Best Buy
  • LG G3: LG’s increasingly popular family of phones, this one is unique in that it features rear button configuration under the camera. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Google Nexus 6: Motorola‘s take on the annual Google flagship experience, the 6-inch handset runs the latest version of Android (5.0) and offers users plenty of battery and top-notch power. Sprint | Amazon
  • HTC One M8: Perhaps the oldest model in this list, HTC’s flagship handset received very high marks for its build quality and toned-down custom UI. Often cheaper than others in the group, it’s still plenty of bang for the buck.  Sprint | Best Buy
  • HTC One M8 Harman/Kardon edition: A beefed up audio experience with Clari-Fi technology and LiveStage enhancing your listening enjoyment. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport: A variation of the flagship with pre-installed apps based around the more active user. Dirt and water resistant, it comes in a pair of alternate colors. Sprint | Best Buy


Mid-range

While not always the case, the mid-range Android is typically made up of last year’s top models. This is not to suggest, however, that there’s not a one-off model or variation that sneaks in every once in a while. Specs, as you can imagine, are often a step below. Processors, cameras, and batteries are sometimes the key difference though many of them also feature a screen resolution of 720p or 1080p. What follows what could be considered some of Sprint middle-of-the-pack handsets.

AQUOS Crystal

  • LG G2: One of LG’s breakout devices over the last few years, the smartphone was the first to employ the rear button setup. Killer hardware and a refined UI make this one hard to resist even a year later. Sprint | Best Buy
  • LG G Flex: The first smartphone from LG to offer the curved display; six inch screen and a 3500mAh battery make it big and long-lasting. Sprint | Best Buy
  • HTC One (M7): The flagship model that kicked off HTCs current signature look, the phone offers plenty of bang for not much buck. And, thanks to a promised Android 5.0 update, it’s a great bargain with longer term appeal.  Sprint | Best Buy
  • HTC One Max: The plus-sized approach to the 2013 flagship HTC handset line, it comes with a 5.9-inch screen and 32GB internal storage. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Sharp AQUOS Crystal: With an edgeless 5-inch HD display and a quad-core CPU, the Sharp is quite a bit more power for the money than what you’ll find from other brands. The 1.5GB RAM and 2040mAh battery are par for the course in today’s mid-range. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Samsung Galaxy S4: One of the most popular smartphones of all time, this one is offered in a variety of colors.  Features include a 5-inch display, 16GB storage, and a quad-core CPU. Sprint | Best Buy
  • HTC One E8: What happens when you take the flagship One M8 and tap it with a polycarbonate body? You end up with a lower-cost version with very respectable internal hardware. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3: As the plus-sized Samsung flagship from 2013, its quad-core CPU and camera make it a moderately strong device one year later. Sprint | Best Buy


HTC_One_E8

Entry-level

  • HTC Desire 510:A low-cost approach with a pocketable 4.7-inch display, it delivers some of HTC’s best features. Bonus points for microSD expansion. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Samsung Galaxy S3: Still kicking around, it’s the perfect barrier for new smartphone adopters looking for an inexpensive taste of Android. Enough power for your aunt with a price she’ll love. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Kyocera Hydro Vibe: The only Kyocera on the list, it’s a waterproof handset designed for the every man. Not top of the line hardware, no, but it’s the one you’ll happy to take poolside. Sprint | Best Buy
  • LG G3 Vigor: The looks and feel of the flagship model, only in a slightly smaller form with less powerful hardware. The 5-inch screen is still a stunner and the 2540mAh battery is plenty of juice for just about anyone. Sprint | Best Buy
  • Motorola Admiral: Perhaps one of the oldest devices still offered through Sprint, The Admiral is also the only one here with a physical keyboard. Fans of Push-to-talk will appreciate its simplicity, however high speed data fans will not appreciate being stuck with 3G. Sprint