TalkAndroid Staff Picks: Best Android Phone for 2012

One of the best things about being on the Android side of the fence is the sheer number of phones available. Sure it can be confusing at times, but most of us prefer the flexibility that choice offers us. With so many phones, it’s not an easy task picking the best phone for the entire year. It’s nearly impossible to get everyone to agree since everyone is so different. We thought it would be cool to let each member of our incredible staff pick which phone they think is the Mac Daddy for 2012. Hit the break to find out the results and be sure to tell us your choice in the comments.

Robert Nazarian – Editor in Chief

For me the best phone isn’t about popularity, it’s about innovation, styling, usability, and availability. It also doesn’t mean the most popular phone can’t be the best phone, I am just saying they don’t always line up. The other indicator for me is how willing I am to give up my review unit. We have to send back our review units when we have completed our reviews, but I always find a few phones that I have a hard time putting back in the box. In looking at all my criteria it came down to two phones: the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III. Just before the Galaxy S III was introduced in London, I called the One X the best Android phone hands down. The Galaxy S III did give the One X a run for the money, but I have to give the nod to the One X based on an improved UI, a better display, and a superior build quality. My runner ups included the Nexus 4 for the incredible price and specs ratio as well as the original DROID RAZR MAXX for the incredible 3300mAh battery that was stuffed into a 9mm body. The DROID DNA / Butterfly also came very close to winning it all, but the fact that it isn’t widely available yet took it out of the running, but it was so good I decided to buy one for myself.

Roy Alugbue  – Editor

There were a ton of great devices to choose from, but the Samsung Galaxy S III gets the clear nod. The revolutionary device may be a bit underwhelming in terms of its overall design and almost offensive use of plastic materials, but there’s no doubt the device became a household name not just to hardcore Android users, but to the mainstream public as well. Samsung knew it had a potential hit on its hands when it introduced revolutionary features like its quad-core Exynos chip and a stunning 8MP camera that rivaled not only other smartphones, but traditional cameras as well. Then there is the much-improved revamp of its TouchWiz software, which is actually dare I say a compliment to the overall Android experience as opposed to a hindrance. Toss in the fact that both the international and carrier-branded versions are developer-friendly much like Google’s Nexus line, and you have a device that easily caters to both the casual and hardcore Android crowds. Samsung wasn’t kidding when it told the world “The Next Big Thing Is Already Here”… and it has the sales’ numbers to back it up as well.

Ed Caggiani – Author

HTC impressed us when they released the One series earlier in the year. The flagship One X boasts a screen unsurpassed in quality, which is the perfect compliment to the groundbreaking ImageSense camera technology. The sleek design feels great in the hand, and the specs continue to impress.

Sprint bumped things up a notch with the Evo 4G LTE, adding expandable storage and the signature Evo kickstand. Sprint’s LTE network is in its infancy, but with this phone’s power, I don’t feel the need to upgrade anytime soon. Plus, with the recent update to Jelly Bean, it’s like a new phone all over again.

Jeff Causey – Author

I am going with the Galaxy S III not because of anything to do with the technical specifications, though they were impressive when the device was released. Other devices released during the year have matched it and probably surpassed it in some ways. The reason I nominate it is because I think Samsung achieved two feats with the S III. First, they redefined the bar for smartphones. Pretty much every phone released in the latter half of 2012 had to at least match the S III if it wanted to be considered a serious smartphone. That includes the Apple iPhone which brings me to the second feat that Samsung achieved. With the S III, I think Samsung finally has Apple chasing them instead of the other way around. The S III was slick enough, worked well enough, and when combined with the Android operating system, it surpassed the abilities of the iPhone. Of course, Android fans have felt this way for a long time, but the S III moved this in front of the general consumer. If ever there were evidence of this, it is my teenage son who got an iPhone earlier this year and is your typical Apple fanboy. He mentioned to me that he would like an S III now.

Runner up

The Galaxy Note II: If not the absolute top of the line in terms of “more power” hardware, it has to be close to the top. The usefulness of the multi-window function has created enough buzz that the feature is spreading to other platforms. Obviously the S-Pen is a unique feature of the device and is one that I look forward to trying out. A decade ago I was fortunate enough to have access to what then qualified as a tablet device with a stylus and the ability to handwrite on the device helped move me along to becoming (more) paperless. It was an experience I’ve been waiting to replicate and the Galaxy Note II seems to finally be a device that will get me close to that mode once again. Which brings me to why it makes my list – it is the device I’ll be voting with my wallet as I am hoping to buy one in the next few days.

Macky Evangelista – Author

With 2012 coming to a close, it’s safe to say Android dominated the mobile tech world due to so many successful devices. With monster flagships launching this year from every Android vendor, it’s difficult to just pick one as the best device. We have HTC beginning the year with their One X and ending it with the Droid DNA, Samsung releasing the most popular Android device to date with the Galaxy S III and yet outdoing that with the Note II. Then we even have LG getting into the mix with their Optimus G. In my opinion, undoubtedly the best Android device that came out this year came from Google themselves with the LG Nexus 4. Unlike their previous Nexus device, the Galaxy Nexus, this time around Google made sure they equipped the Nexus 4 with the best specs possible. It’s free from custom UI’s and will get updates as quickly as Google pushes them out. I can honestly say that it’s the first device I’ve ever owned that has yet to lag or slow down.

Hope you all had a great year and I’m looking forward in what the Android world has to offer for 2013!

Jared Peters – Author

The Galaxy Note II is the successor to one of Samsung’s off-the-wall ideas that did really well. The second time around Samsung did everything right and easily created the best phone of the year. It was one of the first phones to sport both LTE and a quad-core processor, it’s got one of the most amazing screens available on a phone, and it has a battery that’s got more than enough juice to last all day. There are other phones that do some of what the Note II does, like the quad-core Nexus 4, the visually stunning Droid DNA, and battery of the Droid RAZR MAXX HD, but none of those phones offer all three like the Note II, and with those phones, you have to give up a conventional removable battery or SD card slot, or both. With the screen size being the only drawback, (and that’s only a drawback to some people) it’s hard to say there’s another phone better than the Note II this year.

Rudy Rivapalacio – Author

Without a doubt the best phone of 2012 would have been the Samsung Galaxy Nexote XI. The 5-inch beast meets all of my requirements: quad-core processor, NFC, expandable storage, removable battery and pure Android! Unfortunately, the Nexus-Note hybrid only exists in my dreams. Keeping my choice in the real world means I’ll have to give it to the Samsung Galaxy Note II. Its processor gives it a leg up on the Galaxy S III and its storage options push it over the Nexus 4.
While I love pure Android (and the CyanogenMod variation), I can’t say the Nexus 4 is the best phone when its limited storage means I would be forced to carry a second device to hold my music. HTC made some really nice phones this year but their choice to stick to non-removable batteries are deal breakers for me. My requirement for the top device is that it can do it all. The Note II comes with top tier specs to handle the latest and greatest Android games. It will accept a 64GB microSD card to hold just about all the music I can handle. Its removable battery means I can step off a plane, after spending the last couple hours playing games and listening to music, pop in a fresh battery and be ready to go.

Alexon Enfiedjian – Author

What can I say, I’m a Nexus fan boy. I love the stock Android experience, the quick updates and the hassle-free life of no carrier contracts. The Nexus 4 is a phone (and a strategy) that seeks to revolutionize the industry in that it has (almost) all of the right features at an incredible off contract price. $299/$350 for a phone with a big, beautiful screen, a speedy processor, a great camera, good battery life, high quality construction and the pure Google Android experience is a winner in every possible way. Some people gripe about the lack of LTE, but in our WiFi saturated country you can almost always find an open network for quick download speeds. Even if you’re out and about, the data speeds on the Nexus 4 are more than adequate for most of your needs (especially if you’re connected to T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network). Because of all these reasons and many more, my vote for best phone of 2012 is the Nexus 4. Good job Google. Now, next time if you could get the launch right.


About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.

  • yarrellray

    Hands down the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the BEST SMARTPHONE ever made. The Lg Nexus 4, Htc One X+, Htc Dna, or Lg Optimus G can’t compare.

  • RTWright

    I’ll go with the Galaxy S 3, it’s what I own and I’ve had it since July of this year ( 2012 ) and can’t find any that even come close. The HTC’s fail by the plain and simple fact, they’re doing the iDriod ( No Battery access or any SDCards ). If I wanted that, I’d gone with an iPhone, sorry but to me, Androids have been great BECAUSE of their flexibility, not because they follow proprietary BS like Apple. So the S3 wins hands down ( The Note 2 I would say is the larger equal, they’re practically identical minus the pen and size ).

    • Nickan Fayyazi

      So you’re saying that you use Android solely because it has phones that have SD card slots and removable batteries, and not because of the better hardware, more open software, and pretty much everything else that makes Android better?

  • paxmos

    I love my Sony Xperia T.

    • Gesture Typed from an N4….

      • Haha I amuse myself. Sent from THE Nexus 4, aka Gesture Typing kicks ass.

      • paxmos

        I do not like gesture typing.

  • ZTE, LG, HTC, Samsung, Sony, Huewei etc, have all come out with some killer phones. Just super high end.

  • Wilfreb

    GS3 and GN2 are the the undisputed champions for 2012.