May. 15th, 2011

The devices announced at MWC back in February are finally starting to come on to the market.

I had been thinking that the S-E XPERIA Arc was going to be the best of the bunch. If you want a really good camera in an Android phone and that's the most important thing for you, then it still is, but otherwise it's not entirely ideal. If it'd been released six or twelve months ago it would've been the best thing on the market, so it's still not a bad choice.

For top-end right now I'd go with a Samsung Galaxy S II. It's what I'd be buying if I were upgrading today. Big beautiful screen, Android 2.3, dual-core processor, and a gig of memory so it can handle running a bunch of stuff at once. Really the only drawback I can see is the lack of a shutter key, but almost all Android phones have this problem except the new S-E devices.

For mid-range, either the older Galaxy S or the new S-E XPERIA Neo. The Neo is probably the better bet, it's a newer device so it'll get updates for longer.

The update situation is looking a lot better. Most of the major manufacturers have agreed to do updates for at least 18 months after release. Whether they stick to that is another question entirely, but it's a good start.

If you want to hack your phone, go with a new S-E unit. Everyone else is locking down their bootloaders and not providing any ("legit") way around that. You'll have to buy an unlocked unbranded unsubsidised unit, but at least it's an option. Motorola have said they'll be doing something at some point, but so far S-E are the only ones to have been really explicit about this. HTC used to be great, but their latest phones are locked down.

As tempted as I am by the SGS II my Desire is only a bit over a year old so it's not really justifiable right now. The Desire is due for a 2.3 update soonish, and by the time it's two years old the landscape is going to be different again: I expect S-E will have dual-core phones, and Nokia's WinPhone 7 devices will finally be out. Maybe they'll be flops, but there's potential there.

And the iPhone 5 will have been out a while, so if there's anything genuinely revolutionary in it we'll be starting to see the droid OEMs responding.

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