Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
Carriers and smartphone makers are throwing around the “4G” term a lot.That’s because the latest and greatest phones connect to advanced networks that provide faster download speeds than the 3G phones that have been around for years now.
If you’re about to buy a new smartphone, chances are your top choice will be one of the newer 4G phones. To help you out, we put together a list of the best ones you can buy.
Note: There are several different types of “4G” smartphones out there. Each one has different data speeds, so make sure you read our handy 4G explainer before you buy a smartphone.
Motorola's Droid Razr Maxx is a decent device. But what really makes it stand out is its incredible battery life. Motorola was able to pack a monster battery in a relatively thin package. The result is a smartphone that can last you more than a day, even with heavy 4G use. Nice.
Nokia's Lumia 900 isn't without its flaws, but it does have a few killer features we really like. Most notably, the ability to connect AT&T's excellent new 4G LTE network. If you're looking for a decent alternative to iPhone or Android and want an insanely fast data connection, the Lumia 900 is a good choice.
The Galaxy Note is a monster-sized phone with a 5.3-inch display. It's part tablet, part phone. While we think the Note is simply too large for most people, it's a nice device on its own. Like the Lumia 900, it connects to AT&T's 4G LTE network for some very fast data speeds.
Samsung's new Galaxy S Blaze 4G isn't the most powerful phone you can buy, but it is a decent value at just $150 from T-Mobile. T-Mobile's 4G network has always been pretty fast and consistent in our tests.
Even more than a year after its introduction, the Nexus S is one of our favourite Android phones you can buy. That's because it runs a pure version of Google's latest Android software called Ice Cream Sandwich. You won't see any modifications from Samsung or Sprint here. Plus, the Nexus S 4G is the only phone that lets you use Google Wallet.
The EVO 3D is the sequel to the first major 4G smartphone launched in the U.S. The phone's big claim to fame is a glasses-free 3D display. Like the original EVO, the EVO 3D will connect to Sprint's 4G network, which is generally pretty fast and stable.
Yes and no.
If you're using an iPhone on Sprint or Verizon, the iPhone 4S is still a 3G device. The AT&T model of the iPhone 4S connects to a slightly faster 4G network called HSPA+.
In our personal tests, we haven't had the best luck with AT&T's HSPA+ data speeds in the New York City area. It's often about the same speed as 3G. You may have better luck in other parts of the country though.
Price: $200, $300, or $400 for the 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB models, respectively.
HTC's Rezound is the company's first phone to incorporate Beats Audio. That (supposedly) means improved sound quality when listening to music. It also has a gorgeous 720p HD display. The Rezound connects to Verizon's 4G LTE network, meaning you're going to get fastest possible download speeds in more cities than any other carrier.
Samsung's flagship phone also happens to be one of the best 4G devices you can buy. There are at least four different models available across Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. AT&T happens to have the fastest 4G Galaxy S II, the Skyrocket, which connects to the carrier's LTE network.
Price: Varies depending on the carrier and model you choose.
Samsung's Galaxy Nexus is our favourite Android phone at the moment. If you buy it through Verizon, you get access to the carrier's LTE network. Just be cautious: the Galaxy Nexus' battery life isn't so great if you use a lot of data.
You can also buy an unlocked version of the Galaxy Nexus at various online retailers. It'll work on AT&T and T-Mobile if you use your SIM card.
Price: $299.99 with a two-year contract. Prices vary for the unlocked model.
HTC is getting ready to launch its One Series smartphone in the U.S. It'll be available on AT&T (as the One X), T-Mobile (as the One S), and Sprint (as the EVO 4G LTE).
We've played around with all three models and came away incredibly impressed. The One Series will run the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. HTC also made a bunch of clever modifications to Android. Expect the One Series to be available late this spring.