What Will Your Next Smartphone Be?

With the Galaxy S III turning heads with its Australian launch last Thursday and a new model iPhone widely expected to be announced next week, there's a definite mood of smartphone upgrades in the air. Which models will our editors be turning to next? Lifehacker and Gizmodo debate the issues.

LIFEHACKER: I'm having to think about this harder than I have for a while. Regular readers will know I'm a generally happy BlackBerry user, but that has issues beyond just the prospect that Research In Motion might go down the toilet. More specifically: It's not at all clear that the next-generation BlackBerry models will have the combination I prefer: a full-size touchscreen and a full-sized keyboard.

The initial announcement of BlackBerry 10 models didn't even mention physical keyboards at all. RIM later backtracked and said that keyboard support will continue, but that might well mean a Bold-format device, with less screen area. At this stage, I don't want to make that compromise.

That wouldn't matter so much if I could upgrade my current Torch, which works perfectly well. However, as an older model it can't even shift to the recent 7.1 BlackBerry OS update, which adds some handy features I'd like such as tethering. So it's not quite clear where I'll go next, but I clearly can't stay contemporary with what I've got.

What's the current story over at Giz?

GIZMODO: Oddly enough, I'm in much the same uncertain position, at least as far as one can read the tea leaves.

Obviously my gig comes with a lot of phone reviewing, so it's rare for me to carry a single phone around in any case, but my go-to phone for the last six months has been the iPhone 4S. I've got a reasonable investment in its app infrastructure (and as most Giz readers would know, my workflow is largely Apple-centric as well), but then the same is true of the Android ecosystem; the phone that was my go-to handset prior to that was the Samsung Galaxy S II. The S II was (and is) a great handset, and I'm enjoying what I've tested so far of the S III as well. But I doubt it will be my primary handset, and that relates back to the reason why I switched back to the 4S — phone size.

The growing trend in Android handsets has been for increasing handset sizes. The Galaxy Note is the obvious flagbearer here, but it's not alone — HTC's One X/XL is pretty big, as is the aforementioned S III. It's a matter of personal taste/utlity, and, I guess hand size, but while I appreciate some of the benefits of a larger screen, I find a smaller smartphone easier to deal with. If I want a larger screen, I'll generally just grab for a tablet — but that's not for everybody. Android handset makers, however, don't seem to be targeting the compact space that much with upcoming releases.

How does that relate to Apple? The current spate of rumours (and they are only rumours) suggest that Apple will finally jump up a screen size with the next iPhone. I'm not sure that I'm likely to jump up with it.

What's your take on the screen size issue?

LIFEHACKER: I don't mind a bigger phone per se, but it undeniably has issues. I was also pretty taken with the Note, but you look completely ridiculous when you try and take a photograph with one. And if I'm going to have a larger phone, I want some of the obvious benefits: most importantly, I want an integrated physical keyboard.

Apple is fairly evidently not going in that direction, so an iPhone of any flavour is off the menu. The only Windows Phone 7 device I've used with a physical keyboard made me want to cry. I'll be interested to see if the second-generation models do better in that department, but given Microsoft's Cupertino-like obsession with touch to the exclusion of all else in everything at the moment, I'm not holding my breath.

So BlackBerry aside, that leaves Android. The best Android physical keyboards I've seen to date have actually been on cheaper phones, but if I was going to switch to Android entirely, it would seem senseless to deliberately force myself onto a Gingerbread model. One good thing about Ice Cream Sandwich is that it works much better in landscape mode, so if I have to shift to a phone with a keyboard that slides from the side rather than Torch-like from the bottom, the apps should cope better. But there are always exceptions that get confused some of the time (the WordPress Android app being one that misbehaved like this last time I tried).

You're much happier with a touchscreen keyboard than I am. What features are on your must-have list?

GIZMODO: I'm certainly much less obsessed with physical keyboards than you are — and the way that market is going, I suspect you're probably going to run out of applicable models in a year or two!

That aside, I'm something of a performance nut; laggy smartphones drive me considerably more insane than a slow-acting desktop or laptop. That's not just a matter of the most cores or the highest processor speed, however; having recently just tested the quad-core HTC One X and then the dual-core One XL, the differences there aren't as pronounced as you might expect, and I'm sure that's down to software optimisation. Perhaps as more quad-core models hit the market, the apps and OS will adjust accordingly. That having been said, I've been happy with ICS so far, and particularly with the launcher efforts of the major makers; rather than clutter them up with crapware they've tweaked subtly around the edges.

The other thing that's a must-have for me is plenty of storage. My current 4S is the 64GB model, and any Android phone that I was to seriously consider would have a microSD card added to it exceptionally quickly. It's something that seriously annoys me with Windows Phone 7; you can't get a phone with larger storage, or upgrade it internally. At least Apple (finally) got that one right.

To flip the question around though, there are also features that are very low on my must-have list, and chief amongst them — for now — is 4G. Which is odd, because I love having lots of data speed, but the problem there is one of access. I'm not in a 4G zone at my home location, and the Allure offices are notably woeful for 4G reception, despite sitting in the Sydney CBD. It's a “nice to have” feature, but not (yet) a killer one. What's your take there?

LIFEHACKER: Largely ditto, but with one proviso: hitting the road. My home 4G reception is similarly non-existent, but I spend a lot of time in hotels. Part of me thinks that being able to use a 4G phone as a tethered hotspot would be one less gadget to cart around. But a bigger part of me recognises that this would drain my phone battery so fast that the compromise wouldn't be worth it. So if I'm going to be lugging a hotspot or dongle anyway, then it really doesn't matter so much what's happening on my phone.

So in summary: I want a BlackBerry model that probably won't get manufactured at all, or an Android handset that will come out months after the main models and be from some weird manufacturer. I'm screwed really, aren't I?

GIZMODO: I think you are. I probably am in my wishes for smaller form factor phones as well; I want the kinds of performance being chucked under the hoods of the just-under-5-inch crowd, but not with a 5-inch screen, and that doesn't seem to be happening any time soon outside of Apple-land — and there, who can really tell? Not even the people working at Apple, because far too many of them aren't even allowed to know.

This is all just a matter of personal taste, ultimately, and it's good to have choices. That's our take on what we want in the next phone to get uncomfortably warm in our pockets — over to the audience, I reckon. What are you grabbing the next time your contract expires?

Picture by Uwe Hermann

More: 35 Hot Phone Specs Compared (Including Samsung Galaxy S III)


Comments

    Got my One X and LOVE IT!

      Me too!!! One X is the envy of all my friends right now. Awesome screen, solid build, just fantastic!

        Me three. Very happy with my One X.

    im waiting for the Pebble Blue S3....

    Iphone

    next nuxus, or nexus'

      Please don't buy a nexus. I am writing this reply on one now and lets hope i finish before it crashes again. So many problems it really isnt funny. I use my old Iphone 3gs to take photos of the galaxy nexus when it has errors. I have had in for repair once and they did nothing. The repairer even managed to make the camera blurry. They must have put a finger print on the camera lense. To be short don't waste your money, time and effort.

        Sorry to hear that. My Galaxy Nexus is now officially the most stable & reliable phone I've ever owned, since the 4.0.4 upgrade (and it wasn't bad before that). The size may not be for everyone, but I wouldn't trade mine for any other phone on the market.

        I have a Nexus and it runs smoothly - never had an issue. However I am looking for an upgrade (More money than sense), and I am looking at the HTC one XL, however I am not sure if I should just upgrade for the fun of it or if I should wait a little. to see what else is going to come out in the near future, also I have owned a Samsung phone for years now and I like them except for the volumes of the speaker.

          If you get the htc one x/l then you'll have more 'sense' for your money.

          boom-tish

        I've had a Nexus One since it was released in Aus (soon to be out of contract and upgrading - wee!) and my girlfriend has a Galaxy Nexus. Neither of us have had any problems with our phones and love them. I'd recommend a Nexus.

    Depends on iOS6 and the new iPhone. If I'm happy with design and new features, and if all signs point to it being jailbreakable (like all previous models this is my no. 1 concern) then the next iPhone is likely my next phone.Then I can tweak it and set it up exactly how I want.

    If that doesn't work out I'll likely have to relucantly switch to Android and get a OneX. If there were some hgh-def Windows Phone 8 models out yet, I'd consider them, but current WinPhone7 hardware is way too behind for me to consider it at the moment.

    Screen quality is everything to me and the OneX is the only display I've seen that equals, perhaps even slightly betters, the overall quality and pixel density of the iPhone's retina display. 4.8" is pretty damn big though so I'm hoping the 4" iPhone 5 rumours are true. That's about the perfect compromise in screen size and one-hand usability for me.

    Remember this is just my personal preference. If we could avoid the Apple hater comments today I'd really appreciate it.

    I don't come out of contract until October, so hopefully a Nokia Lumia 908 (or something comparable) will exist:
    - Windows Phone 8 (I've got WP7 now and I'm liking it)
    - Nokia Lumia 900 Form-Factor
    - Brushed aluminium, not plastic, finish like an iPad (silver, cyan or gun-metal in colour)
    - Retina Display+ upwards of 960x1600 (double WP7 [480x800] makes things easy)
    - Front-Facing Camera (who doesn't want to see my nose-hairs?)
    - Expandable Memory, or at least 32GB (I'm always listening to music and streaming doesn't always cut it)
    - Dual-Mic to support noise cancelling (talking to someone using an iPhone 4S sounds great)
    - Capacitive (Mozart), not clicky (Lumia 710), buttons

    I am getting one of those one xl's on pre order. It will be my first smart phone ( I have had an Nokia E71 for the last 2 years) so I am keen to see what all the hub-ub has been about :D

      I know what you mean, but just FYI e71 is a smartphone.

    I honestly don't know, although it's likely I'll end up staying with an iPhone since I'm 'invested' in a way (apps, music, etc). I'll wait to see how those rumours pan out.

    But I do really like the Metro interface of WP7 - I like DLB's suggestion. Wouldn't mind trying Android out but I'm not sold on the GS3.

    Me personally, as I’m on contract with my Nexus S, there’s a good chance my next phone will be whatever the next Nexus model is.

    While the concept of what Nexus really is has become somewhat muddied recently, they remain the only phones which are pretty much guarenteed to have support from almost all third party devs and ROMs; and for me it’s far more important to be able to pick which ROM I run, apply whatever mods I want, and use my phone as I wish – than whether another phone has a slightly better screen or slightly faster processor inside it...

      if all the rumors about the next set of nexus (phones and tablet) are true, google selling them from their store i would think they will get back to the true meaning

    I currently have a HTC WP7 mobile phone and I love the OS. The phone isn't the best design though so my next phone will be a Nokia 900 but this depends on if this phone can be upgraded to WP8. If it can't be upgraded then I'll wait for the WP8 phones and make the decision then.

    One XL ftw!

    After playing with both One X and S III, I'll be getting S III. All the stories about it being so much uglier and rubbish build quality compared to One X are complete BS. Now Samsung has released source code, this will be a modders delight. Just wish they'd offer some better choices on colour; white and blue both suck.

    No rush though and maybe LG's new phone will entice me.

      Stay away from LG, don't get enticed by specs. Get the S3 or One X.

    samsung, too easy

    Not Lumia. Still too many missing features.. I will go for 808 then SGS3

    I'm sticking with my Lumia 'til my plan runs out next year - plenty of time to check out what Android and WP8 will bring to the table.

    In an ideal world, WP8 will build on the improvements in Tango and we'll see a sweet PureView handset too. As always I'll find the phone that matches my needs - and if WP8 doesn't do it for me then by then the SIII should be very, very affordable ^_^.

    My contract's run out on my Galaxy S and I'm in the market. The Galaxy S is just awful now, super slow, batteryIife is beyond horrendous and crashes often. Those sort of problems have turned me against Samsung products. I generally give a company one chance and if they disappoint me I move on, I may return many years down the line if I think they have improved. I recently bought the new ipad and a macbook air and they are fantastic devices. I especially love the integration between them, it just happens without any issues. I have my work available on whatever device I have on me, same with photo's, music etc etc. As a freelance editor that suits me just fine, I do probably half my work while travelling on planes, trains and automobiles. If the next iphone has decent specs I'll be taking a serious look at that one. If not I'll wait a bit longer for a better 4G integrated phone. An added bonus is that Apple products keep their value, I can sell them and keep upgrading while there is no hope of doing that with Samsung, the value drops down the toilet faster than you can say poopoo.

      you can't compare a 2 year old phone model with new phones.

    Got the white Galaxy S3 on Saturday - I actually prefer the white to the blue even though I originally wanted blue. Feels really slick and I like the design, this is the first Samsung phone I've owned, last phone was HTC Desire (iPhone 3G first) . Thought lil' Sammy makes such good TVs and everyone raved about the S2 so I gave it a chance... and LOVE IT!! The screen is like eye candy and the camera is really schmick. I wanted a phone with a big enough screen to stop me wasting more money on a tablet to surf the web and the 4.8in super amoled does the trick very well. So until an even newer and fancier phone comes out this is the one to get.

    currently on iPhone 3GS, waiting to see new iPhone specs and IOS6. Would love a bigger screen and non-sucky performance.

    GNOTE FTW!

    Well I lost my iPhone 4 over the weekend (boozey night out) :(. However my contract ends in July so Ive just bought a Nokia Lumina 610 to keep me going until the new iPhone comes out. I've always been intrigued and attracted to the WP7 UI so thought I'd give it a go and I must admit I'm really liking it.

    Lumia 900 for me :) Should arrive in the next few days from Optus :)

    I will be getting the Galaxy S3, I am just waiting to see how the wireless charging system works. If this system comes to Australia there is no questions asked, just take my money. As wireless charging will remove the only cable that I plug into my phone. Everything else I do is wireless, so should my charging. This will be the same with my next Tablet as well. It is a shame that the only company to think about induction charging was the HP touchpad, every tablet should have it, and if the next Samsung Tab support the same wireless charging system. No Questions asked, just take my money

      God damn I want my car to have wireless charging and an NFC bluetooth audio system.

    I have a Lumia 800, but my next phone will most likely depend on how well Microsoft handle upgrades for older devices when WP8 comes out.

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