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Thread: Our Holiday Gift Guide

  1. #1
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    Our Holiday Gift Guide

    It’s that time of year again. If you’ve been good maybe you’ll get a shiny new Galaxy Note II. Then again, perhaps you’ve been bad and all you can hope for is a refurbished hand-me-down flip phone. Assuming you’ve been good, the question is now, which phone should you get?

    Here are my suggestions on on the top 10 phones for the holidays. Note that all prices are for contract unless otherwise stated and is as of November 16th 2012.

    #1: Tie: Samsung Galaxy Note II and Apple iPhone 5:



    To me, this choice was easy. The only hard part was which one to put first.

    If you want the fastest phone that runs iOS then the only choice you have is which colour you want and what size you want.

    The 5 is fast, thin, fast, and a good all-around device. The screen is great and works well in a variety of environments. It’s about the only phone that’s really usable with just one hand, the speaker is louder than most other phones. There are tons of cases and other accessories from it.



    If the iPhone 5 is a no-brainer than the Note II is the obvious choice. It’s the poster child for what you can do with Android.

    When I think of Android and it’s strengths, the Note II is the clear choice for me. Not only can you land a plane on it’s huge 5.5” display but it also comes with software to make use of it. When I take the train I keep my iPhone 5 in my pocket because I’ve got my hands full with the Note II. I can watch videos while surfing the web, emailing and checking out what my friends are doing. Probably the best thing about the Note II is it’s huge 3100mAh battery. While the large display does suck a lot of power, the battery is up to the task. It’s one of the few phones that will last the day for me - even with a moderate amount of tethering!

    Note II available in grey or white on: TELUS ($199.99), Rogers ($199.99), Bell ($199.99), Wind ($399.99), Mobilicity ($659.99 no contract)

    Apple iPhone 5 available in black or white on: TELUS, Rogers, Bell, Koodo, Fido, Virgin. 16GB ($179.00), 32GB ($279.99), 64GB ($379.99)

    3: LG Optimus G:



    I’ll be honest, when I got the G, I figured I would end up writing a less-than-glowing review for it. Turns out, other than the camera, I loved using the Optimus G. While I wish it shipped with the latest version of Android, LG has done a great job with the Optimus G’s software. I really think a lot of it’s customizations will really connect with customers. The hardware is solid. 2GB of RAM and a bleeding-edge quad-core processor from Qualcomm, make the G a master of multi-tasking. The screen looks great and plus I love the Gorilla Glass front and back. The back has an class polarized effect that screams expensive.

    Note that the Rogers version is slightly different. It supports a different LTE frequency which right now allows for faster network speeds. However, this band only works on Rogers (and Bell) so I’d say get the TELUS and Bell version because it’s more flexible.

    LG Optimus G available on: TELUS ($129.99), Rogers ($129.99), Bell ($129.99).

    #4 Nokia Lumia 920:

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    As a father of a very active toddler, I’m constantly taking video. My kid never stops moving so taking smooth video is a bit of a challenge. When I can, I try to use my camcorder that has optical image stabilization - it really helps to smooth things out but the problem is I don’t usually carry my camcorder in my pocket.

    Enter the Lumia 920 with it’s image stabilization. Now I can keep a camcorder with image stabilization in my pocket.

    Besides image stabilization, the 920 runs Windows Phone 8 which if you also have a Window 8 or Window RT computer, will allow you to have a similar user interface across all your devices. Use Skydrive and you’ll have a seamless experience across all your devices.

    Nokia Lumia 920 available on: Rogers ($99.99)

    #5 HTC 8X:

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    While I prefer the Lumia 920, I’d say the 8x is the smartest looking Windows Phone 8. HTC has been working and refining their design language for the past couple of years. While I respect that they’re not just trying to copy the competition, not all of their designs are shall we say... Well... let’s just say they’re not my type.

    Not the 8x though. HTC absolutely nailed the 8X’s design. Next to the 8x, the Nokia Lumia 920 looks bulky while the ATIV-S just looks like a toy.

    Not only does it look fantastic, it feels as good in my hand as it looks. Just be careful, the 8X only comes with 8GB or 16GB of storage which may not be enough for everyone. Skip the 8GB.

    16GB HTC 8X available on: Bell ($49.95), Rogers ($99.99)

    #6 Sony Xperia T:



    So, you’re probably wondering why I picked the ‘James Bond phone’. While the T lacks a quad-core processor, like the Note II and Optimus G, there’s more to a phone than how many cores it has. While the T’s specs aren’t bad, what sets it apart is it’s design. It’s probably the coolest Android phone available right now. The back has an awesome finish - it reminds me of a gun. Hopefully 007 doesn’t mistake the T for his PPK.

    Sony Xperia T available from Mobilicity ($499.99 no contract), Rogers ($99.99), Bell ($99.99)

    #7 HTC One X+:



    When the original One X came out about 7 months ago, it was almost the perfect phone, great screen, snappy performance, fast camera. The only problem was that it only came with 16GB of storage - that itself isn’t a problem. What’s wrong was that 16GB was all you could ever hope to get because it wasn’t expandable. Between apps, pictures and video 16GB fills up awful quickly - especially since only 11GB out of 16GB were available.

    The One X+ fixes this problem with 64GB of built-in storage. While you can’t expand it I suspect 64GB should be enough for most people. If that’s not enough the X+ has Nvidia’s latest quad-core processor and a bigger 2100mAh battery.

    HTC One X+ available from TELUS.

    #8 Google Nexus 4:



    The Nexus 4 is an interesting device. At $309 for the 8GB version and $359 for the 16GB, it’s both much cheaper and at the same time much more expensive than most of the other devices listed here. You see, the Nexus 4 (at least here in Canada) is sold unlocked from Google. That means you don’t have to sign a contract to get one. Many of the devices in this guide cost more than $600 if you don’t sign a contract but since most people do, the phone itself is cheaper.

    Moving past the price, the Nexus 4 is the cousin of the LG Optimus G. Same screen, processor, camera, etc. The big difference that the Nexus 4 lacks the G’s LTE, is only available with 8GB or 16GB of storage plus it has separate menu keys. On the other hand, the Nexus 4 has the latest version of Android along with built-in support for wireless charging plus it penta-band HSPA support (useful if you change carriers a lot).

    If you do get a Nexus 4, do yourself a favour and skip the 8GB version. 8GB is only enough to fit a couple of large games.

    Whenever Google releases a new version of Android, their Nexus devices usually get them first unless they’re not powerful enough. Judging from previous Nexus devices, the 4 should be good for at least 2 more future updates. The Nexus One went from 2.0 to 2.3, Nexus S from 2.3 to 4.1 with possibly more updates to come.

    16GB Google Nexus 4 available from Android Play Store for $359.99, currently sold out though keep your eyes peeled because I’ll be giving one away here soon.

    #9 Samsung Galaxy S III:



    Hard to believe but the GS3 is the second oldest phone in my top ten. While it’s only about 6 months old, it’s still a great phone. It shipped with Android version 4.0 and is about to get 4.1. It has a useful camera along with some useful (and some not-so-useful) Samsung customizations. Since it’s so popular there are tons of accessories available for it too.

    You can get it with either 16GB of 32GB of storage. Since it has a microSD slot my advice is to get the 16GB and spend another 25 bucks on a brand-name 32GB microSD. If you have lots of media get a 64GB microSD for around 60 bucks (that’s what I have).

    There’s a reason why Samsung sells so many GS3’s.

    The GS3 has been out for a while now so if you can, hold out for a sale.

    Samsung Galaxy S III available in white or blue from: Rogers ($159.99), Bell ($159.99, also has a red version), TELUS ($159.00), Mobilicity ($599.99), Wind ($299.99), Virgin ($159.99)

    #10 Samsung ATIV-S:

    If you read the ATIV-S’s spec sheet you might think that’s it’s a variant of the Galaxy S III. Same processor, same screen, slightly bigger battery. The ATIV-S is basically a Galaxy S III that runs Windows Phone 8.

    So how is the ATIV-S different from the Lumia 920 and 8X? First off, it’s got the biggest screen of the bunch. After all, what’s better than a big screen? An even bigger screen! Out of the bunch what really sets the ATIV-S apart is that it has a MicroSD slot. This gives it the most flexible storage out of the 3.

    The ATIV-S is about to come out. It will be available on TELUS, Rogers and Bell.

    Buying Used:

    Before I sign off, one thing to consider is buying a slightly used phone. Take, for example, the HTC One X. It’s still a pretty current phone that cost over $600 when it came out around 6 months ago. I picked one up one in perfect condition recently for $300. Heck, as long as you’re not looking for an iPhone, or to a less extent, a Samsung Galaxy and aren’t looking to sign a contract you can probably get most of these phones for far cheaper than you can from a carrier.

    I like to remind people that phones don’t get any slower as they get older, it’s just that they may not be able to run the latest software a year from now. That said, Android as a platform has reached a level of maturity that pretty much any phone that has a minimum set of specs will probably be good for the next couple of years.

    Here are my minimum recommended Android specs:
    Dual core processor or better
    1GB of RAM or more
    4GB+ of storage if there is a microSD slot, 16GB if there isn’t.
    800x480 display or better

    When it comes to dual core processors, anything that’s newer than Nvidia’s Tegra 2 should be fine. That includes Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 and S4, Ericsson’s NovaThor U8500, Samsung’s dual core Exynos processors, etc.

    I didn’t mention the camera because how good a camera is can’t be quantified by the number of megapixels it has. A camera can have 13MP and take lousy pictures.

    I skipped batteries too not because they’re not important but because it just determines how long you can use a phone between charges. Obviously, the more mAh’s you can get the better.

    In any case, I hope you get the phone of your dreams! Happy holidays!
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by howard; 12-10-2012 at 01:07 AM.

    New Infinity Blade character

    My iPhone 5 ringtone: Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.

    Our reviews:

    ZTE Open| Samsung Galaxy Note 3 | Apple iPhone 5c | Apple iPhone 5s | LG G2 | Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in pictures | Samsung Galaxy Mega | 2013 Nexus 7 | Cel-Fi Signal Booster | Huawei Ascend Y300 | Motorola Moto X | Blackberry Q5 | Motorola Moto X | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7" | Belkin NetCam HD | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8" | Belkin WeMo Switch | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1" | Nexus 7 2012 vs 2013 | Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 | MugenPower GS4 Battery | Huawei Ascend Y210 | Huawei B890 Router | Nokia Lumia 520 | Blackberry Q10 | ZTE F160 | Samsung Galaxy S4 | HTC One | Sony Xperia ZL | Nokia Lumia 620 | Samsung ATIV-S | Blackberry Z10 | Samsung Galaxy Camera | Reflections on 2012 | HTC Windows Phone 8s | Samsung Rugby LTE | Huawei D Quad XL | Google Nexus 4 | Apple iPad Mini | HTC One X+ | HTC Windows Phone 8X | Nokia Lumia 920 | Sony Xperia T | Parrot Zik | LG Optimus G | Samsung Galaxy Note II | Motorola DEFY PRO | Motorola RAZR HD LTE | From iOS to Android | Apple iPhone 5 | HoFo at the CWTS coverage | Rogers LTE Rocket Hub ZTE MF28B | Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 launch | Motorola RAZR V | Motorola ATRIX HD LTE | Back to School Guide | HTC One V | Huawei Ascend P1 | Sony Xperia ION | Nokia Lumia 610 | Nexus 7 | LG Optimus L7 | HTC Titan II | Sony Xperia U | OtterBox Commuter for HTC One X | Samsung Galaxy S III | HTC One S | Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE | Nokia Lumia 900 | HTC One X | Apple iPad 3 | Sony Xperia S | Samsung Galaxy Note | Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 | Nokia Lumia 710 | Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0 | Casemate Pop for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Commuter for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Defender for Galaxy Nexus | Nokia Lumia 800 | Motorola Pro+ | Blackberry Curve 9360 | Asus Transformer Prime | Galaxy S Glide | Blackberry Bold 9790 | Nokia N9 | 2011 Gift Guide | HTC Amaze 4G | Acer ICONIA Tab A501 | LG Optimus LTE | Case Mate TANK | Samsung Galaxy S II LTE | Motorola RAZR | Samsung Galaxy Nexus

  2. #2
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    Seems about right .... good tips
    Good order.

    Me I hate the lack of flexibility of the iPhone, being a slave to iTunes, paying to much but I know these factors are only my opinion and the iPhone 5 is the best yet.

  3. #3
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    You don't have to use iTunes anymore; this was changed over a year ago. Contacts, calendars, software updates, apps, etc. can all be downloaded over the air; music can be pushed to your device through iTunes in the Cloud.

    And Howard, yep great advice as always.

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    Re: Our Holiday Gift Guide

    Great guide Howard this should help many with their choices this season.

    Sent from my SGH-I317M using HowardForums

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    Re: Our Holiday Gift Guide

    Sick Howard. This makes me want to buy a used Galaxy S3.

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note 2

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    Nice write-up, patiently waiting for my Note 2 in the mail

  7. #7
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    Great info and write up once again Howard.

  8. #8
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    8X looks so sleek!

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    +1 Howard, spot on with what seems to be the only logical choices around.

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    ativ s looks nice!

  11. #11
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    My vote is for the note 2. I'm loving mine.

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    My vote --- Nexus 4!

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    I phone 5 or nexus 4

  14. #14
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    Of course Nokia lumia .

  15. #15
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    Re: Our Holiday Gift Guide

    Loving the Note 2. You will not be disappointed with the choice.

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