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The best and worst phones to buy right now

  • Hold off on iPhone
  • Android's wide approach starting to work
  • Avoid Windows Phone altogether
Written by Adam Wajnberg
25/06/2012

We're getting towards the end of the financial year, which is a hot season for new mobiles in Australia. Corporate contracts are usually up for renewal, as are many personal 2 year agreements. Network operators are starting to look at inventories and seeing which handsets need a push out the door.

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Alas, handsets are released to align with European, Japanese, Korean and US financial calendars, meaning every major smartphone line is stuck in a bit of a mid-way point. With the market so volatile right now, this is a real concern for more than just early adopters who need the latest handset - there are several manufacturers with sketchy futures, who might not be around to help support your handset by the time your next two year contract is up! The whole market is so hotly competitive right now that phones are becoming obsolete within 6 months, let alone 2 years.

Here's a quick quide on what to look for, what to avoid, and which phones to disregard altogether.

Good to go

HTC One X

 

HTC One X - The last great hope of the ailing Taiwanese manufacturer is that rarest of things - a hyped Android phone that meets the hype. With its big, beautiful screen, 8MP camera and fluid, unobtrusive Android interface, the One X is the surprise hit of the year from a company that looked doomed to shrivel next to Samsung. Even with the breakneck pace of Android development, the One X packs plenty of grunt and should be suitable for the next 2 Android upgrades, if not more.

Best deal (12 months) - Vodafone $74/month ($59 plan + $15 handset repayment). Comes with &750 cap credit, 1.5Gb of data, Infinite text to all networks and infininte calls to Vodafone and 3 numbers. Call 1300 106 571.

Best Deal (24 months) - Dodo $72.90/month ($59 cap + $13 handset repayment). Comes with free calls and text to all networks, 5GB data, includes 1300 and 1800 numbers. Optus Open Network. Call 1300 136 793.

samsung galaxy s3

Samsung Galaxy S3 - Samsung's follow up to the first true Android superstar (the S2) is good in all the right places, but the whole seems a little underwhelming. Samsung's flagship suffers from a less rigid design than the One X, and Samsung's overlay on Android is just a smidge too 'helpful' in all the wrong ways. Still, on paper it's a beaut, and with expandable storage (up to 64GB) and a quad core processor, it should last 2 or 3 seasons before looking old, if trends continue.

Best deal (12 months) - Vodafone $84/month ($59 plan + $25 handset repayment). Comes with &750 cap credit, 1.5Gb of data, Infinite text to all networks and infininte calls to Vodafone and 3 numbers. Call 1300 106 571.

Best Deal (24 months) - Virgin Mobile Fair Go $64/month ($59 plan + $5 handset repayment). $700 cap credit, unlimited text to all networks, 2Gb data, free calls Virgin to Virgin. Oh, and 3 months free. Call 1300 768 103 (offer ends June 30).

Good, but maybe hold off

iPhone - I know, I know. Nothing else is an iPhone, except another iPhone. You want it now, not in September or October. But really, you have to believe me - it's the very worst phone to buy right this minute. The next version of the operating system, iOS 6, has been released to developers and contains heaps of features that don't correspond to the most recent model (the 4S), which is a sure hint that when the new operating system goes live to the rest of us, it will come with a new model with a brand new feature set. This is a bad time to get stuck into a contract with this phone, even a 12 month contract.

Best deal (12 months) - Vodafone will give you a 16GB version for $27 a month on the $59 plan. Don't say we didn't warn you.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note- The oversized behemoth "phablet" (phone/tablet) is a sight to behold. Despite only just edging out similar phones by a few centimetres, there is still something truly impressive and cool about the Note. It's also packed with features, including the S-Pen which is not perfect, but provides a better stylus experience than any other 3rd party hardware. The only problem may be the processor - the Note packs the outdated Snapdragon system chip, and only a dual core processor. That seems like a lot of power, and it is - but it's a good bet that Samsung and HTC are going to continue the processor arms race for a while, forcing more and more apps that will rely on more and more power. With the Note a surprise success, expect Samsung to release a refined, and more high-powered version very soon.

Best deal (24 months) - Optus $61/month ($50 plan + $11 handset repayment). This one comes with your first two months free, which is nice. Includes $500 cap value, 1GB of data, and unlimited SMS to all networks. The phone is free on the $60 plan, which includes 1.5GB of data, $650 cap value and unlimited calls to Optus mobiles, but no 2 months free offer. Call 1300 768 194 (offer ends June 30).

AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE

Nokia Lumia - The best Windows Phone out there is also the quickest to become obsolete. Despite being on the market less than a year (2 months in the case fo the Lumia 900), the Lumia line has already been end-dated, with Microsoft having announced that Windows Phone 8, due for release in September, won't be rolled out to any existing handsets. Nuts.

Motorola RAZR - The RAZR is a pretty fine phone, but it might be the last hurrah for the brand. We're all still waiting to see what Google's going to do with Motorola's handset division, which it now owns outright. It's a good bet that if another Motorola phone comes along, it will be something special. Alas, the RAZR is not something special.

BlackBerry Anything - We've taken plenty of shots here at BlackBerry, some of which has been over the top. But even if you're loyal to the brand, you'll want to wait until later this year, when a new range of handsets sporting OS10 and the latest QNX software should be on offer. The current range is a year old now. There is also the very real chance that BlackBerry will be sold off for scrap any day now, or drop out of the business entirely.

 

 

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