Happy Festivus, everyone! In honor of the upcoming holiday, we're looking at the top Android phones of the season, both in general and by carrier.
Today, it's time to tackle Sprint. The "Now Network" may not have the most extensive lineup of exciting phones right now, but it does have a handful of high-end handsets well worth considering.
So without further ado, here are the three current Sprint devices that stand out the most to me (in no particular order):
Samsung Galaxy S III
Maybe you've heard of this one? Samsung's Galaxy line has won over legions of fans, and there's a reason. The Galaxy S III offers an eye-catching display, excellent camera, and top-notch performance, all secured inside a smooth and sexy outer shell that you won't want to put down.
Some of Samsung's design decisions do take away from the overall user experience -- namely the company's awkward button setup and busy UI -- but the Galaxy S III has plenty of positive qualities to balance those things out. Just ask the millions of happy Galaxy owners out there.
LG Optimus G
LG may not be known for Android home runs, but with its Optimus G, the company is ready for a comeback. The Optimus G is the device upon which the new Nexus 4 flagship Android phone is based, and there's good reason why Google picked it: The phone has a distinctive design with outstanding hardware, including a great display and a powerful engine. The result is a phone that looks and performs like a premium, top-of-the-line product.
The Optimus G does use LG's own custom user interface instead of the pure Android experience the Nexus 4 provides. The company's UI is a bit over the top for my tastes -- and I do worry about the implications it may have on future upgrade availability -- but compared to other manufacturers' takes on Android, the setup really isn't half-bad. Some of LG's modifications are actually kind of interesting. If you accept the phone as its own unique entity and don't go in expecting a stock Android experience, you'll find a nice little package with a lot of novel touches.
The Optimus G is available from Sprint for $200 with a new two-year contract.
Samsung Galaxy Note II
If you can't decide whether to carry a phone or a tablet, Samsung's Galaxy Note II may be just the thing for you. The Note II takes the same basic design and hardware from the Galaxy S III and supersizes it, with a gorgeous 5.5-in. display packed inside a hulking 3.2 x 5.9 in. frame.
The Note II also includes a superb stylus, which could be a meaningful perk for artists or anyone who likes the idea of being able to draw directly on the screen.
Like with the Galaxy S III, I do feel that some of Samsung's design decisions hold the Note II back from reaching the levels of greatness it could so easily achieve, but the product's many positive qualities certainly offer a compelling package even so. If you're comfortable with the plus-sized form, there's really a lot to like about this device.
The Galaxy Note II is available from Sprint for $300 with a new two-year contract.
Sprint's HTC Evo 4G LTE ($100 from Sprint after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a two-year contract) shares many of the same elements as the stellar HTC One X, but the phone inexplicably still ships with last year's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS -- and HTC has yet to say a word about if or when it'll be upgraded to the current Jelly Bean-level release. (Update: Hallelujah! The 4.1 upgrade is finally available for the phone as of December 13.)
If you like having a physical keyboard with your phone, meanwhile, Motorola's Photon Q 4G LTE ($200 from Sprint with a two-year contract) offers a commendable slider along with some decent hardware. It isn't the most wow-inducing phone you can buy at the moment, but if a QWERTY keyboard is on your must-have list, it's a solid option to consider.
And that's a wrap for Sprint! Still to come this week: the top three Android phones of the season for T-Mobile and Verizon. You can find the rest of the Android Power "Top 3" picks at the links below.
THE FULL SERIES: