Welcome to our regular buyer’s guide column where we break down each carrier to let you know about current promotions and pick the best devices. Each week we will rotate between the big four US carriers, so that each buyer’s guide gets refreshed every month. Read on for Verizon’s best devices and deals.
Current Promotions and News
Double Data: This month Verizon keeps their Double Data promotion that gives users double the data allowance for the same price. With the special promotion, subscribers will get 4 gigabytes for $30, 10 gigabytes for $50 and 20 gigabytes for $80. Double Data also applies to mobile hotspot plans where subscribers can now get 6 gigabytes for $50 and 12 gigabytes for $70 a month. We don't know how long this promotion will last, so take advantage of it while you still can.
12 Day Droid Sale: For the next couple weeks, Verizon if offering a 12 Day Sale that has several Droid phones on sale at only $9.99 for new activations. Sale devices include the Droid Charge, Droid X2, Droid Incredible 2, and Droid 3.
St. Patricks Day Sale: From now until March 17th, Verizon has the HTC Rhyme on sale as part of a special St. Patricks Day Sale. The device is FREE for new activations. HTC already said the Rhyme would be upgrade to Android 4.0, so this is a nice little phone for free.
Expanded 4G LTE coverage: This month Verizon announced expanded 4G LTE coverage in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Mississippi. Verizon also said that 4G LTE is coming soon to Naples, Florida.
Ice Cream Sandwich updates: This month Verizon announced 14 devices that were scheduled to receive Android 4.0. No exact dates were given, but it's nice to know these devices will be upgraded.
Even more deals: If you are not quite ready to buy yet, make sure you follow @VZWDeals for the latest Verizon offers.
Best Android Phone: Galaxy Nexus
For the second month in a row, Samsung retains the top pick. Verizon's Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the best Android phone on any carrier and that's why I picked one up on launch day. I've been extremely satisfied with my purchase and so have many others.
Verizon normally sells the phone for $299 with 2-year agreement, but Amazon has it on sale at $99 for new customers, and $259 for upgrades.
The main selling point of this phone is Android 4.0 and the promise of speedy software updates from Google. Their Nexus line of phones are always the first devices to receive the latest version of Android, which has many benefits. For example, Google just rolled out their Chrome Beta browser that is only available on Android 4.0.
Even though this is my favorite phone, there are still some weak areas that we should point out incluidng camera quality, battery life, and the external speaker. I'm quite happy with the 5 megapixel camera, but I have noticed it is not quite as good as some other Android phones, like the 8 megapixel shooter on the Galaxy S II. For the battery life, I would suggest picking up the official 2100 mAh extended battery. Verizon had it on sale for $25, so shop around and see what offers are available. Leaked details also show that Google will improve the sound volume in their Android 4.0.4 update.
Check out Anthony's full review of the Galaxy Nexus for more details.
Runner up: It's worth nothing that the Droid RAZR MAXX is also an awesome device, but it still runs Android 2.3.x at this time. We reviewed the original RAZR last year and found it to be a quality purchase, and Motorola has improved upon that with the new model that has a 3300 mAh battery with all day battery life.
Comparison of top Verizon phones: To see a complete comparison of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola RAZR MAXX, HTC Rezound, and LG Spectrum head over to gdgt.com.
Best Android Phone with Keyboard: Droid 4
Once again, this was a pretty easy choice. Many Verizon customers consider the original Droid one of their all time favorite devices, and Motorola has continued to innovate with each new model. Our very own Sean Riley will be posting his full review of the device soon, but we are confident enough in the Droid series to go ahead and recommend this device now.
The Droid 4 just launched today on Verizon, where it is being sold in stores for $199 with 2-year agreement. Like always, Amazon has it priced cheaper at $49 for new customers ($50 cheaper than last month), and $199 for upgrades.
The most notable features of the Droid 4 include support for Verizon's 4G LTE network, LED edge-lit 5-row QWERTY keyboard, 4 inch qHD display protected with Gorilla Glass, and Motorola's new Smart Actions app.
Verizon is shipping the Droid 4 with Android 2.3.5, but Motorola already announced that the Droid Bionic, RAZR, and Xyboard would be receiving Android 4.0. We expect the same treatment for the Droid 4. Motorola just delivered on their promise to upgrade the Xoom tablet to Android 4.0, and if their merger with Google goes through we should see improved software updates.
About the only negative thing we can say about the Droid 4 is its locked bootloader, something that is comment with Motorola phones. If you want a fully unlocked phone, then go with the Galaxy Nexus.
Best Android Tablet: Droid Xyboard
Because of the current data plans, I'm not a huge fan of carrier branded Android tablets. However, if you need an Android tablet with 4G LTE connectivity, then the Droid Xyboard should be your pick.
Verizon currently offers five different Xyboard models with different sizes and storage options to fit multiple budgets. The 8.2 inch Xyboard is selling at $429 for the 16 GB model and $529 for the 32 GB model. The 10.1 inch Xyboard is priced at $529 for 16 GB, $629 for 32 GB, and $729 for 64 GB. All prices are with a 2-year contract and require a data plan.
As you can see these tablets are some of the most expensive around, but they are the best tablets on the largest and fastest 4G LTE network.
If you would rather purchase a WiFi-only tablet and tether it to you phone, then I'd suggest the Asus Transformer Prime 32 GB model (available at $499 from multiple retailers).
Best Android Phone on a Budget: Incredible 2
Now that online stores offer high-end devices for $99 with new 2-year agreement, it is becoming harder and harder to suggest a budget phone. The lower priced devices generally don't receive major software updates to newer versions of Android and are outdated as soon as you buy them.
Highlights of the Droid Incredible 2 include 4-inch WVGA display, 1 GHz Snapdragon S2 processor, 8 MP rear camera, 1.3 MP front camera, 16 GB internal storage, and support for Verizon's 3G network.
Verizon already announced this device would receive Android 4.0, but we are still waiting on the exact timeline..
What's Coming Next
Not many leaks have appeared for Verizon phones launching in the next 1-2 months. The only thing on our radar is the HTC Droid Incredible 4G (aka HTC Fireball), which is likely to be a high-end device with 4G LTE. We don't know much about the specs, but it is expected to launch around April 26th.
Mobile World Congress took place last month and we saw plenty of new phones, but nothing announced for Verizon. HTC said their One X is coming to a record number of carriers, and we suspect it will eventually land on Verizon. This will be the dual-core Snapdragon S4 version that has integrated LTE.
We also saw the LG Lucid leak out, but this just looks like a refresh of the LG Spectrum. It still features the older Snapdragon S3 processor and we see nothing else about the device to make it stand out from the crowd.
The next big event when we might see new devices is CTIA Wireless, which takes place on May 8-10 in New Orleans. We expect Verizon to announce new devices at this show.
Finally, everyone is still waiting on the official announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S III. Verizon never carried the official version of the Galaxy S II, but they did have the Galaxy Nexus it its place. Hopefully Verizon can deliver a pure version of the Galaxy S III, and not some nerfed up Droid variant.
We have long wanted to maintain buyer's guides for every carrier, but it's just something we have failed to produce. As one of the most influential sources of Android information on the web, we realize that our opinions are valuable and the average consumer just wants to know what phone they should buy without having to do all the research.
Our hardcore audience lives and breaths Android, so most of them already know what device they want to buy next. However, I realize that for most of the public, reading our blog is like trying to read Swahili or some other foreign language. The purpose of these guides is to try and help the average consumer.
We would love to hear your feedback on what other sections or information should be added to the next revision. Our lead developer Clark has some amazing site features that are coming down the pipe, and we are committed to this community. I ask for your help by sharing this guide with your friends on Verizon and leaving suggestions in the comments below.