Feb 10 AT 11:50 AM Taylor Wimberly 55 Comments

Verizon Android buyer’s guide: February 2012


Welcome to a new weekly column where we break down each carrier to let you know the best devices and current promotions. Verizon Wireless was voted the top carrier in our Android Bowl (and it’s my personal carrier), so we thought that would be a good place to start. 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: As we expected, Verizon just brought back 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.

VDayConfessions: From February 13-14, tweet a creative V-Day confession to @VDayConfessions and you could win a colored Droid Razr. Tweet poems, pics, etc with #tweetheart.

BOGO: Verizon has a current Valentine’s Day promotion that allows you to purchase the 16 GB Droid RAZR at $199 and get one free. We think there are some better options for devices (see below), but if you love the thin form factor of the RAZR then this is a good deal.

Usage Controls: Do you have a family plan? Verizon just added a new feature called Usage Controls that allows you to control the amount of data that each line uses. For $4.95 per month, users can limit the amount of data consumed by lines, block ringtone purchases, and manage which apps and games are accessed.

Expanded 4G LTE Coverage: Don’t have 4G LTE in your city yet? Verizon announced this month that they are investing millions in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, KansasMissouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan to expand their network.

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

Galaxy Nexus

This was a pretty easy pick and will likely remain the best Android phone on Verizon for awhile. Google’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

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 $99 for new customers, and $149 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

Droid Xyboard 8.2

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

Droid 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.

However, if I’m forced to pick a budget phone on Verizon then I’ll go with the HTC Droid Incredible 2. Verizon sells it in stores for only $99, but Amazon has it on sale for $0.01.

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.

HTC recently announced that they were updating the Incredible S to Android 4.0, which happens to be the international version of the Droid Incredible 2. There is no guarantee that Verizon will also upgrade their model, but it’s a good sign that it could be possible.

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 Fireball, which is likely to be a high-end 4G LTE phone with slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

Mobile World Congress is taking place at the end of February, which happens to be one of the largest wireless trade shows. We expect every handset maker to announce new phones, so keep an eye on our MWC 2012 coverage. Most of the specific models that get announced will be headed to the European market, but it’s a good indication of what’s next for the US carriers.


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.

Having said all that, consider this first guide as a rough draft that will continually be updated and improved over time. We would love to hear your feedback on what other sections or information should be added to the next version. Our lead developer Clark has some amazing site features that are coming down the pipe, and we are 100% 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.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • spazby

    Great job on this post

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Any suggestions? We want to keep improving the format.

      • http://alxrock.deviantart.com alxrock

        I think a side-by-side spec comparison of your top picks would be nice to see.

        • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

          What would you like to compare? I’m not really diving into specs, because the average consumer doesn’t care about specs. I just wanted to keep it simple, focus on the best user experience, and make a single suggestion.

          There are plenty of sites like gdgt.com for comparing specs, and I don’t really want to reinvent what others are doing a great job at.

          • thekaz

            don’t think of it as reinventing, think of it as aggregating. it is incredibly annoying to have to go to multiple sites to get a complete picture on plans, phones, pros, cons, etc.

          • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

            Thanks for the feedback. We will consider this and see what we can do. I think we might have a solution you will enjoy.

          • http://alxrock.deviantart.com alxrock

            Yeah, I understand diving into specs would be going too far. I just thought maybe a side-by-side comparison of your top 2 or 3 picks would be good since everyone has their opinion of which one is best. I guess at this point probably battery life, screen-size, Android version, and price would be cool to see. I think you hit all those marks, but it’s easier to compare side-by-side rather than jumping back and forth through the article.

          • Vance

            I agree… make one of your famous “charts” to show at least the most critical specs side-by-side. Regardless this buyer’s review was a great idea and is a fantastic addition to the greatest Android blog ever!

          • GeauxLSU

            How about a little chart that shows what phones have been released since the last update, and include a few specs like Adroid version number, bootloader status, does it have NFC, expandable memory, removable battery. The kind of high level info your readers would like that Verizon doesn’t display upfront.

            Also, you can do a 2nd chart that shows price changes since the last update. You could stick with just the official carrier prices, most of your readers already know that Amazon usually has cheaper prices if you qualify for their specials. Plus I’m scared to order from Amazon in fear of them screwing up my grandfathered plan.

      • Jeff Pan

        Are you guys planning on doing one for T-Mobile, ATT and Sprint?

        • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

          Yep one per week. T-Mobile will likely be next week.

          • Jeff Pan


        • Vance

          Voted down for not reading the article! :P

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

        Great series! I would suggest having a few always-there sections (you hit most of them):

        1. Best phone with a backup suggestion or two (check)
        2. Budget option (check)
        3. Recommended non-mainstream phones (i.e. keyboard, gaming controls, etc.) (check)
        4. Upcoming “hot” devices that many might want to wait for if you’re up for an upgrade today (kinda missing)

        I personally don’t think tablets really need to be included. Just like you, I think carrier-branded tablets are mostly a waste of money – they’re WAY overpriced and lock you into expensive plans when wifi is fine for most. However, if you find there is demand for this section, then by all means, include it!

        For point #4, you might have kinda covered that by talking about MWC (since clearly many announcements are being held until then) but I think the real value here is to help keep somebody from having buyer’s remorse 1-2 months after buying a phone because something awesome was released. There may or may not always be obvious choices here, plus with the rumors I understand this is sometimes difficult. But I think this is sometimes a VERY important thing for people making a purchase they’re stuck with for a long time.

        • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

          Thanks for your comments. To point #4, we will include specific devices when there are some rumored ones out there. Not much has leaked out that is specific to Verizon in the next 1-2 months.

          • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

            Yeah, VZW is kinda boring now after their 75 releases during the second half of last year. ;-)

        • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

          Okay, I want to revise this a bit. You should have 2 sections for “Best Phone”: 1) Best Phone to Hack on 2) Best Phone for a non-Hacker.

          This comes from a lower discussion about you picking the Razr Maxx over the Rezound. For hacking, clearly the Nexus is the #1 pick but the #2 pick would be the Rezound and not the Razr Maxx. But for a consumer, I think #1 and #2 would be the Razr Maxx and the Nexus (not sure which order they should be in – I’m biased towards the Nexus).

      • uknowme

        Well done! I don’t know if there is anything else to add. The only thing I would like to see is a link for each phone. Either to the carrier page or manufacturer page.

      • AmericanJedi001

        It would be very nice if you would provide a little more in-depth discussion of the carriers themselves. I, for one, am considering switching carriers (Sprint -> Verizon) due to fairly poor average signal here (Longview, TX). It would be nice to have more information at hand, aggregated on this site, for making that choice.

        I think what you’ve done with the different categories of phones is nice, though I would definitely recommend linking to reviews of the phones.


  • dpleus

    Great post guys. Several other blogs I read have similar features, and I enjoy reading them, but I have to admit that you took the “Best Phone For Your Carrier” idea to the next level with the Verizon Android buyers guide. The additions to the post of on going deals, tablets, and coming soon put this a cut above the rest. I look forward to next months.

    • thekaz

      I agree with this comment.. the “deals” section is great for those of us perhaps not actively looking for a phone, but deals on upgrades or whatnot.

  • http://alxrock.deviantart.com alxrock

    It’s hard to think about buying a phone right now with MWC coming up in a couple weeks.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      True there are new phones to be announced at MWC, but most likely not for Verizon. I’d say the Galaxy Nexus is a safe buy since we won’t see another Nexus device till next Christmas.

      • http://alxrock.deviantart.com alxrock

        yeah, I can’t wait to see your Sprint buyers guide, but I’ll probably hold off on upgrading until CTIA comes around

      • Vance

        I’m seriously considering picking up the Galaxy Nexus from Amazon with that deal.. I move back to UT from AK in March and will be traveling from there for work (to a bunch of the states you mentioned are due for a 4G update – so thanks for the info!) Do you think I should just wait until I get back to UT before I buy in case VZ does make an announcement an MWC??
        Unrelated side note on the Tablet section… what about doing an ALL Tablet buyer’s guide monthly instead and include best carrier specific tablets, non-carrier specific tablets, etc?

  • kk

    Personal opinions aside razor maxx over rezound?

    Hell if the rezound had ics I’d choose that over the samcrap nexus any day.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      MAXX has the best battery life. Rezound has beats audio. Those are the two distinguishing factors. If you are into hacking, Moto locks their bootloaders, while HTC lets you unlock them. Both are great devices, but I’d go with the Galaxy Nexus :)

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

        There’s also the screen differences – qHD vs 720p.

        I totally agree with you, though. If you’re into hacking your phone, you want the Nexus and not the Rezound UNLESS you have a specific reason for it, at which point, why do you need this article?

  • WolfHavenXIII

    Is it even possible to use a 20gb data plan… I mean I stream videos, music, and download large apps on my 2gb plan and have never gone over. Plus spending 80 bucks a month on mobile internet seems ridiculous.

    • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

      You can pull 20GB pretty easily over 4G. In fact, you could theoretically pull in 20GB over a 20mbps 4G connection (common speed we see) in under 2.5 hrs. If you’re watching HD movies, this can be consumed fairly quickly. A lowball bitrate (not recommended – 2.5mbps is a better quality minimum) for a 720p movie is ~1.5mbps. If you watch a 2hr movie at a 1.5mbps bitrate, that’s 1.35GB (1.5Mbps*8b/B*60s/min*120min = 1350MB). There are certainly people who will stream a few movies per month or even many TV shows per month in HD – this adds up quickly!

  • fletchtb

    It might be nice to see a list of all the Android phones available on the carrier when posting these buying guides. While I understand you took a position of recommending the RAZR Maxx over the Rezound, it might be nice to see a complete list of Android phones for sale at the time.

  • Hue Three of Five

    Galaxy Nexus is intriguing. May look into it. Are any of you having the reported data/radio issues? I have had radio issues with previous Samsung phones.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Nope no issues here on Verizon in Dallas. I have heard that the pending Android 4.0.4 update has 3G/4G radio switch improvements.

      • Hue Three of Five

        Thanks for the reply. It’s a toss up between the Rezound and Gnex for me now. Ditching my horrible Bionic.

  • zyphbear

    This is a very well thought out guide with several options for those considering a switch. I really commend your research and leaving it open to updating when needed.

  • thekaz

    if you could pull off putting these together in a nice infographic form (you know, those nice looking, colorful ones that are all the rage) for quicker browsing, I think you’d have a huge hit on your hands…

  • new category

    personally I’d like to see new category. Sure Galaxy Nexus is the Best Android Phone all around probably for another 6 months at least , but some people would prefer longer batter life to latest software.

    I prefer Nexus to any phone in any day, but having “Best Android Phone with longest battery life” would be nice :)

    Anyhow, I like your guide

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I think I addressed the battery life of the Galaxy Nexus by mentioning the optional 2100 mAh battery for $25. It’s what I use and it gets me through the day. For those that want even longer battery life, I suggested the MAXX.

  • RBI411

    When you guys do CDMA/GSM or just GSM phones I’d greatly appreciate it if you would list 2G/3G bands and HSPA+ speed. There are so many conflicting spec lists from aggregate sites that it’d make the lives of people much easier if the community would just say which band are present.

  • AceoStar

    Like this, very helpful for newsers.

  • Ken

    Best Android phone on a budget should be a pre-paid phone, like the Motorola Triumph. Monthly fees are as low as $35 including voice and 3G data.

  • http://www.jeffkibuule.com Jeff

    Too bad this doesn’t apply to the MiFi hotspot plans. =/

  • PsychEroc

    Great article, can’t wait for monthly updates! But what about upcoming tablets? Transformer Prime coming to VZ? In each section, how about addressing the question: Should I buy this now or should I wait for something better? For example, the Xyboard isn’t receiving the best reviews, so buyers might want to wait a month or so for the next big thing.

  • Mike

    I would like to ditch my Thunderbolt for the Razr Maxx. Do you see any phones coming out of the MWC for Verizon that are worth the wait? I want something with an excellent battery. I don’t want to add a brick to my phone so I can go a full day.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Get the MAXX if you want battery life. Moto will update it to Android 4.0 and it should be a great device. You can wait for MWC, but most of those new devices won’t hit the US till the summer.

  • Nathan D.

    Nice can’t wait what you have for t-mobile since I upgrade next week =) hopefully there will be rumored phones for this company that I can look forward to.

  • J240

    I wish you would have done T-mobile’s article this week. I am over my MT4G’s problems so I am going to try to pick up the SGS2 tomorrow with their Vday deal. However, I am worried about what’s around the corner for Tmobile and really hoping I don’t get buyer’s remorse in just a few short weeks during MWC. I know the SGS2 is one of the best phones for Tmobile right now (and will be a huge upgrade from the mytouch), but it is also steadily aging. Any thoughts or comments?

  • Chris Lewis

    here is my buyers guide:

    Wait for the Galaxy S III…..At least till the end of summer.

  • T1392

    Hey Taylor i picked up my galaxy nexus from costco over the weekend. Paid $240.80 out the door its listed as $219.00 they also give you a rebate for a free extended battery & cover. To top it off every phone purchashed at Costco they give you a bag with free holster & belt clip case, a car charger thats also a car charger thats also a house charger & screen protectors(that you have to cut) i recommend using zagg screen protectors i got mine fully shielded last night. Spread the word!!!

    • Zagg

      Sounds like a fantastic deal!!!

      Btw I don’t recommend using Zagg that you bought :D

  • Richard Yarrell

    Personally i am proud of my choice of the Galaxy Nexus. Yes on Verizon this is the best device and that will be for a while. I brought this device for the sole purpose of learning and truly making my device my own. Yes ICS made me do it but having my first stock device was truly a driving force. Great article and feedback..

  • Santiago

    Great post. Really nailed the info I wanted and I consider myself pretty knowledgeable, so I think you touched up on info most people want. Keep up the good work.

  • Goo!

    What about phones to avoid? You mentioned lower-end devices aren’t the best due to lack of updates, etc. But what about terrible high-end devices? Also, when your other guides are up and running, how about giving readers comparable choices on other carriers? Example – say you just updated sprint’s guide so that post is the one you read first and perhaps you see a phone you like but you’re on t-mo and wonder if they have something similar. I dunno just spitballin’. Great post, btw really well thought out.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Good idea. Making a list of phones to avoid would be pretty easy.

  • JordanC

    Thanks for posting these buyer’s guides. I read your site for the sole purpose of trying to figure out what phone/provider I should be getting when my plan expires. I think this site really has the potential to take off if you start a section devoted to the average joe. I don’t know anything about rooting or whatever, but I find the reviews and easy stuff really helpful! Thank you!