This year saw Android smartphones grow by leaps and bounds and Google Inc. release the latest version of its Operating System - Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich - in the latter half of the year.
The exponential growth of the Android OS is evident from the Twitter statement of Andy Rubin, the Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google. According to Rubin, there are now over 700,000 Android devices activated every day. Earlier in June, Rubin, who oversees the development of the Android software, said there were over 500,000 activations.
The Android operating system is well supported by a strong ecosystem comprising the Android Market, on which the actual total number of applications leapt to over 500,000 in September 2011, according to mobile research firm Research2Guidance. The number, though marginally less than Apple's App Store - which houses 600,000, is a strong number.
Following are our top 10 Android smartphones of 2011: Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Vivid, LG Nitro HD, HTC Rezound, Motorola Droid Razr, HTC Evo 3D, Motorola Droid Bionic, HTC Inspire 4G and Motorola Atrix 2.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus:
Ever since it was released on Verizon's network, on Dec. 15, the much-awaited Galaxy Nexus has topped the smartphone charts and received positive reviews from experts.
The Galaxy Nexus, which features Google's Ice Cream Sandwich, was also known as Samsung Google Nexus Prime, Samsung Google Galaxy Nexus I9250, Samsung Google Nexus 3 and Samsung Google Nexus 4G.
The Ice Cream Sandwich is a combination of Gingerbread and Honeycomb in one unit that includes, among other features, widgets in a new tab, a customizable launcher, Gmail with offline search and a two-line preview and a new action bar at the bottom. The software also has better voice integration, improved copy and paste functions and a new tabbed Web browser that allows up to 16 tabs.
The Galaxy Nexus comes with dual-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, TI OMAP 4460 chipset, 4.65-inch high-definition Super AMOLED display, 1GB of RAM, 16 or 32GB of internal memory, Near Field Communication (NFC), 4G LTE support, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p video capture and 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls. On the flip side, the phone doesn't come with expandable memory and does not support Google Wallet.
Verizon Wireless sells the Galaxy Nexus for $299.99 on a two-year contract.
Samsung Galaxy S2:
The Galaxy S2 is one of Samsung's best-selling smartphones and proof of that fact is that it does not lag behind on the specifications front. Both the T-Mobile and Sprint versions of the device have 4.52-inch display screens, whereas the AT&T version retains the 4.3-inch screen of the versions sold worldwide.
The Galaxy S2, in general, comes with a 4.3-inch WVGA SUPER AMOLED Plus display with resolution of 800 x 480 pixels at 217 ppi, 1.2GHz dual-core chip and 1GB RAM. It also features an 8 megapixel camera with flash and can record HD video in 1080p. The phone also has a front-facing 2 megapixel camera for video chat.
The Galaxy S2, currently running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, is expected to get an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade in early 2012.
The HTC Vivid, running on the Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread operating system, features a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor and 4.5-inch qHD S-LCD display with 960 x 540 pixels of resolution and about 245 ppi pixel density.
The phone has 1GB of RAM, 16 or 32GB of internal memory that can be expanded up to 32GB with a microSD card, an 8 megapixel dual-LED flash camera with 1080p video capture and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing secondary camera for video chat.
With a two-year AT&T contract, the Vivid is priced at $199.99.
LG Nitro HD:
The Nitro HD, available on AT&T's network, is the first smartphone in the AT&T portfolio with a true high definition screen. LG's device, which takes advantage of its new proprietary True HD technology, has a 4.5-inch AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In-Plane Switching) display that supports resolutions up to 1280 x 720 pixels.
The smartphone, which runs on Google's Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, has a dual-core 1.5 GHz Scorpion processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory with a 16GB microSD card included, an 8 megapixel rear-facing LED flash camera with 1080p video capture and a secondary front-facing camera for video calls.
With a two-year AT&T contract, the Nitro HD is priced at $249.99.
The HTC Rezound, which was previously codenamed HTC Vigor, was released on Nov.14 and is available at Verizon for $299.99 on contract. The Rezound, which runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, is said to be the only phone in the United States with Beats Audio integration.
Apart from this, the smartphone sports a 4.3-inch super LCD screen which provides 720 x 1280 pixel resolution. It is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8660 processor and Adreno 220 GPU and features an 8 megapixel camera in the rear and a 2 megapixel camera in the front. The phone has 16GB of internal memory which can be expanded up to 32GB with a microSD card.
Motorola Droid Razr:
The Motorola Droid Razr is an Android-based, 4G LTE-capable smartphone that was launched on Verizon Wireless on Nov. 11. Verizon offers the Razr, said to be thinnest smartphone in the Motorola camp - it is 7.1 mm thick and weighs 127 grams - for $299.99.
The Droid Razr sports a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced qHD display, offering resolution of 540 x 960 pixels. The device is made with KEVLAR fiber and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass and runs on Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) operating system. In addition, the smartphone has an 8 megapixel rear camera, 1.3 megapixel front camera and has a 1.2GHz dual-core Texas Instruments processor and PowerVR SGX 540 GPU.
HTC Evo 3D:
The HTC Evo 3D is an Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone that allows for the creation and viewing of 3D content through the use of two 5 megapixel rear-facing cameras and a glasses-free 3D-capable 4.3-inch qHD touch screen providing 540 x 960 pixel resolution. In the United States, the Evo 3D is available exclusively on Sprint's network.
In addition, the device has a 1.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor, 1.3 megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM and 1GB internal memory expandable up to 32GB.
Sprint offers the Evo 3D for $199.99 with 2-year contract.
Motorola Droid Bionic:
The Droid Bionic, which runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, comes with a 4.3-inch HD screen featuring the Corning Gorilla scratch-free glass, a front-facing camera for video chat, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, Adobe Flash preloaded, 32GB of memory and a slim frame.
It has a dual-core Texas Instruments' OMAP4430 chipset clocking in at 1GHz speed, and 1GB of RAM. Droid Bionic uses a qHD (960 x 540 pixels, 256 ppi pixel density) TFT display for its 4.3-inch screen. The device, which weighs about 159 grams, has an internal memory of 16GB which can be expanded up to 32GB.
HTC Inspire 4G:
The HTC Inspire 4G is the first smartphone available on AT&T Wireless branded as 4G. The smartphone was initially launched with Android 2.2 Froyo with the custom HTC Sense 2.0 skin as the user interface. The OS was later updated to Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Sense 2.1.
The Inspire 4G features a 1GHz Quacomm Snapdragon processor, an 8 megapixel camera, dual LED flash and a 4.3-inch glass (480×800) WVGA (16M Colors) TFT capacitive touch screen. The HTC Inspire 4G has 768 MB RAM and 4GB of internal flash memory data storage and can accept a microSDHC card with a capacity of up to 32GB of data storage.
Motorola Atrix 2:
The Motorola Atrix 2 was released on Oct.11, as a successor to the Atrix 4G. Weighing 147 grams, the device has a 4.3-inch qHD display providing 540x960 resolution and runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
The Atrix 2 has a 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor with 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage, which is expandable up to 32GB. The phone has an 8 megapixel rear camera and a VGA camera in the front for video calling.
AT&T offers the Atrix 2 for $99.99 with 2-year contract.