The Bi-Annual Cell Phone Race

I got my Nexus One back in April 2010. It was my first smartphone and it changed the way I work and play. It also gave me this habit of staring at it while nothing is going on. It’s probably a bad habit.

With my 1.5 yr mark coming up (well it’s up technically but the 6-month-to contract renewal time is in November) it’s time to shop for a phone. I’m definitely interested in Verizon’s Nexus Prime and Droid RAZR. I also have some partialness to a GSM style device that AT&T provides. Sprint is a dark horse with good 4G plans and prices. All three, as of now, have good devices.

Current problem with my phone and service. Ranked:

  1. It only supports  HSPA, which is really terrible especially as an AT&T customer in this area–it  is simply unusable on large strides of the northeast corridor. And on the train is where I use my phone the most.
  2. It could be a little faster, although I can run most anything I want to at this point. Even more if I hack it and run a 3rd party ROM
  3. It’s finally dropping out of the googly heaven, but it’s still a well-oiled and well-hacked machine.

Long story short, these are the devices low-down:

  • I like those Galaxy S II’s, even if we’re 6 months into its life cycle already. AT&T’s LTE version launches next week and it is probably the one I would buy if I am sticking to that device. It’s also available starting 11/6.
    • Pluses: Nice screen, Available next week. Probably best supported non-Nexus phone you can get.
    • Minuses: LTE won’t roll out in this area until probably late next year, so feeling a bit wasted with just HSPA+. Kind of big. 6months in the cycle. Feels tinny.
  • I like a Nexus Prime because I’m coming from a Nexus One, and I like my googly updates. I tinker with my phone enough even if I’m running stock vanilla right now. No release date yet though.
    • Pluses: Google Heaven experience. Good phone all-around.
    • Minuses: Probably has one of those fatal flaws that mars all Nexus phones. A gambit on a Samsung CDMA-LTE phone. GS2 has better screen. No MicroSD slot
  • I think the Droid RAZR is a top notch device coming from the hardware perspective. Google’s “partnership” with Moto bodes well for Moto owners. It would be more desirable than the Nexus Prime if it had the added devices like a gyro and a compass. out 11/10.
    • Pluses: Good hardware, doesn’t feel like a POS, better than Nexus Prime basically in terms of hardware quality.
    • Minuses: Lack of a gyro and a compass, no NFC.

In terms of network, pros and cons:


  • I am an existing AT&T customer, so upgrading to anther AT&T phone saves me the ETF. The ETF for me is actually very low due to the fact that my 2-yr is not with an advance device. (I got $50 out of this supposed contract). But another $80 or whatever it is now (150 – 4*number of months, or 150-4*16=86).
  • I am grandfathered into their unlimited data plan. This is a huge deal potentially.
  • I can stay with the family plan (it’s better value for everyone on the plan, but not necessary the cheapest option for individuals).


  • Full LTE coverage in my area, way better coverage on commute. Even in the tunnel!
  • See above, ETF.
  • About the same cost as AT&T on the individual basis.
  • 2gb data limit most likely.


  • Cheapest on the individual basis, unlimited data.
  • See above, ETF.
  • Worst coverage for my area. I don’t even think I get 4G at my folk’s place.
  • But unlimited all that jazz.

The picture is more complicated if I also splurge for a LTE mobile device like a laptop/portable hotspot or a tablet as a holdover. But that is like another $50/mo on the device. That solves the immediate service issue needs (I would get a VZW mifi type thing with LTE) but if I upgrade my smartphone to a LTE device then it kind of is just redundant. Or I can buy a VZW iPad2 and do pay-as-you-go, and resell the iPad when I renew. Something like that.

Damn, those Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTEs are pretty tempting! Only if I have $700 to throw around.