Unlike iPhone and iPad, Android devices come in a variety of flavors. Sometimes the ability to pick and choose is bad, though I tend to believe choice is always good. When you’re shopping for the new Android phone or tablet, the main key features you want to look at are operating system, manufacturer, processor, memory, and battery. Some things, like battery and manufacturer, won’t matter too much in the end. Things like OS, processor, and memory though could have tragic results if chosen poorly.
The top phones or tablets for sale right now come preinstalled (or shortly upgraded) with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. Unfortunately, a large majority of devices run Android 2.x, or Gingerbread. Many carriers are upgrading their devices from Android 2.3 to Android 4.0, but if you’re purchasing a new device get one already running Android 4.0 or 4.1, since Gingerbread will likely be obsolete thanks to the revolutionary improvements in ICS and Jelly Bean. Two very popular Android 4.x devices every lawyer should consider are the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (a Google-infused device) or the Samsung Galaxy S III. Both devices are top notch and are or will be shortly running Android 4.1.
If you’re looking for a tablet, I’m going to recommend the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, but you may want to consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. These two tablets are 10″ devices, but Amazon and Google both offer 7″ models priced between $150 and $200. I’m not a fan of a 7″ tablet, since I don’t think you can truly be as productive with the smaller screen. For everyday tasks like reading, surfing the web, checking email, they’ll work splendidly. Note though that the Amazon Kindle Fire does not run Google Play or native Google apps like Gmail without some hacking.
Low-end or “budget” phones come with 4 or 8 GB built-in memory. High-end devices come packed with as much as 32 or 64 GB of on-board memory. One of the great things about Android phones is their ability to accept micro-SD cards and expand the on-board memory. So, not only do you have on-board space, but you can pack extra to boast even more. I like to couple my on-board (32 GB) with another 16 GB mini-SD card to give 48 GB storage space for documents, apps, music or whatever else. Add on some cloud storage from Dropbox, and I can have 100+ GB of space on my mobile device. That’s more than enough for anything I’ve ever needed. The added memory is another reason you’ll want to consider a high-end device. You may pay more upfront, but never having to stress about space is a nice benefit.
You’ll also want to consider the battery life on your phone or tablet. Since you’ll probably consume a lot of power surfing or being productive, look for phones with powerful and long-lasting batteries. Mrs. The Droid Lawyer owns a Samsung Galaxy S III, and one of my only complaints about the device is the seemingly short battery life. When I upgraded to the Motorola Droid Bionic, I purchased the extended battery. I now have about 8 hours of talk time, plus my original 3 hour battery. It’s nice to be able to swap batteries when the juice gets low. Sometimes you can find great prices on battery-only chargers, which allow you to charge the dead battery and not the entire phone. If you’re a heavy user, you might consider the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx or Droid Razr Maxx HD, which feature long-lasting batteries.
Finally, whatever you’re looking at, you might also want to consider holding out for just a little longer. The next best thing could be right around the corner.
Image: Android Authority