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Ten... Premium Android smartphones
Samsung Galaxy S II
Slicing just shy of the Sony Ericsson Arc’s 9mm, the Galaxy S II is the skinniest phone in the group at 8.5mm and extremely light too at 115g. The 1.2GHz dual-core processor has its work cut out to power the 4.3in Super AMOLED touch screen, which is startlingly vivid and sharp, despite its so-so 480 x 800-pixel resolution. Android 2.3 is running the show, and it’s augmented by Samsung’s latest TouchWiz 4.0 user interface, which now includes four ‘Hubs’ for Social, Game, Music and Reader, to help you organise your interests. The 8Mp camera offers a good range of features and takes good shots, plus a 2Mp camera on the front. There’s also the option of 1080p HD video recording, and while there’s no HDMI port to send it direct to your telly, like the HTC Sensation, there’s an optional adaptor for the micro USB port. The Galaxy S II’s weakness, however, is its battery, which you’ll need to top up pretty much every day, though it’s no worse than any other dual-core handset in this respect.
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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
SE’s super skinny single-core hero handset de jour is just 9mm thick, though its curved back makes it seem even slimmer, and packs in an impressive range of top notch tech. The Xperia Arc's 4.2in touch screen offers 480 x 854-pixel resolution and uses a Bravia processing engine adapted from Sony’s TVs to deliver reduced noise and enhanced contrast when watching video. The 8Mp camera has a fistful of features as well as an Exmor R camera sensor, previously only to be found in Sony’s mid to high-end cameras and designed to improve shooting in less than ideal light situations. It can record 720p HD video and there’s a mini HDMI slot and supplied cable to transfer it direct to your TV. Just a single-core processor, but it’s still impressively nippy in use, and with the latest Android 2.3 on board, out-of-the-box, it’s an exceedingly classy handset.
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The current state of art in Android smartphones offers a bewildering array of alternatives, as each manufacturer does its bit to make its hero handset more distinctive than the rest. The best are refreshingly different, with unique widgets and features. The latest dual-core handsets also open up additional possibilities for HD viewing, gaming and multitasking, if only the batteries can keep up with them.
Both the Motorola Atrix and the SE Xperia Arc have fine feature sets, with the SE's elegance stealing the show among the single-core models. If you'll excuse the pun, it was a tough call between the neck-and-neck functionality of the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S II. Given the close call, personal taste will swing it one way or the other for some, however, the Samsung just clinches the Reg Hardware Editor's Choice award for its super-slim form factor and its quality camera. ®