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Three Android smartphone alternatives to rival the iPhone 5

by Kristen Nicole

Android and Apple don’t get along, and their ongoing war for consumers gets heated this time of year when smartphone debuts become as synonymous with summertime as Hollywood blockbusters. Five years after the arrival of the very first iPhone, Apple has improved its flagship device. But that time also gave competitors time to catch up, and some pundits see the iPhone 5 as a clear sign that Apple is beginning to follow the leader instead of set the bar for design and functionality. But in the end, it’s the consumer’s opinion that matters. Here’s a look at three top Android devices that could easily serve as iPhone 5 alternatives.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Many are quick to compare the iPhone 5 with the Samsung Galaxy S III, but I’m starting with the even more-recently launched Galaxy Note 2, which comes with the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean 4.1. The operating system is the heart of your device, and both Apple and Android pushed through major OS updates for this year.

Something else the Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 5 have in common is a bigger screen size, though the Note 2’s HD Super AMOLED screen is larger at 5.5 inches and 1280x720 pixels at 267 ppi. The iPhone 5 screen is 4-inch and comes in at 1136x640 pixels, though the density is better at 326 ppi. The Galaxy Note 2 also has a powerful quad core 1.6GHz CPU, featuring Samsung’s Exynos 4412 Quad chipset.

Both the Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 5 have 8 megapixel rear cameras, with autofocus at 3264x2448 pixels, but the Note 2’s front camera has higher resolution at 1.9 megapixels versus 1.2. Set to launch October 2012, the Galaxy Note 2 also comes with Samsung’s optimized NFC technology, which we first saw on the Galaxy S3.

No word on pricing for U.S. buyers, but it’s likely to be similar to the iPhone 5, which will cost you $199 for the 16GB model with a new 2-year contract.

Samsung Galaxy S III

The smash hit for Samsung this year was the Galaxy S III, hitting stores just weeks before the iPhone 5 unveiling. It’s larger than the iPhone with a 4.8-inch screen (the iPhone 5 screen comes in at 4 inches), but that also means the S III weighs more at 4.7 oz. Like the Galaxy Note 2, the S III Super AMOLED HD screen resolution is 1280x720 pixels.

Unlike the iPhone 5, the Galaxy S III comes with a MicroSDXC for external storage, and features a removable battery. The rear camera is slightly different from the iPhone 5’s with f/2.6 aperture versus f/2.4 and AF, in addition to the standard 8-megapixels and LED flash. The front-facing camera is also better, coming in at 2-megapixels versus the iPhone 5’s 1.2 megapixels.

As I mentioned earlier, the S III features Samsung’s special NFC technology, and like the Note 2 comes with their Exynos 4412 chip. The quad-core CPU is 1.4GHz.

On the downside, the S III does not come with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, though an update is expected. The S III comes in at a lower price – $99 with a new 2-year contract.

HTC One X

HTC was once the reigning Android OEM, though they’ve since lost a great deal of market share to Samsung. But HTC is looking to make a comeback, starting with the One X launched earlier this year.

The One X is larger than the iPhone 5 with a 4.7-inch display. But extended storage remains an issue with both devices, as neither feature a MicroSD slot, the One X tapping out at 32GB for its highest capacity model. Apple’s been mum on how many cores their A6 chip has, saying only that it’s a 2x improvement than the iPhone 4S’s dual-core chip. The One X, on the other hand, is a Tegra 3 quad-core at 1.5GHz.

The One X camera is comparable to the iPhone 5 at 8-megapixels, but has a larger f/2.0 aperture, and very similar specs otherwise.

Missing from the HTC One X is the latest version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean but it is running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with no word yet on when it may get the promised Jelly Bean update. The One X does come with NFC support and it has been around for a few months so you’re likely to find a good rebate or deal from carriers, though the standard price is $99 for a 2-year contract.

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