After months of rumor and speculation, Verizon Wireless became the second carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone. It’s clear, though, that Verizon never intended to rely solely on that device for their future success. Verizon continues to deliver a range of cool, popular, and cutting edge Android phones to its customers.

You’ll find a variety of Android phones and tablets from different manufacturers at Verizon. Here’s what you need to know.

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The New and Cool

HTC Thunderbolt

The HTC Thunderbolt is the first device to run on Verizon’s new fast 4G LTE network. Initial reports say the phone is noticeably faster at web browsing and downloading video, music and apps than other phones on 3G networks.

The Thunderbolt sports a 1GHz processor, a brilliant 4.3-inch screen, an 8-megapixel rear facing camera with dual LED flash and HD recording capability, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat, and a kickstand for propping up the phone while you watch video, read e-books, or view other content.

For keeping in touch, the Thunderbolt arrives with the HTC Sense 2.0 UI layer over the Android OS. Sense allows you to view social networking updates, recent calls, and messages in widgets right on your home screen. It’s also easy to share photos and other multimedia with just a couple of taps. In terms of apps, Verizon pre-loads the Thunderbolt with VZ Navigator, Backup Assistant, Amazon Kindle, Blockbuster, Slacker, Let’s Golf 2, Rock Band, and many more.

Motorola Droid Pro

Like a real keyboard? Verizon also offers the Motorola Droid Pro, a four-row physical keyboard and touchscreen device for those who love to type, text, email, and tweet. The Droid Pro comes with integrated support for push mobile email using Gmail, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Exchange. You’ll also find integrated contacts from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sources.

Motorola Droid X2

For virtual keyboard fans, Verizon also has the Motorola Droid X2. It sports a 4.3-inch touch screen, HD video recording and HDMI out, FM radio, and an assortment of pre-loaded apps. More of a refresh to the previously-released Droid X, it doesn’t offer 4G capabilities like the Thunderbolt, but may be a suitable upgrade for many.

Samsung Droid Charge

New super AMOLED (Active Matrix Light Emitting Diode) screens promise brilliant readability even in bright sunlight. Verizon offers the Samsung Droid Charge with a 4.3-inch super AMOLED Plus display, a 1GHz processor, 4G/LTE capabilities and pre-installed apps like the DivX video player, Swype, Skype Mobile, VZ Navigator, Visual Voice Mail, and ThinkFree Office.

Sony Xperia PLAY

Looking for something a bit different with more of a gaming edge? Try the Sony Xperia PLAY. The PlayStation phone runs Android but also lets you run a selection of PlayStation titles and comes complete with a slide-out gaming pad. Sporting a vibrant 4-inch screen, pre-installed 8GB SD card, and a selection of great games already pre-loaded, there’s plenty for gamers to enjoy here. Check out this video review from Appolicious Advisor, Andrew Koziara:

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Big and Flat

Android-based tablets are getting hotter every week. With size variations that the iPad doesn’t offer, the ability to view Flash based videos and games, and competitive pricing, the Google powered tablets appear to be selling well.

Samsung Galaxy Tab & Motorola Xoom

From Verizon, you can purchase both the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom tablets. The Tab currently costs $500 without a contract or only $200 with a 2-year contract. It features a 7-inch screen, a 1GHz processor, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chats, and a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera for video recording. The Tab comes preloaded with Swipe, the Amazon Kindle Reader, and the Samsung MediaHub for downloading movies and TV shows. Read Appolicious Advisor Phil Hornshaw’s in-depth review here.

The Xoom now sells for $800 with no contact or $600 with one. It sports a 2-megapixel front-facing video chat camera and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 10.1-inch display, and it runs the tablet-focused Honeycomb Android OS.

Apps, Apps, and more Apps

Across all Verizon Android phones and devices, you’ll find the Android Market. This app store has well over 100,000 applications and grows each day as more get launched. If you’ve never downloaded an app, simply tap the Market icon (which look like a shopping bag with the green Android character logo on it), browse the collection by category or search for a name you know. Then press on the green sticker, marked FREE if it’s a no-cost app or labeled with a price if it’s not. Start with the free apps until you get a sense of what you like.

Verizon also pre-installs their own applications like VZ Navigator for voice-guided directions and V Cast for mobile video on many Android phones.

Overall, Verizon has not let the iPhone take over their portfolio of phones. As always, the still continue to offer the new and exciting Android-based phones and tablets. Definitely take the time to check out their website if you plan to shop at Verizon. They feature a Click + Save section which sells online-only deals for phones and plans as well as a Certified Pre-Owned selection of refurbished models. Inside the stores, you can lay hands on the phones before you buy. Happy shopping!

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