On Sept. 8, a phone I’ve been anticipating for a while made its debut on Verizon Wireless. The Motorola Droid Bionic is the carrier’s first 4G Android phone with a dual-core processor.
It is totally my next phone, despite my normal tendency to pick up technology only once the next upgrade is out to save a bit of cash. The upgrade cycle on smartphones is brutal, as my old-when-I-got-it BlackBerry Curve 8330 can attest. It’s now two years beyond past its prime, all because we sign these ridiculous two-year contracts for subsidized smartphones that cease being the awesome new thing in mere weeks or months.
Why spend scratch on the hottest new thing, then? Well, even if it’s not cutting edge in two years, you at least want it to be capable of running the latest apps, right? Spending more now is painful and a little unnecessary for the immediate future, but in 24 months you’ll be glad you sprang for the best of yesterday.
So what features are the cream of the current and coming-soon crop? Glad you asked.
• 4G Connectivity: There’s not a ton of 4G data coverage in New Hampshire now, but hoo boy, when it comes, you’re gonna want it. Broadband made the World Wide Wait a thing of the past on our home computers, and while 3G was a good step, 4G speeds things up very nicely on phones. Of course, more and faster Internet comes with a price, literally: unlimited plans are now virtually impossible to find, so going over your monthly usage cap brings extra charges. 4G can also do a number on your battery life.
• Dual-Core Processors: Yes, it’s time once again to wistfully muse how much more powerful our phones are now than our desktops were a few short years ago. The average flip phone user couldn’t care less what’s inside that clamshell case, but advanced apps require more mojo. Two cores = more mojo. One app can do multiple things simultaneously, or background apps get time with the processor without introducing crippling lag into your favorite zombie/bird/zombird game.
• Ice Cream Sandwich: Don’t start gnawing on your mobile device. The next version of the Android operating system (with each iteration named, adorably, after a dessert starting with the next letter of the alphabet after the previous one) will re-unify the two editions. Gingerbread is the latest phone-optimized version, while Honeycomb is made for tablets. A single build will, in theory, help apps run equally well no matter which device you have, so you’ll have a wider selection of compatible choices. Devices might be upgradeable, but that depends on your carrier, the exact device in question and/or your willingness to get into hacking.
• Whatever’s in the iPhone 5: Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about exactly what hardware is inside its little device that could, but the next version is guaranteed to be, you know, better than the current generation. The next iPhone is expected sometime in October, so if you’re on the cusp of a new contract, hang on — either for the new model or discounted pricing on the iPhone 4.
There are other things to look for — high-resolution cameras and touchscreens, thinner bodies — but those things get a tiny bit better with every new model. The features above are small leaps forward that will keep your new phone if not at the front of the pack the whole time you own it, at least still in the race.
Any smartphone should be able to browse to twitter.com/CitizenjaQ .