The latest Nexus carries on the legacy of pure Google Android smartphones, but it's also got some brand new features for Android smartphones, including facial unlock and Android Beam, which uses near-field communications (NFC) to let Galaxy Nexus users tap phones together to share content.
Motorola Droid Razr
The Droid Razr is the best smartphone Motorola Mobility has ever produced-period. It's super thin at 7.1 millimeters and surprisingly light at 4.5 ounces, but runs on Verizon's 4G LTE network. This Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread handset also has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display wrapped in Kevlar fiber and Corning Gorilla Glass to ward off scratches. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM.
Samsung Galaxy S II
It's hard to go wrong with any of the Galaxy S II smartphones from Samsung, but our favorite is AT&T's model, which with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display and 1.2GHz, dual-core processor is smaller than the 4.52-inch screens of the Samsung Epic Touch 4G from Sprint or T-Mobile's S II. T-Mobile's model gets the second-place nod.
Samsung Droid Charge
As the second "Gingerbread" smartphone on Verizon's 4G LTE network, the muscular-looking Samsung Droid Charge was easily our favorite Android smartphone ever until the Droid Razr and Galaxy Nexus trumped it. It won't win a thinness (0.46 inches) award, but it's powerful with its 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen and 1GHz dual-core chip.
Motorola Atrix, Atrix 2
The Motorola Atrix 4G and Atrix 2 models are both excellent, and we were admittedly won over by the connection between the Atrix and the Motorola Lapdock to let users port their content to a larger screen and navigate the Web via the Mozilla Firefox browser. For $99, the Atrix 2 (pictured here with the optional Lapdock) is an absolute gem of a 4G smartphone from AT&T, possessing a 4.3-inch qHD (Quarter High Definition) Gorilla Glass display powered by a 1GHz dual-core chip and Gingerbread OS.
Motorola Photon 4G
We also appreciated the Motorola Photon 4G, essentially Sprint's version of the Atrix, including connectivity to an optional Motorola HD Station to port photos, videos, music and more to an HDTV. Like the Atrix 2, the Photon 4G has a 4.3-inch qHD Gorilla Glass display and is powered by a 1GHz dual-core chip and Gingerbread.
HTC Evo 3D 4G
Some might call 3D on phones a gimmick. Some might call it magic. We view it as somewhere in between on the HTC Evo 3D 4G from Sprint. The Gingerbread handset, fitted with a 4.3-inch Super LCD qHD resolution 3D display and powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core chip, features two 5-megapixel shutters mounted on the back. The twin shutters enable users to shoot 3D stills and video content.
HTC Amaze 4G
HTC also produced a speedy Gingerbread smartphone with great cameras for T-Mobile in the form of the Amaze 4G. This handset with a 4.3-inch qHD screen is powered by 1.5GHz dual-core CPUs and sports an 8-megapixel rear camera, paired with a 2-megapixel front aperture. The rear camera takes 1,080p high-definition video and takes images almost instantly.
We don't normally sing the praises of QWERTY slider phones, as we see touch screens as the way of the future for mobile phones. But this Gingerbread Samsung Stratosphere smartphone on Verizon was a total joy to use. The phone has a 4-inch Super AMOLED display atop a five-row QWERTY keyboard and is powered by a single-core 1GHz processor. This is actually Verizon's first 4G LTE-enabled handset with a QWERTY keyboard. Great for emailing.
Motorola Droid 3
Speaking of good QWERTY sliders, we also had a blast with the Motorola Droid 3, which we tested this past summer. This Gingerbread phone is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and, unlike the previous two Droid slider models, features a fifth row of small keys dedicated to numbers. That means less work for Droid 3 users' thumbs. Moreover, the touch screen has 4 inches of qHD real estate. Like all Droids, this phone is on Verizon.