The new phones are here, and for the first holiday season in a long time we have brand new flagship phones from all of today's mobile players. Apple's shipping the iPhone 5, Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 is represented by the Nokia 920 and the HTC One X, and Android just received a new ambassador in the Nexus 4.
The iPhone still has the best industrial design, the best build quality, the best fit and finish. Apple's been shipping unbeatable hardware for years, and its competitor haven't caught up to Ive and friends' pursuit of stray microns. The iPhone still has the best ecosystem with the best made apps, a ton of peripherals, and technologies that work with your other Apple equipment.
The Nexus 4 is cheap and unlocked. When the unlocked iPhone 5 will run you $649 the Nexus 4 costs $299. That's a huge difference for a phone that does almost as much (No LTE). A Google controlled Android seems to be a polished experience that's innovating faster than any other platform. There's some crazy UI stuff over here, but it looks like it might be crazy good. Google's rolled one of the best voice search tools out there in Google Now. I've been using it on my iPhone 4S for the last few days and it's clobbering Siri. If I could map it to a long press of my home button I would. The Nexus 4 is home base for Google, and they're delivering the shiniest new stuff in software.
Nokia's Lumia 920 is the phone I'd probably get if I wasn't able to get an iPhone. Nokia's been driving their on-contract price as close to $0 as they can get it in an attempt to get market share, and Inexpensive is an attractive feature for a phone this good. The 920 has an unparalleled camera that puts the purple-tinged shooter on the 900 to shame and smashes anything else in low light. Photography is a huge part of what I do on a phone, and having a solid camera to shoot with makes a huge difference.
The 8X is like the 920's alter ego. A bit snappier, thinner, more swooping curves and less misshapen jelly roll. It looks good when off and it looks great with WP8 on the screen. It corrects some of the 920s least desirable traits and doesn't carry the freight added by the 920's wireless charging and stabilized camera. It's a svelte phone powered by a good looking platform.
I'm not in the market for a new phone, and I won't be for another year. But there's some things that are great about each of these phones and platforms and I'm going to lay them out. The new phones are out there, and they're all jockeying for position in the smartphone market before the land grab is over. Apple's got to keep their share going strong to get the benefit of being the market leader, Microsoft is grabbing for whatever sales they can get, and Google's trying to wrest control of Android back before anyone realizes that's what they're doing. It's an interesting time in the smartphone industry, and we've got four interesting phones to match.