Which Android phone would you recommend for journalists?

Plenty has been written about the iPhone, and plenty on the Android vs iPhone debate. But many students, having already decided to go the Android route, still don’t know which to get. So, assuming someone has decided to get an Android phone, which would you recommend – and why?

If you prefer to contribute your thoughts on Facebook, you can do so here – or tweet me @paulbradshaw (I’ll put together a Storify).

UPDATE: Based on answers so far, I’ve created a poll:


20 thoughts on “Which Android phone would you recommend for journalists?

  1. John List

    With so many models to choose in such a fast changing marketplace it is always dangerous to recommend a specific device. But I’d suggest the following two considerations to help you make your choice:

    Android ugradeability. Check that your chosen manufacturer ships phones with the latest OS version and is committed to supplying updates as they arrive. Check the internet to see their history on this matter. For example as I write this the current major Android version for phones is 2.3 but there are still phones to be found for sale sporting 2.1, nearly two years old. Assume the worst case scenario that your phone won’t be upgraded and you can see that the older versions are likely to suffer from limited app availability far sooner.

    Input devices. Will this be a phone, a browsing device, or a text input tool? If you are regularly entering text, will a touch screen keyboard be good enough for you? Consider a QWERTY keyboard, either a slide-out style or a Blackberry style below the screen.

    Hope these two help.

    1. Paul Bradshaw Post author

      Thanks John – that’s very helpful. The touch-screen issue is particularly relevant – battery life is pretty poor (including on the iPhone) with those, and journalists tend to drain batteries quickly with lots of web use and touch screen typing.

  2. DonaldS

    Re what John List said above about having the latest version of Android on your phone: the only range of phones that *guarantee* to keep you up to date are the Nexus ones. (The Nexus Prime is due to launch this autumn, if rumours are correct.) I’d always suggest giving those a look, because you get the upgrade direct from Google to your handset as soon as it releases.

    If you’re using Android with an HTC, Sansumg etc. skin over it, you can’t guarantee that. In fact, you can guarantee you’ll have to wait… the skin has to be rebuilt when the new Android version releases.

    Other factors I always consider:

    1. It sounds obvious, but get the one with the fastest processor you can afford. You’re likely to be multitasking, and a fast processor makes a big difference.
    2. Battery life is an issue, so check that out but be prepared to have to buy a spare battery. eBay is generally cheapest.
    3. Get an unlocked phone if you ever travel anywhere. It’s *much* cheaper to buy a foreign SIM, slot it in to your phone, and throw it away when you leave, than it is to pay roaming charges.

  3. Kevin Gilmartin

    I started my journalism course with a Blackberry, but switched to an Android based HTC Desire mid-way through the year, and I’m still using it 18 months later.

    I highly recommend it. as a jourlanism student studying online, broadcast and print the large screen, great quality camera and video capture, and the wealth of free apps available for the main social platforms were great – far superior to my old Blackberry.

    The great advantage that Android has over anything else is the availability of swipe text input. I notice the previous commenter recommends a QWERTY, which is handy for traditional input – so get yourself the Swype keyboard. It takes a few minutes to get used to this method of input, but you can never go back once you’ve used it, and if you can get your head around teeline you’ll take to Swype no problem.

    At this point in time the Desire is a slightly older model, running 2.2, which may well suit the student on a budget, but there are two other points I would raise:

    1. The Android market is credit card only, unlike the Apple App Store which accepts debit cards – so the student without a credit card is limited to free apps. This was never a problem for me, the free ones have always been sufficient, but others may find it a nuisance.

    2. Not really a warning, but I’m told by a few people that Samsung’s Galaxy series of Android phones are excellent. I’ve never used one, but I trust the opinions of the people who have recommended them and I’ll probably get one when next my contract comes up for renewal.

    I’ll stop rambling now, I hope this is of use.

  4. Alex Novelo

    One of the recomendation is looking to see if the Android unit has an extended battery. You can use sites like Hand Held Items (www.handhelditems.com) to check.

    Im the owner of HTC EVO (Supersonic). My original stock battery only lasted 4 to 5 hours. I purchased the 3500 extended battery (http://www.handhelditems.com/premium-3500-extended-battery-door-p-159471.html)
    and since that point my battery now lasts 2 days between charges.

    Good luck
    Head of Tech Geek and More

    1. Paul Bradshaw Post author

      Thanks for the tip on Hand Held Items and the extended battery. One of my many frustrations with the iPhone is the fact you can’t have a ‘spare’ battery (or easily remove the SIM card, for that matter, if you’re switching handsets).

  5. Shona Ghosh

    I own an HTC desire and find it invaluable, but for students it really depends on what you’re covering. If you’re doing something like G20 where you’re likely to be uploading lots of media directly from your phone, I think the Desire probably can’t offer high enough quality in terms of images or audio so it’d be worth switching up to the Sensation. If you’re covering conferences or council meetings though, it’s perfectly good. Voice Recorder is as good as a dictaphone and Tweetdeck is obviously useful.

    Battery life is an issue – if you can, carry a spare.

    Finally, since you can tailor your ‘home screen’ with what apps you use, I have built mine around the journo apps I use the most – really good if I quickly need to switch between apps.

    I also hear a lot about the Samsung Galaxy range, so probably worth playing around with a few.

  6. Jonathan Cresswell

    Put me on the list of those recommending Android, personally for me it’s the HTC Desire – though I’ve had it for a year and a half now, might not be the best time to jump on that one (as most people keep a phone for 2 years it seems), but any reasonable priced one in the Desire range should do. There’s the S, the Z, if you want to splash the cash there’s HD. As long as it works fast now – you might get annoyed that it doesn’t run the absolute latest Android but it’s not worth crying about, providing it runs well.

    One of the benefits is the standardised USB port – so you’ll often have a backup cable, easy to take one around in your bag and leave at home. As it’s standard, you can also use more USB recharger things as an emergency battery – or as someone else said, switch it.

    Exactly what to stick on it in terms of apps depends obviously on what you want to do with it, and there’s a million photo editors, WordPress, FTP apps, but one I’ll quickly mention:
    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.samalyse.tapemachine&feature=order_history – Tape Machine, it’s a pro app but it’s a really good audio editor. If people are interested in broadcast, you’ll get everything you need to get something together on the go.

    One downside is that the mics on some Android phones aren’t as good as iPhone ones in my experience (I could be wildly wrong) but if you get an external mic, as long as it can go to a 3.5mm slot (I’ve got a little XLR to 3.5mm cable with a decent mic and I use that with my phone or dictaphone to get broadcast audio).

  7. Jessica Abrahams

    I’m on the MA Newspaper Journalism and got a smartphone last week having realised that I was probably going to need one during the next year. It seems like HTC Desire is the phone getting the most mentions on here at the moment, but at around £300 I just couldn’t afford. I went for the Samsung Galaxy Apollo at the moment, which I got for just under £100 from Carphone Warehouse. It’s early days to be making a judgment now – who knows, it could break down next week – but so far it seems to be a really good buy. The internet is impressively fast and it’s really easy to use. Another selling point for me was that it takes really good quality photos – could be useful if you stumble across a story without your camera on you.

    I’d heard that battery life (as with most of these cheaper smartphones) was an issue but it seems OK so far. I downloaded the Juice Defender app which has almost doubled the battery life, and I keep it in flight mode during lectures so that the internet isn’t draining my battery when I wouldn’t be using it anyway. Like that it’s easily been lasting me a couple of days at a time.

  8. Ben Werduller

    Under no circumstances the original HTC Desire. A lot of Android apps need to be installed in the phone’s main memory, rather than the memory card; after the OS etc, that leaves you with a hilarious 256Mb to install apps in. I was getting out of disk space errors in the third week. It’s also an old phone now, and has features in common with its generation, like poor photo and video quality.

    I had a play with an S2 at TechCrunch Disrupt, and it’s a different world. I certainly plan on upgradin to it once it’s properly launched.

    1. Kevin Gilmartin

      That WAS an issue in the past Ben, but it’s not anymore. Almost every app I have is installed to the SD card. The functionality to move them to SD card has been gradually added to apps as they’ve had updates.

      You can’t install directly to the SD card, but once an app in installed in the phone’s memory it can be moved to the SD card through the Application Manager.

      My wife has a Desire too, and she finds she runs out of disc space because she’s crap at deleting her browser downloads, texts, MMS cache, etc – all the stuff you don’t think about.

      I had to get her to pull over 100 meg of email attachments recently becqause she’d just left them in the phone’s memory instead of saving to SD and deleting them.

  9. John Lopez

    Let me point out that the android market is not credit card only its just that people dont know you have to turn on your data plan so you get other methods of paying like your billing carrier

    1. Kevin Gilmartin

      Can you elaborate on this John? I’ve never heard of this and I find it very interesting.

      Everything I’ve seen in relation to buying apps in the Android Market, at least in the UK, says you need a credit card. There were runours of PayPal support a couple of months ago.

      You can use Google Checkout, but Checkout doesn’t recognise all UK debit cards; I think it only recognises Visa Debit, but not the more common Maestro.

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  12. Pablo

    Without any doubt THE best phone today must be the Samsung galaxy S 2, for performance and usability, if u need some particular features, you should search for apps that suits your needs.

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