Best Jelly Bean Android phones

25th Jun 2013 | 14:35

Best Jelly Bean Android phones

See Google's most current code on the ten hottest phones

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Like:

Stunning screen; Superfast processor; Great camera

Dislike:

Feels cheaper than similar-priced phones; 'Innovation' makes things too complex; Slight UI issues;

Google has an odd historical habit of naming its major Android releases after types of American puddings, with the result being that the proudest users of Google's mobile OS are currently boasting about having "Jelly Bean" on their phones today.

In fact, Jelly Bean describes two versions of Android -- Android 4.1 and 4.2 -- plus the minor point version bug fixing releases between, so anything running Android 4.1 or higher is commonly described as running on Jelly Bean. And makes its users happy.

The most recently released Jelly Bean code is 4.2.2 which sits on the phones of Nexus users. It offers a few innovations over 4.1, like the ability to add widgets to the lock screen, gesture-based text input and a more active and visual Notifications panel, but it's hardly a huge leap.

As long as you've got at least Android 4.1 you're in the zone when it comes to having what Google considers to be its best work. These 10 phones deliver that right now, straight out of their lovely cardboard boxes.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Galaxy S3 mini

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini review

Samsung's smaller take on the massively popular Galaxy S3 doesn't share too many features with its bigger, older brother, scaling down the processor slightly, reducing display size and dropping the camera resolution to 5MP.

Compromises for sure, but the changes make it smaller and cheaper, while being released more recently than the original S3 means you get Android 4.1.1 installed as the OS when it arrives - although you've always got the option of installing it on an older S3 now.

Samsung's added stacks of its own features on top of it, but you still get the enhanced browser, multitasking panel, individually dismissable notifications and much, much more to endlessly fiddle with instead of paying attention to what's on TV.

Sony Xperia SP

Sony Xperia SP

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony's most recent Xperia is a smaller, less powerful model than the gorgeous Sony Xperia Z, but it still manages to run Android 4.1.2 extremely smoothly.

The SP also includes a decent camera, NFC support and a 4G-ready radio, so it has everything smartphone users need, plus there's a microSD card slot inside the chassis for expanding its 8GB of onboard storage space.

All this, and a relatively recent version of Google's Jelly Bean code underneath Sony's interface tweaks, for much less of an outlay that the Xperia Z.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

The Note II arrived with Android 4.1 onboard, with Samsung upgrading it to the newer 4.1.2 code in early 2013.

Which means the immense 5.5-inch phone is one step nearer the leading edge of Android software, plus you get all of Samsung's bonkers, and perhaps slightly unnecessary, S Pen software innovations to plough your way through, as well and the split-screen tools that feature as part of the maker's TouchWiz interface tweaks.

Never before have so many features, apps and tools been rammed into a device. That's probably why Samsung had to make it so big.

Huawei Ascend G510

Huawei Ascend G510 review

Huawei Ascend G510 review

You don't have to take out a two-year contract or pay £500 to get yourself a decent Jelly Bean phone. The Huawei Ascend G510 is available on a PAYG SIM through Vodafone for just £130, and arrives with Android 4.1.1 as its OS.

Sadly there's only 512MB of RAM inside the thing so multitasking performance is a little restricted, and Huawei's user interface is a bit bizarre in the way it bins Google's usual app drawer system, but it's still a well-constructed phone that does everything you might need. Just don't expect lightning performance.

HTC One X+

HTC One X+ review

HTC One X+ review

Android 4.1.1 is the specific version of Jelly Bean found on the One X+, with HTC also slightly updating its Sense interface compared with that found on the original HTC One X.

The phone is a slightly amended version of HTC's flagship model of 2012 and still offers an impressive amount of oomph and smoothness.

The One X+ runs on a quad-core Tegra 3 chipset so will run everything out there today with ease, plus the "+" part of the name means you get an enormous 64GB of onboard storage space. It's for people who haven't yet bought into the concept of cloud storage.

Motorola Razr HD

Motorola Razr HD

Motorola Razr HD review

Motorola's RAZR range is something a little different from the Android norm, using an odd mixture of angular design and Kevlar materials to build something solid and slightly unusual looking.

The software inside the RAZR HD is the commonplace 4.1.2 version of Android's Jelly Bean code, complete with a few customisations from Motorola layered over the top.

The big selling point here is one of the best-performing batteries on the market, which goes some way toward making up for the not particularly impressive dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM combo that power the thing.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z review

Sony Xperia Z review

The Xperia Z's a seriously impressive phone, one that's currently running on the slightly older 4.1 version of Google's Jelly Bean code.

That said, Sony's masses of software optimisations go some way toward filling in the few gaps that exist between versions 4.1 and 4.2 of Jelly Bean, with the Xperia Z's camera software, visual theme switching, Sony's own gesture typing system, NFC tools and more making it a superb demonstration of how manufacturer skins can sometimes really improve Google's core code.

It's got a 4.2 update winging its way to users right now, so it will also be supercharged to the other version of Jelly Bean soon - making things even better.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

The immense Samsung flagship arrives running Android 4.2, making it not only the biggest and most popular model around today, but it also lets users feel rather pleased about having Google's latest OS at its core.

That said, it's barely recognisable, with Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface binning the vast majority of Google's design work in favour of its own layouts, icon sets and custom software features.

Folder management isn't as good as it is under Google's system, but the trade off here is you get Samsung's feature-packed camera app instead of the rather poor and bland stock Jelly Bean tool.

HTC One

HTC One review

HTC One review

As well as arriving with Android 4.1.2 onboard, there are many, many reasons that make the HTC One one of the finest Jelly Bean models out there right now, even if it's not quite running on the newest code from Google.

The full HD 1080p display's a stunner, the aluminium body a welcome change from the lightweight plastics that make up many other smartphones, plus HTC's Sense interface has been completely reworked and refreshed, and enhances Android for the better across the board.

Nexus 4

Google Nexus 4 review

Nexus 4 review

Obviously this is the winner if you're serious about keeping on top of Google's Android software releases - or just want a really, really cheap quad-core smartphone.

The Nexus series is always first in line when it comes to receiving the new software updates, as they're supplied free from the fiddlings, skins and alternate options added in by many other hardware makers, and tend to hit the phone within days of being announced by Google.

As a result of this, the Nexus 4 is currently using version 4.2.2 of Android, which is the newest public release of the "Jelly Bean" code available -- and it's likely to be first in line for 4.3 or even 5.0 whenever they may pop out of Google's labs.

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