Android wars: Sony, LG challenge Motorola for Verizon users' hearts, cash

Summer is just around the corner, which means it's time for device manufacturers to release their high-profile Android devices all at the same time to pre-empt the iPhone 5 hype machine.

Android phones on the Verizon network have typically been the territory of Motorola, maker of the Droid and the Droid X, and HTC, maker of the Droid Incredible and the Thunderbolt. But this week two big-name companies are releasing high-profile devices to challenge HTC and Motorola for the Verizon Android crown.

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Both the Sony Xperia PLAY and the LG Revolution have impressive spec sheets and broad appeal that could help them go a long way when matched up against the reigning Android champions. In this article we'll break down both devices and compare them with Motorola's latest creation, the Droid X2.

The LG Revolution: This smartphone is slightly more expensive than most Android phones ($250 with a two-year Verizon contract), but it's also got the benefit of being an LTE device that will let users take full advantage of the Netflix Android app to stream videos on its 4.3-inch, 800x480 pixel touchscreen at speeds of 5Mbps or higher.

Other than the LTE connectivity and the Netflix Android app, however, the Revolution is pretty standard fare for Android phones: It has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, it runs on Android 2.2 ("Froyo"), it supports Adobe Flash, and it features a 5.0-megapixel camera and 720p video recording. These are obviously very solid specs for most users, but anyone looking to get the most cutting-edge hardware might want to look elsewhere.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY: The appeal of the Xperia PLAY is pretty simple: It's all about the games! Although you likely won't have much success in convincing your boss to have the company buy an Xperia PLAY for office use, you'll want to invest in one if you like to play high-quality games when you travel. The device is essentially a PlayStation Portable that has the ability to make phone calls and that features a slide-out PlayStation controller in lieu of a physical keyboard.

As you'd expect, the specs for the device are pretty impressive: a four-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 854x480 pixels; the latest smartphone edition of the Android operating system ("Gingerbread"); a Qualcomm MSM 8655 1GHz processor and an Adreno 205 graphics processor; and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. The one significant downside to the device is that it lacks LTE connectivity and relies on Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A 3G network.

The Droid X2: From a design standpoint, the Droid X2 is a carbon copy of the popular Droid X device that Motorola released for Verizon last July.

It doesn't have LTE connectivity and it wasn't designed to be a high-quality portable gaming console. It does, however, boast some of the most impressive overall specifications on the market right now, highlighted by a gorgeous 4.3-inch display screen with a resolution of 960x540 pixels. What's more, it has an Nvidia Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera and 720p video capture. The Droid X2 runs on Android 2.2 ("Froyo"), although Verizon has said that it will get upgraded to Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") very shortly.

The bottom line: In a crowded Verizon Android market, choosing the right phone depends a lot on what you want out of your device. If you want the latest and best hardware, go with the Droid X2. If you want the fastest mobile broadband connectivity around, go with the LG Revolution. And if you just want to have lots of fun, go with the Xperia PLAY.

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