Best AT&T phones: 10 we recommend

What's the best AT&T smartphone? We're here to help you choose

Best AT T phone

Selecting a device from the best AT&T phones is no small feat. AT&T - a top-tier carrier with expansive and speedy 4G LTE coverage - has a wide selection of the best smartphones on the market. Begin a new two-year contract or renew one and you'll grab an AT&T phone at a less than premium price.

Sometimes called Ma Bell from way back when it was called the Bell System, its chief rival for cell phone supremacy is Verizon Wireless - which also has an impressive list of some of the best smartphones around.

But you're in the market for an AT&T phone. So, without further ado, let us give you the lowdown on the best AT&T phones on the market today. Remember, this list is a living document. We'll update it as we review the latest and greatest tech.

10. HTC First - the famed Facebook phone

HTC First

The HTC First, the so-called Facebook phone, isn't really the ultimate device for sharing on the world's premier social network. Instead, it's a not at all bad mid-range device, blessed with a stock version of Android 4.1: Jelly Bean and LTE service from AT&T.

Still, it's hard to recommend that your average user buy a device and disable its primary selling point, in this case Facebook Home. Instead, what we have here is a good Android device for phone geeks on a budget.

The overall build of the HTC First is very nice. It's rubberized and tough, as well as a reasonable size. It's not that we dislike the big Android phones like the Galaxy S3 or the HTC One, it's that we wish they weren't the only option. At 5-inches the HTC First is a breath of fresh air.

Facebook Home is another matter. It's a glorified screensaver that makes merely unlocking your phone an unpredictable experience. Still, it can be disabled, so it's really not such a big deal, but we are worried about how much data it will consume, since you refresh it every time you unlock your phone.

The HTC First has received quite a bit of grief for Facebook Home, but all in all, it still is a good phone. It's compact, durable and has great LTE service from AT&T. It could become the next cult Android device, and might even be the last decent dual-core handset ever made. Sans Facebook Home, it's exactly the type of device we wish we'd see more often.

9. HTC One X - the former flagship

Best ATT phone

The HTC One X had just a few short months on the throne before the HTC One X+, with its bigger hard drive and slightly peppier processor, came and stole its thunder. It's not out of the picture though. Now that it goes for $99 with a two-year agreement, it's one of the most affordable quad-cores on AT&T.

The phone is fast, the chassis is thin and the HD display is crisp and gorgeous. However, the fact that the phone has no expandable storage and that AT&T only stocks the 16GB version makes it a poor option for those who load up on media.

Its also gets less than great battery life. You'll have to exercise some discipline if you want to make it through the day.

Finally, its yet another phone that AT&T has failed to update to Android 4.1: Jelly Bean. Yep, the HTC One X still runs Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich, and HTC's Sense 4.1, a UI we're not crazy about.

All in all, a solid but dated device. If a hundred dollars is all you can spend, you could do worse than the HTC One X, but we'd recommend you save up a little more if the One X sounds like it won't meet your demands.

8. HTC 8X - pretty little rectangle

Best ATT phone

You can't deny the visual appeal of the HTC Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8 in general. The OS is built around colorful and animated Live Tiles, and the candy-colored aesthetic of this handset matches them perfectly. AT&T doesn't stock a lot of colors, just a nice blue and polarizing highlighter yellow, but the 8X is surprisingly affordable, with a new contract at least. Sign up for two years and the 8X will only set you back $99. Not bad for a 4G LTE device. Full price is a whole lot steeper at $549.

However, it's not all roses. The 8X packs only 16GB of internal storage, and with no microSD option, that's all you're getting. Also, as with all HTC devices, the battery is non-removable. This is hard to stomach since the 8X struggles to cross the full day finish line with frequent LTE use.

The Windows Phone 8 OS also has an issue or two, mostly due to being so new. The number of apps available for it pales in comparison to Android's Jelly Bean and iOS 6, though the essentials like Facebook and Netflix have arrived. The OS is also no good at managing multiple calendars.

However, if you're a big Xbox 360 fan or use a Windows 8 PC, you'll love the ecosystem Microsoft is forming. SmartGlass is a unique, if inessential, second screen app for gamers and HBO GO watchers. Skydrive makes it easy to unify your files across your phone and laptop. You'll also be able to enjoy any music or videos you've purchased from Microsoft right on your 8X. It's not iTunes yet, but it's a fine start.

Finally, HTC did a lovely job designing the 8X's build. At a time when every phone seems to be big as a brick but delicate as a Christmas ornament, the 8X is both reigned in and durable. It's a tall 5.21-inches, but a slim width, 4.59 oz weight and super grippy rubberized backing make it a pleasure to hold. It also maintains HTC's reputation for quality cameras, with an 8-megapixel snapper that gets the job done right.

7. Nokia Lumia 920 - AT&T's best Windows Phone

Best ATT phone

The Nokia Lumia 920 is a big, brutish smartphone, but under that weighty exterior is a decent device that just wants to do things the simple way.

Windows Phone 8 is an intriguing proposition offering up something very different to the iOS and Android systems we've become accustomed too, and the Lumia 920 is one of the most powerful handsets running it.

Simplicity is the key here, the Lumia 920 does the basics well, from contact integration and calling, to web browsing and messaging.

The 8MP camera on the back of the Lumia 920 is one of the best we've used and for anyone looking to get a top end camera on their phone should seriously consider this Nokia.

The 4.5-inch display is also good, crisp and clear. It makes watching movies, surfing the web or Facebook stalking an enjoyable experience.

The sheer size and weight of the Nokia Lumia 920 will be a deal breaker for some and while we were able to adapt to the phone's bulky body, we had several friends who were not fans - check out the HTC 8X for a more pocket friendly mobile.

Once again battery life is a sticking point - you'll be lucky to get a whole day out of the Lumia 920 if you use it relatively frequently, but the wireless charging capabilities are a nice touch.

While some will be put off with the size, weight and high price tag of the Lumia 920, it manages to keep pace with other big hitters such as the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X+.

It doesn't manage to beat any of those handsets, but the Nokia Lumia 920 is a worthy ambassador for Windows Phone 8 and if the Finnish firm continues to build and improve on this handset, it could well make a glorious return to the mobile market.

6. LG Nexus 4 - Google's free agent

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It may be manufactured by LG, but the Nexus 4 is Google's baby. Currently it's the only phone rocking Android 4.2, the very latest version of Google's operating system. A compact, peppy handset, it's held back by just one thing: lack of 4G LTE on every carrier except T-Mobile.

Google had its reasons for opting out of LTE with AT&T, but if it weren't for data speeds that are so very 2008, the Nexus 4 would much higher on this list.

Still, don't let that put you off a smartphone that's packed with features you won't find on other Android handsets for who knows how long. 360-degree photosphere pictures, file sharing via Android Beam, built in trace-to-type, excellent voice dictation and Google Now, the digital assistant that has Siri sweating.

Now the heartbreaker: good luck buying one. Next to no 4G, the toughest thing to stomach about the Nexus 4 is its unicorn-like status: it's near impossible to find in the wild. At a very reasonable $299 and $350 for 8GB and 16GB models, you can see why they go fast.

That price makes the Nexus 4 one of the most affordable phones to purchase off contract. T-Mobile is currently the only stateside carrier stocking the Nexus 4, but models bought directly from the Google Play Store are ready to rock on AT&T's network. Just bring it into one of their stores and be ready to field lots of "where'd you find it?" questions.