Top 10 smartphones for the 2013 holiday season

Summary:As people start to look for a smartphone for someone special this holiday season, there are a ton of outstanding choices.

Number 6: Moto X

Image: Motorola

The Moto X has a great feel in your hand with excellent voice control functionality and active notifications on the lock screen.

Motorola took a while to get their Moto Maker customization out to all supported carriers, but that option went live today.

The specifications are not the highest in the current generation of smartphones, but the Moto X performs well and has a rather long battery life. The camera had some issues at launch, but a recent update fixed most of those issues.

You can purchase the Moto X starting at $99 on contract or $499 on T-Mobile with no contract, for the 16GB model. It's nice to see that it is assembled in the US and as a veteran that is something that had me seriously considering it even though it isn't the most powerful smartphone available.

Number 7: LG G2

Image: T-Mobile

LG continues to launch exciting smartphones and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the G2 .

The minimal side bezel, long battery life, and solid camera experience are compelling on the LG G2. I couldn't get used to the power and volume buttons on the back and did not like the glossy plastic back cover.

The 5.2 inch 1080p IPS display looks great and the device flies. It comes with Android 4.2.2, which is common for devices from LG, Samsung, and HTC that have customized user experiences. I didn't personally get a lot of value from some of the LG custom experiences and prefer what I see on Samsung and HTC devices.

The LG G2 is available on all the major carriers for $199.99 with a 2-year contract. T-Mobile sells it for $99.99 down and $21/month for 24 months or $603.99 full retail price. It is available now on all carriers with some software differences and WiFi Calling support on T-Mobile.

Number 8: Samsung Galaxy S4

Image: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a very popular smartphone and a standard for many folks. It could easily have been put higher on the list, but there are other newer exciting smartphones I placed higher.

The Galaxy S4 has a 5 inch display and yet still feels great in your hand. Samsung provides some flexibility with a microSD card and removable battery too. They also include plenty of software enhancements that make the S4 unique compared to many other Android smartphones.

There are plenty of accessories available due to popularity of the S4 and it is a great alternative to consider. You can purchase the S4 on all carriers for $199.99 with 2-year contract. T-Mobile sells it with no contract for $627.99.

Number 9: Motorola Droid Maxx

Image: Verizon

I think the Note 3 is the ultimate road warrior phone due to the memory and battery swap capabilities, but the Droid Maxx is next in line for this title.

The Motorola Droid Maxx has a longer battery life, thanks to the internal 3,500 mAh capacity battery, and many of the unique Motorola features found in the Moto X. These include active notifications, always-on listening, and Motorola Assist.

The Droid Maxx comes with a 5 inch Super AMOLED display, Motorola X8 processor, 32GB internal storage, 10 megapixel camera, Qi wireless charging, and more.

Again, the Droid Maxx suffers from carrier exclusivity and is only available on Verizon Wireless. The price dropped quickly after launch from $299.99 to $199.99 with a 2-year contract. The $499.99 no-contract price is quite good for a powerful smartphone.

Number 10: Sony Xperia Z1

Image: Sony

Sony's Honami phone, aka the Xperia Z1, was long rumored and desired by smartphone enthusiasts. It is now available as a SIM unlocked variant directly from Sony.

The Xperia Z1's claim to fame is the waterproof and dust resistant casing with a high-powered camera. Unfortunately, Sony still has some work to do on their smartphone displays before I will purchase one for myself.

The Xperia Z1 includes a Snapdragon 800 2.2 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage with a microSD card slot, 20.7 megapixel camera, and five inch HD display. You can purchase it without a contract for $649.99 from the Sony store in black, white, or purple.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPhone, Microsoft, Samsung, Windows, Innovation


Matthew Miller started using mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host, with ZDNet's Kevin Tofel, of the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned more than 2... Full Bio

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