Best Android smartphones (May 2013 edition)

Best Android smartphones (May 2013 edition)

Summary: Time to take a tour of a handful of the best Android smartphones currently available on the market. Here are some killer handsets from Google, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung.

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  • (Image: Motorola)

    Motorola Razr i

    Here we have a new entry from Motorola — the Razr i.

    Perhaps not the best — or best made — handset around, but the Razr i is nonetheless a decent, solid smartphone that won't break the bank.

    The DuPont Kevlar fibre and Corning Gorilla Glass construction gives it a good feel in the hand, and it comes with an SD-card slot for storage expansion, something that the Nexus 4 doesn't have.

    • Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), but Jelly Bean inbound

    • 2GHz Intel Atom Z2460

    • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED 540x960 display

    • 8MP rear camera

    • VGA front camera

    • 8GB internal storage.

  • (Image: Samsung)

    Samsung Galaxy Note II

    The Samsung Galaxy Note II is the Android smartphone for those people with large hands to hold it with, and large pockets to keep it in.

    The Samsung Galaxy Note II really is a solid handset packed with an array of high-end features. It even comes with the S Pen that can be used to copy text, crop images, and to share content.

    • Jelly Bean (Android 4.1)

    • 1.6 GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor

    • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display

    • 8MP rear camera

    • 1.9MP front camera

    • 16/32/64GB internal storage

    • MicroSD slot

  • (Image: Motorola)

    Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

    The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD is Motorola's latest high-end smartphone, and it brings both a high-definition 4.7-inch display and a massive 3,300mAh battery, good enough for 32-hours of use.

    It's also tough, constructed form DuPont Kevlar fibre and Corning Gorilla Glass, and features water-repellent nanoparticles to shield against water, even on the internal circuit boards.

    The only downside to this handset is that it is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but an upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean should be available before the end of the year.

    • Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), but an update is on the way

    • Dual-core 1.5GHz processor

    • 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD Display, 720p (720x1280)

    • 8MP rear-facing camera

    • 1.3MP front-facing with 720p HD video capture

    • 1080p HD video capture

    • 32GB internal storage

    • MicroSD card slot.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Smartphones

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36 comments
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  • LG E970 Optimus G

    I have used or own the Nexus 4, HTC One, SGS3, and the Optimus G.
    Based on use, I rank the Optimus ahead of the GS3.
    rhonin
    • HTC One

      After a week, I am becoming disenchanted with the One. Button placement and Sense are the leading issues. I am ambidextrous and use the phone in my left. Sense, when compared to Samsung and LG add ons, removes the most stock Android functions and gives back the least in custom functions.
      rhonin
      • Funny

        coming from a Galaxy Note, I find the buttons are finally in the right location. I guess to each his own. I'll reserve comment on Sense though, I'm currently neither in favor nor against. I can see stuff I like, and definitely stuff I don't.
        timspublic1@...
      • Touchwiz > Sense

        played with HTC One extensively and find that the sense interface has gone backwards in a few areas.
        Touchwiz on Samsungs have improved over last couple of years that it works better than Sense these days.
        The HTC one looks nice but is not that nice to hold or operate, its slippery aluminium casing needs a case. Also lacking is the hard menu/options key which is a huge omission. The rear camera on it is only a 4mp sensor!
        who are they trying to fool?
        The display is really nice, that's about it.
        It's form over function, Apple style.
        warboat
      • HTC One

        Definitely a matter of opinion. I like Sense, a lot. No longer am I looking for 3rd party shells to fill the gaps. Folders in the app slip is only common sense. No pun intended.
        People
    • I agree

      The only phones on this list that tops the Optimus G is the Note 2 and S4.
      Optimus G should be on this list instead of the RAZR I.
      warboat
  • Motorola????

    My Droid 3 has left me a bad after taste for Motorola. Not a bad phone at all but it was abandoned by Motorola almost as quickly as it was released. And the combination of Motorola bloatware + Verizon bloatware + no updates and locked boot loader make me wish I had chosen another brand. I keep hoping that Google owning Motorola will lead to Motorola phones that are more Nexus like - i.e. more of just a straight Android interface and perhaps even unlocked? But I'll definitely wait and see before I get another Motorola product.
    cornpie
  • Sony Xperia Z

    I feel this handset is missing off the list. It includes the same top of the line specs and has a quality design. Perhaps one of the thinest phones too.
    Elgordo1337
    • I haven't seen it on anyone's top phone list

      it didn't get great reviews. good specs on paper don't always = a good phone in real life.
      theoilman
    • Sony iphone wannabe

      Experia Z has rear glass case. Seriously bad design.
      Screen is very nice, waterproof feature is awesome.
      but why why why the rear glass!
      warboat
    • Xperia Z and ZL

      You are darn right! The 2 phones from SONY are perhaps their best renderings till date.
      The smallest 5 inch phone packed with all the features available in the top phones in the market.
      sampathsrinivas
    • Sony Xperia Z

      Everyone has a different taste, and I think that the Sony Xperia Z is probably the most beautiful phone on the market. Kudos to Sony for the form factor -- straight sides and slightly rounded corners -- absolutely stunning!
      kandella
  • Nexus for the win

    I switched from an HTC phone to the Nexus 4 and have never looked back. I will never buy another non Nexus phone again.
    ryanmc
    • I tend to agree

      but the HTC One I just bought is the unlocked one. NO ATT BLOAT, just HTC's :) But it's a lot easier to hang with. The Sense changes I'm still deciding on.
      timspublic1@...
    • The problem with Nexus Android

      I hear a lot of people saying they prefer the 'pure Android' but I don't get it.
      I have a Nexus 7 here and like the Nexus 4 it misses out a few of the nice custom things that other androids have had for years.
      Things like the basic option to show battery percentage or AM/PM with 12 hour time in the notification bar is missing in Vanilla Jellybean. Also can't get rid of the Google search bar in home screen nor can I make use of the verticle space when in landscape.
      You can't customise shortcuts in the notification pull down or have a sliding brightness bar like Samsung.
      With regards to widgets, it doesn't have the very useful active apps manager, no 1x1 direct dial or direct message widget, and no monthly view calendar widget like Samsung.
      You also don't have the option of folders instead of just apps and widgets.
      And that's before we get into all the advanced features like smart stay, air preview, smart rotation, and gesture controls like screen capture and muting. People can say these are gimmicks, but when they use it, they will understand how useful they are.
      Samdroid comprehensively beats Nexus Android.
      warboat
      • You sure about that?

        "With regards to widgets, it doesn't have the very useful active apps manager, no 1x1 direct dial or direct message widget, and no monthly view calendar widget like Samsung.
        You also don't have the option of folders instead of just apps and widgets."

        I can confirm that stock standard Nexus Android does indeed have 1x1 direct dial (I use it), direct message (just looked), and folders. I've got two folders in my drawer and four on my primary home. I'm not sure what "active app management" is (so I'm probably not missing anything) and I could probably find a monthly calendar widget, although the native agenda calendar view is sufficient IMO and directly launches the calendar app.
        jeb.hoge@...
        • yep you're right

          direct dial and message is on nexus 4, but missing on nexus 7 obviously.
          folders is there but you can't just create an empty folder. you create a folder when you drop one app on top of another so you need a minimum of 2 in a folder.
          The other problem with the Nexus launcher I haven't mentioned is the inability to add or remove homescreens which I find a glaring omission. This has been the case with all stock launchers since Android began and it hasn't changed.
          warboat
  • This article is a waste of bytes

    Samsung Galaxy S4: "the fact that it can be used as a remote control for a DVR"

    This also applies to the HTC One. If you're looking for comparisons and reviews of these phones get away from ZDNet's cursory coverage and go immerse yourself in Anandtach.com's reviews, they're a little more detailed.
    SeanBlader
    • HTC One vs GS4

      They are pretty close until you come to the camera. 4mp vs 13mp. No contest.
      rphunter42
  • Nexus 4 or HTC One

    I love the design and specs of the HTC One and I love my all glass Nexus 4. I just switched from an iPhone and I will never go back. I just used my Nexus 4 today to buy my coffee using NFC and Google Wallet. How cool is that! With a list like this we are pretty lucky. Oh the choices! :)
    Brendon Jarrett