The very best smartphones of 2013

The very best smartphones of 2013

Summary: With the year now drawing to a close, it's time to take a look at some of the best tech for the year, and now I move my gaze to smartphones.

TOPICS: Mobility

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  • (Image: Samsung)

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3

    The Galaxy Note 3 is, as you can probably gather, a sequel to the Galaxy Note 2. It brings a whole raft of improvements to the table, and it is currently the only phone or phablet that's compatible with Samsung's new Galaxy Gear smartwatch (support for devices such as the Note 2, and the Galaxy S3 and S4 should arrive before the end of the year).

    Probably the biggest downside to this handset is that it feels plasticky and a little bit cheap in the hand, this shouldn't put you off.

    • Jelly Bean (Android 4.3)
    • 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor
    • 5.7-inch 1920 x 1080 display with 388 pixels-per-inch
    • 3GB of RAM
    • Stylus (a pro or a con depending on your view of them)
    • 13MP rear camera
    • 2MP front camera
    • 4G LTE
    • NFC
    • 32/64GB or internal storage
    • microSD card slot for expansion
  • (Image: Google)

    Google Nexus 5

    Hot off the production line is Google's latest smartphone, the Nexus 5.

    Not only has it been put together using some of the best components currently available, it also offers the purest Android experience possible, and gives owners access to the latest Android 4.4 KitKat. Owners also will get their updates direct from Google and won't need to wait for hardware OEMs or carriers to release customized updates (or just never receive updates, as is still the case with many handsets).

    I've always found Nexus-branded hardware to be solid and reliable, but I'd give this a few weeks for Google to shake out any potential bugs before recommending it to anyone other than hardcore Android enthusiasts.

    • KitKat (Android 4.4)
    • 2.23GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU
    • 4.95-inch 1920x1080 display with a pixel density of 445 pixels-per-inch
    • 8MP rear camera
    • 1.3MP front camera
    • 16/32GB internal storage
  • (Image: Samsung)

    Samsung Galaxy S4

    There's an awful lot to like about the Galaxy S4 — the powerful CPU, plenty of storage space, a user-replaceable battery, the microSD slot, the fact that it can be used as a remote control for a DVR. It is very much like HTC's new One handset, except marginally better in almost every way (except, perhaps, for the plastic shell).

    Another quality handset from the company that is now the king of the Android smartphones.

    • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2)
    • 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (1.6GHz octa-core processor offered in some markets)
    • 5-inch Super AMOLED high-pixel-density (441ppi) display
    • 13MP rear camera
    • 2MP front camera
    • 16/32/64GB internal storage
    • microSD slot

Topic: Mobility

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  • And BlackBerry 10?...

    I cannot believe that you don't even talk about any BlackBerry 10 devices...
    • Who?

      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Neither does anyone else.

      "I cannot believe that you don't even talk about any BlackBerry 10 devices..."

      BB is fading away.
      • The subject of the article does not allude to popularity

        It appears to only be concerned with the quality of 2013 devices. If popularity were the deciding factor the article could be condensed to a single pie chart.
        • quality?

          So where are the Xiomi, Zopo, Oppo and probably other western company phones that are completely better specced than any of the phones here (except maybe Note3).

          Incomplete list is incomplete.
          Andrew Hargrave

            bullcrap. Xiomi, Zopo, Oppo and probably other western company phones that are completely better spec than nokia Lumia 1520 on the list. so hush, enjoy those Chinese crap quality
          • ...


            Look through those 3 phones. Such superior specs. Slick finish. You can continue to be a blind iSheep, it won't bother me.
            Andrew Hargrave
    • What is "Blackberry 10"?

      • I don't know?..

        You suppose it might be the same model of phone the President was forced by his CIA security team to switch to? This list might be the most popular - but it was big news to me that Blackberry finally got some recognition for the fact that they are still the most secure system; if it is properly set up that is.
    • I totally agree

      Nothing about the best communicator device or best keyboard device? BlackBerry still has this top of the tier in buissness/communications IMO.
    • Why bother

      "I cannot believe that you don't even talk about any BlackBerry 10..."

      What is left of RIM will be broken up for scrap in the next few months.

      You would have to be mad to buy their systems now.
      Henry 3 Dogg
      • Tell the CIA that..

        now that they setup the President using one finally.
  • yep

    Same old bunk year in and year out. Tech bloggers who should know better rate the phone with the worst mobile OS as the best.
    • YEP

      Your Answer: iOS is the worst mobile OS
      • Not iOS ... Android is the worst mobile OS...

        Don't be so surprised that Adrian Kingsley-Hughes put android smartphones in the first, second an third position of the 5 best smartphones of the year 2013 list...

        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is a kind of guy that prefer mediocrity... Maybe this reflect the kind of work he do as a tech blogger ... Always the worst...
        • Learn to read.

          Adrian didn't put Android in first second and third place. He just listed them first.

          He then said

          "Without a doubt, my vote for the best smartphone of 2013 goes to the iPhone 5s."

          An accolade that it thoroughly deserves.

          Despite all the rip off attempts to copy iOS and the iPhone, the imitations still have plenty of catching up to do.

          And if the gap has got smaller, then that just makes it harder to catch up because there is less to copy.

          Look at the garbage that Samsung created of a smart watch when Apple hadn't given them an example to copy....
          Henry 3 Dogg
  • Galaxy Note 3

    The Note 3 has my vote. Check out why:
    • and...

      re the comment:

      "Probably the biggest downside to this handset is that it feels plasticky (sic) and a little bit cheap in the hand, this shouldn't put you off".

      I am yet to meet a user, including myself, who doesn't have a custom made folder cover for this fantastic phablet...
  • The iPhone 5S really doesn't belong on this list...

    ... And this is coming from someone who loved the Note 3 but just couldn't get over my "crack" addiction to my iPhone for various reasons.

    But the fact stands, calling the 5S the "very best smartphone" of 2013 in the face of truly innovative products like the Note 3 and the Nexus 5 is simply rewarding Apple for pumping out boring and hardly innovative crap. It's the same phone with a faster processor and a touch sensor.

    "Best" should really include innovation and functionality. The whole reason I probably lost hundreds of dollars playing with other phones this past month or two was simply because while there's a lot of things I'm *used* to about my iPhone, I'm growing tired of its lack of innovation. I came back this time, but if the others get better in some key areas that are important to me, I won't hesitate to leave if Apple doesn't start making some big changes to the phone.
    • Irrational

      it doesn't matter how innovative the Note 3 or Nexus 5 are, if they're still not very good. or if the innovation is pointless.

      And if the iPhone 5S had no innovation at all, then it could still be superior to them, and therefore the best phone.

      However. Are there ANY significant innovation in the Note 3 or Nexus 5.

      Just calling them innovative doesn't make it so. What are these innovation?

      The iPhone 5 has significantly improved UI (which was already the best). An astonishingly fast and efficient 64 bit processor and a very effective one touch fingerprint sensor.

      Its not the first time a UI has been improved. But there are sill innovations in it.

      It's not the first 64 bit processor, though it is a highly innovative implementation. But on a smartphone it puts the iPhone well out in the lead on power/performance.

      And it's the first fingerprint sensor integration that makes any sense to use.

      And no doubt Samsung will be along with a 64 bit processor and a chunky unpredictable fingerprint system as soon as they can.
      Henry 3 Dogg