Top 10 hottest smartphones of summer 2013

Top 10 hottest smartphones of summer 2013

Summary: We are right in the heat of the summer and there are plenty of hot smartphones to choose from. After figuring out the best carrier for you, take a look at these hot smartphones.


I kicked off this year listing my top ten smartphones and then updated my list around tax day with ten more excellent smartphones. As we enter the final month of summer break and start thinking about going back to school, I thought it would be appropriate to list the current top smartphones available or announced.

I have used all of the phones in the list, except for the new Moto X and LG G2. I read several articles about these two devices and placed them where I thought they would fit at this time. Unfortunately, some of these top picks are carrier exclusives, which I always hate, so there is limited access for consumers not willing to change their carrier. Every one of the top ten is a perfectly usable smartphone though so your really can't go wrong with any of them.

It is likely we will see a Note III soon, Apple will also reveal some kind of successor to the iPhone 5, and we may see a new Nexus from Google. However, we don't know any official details yet so this list is current as of today.

We previously saw quite a bit of consolidation as Apple, Samsung, and HTC rose to the top, but the field is broadening once again as the mobile operating systems evolve and vendors release stronger competition. Samsung and Nokia were the only vendors with multiple devices in my list with others from HTC, Apple, LG, BlackBerry, Sony, and Motorola. Android still rules with six of the top 10, two Windows Phones, a BlackBerry, and an iOS device.

Number 1: HTC One

(Image: HTC)

I have been using an HTC One for nearly six months and still think it is the best smartphone I have ever used so it was easy for me to give it the top spot. The HTC One is now available on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint with the Verizon one likely coming this month. You can buy a Developer Edition or a Google Play Edition and even do what I did and give MoDaCo.SWITCH a try and run both Sense and Google experiences on one device.

The HTC One hardware is fantastic and unmatched by any other smartphone, in my opinion. The metal body feels great in your hand and looks incredible. HTC's Super LCD displays have led the industry over the past year and now they bring an awesome 1080p 4.7 inch Super LCD 3 to the HTC One. It is powered by a quad-core 1.7 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. While there is no microSD slot, there are internal memory options of 32GB and 64GB so that should be plenty for most people. You will also find dual mics, front facing stereo speakers, an ultra pixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS).

In addition to top class hardware, HTC includes a new user experience with Sense 5. While the traditional Sense UI is present with a swipe over, you can also experience their HTC BlinkFeed home screen where content you want appears and is refreshed as you specify. They also have a slick new camera capture capability called Zoe.

You can buy the HTC One for $200 on most carriers or for as low as $599 for the Google Play Edition with no contract obligation.

If you like the HTC One, but still find it to be too big then you may want to check out the HTC One Mini. My wife found many advantages to the smaller form factor and just moved to it from the larger HTC One.

Number 2: Nokia Lumia 1020

(Image: Nokia)

The Nokia Lumia 1020 launched exclusively on AT&T and while I usually don't buy locked devices the camera is just too fantastic to pass up. As I wrote in my review the Nokia Lumia 1020 is the best Windows Phone device ever made.

Nokia has always excelled at imaging and last year when they rolled out the Nokia 808 PureView I picked one up for the camera experience. Unfortunately, the Symbian OS limits me a bit and I don't use that device much. The Nokia Lumia 1020 brings that PureView experience to Windows Phone 8 and I am loving the entire experience.

Nokia provides the best low light experience along with a manual Nokia Pro Camera utility that takes camera phone imaging to the next level. Nokia also offers several more helpful camera lenses (utilities), wireless charging with a simple shell, HERE Maps turn-by-turn voice navigation, Nokia Music+, and many other Nokia exclusive apps.

The Lumia 1020 comes in a matte finish and is a rock solid device. If there was no app gap and the 1020 was a bit more sleek, like the Lumia 925, then I may have ranked it first.

You can pick up the Lumia 1020 for $299.99 under 2-year contract with AT&T.

Number 3: LG G2

(Image: T-Mobile)

The LG G2 was just announced yesterday, but after checking out the hands-on previews and details I decided to give it the third spot. I really like the Optimus G Pro as well, but it is an exclusive and there are too many other great devices to put it in my top 10 list. The G2 will launch on all four major US wireless carriers, likely rolling out this month.

The two primary features that grabbed my attention were the large 5.2 inch display with just 2.65 mm bezel and the removal of all side buttons from the phone. You will find that LG placed the buttons on the back of the phone. The G2 also has the fastest mobile processor available, 2GB of RAM, a 13 megapixel camera with OIS, and 3,000 mAh battery. It is truly a powerhouse of a device and I cannot wait to test one out.

Number 4: Apple iPhone 5

(Image: Apple)

I still think the iPhone is one of the best smartphones for the masses and recommend it to some family and friends. I also think the UI is getting a bit boring and have heard that from a number of others. iOS 7 will be coming soon and the iPhone 5 will get that update so this phone is still a contender. I sold mine to buy the Lumia 1020, but have an iPad for iOS work.

Other smartphone manufacturers are innovating more and pushing the limits of smartphone design and I gave them some credit in my top ten list. Apple updated the internals and length of its iPhone product with the iPhone 5 and the design is excellent. It is still one of the most pocketable smartphones and easy to use with one hand.

Prices range from $199 (16GB) to $399 (64GB) on contract with a premium of $450 additional cost if you buy it without a contract. The iPhone 5 is available on all major carriers.

Number 5: Samsung Galaxy S4

(Image: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the successor to the extremely popular Galaxy S III with improvements across the board. It is available on most carriers for $200 with a contract and also available as a Google Play Edition for $649.

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.

Keep clicking through to see numbers 6 through 10.

Topics: Mobility, Android, AT&T, Smartphones, Samsung, Nokia, iPhone, HTC, Apple, Verizon

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  • quick question @palmsolo

    hi i have a upgrade on verizon and i have had android twice-droid x and note 2. i also had the iphone 4 that i still use for wifi use and ipad 2 also for wifi use. im considering a windows phone or going back to the iphone. whats your best advice? im thinking on getting the lumia 928 for a test device to use around my home wifi and once in while for 4g use. Will you be testing the low cost iphone anytime soon when it does come out? The only problem with my apple products i have now is that none of them have siri... so is siri worthy for me to go back to iphone or should i take the leap and go to windows phone?, As i hated bb's in general after testing both q10 and z10 along with my old bb7 bold device at home...
    • I don't know of a single person...

      that uses Siri in a day to day way. I wouldn't base your purchase on Siri alone. The other platforms have similar voice applications.
      • ok thanks

        i have google voice search which is great but no sure after testing siri which i liked, if i should get lumia 928 or low cost iphone... bottom line im looking for change as i go through with a phone upgrade every year so any more advice would be great... i had bb twice and android twice and ios once...
        • If you're looking for change...

          ...definitely go with the 928. It's a great device and I think you'll really like Windows Phone. As a buddy of mine said about Windows Phone, that just got the 925 on T-Mobile, "it's like speaking another language, it's so different from iPhone and Android".
          • thanks

            Ok good to know!!
      • so siri acquisition was just for competition in voice recogniton

        so siri a gimmick to buy the iphone over anything else out there then
        • retrofan116

          If you're looking for that kind of hands free approach, I would say to with the Moto X, they did some nice stuff in that area.
        • and push upgrades

          I had the original Siri on my i4 and iPad2. When the 4S was launched, Apple killed the service for any but 4S users and pushed for current users to upgrade to get it back.
    • Agree with kstap, don't base decision on Siri

      Siri is good, but other platforms have similar functionality and the novelty wears off quickly, IMHO.

      I think it is a mistake for Apple to launch a low cost iPhone and am not convinced yet that they will. You can pick up a previous generation, that is still very capable, for free so why even launch a product that is limited from the start?

      I like Windows Phone myself and think you really need to try out the platform to make a judgement on whether or not it is for you. You may want to test a 928 and if you are not happy with it look to the Verizon HTC One coming soon or any number of the others in my list.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • ok thanks

        thanks for advice... i did test the lumia 928 in a Verizon store and loved it... so i consider the lumia 928 or any other new windows phone coming to verizon... The problem with verizon is that they only have two really good windows phone and att offers more but verizon has better coverage where i live so i saw the 1020 on verizon i would buy it in a second...
      • Windows phones

        I really don't like the tile layout of the UI on window phones. Seems to busy for me.
        • you can resize all tiles down to the smallest size

          then it looks just like your typical grid of icons, similar to iPhone, except the corners are not rounded
      • From My Personal Experience

        Not being a Microsoft Mobius Mobile Evangelist, WP is not nearly ready for prime time. WP 7 was so bad Microsoft had to mix it in with WM 6,x in order for it to show up. Funny thing is they're doing the same for WP 8 (mixing it in with WP 7, and WM 6.x). I would advise anyone to avoid the cheaply made Nokia phones (they're crap) and WP is a sub par OS.
        Troll Hunter J
    • Go for 928

      It is the best among all.
      Ram U
    • Nokia Lumia 928

      The 928 on Verizon is a great phone and Bing has an awesome voice driven search engine. It doesn't answer your questions like Siri does but I find it just as functional. I love the wireless charging and the super sensitive touch screen (can use the phone through a baggie or with gloves on), Nokia suite of apps are fantastic. Highly recommend this phone.
    • Sherpa and Dragon for iOS

      I use Sherpa and Dragon, along with Google Now on my Android -- works great!
      Sherpa can even play any song you wish to hear by artist or song title. Great for directions, maps, finding a store and such. Sherpa is very cool indeed. Dragon seems to do driving directions well, and usually understands me. Dragon offers results for questions with tabs on the top where you can choose the type of source you want for the answer, be it Google, Yelp, Wiki, etc.
  • You might want to wait for Nokia's Phablet coming in the fall

    I have a feeling that Verizon is going to get it in the US and will be Verizon's bigger and better 1020 (hopefully it comes with the 41 mp pureview camera.
  • Seriously Matt

    That iPhone should be in spot 8 or 9. Maybe the 5s will be better but, all of the other phones with the exception of the Blackberry and the Lumia 928 have surpassed it.
  • Blackberry a little low in my opinion

    I think the Z10 could be a little higher with the new os upgrade.
    • no bb horrible nowadays

      being a former user twice, they are cutting jobs left and right just to save the company some money, so its kind of hard to rate a 2 new bbs good when the stock sucks and their loyal fan base is bailing on them as 1 million users leave bb every month-from a earlier zdnet article.... and their new bb10 is horrible and bug written and very laggy even with 10.1... thats why i switched back to android after being with it twice... so thats why i'm looking for a windows phone as thats the only that ive only tested but not owned yet... So finally i have nothing against bb but signs are showing that it might not be around in the smartphone market too much longer as i was reading today as windows phone has pretty much soldified the third spot in the smartphone market-in a stock insider article today, so the only ones that support bb still is our gov't as being the majority, as people look elsewhere nowadays as they dont want just a work phone... i know bb10 seperates this but people want some decent apps for that and the appworld is a ghosttown to ios and android and evenetually windowsphone... i know its a business phone mainly but it lacks lot for me and many others...