Top 10 smartphones of 2013: There's One that's best

Top 10 smartphones of 2013: There's One that's best

Summary: We have seen some fantastic smartphones in 2013 and one phone remained clearly at the top of my list. Another one recently knocked it out of my pocket, but it still remains in my collection.


Number 6: Nokia Lumia 1020

(Image: Nokia)

I am still a fan of Windows Phone and it seems almost daily apps that I find essential, such as USAA bank, appear in the Windows Phone Store. While the Nokia Lumia 1520 is the newest high-end device, AT&T messed it up and it is just too large to be comfortable as a daily device so the Nokia Lumia 1020 remains my top Windows Phone device.

You can't beat the camera of the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the additional Nokia services make it a great smartphone option. I honestly like the hardware design of the Lumia 925 even better, but the 1020 has more memory and a better camera.

Number 7: Samsung Galaxy S4

(Image: Samsung)

Samsung rolled out the Galaxy S4 with a rather strange launch event, but millions of people purchased the device. The hardware is excellent and Samsung pushes the limits with its software.

Friends and family that purchased the Galaxy S4 earlier this year are still pleased with their smartphone purchase and the S4 deserves a place in the top 10 of this year.

Number 8: LG G2

(Image: T-Mobile)

LG did great with the Nexus 5 and LG G2 in 2013.

The minimal side bezel, long battery life, and solid camera experience are compelling on the LG G2. The button design makes sense, but I couldn't get used to it while I was testing it out. I have considered buying another a couple of times though because of the great camera and gorgeous display.

Like Samsung, LG overwhelms consumers a bit with their software options. Then again, people who like to tweak and customize their device may enjoy the LG experience.

Number 9: Motorola Droid Maxx

(Image: Verizon)

I own several phones from this top 10 list, but none of them can go longer than a day of heavy usage. Thus, the Motorola Droid Maxx deserves a spot as a top phone this year thanks to its large internal 3,500 mAh capacity battery that did let me go more than a day.

The Droid Maxx gets the great Motorola software functions with a large display. Unfortunately, it is only available on Verizon Wireless so it has limited appeal. It is well constructed, feels great in your hand, and offers an experience similar to the Moto X.

Number 10: BlackBerry Z30

(Image: BlackBerry)

BlackBerry hasn't had a great year, but their BlackBerry 10 OS is actually very useful for communications and I find their OS to be user friendly and enjoyable. Their best piece of hardware is the BlackBerry Z30.

I have used the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 and enjoy going back to a full QWERTY solution from time-to-time. The Z30 improves on the Z10 with a larger five inch display, long battery life, dual speakers, and multiple microphones.

BlackBerry continues to struggle and figure out where it is going, but their operating system and hardware still meets the needs of many folks and deserves consideration in the top 10 of 2013.

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Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, HTC, iPhone, Nokia, Samsung, Smartphones, The Year's Best Tech for Work and Play

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  • Agree with the list, though ranking, of course, differ for different readrs

    iPhone 5s is the choice of buyers, the most popular flagman smartphone because of small size and low weight, best materials (metal and glass), the biggest application and media libraries, speed and unique features like TouchID.
    • "best materials"

      i-phone has great build quality achieved using great material, but to say it has the best material? you might want to try picking up a HTC One. I'm not saying its the best but material wise & build quality its no less at all than the I-phone
      • "The best" does not deny that HTC One build quality is necessary worse

        They could be best both.
        • Aluminium is the BEST material??!!?

          There are phones made with a Kevlar Composite casing and that would be magnitudes more expensive to make and lighter yet more robust.
          Your concept of best is pegged at Apple and that's it, no idea of what's REALLY BEST.
      • What?

        HTC One has no business being number one. I had an HTC Amaze and it's the same story every year. A nice build quality with a pretty shell. At the end of the day it's still Android.

        The iPhone 5S is the most revolutionary phone out right now. At this time next year ALL the leading edge smart phones will have fingerprint scanners, 64 bit processors, and two tone flashes. Apple did it again, nobody recognizes it.
        • revolutionary?

          sorry to burst your buble, but there is nothing revolutionary in these features. When the Atrix 4G came out with a fingerprint scanner in its power button, all the fanboys were screaming "useless" and "gimicky". Now its revolutionary? Dont get me wrong, I dont judge the feature itself, some people may find it usefull, others dont, but Im judging the attitude.

          As for 64bit CPUs, you should know that it is part of ARMs roadmap. In the CPU department, the majority of ios and android devices rely on the innovations made by ARM, not apple or samsung, HTC or whatever. In the ARM roadmap 64bit computing is part of its new cortex a53/57 SoCs (system on a chip).

          Apple however jumped the gun and integrated it before the new architecture, leaving out the most important advantage of 64bit computing (large memory addressing since the iphone only has 1GB ram). This is not called innovation or revolutionary, its called marketing.
    • Umm

      No it isn't... It might be popular in the USA but, the world over, Samsung probably has at least 1 phone that outsells it. Crud, they might even have two by now.

      As for build quality, The Apple has a styling all its own but, it is one of the most fragile phones on the market.
      • No, flagship iPhone is #1 worldwide in every quarter

        Samsung only beats Apple because of many models of cheaper smartphones.

        Samsung will sell, by its own estimation, about 100 million Galaxy S+Note smartphones (starts from $150) -- compare it to 150 million iPhones (starts from $400).
    • "Best" isn't always *BEST*

      I have noticed a trend in my daily commute over the years. Travelers (Subway and bus) with iPhones invariably have cracked screens and/or backs. Travelers with other phone more than likely do not. If you look at that commuter next to you, you will see that he has a cracked screen. Look closer and you will see it's an iPhone. I have yet to see any other phone *OTHER* than an iPhone with a cracked screen...and honestly, no other phone made has a cracked back!
      As for "quality" case know? who cares? You will just be getting rid of it in a year when Apple comes out with the next "Jesus phone" and all the iPhone sheeple trek to the Apple store mecca to plop even more money for a phone that they only used for the past 6-8 months...
      Why spend all that on something that you will be getting rid of so soon? I prefer the removable back of the Samsung because it *IS* cheaper and it *IS*'s lighter (less of an impact when the phone hits the ground) and the difference in build price can go to other innovative features of the phone. Why pay for glass and metal when you can pay for innovation?
      • Android vs Iphone

        I agree. I am happy with everything my Android has to offer at the price of an upgrade. So price is important. The extra $200 goes to the profits of the CEO and shareholders. So i guess they can afford to spend more for the "Extras" I did pay anything to line the pockets of its makers. I like the free route. Anyway after a year or so its time for a new one, and I dont want waste the $400-$600 when the Android phone does fine.
        Marc Waters
    • What really matters...

      How about actually important factors such as battery life, voice quality, speaker quality, keyboard prediction, messaging interfaces etc?

      Sure - the iPhone is designed nicely and has some nice bells and whistles - but in the real life day-to-day buzz, these features fall to the wayside.

      Since picking up a BlackBerry Z30, I haven't gone back. It's FAR more efficient at communication (email, sms, social media) and it beats the iPhone where it matters - in the areas I stated above.

      I'm powering through the day without having to worry about a flat battery while the few iPhone users in my office are scrambling for chargers. The Z30 has a bold, beautiful screen, crystal clear speakers and an operating system that makes iOS feel quite dated.

      When you rely on your phone as a daily driver, the iPhone starts to pale in comparison to other competition - and in my experience, the Z30 trumps all.
      • cluld not agree more

        @higherdestiny the z30 absolutely makes the iOS user interface seem extremely dated. Don't have an iPhone but do have an iPad that I find difficult to use now. I use the z30 for everything. Gave away my old nexus 4 to my son. With recent support for Android Apk the z3o just became even more amazing.
  • List seems about right

    Nokia Lumia 1020 is just awesome, no downside, tons of apps now, and super well built. #1 for me, but I get why Android models are higher ranked because of certain specs. Android. Just wish HTC would make a flagship Win Phone model.
    Sean Foley
    • 925 is nicer

      1020 has great camera but I prefer 925 as it is slimmer and has fantastic screen.
    • Nokia 1020 No Downside?? Are You Serious??

      That yellow brick phone weighs 5.6 oz vs 3.9 oz for the iPhone 5S not to mention it sits awkwardly because of the huge lens that protrudes out the back. Ever put that yellow brick phone side by side next to the iPhone? Colors are super saturated, that's a praise and a curse. Yes, they look bright and beautiful, unfortunately they always look bright and beautiful. They aren't accurate. Do a Google search for "white background" and come back and tell us how accurate those colors are. Don't even get me started on Windows Phone 8 operating system. And tell MS to put a dedicated forward and back on the browser, it's about time they added it to IE.
  • Sony Experia Z1

    should be in the top 10 easily
  • I have to agree

    for the most part with the authors list, though I don't have any experience with the i-phone, just held a few. I am pleased to see Blackberry at least make the bottom of the list, I didn't expect that
    • Me too

      I expected not to see it but...Mathew Miller knows his stuff. This time lol
  • The ranking doesn't agree with buyers

    Not everyone is the same, or needs the same things, so the author's rankings reflect the way HE uses a smartphone, and what is important to him. I wouldn't attach much significance to it.
    • Obvious

      Yes, whenever opinions are given, it is obvious that it is subjective. But why come to a page and read an opinion if you don't want it? Also, why state the obvious?