Top 10 smartphones to kick off 2013

Top 10 smartphones to kick off 2013

Summary: I post my top 10 lists of smartphones a couple times a year and now that the HTC One has been revealed I can provide you with my current top 10. I've had the iPhone at the top of my lists for quite a while, but not this time.


Number 4: LG's Google Nexus 4


LG gets their first shot at a Nexus device and all indications are that the Nexus 4 is a hot commodity. There have been limited supplies so it has been tough for people to purchase, which I think has also led to more demand for it in the smartphone space. I never bought one because I am so incredibly happy with my Note II, but it is the latest pure Google experience Android so should be considered.

The Nexus 4 is SIM unlocked and contract free with a very low $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) price point. For comparison, most contract free phones are $500 to $700 and even then they are not always SIM unlocked. You can use the Nexus 4 with T-Mobile or AT&T in the US and around the world. It supports HSPA+, but is not a 4G LTE device so that is one reason I don't have it ranked higher.

The Nexus 4 has a 4.7 inch display with a 1280x768 resolution, 8 megapixel camera with cool Photo Sphere functionality, 2GB RAM, latest version of Android (always), and non-expandable 8GB or 16GB memory. It is a fairly basic high end Android device, but the attraction is the pure Google experience with chances for getting the latest version of Android before any other device.

Number 5: Nokia Lumia 920


The Nokia Lumia 920 launched exclusively on AT&T, but I still ended up buying one because I found the optical image stabilization in the camera too compelling to pass up. You can still only pick it up on one carrier, unlike all the rest of the phones in my top five list. The Lumia 920 offers more than the HTC 8X when you compare the device and software. It also comes in a variety of bold colors that are attractive and unique.

Nokia has always excelled at imaging and provides the best low light experience with PureView on the 920. They also offer helpful camera lenses (utilities), wireless charging, Nokia Drive turn-by-turn voice navigation, Nokia Music (free streaming and offline music service), and other Nokia exclusive apps.

The Lumia 920 is a bit heavy when compared to the 8X, but it is even better constructed than the Lumia 900 and brings back the feel of the Lumia 800. The display looks great and the PureMotion+ technology -- which lets you control it with your fingernail and gloved finger -- is amazing.

Number 6: BlackBerry Z10


I went to my first every BlackBerry launch event last month when they launched the BlackBerry Z10 and I've been using it for a few weeks. It is definitely a major step forward for BlackBerry and gives them a slick new OS on solid hardware.

The BlackBerry Z10 is a solid piece of hardware with a 4.2 inch display at 1280 x 768 pixels resolution, 8 megapixel rear camera, 16GB internal storage with a microSD card that supports up to 64GB microSD cards, dual core 1.5 GHz processor, 2GB RAM, microHDMI port, 1800 mAh removable battery, NFC and more. The display is smaller than most Android and Windows Phone device, but still larger than the latest iPhone. I like that you can easily expand the memory and the removable battery is appealing for enterprise users who are out and on the go.

Initially I was quite concerned about the app story, but we are seeing new apps appear in BlackBerry World on a regular basis. There are still a couple weeks before we see the Z10 appear in the US and I think people will be impressed with the hardware and software. Initial pricing from carriers indicates it will launch at $199.99, but we may see better pricing when official announcements from all carriers are made.

Number 7: Samsung Galaxy S III


The Samsung Galaxy S III remains the best Android smartphone available on all major US wireless carriers today. It is likely that a new version will be announced in the next few months that will likely enjoy the same kind of success.

In addition to high end specifications, the Galaxy S III has some of the same software enhancements seen on the Note II. The camera takes great photos, the device works well as both a phone and a data device, the form factor is sleek and attractive, and it is priced competitively on all carriers.

Even with a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy S III feels good in your hand and doesn't feel that big. The Android and Samsung ecosystem is greatly improving and you can now easily find movies to rent or purchase on Google or Samsung, books to purchase, music to purchase and stream, and much more. You can find the Galaxy S III in various colors and priced in the typical $200 price range.

Keep clicking through to see numbers 8 through 10.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, Google, HTC, iPhone, Nokia, Samsung, Smartphones

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  • Seriously you are doing a smart phone top 10 now?

    The week before MWC and you choose to do one now? I suppose this will give you reason to do a post show top 10 after MWC.
    • Don't expect anything at MWC

      Unlike previous years, I highly doubt we will see any high end smartphones at MWC. HTC and BlackBerry already announced, Samsung may be doing so in March, and Apple won't for a few months. Google will likely show something at I/O in May. What is it you expect to see at MWC? Seems to me it is a good time to compare, with the exception of the new Galaxy that I talked about.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • +1

        and may be Nokia has something to show or not.
        Ram U
      • various odds and ins

        Wish list:

        new Nokia phone
        Other various WP8 phones
        Samsung Galaxy Note 3
        Samsung Galaxy 4

        I could see either the Note or the SG4 but not both coming out for MWC. Nokia will have something new. hopefully it is not a mid tiered/lowend phone.

        Maybe a WP8 HTC One?

        It is just a really strange time to do a "top 10" right before a "major" industry event.
        • Nokia maybe, but not Samsung

          Samsung will have an event after MWC. There is no way HTC will announce a One WP device yet. Really not expecting much, especially for US market.
          palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
        • Nokia Lumia 7xx

          The Nokia Lumia 7xx series is still missing in the WP8 line-up.
          So I would expect that midrange phone (250$-300$) to be announced pretty soon.

          Also a aluminium limited edition of the Lumia 920 might be on the cards if romours are to be believed.
  • Seriously you are doing a smart phone top 10 now?

    The week before MWC and you choose to do one now? I suppose this will give you reason to do a post show top 10 after MWC.
  • Blackberry

    Number 6, out of 10; for a phone & Company that was written-off, summarily, by pundits
    not long ago, Blackberry is set to make a strong comeback. Since almost everybody hates
    Microsoft, they are in the most jeopardy from the new Blackberry Line. Windows 8 blows,
    by the way.
    • I can see why you're well sought after in the cell phone world.

      Oh wait, you're not?
      William Farrel
    • Re: Blackberry

      You know what, BlackBerry fanbois are still such a novelty on this site that I'm going to upvote this one, just for once.
  • The best = 7th place?

    How does the "best Android smartphone available" rank #7? That doen't seem balanced...
    • Because

      Because clearly BlackBerry had to be better than the best!
  • My List

    1. LG Nexus 4
    2. LG Nexus 4
    3. LG Nexus 4
    4. LG Nexus 4
    5. LG Nexus 4
    6. LG Nexus 4
    7. LG Nexus 4
    8. LG Nexus 4
    9. LG Nexus 4
    10. LG Nexus 4

    $350 for the phone and with $30 unlimited data per month with T-Mobile. Nothing beats that, Life is GOOD. Thank You!
    • Nexus 4 has worst camera and microphones of all ten phones

      I think the Nexus 4 should not be in this list.
      It's camera and microphones are by far the worst of all the phones in this top ten. At least ten high end phones not in this list can have better camera and microphones than the Nexus 4.

      It is fairly cheap but this is not a list of cheap phones but of the best phones.
  • I agree with most of the choices, except for the Galaxy Note II

    personally, for me it's a little too big to be using on a regular basis, and I really don't consider it a smartphone, instead a small tablet with calling capabilities.
    William Farrel
  • Too bad HTC is trying to be Apple

    Too bad HTC has decided to go the Apple route & make all their phones w/non-removable batteries & unexpandable memory (obviously so they can charge more for their higher memory options & make you buy a new phone when the battery dies). Such a shame because they look like nice phones. Unfortunately, I will NEVER buy a phone w/o a changeable battery. After a device's non-removable battery loses its ability to hold a good charge, the phone becomes unusable. Until HTC gets their head out of their a$$es & realize they do not have a cult following like Apple (which allows Apple to get away w/cr@p like that), I will not but any of their devices & recommend that all my clients stay away. I guess Samsung only for now...
    • If you're Apple....

      When the battery dies (and it will die, if you're a power user anyway, before your contract dies), Apple charges a cool $80 to replace a $5.00 battery (plus shipping, if you send it in rather than trek to an Apple store). That's a profit center.
    • Scoop on battery

      Most Li-Poly cells will last for about 500 full charge/discharge cycles.... "last" is officially the time to 80% of the original capacity, after which the cell dies very fast. If, like me, you charge your phone every day, take note that 500 days != Full Contract.

      If you're less of a power user, or recharge during the day, it probably lasts out your contract. And that's pretty much what Apple's counting on. In fact, some new phones offer your choice of maximum runtime or maximum battery life. Choose the later, and the phone won't discharge all the way, and will tell you its full when it's not. That's the same thing hybrid cars do... NiMh and Lithium cells lose most of their life near the charging extremes. Eliminate those extremes and you extend the life of the cell.

      That's completely in normal use. Lithium cells have a secondary problem; if they're ever discharged too much, they slowly self-destruct. Systems protect against this... this is different than the aging mechanisms.
  • No Sony?

    You must have been fairly unimpressed by the xperia z, though it has got praise from many... What are your reasons for,it not making the grade against several older phones?
    • Its just that I was contemplating getting one...

      be interested in your take on it.