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.