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Best Android smartphones (May 2013 edition)

Time to take a tour of a handful of the best Android smartphones currently available on the market. Here are some killer handsets from Google, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung.
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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 8 ZDNet

For an updated slideshow, see: Best Android smartphones (July 2013 edition)

 

Introduction

Looking to replace your aging Android companion with something newer and with a little more "oomph"? Here are five excellent Android-powered smartphones from Google, Motorola, and Samsung.

No matter whether you are looking for a consumer handset or something that will be suited to a BYOD role, you're bound to find something of interest here.

The handsets are arranged in no particular order, but my current favorite continues to be the Nexus 4. It's a powerful package that delivers what I believe to be the best, purest Android experience possible.

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2 of 8 HTC

HTC One

The all-new HTC One is the first of two new kids on the block in terms of Android-powered smartphones.

Under the hood, the HTC One isn't all that different to Samsung's new Galaxy S4 — it features the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU (although it runs a little slower), 2GB of RAM, and a 1080p screen — but it is also a very different beast thanks to Sense, the bold new user interface HTC has loaded into the smartphone. It also features an aluminum shell, unlike the Samsung Galaxy S4, which has a plastic shell.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2) with HTC's Sense user interface

  • 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600

  • 4.7-inch Super LCD, Full HD, high-pixel-density (468ppi) display

  • 4MP rear camera

  • 2.1MP front camera

  • 32/64GB internal storage.

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3 of 8 Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S4

The second new kid on the block — Samsung's new and long-awaited 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

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4 of 8 Google

Google Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 is the smartphone that Google thinks Android should be loaded on.

One of the downsides to the Nexus 4 is that it doesn't come with LTE support, despite having a supporting integrated modem. According to LG, the manufacturer of the Nexus 4, the LTE modem requires a signal amplifier and filter to work, and these components have been omitted to keep the cost of the handset down.

Despite this, the Nexus 4 is a solid, well-made Android handset.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2)

  • 1.5GHz quad-core Krait processor

  • 4.7-inch WXGA IPS display

  • 8MP rear camera

  • 1.3MP front camera

  • 8/16GB internal storage.

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5 of 8 Motorola

Motorola Razr i

Here we have a new entry from Motorola — the Razr i.

Perhaps not the best — or best made — handset around, but the Razr i is nonetheless a decent, solid smartphone that won't break the bank.

The DuPont Kevlar fibre and Corning Gorilla Glass construction gives it a good feel in the hand, and it comes with an SD-card slot for storage expansion, something that the Nexus 4 doesn't have.

  • Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), but Jelly Bean inbound

  • 2GHz Intel Atom Z2460

  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED 540x960 display

  • 8MP rear camera

  • VGA front camera

  • 8GB internal storage.

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6 of 8 Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note II

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is the Android smartphone for those people with large hands to hold it with, and large pockets to keep it in.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II really is a solid handset packed with an array of high-end features. It even comes with the S Pen that can be used to copy text, crop images, and to share content.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.1)

  • 1.6 GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor

  • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display

  • 8MP rear camera

  • 1.9MP front camera

  • 16/32/64GB internal storage

  • MicroSD slot

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7 of 8 Motorola

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD is Motorola's latest high-end smartphone, and it brings both a high-definition 4.7-inch display and a massive 3,300mAh battery, good enough for 32-hours of use.

It's also tough, constructed form DuPont Kevlar fibre and Corning Gorilla Glass, and features water-repellent nanoparticles to shield against water, even on the internal circuit boards.

The only downside to this handset is that it is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but an upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean should be available before the end of the year.

  • Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), but an update is on the way

  • Dual-core 1.5GHz processor

  • 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD Display, 720p (720x1280)

  • 8MP rear-facing camera

  • 1.3MP front-facing with 720p HD video capture

  • 1080p HD video capture

  • 32GB internal storage

  • MicroSD card slot.

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8 of 8 Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S3

Without a doubt, this is still one of the best Android smartphone available today — unless you want the S4, that is! If being at the bleeding edge doesn't matter, then the S3 is now a great buy since you can pick them up cheaply.

Not only is it packed with high-end features, such as an amazing 4.8-inch super AMOLED display and a really solid camera, but it also appeals to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) crowd. The handset has a number of enterprise-friendly features, including AuthenTec's QuickSec VPN client technology that allows users to access corporate networks when out and about.

  • Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0)

  • 1.5 GHz dual-core Krait processor

  • 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display

  • 8MP rear camera

  • 1.9MP front camera

  • 16/32GB internal storage

  • MicroSD slot

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