It has been a few years since I put together a tax refund special. Yesterday was tax day, and with the current fantastic smartphone lineup, changing carrier landscape, and average tax refund in 2013 of around $3,000, it's time to look at what is available now or coming in the next few weeks.
In the past, it was easy to give a recommendation or two for each carrier, but we are now seeing more of the same phones appear across carriers, so consumers have the best options available. I always tell people who ask me what phone to buy to first figure out which carrier or two works best for where they live, work, and play. After that, you can then look at what the carrier offers and choose the best phone.
A couple of months ago, I posted my top 10 smartphones to kick off 2013, and since then, I have had more time with many of these devices. The Samsung Galaxy S IV is not yet available, but will be by the time people submitting their tax forms yesterday will be receiving their refund.
I wrote that the HTC One was the best smartphone I have ever used, that I think both BlackBerry and Nokia have solid phones and strategies for success, that the Samsung Galaxy Note II was one of the best Android smartphones available, and that the Apple iPhone 5 is a keeper.
Check out the following images in my gallery, showing my top picks for mid-April 2013, with the knowledge that announced devices are coming soon.
The Samsung Galaxy S IV is called your Life Companion, thanks in large part to the wide assortment of software features that Samsung includes.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II remains one of my best all-time Android devices, and keeps stealing the SIM out of my One because it is such a capable device.
The Apple iPhone 5 remains my primary Verizon smartphone, and even though it is nearly a year old, it continues to be a great smartphone for the masses. Enthusiasts seem to be looking for larger displays and more features, though.
The Xperia Z is not yet out in the US, but there is so much in this Android phone that you have to at least consider it to be a top contender. ZDNet's sister site CNET gave it a 4.5 out of five star review, too.
I keep using the Nokia Lumia 920 on AT&T because I like Windows Phone 8, Nokia provides a ton of services, and the camera is top notch.
BlackBerry has a long road ahead, but after using the BlackBerry Z10 for over a month, I am convinced they have what it takes to be fairly successful in the smartphone market.
Android purists like the Nexus 4, but without long-term evolution (LTE) and some other advanced features, I don't rate it in my top five.
Motorola makes solid Android devices, nearly all on Verizon, and the top device deserves some consideration. The Droid Razr HD is an attractive and full-featured device.
I honestly almost like the Droid DNA hardware better than the HTC One. The display goes all the way out to the edges, the back has a nice soft-touch coating, the devices supports wireless charging, and the 1080p display is just as good.
The HTC One is the best smartphone I have ever used (review)
Better hardware and software make the Galaxy Note II the best Android available
Over a week with the iPhone 5 and I'm convinced it's a keeper
BlackBerry, HTC, Nokia: Which will be around at the end of your two-year contract?