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Top 10 Android phones (January 2014 edition)

Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (January 2014). There are a few new handsets, including one for all you pure Android fans.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 11 ZDNet

Introduction

Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (January 2014). There are a few new handsets, including one for all you pure Android fans. Want something bigger than your average smartphone? If so, there's also a phablet for you to look at!

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.

If I had to choose one of these, I'd likely go for Google's, Nexus 5 because it is a powerful, fully-featured handset packed that offers the purest Android experience possible. It's the only handset that will guarantee that I see Android updates over the course of its lifespan.

However, I have to admit that some of the features present on the Samsung Galaxy S4 make it a great choice for the BYOD crowd. 

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2 of 11 Google

Google Nexus 5

Not only has it been put together using some of the best components currently available, it also offers the purest Android experience possible, and gives owners access to the latest Android 4.4 KitKat. Owners also will get their updates direct from Google and won't need to wait for hardware OEMs or carriers to release customized updates (or just never receive updates, as is still the case with many handsets).

I've always found Nexus-branded hardware to be solid and reliable, but I'd give this a few weeks for Google to shake out any potential bugs before recommending it to anyone other than hardcore Android enthusiasts.

  • KitKat (Android 4.4)
  • 2.23GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU
  • 4.95-inch 1920x1080 display with a pixel density of 445 pixels-per-inch
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 1.3MP front camera
  • 16/32GB internal storage
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3 of 11 Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Galaxy Note 3 is, as you can probably gather, a sequel to the Galaxy Note 2. It brings a whole raft of improvements to the table, and it is currently the only phone or phablet that's compatible with Samsung's new Galaxy Gear smartwatch (support for devices such as the Note 2, and the Galaxy S3 and S4 should arrive before the end of the year).

Probably the biggest downside to this handset is that it feels plasticky and a little bit cheap in the hand, this shouldn't put you off.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.3)
  • 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor
  • 5.7-inch 1920 x 1080 display with 388 pixels-per-inch
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Stylus (a pro or a con depending on your view of them)
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 2MP front camera
  • 4G LTE
  • NFC
  • 32/64GB or internal storage
  • microSD card slot for expansion
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4 of 11 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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5 of 11 Samsung

Samsung 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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6 of 11 Sony

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

A newcomer to the list. Sony's Xperia Z Ultra packs a lot of cool features under the hood, sporting the sharpest LCD panel on the market, and a 13-megapixel camera capable of capturing HDR video.

This handset is also thin, coming in at a svelte 6.5-milimeters. But don't the thinness fool you, the Xperia Z Ultra is tough, featuring tempered glass, and a dustproof and waterproof build, rated to with IP58.

This is the smartphone you need if you want to be able to submerge it in 1 meter of water and still have a working handset.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2)
  • 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor
  • 6.4-inch TFT 1920 x 1080 display, powered by an updated Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 with 342 pixels-per-inch
  • 8MP rear-facing camera
  • 2MP front-facing 1080p HD video capture
  • 16GB internal storage
  • Compatible with the Sony SmartWatch 2
  • microSD slot
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7 of 11 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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8 of 11 Google

Samsung Galaxy S4 "Google Play Edition"

Like the idea of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, but prefer a device that gives you a more pure Google Android experience? Or maybe you just want an unlocked handset. Either way, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 "Google Play Edition."

This is the same hardware as the Galaxy S4, but with all the Samsung bells and whistles removed. Some people love this, others hate it. But if you want it, it is yours, unlocked, for $649.

  • Skinless Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2), which means the same experience as the Nexus
  • 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
  • 5-inch Super AMOLED high-pixel-density (441ppi) display
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 2MP front camera
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD slot
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9 of 11 Motorola

Motorola Moto X

I used to be pretty partial to Motorola handsets back before the iPhone. They were well built, and while they relied heavily on gimmicks, delivered decent performance and long-term reliability.

The Moto X is interesting, not because it is manufactured by Motorola – now owned by Google – but because it takes a new approach to computation power. Rather than one chip with multiple cores doing the work, the Moto X has a total of eight cores spread over four different chips, each doing a different thing. This is supposed to both speed up the handset and make the battery last longer.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2)
  • Motorola X8 computing system, consisting of a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro dual-core clocked at 1.7GHz, a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU, and two low-power processors, one that is used for natural language and the other for contextual computing
  • 4.7-inch AMOLED HD 720p display
  • 10MP rear camera
  • 2MP front camera
  • 16/32GB internal storage
  • NFC
  • Wireless charging
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10 of 11 Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Mega

Do you think that other smartphones are small and puny? Do you have large hands? Large pockets? Carry around with you a large bag?

Answered "yes' to one or more of these questions? The Galaxy Mega may be for you!

It's clear that Samsung is carpet-bombing the marker with handsets in a variety of sizes, and this 6.3-inch phablet (cross between a phone and a tablet) is at the high end for what's possible – and plausible – for a smartphone in terms of screen size.

The mega is certainly not for everyone, but if you want a smartphone that you can use as a tablet, then this might be worth a look.

  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2)
  • 1.7GHz dual-core processor
  • 6.3-inch 1.280 x 720 display
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 1.9MP front camera
  • 16GB internal storage
  • 3.200 mAh user-replaceable battery
  • microSD card slot
  • NFC
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11 of 11 LG

LG G2

In an attempt to differentiate its phablet from the competition, LG made the decision to place the hardware buttons on the back of the device. This, the company claims, reduces accidental button presses and also makes it easier for southpaw's to use.

A solid, well-rounded phablet.

  • Android 4.2.2 'Jelly Bean'
  • 2.26 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor
  • 5.2-inch full HD 1080p IPS display featuring 423-pixel-per-inch
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 2.1MP front camera
  • 16/32GB storage

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