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Best Android Smartphones of 2013

Affordability: Motorola Moto G

Motorola_Moto_G
Moto G is Motorola’s latest entry into the low end segment and they have gone in all guns blazing with what is clearly midrange spec. Moto G blows competition away without breaking a sweat. It is available for as low as 170$ fully unlocked and raring to go. It also comes with a great 720p display and a Snapdragon 400 quad core processor. It also comes bundled with Android 4.3

Out of the box experience: HTC One Max

 

HTC_One_Max

The HTC One Max features “Sense 5.5”, the main feature of which is the new and refined version of “Blinkfeed”. Blinkfeed revolutionizes the RSS as we know it with categories to subscribe to feeds from social networks like twitter or Facebook. You can also select news, entertainment, food, lifestyle, technology and much much more. It even comes with filters for all of them. Since Blinkfeed is the home screen for the device, all users will have to go through it. This changes the way even casual users operate their phones by giving them powers feature phones never could. Other than this, the apps section also comes with a search function for those who have a gargantuan app collection to make your handling easier.

Ergonomics: Asus Padfone Mini

Asus_Padfone_Mini
Asus Padfone Mini may only be available in select markets at the moment, but we strongly recommend waiting to get your hands on the Asus Padfone Mini. With a screen just 4.3” in size and thickness of just 0.34” it weighs an astonishingly light 105 grams which puts it in the iPhone’s league for attention to ergonomics. This provides single handed texting without hurting your thumb and with no stress on your wrist. In addition, it also comes with a dock to a 7” screen thereby giving you additional flexibility of using it as a tablet when you demand extra room to celebrate your content or feel like using your device two handed.

Latent Potential: Google LG Nexus 5

Nexus_5
Just like with the tablets, the winner of this round is the Nexus 5. Aside from being bleeding edge with the latest and greatest 4.4 “KitKat” which is still to make its way into most devices, just like all the other Google devices, it will be updated with the latest software before all other competitors. It may only a few weeks from launch, but the developer community is already in full swing with several thousands of posts in the development section. With every batch of the phone getting sold out, newer members eagerly join to work on the development. This phone also includes the latest and greatest in the spec sheet featuring the Snapdragon 800 making it much more powerful than a Samsung Galaxy S4.

Camera: Sony Xperia Z1

Xperia_z1
Following in the footsteps of the point and shoot cameras, smartphones are now racing “Megapixels”. Here, Z1 storms into the lead with a staggering 21 megapixels! The Z1 also impresses with its shutter speeds that let you take 60 shots of burst mode in 2 seconds (30 shots before pressing the button and 30 shots after pressing the button). And the waterproof body that lets you shoot underwater. Now, before we argue on why the LG G2 or the GS4 arent the winners, let’s step back for a moment and think about what’s really important in your image. Would you really hate a perfectly beautiful image just because it happens to be a shade off? If precision photography is your focus, DSLRs start at lower prices than the phones in the reckoning. Precision may not always be what makes a great picture, photograhy is also about experiences and memories. There are no devices which rival the Z1 in this category because of Sony’s hard work with refining the software. Pointing a camera at objects gives you information about them, you can edit your captures in real time to seem prehistoric or wonderland like. You could add woodland creatures or amazon theme a bar you frequent and even shoot underwater. Some of these are features DSLRs may never possess.

Noteworthy mention: HTC One

Htc_one
HTC surprised everybody by deciding to drop out of the megapixels race and introducing what they call the “ultra pixel”. Although the sensor is 1/3rd of an inch, just like many other phone cameras, it only features 4 Megapixels which is more than sufficient for shooting 1080p video. The pixels are 2 micrometers in size and this puts it straight into the point and shoot league. This makes the sensors capture more detail resulting in astonishingly good quality images with almost no noise. The OIS(Optical Image Stabilization) proved to be outstanding by phone standards in capturing pictures of fountains or waterfalls. Sadly, zoom is out of the question due to a dangerous lack of pixels. This phone may take a completely opposite approach to the Xperia Z1 at photography but is impressive in its own regard and innovative in its own rights.

Build Quality: Nautiz X1

Nautiz_X1
Nautiz X1 was the obvious choice by leagues. If this article was about lethal weapons, under same the “build quality” section, we’d still be forced to put this in. It may have slightly outdated software but the hardware definitely raised the bar on the word “hard”. Rated IP67 and tested under various conditions of pressure and temperature, this handset is described to be “surprisingly light” at 180grams, given the military grade build. It may not have the most advanced OS or processor but those of you who are worried about flimsy droids and refuse to move from your 3310s will be given reasons to smile with the Nautiz X1

Aesthetics: HTC One

Htc_one
HTC One is a finely chiseled piece of art. One does not simply create art, it is art. The Carbon grade Aluminium unibody etched with “zero gap” injection molding and chamfered glass feels very premium in the hand and to look at. The entire body is seamless and finely crafted. It takes the manufacturers 200 minutes of precision CNC machining for just the Unibody in order to keep tolerences at near zero. The result of which is seamless surfaces and gapless transition between parts giving it the appearance of Aluminium which magically transforms into glass.

All rounder: Sony Xperia Z1S

Sony_Xperia_Z1F
The all rounder will be a phone not yet Internationally available but will be shortly. The Sony Xperia Z1S (better known as Xperia Z1 mini) is a smaller, much more ergonomic and one hand operable 4.3 inch screen variant. The screen is 720p instead of 1080 but the resolution is still above retina display and therefore, human eyes will be unable to distinguish. But this is where the major differences end. Unlike HTC and Samsung, Sony have made their miniature flagship virtually the same device as its bigger sibling. It packs the mighty Snapdragon 800 processor under the hood along with the 21 megapixel camera on the Z1 and even features water and dust proofing. Apple have always been unmatched in a few categories, namely aesthetics and ergonomics. This was further fueled when OEMs  decided to put 5 inch screens on their flagship phones and with most of them still sporting lackluster plastic shells. Sony might have just stumbled upon what the world of Android really needed.

Conclusion:
We are nearing the end of 2013. This has been a great year for smartphones from the unveiling of products as well as demonstration of what the future holds. Firefox OS and Ubuntu’s reveal may be a bold step in the future direction. Ubuntu delivers the promise of carrying your PC within your pocket and with Tegra 5 demonstrated to be powerful enough to perform similar to last generation’s gaming consoles, we look forward to a brave new 2014. Personally, I wouldn’t want to see a monopoly in the market. What drives innovation forward is competition. What drives competition is the appreciation of efforts. This article has been difficult yet fun to finish but we find ourselves looking forward to even more, come 2014.

About Tarun M Prabhu

I am a Linux user for a little over a year now and an ardent distro hopper. I have used LXDE, XFCE, RazorQT, Gnome 2, Gnome 3, the new MATE, and Cinnamon desktops. I have a soft corner towards Manjaro for being a rolling distro that provides stable packages but my daily driver at the moment is Ubuntu 13.10 with Gnome window manager running KDE 4.11 and Gnome 3.10 which I switch between based on my mood. I'm fond of R for being the most powerful statistical tool. Being a junior consultant in quality, I still don't have the money to purchase tools my peers use but R being flexible, free and completely cross platform was everything I have ever wanted. I also use Steam on Ubuntu to play Team Fortress from time to time, other open source software I use are LMMS and Openshot.

12 thoughts on “Best Android Smartphones of 2013

    1. Thanks for the feedback my friend, but I WILL say this, this was a very thorough review and the G2 although mighty impressive in many regards, isnt really a winner any any category.

      1) It is too expensive to be of any real value to casual buyers,

      2) The 5″ screen is too big for practical one handed use, the phone isnt that thin or light,

      3) The plastic build is lackluster and it doesnt offer the same value for money as the Nexus 5 nor the HTC One’s flamboyance or size of each pixel nor the Xperia Z1’s water/dust proofing or ultra high shutterspeeds and megapixel count for camera.

      P.s. the Xperia Z1, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Nexus 5, the LG G2 etc ALL have the SAME processor.. Snapdragon 800. If there are any benchmark differences, its to do with the drivers and the differences are MARGINAL.

      1. I don’t agree on everything. First of all. the LG G2 is only a bit more expensive then Nexus 5 (which is based on G2) but it has a much bigger battery and better camera. The screen is also better, less dpi, but brighter. So the price is not “too expensive”, HTC One is much more, HTC One Max is even more…

        Maybe in your country is different, but in Europe the price difference is not big, but the advantages are. The only downside in G2 is the plastic, but I think it’s better than most of the plastic I’ve seen, much better than any Samsung’s plastic.
        Let’s see some prices:
        LG G2: 450-550€
        Sony Xperia Z1, about 250€ MORE than Nexus 5, about 150€-200€ MORE than LG G2

        Galaxy Note 3: about 350€ MORE than Nexus 5, about 250€-300€ MORE than LG G2
        Nexus 5: about 50€ cheaper than LG G2

        So, LG G2 is the better option of all those, the most balanced. If you don’t mind about battery life and camera, Nexus 5 is a better choice. If you don’t mind about money, then Z1 ou Galaxy Note 3 are better choices.

        Do you understand now why I spoke about the G2?

        1. you dont get it..
          Affordability : Moto G (just compare prices.. anyone with a modest budget looking to buy an android should get this..) and yes, it is MUCH cheaper than the G2

          Out of the box: HTC One Max (because of blink feed.. and search which filters apps) LGs interface is just ok…. you should read more reviews on why HTC’s sense is still number one!

          Ergonomics: Asus Padfone Mini it is just 4.3″, and weighs 105 grams.. it is THINNER, and LIGHTER and more accessible than the G2..

          Latent Potential: Nexus 5, hands down.. it’ll probably be supported by google for another 2-3 years.. people wont remember the G2 next year, people dont talk about the Optimus G much, but they DO still talk about Nexus 4

          Camera: yes, the G2s cam is very impressive, but it cant compete with the Z1 or the HTC One in what they do.. the HTC One is arguably as good as a point and shoot without a zoom. and the Z1 is better than a DSLR because of underwater photography and the extra editing features which DSLRs DONT have.

          Build quality: I’m impressed with the Z1’s Dragontrail structure but the Nautiz X1 is military grade… again, the G2 doesnt even come close to comparing..

          Allrounder: I’m gonna have to give this one to a tougher, more ergonomic, Z1S which has the SAME spec as the Z1 except its smaller in screen size.. AND it only costs around 360 euro.

          ^ The G2 tries to be an allrounder but it still needs to get past the Xperia Z1 which comes with waterproofing, beautiful glass body and an incredibly impressive camera. the Z1 is only marginally more expensive than the G2, equal in performance but its better in every other way..

          1. Xperia Z1 is not marginally more expensive than LG G2. Is too much of a difference, as I said earlier.

            Nexus 5: about 400-450€

            LG G2: about 500-550€

            Xperia Z1: about 650€-700€

            You are forgetting some issues in Z1: the sound is worse, because speakers must be protected (for dust and water); the metal on the outside is just visuals, as it doesn’t protect when the device falls; the screen is not very good, compared with Nexus 5 or LG G2 (the best on this three); The camera is 20.7MP, but it’s not very good, compared to the number of MP, and the processing is mediocre (I don’t know if any update corrected this); Check MKBHD review and you’ll understand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUgOgMCKXqs

            In general, the Z1 reviews just say the device is only good for the water and dust proof features, but inferior in everything else.

          2. I’ve personally tested its camera.. and I assure you it is top notch for zoomability, colour reproduction and the shutterspeeds are mindblowingly high.. and if you put it in manual and are able to tweak the settings yourself, the camera hardware on the Z1 is outstanding..

            anyway, YMMV(your mileage may vary).. some people say its camera is second only to the Lumia 1020 while some hate it altogether,

            http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Camera-Comparison-Google-Nexus-5-vs-iPhone-5s-Sony-Xperia-Z1-Samsung-Galaxy-Note-3-Galaxy-S4-LG-G2-Nokia-Lumia-1020-HTC-One_id3500

            heres another review which suggests otherwise.. that the camera IS as good as they say at Sony.

            the Nexus 5 is only a winner in the latent potential department.. its for people who want to get their hands dirty with the geeky details and experiment with the phone or want to be at the bleeding edge of Droid development.
            no other phone beats it there.

            There is NO other reason we are recommending a Nexus.. not for the value especially, for value, we have Moto G

  1. A way to predicatable list.. I have recently bought an Oppo Find 5, which features the same hardware as the HTC One and only for 300€. In my opinion, the writer clearly did not want to deviate from the main brands..

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