2013 has been a year of “Refinement” for Android smart phones. With the release of Android 4.3 and 4.4, Google has finally left the “Jellybean” dynasty behind and moved onto the subsequent letter “K” for KitKat which was formerly referred to as “KeyLimePie” during various leaks and rumours. Android has a major overhaul every time the number before the “.” gets changed and the subsequent changes in the number after the “.” signifies a refinement, a few added features, better battery life and smoother performance. Thus giving many OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) time to catch up and give customers many times more choices than there were last year.
In the not too distant past, consumers had a very easy choice. If they wanted a fun phone with every possible sensor onboard, they had to go with Samsung’s S3 and if looks and refinened UI (User Interface) in a durable shell were priority, HTC’s One X answered the call. Winding the clocks over to a few months later, with a myriad of devices to pick from in every shape and size, there are significantly more options to pick from. We will try our best to be impartial and thorough in order to give you the best for what you intend to spend and address exactly what you look for in a smartphone.
The review will be categorized based on various aspects that buyers generally look for from our experiences of being consulted for recommendations. Note that phones like the Xiaomi Mi3 will not be included in the article due to lack of international availability. This article was written to serve more as a buyers guide to give you the Best Android Smartphones of 2013.
Affordability: A smartphone running Android today is quite frankly, not very expensive. There is almost no reason to pick a feature phone. This was reflected in the sales of 2013 when smartphones outsold feature phones by volumes of shipment. Bundling Android with insufficient hardware isn’t uncommon practice and the results are laggy and less than adequate experiences with the OS. We explored the device that needed the least investment to provide a satisfactory experience.
Out of the box experience: Droid may be extremely customizable but not everybody is patient enough, most users don’t download any more than the basic apps they need. This ultimately leads to unexplored potential of droid when feature phones could do just as much and outrun droids for battery. In this section, we explore only what came within the bundle that the device was packaged with.
Ergonomics: Texting was once a one handed operation as many of you may recall. Although a bigger screen looks more attractive, it adds unnecessary strain on the fingers and not all hard buttons may be easily accessible with one hand. This is important because phones play a more important role outdoors where one hand may be holding onto a briefcase or children. Ease of pocketing the phone is also related to the dimensions of the phone.
Latent Potential: The true potential of a device can sometimes only be realised not from the manufacturers with their limited human resources and time but from the consumer community that works together to raise the bar. In this section, we explored various devices rating them based on support from community and support from manufacturers.
Camera: There was a time when photography gave you 3 choices, a DSLR(Digital Single Lens Reflex), point and shoot or a phone. Point and shoots are becoming increasingly outdated with the advent of the megapixel race and other innovations like improved post processing in recent times. In this section, we explore the options for those who demand the best snappers that are pocket able.
Build quality: It isn’t enough to just pay a premium and walk out with a new phone. Accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. We explored capabilities of phones to be able to live up to surprises.
Aesthetics: Many of you wouldn’t mind paying an extra for a premium feel. Because attention to detail makes all the difference between delight and satisfaction. In this section, we explored how much efforts were put into the making of a device by the makers.
All rounder: This is the ultimate recommendation from us to you.
Noteworthy mention: This is a occasional mention of a competitor which made us tear our hair out before we could decide on a winner in a particular round.