We’re right in the thick of this Holiday season, and there are sure to be a ton of you who are looking to upgrade to their next smartphone. There are a lot of choices out there that can make any Christmas merry, but what’s the cream of the crop? It’s our best phones list for December 2013, the last one you’ll be able to reference before deciding on your Christmas purchases for the year. Let’s get into it!
5 – HTC One
HTC One’s big brother One Max isn’t on this list, but that’s because it offers nearly nothing over the more pocketable 4.7-inch version. The HTC One is still a fine phone by this year’s standards. The HTC One is HTC’s main focus for the year, so it was no surprise that the company was able to deliver a KitKat upgrade for the unlocked and developer editions in a timely manner.
It’ll take a while longer for it to make its way to carrier-branded versions, but the fact that HTC only has 3 main devices to support this year makes us hopeful that it won’t take long to get everyone up and running on the latest and greatest.
4 – Motorola Moto X
The Moto X spent a ton of time on our runner-up list, but it’s about time it gets graduated back to top 5 status. In fact, it’s done so by leap-frogging the HTC One that once dominated this list. The Moto X’s specs still pale in comparison to the One, but we’ve always given it props for its unique features such as Touchless Controls and Active notifications.
So what warranted a two spot jump? Because KitKat, that’s what. Motorola was the first OEM to deliver Android 4.4 KitKat to a non-Nexus device. The Moto X even beat out a couple of Nexus devices, which made us award tons of brownie points to the Illinois-based company. Software support is always an important factor in any smartphone purchasing decision, and Motorola’s haste in bringing KitKat to the Moto X is worth a lot more than most people think.
3 – Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 did enough to maintain its throne at the number 3 spot for a second straight month. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM and a 13 megapixel camera and more will always keep our interests piqued, as no other phone currently provides this same level of power in nearly every spec category there is to consider.
2 – LG G2
The LG G2 retains its second spot in the list, as it’s still one of the better purchase decisions you can make in this day and age. It’s expensive, but you get a lot for your hard-earned dollars. A 5.2-inch 1080p HD display, a Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 13 megapixel camera and more make sure of that.
1 – Nexus 5 by LG
We weren’t sure where the Nexus 5 would end up after we had some quality time to use it, but we’re still leaning toward this being the best pound-for-pound, dollar-for-dollar smartphone option on the market. We won’t lie — there are some quirks and other minor nuances keeping us from being totally in love with the Nexus 5. Battery life could be better, the speakers could be better, and the camera could be better, but for a starting price point of $350 we’re not sure there’s much room to complain about the rest of the spec sheet. That list includes a Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and more.\
Samsung Galaxy S4 - This marks the first time the Galaxy S4 slips out of the top 5. It’s still a great phone, but we’re just about ready to see what’s in store with the Galaxy S5.
Motorola DROID Maxx — Think Moto X, except with two full days of battery life, a bigger display and sweet Kevlar back-coated goodness.
Sony Xperia Z1 — Sony’s “Ultra” variant of the Z is a bit too much for our tastes, but the Z1 is still a fine device. We wish Sony would find a way to chop that bezel down, though.
Oppo N1 - Decent phone with decent specs, but a swivel camera isn’t enough for us to give it a higher spot in the standings.
Motorola Moto G - $179 off-contract. ‘Nuff said.
Phones to look forward to
These phones aren’t available yet, but we know they’re on their way and we know we’re anticipating them a great deal. Said to be out at some point this fall, let’s take a look at two of the most exciting devices on the horizon (which isn’t saying much, but work with me here).
LG G Flex
LG’s first smartphone with a virtually unbreakable display, the curvaceous LG G Flex is like a G2… except curvy. While some might not be moved or impressed by the unique contours of this thing, it’s still going to be a powerhouse for at least a few months. We’re not sure when to expect it, nor are we exactly sure where to expect it, but it’s coming.
Samsung Galaxy Round
Samsung has a curvy smartphone of their own coming, except its curve is more… weird. The Galaxy Round features a horizontal curve, which we guess is good for those who want a phone that can hug the contours of your backside more effectively. It remains to be seen if this unorthodox form factor will make people flock, but one thing’s for sure — it has our attention.
Sony Xperia Z1 Mini
This small handset will be taking a serious crack at the DROID Mini’s crown once it launches. The 4.3 inch 720p Xperia Z1 Mini packs a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.0, a 2,300 mAh battery and more. Sony (or Sony Ericsson) has always been known for creating great “mini” phones, and it looks like the trend won’t stop whenever this thing launches. We should be seeing it in mere weeks.