Many Android devices were released in 2013, and the theme of the year seems to be the bigger, the better, and the best. Manufacturers competed fiercely for the favor of consumers, and many handsets stood out for very specific reasons. Here’s a rundown of the best Android devices of 2013 and their best features.
Best Bargain: Nexus 5
High-end smartphones usually boast price tags upwards of $600, but the Nexus 5 includes the latest premium features, while selling for half the usual price. The 16GB Nexus 5 sells for $349 when purchased directly from Google, and the 32GB sells for $399. The standard high-end features on the Nexus 5 include its 4.95-inch 1920x1080 Full HD IPS display protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with a Krait 400 processor and Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB RAM and 16GB or 32GB internal storage options. The device also features an 8-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization, autofocus and LED flash, and a 1.3-megapixel front camera, as full connectivity, a 2300 mAh non-removable battery, and the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. As said, similar features can be found on a number of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4, Note 3, HTC One, but the price point of the Nexus 5 makes it a gem for the frugal smartphone connoisseur.
Best Battery: Motorola DROID MAXX
Many Android devices competed by way of battery power, but the Motorola Droid Maxx by far takes the prize for most powerful battery. The Verizon-powered Droid Maxx features a 3500mAh battery, which can maintain life for up to 48 hours. The Droid Maxx is definitely a brute of a smartphone, with a simple design that somewhat shies away from the premium handset look for which many other manufacturers aim. Even the Moto X, also developed Motorola, is much fancier in its design. But for users who have disdain for battery drain, the Droid Maxx is a top pick.
Best Design: HTC One
The HTC One was prized this year for its premium look brought by its aluminum unibody. The device is described as light, yet sturdy, while still being sleek to the touch. The HTC One features a 4.7 in Full HD 1080p screen at 468 ppi density, which makes for a smooth viewing experience that matches the lustrous exterior design of the device. Those who favor a truly beautiful phone may be interested in the HTC One.
Best Gimmicky Features: Samsung Galaxy S4
The "Life Companion" Samsung Galaxy S4 was advertised for its extensive features, intended to simplify users’ day-to-day tasks. While many users have come to find the features on the Galaxy S4 a bit gimmicky, there are a few gems that stand out. Features such as Air View and Air Gesture are some of the most practical of the Galaxy S4 special features. Air View allows users to preview photos, emails, texts by hovering a finger over the screen, while Air Gesture allows a wave of the hand to control functions like flipping through photos or changing a song. Sometimes smartphone users simply want to feel like a magician. The Samsung Galaxy S4 can help with that.
Best Phablet: Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Android devices are known for their large screens, but phablets are among the most gargantuan mobile gadgets out there. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is no different. Even while boasting a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED Display, its design still allows it to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor. Many users especially enjoy its faux-leather back panel, which gives the Galaxy Note 3 a more premium look despite still being made of Samsung’s usual polycarbonate. The Galaxy Note 3 includes a number of flagship features, such as Air Command directs users to the Action Memo, Screen Write, S-Finder, Scrapbook and Pen Window options. The Note 3’s improved S-Pen allows can easily navigate their Samsung Galaxy Note 3 handset with simple dot, circle and box motions. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a well-rounded device for those who favor phablets.
Best Touchscreen: LG G2
The LG G2 was not exactly a favorite device for many, but for some users especially enjoyed its super sensitive touchscreen as a highly valuable feature. The LG G2 features a FHD LCD display panel, which aided its precision. The LG G2 may be perfect for those who prefer to not haggle with their phone to complete simple touch tasks.
Best User Experience: Motorola Moto X
If there were any device to truly stand out as a ‘smart phone,’ it would likely be the Moto X. Considered, Motorola’s first attempt at a Google phone since being acquired by the Mountain View, Calif., company in 2012. The Moto X features a slightly altered stock Android system and also receives prompt updates due to its association with Google. Currently, it is one of the few non-Nexus devices running the recently released Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. In addition, the Moto X features many useful features, such as its Touchless Control, which allows users to operate the device at any time by simply speaking, even when the device is asleep. Other novel features are Active Display, which prompts important notifications as you need them, and Assist, which alters the handset’s functionality according to the users’ action, such as while driving. Those truly looking for a device to simplify their everyday tasks may enjoy a helping hand from the Moto X.
Best Waterproof Phone: Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Users often have to wait until rugged versions of their favorite devices release, or have to weatherproof devices on their own, but the Sony Xperia Z Ultra was released as the thinnest, fastest waterproof phablet on the market. Made with tough tempered glass fibre polyamide and a metallic strength frame, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra was granted high IP55 & IP58 rating, which makes it not only waterproof up to 1.5 meters but also dust-resistant. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra may be a wise investment for those who would rather not shell out extra to protect their devices from the elements.
Did you favorite Android smartphone of 2013 make the list? Let us know in the comments below.
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Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.