We’re quickly approaching the summer, and this is historically an important time for many device owners. The summer months are usually the time where most people look to do their upgrading, and you’re probably wondering what’s the best phone your hard-earned money can buy. Well, we’re here to help with that with our list of the best Android phones available (or soon to be available) as of June 2013.
I will warn you right away — not everyone is going to agree with this list. That’s OK, though, because once we’re all wrapped up we’ll be expecting to hear from you in the comments section below. So without further ado…
5 — Nexus 4
We admit it: Nexus devices typically have a bit of an unfair advantage. Google sells them for super cheap, they have very respectable specs, and you get a completely stock version of Android that is updated as soon as Google gives the green light on new builds. All of that comes together to make the Nexus 4 a very attractive buy for anyone lucky enough to be married to a GSM carrier.
So what else makes the Nexus 4 worth putting on this list aside from cost? For a starting price of just $300, you can get a 4.7-inch 720p device that has 2GB of RAM, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, an 8 megapixel rear camera, a 1.3 megapixel front camera, Android 4.2.2 out of the box, NFC, wireless charging, and a lot more. It’s going to be a favorite until the next Nexus rolls around, and as Tupac once put it: “that’s just the way it is.”
4 — Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The Galaxy Note 2 may have launched late last year — around October/November, to be exact — but it has held up as one of the best smartphones you could spend money on today. Samsung’s 5.5-inch 720p pride and joy introduced some very innovative features. Credited with launching this new “phablet” craze, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 isn’t just big and beautiful: it has functionality that most others have yet to be able to emulate.
I’m mainly speaking about the device’s S Pen and the Wacom technology embedded in the display. It’s great for taking notes, drawing, and other productivity features, and it’s helped along by a robust suite of software crafted by Samsung.
For spec buffs, the device features an ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core SoC which, while not nearly as powerful as the latest options from Samsung or Qualcomm, can still hold its own in performance benchmarks. Tie all of that up with 2GB of RAM, a very nice 8 megapixel HD camera and more, and you can see why this device has yet to slip off our radar. Read more about it in our official Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review.
3 — LG Optimus G Pro
LG sought out to make a device that could help dig them out of the hole they got themselves into last year. The LG Optimus G was a good start, but it wasn’t until the Korean manufacturer launched the LG Optimus G Pro that we saw just how serious they were about turning the ship around. This device is easily LG’s best yet, and LG’s best was enough to make our short and exclusive list.
Coming in at 5.5 inches, this device directly challenges the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but in terms of specs it outclasses the competitor in almost every way. Let me rattle off a quick list of the embedded silicon for you:
- Qualcomm’s 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 13 megapixel rear camera with 1080p HD video recording
- 1080p display
- 32GB of internal storage
- 3,140mAh battery
Need I say more? Of course, specs don’t always mean the world, but LG’s advancements in software are shining through more brightly here than ever before. The company has really found its groove when it comes to delivering the entirety of the smartphone experience, and there’s little else beating it right now.
It’s no surprise Samsung’s taking up two spots on this list. We’d be fools to exclude the Samsung Galaxy S4 in any list of the “best of” anything in smartphone tech. Even with many believing the Galaxy S4 is more of an iterative device than anything else, the Galaxy S4 turns heads. Samsung was already able to put together quite the impressive smartphone experience with its predecessors, so to build on that even in any moderate way still warrants a spot at #2.
Our Samsung Galaxy S4 review should be enough to show anyone why it’s so high on our list, but here’s a quick recap: when you combine a 5-inch 1080p display that can detect your finger hovering over it, a quad-core processor (big.LITTLE Octa Core for non-LTE or Snapdragon 600 for LTE variants), 2GB of RAM, a 13 megapixel rear camera with a 2 megapixel front sensor, awesome new socially-driven camera features, and Samsung’s exhaustive set of learning and productivity tools, you’ve done enough to earn such a high spot on this list.
Sure, it’s not the metal Adonis that a certain other smartphone happens to be, but plastic never hurt anyone and as long as the internals are kept nice and tight we don’t have any issues. PS: even if you don’t like TouchWiz, you can always consider the Nexus experience version of this device that will get you stock Android, an unlockable bootloader and upgrades straight from El Goog in Mountain View.
1 — HTC One (or HTC Won?)
Ah, yes, the coveted #1 spot. A certain electronics manufacturer in Taiwan has decided to step its game up in a very big way in 2013 starting with none other than the HTC One. Chris couldn’t stop gushing about it in our HTC One review, and that’s with good reason — it’s just freaking awesome. We can safely say this is the first Android smartphone that can truly rival the iPhone 5 when it comes to a stunning combination of style, beauty and function.
HTC’s metal, gapless design made for a very slim fit in the hand, and it doesn’t feel like something that’s made for little tykes to handle. This is a grown up’s phone, and we have no problem conceding all the glory to HTC for the time being. So we know it looks good and it feels good, so what else makes this the must have device of the moment?
For starters, a new and improved version of HTC Sense has things looking more spiffy than ever. HTC Sense 5 includes the all new BlinkFeed, a home-screen aggregate feeding you all the stories that are important to you. It also has an innovative set of features in the camera software called HTC Zoe which, when coupled with the One’s nice UltraPixel camera, can create some stunning and creative photos and video. And, in typical HTC fashion, Beats Audio profile delivers crystal clear sound through the device’s front-facing stereo speakers. Awesomesauce.
If the new, lean and mean HTC Sense 5 wasn’t reason enough to get excited, then perhaps the rest of the device’s tale of the tape will. The HTC One has that “just right” screen size of 4.7 inches, and when you pair that up with the Super LCD 3’s 1080p resolution you get a stunning 468 pixels per inch.
There’s also Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.7GHz, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (64GB with the bootloader unlocked developers’ edition), NFC, an infrared port for controlling your TV and other infrared-enabled devices, and a lot more. Oh, and with the ability to purchase a Nexus experience edition of this phone starting June 26th for $599 in the Google Play Store you have a ton of options. Well, that’s unless you’re a Verizon customer. Sorry folks!
You Shouldn’t Pass up the…
Sony Xperia Z
Sony’s flagship Xperia Z (and, by extension, ZL) isn’t enough to crack the top 5, but this smartphone comes awfully close. Americans probably aren’t quite as interested considering how difficult it has become to get your hands on Sony devices these days, but SIM unlocked and import options are available.
The Xperia Z is a beautiful smartphone that doesn’t try to do too much. Sony has outfitted it with its own custom user experience on top of Android that emphasizes pristine playback of movies, music and games. Oh, and did I mention it’s waterproof? This 5-inch device deserves a few minutes of your time whenever you’re trying to decide which smartphone to go with for the foreseeable future.
Verizon owners are without an HTC One right now, and although rumors say that should change in the coming months those who prefer HTC devices don’t have a better choice than this at this moment in time. The DROID DNA isn’t a bad phone, it just doesn’t have the same kick that the younger HTC One boasts. Of course, that’s because this particular release came at the tail-end of HTC’s “let’s just get the rest of these phones out so we can start working on our real baby” cycle. You can take a chance on the rumors swirling around if you want, but if you can’t wait any longer then there really isn’t any other choice.
Unfortunately for some people, the best Android phones might not necessarily be the best phones for them. For some people, the devices listed above are priced well beyond their interest. We just want to take some time to highlight some of the more affordable devices that should still get the job done.
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (UK)
- Pantech Perception (Verizon)
- Samsung Galaxy S3 (Everyone)
- Pantech Burst (AT&T)
- LG Lucid 2 (Verizon)
- Motorola DROID RAZR M (Verizon)
- Kyocera Torque (Sprint)
- LG Optimus L9 (T-Mobile)
Do you agree?
Of course, many of you are bound to have your own opinion. In the event that you do, we want to hear it! Let us know if you agree with our rankings, and if you don’t then be sure to state your case in the comments section below. Let’s help each other pick out a new smartphone for the summer and get on with our Android-filled lives!