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What’s the best Android phone to buy as of September 2013?

The summer is almost over, and one of the biggest seasons for new technology is dawning upon us. Our best phones list didn’t change too much from one summer month to the next, but expect that to change as we move into fall and into the holiday shopping season. So who made the cut this month? Who dropped where, and which newcomers have stormed the scene to grab a quick spot within the top 5? Let’s find out!

5 – Moto X

We didn’t know if the Moto X by Motorola would have had enough “umph” to crack our top five, but here it is — ready and willing to accept its sash. The device is out and about on the likes of Verizon and AT&T, with the latter even offering customers the ability to customize the device’s colors, get a custom engraving, as well as other software-based changes that can be had.

Moto X hipster filter 1

The Moto X comes onto the block with a Motorola X8 computing system, which is a fancy way of saying “Custom Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro.” This dual-core chipset has been optimized to bring unique features like the always listening “Touchless Controls” and Active Notifications without sacrificing a lick of battery life. Other specs include 2GB of RAM, a 10 megapixel RGBC ClearPixel camera, 16GB of internal storage (32GB available for those who order through Moto Maker), and more.

Our review has all the deets you need about this American-assembled piece of machinery, so be sure to give it a good read. And for some added fun, be sure to check out our post showing how the device looks when customized with the team colors of several NFL ball clubs.

4 – Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Even with the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Note 2 remains on this list. It does move back a spot from last month, but being a top 5 device since October is nothing to sneeze at. The Note 2 — with its 5.5-inch 720p display, quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, S-Pen and more — probably won’t be here by the time the Note 3 launches, but until that happens it’s still one of the better buys in the Android world.

3 – Nexus 4

Google did something miraculous last week — they dropped the price of the Nexus 4 by another $100. This 4.7-inch HD smartphone was already quite affordable at $300 and $350 for the 8GB and 16GB options, and now — with price tags of $200 and $250, respectively — it’s even better.

Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 still passes as one very capable smartphone, and the fact that you can get it off-contract for the cost of a high-end phone’s typical on-contract post moved it forward quite a bit. Unfortunately this may be one of the smartphone’s final appearances on the list, as we don’t expect Google to replenish stock once they’ve all been sold (the 8GB version is already gone).

2 – Samsung Galaxy S4

In case you were wondering if I’ve finally decided between the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, I guess you now have your answer. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 takes a backseat to the HTC One for a couple of different reasons.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Camera

For starters, I’ve grown a bit out of love with TouchWiz. It adds some useful features, but overall it feels a bit too bloated. The custom overlay certainly doesn’t do that Snapdragon 600 inside any favors. Having used one extensively for a few days this past weekend, it didn’t give me that same feeling of “lust” as it did when it first launched. Second place is still good, though!

1 – HTC One

HTC One BoomSound game

HTC still has our attention in 2013, though don’t be surprised if this position is threatened real soon by some devices which have just been announced (as well as a possible, rumored large-sized version of this very phone). HTC debloated Sense and actually made it a joy to use with this latest version. That coupled with some pretty powerful hardware and premium build quality is still enough to keep this long streak going (though it does have some stiff competition coming to threaten the top spot pretty soon).

Runner-ups

  1. Motorola DROID Maxx — it was hard not giving this phone a spot in the top 5, but it definitely deserves one in the top 10. Motorola hits it out of the ballpark with a 5-inch 720p device with a 3,500mAh battery that literally lasts all day long.
  2. Sony Xperia Z Ultra — this one falls off our top 5 list from last month as we’ve fallen out of love with that huge, unsightly bezel. Seriously, the thing is too big for comfort, but still a fine phone if you don’t mind a phone that’s borderline tablet status.
  3. LG Optimus G Pro — LG has bigger fish to fry soon, and this phone is no longer that special to us. That said, it’s still a decent buy if you can find it for a decent price.
  4. Motorola DROID Mini — when it comes to “mini,” affordable phones, there’s not much touching the DROID Mini right now. To all the pretenders: this is how you provide a powerful smartphone in a smaller form factor.
  5. Oppo Find 5 — because we still absolutely love this phone for some reason. Perhaps it’s because of it being so unattainable — who knows?

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 summer, let’s take a look at two of  the most exciting devices on the horizon.

LG G2

LG-G2-featured-LARGE

Not yet released, the LG G2 was announced by LG to much fanfare. The company wanted to go all out with the specs in this one, with a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 13 megapixel camera and more.

LG tried to get a bit unique by putting power and volume buttons on the back. As awkward as this might seem, you can always turn the display on by tapping it twice, and control volume using on-screen functions. This phone should be considered by anyone in the market for a new smartphone this holiday season.

Sony Xperia Z1

Just announced at IFA, the Sony Xperia Z1 is quite the interesting smartphone. Sony has outfitted this thing with a 20.7-megapixel camera sensor that can do 3x zoom without the loss of image quality.

sony xperia z1

 

This completely waterproof device can also be used with Sony’s new QX10 and QX100 camera lenses, which attach to any smartphone, essentially turning them into point-and-shoot picture-taking beasts. It has a Snapdragon 800 chipset, and you can expect nothing but the best from Sony’s 5-inch 1080p Bravia display.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung’s latest entry in the phablet category is set to take on all comers. This 5.7-inch 1080p smartphone pushes the boundaries with 3GB of RAM, Samsung’s Octa-Core processor (quad-core processor in certain markets), 13 megapixel BSI camera sensor, 2 megapixel front camera, S Pen and more.

galaxy-note-3-black-leather-back

 

Samsung has finally changed the game up when it comes to build materials, as the company is using a leather-esque material for the back cover. It isn’t metal, but it definitely does look a lot nicer than plastic. The phone will be available starting September 25th, and all major US carriers have plans to sell it.

Amazon’s Best Sellers

These phones are selling like hot cakes on Amazon. Note that these aren’t necessarily Amazon’s true best-sellers, but best sellers out of the ones we haven’t already mentioned. Take a look and see if some of these other hot phones are worth your time and money:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S3
  2. HTC DROID DNA
  3. LG Optimus G
  4. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
  5. Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro
  6. HTC EVO 4G LTE
  7. HTC DROID Incredible
  8. HTC Sensation
  9. Motorola DROID RAZR Maxx HD
  10. LG Mach

What say you?

As you can see, a lot of new phones have been introduced in the past month (heck, within the past few hours), and this list is about to be jumbled up quite a bit in the weeks and months to come. Talk about who did (and didn’t) make the cut this month, and who you think will enjoy new spots in the top 5 or top 10 the next time we revisit this fun little game. Have it it in the comments below!




  • EnX$$

    waiting for the HTC ONE MAX

  • Max

    xperia ultra fo show

  • Jonathan Antillon

    I think I found my next phone. The Sony will be mine. If it comes to AT&T

  • Logic717

    Anyone know when the One Max is going to be announced? Now that the Note3 has been announced that’s the only other phablet I have my eyes on.

  • catpunt

    Nexus 5?

    • http://winsource.com/ Joe Fedewa

      How can you buy that phone when it doesn’t exist?

      • catpunt

        Wait for it of course :)

      • NexusKoolaid

        Can’t buy it, but there was the “Phones to look forward to” section.

  • Scott Stafford

    Agree’d HTC One FTW!

  • Robert Gronde

    Xperia Z1…being a note 2 owner right now..i just wasnt BLOWN away by the n3 announcement…working in construction (tho ive never once damaged a phone on a jobsite in any means) it will be nice to come home and RINSE the phone off of dust and such and with an aluminum outer band, i feel that samsung should have done the same…i say the winner is the Z1

    • Fel Pe

      I do like the Z1, I think is awesome and beautiful, however as a Note 2 owner myself I’m very afraid of losing .5″ worth of screen… or even .7 considering the note 3. How do you feel about that?

      • Robert Gronde

        thats very true and is a downside…people say u dont notice it but thats hogwash, u do notice it but i feel without the s pen, im okay with losing the real estate…i mean i wanted the biggest screen with the pen because it made it easier to write (most of my texts and emails are hand written) but without a pen im fine with the 5 in screen

        • Fel Pe

          Yes that makes sense… I don’t know, when the GS4 came out I put it back to back with my Note 2 and the GS4 (and its 4.9″) felt a bit too small… specially when watching videos. Now I can’t wait to see the Z1 in person and play with it. The water/dust proof feature really is amazing, damn why can’t we have it all in the same device? xD

  • Robert Gronde

    not to mention im more impressed by sonys smartwatch 2 then the gear….i also own a pebble and could see my self upgrading to the sw2 over a gear, samsung just tried a little to hard to balance on that fine line between phone companion and phone replacement (with the camera and microphones and such) and lost this customer, but being samsung they will sell alot i promise u that

  • Christopher Robert

    Note3

  • spicymeatball

    Seems like the Notes should be in a category all their own. Kind of like Kindle fires. Samsung’s “bloatware” has become so amazing in the Note that it seems like it’s not even Android anymore. So tempted to give it a try. However, Nexus 4 value is unbeatable.

    • Robert Gronde

      i rooted my gn2 and becuase of the fact that u have to have touchwiz based roms for s pen features i just said screw and went back to stock becuase whats the point of having the note without the pen

  • G2forme

    LG G2!

  • Steven Skwarkowski

    Im still very content with my S3. Its a very solid phone that does everything even these newer phones can do. A lot of what these newer phones can do is simply gimmicky IMHO. I wanted a Note 3…but who knows. I may just keep the S3 even that much longer.

    • Christopher Ickes

      Completely agree with you… next device will be a nexus or a new s.

  • G2forme

    LG G2

  • Lennatron

    I love my Galaxy Note 2 but I’d be sure to check out the HTC One Max before buying the Note 3.

    • Fel Pe

      Agreed but the One Max will have to be out of this world for me to pick it. SD slot is a must. Plus hard to beat 4K recording, 3GB of RAM and 13MP camera….

  • REVS

    i agree with the htc one being the phone to beat

  • evan

    HTC one on Verizon = half a day life. Tried two phones in two weeks. Reversed my upgrade and back to my already battery sorry galaxy nexus

    • malcmilli

      have you tried battery saver? not that i have a One or that im on verizon, but i hear it helps a lot.

    • No_Nickname90

      You gotz you some issues. My phone is like 50% at 10-12 hours. I’m usually back at home by then.

      However, I am using 4.3 Google Edition.

  • Nate595

    Amazed he has the Nexus 4 ahead of the Moto X. Imo the touchless controls and the active notifications put it slightly ahead.

    • malcmilli

      don’t forget about the added battery life… but i think Nexus was put ahead strictly on price point. at $200 off contract it’s literally an unbeatable price.

      • Nate595

        Yeah thats true but aren’t they sold out of the 8GB model now? Even if it wasn’t I don’t think price should of factored in since the title of the article was best android smartphones not best android smartphone values.

        • malcmilli

          It’s also as fast as all of the others, cheaper, and has the latest software version. And the title is best android phone to buy as of September. So i think value is a factor.

          • Nate595

            I think getting android updates as soon as they’re available is a big pro for the nexus but another counterpoint is the nexus 4 doesn’t support LTE which is a big deal for some people.

          • LocBox

            Not natively it doesn’t, however apply 3 little files after a simple bootloader unlock and viola LTE.. Fantastic here in Philly

          • Nate595

            I’ve seen those tutorial videos on youtube but I didn’t think they actually worked lol.

          • Lou_Sasshole

            In regards to the LTE you have to consider though, it’s not as widely available in the rest of the world as it is in the US so it’s not really a big deal to most people.

      • Charles Rogers

        Its so unbeatable I just bought one. And I’m not even on a GSM carrier.

  • toomuchgame441

    HTC One still shining on em!… and the HTC One Maxx will do the same.

  • shooter50

    Quentyn, please!!! Nexus 4 in the top 5? I almost choked on my dinner. I couldn’t return this phone fast enough. I dont know what I hated more. The pitiful screen or lack of LTE..
    But then you did an even crazier thing. You rated the Nexus 4 ahead of the Z Ultra. OK, I’ll grant you the Ultra is huge, but what a user experience. All the crap Google has spewed about Project Butter and smooth operation is actually true about the Ultra.It NEVER slows down or lags. I swear, you must be on Googles payroll to even mention these 2 phones in the same breath.

    I suppose if your article was titled best Android phone under 300.00, the Nexus 4 might rate, but top 5 Android phones? You just lost all credibility to any of us who have actually used all of the phones listed.

    • Lou_Sasshole

      “OK, I’ll grant you the Ultra is huge, but what a user experience” – yea exactly, the phone is too damn big to provide a good user experience for a majority of people. The average person doesn’t want a phablet (they are niche devices after all).

      • dizel123

        I’m guessing you don’t know what a phablet is.

        • Lou_Sasshole

          What is then Z Ultra then if not a phablet?

          • Ulfredsson The Vanquisher

            Duh… it’s a tablone.
            >5.3″ but 6.4″ but <6.999" = Tablone.

            True story

          • Charles Rogers

            ROFL.

  • barondebxl

    The Note 3.

  • Mark

    HTC one.

  • eilegz

    xiaomi mi-3

  • DavidB23

    Moto X runs smoother and is a better user experience (IMHO) than any of of the phones on the list. I would put HTC One 2nd and perhaps S4 3rd. Not impressed with the laggy s4 at all.

    • LocBox

      The only thing smoother than the One is the One. N4 and Moto X right after. However the N2 is the realistic champ because it has been proven to stand the test of time and like most classic movies, can only be killed by a sequel.

    • johnediii

      This is my sentiment exactly. For the S4 supposedly being top notch I was severely unimpressed with how clunky the UI. The Moto X has the user experience hands down over the S4. I have not played with the HTC One but I don’t like Sense so I’d have to try the developer model with stock to know for sure.
      My personal phone is an Nexus 4 and I love that. Smooth and still competes with the best for being almost a year old already

    • BELIEVEinMYTH

      The X deserves its spot at #5 or lower. It doesnt even come close to the quality and user experience of the ONE.

    • Lodoss

      I have a HTC One and the X the performance of the X is slightly faster than the One in real world use, and the better battery life and active notifications give it the edge over the One IMHO.

  • No_Nickname90

    Let me be biased and say the HTC One.

    • simpleas

      at least you know you’re biased much respect to you lol

  • JSYOUNG571

    LG Optimus G Pro

  • Scotsman of Loch Ness

    I love the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but am very disappointed in Samsung’s lack of updates. After almost a year, it is still running Android v4.1… Two versions behind what has been released

    • BELIEVEinMYTH

      90% of Android users dont have 4.3 either, the main reason, it hasnt been released on most phones. So really your Note 2 is only one version behind.

      • Scotsman of Loch Ness

        What would be nice is 4.2 so that I could have the password lock on the phone and still be able to take pics without unlocking it.

        • BELIEVEinMYTH

          The ONE has the ability to take pics without unlocking it. Just got to drag the camera icon to the center of the screen from the lock menu.

          • Scotsman of Loch Ness

            From a password lock screen or the unprotected lock screen? Both my EVO LTE and my SGN2 can do so from the non-pwd/pattern lock screen. 4.2 introduced the ability to take pics via the lock screen widget. The phone remains locked after the pic is taken.

          • BELIEVEinMYTH

            From a password lock screen. After im done taking the picture the pattern lock screen appears.

  • aleaf11

    Is it too much to ask for a stock Android phone that has well equipped specs and is between 4″ and 4.5″? Frustrated at the lack of choices. #Arrrrgh

    • dizel123

      Did you not see the Droid Mini up there on the list?

      • Lou_Sasshole

        He asked for stock Android.

        • dizel123

          The Droid Mini is about 99% stock. Read up, son

          • Lou_Sasshole

            I suppose but it’s still not gonna get updates like the Nexus, so i’m assuming that’s what he was talking about.

          • dizel123

            Well you know what they say about when you assume

          • Lou_Sasshole

            Well ma’am let’s just wait till he replies to see what he meant.

          • aleaf11

            Stock as in sans Verizon bloatware aka PURE GOOGLE EXPERIENCE. And preferably on a GSM carrier. :-D

  • simpleas

    4K recording, 3GB of RAM and 13MP camera Wacom Pen thinnest bezel best battery life… hmmmmm i wonder which phone…

    • Lou_Sasshole

      Why?

  • TheDome

    This is easy. If you want a small phone, get an HTC One or Galaxy S4 (flip a coin). If you want a big phone, wait for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

    • EnX$$

      HTC ONE MAX dont forget coming up.

    • BELIEVEinMYTH

      The ONE and GS4 are hardly “small”

      • TheDome

        They’re definitely not big either.

        • BELIEVEinMYTH

          True, but the ONE MAX and the Galaxy MEGA will be gigantic.

        • BELIEVEinMYTH

          Does your nickname have anything to do with the show “Under the Dome” ??

  • rabidhunter

    Gotta go with the DROID Mini on this one. Everything that the Moto X is with DROID Zap and wireless charging with a reasonable price.

  • guitarist5122

    really?! the N4 over the Note 2? what were you smoking when you wrote this article? lol
    price doesn’t make a valid reason to make a phone a best buy, unless that’s all you can afford

    • Robabobbob

      I would have the N4 over the Note 2 but that’s just because I don’t want a phone that large and I think that’s the reason it came in that order. They are both great phones for sure but they appeal to different consumers. I think comparing a phone and phablet isn’t a fair for either.

  • ShopByChoice

    All smart phones are good that are given in the above. But Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is most
    demanding smart phone in Indian market . It is integrated with latest technology. It is available in many different colors. It’s model is very attractive in Galaxy series.You can easily put this phone in your pocket .I personally recommend for this phone .
    http://www.shopbychoice.com/samsung-galaxy-note-2-n7100-white/p/TWpZME5EZz0

  • phatmanXXL [16,000+ posts]

    They’re all the same. But the best overall phone is iPhone 5, we all know that.

    • phatmanXXL [16,000+ posts]

      That’s why its market share is heading into single digits right? The only platform shrinking is iOS. Trolling android websites won’t sell iPhones. Sorry bud.

      • Ulfredsson The Vanquisher

        Why are you fighting with yourself!!!!
        Stahp!
        You need to love yourself!
        Stahp!
        I didn’t mean that way!

        ^_^

    • John Andrew Stuart

    • jeff

      Me and a friend switched our phones, Iphone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4, he’s looking for an S4 now or possibly waiting to trade up for an S5 next year, he is now a converted believer in Android over IOS.

  • JRomeo

    Considering September is right next door to October. and October is when the Nexus is released. The best phone to buy in September is…. NO PHONE…. wait until October and then buy the Nexus phone.

  • xdapao3

    1. Note III
    2. Note II

    There are no other numbers.

    • simpleas

      Totally agreed without a doubt. The only thing is, some people might prefer a smaller form.

      • xdapao3

        The Note III is even *smaller* than the Note II and given how close its dimensions are to those of today’s Android flagships I don’t think its dimensions would be a big problem for most people but well, if/when they are, there always is the S4 I guess..

  • eshin

    what are the chances that Nexus 5 be available on Verizon?

    • JRomeo

      I’m optimistic it might be possible if the new Nexus is compatible with VoLTE…

  • chris420o

    poor moto x :(

  • Jeffrey Evans

    For those in the right market, the upcoming Xiaomi Mi3 will be the beast to get. Unfortunately for many like me, it probably won’t be released world wide. Still rocking my N4 and still loving it as much as when I first opened the box.

  • skatermike21988

    I just got my HTC One on Tuesday and I absolutely love this phone. Couldn’t have made a better choice I think!

  • WAPC1

    I’d be all over that Z1 when it comes out but I won’t be it’s too big when they put those specs into 4in phone then you’ll have my money but until then sgs2 will have to suffice.

  • jeff

    I considered the HTC One, I don’t care for the non removable battery and no micro sd card in the HTC One. I purchased the S4 instead and added a 64gb micro sd card for $50, i like the consistent software updates with the Samsung flagship phones and the great useability of the phone, this is the first phone that I haven’t installed a custom ROM on, at least not yet after 3 months! My wife opted for the LG Optimus Pro G, its a good phone with a bigger screen, it doesn’t compare to the S4

  • ShopByChoice

    All smart phones are good which are given in the above following list . But I like Samsung Galaxy Note 2 . It comes with impressive features.It’s battery backup is also good. And it’s camera is superb.Personally, I recommend for this phone .
    http://www.shopbychoice.com/samsung-galaxy-note-2-n7100-white/p/TWpZME5EZz0

  • Max Struever

    Galaxy S4…Active!
    Had it for a month now and it’s great! Really powerful, and, while it’s not a phone for diving or really taking swimming, it’s great not having to worry about it getting wet and just being able to rinse it off. very sturdy feeling