Sep, 04 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!