What’s the best Android phone to buy? [August 2013]


See the Best Android Phones list for July 2013

We’re just starting to get into the thick of things, and the list is starting to change more violently and frequently than ever. With Motorola dropping a couple of interesting items to look forward to this month, it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against the competition sitting in the top 5 (or the top 10, for that matter). It’s our best phones list for August — check it out!

5 – Sony Xperia Z Ultra


This huge phone is as big as they come, and while many have their reservations about stuffing a 6.3-inch phone into their pockets, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is one nice, powerful phone. It’s the biggest waterproof phone we’ve seen yet. In fact, Sony’s touting it as the first waterproof phablet period, a distinction that we can’t seem to debunk. Bigger isn’t always better, of course, but Sony has a small piece of the spotlight for the month ahead with this concoction (which consists of a Snapdragon 800 chipset and 2GB of RAM, among other things).

4 – LG Optimus G Pro

LG Optimus G Pro

The LG Optimus G Pro might be made irrelevant in a couple of weeks when the South Korean company unveils its LG G2, but we’re still crushing over it until the last hour. It still isn’t a bad buy right this moment, so if you’re feeling the urge and don’t have any other device in mind, you wouldn’t be making a bad choice picking this one up. (Still, though, we’d wait until August 7th to see what else LG has up its sleeve.)

3 – Samsung Galaxy Note 2


The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 moves back up to spot #3 this month. We once had the Galaxy S4 Active sitting here, but after reports that certain carriers wouldn’t honor the device’s warranty in the case of water damage we quickly struck it off the list. I mean, come on — it’s a waterproof phone! Enough about that, though — the Note 2 is still going strong, and it will take a lot to get this one pushed off the list before this upcoming holiday season.

Oh, and if we’re counting the fact that China is getting a re-release of this phone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 chipset inside, this phone could make a strong case  for a higher spot (though we know there’s a long shot of that configuration making its way to other parts of the world).

First Place Tie: HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus Experience

Are you surprised nothing has changed? Well… a little has changed — after some complaints, we’re no longer listing these as 1-A and 1-B. Instead, it’s just a good ol’ first place tie. Our reasoning hasn’t changed much. These will be some of the first devices getting Android 4.3, and any other updates Google issues down the line. They’re powerful, beautiful, lean, mean and are taking no prisoners this year. There isn’t much more we can say about these two that we didn’t already say last month, but it’ll be interesting to see just how long these two can keep the streak going.

Google Play Edition HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4


Of course, there are a lot more devices which deserve your attention. These are the top five runner-ups that you should have your eye on if you’re in the market for a smartphone at some point within the next few months.

  1. Nexus 4 — With all that the Moto X was said to be, we were disappointed to learn what it really turned out to be. We appreciate the Nexus 4 that much more because of it, so it’s taken the first runner-up spot this month.
  2. HTC One — No surprise here: this would still be one of our best smartphones if not for the Nexus Experience version.
  3. Samsung Galaxy S4 — Build quality is the only thing keeping this phone behind the HTC One, really.
  4. Sony Xperia Z — With the Sony Xperia Z Ultra now available, the Xperia Z slides into the back 5. Still a nice phone, though, so check it out.
  5. Oppo Find 5 — Oppo does it again. We’re still looking for this phone, Oppo. Please bring it to us. Please? Pretty please?

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.

The DROID family


If you don’t remember, the Moto X wasn’t the only phone Motorola has announced in recent weeks. The company also revealed a trio of DROID phones headed straight for Verizon. It’s the DROID Ultra, DROID MAXX and the DROID Mini, and these phones look quite nice. They house the same Motorola X8 “processing system” that are sitting inside the Moto X, which is akin to yesteryear’s Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. Motorola says the chip has been optimized for use with their phones’ software features, though, to maximize performance and battery life. Read more about each DROID’s specific makeup of specs and features right here.

Motorola Moto X

The Moto X was on our list of phones to look forward to last month, and considering it’s not yet available it still sits on this list. Of course, circumstances have changed a great deal: the device is now official, and we know all there is to know about it. Heck, we’ve even gotten one for ourselves, and we expect our review to be up in the short days to come.

Moto X wheel cropped

The phone didn’t turn out to be the high-powered beast we were expecting out of Motorola, though it’s still a pretty respectable phone. You’re looking at a 4.7-inch 720p display, with Motorola’s X8 processing system to boot (little more than a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, really). You can also expect 2GB of RAM, a 10 megapixel Clear Pixel camera, a 2 megapixel front camera, 16-32GB of internal storage, and more.

Of course, this made-in-America beauty also gives users the ability to order the device in any combination of colors they want, with more than 2,000 possibilities afforded to the buyer. That particular feature is only exclusive to AT&T customers from the start, though we’re told it’ll be opening up to everyone before long. The $200 starting on-contract price tag isn’t the most attractive and certainly wasn’t what we were expecting, though we still have a whole month to make our minds up.

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 (All)
  2. HTC DROID DNA (Verizon)
  3. LG Optimus G (Sprint and AT&T)
  4. HTC EVO 4G LTE (Sprint)
  5. Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX (Verizon)
  6. Motorola DROID RAZR M (Verizon)
  7. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active (Verizon and AT&T)
  8. Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro (AT&T)
  9. Motorola Photon Q (Sprint)
  10. Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2 (Verizon)

What say you?

And now, it’s time for our favorite part — the open discussion! Let’s take this conversation (or debate) to the comments section below and let us know if you agree or disagree. Are you waiting on the new Moto X? One of Verizon’s DROID phones? Wanting to see what LG has in store for us with the G2? Or will any of the currently available devices suffice? Let us know below! Remember, keep it clean, and whatever you think remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Have at it!

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I want a phone like the HTC One in design/build but bigger, removable/bigger default battery, microSD, dual-sim, slightly better camera and perhaps something a-la S-pen.

    Is it too much to ask? 8-ball says yus :(

    1. That’s pretty much what I’m hoping the HTC one MAX is !

    2. Haven’t there been rumors about a HTC phablet with those features about the same size as the SGN3?

  2. The HTC One MAXX! That’s what I’m waiting for, I have the The HTC EVO 4G LTE right now so either a new evo or the phablet from HTC!

    1. evo series is discontinued my friend

      1. Is it official? Damn it! Thanks for wrecking my dreams ! jk

  3. Probably the DROID Mini. Why pay more for the Moto X?

  4. I seen a review of how motomaker will work, and I think its pretty cool. U can even choose the colors for volume rocker/power button and the ring around the camera. Is it enough to make me buy it? Maybe, maybe not. My galaxy nexus is still doing the job. Maybe they will release a larger more powerful version afterwards, and do the reverse of what samsung and HTC did

    1. I also seen some reports of apples cheaper plastic iPhone coming in various colors, maybe they just wanted to beat them to the punch, then wait for disappointing response to iPhone 5s, and drop a deuce on all of us!!

  5. LG G2 is going to be an amazing device. 5.2″ is perfect. I would’ve bought the Note 2, but I have no need for an s pen, or touchwiz, for that matter. The Sony Hunami also looks good, although, I wish it followed the ZL’s design and not the Z. And of course, we have to see what the Nexus 5 brings to the table. I’m hoping and praying that it will be based off of the G2…fingers crossed….

    1. The stylus is great for modifying photos, cutting, etc…you should play with it more.

  6. ASUS Padfone Infinity – any day.

  7. What’s the best Android smart phone to buy in August 2013?
    A phone that has these specs:

    * Deca-core Sexynos processor by Samsung, megaclocked at 69,5 GHz
    * 8 GB RAM (minimum)
    * 256 GB internal storage (minimum)
    * 4 microSD-slots
    * 6G-connectivity ITE (Infinite Term Evolution) [giving you a dataspeed at 1 TBps)
    * 60565 mAh battery
    * 6,5″ Mega Amoled ++ Display with 8K resolution
    * Android Lollipop Lava Cake 7.0
    * 30 megapixel camera with 3D-recording (with 2160p-recording)
    * Made in plastic, aluminium and glass.

    1. Nokia already has a 41 megapixel camera. This garbage you came up with is already outdated.

      1. He listed a 360 megapixel cam…. nokia still has nothing on these tongue in cheek specs :D

        1. Actually I was about to write 360 megapixel camera, but I mistyped and wrote 30 instead…but yes, I meant 360 megapixel camera.

        2. Originally said 30… Must have changed it.

    2. 4 microSD-slots which take 256GB microSD cards each.

    3. and when I press a button, it should spit out cash.

    4. still not cutting edge enough for some people on here

    5. lol@lollipop lava cake LOL

    6. Needs to be able to give handies too.

    7. Android Laptop…. is what it is going to be.

    8. False. A deca-core Intel* processor would be better.

    9. This Literally made me lol’d

    10. I’m disappointed you forgot the flux capacitor. =|

    11. lol im pretty sure the number of cores and ghz speed will plateau just like on pc ( currently only cherry picked exotic cooled via liquid nitrogen can achieve 8ghz ) and processing extend to thousands of gpu cores.

    12. Note 4?

  8. I still believe the Note 2 is the best device out right now. What more could you ask for in a device? As of right now I don’t see me buying any other phone other than the Note 3. Although I do want to see what the HTC MAX has to offer, its gonna be a tough decision. I like Sense, that’s what I prefer. But I just love all the things the Note 2 can do. HTC will have to WOW me with the MAX. I’m sure there are quite a bit of people to agree with me about the Note 2. Its just a sexy BEAST!!!! With sexy insides haha

    1. As someone who’s never used an HTC phone but will be considering the HTC One and HTC Max (vs Note 3, and Galaxy S4), could you tell me about sense, and what you like about it? I’ve enjoyed the stock android experience of the galaxy nexus, but never had another smart phone

      1. If you never had a HTC phone then you might like it. I haven’t had a HTC phone since the Evo 3D. Back then I hated Sense but I’ve been hearing from multiple people that Sense has gotten better.

      2. I was looking at the HTC One, and the thing that turned me off about it was there’s no SD card slot for it.

    2. I feel the same way, looking forward to Note 3

    3. “What more could you ask for in a device?”

      Something that’s not so ridiculously huge? I want a phone, not a tablet I hold up to my face.

  9. Way to go Note 2, released in October 2012 after all, that’s pretty old for a smart phone.

  10. 1st Place – Galaxy Note 2 – The most versatile, no compromise phone. If I had to stick with one phone, it’s be the Note 2.

    1. Second that. Bought the first Note; not bad. Bought the second Note last year when it came out. Tried a Nokia Lumia, took it back. Tried a HTC One, took it back. Tried a Sony Xperia Z from Amazon for full price, sent it back.

      Nothing beats the battery life, the large screen, the fast, smooth OS, the camera, the durability, Samsung’s software enhancements (call a person you’re texting, just hold the phone to your ear, dial or text someone in your call log, swipe right or left. Use the stylus to cut out photos and tweak them, take notes, etc).

      I freaking love this phone and it’s almost 8 months after I first bought it. No phone has kept me this satisfied for this long.

      Things I’m looking for in the next iteration:
      – HD Screen, definitely needs this
      – Improved camera
      – Improved speaker, similar to HTC one
      – Wouldn’t complain if the form factor changed..less bezel at top and bottom and maybe something different other than plastic (even though it’s way more durable).

      1. Sounds like Moto X? Though it may not have 1080, but 720 is still qualified as a HD screen, right? It has a Clear Pixel (thought I haven’t seen photos how it looks like but shows promising), not but might not as HTC’s Ultra Pixel.

    2. The only compromise being you have to be willing to carry around a phone the size of a cookie sheet. No thanks…

      1. Agreed. The S3 and S4 are already pushing it. I have no problem if some people want to own a mini tablet that can make phone calls, but to suggest it as the best “phone” is ridiculous.

    3. I tried Blackberry Z10, two Samsung S4 variants and i took them back and keep my Note 2. It is the best phone I ever had so far sans Touchwiz, though it doesn’t sport 4.2.2 or 4.3m but I heard that it may skip 4.2.2 and go straight to 4.3. I hope it is true.

  11. These ‘best phone’ articles are repetitive and useless really.
    90% of the best phone for anyone is personal choice/preferences and the other 10% is which company offers the best phone package based off that consumers needs.

  12. The reason I even read this is to see if you decided on the S4 or the One… and you had them tied….. Oh well

  13. Nothing without an SD card slot and a removable battery should be on this list.

    Manufacturers who have the arrogance to screw over consumers and try to shift the mentality into the Apple-think of this being “OK” and acceptable don’t deserve 1 cent of anyone’s business.

    1. I agree with you about the removable battery. I can work with no SD slot if the phone has at least 32GB.

      1. It’s not about total storage. It’s about having a way to get your data off in the event of a hardware failure.

        The external SD can be used to shuttle files easily and directly without having to resort to network shenanigans. Plus, I have Titanium Backup back up nightly to the external SD. The whole phone can die or screen get smashed and I can just pop out the SD, put it in a new phone, restore and be back and going.

        1. I understand where you’re coming from. I used to have a Galaxy Nexus and I would backup my phone’s contents once a week because I was worried about my phone dying.

          I’m on a Galaxy Note 2 now and it has a SD slot. The downside to that though is all my apps and games install to internal memory which isn’t that much. I have to use a “SD swap” hack to trick my phone into thinking my 64GB card is the internal memory.

        2. In the case of the HTC One it supports storage on the micro USB port. I use a USB key with mine all the time. Just plug it in and copy all you want. All you need is a USB OTG (on the go) adapter….about $4.

          1. One of the “hardware failure” conditions I’m talking about is failure of the USB port. Considering how often charging cables get plugged and unplugged, plus how exposed it is, failed USB ports are very common on cell phones. I’ve had it happen a few times over the years.

            My current ROM supports storage on the USB port as well, but the only time I use it is to plug in a full SD reader to pull off images from my camera. Using the internal SD allows an automatic “set it and forget it” nightly backup that doesn’t require me to remember anything, plugging in stuff or any human interaction. I can rest easy knowing that every night I’m getting a full backup onto removable storage… something that’s saved my ass more than once over the years.

    2. Not sure I agree with you. I’d personally take a more compact phone at the sacrifice for a removable battery and SD slot. 32gb is fine for me (maybe even 16) since all my stuff is in a cloud and with unlimited LTE it’s not a problem. I can’t be the only one. I think it would apply to many “average” customers. Of course options are always good and I’m not against them. I actually use a SGS4 as my daily driver. It has a 32gb microsd and I also own a spare oem battery/charger. It’s nice to have those in a pinch but I honestly haven’t needed it yet. I get 5 hour screen time and can standby well over a day.

      1. You’re in a unique situation. Not only do most people not have unlimited data, but ubiquitous cellular coverage is also a non-existent pipe-dream. A lot of us spend a massive amount of time in places with no cell service. Being cut off from our data in the “cloud” at those times is not acceptable.

        1. No you’re right, most people don’t have unlimited data. I also live in the heart of Los Angeles and have never not had cell service. Buti a good percentage of people must have wifi access at work or home no? Even with unlimited data I’ve rarely gone over 2-3gb a month and that includes streaming music about an hour a day 5 days a week on data. As for storage what exactly would one be storing that is so important past 32gb? Of course it’s nice to have access to all your media at all times but absolutely necessary? In terms of catastrophic phone failure I feel safer with my cloud backup then SD card. Personally I’ve never even damaged a phone screen but certainly misplaced a phone or 2.

          1. Sure, I have wifi at home and work. But not always while in the car (where I listen to music, podcasts, etc off my phone. Or a lot more if I’m a passenger). Or I am often at other places/houses where there might not be wifi available.

            City dwellers are spoiled and have a distorted perception about how things are for the rest of the world. ;)

          2. I suppose we do ha

        2. There are two major carriers that offer unlimited data. One of them doesn’t require a contract. This next part isn’t directed at you but people in general. If you’re in a major city and you don’t have unlimited data, it’s your own damn fault at this point.

          1. T-Mobile and Sprint?

            T-Mobile won’t sell phones or contracts to anyone living in my state. And Sprint will but their coverage is so awful as to be a joke.

            Your only two real options are AT&T and Verizon… and I hate AT&T just a bit less. Plus they have rollover minutes, SIM cards, GSM and simultaneous voice/data. Data plans are a rip-off for both however.

          2. T-Mobile doesn’t “sell contracts.” And there’s always the prepaid options as well.

          3. Not everyone lives in America, is that our damn fault as well?

          4. No. This was specifically directed at Americans. I don’t know what cell providers are like in other countries.

  14. The best phone to buy is the one that fulfills your own personal needs/wants.

    1. Its funny how the first three phones are actually phablets than phones.

      1. I’ve always liked saying that word… “Phablet” Hehe…

  15. Why don’t Y’all get a life and get some titties instead of worrying about this bs

    1. Explain to us Mr Internet Troll, has your life been significantly improved since you got fake breasts?

  16. HTC Butterfly S . I have the HTC One and the Butterfly S takes it out easily. I’m surprised Chris has not gotten his hands on one. I got the 901e version Taiwan main release which gets all updates first. There is also the 901s which has LTE hong Kong and European support . HDSPA support . I get 20 megabits of att easily with it

    1. I concur, love my red 901s :)

  17. I can finally agree with this list. The previous lists were inaccurate and biased.

  18. Get Moto XT925/926 off craigslist and forget about these toys. Solid phone with decent specs, LTE, contract free. Battery life is awesome.

  19. I would be buying the Xperia Z Ultra if the LTE version was out. Read a member’s review in the forum. http://androidforums.com/sony-xperia-zu/745879-xperia-z-ultra-short-review.html

  20. I think the main reason why I like Sense is how quick and easy it is to add apps and widgets with just a simple touch. (This started with Sense 4.0) I could just long press a home screen, find the app/widget I want to add and just tap the screen one time. No long pressing and dragging it onto the home screen, then have to go back into the app/widget drawer to pick the next one you want. IDK, that is just one of the things I really like about Sense. And Sense 5 looks even more sexier Lol….My first smartphone was the Dinc2 and I loved it. It took great pictures, build quality was nice n all. I rooted it which made it all the more better Lol. So ya, there’s a few things a like about Sense.

  21. the Butterfly S :)

  22. i’m liking the Xperia Z lately (though the normal 5 inch version)

  23. Nexus 5 is the only phone I am looking forward too, not for the specs but for compatibility, support and overall cutting edge software!

    1. Make that a note 3 aND im with you.

  24. I vote for the note 2 for the next 2 years. It’s better than all the electronic in my house.

    1. I don’t know…. I wouldn’t be able to live without my microwave O_o

      1. WUT??!! Chris you know how to even use a microwave…I thought the toaster was as far as you went…LOLCATS!!!!!

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      As someone who’s never used an
      HTC phone but will be considering the HTC One and HTC Max (vs Note 3,
      and Galaxy S4), could you tell me about sense, and what you like about
      it? I’ve enjoyed the stock android experience of the galaxy nexus, but
      never had another smart phone

      1. I myself have owned an HTC One and I personally like Sense. Its clean, very polished and the UI is not really hard to understand. Also, it does offer you some features that stock Android does not offer, for example HTC Zoe, Beats Audio….but stock Android is not very bad at all. You should try it out, Sense!

        Even though the Touchwiz offers plenty of software features, it is not really polished and clean like Sense.

  25. Can’t agree with 1 and 2..a phone doesn’t automatically just get 1st place because it has stocks.. And the fact you saying the xperia Z is better than the skinned version of the htc one and s4 is a joke..

  26. Moto x is out the window as it is not available in the UK? Bummer!

  27. Weak flawed list considering nexus 4 is a runner up. Nexus 4 is #1 followed by the google play editions of s4 and 1. Any other manufacturer branded junk would follow after that.

  28. G pro> Note 2

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