The diversity of the Android operating system has led to dozens of manufacturers competing for the highest spots for top of the line phones, mid-range devices, and even cheaper low end handsets.
This spirited environment is great for consumers. It means that to really succeed developers have to be creative, thoughtful, and expert from the concept to execution.
This year, manufacturers are at it again, and some phones are incredible. If you’re in the market for a new Smartphone or just a fan of the Android world, then here are 5 phones worth your time.
The Galaxy S4 has managed to take the S3 by a whole new level by including a beautiful 1080 HD screen, better hardware, and a whole host of new software features that allow added functionality to the Android operating system. These include technology that can pause videos whilst you’re not looking at the screen, and flick through and select media just by hovering over the handset’s screen. This functionality also extends to how the phone interacts with other devices. You can share media easily via NFC (Near Field Communication) or use the phone as a DVR or TV remote.
Naturally building this model bigger and better means that Samsung has had to up the power of the phone as well. In addition to running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (the latest software), the phone is also powered by a quad-core processor
The price is a bit steep, putting it alongside the ‘iPhone premium’ prices, but there’s no doubt that it’s a superb handset and worthy of the number one spot.
2. HTC One
The HTC One falls just short of the top spot for the simple fact that the Samsung Galaxy S4 offers more features and optional functionalities than just about any phone out there.
For sheer usability and design, the HTC One stands among the best of them. Its nearly 5-inch screen is a 1080 HD display and the phone runs off the latest Android software and the new Sense UI has been updated to offer great new features as well.
In fact, if you’re looking for something of a workhorse phone with power and speed to support all the work you do, then the HTC One might be your best bet. Encased in a sleek metal design with a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor and up to 64GB (32 standard) of internal storage inside, the HTC One is clearly designed with performance in mind.
3. LG Nexus 4
The Nexus 4 had some shipping issues in 2012, but now everything is back on track, and the Google branded Smartphone is definitely a smart buy. The handset has a 4.7 inch screen, top of the line hardware, and first grabs at new Android updates.
The price is also a huge bonus, as Google have managed to sell at it almost half the price of other flagships like the Galaxy S4.
While a quad-core processor and top-notch software are ideal, many competing phones have that as well, so what sets this phone apart? Well there’s the 8-megapixel camera with a number of filters and fun, easy to use features and the smattering of Google features like the responsive and accurate search tool Google Now alongside the typical cadre of Google apps like Talk, Chrome, and plenty others. Perhaps most appealing to some users is the fact that the phone comes factory unlocked, optimizing user control. Less appealing is the lack of 4G LTE-a difference that won’t matter to many users but might be a deal-breaker for those that care.
4. Sony Xperia Z
The Sony Xperia Z, although released in 2013, feels more like a 2012 flagship device. Its specs aren’t as amazing as the HTC One’s or the Galaxy S4’s (it runs Android 4.1 and is a touch slower all around).
But that’s not to say the Xperia Z is without any appeal. It might not have the strong Google presence of the Nexus 4, but it still integrates easily with plenty of Google offerings built-in like Google Talk and Google Now. The phone itself has an appealing design-a bright 5-inch screen housed in a thin, glossy body. Still, it remains one of the sturdiest units this year: this model is capable of being completely submerged underwater and still working perfectly afterwards.
Add to that a camera with nice HDR features and you’ve got a handheld device that’s all about looks. For better and worse.
5. ASUS Padfone 2
Although the PadFone hasn’t received as much press as the other handsets, that doesn’t change the fact that it is all-around a wonderful device with solid hardware/software specs (1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor/Android 4.0), a decent if not amazing 720 HD display, and an intuitive user interface.
The big draw of the PadFone 2 is that allows it to dock straight into a larger, tablet-sized screen, making it a great go-between for people who are used to doing real work on their Smartphones for extended periods. With 50GB of free WebStorage for users, the PadFone truly is the next step in closing the gap between phone and tablet. It does so without sacrificing the mobile functionality that a phone provides (its 4.7-inch body is much lighter than its previous incarnation) without some of the pesky problems that a phone is usually accompanied by (battery life for the PadFone 2 is more reliable than most).
Plus, the phone and the extra screen can be purchased for a price similar to the Galaxy S4 by itself right now, so if you’re looking for a top end Smartphone/tablet combination, this is certainly one to consider.
At the time of writing, 2013 still has a long way to go yet, so it’s tough to make judgments about which is the best android phone with any sense of finality. However these five have definitely taken a place on stage to shine and the competition would have to be something pretty impressive to unseat them by the end of the year.