As the year draws to a close and that dreaded festive season creeps upon us, there’s no time better to evaluate the best phones of 2013.
We’ve seen some real corkers when it comes to releases from the big dogs such as Samsung, HTC and Apple, and 2013 truly marks the year that innovation and technical creativity became its own.
So what are our top 10 phones of 2013? And what can we look forward to next year?
Kicking us off is the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung’s flagship model released in March this year. The S4 really shook things up in the mobile phone arena by offering a whole range of new features never before seen on a smartphone.
In terms of specs, the Galaxy S4 has got a 5-inch screen, quad-core 1.6GHz processor and a whopping 13 megapixel camera.
What really makes the Samsung Galaxy S4 stand out, though, is its multitude of exciting new features. On the device’s camera, users have access to Dual Shot, whereby they can use both the front and rear-facing lenses at the same time, meaning you can be in the photo while you’re taking it. Other in-built camera features include Sound & Shot, which lets you capture short audio clips alongside your photos; Eraser to remove any unwanted background objects; and Animation to jazz up your images.
The phone also offers S Translator (which can be activated using just your voice), S Drive and Story Album.
No list of this sort would be complete without the mention of an iPhone. And, for the first time ever, this year we have two to talk about! The iPhone 5s, however, is Apple’s usual premium offering to the market, and in many ways looks and feels like any other iPhone.
It has a 4-inch screen, an 8 megapixel iSight camera and, wait for it, a fingerprint scanner! It is the latter feature which has got critics and fans alike going crazy for the iPhone 5s, as it’s one of the first smartphones to offer such an innovative feature. Ok so we have seen fingerprint sensors on laptops and other devices for some time now, and yes, the fingerprint technology has been hacked by German hackers, but still, the fact that you can pretend that you’re James Bond by unlocking your phone is undeniably cool.
Conversely to Samsung, Apple likes to keep things simple, putting quality into its features as opposed to quantity. That’s why, whilst other manufacturers are piling megapixels into their camera lenses, Apple is retaining the iPhone 5’s 8MP lens, simply making its performance better. The camera has 4 modes: Auto, Panoramic, Square (presumably for Instagram) and Video, and the new True Colour flash mimics the background colour that features in your photo to improve its quality.
With more recent releases such like the two phones listed above, the HTC One has almost been forgotten about. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best smartphones to have been released in 2013.
HTC was the first manufacturer to really overhaul the smartphone scene this year, packing its flagship model with unusual, yet useful, features which make it stand out from all other Androids on the market.
First of all you’ve got the phone’s full-aluminium body, which upgrades the device to the premium end of the spectrum sitting next to the iPhone because of its high-quality appearance and build.
Next, you’ve got HTC BlinkFeed, which has completely changed the user interface of this Android smartphone; rather than displaying rows of static apps on the phone’s home screens, HTC BlinkFeed displays your personalised news stories, social media updates, notifications and photos in a dynamic home screen which updates in real time. This means that you don’t have to, for example, launch the BBC News app, as all the main stories are constantly updated on your phone’ s home screen.
The HTC One is also one of the best phones of 2013 because of HTC Zoe. HTC Zoe is a camera mode on the One’s Ultrapixel camera, which allows you to take short 3-second bursts of video which really bring your photos to life. The mode also automatically collates all of your photos from any album into a 30-second movie backed up by music, making the One one of the best cameras I’ve seen on a smartphone.
Samsung usually features highly on lists such as this, and this year is no exception. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was only released in September in a glitzy press event in Berlin. The device is the third to be launched in the Note range, and features a 5.7-inch screen (smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 rumours suggested), the same camera features as the Galaxy S4, and an incredible quad-core 2.3GHz Krait processor.
The Note 3, being primarily designed for busy users always on the go, is also great for multitasking. With features such as Pen Window, you can open and display multiple apps on the same screen, or activate the Quick Memo feature to make annotations and notes on screenshots using the in-built S Pen.
Although the device has only just hit the market, we expect that the Note 3 will be a popular one in the run up to Christmas (Yes, I mentioned the dreaded C word…).
Launched just last week, the Nexus 5 has created quite a stir for its sleek looks, impressive features, and more importantly, Android 4.4 (KitKat).
As a new Nexus 5 user myself, I love the true Android experience that you get from a Nexus device, which includes automatic updates as soon as Google releases any operating system upgrades.
And with an impressive 8MP camera, the Nexus 5 provides users with a really high quality, sleek phone for half the price of most top of the range Androids.
To take a look at the next 5 best phones of 2013 click here.