Top 5 smartphones of 2013By Hanleigh Daniels 2 December 2013 | Categories: feature articles
Over the course of the year smartphone display sizes, screen resolutions and processing power took leaps forward to challenge our budgets and jean pocket space. Here are our Top 5.
5. Apple iPhone 5s
iOS; 4" (1136 x 640; 326 ppi); 1.3 GHz dual-core A7 CPU
For iPhone 5 (review) owners, upgrading to the 5s would be a hard sell seeing that Cupertino’s latest smartphone boasts exactly the same design and Retina display found in its predecessor. However, upon closer inspection you’ll find upgraded optics for capturing photos in low light, beefier processing power, as well as a fingerprint scanner to access the future of mobile password technology.
Despite getting more of the same, iPhone 5s buyers won’t be all that disappointed with their device seeing that is future proof thanks to its 64-bit A7 CPU.
4. Samsung Galaxy S4
Android; 5" (1080p, 441 ppi); Exynos 5 Octa 5410
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 (review) combines outstanding hardware with a never-ending list of software features, all within a thin and light package. However, preventing the smartphone from landing a higher place on our top 5 is its disappointing all-plastic build, which does not stand up to the premium feel that comes standard on the iPhone 5s or HTC One.
Its seemingly impressive software features list is also littered with additions most users will find a little gimmicky or simply too impractical for daily use, proving that less (features) can be more.
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Android; 5.7" (1080p, 381 ppi); Exynos 5 Octa 5410
The king of phablets - Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 (quick review) - upped the stakes with a better S-pen and a spec sheet longer than a public petition list against e-tolling. Setting the Note 3 apart from the 2013 Galaxy S range was a slight, but noticeable, styling change, involving a faux leather back cover complete with fake stitching.
Despite being thinner and lighter than the Note 2 (review), we found the Note 3 to be a little too big for our pockets, but users looking for the best notetaking companion don’t have to search any further.
2. HTC One
Android; 4.7" (1080p, 468 ppi); 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
HTC set the smartphone design bar high early in the year with its One (review), which still boasts the best styling and sound experience available on any smartphone. In spite of snappier chipsets outmuscling the One’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, the CPU delivered a superb all-round performance in this phone.
The chink in the armour of the One is its 4 MP Ultrapixel camera that takes good-looking shots, but is not on par with the likes of the S4, Lumia 925, or LG G2. This should not prevent you from picking up the One though, which is a more appealing buy than ever as locals can pick up a 32 GB model for as little as R7 500.
1. LG G2
Android; 5.2" (1080p, 423 ppi); 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
LG lifted its mobile game this year in order to deliver the Galaxy S4 trumping G2 flagship smartphone (review). The G2 offers the best combination of high-end specs (Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 5.2" full HD display, 13 MP camera with IOS) and value for money seeing that it undercuts most of its rivals in pricing. HTC's One might feel more premium in hand, but the G2 counters with its higher specification, longer battery life thanks to its sizeable 3000 mAh battery, and own unique design element in the at-the-back placement of the volume rocker and power button.
While the G2's screen might not have the class-leading ppi of the One, its excellent picture quality and barely-there (2.65 mm) edge-to-edge bezels enables a more immersive movie viewing experience that brings video and other content to the foreground.
Nokia Lumia 1020. Even though the Lumia 925 (review) is our favourite Windows Phone device when it comes to look and feel, the Lumia 1020 (review) is the best alternative to an iPhone and Android smartphone, thanks to packing a mammoth 41 MP photo sensor.
Sony Xperia Z1. If you’re prone to dropping phones or getting them wet, the Z1 (review) is dust- as well as waterproof, and is easily able to square off against any of our top 5 when it comes to specs. We still prefer the previous Z (review).
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