This will be a very busy year for the Android phones market, with lots of interesting smartphones already launched, but with still more to come. In the beginning of 2013 the biggest players of the Android smartphone market introduced their flagship devices in the January – March time frame. Anyway, there are still a lot of new smartphones to come and some of the ones launched last year are still one of the best on the market.
Last year, the Android segment was dominated by two Samsung releases, the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, the first one becoming the best selling Android phone ever. LG’s Optimus G was also one of the best of 2012, but it’s delayed launch for the European market didn’t make it a successful device. In fact, the Optimus G was so interesting that Google chose it to underpin its Nexus 4 smartphone. The Mountain View-based giant teamed up with South Korean company and developed the first Nexus device manufactured by LG, which took up the slack from Samsung.
The month of January brought us the first Sony smartphone based on a quad-core processor. The Xperia Z debuted at CES 2013 and, according to analysts it’s already a successful device, with 4.6 million units sold since release.
The Mobile World Congress debuted on February 25, 2013 and we expected both HTC and LG to debut their flagships for 2013 during the Barcelona-based event. The Taiwan-based company surprised us with a special launching event a week ahead of WMC opening, where the HTC One saw the light of day. On the other hand, the LG Optimus G Pro was the star of the Mobile World Congress conference, with tens of journalists waiting in line at LG’s booth just to get their hands on the new phablet.
Samsung didn’t bring their high-end smartphone at neither of the two tech fairs. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was introduced mid March during an Unpacked event in New York.
Anyway, it’s not over yet for the Android phones, because at least for other powerful terminals are expected to debut this year: the Optimus G follow-up, unofficially dubbed LG Optimus G2, the next-gen Galaxy Note phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Google’s Nexus 5, and the mysterious Motorola X Phone.
Let’s have a look at the best Android phones of 2013.
LG Optimus G
The LG Optimus G was officially introduced in October 2012 and at that time everybody saw it as a rival for Samsung’s Galaxy S3. Well, the smartphone failed to make a market debut in time to compete against Samsung’s high-end devices and, on top of that, the late European debut didn’t allowed the Optimus G to become a popular device.
LG Optimus G boasts a 4.7-inch True HD-IPS + LCD display with HD resolution and a pixel density of 318 ppi. Even though the North American market received the smartphone with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich and Optimus UI, the Europeans will get it with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box.
The smartphone is powered by a quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro chispet, it has 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage (microSD cards are not supported) and all the connectivity features of a modern smartphone: WiFi in all standards, 4G LTE, NFC chip, Bluetooth 4.0, and microUSB 2.0.
The 8 megapixel (13 megapixel on certain markets) camera mounted on the back of the LG Optimus G has support for full HD video recording, autofocus and LED flash, while the front-facing 1.3 megapixel shutter will be helpful when it comes to video calls.
All these were squeezed inside a 131.9 x 68.9 x 8.5 mm case, together with a 2,100 mAh battery that brings the total weight of the LG Optimus G to 144.9 grams.
After the launch of the Optimus G, Google though it’s time to form a partnership with LG for the development of their new Nexus smartphone. The Nexus 4 saw the light of day synchronized with the debut of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and it borrowed most of Optimus G’s technical specifications.
Nexus 4 comes with a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus display with 768 x 1,280 pixels resolution, it has 8 or 16 GB of internal storage, 2 GB of RAM, and an 8 megapixel primary camera.
The processing tasks are managed by a Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC with four Krait 200 cores at 1.5 GHz, helped by an Adreno 320 GPU. Even though it doesn’t have 4G LTE support it still brings Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and microUSB 2.0.
Anyway the main selling point of the Nexus 4 is its price. If you get one from Google Play Store you will pay a mere $299 for the 8 GB model, while the 16 GB variant has a price tag of $349. Another advantage of the Nexus 4 is that it will be in the first wave of devices to receive the update to the latest Android iterations.
The Nexus 4 uses Gorilla Glass 2 for both the front and the back of the device, having a button-less front panel, and a 2,100 mAh battery. Nexus 4 is 133.9 mm tall, 68.7 mm wide, and 9.1 mm thick, while weighing 139 grams.
Samsung Galaxy S3
The Samsung Galaxy S3 came to continue the success of the company’s Galaxy S line-up, quickly raising to the top of the best selling Android smartphones. Seen as an iPhone killer the Galaxy S3 had all the likes of becoming the one of the best selling smartphones in the world, which actually happened after all.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is powered by Sammy’s Exynos 4 Quad chipset with four 1.4 GHz Cortex A cores and Mail 400MP GPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 16/32/64 GB of storage, expandable using microSD cards of up to 64 GB.
Anyway, because of the limitations of the Exynos 4 Quad SoC, the North American variant Galaxy S3 arrived with a LTE-friendly dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4, but with 2 GB of RAM. In terms of connectivity, the Samsung Galaxy S3 brings Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, NFC chip, 3.5 mm jack, and microUSB 2.0.
The primary camera has an 8 megapixel sensor with autofocus, LED flash, simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, full HD video recording capabilities, while the front-facing 1.9 megapixel camera records 720p videos.
The battery is a 2,100 mAh unit, and the Galaxy S3 measures 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm and has a weight of 133 grams.
Launched with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, the Samsung Galaxy S3 received the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean update, of course, with Nature UX on top of it.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung has proved everyone that the phablets can be successful products if marketed in the right way and if they pack state-of-the-art technical specifications. The Galaxy Note 2 came as a successor for the Galaxy Note N700 and it was Sammy’s attempt to bit a chunk of iPhone 5’s market share.
Sporting a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels that was optimized for both stylus and finger input. Running Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean with Nature UX out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 also brought loads of S Pen-optimized applications and features.
The Exynos 4 Quad chipset from the Samsung Galaxy S3 was also squeezed inside the Galaxy Note 2, this time clocked at 1.6 GHz and with 4G LTE support. The Galaxy Note 2 is powered by a 3,100 mAh battery that was fitted inside a body that measures 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm and weighs 183 grams.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 technical specifications list also includes 2 GB of RAM, 16, 32, 64 GB of flash storage with microSD card slot (up to 64 GB supported), all standards of WiFi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC chip, microUSB 2.0 port, 8 megapixel primary camera, and 1.9 megapixel user-facing camera.
Sony Xperia Z
Here we are talking about the first notable smartphone that saw the light of day in 2013, the mighty Sony Xperia Z. We’re facing a very resistant terminal here that has IP57 certification, meaning that is both dust and water resistant, allowing it to dive into 1 meter deep waters and still be functional if kept under 30 minutes.
Being the first Sony smartphone to sport a quad-core processor, the Sony Xperia Z is underpinned by a Snapdragon S4 chipset with 1.5 GHz Krait 200 cores and Adreno 320 GPU. It also comes with 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage (with microSD card support) and a 5-inch TFT display that fits in the trend of the 2013 smartphone market, bringing full HD resolution.
The Exmor shutter on the back has a 13 megapixel sensor with full HD video recording capabilities, pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, image stabilization, HDR, and sweep panorama. The front-facing camera has a 2.2 megapixel sensor and support for 1080p@30fps video recording.
The terminal is measuring 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm and has a weight 146 grams, while packing connectivity features like 4G LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, IR blaster, NFC chip, 3.5 mm audio jack, and microUSB 2.0.
Sony Xperia Z has a non-removable 2,330 mAh battery and comes pre-loaded with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Xperia UI. The smartphone is planned to receive the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update.
The Taiwan-based company has managed to develop one of the best-looking smartphones ever launched, the HTC One. Seen as a competitor for the best Android phone of 2013, the new HTC flagship smartphone is both an interesting and powerful smartphone.
Officially introduced ahead of MWC 2013, the HTC One comes with a 4.7-inch full HD Super LCD3 display with a pixel density of 469 ppi and Gorilla Glass 2 protection. You can choose from between 32 or 64 GB of internal storage and besides 4G LTE, WiFi Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, HSPA+, NFC, infrared port, Bluetooth 4.0, and microUSB 2.0, you will receive a hardware platform worthy of a modern smartphone.
HTC One boasts Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 SoC with four Krait 300 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz, Adreno 320 GPU, and 2 GB of RAM.
Being 137.4 mm tall, 68.2 mm wide, and 9.3 mm thin, and weighing 143 grams, the HTC One has a unibody aluminium case that accommodates a 2,300 mAh battery.
While most of their rivals opted for 13 megapixel cameras in 2013, HTC is using a 4 megapixel sensor with UltraPixel technology for the One. Having 1/3” sensor size, 2µm pixel size, the UltraPixel camera mounted on the back of the HTC One packs simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, face and smile detection, OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), autofocus, LED flash and 1080p video recording with HDR, stereo sound recording, and video stabilization.
The Taiwanese phone maker has introduced the new Sense UI version on the HTC One, alongside with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.
LG Optimus G Pro
Since Samsung didn’t had any powerful rivals no the phablet market, LG thought that competition should come from the same country, and this was probably the story behind the LG Optimus G Pro. Well, probably there’s a more elaborate story, but what we know for sure is that the Optimus G Pro is an attractive device.
Sporting a 5.5-inch True Full HD IPS Plus LCD fitted on a 150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4 mm body, the LG Optimus G Pro is based on one of the most popular processing solutions of the year, Quaclomm’s Snapdragon 600 SoC with quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300 CPU and Adreno 320 GPU.
Being a high-end smartphone launched in 2013 you will find all the connectivity features worthy of a modern smartphone fitted inside the 172 grams body of the LG Optimus G Pro: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0, NFC, IR blaster, 3.5 mm jack, 4G LTE, and HSPA+.
LG Optimus G Pro features 32 GB f internal storage and support for microSD cards, 2 GB of RAM, and a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera with full HD video recording support and 360 degree panorama called VR Panorama. The front-facing sensor has 2.1 megapixels and support for 1080p video recording.
LG Optimus G Pro runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean customized with the Optimus UI, but it will soon receive a Value Pack software update that will bring even more features. The smartphone is kept alive by a Li-Po 3,140 mAh battery .
Samsung Galaxy S4
Officially launched mid-March, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is expected to become the best selling Android smartphone ever, with the South Koreans anticipating to sell over 100 million units world wide by the end of the year.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the few smartphones in the world that comes pre-loaded with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, but, just like we expected it has the company’s feature-packed proprietary TouchWiz Nature UX user interface placed on top of it.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 specs sound interesting, too: octo-core Exynos 5 Octa chipset with four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.6 GHz used for the tasks that require more processing power, four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2 GHz used for the basic tasks, PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU, 2 GB of RAM, and 16/32/64 GB of internal storage expandable using microSD cards of up to 64 GB.
The Galaxy S4 also features a 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 441 ppi and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection.
Just like it happened with the Galaxy S3, the international version of the SGS4 is not compatible with the LTE networks in North America. On the US, Canadian, and several other markets, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.9 GHz.
A 2 megapixel camera was placed on the front panel, while the back of the phone accommodates a 13 megapixel sensor with autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, HDR, and 1080p@30fps video recording capabilities.
The 2,600 mAh battery was hidden in a 7.9 mm thin body that weighs 130 grams, is 136.6 mm tall, and 69.8 mm wide.
In terms of connectivity, the Samsung Galaxy S4 brings 4G, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, infrared port, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, and a 3.5 mm audio jack.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (Rumored)
Even though the officials of the South Korean company didn’t mention anything about a Galaxy Note 2 successor, all the tech publications are gossiping about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Since it is expected to drop later this year (rumor has it that it will be introduced in the week prior to IFA Berlin 2013, in the September 1-5 time frame), we are including the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in the best Android phones of 2013.
Sources say that the Galaxy Note 3 will have a gigantic 6-inch full HD Super AMOLED display, but if you asked me, I would say that the next-gen phablet will follow the pattern of the previous two Galaxy Note releases, bringing a display that is 0.2 inches bigger than the one of its predecessor. So, in my opinion, the Galaxy Note 3 will have a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with full HD resolution.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will most likely borrow the Exynos 5 Octa processor fitted on the Galaxy S4, and just like it happened last year and the year before it, the cores will be clocked 200 MHz higher. 2 GB of RAM are also on Galaxy Note 3 rumored technical specifications, with 16/32/64 GB of storage, microSD card slot, and the same 13 megapixel sensor from the Sammy flagship launched in March.
The connectivity features will definitely be worthy of a modern smartphone and even though the Galaxy Note 3 will have a display bigger than the one of its predecessor, the body sizes will be similar to the Galaxy Note 2, and will probably be lighter.
Since Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie is expected to debut this May at Google I/O event (5 months ahead of the rumored Galaxy Note 3 release date) the next-generation Samsung phablet might be the company’s first smartphone to run it as it leaves the factory gates.
Some say that, besides Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, the Google I/O event in May will also bring us a Nexus 4 follow-up. Unofficially dubbed Nexus 5, the new smartphone is expected to replace the Nexus 4 in the Google Pay Store and to have the same price tag.
The rumor mill speculates that the Nexus 5 will come with a 5.2-inch full HD display and that it will be powered by a Snapdragon 600 processor. Since the details about the unannounced Nexus 5 are shallow, there are no details about the internal storage capacity, battery, connectivity features, or any other technical specs.
Anyway sources say that after the success of the Nexus 4 Google will continue its collaboration with LG for the next smartphone of the Nexus tribe, as well.
Google/Motorola X Phone
After Google acquired Motorola in 2012, everybody expected that the company that invented the mobile phone and the company that owns Android Inc. will team-up and create a super-smartphone. Here we are, almost a year later and that super-smartphone is still nowhere to be found.
Called X Phone by the media, the fruit of the Google + Motorola collaboration might actually see the light of day later this year. Even though no Google or Motorola officials talked specifically about it, important people working for the two giants have hinted towards a smartphone that will result from their collaboration.
Eric Schmidt called the X Phone “phenomenal,” while Jim Wicks, Motorola Chief of Design said “it’s just the right size,” also adding that it will be available in the second half of the year.
Rumor has it that the X Phone will be highly customizable, allowing users to choose the amount of RAM, the screen size, or processor. Other sources say that it will be available in over 20 body colors and that it will have a RAZR Maxx-like battery life and that it will be unbreakable.
All we know is that if Motorola and Google want to create a super smartphone, they will have to chose from two processing solutions by the time it hits the market: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 and Nvidia’s Tegra 4i.
Both the Snapdragon 800 and the Tegra 4i chipsets were announced in January at CES 2013 and both rely on 28 nm architecture. The first one comes with four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz and Adreno 330 GPU, while the second one has a 4-PLUS-1 configuration with ARM Cortex R4 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz and 60-core GeForce ULP GPU.
It does sound like a super-smartphone, doesn’t it?
LG Optimus G2
The LG Optimus G will also receive a successor, as confirmed by the officials of the South Korean phone maker, also adding that it will be launched in Q3 2013.
Of course, there are no official details about it, but we can speculate that it will fit in the trend for the 2013 Android smartphone market and it will bring a 5-inch full HD display, 2 GB of RAM, 13 megapixel camera, and a quad-core processor.
A mysterious LG smartphone was spotted in the GLBenchmark logs, bearing the D801 codename, and now, after the LG Optimus G2 was confirmed we think it might be it. The LG D801 had a Snapdragon 800 SoC and it was running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
There are a lot of Android phones to choose from: some launched last year, some launched in early 2013, and some expected to hit the market by the end of the year. They all have interesting technical specifications and features and displays varying from 4.7 inches to 5.7 inches, but they all have one thing in common: the Android OS.
Which of the twelve best Android phones of 2013 is your favourite? Have we missed any important device? Please let us know in the comments section below.