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Best Smartphones on the Market Now

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 13 comments
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Although carriers are making it easier to upgrade your smartphone, most of us are going to live with that next device for at least two years. So the phone you buy needs to deliver the right mix of speed, features, ease of use and battery life. And while there's no such thing as a future-proof smartphone, the very best models will keep you very happy months and months down the road. To help you make the right call, we've picked the top smartphones available right now, whether you’re looking for a big-screen phablet, the most advanced camera, or a compact powerhouse.

Best Overall Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S5

The Galaxy S5 looks pretty similar to the Galaxy S4 at first glance, but there are lots of improvements here that add up to our favorite smartphone. There's a faster 16-megapixel camera with real-time HDR capability, a built-in fingerprint sensor that works with PayPal and a built-in heart rate monitor that can help you keep better tabs on your fitness. But what we really love about this handset is its awesomely bright and colorful display, water-resistant design and improved battery life.
MORE:
Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

Best-Looking Smartphone: HTC One M8

The HTC One M8 is the sexiest Android phone ever, packing a 5-inch full HD display and a fast new Snapdragon 801 processor into a sleek metal body available in three colors. Photographers will have a blast with the dual-lens camera, which lets you focus on the foreground or background after you shoot. We especially love the One M8's staying power. A beefier 2,600 mAh battery allows this flagship to last nearly 10 hours on a charge. Improvements to HTC's BlinkFeed software and nifty new unlock gestures solidify the One M8 as one of the best phones of the year.
MORE: HTC One M8 Review

Best Phablet: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 

The Galaxy Note 3 is so powerful and long-lasting you may not need a tablet. This Android device packs a big and bright 5.7-inch display, and you can take notes with ease using the built-in S Pen. The Note 3 is also a multitasking maestro, thanks to its blazing Snapdragon 800 processor. With Samsung's Multi Window feature, you can run two apps side by side and drag content between apps. You can even run a third app on top of all that with the Pen Window feature. The best part about this phablet is its staying power, offering more than 10 hours of battery life.
MORE: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review

Best Compact Smartphone: Apple iPhone 5s

Other than a new gold color option, the iPhone 5s doesn't seem much different from its predecessor. However, the A7 chip inside this sleek beast blows the doors off of most Android phones, and there's a growing number of games and apps that take advantage of its 64-bit architecture. Another reason to snatch up the iPhone 5s is its awesome iSight camera; with larger pixels and a dual-LED flash, this 8-megapixel smartphone captures fantastic photos indoors and out. Add in a TouchID sensor that makes it a cinch to unlock your phone and make purchases, and it's easy to see why the iPhone 5s is one of the best smartphones.
MORE: Apple iPhone 5s Review

Best Value: Motorola Moto X

Say "OK, Google Now" to the Moto X, and you’ll unleash this smartphone's greatest power. This device can answer all sorts of questions ("What's the weather today?") and execute commands ("Send text to John") without you lifting a finger. The secret is the Moto X's dedicated natural language processor. This smartphone wows in other ways, including the ability to customize your own design online, an eye-popping 4.7-inch HD screen, and active notifications that deliver alerts before you even unlock the phone. Although the camera could be better, the sub-$100 price of the Moto X makes it a fantastic value.
MORE: Motorola Moto X Review

Best Advanced Camera: Nokia Lumia 1020

For photographers, the Nokia Lumia 1020 represents the pinnacle of smartphones. The 41-megapixel camera sensor not only takes breathtaking photos, but lets you zoom in after the shot to reframe your photo and still enjoy amazing detail. Shutterbugs will also appreciate the Lumia 1020's sophisticated camera app, which lets you adjust white balance, shutter speed and focus on the fly. Plus, Windows Phone's dynamic Live Tile interface really pops on this handset's 4.5-inch AMOLED screen.
MORE: Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Best Off-Contract Phone: Google Nexus 5

It's not just a device for Android purists. The Nexus 5 is simply one of the best smartphone values anywhere. For just $349 off-contract, you get cutting-edge specs such as a Snapdragon 800 processor and a 5-inch 1080p display. Android 4.4 KitKat brings some cool new features to the table, too, including the ability to perform searches, send text messages and more using just your voice from the home screen. We also love the new dialer, which integrates a local business search field right into the app. Although its camera isn't best-in-class, the Nexus 5 is one heck of a value.
MORE: Google Nexus 5 Review

Best Innovative Phone Design: LG G Flex

The LG G Flex is the world’s first smartphone that’s not only curved but flexible. This makes the handset more comfortable when holding it up to your face to make calls, and you can literally apply up to 80 pounds of pressure to the back without worrying about breakage. The G Flex also has a self-healing chassis, so you can scratch the back with keys and the marks will start to disappear within minutes. Although the 720p display isn’t full HD, the OLED panel offers fantastically rich color and wide viewing angles. A long-lasting 3,500 mAh battery and swift Snapdragon 800 CPU are two more reasons to snatch up this innovative smartphone, but you’ll pay a premium versus some other flagships.
MORE: LG G Flex Review

Add your comment Display 13 Comments.
  • 1 Hide
    witcherx , November 22, 2013 1:31 PM
    .. does the author not know there is lg g2?
  • 6 Hide
    DarkSable , November 22, 2013 1:41 PM
    So he took the phone industries' flagship devices and gave them each an award. Woo hoo, what news. Also? This line is so ridiculous it's not even funny: "The Galaxy Note 3 is so powerful and long-lasting you may not need a tablet."

    I don't get why anyone "needs" a tablet in the first place, and it's no more powerful than the nexus 5. Also, just throwing out there, why is there no best value award going to the Moto G?
  • 0 Hide
    DarkSable , November 22, 2013 1:42 PM
    why isn't the best value award*
  • -4 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , November 22, 2013 2:14 PM
    I'm a bit disappointed that only the iPhone 5s came out with a 64-bit SoC, although I read somewhere one will be included in the Galaxy Note 4. If that's the case, I'll make the switch, then. My Droid RAZR MAXX is slow, but still functional and has great battery life. However,a Phablet would be nice.
  • 1 Hide
    jimmysmitty , November 22, 2013 2:26 PM
    Quote:
    I'm a bit disappointed that only the iPhone 5s came out with a 64-bit SoC, although I read somewhere one will be included in the Galaxy Note 4. If that's the case, I'll make the switch, then. My Droid RAZR MAXX is slow, but still functional and has great battery life. However,a Phablet would be nice.


    Samsung is said to be working on a 64Bit Exynos. It will probably be in the S5 and Note 4.

    I also have a Razr Maxx HD for work and a S4 for personal, and if I can I use my S4. The Maxx is just too slow and the interface is not as nice, which is funny as people tend to complaining about the S4 interface I find it easier to use.

    I am waiting for the Intel SoCs. They already have 64Bit Atom but what will really matter way more than 64Bit is the addition of OoOE. OoOE will give much better performance than 64Bit will.

    I think ARM may have a bit harder time as that adds power draw to a chip but Intel has been working with it for 20 years so I think they might have an advantage with it.
  • 0 Hide
    Parsian , November 22, 2013 2:42 PM
    Here is a clip i put together demonstrating 1020's abilities:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgKp56pUNV4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUdN-2MzjL4nSXtg3E5nH1ZQ
  • 0 Hide
    Mike Friesen , November 22, 2013 4:40 PM
    The Note 3 has a better camera than the iphone 5s, and where is the Sony Z1? Best camera on a premium phone, and tied for the fastest chip, etc.
  • 1 Hide
    mspoonauer , November 22, 2013 4:55 PM
    Thanks for your comments. We did want to be selective for this list, which is why the LG G2 didn't quite make the cut. Very fast and long battery life, but rear key design too polarizing.

    As for the Note 3 vs Nexus 5, the former is a better tablet replacement because of its larger display and because of its better multitasking capabilities through features like Multi Window.
  • 1 Hide
    mspoonauer , November 22, 2013 4:55 PM
    Also the Z1's limited availability and relatively cloudy screen kept it off this list.
  • 1 Hide
    3ogdy , November 23, 2013 2:41 AM
    JOSHSKORN
    Why on Earth would you ever need 64-bit capabilities on a phone?
    There are even people who use x86 on their desktops and laptops.
    Having 64-bit support on a phone is ridiculous. What? You wanna use AE on your SGS5?
    This is nothing but crap - there is so much more they could improve that "switching" to x64 is just something to add on a list of "new features" because they are running out of ideas.
  • 0 Hide
    HELLO9 , November 30, 2013 2:07 PM
    SO FUNNY....You all are arguing about phone capabilities when you should be YELLING ABOUT THE N.S.A. SPYING ON YOU VIA YOUR PHONES & CARRIERS!!
  • 0 Hide
    b2dw , December 12, 2013 3:09 PM
    I got my Samsung from

    http://bundleofwires.com/index.php?c=1020&x=Cell_Phones

    I'm loving all this new technology!
  • 1 Hide
    AmaMizuki , February 4, 2014 6:19 AM
    Quote:
    why isn't the best value award*
    I think for value - the Moto G beats the Moto X:http://versus.com/en/motorola-moto-g-vs-motorola-moto-xThe quality is perfect for the price!! But their isnt any brand duplication in the list?
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