It’s that time of the year again: when we bring you our quarterly report on the top 5 Android smartphones out on the market right now. The industry has been relatively quiet over the last few months though — at least in terms of new device launches — primarily because Mobile World Congress next month is the big show ground for the latest and greatest phones. While there are a few new entrants, namely the Moto G and its amazing $179 price tag, there’s only one new entrant on this list. That’s actually saying something for a few of these devices, some of which are getting old but still command respect among their peers. As usual, these aren’t listed in a particular order.
1. Moto X
We awarded the Moto X the smartphone of the year for 2013, so it’s certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. It provides the best example that the user experience and software is more important than any spec sheet out there. Motorola has continued to improve the Moto X with frequent updates, and even beat competitors to Android 4.4 KitKat by months. The Moto X is also now officially $399 without a contract any time, though you can still custom make one on a variety of U.S. carriers at a fraction of the cost. Killer software. Killer design. The Moto X is still a top choice.
2. Galaxy Note 3
You haven’t lived until you’ve gazed upon the incredible screen on the Galaxy Note 3. We’re kidding of course, but the Note 3 still stands as our favorite phablet on the market and its screen is still one of the best out there. While the Moto X has a reserved spec sheet, the Galaxy Note 3 is loaded to the brim with some of the latest hardware on the market. Snapdragon 800 processor? Check. 3GB of RAM? Check. Brilliant 5.7-inch 1080p screen? Check. Toss in an IR blaster, a solid camera, Samsung’s S Pen, more software options than you can dream up, and you have the Galaxy Note 3.
3. LG G2
The LG G2 has one of the most unique smartphone designs on the market. You won’t find any buttons on the sides of the device and, instead, they’re all on the back. This makes for a beautiful design with an almost edge-to-edge display that’ll knock your socks off. Toss in the Snapdragon 800 processor, a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), an IR blaster, LG’s awesome KnockOn feature, and more, and you have a real breadwinner. We’re super excited for the G Flex to hit the U.S. market, but you still can’t go wrong picking up a G2.
4. HTC One
Can you believe it? The HTC One was unveiled almost a year ago (February 2013) and it’s still one of our favorite smartphones on the market. That’s really impressive given the rapid pace at which new devices flood the market these days. It’s just so hard to turn away from the incredible aluminum unibody design, the front-facing stereo speakers, the Ultrapixel camera and fun Highlight features, and its stunning 1080p screen. We have a feeling HTC has something new coming down the line, and that’s probably the only time soon we can see ourselves retiring the HTC One from this list. It’s that fantastic.
5. Xperia Z1s
Sony’s Xperia Z1 is hitting the U.S. in the form of the Xperia Z1s on T-Mobile, and it’s taking a spot in our top 5 list. Yes, that means we had to sacrifice one (the Galaxy S4), but we think it’s a fair trade. The Galaxy S4 is still an amazing phone, but the Xperia Z1s beats it out spec-to-spec, and if you want a Samsung experience we’ll point you to the Note 3. The Xperia Z1s sports a waterproof design, a Snapdragon 800 processor, a 20.7-megapixel camera and more. Its display could use some work (the coating for waterproofing seems to hurt viewing angles), but the design and processing power earns it a top spot on this list.
Some of these phones are probably here to stay for a while longer, while others may soon be replaced. We’re expecting to see quite a few new handsets during Mobile World Congress, and hopefully we’re so impressed that they eventually wind up here.