Best mobile phones to buy in 2013

Smartphones have never been bigger. Soon enough every pocket will have a mini-computer, and the sheer variety of smartphones out there means there’s something for everyone, at almost any budget.

Once you’ve used a smartphone every day, you’ll never look back. Here’s our pick of the bunch, from Android

 

Samsung Galaxy S4

One of the best smartphones just got better
Samsung Galaxy S4

 

Our Expert Opinion

The Galaxy S4 is the update to the Galaxy S3, our favourite Android smartphone for the last year. It’s possibly the most hyped phone of all time, but thankfully it’s still an impressive handset.

Despite the phone’s huge 5in screen, it manages to be slim and light, and weighs just 130g. It’s the first phone to use an AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution, which gives it a huge pixels-per-inch figure of 441, up from 306ppi on its predecessor. The operating system and web pages are, as you’d expect, hyper-sharp.

The S4 uses the same Qualcomm chipset as the HTC One, but it’s clocked at 1.9GHz rather than 1.7GHz. The phone is awesomely fast in both everyday apps and running 3D benchmarks. Despite all this power, the S4’s 2,600mAh battery managed to keep it running for ten hours and 43 minutes when playing back video, which is one of the most impressive figures we’ve seen.

The S4 is a lot of smartphone for your money. It’s a relatively conservative design, yet has a bigger screen and battery than the HTC One in a smaller package. You may prefer the HTC One’s metal body, but if you don’t get on with HTC’s extensive operating system tweaks, the Galaxy S4 is the phone for you.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S4 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.2.2
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.9GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, LTE
DISPLAY 5in 1,920×1,080 LCD
CAMERA 13-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 17 hours talktime, 15 days standby
DIMENSIONS 137x70x7.9mm, 130g

BUY IT FROM Free on a £27-per-month contract from www.mobiles.co.uk

 

Motorola RAZR HD

A great alternative to Samsung’s Galaxy S3
Motorola RAZR HD

 

Our Expert Opinion

The RAZR HD is a powerful and good-looking Android phone with a huge battery, and it’s also good value on contract.

We liked the Kevlar back panel, splashproof coating and scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass screen, and the large 2,530mAh battery meant the phone managed a huge 14 hours in our video playback test.

The phone’s 4.7in screen is an AMOLED model with a 1,280×720-pixel resolution, and is just as impressive as that of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The phone is also 4G-compatible if you fancy a bit of super-fast data – the only let-down is its uninspiring camera.

Read our full Motorola RAZR HD review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.1.2 (JellyBean)
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.5GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 2
RAM 1GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, LTE
DISPLAY 4.7in 720×1,280 LCD
CAMERA 8-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16384MB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
DIMENSIONS 68x132x8.4mm, 146g

BUY IT FROM £40 on a £17-per-month contract from www.buymobiles.net

 

HTC One

The ultimate next-gen smartphone
HTC One

 

Now that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is here, the HTC One finally has some stiff competition, but it still holds its head up high. The phone has a gorgeous metal body and high-contrast 4.7in Full HD display, which is perfect for browsing web pages at full zoom.

The phone feels gorgeous in the hand, and the display’s vibrant colours makes using Android 4.1 a pleasure. The HTC One is fast, too, thanks to its quad-core 1.7GHz processor.

Beautiful design aside, the One stands out from other Full HD Android phones such as the Sony Xperia Z due to its far-reaching software modifications. Instead of being full of icons and widgets, by default the homescreen is an information feed, with chunky tiles displaying the latest information from news and social media feeds.

If you’d prefer the standard Android homescreens instead, you can always shuffle around the order so the news feed isn’t the first thing you see. If you like your phones to have a gorgeous design this is the handset to buy, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a larger screen and longer battery life, as well as less extensive operating system tweaks.

Read our HTC One review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.1 (JellyBean)
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.7GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA LTE
DISPLAY 4.7in 1,920×1,080 LCD
CAMERA 4.1-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 32GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT none
DIMENSIONS 137x68x9mm, 143g

BUY IT FROM Free on £30-per-month contract from www.affordablemobiles.co.uk

Samsung Galaxy S3
No longer the best Android smartphone, but still great value
Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE

 

Our Expert Opinion The Samsung Galaxy S3 is no longer the best Android smartphone there is and has been superseded by the S4, but it’s still slim, fast, has a beautiful AMOLED screen and is now available at a very reasonable price.

The phone has just got better, too, thanks to an upgrade to support 4G. On Everything Everywhere’s network we saw speeds up to 25Mbit/s, which is twice as quick as many home broadband connections. However, if you want 4G be sure to get the LTE version of the handset, as there’s still a lot of 3G-only ones on sale and only these are available as part of the cheapest offers

Samsung has loaded the phone with clever features. If you bring the phone to your ear while a contact is on screen it will call that person automatically, if you flip the phone over while it’s ringing it will turn the ringer off, and the Smart Stay feature uses the front camera to keep the screen on while you’re looking at it.

Throw in an excellent camera and you’ve got all the ingredients for a brilliant smartphone, which is now available for a very reasonable price.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S3 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.1
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.4GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, (4G optional)
DISPLAY 4.8in 720×1,280 LCD
CAMERA 8-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
DIMENSIONS 137x71x9mm, 133g

BUY IT FROM Free on a £22-per-month contract from phone-shop.tesco.com

 

Google Nexus 4

Google’s cut-price Android 4.2 wonder
Google Nexus 4

 

Our Expert Opinion The latest Google-branded smartphone is made by LG, and it’s a stormer. The Nexus 4’s quad-core 1.5GHz processor runs Android 4.2 incredibly quickly, and its 4.7in 1,280×768 display has a similar pixel density to the iPhone 5’s Retina screen.

There’s also a high-quality 8-megapixel camera and built-in NFC, so the phone will support Google Wallet’s tap-and-pay service when it arrives in the UK.

The phone is also incredibly good value SIM-free at just £239 – it’s a lot of phone for the money.

Read our full Google Nexus 4 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.2
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.5GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
DISPLAY 4.7in 768×1,280 LCD
CAMERA 8-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 8GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT none
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 15 hours talktime, 16 days standby
DIMENSIONS 134x69x9.1mm, 139g

BUY IT FROM £239 from Google Play

 

Apple iPhone 5

A worthy update to the iPhone
Apple iPhone 5

 

Our Expert Opinion Five generations on, and the iPhone is still the model to beat. Android has taken great strides, but iOS is still the slickest, fastest and easiest to use operating system, and there’s no arguing with the quality of the apps in the Apple App Store.

The iPhone 5 is an evolution of the 4, with a longer screen for more room for app icons and an aspect ratio better suited to widescreen films. It’s also incredibly quick – more than twice as fast as the iPhone 4S in the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark.

The only thing stopping the iPhone 5 from getting an award is Apple’s horrendous new Maps app, which replaces Google Maps, but this should improve with time.

Read our full Apple iPhone 5 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM iOS 6
PROCESSOR SPEED 1GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 2
RAM 1GB
MOBILE DATA 4G
DISPLAY 4in 1,136×640 LCD
CAMERA 8-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT none
DIMENSIONS 124x59x8mm, 112g

BUY IT FROM £529 from the Apple Store

 

Motorola RAZR i

A gorgeous slimline Intel phone 
Motorola RAZRi

 

Our Expert Opinion The RAZR i has an Intel rather than ARM processor, and it’s seriously quick – around the same speed as the iPhone 5 in the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark. It runs Android 4.1 incredibly smoothly, and the operating system looks great on the phone’s 960×540-pixel Super AMOLED screen.

The RAZR i has a 4.3in screen, which is big considering how compact the phone is. It’s also incredibly slim, and the rubberised back looks great and makes the phone comfortable to hold.

It’s a classy handset all round, and is also remarkably good value on contract.

Read our full Motorola RAZR i review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.1
PROCESSOR SPEED 2GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 1
RAM 1GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA
DISPLAY 4.3in 960×540 LCD
CAMERA 8-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 8GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
DIMENSIONS 123x61x8mm, 126g

BUY IT FROM Free on £21-per-month contract from www.carphonewarehouse.com

 

Nokia Lumia 925

The best Windows Phone 8 handset there is
Nokia Lumia 925

 

Our Expert Opinion The Lumia 925 is an update to the Lumia 920, our previous favourite Windows Phone 8 handset.

It addresses some of the criticisms levelled at the 920, such as its heavy 185g weight. The Lumia 925 cuts that back by 46g, at the same time as shaving 2mm from the phone’s thickness.

Instead of being a solid lump of polycarbonate like the 920, the Lumia 925 is split into a plastic rear and a metal frame; we’re fans of the frame, as we feel it makes the phone comfortable to hold.

The 925 has a 4.5in AMOLED display with a 1,280×768 resolution. It’s not a Full HD screen as found on much of the competition, but it still has an impressive pixel density of 332 pixels per inch, which compares well to the iPhone 5’s 326ppi. Image quality is excellent, too, with deep blacks and beautifully saturated colours.

Like the Lumia 920, the Lumia 925 has a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 1GB RAM. This is enough to run Windows Phone 8 beautifully, and the 925 comes with some useful preinstalled maps, such as free offline navigation and music. If you’re after a Windows Phone 8 handset, this is the one to have.

Read our full Nokia Lumia 925 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows Phone 8
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.5GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 2
RAM 1GB
MOBILE DATA HSDPA
DISPLAY 4.5in 1,280×768 LCD
CAMERA 8.7-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 32GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT none
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 18 hours talktime, 18 days standby
DIMENSIONS 129x71x9mm, 139g

BUY IT FROM Free on £26-per-month contract from www.mobiles.co.uk

 

Sony Xperia L

A whole lot of Android phone for your money
Sony Xperia L

 

Our Expert Opinion The mid-range Xperia L may be quite expensive on contract, but it’s a steal SIM-free at less than £200.

The phone has a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM, and runs Android 4.1 smoothly. Sony’s subtle Android customisations looks great, apps open and shut with a snap and animations are silky smooth.

The Xperia L also has an impressive screen, with bright whites and punchy colours, and we even like its chunky design and pleasing rubberised finish.

Read our full Sony Xperia L review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.1.2 (JellyBean)
PROCESSOR SPEED 1GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 2
RAM 1GB
MOBILE DATA HSDPA
DISPLAY 4.3in 854×480 LCD
CAMERA 8-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 8GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 8 hours talktime, 498 days standby
DIMENSIONS 129x65x10mm, 137g
PART CODE Xperia L
DETAILS www.sonymobile.co.uk

BUY IT FROM £199 from www.ebuyer.com

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