Android Holiday Gift Guide Phones

Android Smartphones Gift Guide 2013 / 2014 Edition: Top 10 Smartphones

November 27, 2013 - Written By Tom Dawson

It’s that time of year again, the time of year where everyone hits the stores to get their bigger presents. For many of you this Holiday season, smartphones are going to be both expensive purchases and pretty common ones, too. Everyone wants a shiny new smartphone under the tree but, there are so many to choose from and if you’re determined to get the best there is for that special someone – or yourself, we won’t judge – then you’re going to enjoy this gift guide. It’s full of what we consider the Top 10 Android smartphones there are out there today and many of them might be on special offer this Holiday season. Deals aren’t included in this guide however, as they change so frequently. For deals you can take a look at our special Black Friday deals page and check the site often. Without further a do, let’s get thing started shall we?

10. LG Optimus G Pro

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It’s no secret that bigger phones have become bigger deals throughout 2013 and with flagships like the Nexus 5 and Galaxy S4 all growing to 5-inches, it seems we can’t get enough of these big phones. LG’s entry into the really large phone arena came with the Optimus G Pro, which comes in at 5.5-inches, and while the LG G2 comes in at 5.2-inches, the G Pro is still a great phone for those looking for something on the larger side of things. It might not have all of the fancy S-Pen utilities like the Galaxy Note line but, as we found out in our review, it’s a capable device nonetheless with some respectable specifications.

  • 5.5-inch Full HD Display (1920—1080 resolution)
  • 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
  • 2GB or DDR RAM
  • 32GB internal storage; Expandable via microSD card slot
  • 13MP rear-facing camera; 2.1MP front-facing camera
  • 3,140mAh battery
  • Android 4.1.2 – Jelly Bean
  • 150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4mm dimensions

You can buy the LG Optimus G Pro from Amazon

09. HTC One Max

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HTC’s XXL version of their One flagship was not what you’d call a secret. In fact, we knew pretty much all about it before HTC finally decided to make the device official. Which led to a relatively lackluster launch, for a fairly mediocre device. The One Max doesn’t change much from HTC’s One, which we can’t fault them for but, there’s just not much on offer that makes this any better than the One, unless you want a bigger screen. In fact, most of the internal specs are the same and the only “new” feature is the fingerprint reader on the back. Which, in the One Max’s device can be used to launch apps and help users out a little bit but, it’s more gimmick than it is anything. Overall, if you liked the One but really want a massive phone, then now you have an option just for you but, if you’re looking for a more manageable device, then the original HTC One is a better bet.

 

  • 5.9-inch Full HD Display
  • Quad-Core Snapdragon 600 at 1.7 Ghz
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16 or 32GB of Storage with support for microSD cards up to 64GB
  • BoomSound Speakers, Fingerprint Scanner and an UltraPixel Camera
  • Android 4.3 with Sense 5.5
  • 3,300 mAh – non-removable

Buy the HTC One Max from Amazon

08. Motorola Moto G

Moto G 9

When Motorola announced the Moto G, it seemed that they were the only company out there that had figured out how to do an affordable smartphone right. That seems to have held true, as there’s nothing out there that can compete with the Moto G at $179 unlocked. With a decent Quad-Core CPU, a quality display, a good-enough camera and up-to-date software, Motorola have ticked all the right boxes with the Moto G. After all, just because something isn’t expensive, doesn’t mean it has to be inferior. It’s recently just launched in the States and you can buy it directly from Motorola.

  • 4.5-inch 1280 x 720
  • Snapdragon 400 Quad-Core CPU at 1.2GHz
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB/16GB of Internal Storage
  • 5MP rear-facing camera and 1.2MP front-facing camera
  • FM Radio built-in, guaranteed update to Android 4.4
  • Google Drive – 50GB of FREE Storage
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
  • 2,070 mAh with 14-hour estimate from Motorola

07. Motorola DROID Ultra and DROID MAXX

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For a long time now, Motorola has been known best for producing smartphones for Verizon, as part of their Droid lineup. They’ve been the hallmark of Verizon’s smartphone offerings and even today, they still carry some impressive brand presence. No matter what though, this year’s offerings certainly haven’t lived up to the hype. The MAXX is clearly the better of the two devices, despite the same internals, it has a slightly better fit and finish and has easily the best battery life on the market right now. If you’re a die-hard Verizon user and have liked past Droid devices, then there’s no reason you won’t like this year’s. It’s got most of the features of the Moto X and works great on Big Red’s network.

  • 5-inch 1280 x 720 AMOLED Display
  • 1.7 GHz Dual Core with Quad-Core Graphics, attention hub, & 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB storage
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2,130 mAh in the Ultra, 3,500 mAh in the MAXX
  • Usage: Up to 28 hours or 48 hours with the MAXX
  • 10MP RGBC camera with quick capture
  • 2MP Full HD Recording Front Facing Camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE +EDR,
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Buy the Droid MAXX or the Droid ULTRA on Amazon

06. Motorola Moto X

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When Motorola announced the Moto X, the community was a little underwhelmed at first. However, once the unicorn dust had settled, it was clear that Motorola had a decent phone on their hands. Finally, there was an Android phone that you truly could give to anyone. If that weren’t enough though, you can easily customize your own Moto X using Motomaker with an absolutely ridiculous amount of combinations to be made. It’s a great phone, as we found out in our review and thanks to some price drops, it’s now an inexpensive device considering the specs.

  • 4.7″ AMOLED Display at 720p
  • Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 10 Megapixel Rear-Facing Camera with “Clearpixel” technology; 2 Megapixel front-facing camera
  • 16 and 32GB Storage options with 50 GB free with Google Drive
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE + EDR
  • WiFi 802.11a/g/b/n/ac (dual band capable), mobile hotspot
  • 4G LTE
  • Android 4.2.2
  • 2,200 mAh battery

Buy the Moto X on Amazon

05. Samsung Galaxy S4

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The Galaxy S4 didn’t really change much from the Galaxy S III, instead Samsung kept the formula mostly the same and innovated on the inside and software features. Speaking of which, the Galaxy S4 is loaded up to the gills with software features and right out of the box, you’ll be struggling to get to the bottom of them all. Which is great for the average user but, some might find it a little cluttered. No matter what though, this year’s flagship from Samsung is much better than last year’s and it’s probably going to be on sale a lot this Holiday season.

  • 5-inch 1080p displayHD Super AMOLED Display 440PPI
  • 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600/Exynos 5 Octa for the International Version
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB/32GB/64GB internal storage; Expandable via MicroSD card up to 64GB
  • 13MP camera on the back, 2MP on the front
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • IR LED (remote control like in the HTC One)
  • MHL 2.0
  • 2600mAh battery
  • Android 4.2.2 – Jelly Bean

Buy the Galaxy S4 on Amazon

04. HTC One

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When we reviewed the HTC One, we were impressed with not only the amazing build of the device but, the wrongs that HTC had made right since the One X. For one thing, the One has pretty great battery life, a fantastic display and they’re even doing much better in the update department, beating Samsung to the punch with their Android 4.3 updates. Overall, this is the best device HTC has ever made and for a “regular” sized device, it certainly is one of the best devices out there.

  • 4.7-inch 1080p display giving it a 468ppi
  • 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB internal storage; No microSD card slot
  • Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS and GLONASS
  • 2,300mAh battery
  • Android 4.1.2, updated to 4.2.2 and now Android 4.3
  • Sense 5.0
  • IR Reciever allowing you to use the HTC One as a TV remote

Buy the HTC One on Amazon

Tie for 2nd and 3rd – LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3

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The LG G2 is the best device that LG has ever shipped and it’s got sokme seriously innovative features, a super-speedy processor, a great camera and more. No matter how good the hardware is however, the software is whole ‘nother story. It seems like LG can’t keep away from their software, with clutter everywhere and a strange theme that doesn’t really come together. It’s a shame but, the software isn’t all that bad and with some tweaking, the G2 is a great device for anyone.

  • 5.2-inch Full HD IPS Panel
  • Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 at 2.26 Ghz
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16 or 32GB of Storage
  • A 13MP rear-facing camera with full OIS and a 2.1MP front-facing camera
  • Android 4.2.2
  • Support for 24 bit “HiFi Quality” Playback
  • 3,000 mAh battery

By the LG G2 on Amazon

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While the Galaxy Note 3 is always going to be simply too large for a lot of users, those that “get” the Galaxy Note won’t use anything else. For good reason too, the S-Pen adds far more value than anybody realizes, as we found out and Samsung’s software once again adds a lot of value. The Galaxy Note 3 is almost one of those love or hate affairs, except the love side of things borders upon infatuation. The Galaxy Note 3 offers much more than other smartphones and if the size isn’t an issue for you then you’ll fall in love with yet another great device from Samsung.

 

  • 5.7-inch display, Full HD Super AMOLED (1920—1080)
  • Processor: Snapdragon 800 quad-core clocked at 2.3GHz, or Exynos 5 Octa octa-core processor clocked at 1.9GHz
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB of internal storage
  • 13MP rear-facing Camera with 2MP front-facing
  • 3,200mAh battery
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz

Buy the Galaxy Note 3 on Amazon

01. Google Nexus 5

Nexus 5 on Play Store

Google’s latest flagship device once again lives up to the tantalizing combination of high-end specs. In our review we came to the conclusion that while it might not be the best device for everyone, it stands head and shoulders above other devices when it comes to value. Not only that but, thanks to its offering of stock Android and super-fast updates to the latest version of Android the Nexus 5 quickly presents itself as one of the most attractive Android smartphone offerings there is right now.

 

  • 4.95-inch True HD Plus 1920 x 1080 IPS Display (445 ppi)
  • Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 for Protection
  • Qualcomm Snadragon 800 at 2.3 Ghz (MSM8974)
  • 2GB of RAM
  • A choice of 16 or 32GB of Storage with no expandability
  • 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera with 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with OIS
  • WiFi a/b/g/ac (both 2.4 Ghz and 5.0 Ghz), Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
  • Ceramic Power and Volume Buttons

Honorable Mentions

You know what they say; it’s crowded at the top and 2013 has been a blockbuster year for Android smartphones. While we can’t list all of the best smartphones out there right now, there are some devices that could be in this list if it won’t for a few niggles. Sony should really be in this list, with the Xperia Z and the Xperia Z1 both fantastic devices but, with limited availability in the US and high prices, it makes it difficult to recommend them – even if you forget the foibles concerning their cameras and displays. China has been delivering some fantastic devices this past year and the OPPO N1 and Xiaomi Mi3 would feature high-up on this list, too if they were easier to purchase in the US. As for smaller smartphones, the “mini” revolution is starting to gain traction, with the likes of the HTC One Mini and Galaxy S4 Mini offering “similar” experiences. However, the reality is that these devices are too expensive and often don’t deliver on their promise.