It’s been a pretty big year for gadgets and an even bigger one for smartphones with numerous releases such as the LG, Samsung Galaxy 4, Nokia Lumias, HTC One and the iPhone. I have put together a list of my top five phones for 2013.
Samsung Galaxy S4
This is Samsung’s biggest release of the year aside from the Samsung Tab 3. It is the most powerful and desirable device that they have created yet bar the Tab. For those of you who dread large phones you will be pleased to know that the S4 is the same size as the S3. It feels like a completely different phone from the S3 and in my opinion it is a much better design – the chrome on the side gives it a much more premium look and on a more practical level it allows you to grip it a lot easily. More importantly the keypad is easier to type on and the functionality is a lot more appealing. The S4 has an amazing camera (13 megapixels!) and has been described as one of the best on the market. I would certainly second that, the pictures you take with the S4 contains lots of colour and light and only the Nokia Lumia 925 and 1020 can rival it. It is the OS with 441 pixels per inch that makes this model stand out, the screen resolution contain very sharp text and video and you are not hampered the dreaded blackout that you get with the S3 when the sun comes out. Other perks from the S3 are a much faster processor and more storage space for media thanks to an expandable memory card slot. There is also Bluetooth 4.0 and 4G. On a downside the battery life does not last much longer and you still need to top up half way through the day.
The Samsung Galaxy 4 comes in white, blue, black and red and is available on all mobile networks.
This is about the only phone on the market that offers a QWERTY keyboard. In true Blackberry form you have to switch on the phone from the top but the Q10 has a twist, you can swipe up from the bottom of the display to switch it on. It is the perfect size as it fits into the palm of your hand and feels sturdy and safe in your hands. Aesthetically this is the most stylish Blackberry with a keyboard and is based on the Bold 9000 which I loved. That model was 50% screen and 50% keyboard but the Q10 is 70% screen and 30% keyboard which works very well. On the technical aspect it has two gigs of ram, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 345 hours standby time and up to 13.5 hours talk time and supports 4G. The screen resolution is 720 pixels x 720 pixels but as the screen is smaller than most smartphones you do get a pixel density but overall an awesome screen.
The OS is Blackberry 10 and to use the model you create two profiles, one for work and another for personal use. Each profile can have its own data, apps and network permissions. You can access your work email, documents and company intranet from your work profile, then switch to personal use, secure in the knowledge that all of your sensitive data is protected. You have an 8 mega pixel camera which allows you to take pictures that are clear and sharp, you can also manipulate your pictures by cropping, lightening and darkening. For those of you purists who hate touching the screen there are loads of shortcuts on the keyboard that allow you to carry out functions such as scrolling, zooming in and out, going back pages, searching documents and reloading web pages. The downside of the Q10 are the lack of apps also you can’t turn auto brightness on or off which is a tad annoying.
The Blackberry Q10 comes in black and white and is available on all mobile networks.
Nokia Lumia 1020
If you want an amazing camera then this is the phone for you, in fact this is the only phone for you. The Nokia Lumia 1020 has an incredible 41 megapixels so you can create supersize images. In fact the Zoom feature allows you to blow up an image to poster size. You have a lot more control over this camera – you can change the exposure, shutter speed, ISO focus or white balance – or you can just leave the camera on auto so it makes the adjustments itself. The PureView technology produces sharp and crisp images which are amazing on the eye. The video captures footage with stereo sound even at the loudest concerts thanks to Nokia Rich Recording, which handles sound pressure levels six times louder than conventional smartphone microphones.
The 1020 opens and closes apps very quickly which is pure bliss after using the S3 which left a trail of apps in your wake while eating up your memory. The 1020 is slightly chunkier and larger than its predecessor but the design is very appealing if you like colourful devices. The exterior has a zoom lens on the back but it is tastefully designed so it does not look obstructive. The downside is that the camera amp on the back prevents the phone from lying flat on the table so no typing while it is on the table. Also there is a bit of delay between taking images which is really annoying if you are shooting a live event.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 comes in yellow, white and black and is available on all mobile networks.
HTC One Mini
If you are not at all in love with all the large phones on the market then you HTC One Mini might be the one for you. It is a sleek compact version of the HTC One phone and fits perfectly into your pocket fit. It may be smaller than its bigger brother but the mini still packs a mean punch by hosting features such as HTC Zoe which is a three-second living photo that brings your pictures to life and HTC BoomSound, which delivers amazing sound through front-facing stereo speakers. There’s also HTC Blinkfeed, a personalised homescreen that delivers updates from news channels and social networks. A perk for those interested in the mini is that it contains the updated Zoe Highlights feature, which automatically creates a 30-second montage of your best videos and pictures – set to a soundtrack of your choice from your music library. Design wise the HTC Mini is quite impressive with the chrome casing that makes it look very expensive, I always like the way the model curves at the back so it can slot perfectly into your palm. Genius. On the tech side the mini contains Snapdragon 400 processor making it dual-core, 1.4GHZ, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 13.27 hours worth of 3G talk time and an impressive standby of 692 hours. The device contains an UltraPixel Camera which captures 300 per cent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors. The speed of the camera is impressive and allows you to take great images while you are on the move or capturing fast paced action.
The HTC One Mini is comes in silver, red and blue and is available on all mobile networks.
There is always mass hysteria when Apple drops a new phone and it’s no different when the iPhone 5s was released a few years ago. This model runs on iOS7 which is more sleeker and cleaner than iOS6. This OS is for people who love colour because trust me it is full of it. Surprisingly this is one of the smaller models on the market and is dwarfed by the likes of the S4 and Nokias but it is really pretty to look at. It is very light and beautifully made with the chrome and metal casing however it is very fragile so if you buy this phone you need to be careful that you do not drop it. The 4 inch display has a screen resolution of 1136 x 640, making it razor sharp at 326DPI.
The new A7 chip gives you CPU and graphics performance up to 2x faster than the A6 chip. Even more impressive, A7 makes iPhone 5s the first 64-bit smartphone in the world. The camera combines the best of the HTC Mini in that it takes great pictures in the dark and of the S4 and takes lovely daytime shots. What makes this phone stand out is Touch ID which registers your finger print which is invaluable in case your phone is lost or stolen. The downside is the battery life which is very weak although it does charge very quickly.
The iPhone 5s comes in silver and gold and is available on all mobile networks.