What’s the best phone? Sometimes choosing between two cell phones is easy. Just look at the specs and it becomes woefully clear that some phones (even those positioned directly against one another) aren’t created equal. But most of the time it’s not as easy as just reading numbers. A phone is something you’ll use every day for two years (if you’re lucky). It needs to be durable, adequately future-proof and feel right in your hand.
We have for you here our continually updated comparison of the top 20 best cell phones you can get in the U.S. We’ve given you a brief overview of every phone and why we love it. But feel free to check out our incredibly extensive mobile phone reviews for a more in-depth look to decide for yourself which cell phone is best. Convert videos for playback on iPhone 5S, HTC One, etc.
1. iPhone 5S
The iPhone 5S is a phone that takes everything Apple has learned over the last six and a half years and put it together in an incredibly cohesive manner. There’s always an apathy with any kind of “S” device from Apple, as it’s historically just the same thing made a little bit better, and it’s true the advances on the iPhone 5S are few – but the ones that are there are very impressive indeed.
Below the surface, Apple has put together one of the most cutting-edge smartphones around, imbued with a top-end camera and a really innovative feature with Touch ID. There’s only so much that smartphone manufacturers can do to differentiate these days, and while Apple can’t expect consumers to be wowed by the same shell, it can expect to get some interest in the sharp camera and gives a sense of relief with the new A7 chip. Its performance is consistent, battery life is good and the camera is one of the best – if not the best all around – in the market.
2. HTC One
The HTC One’s combination of innovation and sumptuous hardware is a testament to the brand, and shows that new things can still come to our smartphones without costing the earth. Sure, it’s not the cheapest handset by any means, but it’s perfectly in line with what we’d expect from a flagship. Our only real gripe is with storage: many will argue that expandable memory slots are unnecessary when you’ve got Dropbox on board for extra space, or that simply being organized and deleting unwanted content will solve the problem. That’s true to a degree, but it’s not common behavior for today’s smartphone user. Regardless, these issues do not mask the fact that this is still the best HTC phone ever. The Samsung Galaxy S4 isn’t too far behind at all as it’s a lot cheaper than the HTC One, but for sheer level of functionality, innovation and just overall effect it has in the hand, we can’t help but recommend the HTC One to anyone looking to buy a new smartphone.
3. Moto X
The Moto X is a whole lot of first. It’s the first flagship device Motorola has produced since it was snapped up by Google. It’s the first Jelly Bean Android flagship with LTE that’s under five inches. It’s the first mass produced phone that lets you customize its look to a ridiculous degree (which is only through AT&T at the moment). This is one of the best constructed phones around. It’s dense and solid but not too heavy, a lot like an iPhone 5 or an HTC One. Unlike those metal bodied phones however, it’s polycarbonate (read: plastic. Good feeling plastic) body stands up to scrapes and drops with getting mauled. If only the camera were better and Motorola’s apps were a little sharper, we’d give it a no holds barred recommendation. As it is now, the Moto X deserves to be in the conversation when discussing the best Android has to offer, and simply only that.
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is quite similar to its predecessors, the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2; you’re going to get something that looks like a giant phone and a small tablet meaning it’s definitely not a device a lot of people will be clamoring for – but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad phone – in fact, it’s a really great phablet. The Galaxy Note 3 has grown again since the 5.5-inch offering on the Note 2 to a palm busting 5.7 inches complete with a full HD, 1080 x 1920 Super AMOLED display. The Note 3 has also retained the metal frame from the Galaxy S4, which runs around the edge of the device providing a rigid body and a more premium look. The leathery texture adds to the idea of high quality, though it could look a bit tacky to some. But it actually does give the phone a nice grip and solid feel.
5. Sony Xperia Z
Sony’s come out here with a very strong message: we are back and we mean business. There’s no hint of this being a niche Android phone – or by any means a cheap one. What really holds the Xperia Z back, is the lack of subsidized prices through a carrier. If you want one, you’ll have to buy it at full price, and while Sony did recently discount it from $600 to $529, that’s still a hefty chunk of change – a lot more than American consumers are used to paying for phones. But there is so much to love about the Sony Xperia Z that a lot of people are willing to fork out the money. It’s sleek, it has an S4 rivaling 13-megapixel camera, and it’s waterproof. There are some annoyances too though. We think it’s a bit shoddy that we encountered software bugs, but we suppose they can be fixed easily enough, and they weren’t bad enough that we had crashes or lost data. These minor flaws pale in comparison to the best aspects of the phone.