Smartphone Buying Guide
Best Overall Smartphones
The iPhone 5 was already an impressive device, but the launch of the iPhone 5s added some cool new functionality and much more powerful innards. To start, Apple added an excellent fingerprint scanner to the iPhone — which works wonderfully, unlocking your iPhone very quickly while keeping it secure. The iPhone 5s camera is stellar coming in at 8 megapixels and has an excellent sensor built right in, plus it has a dual flash that makes using flash not-so-dreadful. You can also do cool things like panoramas with the camera app. The on-contract price is still the same, too, so picking up the newest iPhone means you’re paying the same price as you were last year. The iPhone 5s is available in a silver, space gray, and gold, with the following storage options: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB.
Pricing starts at $199 with a 2-year contract. Buy an iPhone 5s.
The HTC One has received rave reviews across the web, its stylish and sleek aluminum chassis, super fast 1.7Ghz processor, 2GB of RAM, and brilliant-looking 4.7″ 1080p screen are the types of features that stand out against its top Android-competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S4. The HTC One also features the revamped Sense UI 5 (which is an improvement to previous versions of Sense UI), great battery life, and other nifty features like NFC and Bluetooth 4.0.
Pricing starts at $129 with a 2-year contract. Buy the HTC One.
You can also buy the HTC One Google Play Edition which comes with stock Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and retails for $599 (unlocked and contract-free).
Samsung Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the latest flagship smartphone out of Samsung and some would even go as far to say out of all Android smartphones. The Galaxy S4 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.9Ghz, a stunning 5″ display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, and 2GB RAM. The regular version comes in black or white, however, the Active versions of the smartphone have multiple colors and are also more durable. The S4 has storage options of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB + has a microSD slot for expandable storage (up to 64GB). Nifty features include dual camera shot (lets you take a photo of people + yourself), S Health, S Translate, and Group Play (share music, files, etc).
Pricing starts at $150 with a 2-year contract. Buy the Samsung Galaxy S4.
You can also buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition which comes with stock Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and retails for $649 (unlocked and contract-free).
Best Value Smartphones
The former flagship Apple phone now succeeded by the iPhone 5, is still a really good smartphone and is available for just $99. Featuring iOS 7 and Siri, you get the best of everything for free.
Pricing starts at $0 with a 2-year contract. Buy an iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 5’s main rival at this point seems to be the Samsung Galaxy S line of smartphones. This year’s edition, the Galaxy S III, is an impressive device for Android fans. A ridiculously large (4.8-inches) HD screen, and neat additions like NFC (near field communication) make the Galaxy S III the smartphone of choice for those who want a big phone and don’t necessarily want to be sandboxed into Apple’s ecosystem.
Pricing starts at $19 with a 2-year contract. Buy a Samsung Galaxy S III.