They come in a variety of shapes and designs-- with touch screens and without. They run a variety of operating systems, yet they're the best tools among the smartphones we've reviewed to get the job done when it comes to email, web and document management.
iPhone 5sThe iPhone 5s features Apple's new A7 CPU and a fast PowerVR multi-core GPU that's twice as fast as the iPhone 5 and 5c. The latest flagship iPhone sticks with the Leica inspired metal design and 4" Retina Display, and Apple has added a gold color option. The updated 8MP iSight camera with larger pixels takes noticably better low light shots and the front FaceTime camera offers sharper and brighter video chats. The new iPhone features a Touch ID fingerprint sensor so you can unlock the phone with a press of the finger. The smartphone runs iOS 7 and as usual is available in 16, 32 and 64 gig capacities. Editor's Choice 2013.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and unlocked
Samsung Galaxy S5The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the manufacturer's flagship mainstream size Android phone for 2014, and it sports a new fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor. It has a best of breed 5.1" Super AMOLED HD display running at 1920 x 1080 and it runs on the new 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core CPU with 2 gigs of DDR3 RAM. As you'd expect from Samsung, it's very slim yet it has a removable battery and a microSD card slot. The rear 16 megapixel camera is one of the better models on the market and it can even shoot decent 4K video. The GS5 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with Samsung's TouchWiz UI and software. It's available on all major and some regional carriers. Editor's Choice 2014.
All major carriers
HTC One M8We liked the first HTC One quite a lot, and this year's model address many of its (sometimes small) shortcomings while bringing us one of the most gorgeous phone designs yet. The HTC One M8 is or will be available on all major carriers and it runs Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6 for a tasteful and light customization of the OS. It's the first phone to ship with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core CPU for modest speed gains and it has 32 gigs of storage plus a microSD card slot. The 5" full HD LCD is sharp and bright, and the new 5 megapixel front camera will be a hit with the video chat crowd and selfie fans. Is it perfect? Not quite, but it's good enough to win our Editor's Choice award. Editor's Choice 2014.
All major carriers
Sony Xperia Z1SThe Xperia Z1S is the T-Mobile version of the well-received Xperia Z1, Sony's newest flagship Android phone. The 5" smartphone has a full HD Triluminos display and a stunning black glass black plus Sony's signature slim and angular Xperia look. The 20.7 megapixel rear camera makes this the highest resolution Android camera phone, and image quality is indeed excellent. The Xperia Z1S has top specs including a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU, 2 gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of internal storage. The phone has dual band WiFi 802.11ac with WiFi calling and mobile hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS as well as NFC.
T-Mobile (unlocked GSM as Z1)
Moto XFinally, an Android smartphone that caters to ergonomics and usability with handy features like an active sleep screen that keeps you informed and always-on voice command. The Moto X will be available on all major US carriers and it has a 4.7" 1280 x 720 AMOLED display, 1.7GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU with custom processors to handle voice recognition (Moto calls this their X8 processing platform), 2 gigs of RAM, 16 or 32 gigs of storage, WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE + EDR, NFC, a front 2MP camera and capable RGBC 10MP rear camera.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile
LG G2This is LG's best Android smartphone to date. From the glorious 5.2" full HD IPS display to the capable 13 megapixel camera to the new super-fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core 2.26GHz CPU, the phone is a winner. Despite the larger display, the G2 is no bigger than the smaller-screen Galaxy S4 and HTC One, thanks to the edge-to-edge display. The phone has a generous 3,000 mAh battery, dual band WiFi 802.11ac, NFC and a capable 2.1MP front camera.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile
Samsung Galaxy Note 3There's no denying that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 continues to top the charts as best phablet. Since the original Note shipped a few years back, we've seen occasional competition for the bigger than a phone but smaller than a tablet crown, but Samsung's combination of a relatively compact and light body, S Pen digital pen and custom software still make the Galaxy Note 3 the best phablet at the high end. The third generation Note has a 5.7" full HD Super AMOLED display, a very fast 2.3GHz quad core Snapdragon 800 CPU with 3 gigs of RAM, our beloved S Pen with note taking and art apps, a capable 13MP rear camera and the usual LTE 4G, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth and WiFi 802.11ac.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
Samsung Galaxy S4 ActiveIf you love the Samsung Galaxy S4 but need a water and dust resistant smartphone that can survive poolside splashes and an accident with cocoa powder when baking, the Galaxy S4 Active is your phone. It has the same internals, software and apps as the non-Active model, and that means you get a very fast 1.9GHz quad core processor, 2 gigs of RAM, 16 gigs of storage and Android 4.2.2 with Samsung TouchWiz software. The phone has an 8MP camera (a downgrade from the GS4) but as a consolation it has an underwater photo mode.
LG Optimus G ProThe LG Optimus G Pro grows on us the more we use it. No pun intended; yes it's a large 5.5" Android smartphone, but the narrow design makes it easier to hold-- it feels like a phone, just bigger. The G Pro runs on a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU, and that's currently the fastest CPU on the market. with 2 gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of internal storage, it's got top shelf specs. The removable battery, microSD card slot and excellent 13 megapixel camera round up a very solid feature set. But the real selling points are the full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS 5.5" display and $199 on contract price that's less expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Nokia Lumia 1020The Nokia Lumia 1020 is the latest, greatest Windows Phone 8 flagship smartphone, and it's got something very special: a 41 megapixel Nokia PureView camera that reinvents zoom. It's not as bulky as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom and it looks much like the Lumia 920, complete with a curved polycarbonate unibody design, curved Gorilla Glass 3 display and 4.5" ClearBlack AMOLED display that's outdoor viewable and glove friendly. The Lumia 1020 is exclusive to AT&T in the US right now, and it's available in matte white, black and yellow. It has 4G LTE, dual band WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and a GPS with GLONASS. The camera has a Xenon flash, Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.2 6 element lens and a backside illuminated sensor. Does it steal the show? If you're a shutterbug, the answer is a definite "yes".