Because of the nature of the cellular-phone business, all of the smartphones below won't be available with every carrier. Prices will vary by carrier and will be determined depending upon your contract status and other factors. But these are the cream of the crop this holiday season, so buy with confidence.
The flagship phone by Google, the Nexus 5 has the latest Android software and is speedy, powerful and beautiful. It has one of the lowest off-contract prices on the market, and because it's a Google product, it will always receive the latest Android updates before other smartphones do. It offers a wireless charger, is easy to hack — if you know someone who likes to tinker — and comes with either 16GB or 32GB of storage space.
With a light, thin design, the iPhone 5s comes with iOS 7, Apple EarPods with remote and mic, a Lightning to USB cable and a 5W USB power adapter right in the box. The 5s has a new chip and CPU for faster performance and now features multitasking. The camera has a terrific panorama option that makes photography a lot of fun. There are 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options available.
The HTC One is visually stunning and sleek, and the hardware is top-notch. It features the Android 4.3 software (4.4 is the latest) and a 1080p 4.7-inch LCD screen for incredible visuals. It also has dual microphones and front-facing stereo speakers. The storage options are 32GB and 64GB, and keep in mind there is no microSD slot for extra storage capacity.
Everyone has a favorite operating system for a smartphone, and those who love Windows love the Nokia Lumia 1020. Featuring Windows 8, it is the smartphone for the photography buff who doesn't want to have to carry two accessories at all times. It has a delayed shutter for nighttime photographs, optical image stabilization and smooth HD video. The Nokia only comes with 32GB of internal storage, but it does offer 7GB of free cloud storage.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a supersized smartphone featuring a 5.7-inch 1080p display. The Note 3 has Android 4.3 software, a speedy processor and two cameras — one rear-facing camera at 13 megapixels and a front-facing camera at 2 megapixels. The Note 3 comes with a stylus for additional input methods. It has 32GB of internal storage and will accept a microSD card with a capacity of up to 64GB of additional storage.
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