GSMArena smartphone shopping guide: November 2013
Now we're officially in flagship territory, even though this isn't the top tier category. Still, you need to have a good reason to go above €500 as these devices will fulfill almost anyone's needs with cutting-edge features from this year.
The Sony Xperia Z came out at the beginning of this year so it's getting a bit old, but it's still an excellent phone - it has a beautiful glass-and-aluminum design and is the first water-resistant device we'd recommend. The Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset is old for a late 2013 flagship (but that is most noticeable in benchmarks) and the 13MP / 1080p camera isn't up to par. The screen has poor viewing angles, but is decent otherwise. Also, the water-proofing didn't prevent Sony from putting in a microSD card slot.
The Xperia Z1 improves on the camera, chipset, display and even battery and water-proofing rating, but is in a different price bracket. If it's outside your budget, the Xperia Z will do nicely.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 needs no introduction - Samsung has spent tons of money on ads and over 40 million people have already bought one. The plastic-based design isn't anyone's favorite, but it fits a 5" display in the footprint of last year's 4.7" flagships.
It has a Snapdragon 600 chipset, which until recently was the best in Android-land (and is clocked higher than other S600s), an excellent 13MP / 1080p camera and tons of proprietary features (detecting a hovering finger, split-screen multitasking).
One important tip - the Galaxy S4 also comes in an Exynos 5 version. Samsung has tuned both to have similar performance overall, but since the Exynos one lacks LTE you might find it cheaper in some places,which make it worth it for countries without LTE coverage. On the other hand, the Snapdragon 600 version is also compatible with official pure Android releases - you don't need the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition for that.
We already saw its smaller sibling, but the HTC One deserves a recommendation too. It's one of the most beautiful Android phones at the moment (if not the most, depending on who you ask). It has a great 4.7" 1080p screen and a 4MP UltraPixel camera with optical image stabilization. Throw in the fast Snapdragon 600 chipset, stereo speakers on the front and a pure Android option like the Galaxy S4 and you have a strong contender.
It will certainly draw people who dislike the plastic build of most of Samsung's phones along with audio buffs (the One has great audio hardware).
The Oppo Find 5 Midnight is a beautiful 5" Android phone with an excellent 1080p screen. It's powered by the Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset and has a there's a 13MP camera with 1080p video recording. By the way, we picked the Midnight edition as it has 32GB of built-in storage. The regular version is €30 cheaper but it only has 16GB storage and with no microSD card, it's a problem. Disappointingly, there's no LTE connectivity (which might not matter if your county's operators don't have it either).
The Oppo Find 5 is an outlier (good if you're tired of the usual suspects) and while it has its flaws, it shows promise from the company.
In case the Ascend Mate and Galaxy Mega 6.3 phablets weren't good enough, have a look at the LG Optimus G Pro. It comes close to current phablets with a 5.5" 1080p screen, Snapdragon 600 chipset, 13MP camera and 3,140mAh battery.