Googleplex (ugh), post your 2013 Top 5 for flagship smartphones!
As mentioned in the title, give us a top 5 of your Android 2014 flagships and possibly write down your motivation for it, don't just throw a list. Stick to Android-powered smartphones, so avoid Lumias, iPhones, etc..
My personal top 5 is:
N.5: Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Albeit being one of the best skinned Android phones on the market (Samsung managed to actually give TouchWiz and the 5.7" panel reasons to exist), it doesn't feel as a huge jump from its already fantastic predecessor. We now get the beautiful 1080p panel alongside the usual upgraded internals, a redesigned S-Pen software interface and the controversial faux-leathered back, but it stops there. If I had to place it in a more objective ranking it would probably go higher than this, but at least it made it to the top 5. Is certainly an incredible device, but it was unsurprising.
N.4: LG G2
Albeit LG's software somehow happens to be even uglier than Samsung's, the G2 itself is a little masterpiece. First of all, it is a big departure from last year's Optimus G, with a new, iconic design. Whether people like said design or not (I'm still not sure about my personal feels, since I haven't tried it for extended periods of time), LG at least tried to actually add something potentially useful and not just for the sake of changing. If you can get used to the strange buttons' placement, you get a phone roughly the size of a Galaxy S4 with the display of the original Galaxy Note. Can you think of that? Get your hands on the GN1 again and tell me. It's mind blowing in my opinion. Best part is then the almost gone bezel, the incredible thinness and the 13MP OIS-ed camera - and do not forget the beefy 3000mAh battery, too. Once you have slapped a custom ROM out of it, what can possibly top this device?
N.3: Google Nexus 5
This is the answer, at least for me. The Nexus 5 is the phone I'm currently using, and after a week I can only say how in love I am with it.
Take all the goodies mentioned above and sacrifice something in camera and battery (which still manages to last all day with mixed data/Wi-Fi usage and automatic brightness)... then "sacrifice" the LG skin altogether and add stock Android KitKat out of the box. Best thing? You can also sacrifice basically half the price if you want to go unlocked. $350 is just ridiculous.
If Google manages to fix the horrible camera software we might get the overall best phone of the year.
Oh, and the white model is beautiful. #PandaTeam
N.2: HTC One
This is the phone I have used for the past 5 months, and when I think about it there are just so many good things that come to my mind. When I was to switch over to Android I was pretty sure I would have ended up with a GS4, but when the One came out (alongside the comparisons between the two a few weeks later) the One just felt like a way better choice - I love the GS4 and own one too, so don't get me wrong, this is just an opinion.
The sleek and beautiful industrial design looked stellar (albeit the crappy buttons' placement, mostly because of the sleep/wake button - it takes literally minutes to get used to the right-placed home button), the BoomSound speakers and the beauty of Sense 5's simplicity and speed had me sold. I couldn't be happier of my purchase, and if I had to go back I would still buy this a billion times more.
This also was the very first device that even long time iPhone's users considered for their first Android adventure. I couldn't believe it myself. Back in March/April, while the GS4's air gestures seemed to fail one time after another in every video I was watching, reviewers seemed overly excited even about the One's little things like ZOEs. The Verge's own video review opening had me shocked - I remember the voice of David Pierce saying something like: "The One is basically HTC's Hail Mary... So let's start with the hardware. The One is gorgeous, full stop.", etc., etc., etc..
Of course, things were not exactly like that, but the hype this phone was able to generate (in the geeks' ambient, of course, I'm not talking global impact - Samsung was and is still too strong) was just unbelievable.
It's a shame for its few little flaws like the so-so camera and the iPad-long charging times, but this phone was overall incredible, especially considering HTC's financial position and the previous year's Sense 4-powered HTC One X.
One brand, one phone, one flagship. Shame for its absence on the Verizon lineup in the first place and those horrendous mini/max that came after.
N.1 Motorola Moto X
Since when the HTC J Butterfly (if I recall well) made its way to the Asian market at the end of last year, it was pretty clear that the specs' war would've continued in 2013. The average 2013 Android flagship sports, in fact, a ~5" 1080p panel, a 8-13MP camera, 2GB of RAM, 2300-3300mAh battery and either a Snapdragon 600 or 800. Of course we have differences among the various models, but you get the point.
So why is this end-of-2012-flagship phone in the first position? Isn't this the same phone that has just disappointed the world because of its scarce sales? Or the phone whose existence has been confined to the sole US market, and its best feature (Moto Maker) to the AT&T network alone?
Well... yes. This was all pretty terrible, and as an Italian I can feel the common pain of non-US people. I even had a chat with an AT&T guy in a store over at New York in my US trip this summer, and he had the exact same model I would've loved to purchase had I had the chance, so you can imagine the rage I felt.
But this phone was also much more than this - and it actually existed.
It was, first of all, the emblem of Motorola's rebirth under the Google's wing. You can feel the Google the moment you open Motorola's website and you're greeted with the "A Google Company" tagline.
Albeit extremely limited, the amount of customization available on this phone is just ridiculous. Black and white are still there, but hey, this is Google, and here are the colors. Hundreds of potential Moto Xs became suddenly real, and best of all the plastic they're made of gives and incredible in-hands feel, wrapping a 4.7" screen in an almost iPhone big chassis. I personally think this is remarkable.
But the innovation didn't certainly stop there. Actually, at that point it hadn't even begun, since colored phones (Lumias above all) had been around for quite some time - so what? Well, software of course. We have an almost stock version of Android with a couple of features that - again - actually add something to the UX an most of all work reliably.
Touchless Control, Active Notifications and Motorola's Assist are just amazing. These three things alone remind me of why we call them smartphones. Is there any other phone who has at least tried to get anywhere close to this in 2013? No, in my opinion.
So f**k the 1080p screen, f**k the benchmark-smashing CPU or the impressive camera (well, this was actually a big downside, but I heard that the software update made it about 30% better, so your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram needs will be satisfied - otherwise just grab an actual camera). I love this philosophy. It kinda reminds me of Apple's philosophy (user experience above all), but with Android (and most of all Google) behind it, and not the totalitarian iOS/Apple duo.
I think that if I had the chance to, I would switch to a customized (but 4.4 powered) Moto X instantly.
If you have read up until this point, well... first of all thank you! But I want to hear your thoughts too. What is your list?
PS_ Can we stick to the good ol' Army? "Googleplex" kinda sucks.