By now, you've probably heard a lot about Amazon's Fire Phone. I figure that most people aren't really curious about what the overall phone is like – if you've used a Kindle Fire/HD/HDX then you already know. It's about Amazon services and a weird launcher layout thing. Most people are curious about the four front-facing cameras and Dynamic Perspective. I'm with you on that – that's exactly what I was curious about before getting this phone for review.
LG's G2 was one of the most cultishly-loved smartphones of 2013, to an extent that, frankly, befuddled me. It had a terribly ugly software layer, felt cheaply built, and ticked almost no boxes in terms of innovation. The G2 was a specification junkie's wet dream, and that's exactly the sort of buyer the phone ended up attracting. Appearance, software features, and design aren't high on such people's lists.
Even in the face of criticism, though, success with a group like that isn't something you just let go.
Can you make a smartphone without compromise? Is it possible to cram top-of-the-line hardware into a slim phone body, then fit it with well-regarded software, then sell it for about half the price of competing devices, and call the resulting product a "flagship killer?" Can you, as the ceaseless OnePlus promotion machine so succinctly puts it, "never settle?"
In a word, no. The OnePlus One, the maiden Android phone from a boutique manufacturer, is not completely without its shortcomings (or indeed, its compromises).
The Galaxy S4 was the most popular Android smartphone of all time. The Galaxy S5 will likely take that title soon enough. Say what you will about Samsung's choice of materials or its design aesthetic, its phones are incredibly popular and well-liked by a great many people. The Galaxy S5 won't cause the faithful to waiver, either - it's an absolute affirmation of the company's commitment to improving its flagship product with every generation.
I loved the HTC One M7. Last year, it really did feel like a new breed of Android phone - bringing premium materials, a modernized interface, an innovative (if controversial) camera, and those trademark Boomsound speakers. The One M7 felt fresh in almost every way - it felt vital, it felt relevant.
The One M8 seeks to tame some of the raw newness - to build on it, soften up the edges, and modernize it.
The Oppo N1 isn't a phone you'd expect to see sold in markets like the United States. It's eccentric and, frankly, kind of weird. A rear touchpad panel? A swiveling camera? A 5.9" display? Official CyanogenMod support from the factory? It has "niche" written all over it (not literally, but that would be kind of funny, I suppose). As such, the N1's appeal in western markets is likely to be limited to the enthusiast audience, an audience Android Police has long entertained.
LG G Flex is just like a lot of modern, high-end smartphones. It has a fast processor, lots of RAM, a big battery, and a large display. Using it isn't particularly different from any other Android smartphone. And yet, hand the G Flex to almost anyone, and they will immediately notice there is something very different about it, and I'm not talking about the buttons on the back.
The G Flex is one of two phones currently on the market to use a flexible OLED panel, the other being Samsung's Galaxy Round.
The Nexus 5 was perhaps the worst-kept secret in tech this year, but nonetheless, rumor and speculation built up a category 5 hypestorm around it - everything from the farfetched, like revolutionary camera tech and flexible displays, to the mundane-but-desirable, like a much larger battery or 3GB of RAM.
But now the Nexus 5 is finally here, and Google has, for the most part, built a very iterative product.
A few weeks ago, we took a look a the BLU Life Play, which was our first foray with a BLU device. It's an impressive device that keeps the costs down by cutting corners in all the right places, which of course made me interested in other BLU devices, so the company sent me its newest handset, the massive 5.7-inch Life View. Internally, it's basically the same as the Life Play, but externally it couldn't be more different.
You've been warned: the Galaxy Note II was probably my favorite smartphone of 2012, and it looks like its successor, the Note 3, is stealing my heart all over again. With big hardware improvements across the board, as well as substantial additions to software, the Note 3 feels like a true next-generation sort of phone. Samsung has rather effectively ruined every other large-screen device for me, and frankly, probably every other phone released this year.