Top Smartphones For The Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season will soon be upon us, and we’re betting that all the great deals on smartphones may have you shopping around for an upgrade for yourself or someone else. 2013 has been a heated year in the smartphone arena, and we’ve seen many companies put their best foot forward. From Apple to Nokia and everyone in between, this has been a great year for the mobile world.

Now that the sales are set to hit, we’re going to break down the top handsets for the holiday season. To make things a little more interesting and give you a few more options, we’re also going to suggest an alternative to each of our top handsets. The alternative model will either be an older handset from earlier this year or a cheaper option in general, just so you have your bases covered.

In no particular order, take a look at our top smartphones for 2013 that you should look into for the holiday season!


 iPhone 5S

No surprise here. Apple iPhone 5s is easily one of the most sought after smartphones in the world right now. From the new Touch ID feature to the new look and feel of iOS 7, Apple’s latest flagship device has already won the hearts of many, making millions of greenbacks in just the first few days of its release.

The design of the 5s looks very similar to that of its predecessor, the iPhone 5, but it still packs a punch with the new A7 CPU, M7 co-processor, enhanced camera with dual-LED flash and more.

Rest assured, if you have an iOS lover on your gift list, this is going to be your best option.

Availability: All four major US carriers

Editors’ Choice: Charles’ pick

Best Alternative: iPhone 5C

HTC One Max

Want to go big and bold? The HTC One Max might be right up your alley. This large handset rocks a nice set of specs and ships in the sexy design that we loved from the original One and One Mini.

Specs include a 5.9 inch 1080p HD Super LCD 3 display, 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU, 2GB RAM, 16/32GB storage, BoomSound speakers, Ultrapixel camera, micro Sd Card slot, and more.

The One family shares one of the best designs we’ve seen on any HTC device, and the build quality across the lineup is superb.

Availability: Sprint and Verizon

Best Maxless option: HTC One (Ian’s pick)

Galaxy Note 3

Want a big screen, stylus, and more features than you know what to do with? How but an unnecessary amount of RAM? The Galaxy Note 3 is a powerful device that many have been waiting for, and would make any techy geek happy. While Samsung essentially carved the Phablet market out itself, the competition has finally caught up, but if you want a Galaxy Note, there’s just no substitute.

Rocking a 5.7 inch 1080p Super AMOLED HD display, 2.3GHz quad-core CPU, whopping 3GB RAM, 13 megapixel camera, and more, the Galaxy Note 3 is packed to the gills with high-end specs.

Availability: All four major US carriers

Best alternative: Galaxy S4 (Wade’s pick)


The LG G2 is one of the best smartphones on the market and is easily the company’s best offering to date. With a large 5.2 inch IPS+ HD display, and just about every spec one could ask for in a smartphone today, the G2 isn’t to be missed.

Outside of its big and beautiful display, the LG G2 rocks a 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2GB RAM, 13 megapixel OIS camera, IR Blaster, and more.

The LG G2’s power and volume buttons have been moved to the backside of the device which is its most defining characteristic. This design choice not only allows for better access to the buttons no matter what hand you’re using it in, but it also allows the bezels surround the display to be ultra small.

Availability: All four major US carriers

Editors’ Choice: Blake’s pick

Phablet option: Optimus G Pro

Nokia Lumia 1520

Nokia’s first Windows Phone 8 phablet offering is set to hit AT&T next week, and it looks like a pretty solid device. Rocking a 6 inch 1080p HD display, 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, and 20 megapixel Pureview camera, the Nokia 1520 may be one of the best devices running Microsoft’s mobile operating system. To top it off, the 1520 ships with a whopping 3400 mAh battery, so you’ll be able to get far on a single charge with this bad boy.

Available in four color options, along with a wireless charging cover, the 1520 will have any Windows Phone fan swooning.

Availability: AT&T

Best Alternative: Nokia Lumia 1020

Nexus 5

The Nexus 5 has caused quite a stir, and for good reason. Google’s latest Nexus device was made in partnership with LG and shares a good chunk of the same hardware found in the G2. That said, the Nexus 5 ships with the latest version of the Android operating system and costs about half the price as most smartphones today.

The Nexus 5 rocks a 4.96 1080p HD IPS+ display, 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Adreno 330, 8 megapixel OIS camera, 2GB RAM, wireless charging support, and more. Best of all, the Nexus 5 is only $349 for the 16GB model and $399 for the 32GB model (off-contract), making it the go-to phone on this entire list when it comes to value.

Availability: T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint

Best Alternative: See LG G2

Moto X

The Moto X has received great reviews across the board. Not only does it offer up a decent set of specifications, the handset can be customized to your liking. Users can choose the color of the back plate, accent pieces, and even have a custom engraving on the handset. Features like active notifications will keep you in the know about your phone without even having to unlock it, and you can even wake the device up from it’s locked state to perform a Google search by only using your voice.

Availability: All four major US carriers

Best Alternative: Droid Maxx (Verizon)

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony’s Xperia Z1 is one hell of a powerhouse. Rocking a 5 inch 1080p HD TRILUMINOS display, 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800, and 20.7 megapixel camera, this is one spec’d-out handset.

Sony has been making some of the best designed smartphones around this year, and you’ll find the same Omnibalance design on the Z1. The skeletal frame surrounding the handset offers up durability, all while retaining a sleek and sexy overall design. Sony’s Xperia lineup this year be just be the best design handsets of the year.

Oh, and did me mention that it’s water and dust proof?

Availability: Unlocked via Sony Store

Best Alternative: Sony Xperia Z

So there’s our list of the top handsets for the Holidays. With a wealth of options to choose from, all spanning different price points, we’re sure you’ll find something suitable for yourself or someone else!

Back to top ▴