HotHardware's 2013 Back To School Shopping Guide


When you pick up the HTC One, you instantly get the sense that it's a high-end phone with plenty to offer. The One’s outer shell is aesthetically pleasing and gives the phone a high-end look. It’s also solid thanks to its full-metal unibody design. This design adds a bit of weight to the phone, but it’s a tradeoff we suspect many users will tolerate.

A quick glance at the specifications of the HTC One, reveals that this phone was meant to compete with the other super phones available today—it features a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor along with 2GB of RAM and Android 4.1.2. Depending on your carrier and budget, you can pick up a One with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage at prices ranging from a couple of hundred bucks on-contract, to about $600 for an unlocked model. Unfortunately, HTC doesn’t offer a microSD card slot, so make sure you’re committed to whichever option you choose. The One’s 4.7-inch full HD 1080p screen is crisp and clear and supports wide viewing angles.

In addition to offering all of the high-end hardware specifications you’d expect from a super phone, HTC includes a number of software features with the One that help set this device apart. We appreciate the number of customization options that come with BlinkFeed and HTC Sense TV is a cool addition that gives the phone additional utility as well. You can read our full review of the HTC One right here.

Samsung Galaxy S4
It made our list last year in its third iteration, and it's here again in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Overall, the Galaxy S 4 is the fastest smartphone we have tested to date. The Snapdragon 600 SoC at the heart of the Galaxy S 4 put up the best scores we have seen in the majority of our benchmark tests and during real-world use, the phone was fluid and snappy.

In the end, the Galaxy S 4 is easily Samsung’s best smartphone to date. Not only does it offer better performance and many new features over the previous generation, but Samsung has improved the user experience as well. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S 4 deserves serious consideration, regardless of whether or not you're an Android or iOS user currently. Prices will vary from about $200 - $625 depending on the model and whether or not you buy it on-contract.  You can read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 here.

Nokia Lumia 1020
If you're willing to deal with the current limitations of the Windows Phone marketplace--which is constantly improving--you'll probably enjoy working and playing with this smartphone. The Nokia Lumia 1020's screen is beautiful, call quality is excellent, AT&T's LTE network is formidable (with a full build-out expected by the middle of next year), and the 1020's camera is best in class, hands-down and by a wide margin. If you value quality photography over pretty much everything else, there's really no other smartphone to consider.

Nokia is attempting to create a "best of both worlds" scenario with the Lumia 1020's phone + camera configuration, and if it matches your priorities, it offers a unique feature set unavailable elsewhere, at a price of about $249 (on-contact)--or more for an unlocked model. Our full review of the Nokia Lumia 1020 is available here, and if you want to see what happens when you strap a 1020 with all of its 41 megapixel goodness to an AR-Drone quad-copter, check this out.

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