What's the best phone? Our verdict on the best smartphones - constantly updated
Sometimes choosing between two cell phones is easy. Just look at the specs and it becomes woefully clear that some phones (even those positioned directly against one another) aren't created equal.
But most of the time it's not as easy as just reading numbers. A phone is something you'll use everyday for two years (if you're lucky). It needs to be durable, adequately future-proof and feel right in your hand.
Where do we begin?
We have for you here our continually updated comparison of the top 20 best cell phones you can get in the U.S.
We've given you a brief overview of every phone and why we love it. But feel free to check out our incredibly extensive mobile phone reviews for a more in-depth look to decide for yourself which cell phone is best.
20. HTC First
The HTC First, the so-called Facebook phone, isn't really the ultimate device for sharing on the world's premier social network. Instead, it's a not at all bad mid-range device, blessed with a stock version of Android 4.1: Jelly Bean and LTE service from AT&T.
Still, it's hard to recommend that your average user buy a device and disable its primary selling point, in this case Facebook Home. Instead, what we have here is a good Android device for phone geeks on a budget.
As long as you stick normal tasks, it has all day battery life, thanks to its dual-core processor and smaller 4.3-inch screen. A lot of big, 1080p LTE handsets struggle to cross this finish line, but not the First. However, heavy Wi-Fi and LTE use will drain it down.
The HTC First is a good phone, but not for any of the reasons being highlighted in its marketing. It's compact, durable and has great LTE service from AT&T.
It could become the next cult Android device, and might even be the last decent dual-core handset ever made. Sans Facebook Home, it's exactly the type of device we wish we'd see more often.
19. BlackBerry Z10
The Z10 is a decent smartphone offering up a strong range of features and a fancy new operating system that may catch the eye of the technologically adventurous.
Web browsing deserves a special mention, as we were seriously impressed with the speed of the BlackBerry Z10 when it came to loading pages.
Also worth pointing out are the expandable storage, removable battery and Adobe Flash support providing small wins for the Z10, and will help as it tries to stand out in a crowded market.
But the unproven operating system and severe lack of headlining applications will turn a lot of consumers off at point of sale, and it's the image of the BlackBerry brand as a whole which needs to be worked on fast if it stands a chance of winning back the hearts of the general public.
18. Nokia Lumia 920
The Nokia Lumia 920 is a big, brutish smartphone, but under that weighty exterior is a decent phone that just wants to do things the simple way.
The Windows Phone 8 is an intriguing proposition offering up something very different to the iOS and Android systems we've become accustomed too, and the Lumia 920 is currently the most powerful handset running it.
The sheer size and weight of the Nokia Lumia 920 will be a deal breaker for some and while we were able to adapt to the phone's bulky body, we had several friends who were not fans.
The Nokia Lumia 920 isn't a groundbreaking, game-changing device, it's a refreshed Lumia 900 with a newer operating system and some additional power.
What Nokia has produced here is a solid, well-built device, which does the job you'd expect of a smartphone, without any of the lag we sometimes see from the convoluted Android system.
17. HTC One X
The HTC One X is a phone that's had us intrigued for a while - running a quad core CPU (Nvidia's Tegra 3) plus one of the largest screens on any HTC.
Integrated with its super-thin chassis, HD screen and beautiful graphics, the One X is the next-generation Android platform, all rolled into one.
Which is why the battery life is such a shame here. All the other niggles, like the touchscreen sensitivity and apps failing to register a press have been eradicated by HTC - and although the battery issues have been looked at, we're still not in the mood to say it's the equal of many other smartphones out there especially when the phone manages to power down regularly before bedtime.
If you're thinking of making the HTC One X your HTC Desire HD update - and many of you will be, then we can say this is definitely worth a look. While the battery life is poor, it's not as bad as that little ol' phone (although you may find the cheaper HTC One S very much desirable too...).
16. HTC Droid DNA
The Droid DNA is a very good smartphone, thanks to beefy hardware and Android 4.1: Jelly Bean. It's also a very big smartphone. Coming in at over 5-inches, it barely fits in a pocket. At that size, it might be something of a niche device, but its one we recommend with few reservations.
The overall performance of the Droid DNA is very impressive. A quad-core smartphone is nothing new, but 2GB of RAM is. These specs show from the minute you boot up the DNA and start flying across its panels. Standard apps open in the blink of an eye, and the load times on games are a breeze.
The battery was merely ok, which is not surprising on a 4G LTE phone with a humongous screen, but better than other HTC devices like the One X+. Still, if you go easy on the media streaming, the DNA will get you through the day just fine. If you plan to game a lot, say on the train to work, consider a second charger for the office.
It's a handsome phone with just the right amount of flash. The unibody design gives it a clean, simple look. The price is right, too. At $199 with new contract, the DNA is one of the best deals you'll find on Verizon.
15. HTC Windows Phone 8X
The HTC Windows Phone 8X is a premium-feeling device with a brand new iteration of the highly elegant Windows Phone OS. It has almost every connectivity option you could ask for and a camera with increased light allowance on the lens.
Yet we can't help feeling there are still a few areas it really is left lacking. Things like the poor media support are inexcusable though admittedly these are places where Microsoft is to blame more than HTC.
We're sure it will be fixed but it takes the gloss off a new purchase when things like this don't work flawlessly.
We recommend it for those looking for something different - but if you have the money to spend, we'd hold out for the Nokia Lumia 920.
14. Samsung Galaxy S3
Formerly in first place on this list, the Samsung Galaxy S3 still holds a position among the top ten showing it's still something quite special.
Let's take a minute and talk about the screen: it's beautiful. The 309ppi pixel density is up there with the sharpness of the iPhone 5.
What's more, it seems Samsung has tweaked the color balance on the Galaxy S3 as well - things don't look as saturated as before, which will certainly help entice those that previously were against Super AMOLED before due to the harshness of colors.
If you're torn between this and an HTC One X, it's a very difficult one to call - the camera on the One X is better in some respects and the overall feel might appeal.
But in terms of pure usability and power, we really like what Samsung has put on the table.
13. Nexus 4
Google and LG have worked together to bring to market a fantastic offering. The fact of the matter is that this is a handset with world-class specs - yet it's at a price you'd expect to get a budget phone for. Sure, there are a few things that could have been done better, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
Running Jelly Bean 4.2 as Google intended, it will please the purists, but the OS has come on leaps and bounds since its early incarnations, so no longer is it a daunting prospect for first time users.
The Nexus 4 isn't the lightest of handsets, and it's slightly crippled by the lack of removable storage. Plus, the lack of LTE makes it far from future-proof and we don't understand why Google has given exclusivity deals to carriers in some countries.
Essentially, the screen is great, the power under the hood is more than enough and it feels every inch a top-end handset. Had it not been crippled by silly things like a paltry memory allowance and not-quite-there camera, we'd have recommended it immediately and given it a five star rating.
12. LG G2
The display and camera are really killer, and performance is incredible. It ate up every benchmark for breakfast, turned out great photos and dazzled us with its high-resolution display. Oh, and on top of that, battery life was a charm.
The button placement drove us insane for the first few days, and it wasn't pretty. It's incredibly frustrating and takes some time to get used to. Adjusting volume when on a call was relatively easy if you spent enough time feeling around for the volume keys, but adjusting volume for watching videos is a total pain.
There aren't too many flashy bells and whistles with the LG G2 but there aren't that many issues either, so you really can't go wrong picking one of these massive phones up.
11. iPhone 5
Is the iPhone 5 the best smartphone ever? If you're an iPhone lover and won't ever leave, yes, without question. It's got a larger screen, a superb new design and generally all the moves required to make it into a worthy evolution.
But as ever, we can't get over the price of the iPhone 5, with very little reason to prove that spending all that extra cash brings a tangible benefit.
The most obvious improvement the iPhone 5 offers over the iPhone 4 and 4S would be its taller, higher resolution display with room for a fifth row of icons. It has made the phone just a tiny bit more difficult to use with one hand, but for photo viewing and movie watching, the extra screen real estate is much appreciated.
Unfortunately, users moving from an older iPhone to the latest Apple phone (and those upgrading from iOS 5 to iOS 6) will lose their beloved Google Maps. While users will notice that this Apple maps app is far less detailed than the one they were used to (it doesn't do public transit!), they will get turn-by-turn voice navigation in exchange.
As many have said, the iPhone 5 is an evolution, not a revolution. It's a beautifully crafted phone that feels just plain lovely in the hand, but alas, the top two spots on our list belong to others.