Best & Worst Smartphone Brands 2013

How We Graded (100 Points Possible)

best worst smartphones 2013 how we graded

LAPTOP reviewed more than 50 smartphones during the last year. We dug into those reviews as well as reviews of handsets that are older but still for sale. Then we did more testing, comparing cameras and speakers and more across flagship devices. The results, weighted by category, add up to a possible 100 points. We evaluated each brand using the following categories.

Reviews (15 points)

By examining reviews from June 15, 2012, to June 15, 2013, this category is weighted heavily to reflect the average star ratings and performance scores from a given company’s handsets. Extra points are offered for Editors’ Choice Award-winning machines. By the same token, we take away extra points for any review that earned 2.5 stars or less (not recommended).

User Interface (15 points)

The software and user interface included with a brand’s phones determines not only how easy the devices are to use but also how engaging and customizable the experiences are. From lockscreen shortcuts to the way brands handle notifications, we looked closely at UI across both low- and high-end handsets.

Battery Life (15 points)

Because you need your smartphone to work all day, few things can top the importance of this category. We compared a brand’s battery life average against the smartphone average (using LAPTOP’s own battery test) to see how it compares.

MORE: 10 Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life

Special Features (15 points)

By sneaking a few tricks up its sleeve, some smartphones find a special place in our hearts. And if you’re not innovating, other brands will lap you. Special features can range from unique apps pre-loaded by the brand to camera modes to the ability to use your smartphone as a TV remote.

Display (10 points)

A fast or long-lasting phone doesn’t mean much if you don’t enjoy viewing content and apps on the screen. Is the display brighter than average? Does the company pack in the pixels? What size options are available, and do those big screens offer wide-enough viewing angles?

Camera (10 points)

We not only looked at the quality of shots taken with each brand’s flagship across nine different categories, we also dug into a brand’s special features to determine a winner in this round.

MORE: Smartphone Camera Shootout 2013

Design (10 points)

No one wants a drab slab of a phone. That’s why we looked at each manufacturer’s build quality, materials, ergonomics and overall aesthetics. Drab slabs brought up the rear.

Audio (5 points)

Each of the flagship phones for all nine brands were compared side-by-side both with and without any extra features turned on. We also examined the general call quality and built-in technologies.

Selection (5 points)

If you can only get a specific brand through one carrier, the customer loses. That’s why we took into account how many phones a manufacturer produces and carrier availability.

Best and Worst Smartphone Brands 2013

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  1. Skipper Says:

    Yeah, the best, apart from the fact it looks pig-ugly.

  2. Loren Says:

    Google Nexus is better than last place. I would agree the camera is not so hot. The battery life seems fine so far for me, unless you have a ton of things going on in the background, or did movie streaming or something. So far it has lasted the day for me. As for reviews, they vary wildly, so I take it much has to do with opinion, more-so than facts. The user interface is so clean and easy to customize. The notifications work well. Not sure what it takes to be better. I am sure Samsung has so extra fluff. Love the Nexus4 display wise — turn up the brightness and it pops. Feature wise, it just works great with all the apps I have found for free – nothing I find lacking at all, though the camera is not so good and a dedicated button for camera would be a welcomed thing. The looks of the Nexus is clean and awesome to behold, though you need the bumper on it right away, as glass back can be fragile. All in all, just a classy and clean design, one would think it to be more costly than $299. The audio is great – clear, and people sound natural on the other end of conversations. Using Sherpa for playing songs, the audio seems fine to me. As for selection, well duh, it is ONE phone, but really now it is one of many LG phones. Does anyone expect Google to have a half dozen. The idea is for clean and pure Android phone interface and it hits the mark.

  3. Jared Says:

    You guys forget that Mark Spoonauer thinks everything is crap compared to Apple. Even when Apple makes a subpar iOS, he gives it at least 4 stars and an Editor’s Choice, just because you know, it’s Apple. This site is pretty predictable when it comes to “reviews”

  4. Hmm Says:

    You just lost credibility. Nokia is #1 when it comes to camera but you gave it 6 while giving Samsung 8 and Apple 9. Ridiculous!

  5. Just a Guy Says:

    All you so called experts on smart phones come up with different “best” smart phone.
    That sort of tells me either your paid to rate one better or none of you truly know which is best but instead base it on what YOU LIKE in each phone.

    So sad as I have special requirements and seems no carrier or phone company cares what we the consumer truly wants.

  6. 1234 Says:

    “Audio (5 points)

    Each of the flagship phones for all nine brands were compared side-by-side both with and without any extra features turned on. We also examined the general call quality and built-in technologies.

    Special Features (15 points)
    Design (10 points)
    Camera (10 points)”

    so a cool looking, 9999megapixel with 3328642 apps that you will probably use just once too see what they do, value more than a PHONE that actually makes good PHONE-calls. just incredible what people value in a phone this days. anything but what the device is meant to do. what is next? a 9.99/10 review of a refrigerator that can;t keep your food cold just because it has 19″ amoled display 99terapixels and you can post what food you have on instagram and facebook. gj

  7. Cashy Says:

    galaxy gear seemz really cool…

  8. CHARLES Says:


  9. Najmul Says:

    Xperia sl is the best and blackberry z10.

  10. WTF Says:

    How much did Samsung pay you guys for the #1 ranking?

    I see you didn’t even bother adding case design/materials/durability to your scores… how ridiculous.

  11. Jai Kumar Says:

    How come Apple came to second position, as it has a disadvantage of memory Slot and bluetooth not compatible with other company handsets

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