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There’s nothing like the joy of unwrapping your gift to find a shiny new gadget on Christmas Day. And if you are giving someone a brand new phone, we reckon it should be an Android over an iPhone 5 Reasons To Choose Android Over iPhone [Opinion] 5 Reasons To Choose Android Over iPhone [Opinion] If you’re looking at buying a smartphone, you’re probably going to buy an Android device or an iPhone (sorry, Microsoft). What’s the difference, and which should you choose? We recently gave the pro-iPhone side of... Read More .

Now, when you are gifting a handset, you obviously don’t want to lock your loved one to some carrier they might not like. And even otherwise, it’s best to buy unlocked phones to save money Never Buy a Phone From Your Carrier! Buy Unlocked Phones and Save Hundreds Never Buy a Phone From Your Carrier! Buy Unlocked Phones and Save Hundreds Never buy a smartphone from a carrier—ever. Most consumers don't know that they can purchase their phones from retailers and pay less than if they did from the carrier. The key word that you're looking... Read More in the long run.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best phones running Android 4.4 KitKat (with promised updates) which you can buy for Christmas 2013, across a range of needs.

Budget: Motorola Moto G [$129.99]

The minimum you can go this year is $130, which gets you the fantastic new Moto G, made by Motorola. Remember, Motorola is now owned by Google, which makes the Android operating system itself. The Moto G has specifications that most flagship Androids sported just over a year ago, so it’s no slouch when it comes to performance. Almost every single reviewer has put it as the only cheap phone you should buy now. Any why not? It’s got a good screen, a fast processor, a decent camera. It’s only real shortcoming is the lack of a microSD card, so I’d suggest you spend the extra $20 and get the 16GB version.

  • Touchscreen: 4.5 inches, 1280×720 pixels, 326 ppi, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.2GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • GPU: Adreno 305
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Memory: 8GB/16GB
  • MicroSD slot: No
  • Rear camera: 5MP, 720p HD Video
  • Front camera: 1.3MP, 720p HD Video
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 2070mAh Lithium Ion

Best Battery: Lenovo P780 [$243.99]

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Android phones are notorious for draining battery quickly. We’ve shown you some ways to squeeze more battery life out of your handset Squeeze More Life From Your Android Battery With These Apps Squeeze More Life From Your Android Battery With These Apps So how do you know how well your battery is holding up? And if you just got a new Android, how can you make sure you are getting the most efficient use of your battery... Read More , but if you want something that just keeps going on and on like the Energizer bunny, then get the Lenovo P780. With its massive 4000mAh battery, it outlasts any other smartphone around, including the iPhone and Windows Phone devices. Overall, the phone is good enough for average users but stutters with demanding games like FIFA 14. The camera gets the job done, but don’t expect stellar shots. The big miss is scratch-resistant protection for its screen, so you will need to use a screen protector –something I’m not a fan of. But still, what you get in return is by far the best battery on any phone around, with the added ability to charge other devices with a USB-OTG cable.

  • Touchscreen: 5 inches, 1280×720 pixels, 294 ppi
  • Processor: 1.2GHz Quad-Core Mediatek MT6589
  • GPU: PowerVR SGX544
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Memory: 4GB/8GB
  • MicroSD slot: Yes, up to 32GB
  • Rear camera: 8MP, 1080p FullHD Video
  • Front camera: 1.2MP, 720p HD Video
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 4000mAh Lithium Ion

Value For Money: Google Nexus 5 [$349]

Manufactured by LG, the Google Nexus 5 is hands down the best smartphone if you want a pure Android experience. But its biggest plus is that it offers the high-end specs of flagship smartphones for half the price. Since it’s made by Google, you are also assured of the fact that updates to Android will make it to this phone first–given how some manufacturers don’t even update their phones, that’s good to know. The only real downside of the Nexus 5 is the battery life, which is not something that will get you through a whole day without needing to plug it in.

  • Touchscreen: 4.95 inches, 1920×1080 pixels, 445 ppi, Gorilla Glass 3, True HD IPS+
  • Processor: 2.3GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Memory: 16GB/32GB
  • MicroSD slot: No
  • Rear camera: 8MP, 1080p FullHD Video
  • Front camera: 1.3MP, 1080p FullHD Video
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Di Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 2300mAh Lithium Ion

Best Camera: Sony Xperia Z1 [$575]

The Sony Xperia Z1 was inches away from being my pick for the best smartphone of 2013. Its 20-megapixel shooter is the best camera among Android phones, and the dedicated camera button makes it even more usable. It’s waterproof and dustproof, and really, you need to use a waterproof phone to know how much the experience is worth. It’s got good battery life, it looks sleek and sexy, and the performance is top-notch. Unfortunately, while the screen is also fantastic in most aspects, it has poor viewing angles and that’s a major sore point. It’s especially evident when you are playing games or watching movies and tilt your head away from the screen. But if you can live with that, then the Xperia Z1 is worth every dollar.

  • Touchscreen: 5 inches, 1920×1080 pixels, 441 ppi, Shatter-proof glass, Triluminos Display
  • Processor: 2.2GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Memory: 16GB
  • MicroSD slot: Yes, up to 64GB
  • Rear camera: 20MP, 1080p HD Video
  • Front camera: 2MP, 1080p HD Video
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 3000mAh Lithium Ion
  • Extras: Waterproof up to 1 meter, dustproof

Big Phone: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 [$646.99]

Plus-sized phones are all the rage, as these “phablets” straddle the distinction between a tablet and a smartphone. If that’s your scene, I can’t recommend the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9000 Review and Giveaway Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9000 Review and Giveaway Samsung released the third generation of the Galaxy Note in October, updating the phablet with a larger screen and improved hardware. Read More highly enough. In fact, if you take size out of the equation since that’s a personal and subjective metric, I would call the Note 3 the best Android smartphone of 2013. It does everything right and finally shakes off the “cheap plastic” feel that Samsung is notorious for with a fake-leather back that’s wonderful to hold. Plus, it’s the only phone to come with a built-in pressure-sensitive stylus and Samsung has customized the TouchWiz UI to take great advantage of it, making this “more than just a phone”. Go for it, you won’t regret it.

  • Touchscreen: 5.7 inches, 1920×1080 pixels, 386 ppi, Gorilla Glass 2, Super AMOLED
  • Processor: 2.2GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 OR 1.9GHz + 1.3GHz Octa-Core Exynos 5 Octa 5420
  • GPU: Adreno 330 OR Mali-T628 MP6
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Memory: 16/32/64GB
  • MicroSD slot: Yes, up to 64GB
  • Rear camera: 13MP, 1080p HD Video
  • Front camera: 2MP, 1080p HD Video
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 3200mAh Lithium Ion
  • Extras: Built-in pressure-sensitive stylus

All-rounder for the US: Motorola Moto X [$499.99]

Motorola’s comeback device, the Moto X has been making waves in the USA, where it’s assembled (unlike most smartphones, which are made in China). While the Moto X isn’t a specifications king, it tries to blend hardware and software into a seamless fantastic experience. Take, for instance, Motorola Assist, a smart app that figures out when you are driving a car and automatically reads out texts instead of just beeping an update; or it checks your calendar to know you’re in a meeting and goes into Silent mode. Or there’s Active Notifications, which smartly shows you important notifications (like a text message) and avoids random ones (like updating an app) even when your phone is locked. It’s the best overall smartphone experience you’ll get.

  • Touchscreen: 4.7 inches, 1280×720 pixels, 312 ppi, Gorilla Glass, AMOLED
  • Processor: 1.7GHz Dual-Core Krait Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon Pro
  • GPU: Adreno 320
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Memory: 16/32GB
  • MicroSD slot: No
  • Rear camera: 10MP, 1080p HD Video
  • Front camera: 2MP, 1080p HD Video
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 2200mAh Lithium Ion

All-rounder for the Rest of the World: LG G2 [$495]

The Moto X isn’t readily available outside the US, so if you need another option, try the LG G2. While maintaining the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nexus 5, the device features a slightly larger screen, better build quality and a better camera. The phone has one oddity: it has no buttons on the side. Instead, the power and volume buttons are placed on the back of the screen, under the camera lens. It’s a little weird, but you can wake the screen by double-tapping it. LG’s customizations for Android are a bit annoying and the skin doesn’t win any design points, so it would be wise to strip all of that. Apart from that, it’s a great handset.

  • Touchscreen: 5.2 inches, 1920×1080 pixels, 424 ppi, Gorilla Glass 2, True HD IPS+
  • Processor: 2.26GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Memory: 16GB/32GB
  • MicroSD slot: No
  • Rear camera: 13MP, 720p HD Video
  • Front camera: 2.1MP, 720p HD Video
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Di, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 3000mAh Lithium Polymer

Android smartphones keep getting better at a breakneck speed, and this current crop has no slouchers. At the end of 2013, Android offers a mature, slick experience that simply makes many everyday experiences better. No matter your budget, one of these phones is sure to delight. Enjoy!

  1. Srivatsan V
    December 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Upgrading to a Nexus 5 this year. All that's left is waiting for it to ship to my front door. Can't wait.

  2. Alkamal
    December 13, 2013 at 9:13 am

    What's with the lack of microSD slots nowadays?! Is it because of Apple that other manufacturers now think they can get away with it? If so then that stinks! I dont want to pay their ridiculous premium for a puny extra 16GB. I want 64GB for something like $50, which comes down in price every year, and I want to swap cards/media between different devices to my heart's content! Damn you stupid manufacturers for taking a huge leap backwards in functionality. Damn you all to hell.

  3. Reg Hacquer
    December 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Are they phasing out microSD slots? I want my removable storage!

  4. Chinmay S
    December 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Who wants an Android phone?
    It should be iPhone over Android.
    People having iPhone 4 can also upgrade to iOS 7 but on Android only few or rather very few phones receive update. I have a Galaxy S4 and it is stuck at 4.2.2

    • Tim T
      December 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      I do. I'd take Android over iPhone any day, I hate them. Very happy with my HTC One for $50 with an upgrade to the best coverage on the map in my area.

  5. Ben
    December 11, 2013 at 7:47 am

    HTC ONE is the best christmas gift

    • WorknMan
      December 11, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Only for people that like fashion accessories :P

    • Tim T
      December 11, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Absolutely right! I haven't been happy with a smart phone since my Moto Razr V9 until the HTC One. No Samsungs for me, they don't honor their warranty. HTC CS is the best I've ever run across. Real People, down to earth, helpful and they speak English too!

    • Eric
      December 20, 2013 at 12:41 am

      +1 on the HTC One. Great phone. Beautiful, functional, powerful, different. Those front-facing speakers make SO MUCH sense! Makes you wonder why it's taken this long for a manufacturer to do that (I know there have been a few devices here or there over the years with this feature, but they are few & far-between). And the screen is gorgeous. HTC's best effort yet (and my phone before this one was ALSO an HTC: A One X+. I loved that phone, too, but this one is even better). There are also so many little features that make this phone a keeper for me: Text reflow in the browser (Try as you might, there are VERY few browsers out there that offer this), Secure SMS Inbox, the much-criticized camera (which, for me, works GREAT, as I take a lot of low-light pics, and this is where it shines), and of course, the build quality is incredible; The first Android phone to really get with Apple in terms of this. The One is simply BEAUTIFUL. Critics LOVED the One. Shame it was overlooked here.

  6. ksavai
    December 11, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Perfect.... You name the title and exactly same phone comes to my mind.

  7. cole
    December 11, 2013 at 5:34 am

    I can't help but think this might've been more helpful separated by carrier. Mine carries none of these..

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