Well, at time of writing, the new year begins tomorrow and since after the events of tonight I might forget that I even wrote this so now it’s time to look back at how this past year has blown our geeky minds with new mobile tech in the form of smartphones, phablets (I still wish someone would come up with a better name for them), and tablets.
Now, before I continue I gotta add a disclaimer here: No, I do not consider any of this to be truth. It is what i think is true but others are welcome to disagree (and this is the Internet so people will disagree and despite this disclaimer will probably still say I’m wrong and tell me to go kill myself or sell my soul to Apple or something.)
And now, we begin!
Biggest Disappointment: As far as years go, this one has seen probably the least amount of major disappointments. There were a few of course, such as the One Max which was basically an oversized HTC One, and the fact there was no Nexus 10 2013 Edition but I would say that the biggest disappointment out there this year was the Galaxy Gear. Now, I’ve been gradually (at a glacial speed) getting interest in smartwatches and as a Samsung fan (*puts up flame shield*) I was hoping Samsung would really bring out a wrist mounted device that would allow me and other like-minded lunatics to fulfill our secret agent fantasies. In some ways they definitely did that, I mean the camera alone was perfect for that and it took decent pics considering how low-end it was, and the design was great. However, why in the holy-holy-hell did they make it only usable with the Note 3, butcher the notifications that didn’t come from their own first-party apps (yes they fixed that in an update but the fact something so obvious wasn’t done right the first time is perplexing), and charge double what the Pebble cost? No! Bad Sammy! Bad! (Rant over, drink break!)
Ok, now with a Jack and Coke in hand here’s the next category.
Most Impressive Feature: I say impressive, because I refuse to use the word “innovative”. It’s an overused term these days, and you know I love being the rebel. Anyway, there have been a ton of new features that have appeared on phones this year (with plenty being improved from before) and if I had to choose one that really pushed things forward it would have to be Active Display/Active Notifications (I consider them to be pretty much the same feature btw.) This is a feature that I’ve found myself putting on my Nexus 5 (shoutout to Cyber Warrior for making the video that showed me how) and will put on every smartphone I ever have because it is just a much better way to check what kind of incoming notification you’ve gotten. A major improvement to something we’ve been doing ever since we dumped our flip phones for smartphones.
It doesn’t seem like much, but small things can make the biggest difference.
Best Accessory: Almost as big a deal as our smartphones are the accessories that go with them. They make the best phone better in many ways, cases and screen protectors help them look their best, speakers make listening to media so much better, etc, etc, etc. But there was one that stood out above all the others, and while I personally wouldn’t use it because I have a Nikon SLR the Sony Smartshot lens accessories are an excellent example of why Sony is one of the best companies ever. An entire camera body packed inside a lens which can be used with any smartphone as long as it isn’t too (see Samsung, THAT is how compatible with other phones your Galaxy Gear should have been, all smartphones, not just yours). Now only is it an impressive concept, you can’t argue with the results. The images you take with one of those, undeniably surpass anything you could get with even the best smartphone camera out there, sure the cheaper model is $250 bucks but when you add in the fact that there are point and shoots that cost even more than that it’s not that ridiculous especially with how small it is. The app, I understand it could use some work but nothing ever comes out perfect when it’s first released.
Most Overhyped Phone: So there were a lot of phones that came out this year, and most of them were pretty great. But as we all know some people out there like to exaggerate about their choice in some attempt to convince others it was the best choice or maybe to convince themselves that the phone is as good as they hoped. Whatever the reason, I found myself not really agreeing with all the praise. I can’t think of a better example of this than the HTC One. I know I’ll probably have some stones thrown through my windows and maybe a few dozen eggs thrown at me but yes I said it. The One is a great phone, no-one can deny that but I honestly can’t see why so many sites call it the best phone of 2013. Yes, it’s a good looking phone but people seriously put too much stock in its design just because it’s aluminum, yes the software has been greatly optimized but after an update the S4 was almost as fast, plus other phones came out that were as smooth or even smoother than the One, and honestly I wasn’t a huge fan of Sense 5 despite how well it ran. Plus the features weren’t that big a deal, at least not to most people. Kudos though for listening to people and giving them the option to turn off Blinkfeed.
Summary: Definitely a great phone, but also (in my eyes/experience) the most overhyped of the year.
Biggest Improvement in Smartphones: Like I said, there were a ton of great smartphones this year and each of them pushed the industry forward in some way, whether it be the S4/Note 3’s gesture controls, or the HTC’s design, or even the G2’s unique button placement. One of these improvements however stuck out to me, and I’ll tell you which one and why. As someone who is big on customization, I was very interested in Moto Maker. Being able to customize not just the software of your phone like every other Android phone (the fact it was almost completely stock helps with that) but now being able to also customize the design of your phone was a big deal. You could choose the color of the back plate/trim, have a customizable message engraved on the back and as of recently you could finally start taking advantage of the promised wood backings (the only available one, which is Bamboo doesn’t look that good to me unfortunately.) I immediately started wondering if this would start to become a normal thing. No longer would people have to throw their arms up in annoyance because they saw an announcement of their wanted phone coming out in the color they wanted only to find out that color is exclusive to another carrier (DAMN YOU BELL FOR ALWAYS GETTING THE RED MODELS OF PHONES *ahem*) they could now design their phone to be that color unless of course they’re the type to always put a case on their phone. Whether or not this will happen, I can’t say as this would definitely have an effect on those exclusivity deals giving only certain carriers a certain colored model of a phone or maybe Motorola would decide to patent the concept (if they haven’t already.) Still, it would be awesome for everyone to have this feature.
Best Phone of 2013: So since I can’t think of any other categories I guess I should name what I thought was the best phone of 2013. I’ve tried out demo models of all the biggest smartphones of the year, exploring their performance, screens, features, etc. and while I wasn’t disappointed in any of them, I definitely enjoyed a few of them over the others. Honorable mentions go to the Galaxy S4, and G2. After what seemed an eternity I finally saw the benefit of the G2’s button placement and I was pleased to see that all of the S4’s hyped features worked pretty well (a few are a bit finicky but for a first attempt that’s understandable) and I still stand by the benefits of plastic over aluminum.One phone however stood above the rest, not because it had the best of everything but because of what it stood for. That phone is (*drumroll* *get ready to be somewhat surprised*) the Xperia Z1.
I know you’re probably wondering why I chose that phone over the rest, well this is why. Like HTC, Sony has been struggling for a while to get it’s phones out there and into the hands of people in this part of the world. This is somewhat because their previous phones didn’t exactly reach the level easily attained by others in that time. Earlier this year they started showing their potential with the Z and ZL but with the Z1 they showed us all exactly what they could do. A beautiful design, great software, water-resistance, and one of the best cameras in the industries are just a few of the reasons why this proves that Sony deserves people’s attention. If I hadn’t gotten the Nexus 5, this is the phone that I would have gotten and I would have bragged about it to everyone.
So, that's about it. If you've been able to hold back your anger at your choices enough to have not attempted to punch me through your computer screens, I hope you enjoyed this. If you did do that, then why the hell am I still typing this?
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