The Five Best Phones Of CES 2013

Compared to years past, CES 2013 was pretty light on phones. The focus was more on health/fitness gadgets and 4K UHD TVs. But among the few phones at the show, we some good ones. Here are the top five.

ZTE Grand S

The hardware of the ZTE Grand S is really lovely. It's extremely thin and extremely light, yet it's got some serious specs. A 5-inch 1080p screen, quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, two gigs of RAM, a 13MP camera, 16GB of built-in storage and an SD card slot for more.

The software side was definitely disappointing. It runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), but the UI is ugly and confusing and there was a lot of lag. It probably won't hit Western shores until Q2, so hopefully they can clean up the software before then.

Huawei Ascend D2

Pretty much the same story as the ZTE, Huawei is trying to establish itself with the Ascend D2, and it actually looks really good. It has essentially the same specs at the Grand S above, but the Huawei packs in a 3000mAh battery, which is music to our power-user ears.

The Ascend runs Android Jelly Bean, it has built-in augmented reality navigation, and split-screen multi-tasking. Plus: it's splash-proof. This was a lot snappier than Huawei's gigantic 6.1-inch phablet, which we were not such a fan of. No word on exact release dates or which carrier it'll be on.

Lenovo K900

I'd better say this right off the bat so you don't get your hopes up: the K900 is not destined for the Western market. If you want it, you'll have to move to China. That said, it's gorgeous piece of hardware. It has a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, which is going to be too big for some people, but it's very easy on the eyes. It's super thin, at just 6.9mm thick, and it weighs just 162 grams.

It operates on Android, and it has a 13MP camera with a Sony Exmor image processor. It's also running Intel's Atom z2580 processor, with a (rumoured) clock speed of 2GHz. If you ask nicely maybe Lenovo will make a version for us.

Sony Xperia ZL

The Xperia ZL packs a gorgeous 5-inch 1080p Bravia screen, and it too lists those familiar hardcore specs: 1.5GHz quad-core S4 Pro, 2GB RAM and expandable storage. It has a 13MP camera with the newly designed Exmor RS chip, which is supposedly even better in low-light than its predecessor, and it can shoot HDR video -- an impressive feat. It has as 2370mAh battery, a physical camera button, and an IR blaster so it can be used as a universal remote. Sony scaled back their skin for Android 4.1 and it looks really nice and performed extremely well. It was a toss-up between this one and...

TOP PICK: Sony Xperia Z

The Xperia X, ultimately, is every bit as much of a flagship as the ZL. It has the same exact screen, guts, camera and software. It does, however, add one very impressive trick: It's waterproof to one metre for 30 minutes. All. Phones. Should. Be. Waterproof.

This Xperia is thinner than the TL, but a little wider and longer. There's also no IR blaster or physical camera button, and the battery is a hair smaller at 2330mAh. It's just a gorgeous piece of hardware and it performed really well, so we decided to give it the nod over its brother, but it will come down to personal preference. The bottom line: Both of Sony's new phones are looking good.



    Xperia X... Hmm I think your finger slipped.
    But yes agreed, the Sony models are best of show.

      Except for the UI skin. Just give me stock android on a nice phone! It can't be left just to Google.

    My favourite was definitely the Xperia Z

    Agreed - Xperia Z looks incredible. I just wish that Sony went from announcement to release quickly a la Apple, instead of 2 months away D:

    from what i understand the lte on the xperia zl will not work on australian shores and we will probably only get a xperia z release

      This is entirely correct. The ZL will be destined for north america, the Z for pretty much everywhere else. Crazy yanks and their weird mobile networks.

    Hmm, they all look like a Samsung Galaxy 2....

      So they all look like iPhones?

        S2 looks nothing like any past or present iPhone. if you're attempting to have a dig about the past legal action, then you're doing it wrong because that was all about the original Galaxy S.

        Apparently anything that looks rectangular look like an iphone.

          Apple invented the rectangle, didn't they?

          Last edited 05/02/13 12:09 pm

    Experia ZL has nicer body and would be my choice if not for one small thing, it's LTE (4G) won't work in Australia, so you have to go with the Z if you want 4G.

    What? No Kogan? I'm sure poor Ruslan is crying into his enormous wads of dollar bills somewhere :P

    Yeah yeah I know they are all different in specs ect bla blah blah...
    They all look pretty much the same. Ok so a pink bezel here and a white facia there. Phones have NEVER BEEN THIS BORING EVER. And spec wise they are pretty saturated for the average user too.

    This phablet race for the biggest screen is getting a bit ridiculous. As much as I love my S3, the 4.8" it is already a bit of a struggle for me.

    Why not mention the Ubuntu phone?

      Because at this stage it's still a mod for an existing phone, not a model of its own, as such.

    I don't understand why Sony persists on using the xperia branding. Gives me a bad taste in my mouth.

    Wonders when did the "Ability to make phone calls" drop off the comparison criteria for phones.

    I love the 1m water proof Experia Go, the life of the pool party, survives a jug of beer easily too

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