What Are 2013's Most Stylish Smartphones?

There are a whole swathe of phones available to buy today, but some stand out from the pack thanks to their design and build quality. Which do you think win on style points alone? Here are five of our favourites to start the conversation.

This is the latest instalment in Gizmodo Australia's big Smartphone Buying Guide rolling-out Mondays and Wednesdays in October.

Looking Back: The Best-Looking Phones Of 2012

The below list is in alphabetic rather than any preference order, and we’re not specifically tracking the technology within them; merely how cool they look when you pull them out of your pocket.

What's your favourite phone from a pure design perspective?


Apple iPhone 5C

The 5C may not be selling at the breakneck pace of Apple’s iPhone 5S flagship, but we think it looks every bit as good. Just as much thought has gone into the 5C’s design, extending as far as a bespoke black headphone port and Lightning connector internals to contrast the colourful design, where the more expensive 5S has to make do with boring white.

The body of the 5C is a curved, Lumia-esque plastic shell, available in 5 different and incredibly bright colours with 6 Apple-designed matching cases. We loved the anodized aluminium iPod touch when it came out with zany colours, and seeing the colourful iPhone 5C is no different - it may be a plastic phone, but it’s the best-damn-looking plastic phone we’ve seen.


Apple iPhone 5S

It’s an iPhone. You know it’s going to look good. This particular variant of the iPhone hasn’t evolved much since the iPhone 4, but it hasn’t had to - its show-stopping design and peerless build quality have made the iPhone the status symbol du jour in the smartphone world.

The iPhone 5S reminds us of an expensive watch - every piece is fitted together extremely precisely, with only the best materials used. Of course, some new colours - including the rare and elusive champagne gold - don’t hurt either. New leather cases, in six colours, add a further touch of class.


Google Nexus 4

We didn’t want to give the Nexus 4 top billing, because it’s quickly disappearing from stores as the Nexus 5 looms closer. Despite that, we still think it’s a very attractive smartphone, and one that looks like it's worth far more than its bargain $249 price tag. With a glass back and a uniquely crazy-pattern design surrounded by a grippy rubberised plastic bezel, and a screen with curved glass edges, the Nexus 4 feels solid and looks classy.

The upcoming Nexus 5 is also shaping up to be pretty sharp-looking as well:


HTC One

Machined from a solid block of aluminum, the HTC One feels solid, despite being pretty light at 143g. Its curved back sinks into your palm, while the slightly angled edges help you grip it.

You also get Gorilla Glass 2 for the 4.7-inch display and dual front stereo speakers. No wonder HTC stuck with this basic design for the 4.3-inch HTC One mini and 5.9-inch HTC One Max.


Nokia Lumia 1520

The Nokia Lumia 1520 was just announced at Nokia World 2013, and we fell in love at first glimpse.

It's the first Windows Phone 8 handset packing a 6-inch form factor, and as a result, it's got a whole new row of apps on the screen so you can see more Live Tiles and therefore more information at just a glance.

Add on top of that the beautiful gloss finish we've come to love on Lumias and the bright colours, along with deep blacks in the screen glass, and we think Nokia is onto a design winner.


Nokia Lumia 925

Three modern colour options. A curving metal shell and Gorilla Glass-coated 4.5-inch touchscreen. Side-mounted power, volume and camera buttons. Nokia’s Lumia 925 may be slightly thicker than its competitors, but the anorexic race of modern smartphones aside, we think the Lumia 925 is an exercise in industrial design.

The contrast of curved body and curved glass edges against the rectangular design looks ultra-modern, especially with Windows Phone 8’s boxy Live Tiles on the screen. Maybe it’s because we don’t see them on the streets very often, but every time we see a Lumia in the wild, it stands out.

(To be honest, we would have chosen the Lumia 1020 if not for its somewhat unsightly camera bump.)


Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Galaxy Note 3 definitely isn’t a smartphone for everyone. It’s large - to the point of being cumbersome for some - and its styling is definitely more polarising than the Galaxy Note 2, courtesy of a stitched leather rear shell.

When you’ve got one in your hands, though, the Note 3 feels just right. The leatherette is grippy and looks especially good in white, and the 5.7-inch screen’s bezel is minimal. Samsung’s S-Pen stylus hides away almost completely, in a phone body that is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. As cutting-edge technology goes, the Note 3 looks great.


Sony Xperia Z1

Some of the phones on this list tends towards funky and playful, but the Xperia Z1 is a businessman’s toy - it’s a solid, monolithic slab of glass and aluminium, like an iPhone 5S on steroids and diet pills.

The plasticky edge of the original Xperia Z turned us off somewhat, but the Z1’s switch to a chamfered aluminium strip, with precision-cut ports and covers, transforms Sony’s flagship phone into a truly premium device. The Xperia Z1 is, as Android phones go, built to an exceedingly high standard. The Xperia Z Ultra also looks amazing.


What's your favourite phone from a pure design perspective?


The new HTC One mini: small in size, not in power:

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