By Anton D. Nagy | December 21, 2013 1:50 AM
We’re slowly leaving another year behind us, and what a year 2013 was!
We couldn’t have asked for more, yet, we’re excitedly looking forward to seeing what 2014 will bring, and we know it’s going to be even better. Smartphones, tablets, phablets, curved screens, convertibles, fingerprint readers, acquisitions, companies rising, falling, and I’ve just realized I could fill the entire page with keywords descriptive for 2013.
It’s a Pocketnow tradition to look back, every year end, at what happened, good or bad, and, of course, forward, to what we think we can foresee for the year to come. We’ll have recaps for 2013 and predictions for 2014, of course with an Editorial twist, of what the team considers worthy of mentioning.
We’ll have something for everyone! Every day this week, expect a new piece gathering the thoughts of our team members regarding the topic at hand. We’re wrapping our series up with the most underrated devices in 2013, and here’s what the Pocketnow team members think:
“The Dell Venue 8 Pro”
It’s hard to write about the most underrated device of 2013 because… it was underrated. However, having said that, I’m going to pull out my Windows Phanboi card and say the Dell Venue 8 Pro. This little Windows 8 Pro running tablet debuted at $300 and has since been seen for as little as $99 and runs full Windows 8 in a tiny package. Of course, it’s Windows 8 which most of the world agrees is crap, but it’s a fully functional working (albeit small) tablet for under $100 dollars. And nobody talks about it, except Adam Lein. Bad tech writers! No cookie!
It could be that the 8 inch form factor isn’t optimal for Windows 8, but frankly, it only costs you at the most $300 to find out. Go get one. Now.
“The Nokia Lumia 520/521″
In terms of smartphones, I’d have to say the most underrated device of 2013 was the Nokia Lumia 520/521. With a price range between $49-149, it’s one of the least expensive smartphones ever released, yet it has plenty of positive aspects that put it above other much more expensive phones.
Many higher end phones lack a removable battery and MicroSD card slot these days, yet the Lumia 520 has both of those and since they recycled the same battery as older phones, a spare is about $4. It can smoothly handle 90% of what most people use a smartphone for and the included free MixRadio music downloads and offline HERE maps/navigation software are worth the price of admission.
Anton D. Nagy
“The Sony Xperia Z1″
“To keep it short: the Sony Xperia Z1 is a pleasure to hold” — are the exact words I used when I reviewed the Sony Xperia Z1, a water and dustproof beauty built from aluminum and glass that really feels like a piece of expensive jewelry.
High-end internals like the Snapdragon 800 and 2GB of RAM make this a very fast phone, one that will have no problems coping with anything thrown at it, today, or next year. Sony’s own UI is something you have to live with, but it definitely does not slow the phone down.
However, there were two categories where the phone could have performed better: the screen, and its camera (both hardware and software implementation of it — as in the lack of real manual mode settings). The 20.7MP sensor got our hopes up until we started using the camera, which is not bad, but could’ve been better. The Z1 could’ve been the Android “PureView” phone, but it didn’t make it. Still, and exceptional phone to own, building on the success of the Z, with some of its issues fixed. Maybe the Xperia Z2 (or Xperia Z1 2) will be spot on!
“The Moto X”
The Moto X was the most underrated device.
Save for a generally weak camera, the Moto X is an amazing device with excellent battery life, great hardware, intelligent software, and an amazing in-hand feel.
And of course, to be able to customize its hardware and software is terrific.
“The Moto X and HTC One”
This is an easy one: The Moto X and HTC One.
These two companies did their homework when it comes to enhancing the user experience we should all receive from a smartphone. We are all still delighted by these phones, and sadly, the bottom line of their sales didn’t impress anyone.
I feel these two products deserved a bigger break, and I do hope that both Motorola and HTC will not allow this year’s results to disappoint the efforts they have to continue for 2014.
“The LG G2 ‘era’ of devices”
Rather than one device in particular, I’m going with the LG G2 “era” of devices.
This includes the Nexus 5, the G2-proper, and the G-Flex.
This entire family of devices deserves much more attention than it was given, presumably because LG isn’t a particularly large name in the smartphone industry — not yet anyway. Keep an eye on LG as 2014 unfolds.
“The LG G Flex”
This is going to come as a surprise to positively no one, but my submission for least-appreciated device of the past year is one I reviewed less than a month ago: the LG G Flex.
Sure, the world’s first Android banana-phone got plenty of press, but much of it (and most of the comments that came alongside) bemoaned the apparent purposelessness of the device’s curved chassis. Somehow, sometime in our past, an industry by and for technology enthusiasts became incapable of appreciating certain types of novelty – and a gentle top-to-bottom curve is apparently just too much for some folks.
For my part, I find the G Flex to be one of the best examples of intelligent compromise between the utility of a large screen and the physical limits of the human hand. Plus, it conforms to the buttock! I mean, what more do youwant, people?
… besides a sub-$1000 price tag, I mean.
Chief News Editor
“The HTC First”
King of this year’s underrated phones has to be the HTC First. The software was wrong (but at least it could be easily changed) and the price was wrong, but the phone itself was given way more flak than it deserved.
In fact, on paper it almost comes off as a slightly-more-capable Moto G. If HTC marketed it like Motorola’s doing, just think what could have been possible.
I also want to throw a bone to the Sony Xperia Z, which I feel got lost in those early-year months of HTC One and Galaxy S 4 expectations. If Sony only waited for those to arrive, and maybe delivered the Z closer to summer (and with a 2013 SoC, versus the S4 Pro it used), the phone might have had a fighting chance.
“The HTC First”
The HTC First is undoubtedly one of the most underrated smartphones of 2013, for one main reason: Facebook Home.
The First was a fantastic little piece of hardware, and the user experience wasn’t so bad after you dug through the settings and disabled Facebook’s custom launcher. Underneath was practically stock Android, and the phone managed to do most things pretty well.
The other underrated smartphone of 2013 is the Moto X – not by the press, but by retailers and consumers. In most cases, I would recommend the Moto X to friends and family members in search of a new smartphone over the Galaxy S 4. The S 4 is more than they’ll ever need, and the Moto X offers a more consistent and pleasing (read: not overbearing) experience.
The Pocketnow Reader
“What are your most underrated devices for 2013?”
We couldn’t have had more contrasting opinions, and that’s one of the main characteristics of Pocketnow: diversity.
Let us know of your thoughts in the comments below. Upvote your favorites and we’ll update this post to reflect your most underrated devices in 2013. Top three upvoted devices, platforms, OEMs, will make it here, you know, for posterity!
Make sure to read our previous pieces in the series, on “The biggest winners in 2013“, “The biggest disappointments in 2013“, “The best devices in 2013“, “The biggest winners in 2014 (prediction)“, “The biggest disappointments in 2014 (prediction)“