Best Smartphones of 2013 : TechPinas Badge of Excellence Awardees - International Electronics Giants Edition

We're now less than a week away from bidding 2013 goodbye -- which puts me in the mood for looking back at the wonderful year that was and giving a shout out to all the great gadgets that I've been fortunate enough to own and use on a daily basis within the past 12 months.

Last August, I introduced to you the TechPinas Badge of Excellence. It is an exclusive award that "[TP gives] to gadgets [in our collection] that don't only look good and perform extremely well but also give Filipinos great value for their money." So far, I have disclosed that we have chosen to give the award to Huawei Ascend P6 and LG LG2. And today, TP Friends, I want to share with you our complete list of awardees from the international scene in no particular order.

Apple iPhone 5S, TechPinas Badge of Excellence

The Apple iPhone 5S may look and feel almost identical to its predecessor, the Apple iPhone 5, but it does have a far more powerful Apple A7 processor -- heralding the arrival of 64-bit desktop-class chipset architecture to the smartphone category. Having such stellar SoC allows iPhone 5S to run specs-intensive apps and games previously only possible on Macs, PCs and gaming consoles - all while delivering great battery life. Also, the handset features the innovative Touch ID fingerprint sensor that can be used to easily and securely unlock the phone or as a secure way to approve purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, or iBooks Store instead of always having to type your Apple ID password. Powered by consistent and reliable LTE mobile connection, the Apple iPhone 5S is totally capable of giving you the best mobile experience you can experience to date.

LG G2, TechPinas Badge of Excellence

A lot of media outlets and tech blogs have called LG G2 "the best Android smartphone of 2013" and for good reason. After years of being the less dominant Korean giant in the smartphone race, LG - via LG G2 - was able to finally edge out or outpace Samsung in the specs race in 2013. As I've shared in a previous post, "Based solely on the technical specifications of Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG G2 -- not including that of the Note and G Pro full-fledged phablets of either companies, it's clear that LG won the technical specifications fight this year. And we likewise appreciate the fact that LG was able to offer their superior flagship phone for a far lower price compared to Samsung."

Google Nexus 5 made by LG is also cool, right? Well, yes. But - apart from it running a more updated version of the Android operating system - I see Nexus 5 more as a reduced or reductive version of LG G2, which has better design and a more superior set of technical specifications overall. Should we also award the TechPinas Badge of Excellence to the Google Nexus 5 by LG? Let me know your thoughts via the comments section below.

Sony Xperia Z1, TechPinas Badge of Excellence

From running on and trying to survive a huge deficit early in 2012, Sony - as a expected of a legendary and highly-experienced multimedia giant - was able to pick itself up and recover gracefully well into profitability this year -- thanks to its Mobile Products and Communications business. The best-selling Sony Xperia Z released early in 2013 offered a combination stunning looks and solid build on top of all the features and services that Sony has been known for through the years, including great imaging capabilities, industry-leading sound quality, and rugged construction. IP55-and-IP57-certified-water-and-dust-proof Sony Xperia Z1 offers all the strengths of its immediate predecessor and a whole lot more in a more visually appealing and flex-free scratch-resistant-glass-anodized-aluminum-scratch-resistant-glass-sandwich-like shell. Personally, I'm calling Sony Xperia Z1 both the "most beautiful Android smartphone" and "the best Android cameraphone" - bar none - available in the market currently.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3, TechPinas Badge of Excellence

Samsung's 2013 flagship smartphone release, Samsung Galaxy S4, may have been totally beaten and slain by LG G2 and Sony Xperia Z1 in terms of specifications but thanks to Samsung Galaxy Note3, the Korean company was able to save face and still claim the top spot in 2013 benchmark score rankings. The handset's Snapdragon 800 SoC and 3 GB of RAM ensure the smoothest and most enjoyable gaming and overall touch experience that anyone can get from an Android device as of writing. And its amazing set of features and applications supporting the S-Pen proves that Samsung is still unrivaled when it comes to offering innovations on the use of stylus on a capacitive touchscreen.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra, TechPinas Badge of Excellence

Flaunting a massive 6.4-inch Triluminos Display, "The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is the most exciting revolution in large-screen smartphone entertainment devices with both the slimmest and largest Full HD smartphone display in the world that is second to none," said Mr. Calum MacDougall, Director of Xperia Marketing at Sony Mobile Communications. "We're already bringing the best of Sony technology and design across a range of premium smartphones and tablets, and now we are bringing this same premium offering to the large-screen smartphone segment, setting a new standard for others to follow." I love this release because it gave me the chutzpah that I've long been waiting to see from Sony Mobile. While Sony Xperia Z1 still has room for improvement - it could use an LED flash paired with the main camera and 3GB of RAM instead of just 2GB (only because I'm expecting a lot from Sony), the device proved that our beloved Japanese giant is more than capable of snatching the crown off Samsung's head in the phablet category.

Huawei Ascend P6, TechPinas Badge of Excellence

Measuring just 6.2 millimeters at its thickest point, Huawei Ascend P6 is one of the still the thinnest smartphones ever released. But despite being incredibly slim, the handset packs a lot of punch with its Quad Core 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex A9 and Vivante GC4000 GPU based Huawei K3V2 processor and 2GB of RAM. But, as I've shared, what truly sets Huawei Ascend P6 apart from practically all other smartphones currently available in the market is that it has a front-facing camera specifically made to deliver great selfies. The 5 MegaPixel front cam with BSI sensor - on its own - is already good enough to deliver clear and crisp self-portraits but its capabilities are further enhanced by Huawei's very own camera application with Beauty mode, which instantly "fixes" your selfies by removing skin blemishes and making your eyes look more prominent. You can choose the level of "enhancement" from a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most "intense" beauty level.

Apple iPhone 5S, TechPinas Badge of Excellence

Amid the most trying and difficult time in its glorious history, the legendary Finnish handset-maker has chosen to stick to what it does best and as such, continued to wow its millions of fans across the world. Through the years, stellar imaging capabilities have been one of the strongest suits of Nokia smartphones. The Finnish company had given us Nokia N86, Nokia N8, and Nokia 808 PureView -- all of which have shooters so powerful that they can practically double as a digital camera. Despite the change of platform from Symbian to Microsoft's Windows Phone, Nokia has remained dedicated to providing consumers with the best cameraphones they can get their hands on and Nokia Lumia 1020 is a clear testament to that. The handset - sporting a monoblock matte polycarbonate case - has imaging prowess largely similar to that of Nokia 808 PureView headlined by its whopping 41 MegaPixel camera, Nokia imaging algorithms, and PureView technology that compresses multiple pixels resulting in the clearest images and videos possible -- even on full zoom. And on top of that, it features Nokia Lumia 925's industry-leading low-light imaging performance and optical image stabilization made possible by multiple floating lenses compensating for hand movement both when taking photos and recording videos. I call my Nokia Lumia 1020 - which I purchased from Kimstore - my trusted online store - "The Best Cameraphone in the World Today" and up to this very moment, I continue to stand by that statement.

All of these handsets have been featured extensively on TechPinas. For more information about these incredible devices - including their complete technical specifications, availability, and pricing details - kindly use our TP Search Bar. What do you think about our list, TP Friends? Which other smartphones from major international companies should have gotten our TP Badge of Excellence? Let me know your thoughts and tell me why those handsets should have been in this round-up. Happy New Year, TP Friends! May God continue to bless us richly in 2014!