Here are five smartphones that turn heads for striking shapes, aggressive style, and distinct physical features that you just don't see every day.
You can't expect to slip a camera module as large as the 808 PureView's 41-megapixel shooter into a smartphone chassis without a little give. The trade-off is a thicker middle and a huge hump at one end of the phone that makes for some potentially awkward carriage -- but the payoff is some pretty incredible photographic detail. Read the full review.
Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G (MetroPCS), August 2012
Samsung stepped up to meet MetroPCS' gamble with a new free live, local TV service. The host phone, the Galaxy S Lightray 4G, runs on Metro's 4G LTE service and features an 8-megapixel camera. It also packs in a long antenna that tuned in (only) four stations in our New York tests. From there, the features take a turn toward letdown. Based on the older-model Galaxy S family, the Lightray has a 1GHz single-core processor and Android 2.3 Gingerbread as the OS. A higher-end phone than many on Metro's prepaid roster, the Lightray comes for a pricey $459. Read the full review.
Nokia Lumia 900 (AT&T), April 2012
Unfortunately, the now-$50 Lumia 900 won't be upgradable to the Windows Phone 8 operating system, but you have to hand it to Nokia for making a splashy smartphone with looks all its own. Personally, I think the polycarbonate, unibody design resembles thick sticks of black, white, cyan, or bright pink chewing gum topped with a beautiful, glossy display. Read the full review.
Samsung Galaxy Note (AT&T), February 2012
As a phone-maker, you know you're doing something right when a second major carrier (T-Mobile) picks up your phone. When it first debuted on the world stage a year ago, the Galaxy Note shocked and awed with an enormous 5.3-inch screen and a modded-out stylus for sketching and scribbling notes.
Love its size or hate it, it was impossible to avoid comparisons between the Galaxy Note and tablet functionality -- so much so that the phone's debut launched the neologism of "phablet" (a portmanteau of phone and tablet). Samsung and competitors followed the Galaxy Note's "big" success by parading other smartphones with huge screens. Read the full review.
Samsung DoubleTime (AT&T), November 2011
Seen from a bird's-eye view, nothing about the Samsung DoubleTime stands out as particularly unusual. It isn't until you attempt to access the keyboard that you realize there's something a degree or two off the conventional course. Rather than sliding away to reveal the QWERTY, the phone opens like a book. And there's a second screen peering back at you.
The inner display doesn't add much value in my opinion, and makes for a thicker handset. I have no complaints with the price tag (down from $50 to just 99 cents), but the Android 2.2 Froyo operating system isn't going to cut it in a post-Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich world. Read the full review.
Compare these phones head-to-head.