Smartphones with unusual features (roundup)

These smartphones' entertaining and practical party tricks stand out from the crowd.

These days, almost every smartphone contains the same bag of tricks, with little to differentiate handsets. Sure, one might have a bigger screen, more storage, and other specs that help us tell one phone from another. But on the whole, you'll see the same sort of features again and again. Fortunately, there are some handsets out there that stand out from the crowd for a certain physical or software feature.

For instance, we dig how customizable the Moto X can be, and despite being a bit "out there" and gaudy, Samsung's China-bound Hennessy and Galaxy Golden flip phone/smartphone hybrids are definitely unusual. In no particular order, we list some more-current handsets that have have us looking twice thanks to their utter uniqueness.


LG G2
The LG G2. Sarah Tew/CNET

LG G2 (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.), announced August 7, 2013
Two things make the G2 special. First, it's the first globally available handset to sport the beastly, lightning-fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Second, LG moved its volume rocker and power button from the edge of the device to its back. The company claims that this change is more comfortable and intuitive for the user, and while the jury is still out on that, it definitely makes the G2 uncommon. Read the full LG G2 hands-on .


Motorola Droid Maxx (Verizon)
The Motorola Droid Maxx from Verizon. Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola Droid Maxx (Verizon), August 21, 2013
Although Motorola dropped the "Razr" moniker from its name, this smartphone still boasts the epically long battery life we come to expect from the Maxx family. Tucked underneath a Kevlar fiber body, its 3,500mAh battery offers a whopping 48 hours of usage time or 25 days of standby time, so you won't have to bug out about finding an outlet the next time you plan on being out of the house for a while. Read the full Motorola Droid Maxx review .


Nokia Lumia 1020
The Nokia Lumia 1020 from AT&T. Sarah Tew/CNET

Nokia Lumia 1020 (AT&T), July 26, 2013
Not only does the 1020 come in a striking yellow shade, it also packs a 41-megapixel camera on its back. But it's not just the megapixel count that's impressive: the camera also includes a wide xenon flash, a six-lens Carl Zeiss lens, and an LED sidekick used for focus. What does this all mean? Basically, a handset that takes great shots (albeit at a steep, $299.99 on-contract price). Read the full Nokia Lumia 1020 review.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, July 8, 2013
Not to be outdone in the photography department, Samsung released its own powerhouse shooter with the S4 Zoom. While we think the 1020 still has the edge in terms of photo quality and design, the fact that the Zoom has a 10x optical zoom (as opposed to the standard digital zoom), is noteworthy. Plus, it still takes excellent photos . Read the full Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review.


Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The Galaxy Note 2. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon), October 24, 2012
True, the Galaxy Note 2 has been out for a long time now, but it's simply the best "phablet" out there. In fact, the Note 2 hit the scene nearly 10 months ago, yet it still lacks meaningful competition. That's partly because of its S Pen features, which makes the large Android device do double-duty as a smartphone and a virtual productivity note pad. Read the full Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review.


Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these phones head-to-head.


About the author

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.

Lynn La

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics. See full bio

 

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