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12 smartphone standouts of 2013 (pictures)

2013 was a great year in smartphone technology and design. CNET takes a look back at the top devices from this year (in no particular order) that were really exceptional.

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Lynn La

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1 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S4

What, were you surprised? The Galaxy S4 is one of the best selling Android smartphones of the year, and justifiably so. It has tons of TouchWhiz software features, a swift quad-core processor, and a top-notch 13-megapixel camera.

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2 of 12 James Martin/CNET

Google Nexus 5

There was a time not too long ago when only Android diehards were excited about the Nexus handset. These days, however, it looks like Google's flagship has a much more broad appeal. Its newest iteration, the Nexus 5, continues to strengthen the brand with its sharp 1080p display, LTE connectivity, and the latest Android 4.4 KitKat OS.

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3 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola Droid Maxx

People often complain that their smartphones never have enough juice to last the workday. Fortunately, the Maxx just keeps going, and going, and going -- for up to a 48 hours in fact. It's such a great device that our only complaint at the time of its review was that it was too pricey. At this time, however, you can nab the handset for $200 on-contract with Verizon.

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4 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple iPhone 5S

Compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 5S isn't a massive overhaul of an update. But Apple still delivered a solid device, which includes a more powerful 64-bit A7 processor, a fantastic upgraded camera, and a fingerprint scanner. Known as TouchID, the feature isn't the first fingerprint reader on a handset, but it is the best executed one we've seen so far.

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5 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Lumia 1020

For anyone who can't "get no satisfaction" with cameraphones, say hello to the Lumia 1020. Packed with a 41, yes, 41-megapixel camera, Nokia's 1020 was created with serious shutterbugs in mind. It also features a wide xenon flash and a six-element Carl Zeiss lens.

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6 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

HTC One

When it comes to looks, no Android handset this year compares to the One. Sporting an all-aluminum chassis and sleek unibody design, HTC's flagship is one fine piece of gadgetry. But it has a lot of inner-beauty as well: there's a quad-core Snapdragon 600 CPU, a nifty UltraPixel camera, and HTC's refreshing Sense UI.

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7 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

LG G2

If you're not taking LG smartphones seriously, it's time you start. LG's flagship device of 2013, the G2, is equipped with not only a high-powered Snapdragon 800 processor, it also has a vivid 5.2-inch 1080p screen, and a fast camera to boot. And if that doesn't make it stand out enough, LG relocated its control buttons from the side to the back, citing improved usability.

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8 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

As the reigning king of phablets, the Galaxy Note 3 is a productivity powerhouse. The Note 3's expansive 5.7-inch display, smart S Pen stylus, and feature-rich software help users organize their work and personal lives on the go.

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9 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Pantech Discover

Sneaking under the radar this year is the rather undiscovered Discover, a reliable Android smartphone from Pantech that features superb dual-side speakers, an ergonomically comfortable construction, and a bargain price tag.

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10 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola Moto X

Admittedly, the Moto X isn't the most powerful handset on the market. However, it still struts decent specs (like a S4 Pro processor and Adreno 320 GPU), and a useful voice command feature. Its main draw though, is its customization option: users can log onto Moto Maker and tweak the look, feel, and colors of their own unique handset.

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11 of 12 James Martin/CNET

Nokia Lumia 925

We're pretty mad for metal when it comes to smartphone design, and Nokia's 925 hits all the right notes. For one thing, its aluminum body is easy on the eyes, it's affordable, and its 8.7-megapixel, PureView camera takes great shots in low-light conditions.

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12 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

LG Optimus G Pro

With its gorgeous 5.5-inch full-HD 1080p display, Snapdragon 600 processor, and 13-megapixel camera, the Optimus G Pro is LG's version of the supersized smartphone. True, it doesn't have a stylus, but it features a competitive on-contract price and plenty of software tools to keep you productive.

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