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Remembering 2013's best and worst phones

Now that 2013 is wrapping up, we take a look back at the handsets that rose to the top, and the others that sank to the bottom.

Motorola Droid Maxx and ZTE Groove
We'll remember some of these devices fondly, but there are others that we wish we could forget. Lynn La/CNET

With 2014 approaching, we at CNET would like to take this time and reflect. Reflect on our family and friends, our personal accomplishments, and of course, the smartphone highs and lows of 2013 -- this is a tech site after all, what were you expecting?

Unsurprisingly, the top handsets of this year were dominated by much of the same key players we consistently see from year to year. That includes updated iterations of popular phones such as the fingerprint-scanning Apple iPhone 5S, the powerful Samsung Galaxy S4, and the ultra-juiced-up Motorola Droid Maxx.

Others were flagships from familiar manufacturers, but some companies took measures to start afresh in order to elevate and differentiate their chief handsets for 2013.

This includes going back to minimalistic names like HTC's simplistic One and LG dropping the "Optimus" moniker from its G2 device, as well as opting for a novel design, with the former smartphone sporting a stylish all-aluminum construction, and the latter relocating its power buttons to the rear.

Then there were the curveballs. The ones that brought unique but well-executed new features to the market, like Nokia's Lumia 1020 that's equipped with a 41-megapixel camera, and the highly customizable Motorola Moto X.

Of course, not everything came up roses this year. There were a handful of devices that were less than stellar. Some were simple feature phones (like the LG Envoy II and the Huawei Pal) that got docked not because they were too basic, but because they couldn't even perform the simplest tasks reliably.

Smartphones that make their way onto this list usually do so because of other reasons, in addition to poor performance. For example, the ZTE Groove and the Alcatel Authority are outdated right when they come out of the box. Also, there's nothing like the laggy processors found in the Cricket Engage LT or the Alcatel One Touch Evolve to bog down the user experience.

What do you guys think, do you agree? Whether you think we overlooked another superb device, or didn't give a disappointing phone its due regard, let us know in the comments section below.

And remember, you can always find our current list of the best phones available here.