Best smartphone 2013 revealed: What Hi-Fi? Awards

17 Oct 2013

For the past few years, it's been an Android phone that's taken our Smartphone of the Year Award, with Samsung's Galaxy S3 and S2 coming out on top in 2012 and 2011 respectively. But despite sterling effort from the Android contingency this year, with handsets like the LG G2 and HTC One snapping at Apple's heels, 2013 is the year that the iPhone takes back the crown.

While it might look pretty similar to the iPhone 5 of last year, the iPhone 5s had had plenty of work under the hood to give it a performance boost, with the new 64-bit A7 processor promising to double the speed and graphics performance of its predecessor. And while we're not one for benchmark testing, it has certainly made the iPhone experience quicker and slicker than ever - and it was no slouch in the first place.

MORE: Best smartphones: Awards 2013

The screen may not be HD, but its 4in display is still a joy to watch video on, with a gorgeously natural colour palette and added detail compared to its predecessor. It places the iPhone in a rather niche category too, in a market where phone screens are getting bigger with every release. Apple has found its sweet spot - and it's sticking to it.

Sound quality is still one of the iPhone's strong points too, and the iPhone remains the best sounding smartphone on the market, with its detailed, lively and engaging way with music easily topping all the competition out there. 

Of course, there's the headline new addition of the TouchID fingerprint sensor, which is a surprising joy to use. Unlocking your phone has never felt so high-tech, and you can say goodbye to pesky password inputs for your iTunes purchases too. Excellent.

Elsewhere, we love the new iOS 7 operating system, which gives the iPhone 5s a real design refresh, though let's not forget there's that new gold finish up for grabs if you're feeling really fancy.

It's not been an easy ride for the iPhone this year by any stretch of the imagination, but by innovating where it's necessary and keeping the basics right, it's managed to topple the competition, and is fully deserving of our Best Smartphone Award 2013.


MORE: Awards 2013: Best tablets

MORE: Awards 2013: Best apps & services


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But its still a shiny, overpriced piece of repackaged fanboi tat.  I wouldn't have one if you gave it to me.  I would instantly sell it and get a proper android phone.

The iPad didn't win the best tablet award, so what are you going to complain about now?

I would have to agree the iPhone 5s is a cracking peace of kit, but i have not met anyone who ownes one yet everyone seems to have an iPhone 5c

Spiny - the iPhone has been considered every year in the Best Smartphone category, despite its late launch (we always know when it's coming, launching around a month or so before our Awards every year), but it has lost out for the past two years to Samsung's Galaxy handsets. As Clare kindly pointed out, there's been no rule bending in the slightest - there are plenty of great products in plenty of categories that we simply have to consider later on in the day in order to do our job right. Our Awards are there to help people make buying decisions and, like it or not, the iPhone is going to be a choice many will consider making over the next 12 months. Despite a lot of great handsets launching this year (and this wasn't a decision made lightly, I can assure you), we felt it gave the best performance as a total package, and its great audio performance really clinched it. Hope that clears things up a bit.

Spiny - i've just looked at the WHF Awards entry form, and the rules clearly state: "We reserve the right to call in additional products after these dates" It's been like that for years, and Apple are far from the only brand to squeak in under that criteria. So no rule bending. It's something we all have to live with in the industry: there's always a potentially better product around the corner....

Now watch as it sits at the top of the latest news menu for ages as the other winners got an hour each. Then it gets moved to the most read section. A non-HD 4inch screen winning in 2013? Yeah right, Incidently, the best sounding phone is the Oppo Find 5 if, er,  you ever find 1.

'It's managed to topple the competition' only because the rules were bent to allow it to qualify. One rule for Apple, one for the rest of the world. Good to see the magazine taking its new role as the arbiter of 'tech' seriously by following the fawning hordes who report breathlessly on Apple launches, queue outside Apple stores for each tiny incremental increase in specificiation, and so on. It's all a bit sickmaking, really.