Which device wins the award for best design in 2013?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| December 2, 2013

Once, I'm not sure how long ago, I had an acquaintance of mine tell me that they don't care what a phone looks like. They went on to tell me that, "Design doesn't matter," and went on to list  a bunch of reasons why that's the case. The most prominent one? That "everyone" puts their phones in cases, anyway, so who cares what it actually looks like?

I honestly didn't have a response for that particular acquaintance. I just stared for a little while, and tried to let all of that sink in. Except I couldn't let it. No way. That's just one of the most outrageous things I've ever heard, and it doesn't make any sense to me. It's bewildering. And, yes, I was flabbergasted.

The truth is, I think design goes a long way. In fact, I think design is probably one of the most important things when it comes to any particular piece of gadgetry that people can get their hands on. As an example, just look at the designs for Microsoft's Xbox One, and Sony's PlayStation 4. These are two boxes that are supposed to get set around your TV and pretty much forgotten about (especially in our digital-focused age), and yet gamers clamored to know what the boxes looked like before the respective companies unveiled them.

Design matters. And don't let anyone tell you differently.

Well, unless you, personally, just don't care about it. Then I guess it doesn't.

This is for the people that love design. This is a look back at the phones that have been released this year that have either made us swoon, or made us cringe. We're just a couple of days into the last month of 2013, but I wanted to take some time to look back and just revel in what's been released. Because 2013 hasn't been a slow year at all. We've seen plenty of high-end, high-profile devices make their way into the hands of customers all over the world.

So now I want to let it be up to you, as we hold a bit of a competition here. Simply put, I want to know which device you think is the best designed device this year. And we're going to talk about a few devices here, but obviously there are a lot more devices that saw the light of day, and by all means feel free to show them some love in the comments, too. You don't have to select just these devices I'll cover.

Way back at the beginning of the year, HTC unveiled their flagship to end all flagships. This device, the One, would be a monument to HTC's design team. While HTC has always been known to create some beautiful hardware, this particular device trumped all the others. The One is a beautiful marriage of metal and glass, has a gentle curve to its back, and feels great in the hand. It's seen plenty of color options appear after its unveiling, and there are even two devices that add to the family lineup now, but the One is the device that started the company in a bold new direction.

Samsung's Galaxy S 4 is another member of a longstanding family of devices that has seen a ridiculous amount of adoption all across the globe. The Galaxy S 4 doesn't necessarily take any chances when it comes to its design, as it stays pretty firmly in the "Galaxy S" model aesthetic, but with a slightly larger display and a thin body, the Galaxy S 4 is plenty comfortable to use in the hand. Some could give it some marks down for its plastic design, but that hasn't suffered any sales for the company, and for many its something that simply grows on you.

Nokia pushed the Windows Phone train along with sheer willpower, and thanks to a Lumia brand-name that has grown in popularity, devices like the Lumia 1020 are out and about, pleasing photographers and regular smartphone users all the same. While the Lumia 1020 shares plenty of similarities between it and the Lumia 920, the differences speak for themselves: a lighter, sturdier frame that feels great in the hand, and a unique "hump" to the 41-megapixel camera housed within. The Lumia 1020 is unique, there's no doubt about that.

Motorola's Moto X comes in two colors: white and black, but that's not the whole story. Unlike other manufacturers, the Moto X also brings along with it Moto Maker (which is, thankfully, now widely available), and the ability for a potential buyer to customize their device as they see fit -- and using the tools and options made available to them by Motorola. The device itself has been widely accepted as being one of the most comfortable to use in the hand, and with its customization options, the design of the phone is completely up to you -- something that is far too rare in this industry.

LG broke a trend of "run-of-the-mill" designs with their G2. Yes, it's a plastic frame, and it does indeed only offer up a pair of colors, but the G2 could very well be more unique than even Nokia's Lumia 1020. With a button configuration that bumps the norm and goes for something completely different, you'll find the volume rockers, as well as the Power button, on the back cover, instead of on the side. This makes for easy access and use with the index finger, as LG puts it. It's a fresh design, which helps the G2 stand out in a sea of "same old."

Or, maybe it's Oppo's N1? It's a brand new device, and it should be available to purchase just in time to give it out as a nice gift. But, more than that, the N1 does something new and unique with the camera -- at least, new and unique for the years following 2007. The top of the device features a 13-megapixel camera which can rotate 206 degrees, and lock into any angle you want. It makes for getting images, either at the front or back, pretty easy and quick. And, like LG's G2, it changes up the camera design game just enough to stand out in the crowd.

I left some high-end devices out, and from some prolific manufacturers, but I did so for reasons. I'm sure you can guess them, and I'm sure many will actually name them as their favorite devices. But, I think if I had to pick one? It'd be a tough decision, but I think it would be a tie for HTC's One and LG's G2. That's just me, though.

And now it's your turn. I want to hear from you! I want to know which device you think is the best designed this year, and why. Let me know what you think.