Smartphones with unusual features (roundup)

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.… Read more

Best smartphones for $100 or less

A hundred greenbacks is a respectable chunk of change, but when you consider what a piece of machinery a smartphone can be, $100 on contract (before taxes and fees) is a darn good deal. Since the smartphone operating system remains the same across handsets from the most entry-level to the most premium, what a price hike usually gives you is a step up in hardware features -- like a faster processor, more-premium camera components, and a higher-resolution screen.

Sometimes you'll get a break on last season's high-end devices; other times, you'll find excellent phones that are made for this middle cost.

Here are some of today's top picks for carriers with two-year contracts (off-contract pricing is its own kettle of fish). Smartphone prices fluctuate all the time because of slow sales or short-term promotions, so keep your eyes peeled for seasonal deals.… Read more

Smartphones with killer screens (roundup)

No matter how you slice it, the phone's screen is the part you look at the most, and if that's cheap, cracked, hazy, or blurred, your e-mails, videos, stories, and games will look terrible.

Luckily, resolution is skyrocketing, and premium phones pack in more pixels than ever.

Of course, pixel performance isn't enough; the screen materials must also be top-notch. In addition, individual handsets' peak brightness settings are also in play; phones with a lower brightness setting won't look as good when you're out in bright sunlight.

Take a look at the many factors that go into top-notch screen quality, and enjoy our favorite smartphone screens to look at now, in no particular order.… Read more

Best 4G smartphones right now (roundup)

It's a crazy 4G world we're living in. That's mostly because the commonly accepted definition of "4G" straddles three technologies: HSPA+ (T-Mobile and most of AT&T's offerings), 4G LTE (Verizon and some AT&T phones), and WiMax (Sprint, for now). It tends to get a little confusing, especially when parsing out which LTE phones are worth your while for your carrier, your budget, and your chosen platform.

With that in mind, I offer you a sampler platter of "4G" phones that I think are great options right now, each … Read more