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Tech Tools: The Best Oranges in an Apple World

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Best Android Phone

HTC One (M8) (HTC.com)

If you’re not going the iPhone route, one of the most popular operating systems for phones and tablets aside from Apple’s iOS is Google’s Android, and the HTC One (M8) is a clear standout Android option. Priced at $199.99 (with a contract), it comes armed with an excellent camera that can focus on an object in an image even after you already snapped the photo, and also features built-in speakers that are among the loudest available on a phone. And lest you think the speakers and camera mean this must be a bulky beast, the HTC One (M8) is actually a very slim and sleek phone.

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The Best Bargain Tablet

Google Nexus 7 (Google.com/nexus/7)

The Nexus 7, built for Google by Asus, is the tablet for those who favor functionality and a reasonable price ($229 and up) over gadgets that cost too much, in part because of their place as status symbols. Its 7-inch screen features full HD video with more pixels per inch than any iPad model, while its overall design is thin and lightweight. There are cheaper tablets out there, but none at this modest price point offer so much quality—the beautiful screen blows away direct competition, and its battery life and processor speed don’t disappoint either.

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Best Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia Icon (VerizonWireless.com)

Outside the Android and Apple iOS realm, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 has emerged as a solid mobile operating system—it has a unique look and, of course, is more compatible with Microsoft Office and Outlook than any other operating system. Though it’s on the larger side for a phone, the Lumia Icon ($199.99 with a contract) is still a good-looking device—it flaunts a huge screen with full HD video, and its super-speedy processor means your apps and browser run fast and smoothly. And look out, Siri, there’s a new girl at school: The Icon is equipped with the Bing-powered Cortana, another female-voiced searchbot to help you keep track of your calendar and look up recipes.

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The Best of Both Worlds

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (ATT.com)

If you love the large screen of a tablet, but not the idea of how much space it takes up in your bag, a smaller tablet that doubles as your phone is probably the answer, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 ($299.99 with contract) is the undisputed champ of this hybrid realm. Its built-in camera is fantastic, the screen is positively massive (for a phone), the battery life is epic, and the included stylus (nicknamed the S Pen) is notable in that it can decipher even the sloppiest of handwriting within its Action Memo app.

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Best Spy Phone

Blackphone (Blackphone.ch)

Are you Jack Bauer? Perhaps you just carry lots of sensitive (perhaps business-related) media and documents on your device. Blackphone, the brainchild of Geeksphone and the privacy app gurus at SilentCircle, protects your sensitive data from governments, corporations, spies and competitors—as well as nosy neighbors. It runs PrivatOS, an Android-based operating system that seals up the various potential security gaps most smartphones leave wide open. At $629, it’s serious about security. Unfortunately, it eliminates the “I was hacked!” defense if you post something stupid on social media.

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