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The best smartphone available this holiday season

Despite the its heaviest competition in years, the gold standard smartphone is still Apple’s latest: the iPhone 5s


It seems like everybody wants a smartphone, and if they already have one, they want to upgrade to a new one. It's easy to understand why. Boasting built-in cameras, media players, on-the-go access to the Internet and capable of downloading a endless combinations of software applications, utilities and games, the hardware offers something to everyone. Oh, did I mention you can also use them to make phone calls and send text messages? Because there's that too. But which one should you buy?

I'm just going to come right out and say it: The best smartphone for most people is Apple's iPhone 5s. I know there's a lot of Android fans out there, so before this turns venomous, let me explain.

It's not just the handset's rock solid aluminum chassis, wicked fast A7 processor, fingerprint recognition security, full day's worth of battery power or crisp, readable Retina display that make it a great smartphone. And let's be fair, there's a number of handsets out there that blow the iPhone 5s's eight megapixel camera out of the water – even if its forward and rear-facing cameras are superior to those found in previous generation iPhone 5.

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Does the new iPhone's operating system make the difference? While there's no denying that iOS 7 is currently the most user-friendly smartphone operating system around, Google's Android OS has, over the last few years, evolved into a powerful, easy to use OS that anyone can leverage and enjoy. In fact, lately Google's been killing it: Google Now offers a superior voice recognition experience over Apple's Siri, Google Maps trumps iOS' Maps app for reliability and ease of use (but you can download both apps for free via the iTunes App Store).

As you can see, Apple's climb to the top of the smartphone heap is not the sort of walk-off home run we've seen in previous holiday seasons; there are seriously good non-iOS competitors. So what does the iPhone 5s, or even the lower priced iPhone 5c offer that no other handset does? Three things.

First: Variety

No matter how well-built or fast a smartphone might be, it's nothing more than an expensive paperweight without content to consume. You can argue that the iPhone 5s' four-inch screen is small compared to the monster displays many Android handsets come equipped with these days, but Apple's given their hardware no shortage of apps, movies, television shows and games to show off its retina shattering clarity. Earlier this year, Apple's Tim Cook announced that there were 900,000 apps available for download from the iTunes App Store. While the number of apps available via Google's Play Store have grown significantly in recent years, many of the apps users can download are lacklustre knock-offs of AAA software, are designed to work best with only certain Android handsets or operating system iterations, or worst of all, some come riddled with malware that can steal your personal information. Apple's strict software development submission rules disallow much of this.

Second: Longevity

There's no nice way to say this: Android handsets – made by myriad competing companies as they are – are a fragmented bag of hurt. There's often no telling when or whether you'll be able to upgrade an Android smartphone's operating system to use Google's latest, greatest software (and the same can be said for Windows Phones. Don't even get me started on Blackberry hardware). This lack of support for the latest version of an operating system often means that handset owners are unable to access new feature sets designed to make their lives easier. Folks with iOS handsets don't have to sweat that sort of thing nearly as often. The iPhone 3GS, for example was released in 2009 and was still capable of downloading the latest version of iOS (albeit with a number of the more advanced, processor heavy features disabled). It's hard to argue with four years worth of regular software updates and patches.

Third: accessories

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iPhone users enjoy a huge variety of aftermarket toys to pair with their phone, more than any other handset owner can claim.

No matter what you're after – cases, stands, camera lenses, Wi-Fi connected drones, home automation systems or iOS-specific in-car control systems – you'll never be hurting for choice.

The iPhone 5s is a beautiful, well-constructed smartphone with features any user will love that boasts the largest amount of content and the promise of software support for years to come. What's not to like?

Available carriers: Rogers, Bell and Telus

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