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There’s been an awful lot of gloom in mobile in 2013. But for every botched BlackBerry sale, there’s been bestselling innovation from some of the industry’s biggest names and some upstarts to boot.

We’ve cast our eyes back over the past 12 months and picked out five key players who we think have won big in 2013.

Want to know our choices? Read on and we’ll tell all.

1 Samsung

Samsung logo at booth

The Korean giant appears unstoppable. Despite its appalling Galaxy S4 launch (replete with not-so-casual sexism and Broadway–wannabe nonsense), the company has had a hugely successful 2013.

It now has a third of all smartphones across the globe with a 20% lead over Apple according to the most recent IDC figures.

Its Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 have received rave reviews, while its absurdly varied lineup of smartphones has ensured that it’s the leading mobile maker for the second year running.

The Galaxy Gear and Galaxy Round may have flopped in terms of sales, but they point to the company innovating in interesting ways and taking the fight to Apple in 2014.

2 Microsoft

Windows Phone 8 start screen handsets generic

It may have paid a king’s ransom for Nokia’s devices and services business (north of £4 billion), but despite still lagging miles behind Google Android and Apple’s iOS, Microsoft has pushed the boundaries with Windows Phone in 2013.

IDC numbers show its global share is up to 3.6% from 2%, with quarterly sales almost at 10 million.

That’s represents 156% growth year-on-year, twice as much as the Big G’s platform. In buying Nokia, the company will now be able to sell its own brand smartphones and push Apple and Google harder.

But with an improving app ecosystem and impressive devices, Microsoft can be pleased with how 2013 has gone.

3 Pebble

pebble watch

Forget the iWatch and Galaxy Gear. This year’s smart watch success was unquestionably Pebble.

A Kickstarter success story, Pebble showed the way in a nascent market.

Its simple, greyscale design does all that a smartwatch needs to and its increasing number of apps, with fitness, weather info and a series of redesigned watch faces all up for grabs. And even spawned an unofficial app store.

Cheaper and less clunky than Sammy’s overthought Galaxy Gear, it’s proof that you don’t need to be a technology giant to gain critical and commercial acclaim.

4 Apple

ipad air

The first half of 2013 saw plenty of carping from commentators (this one included) about Apple’s last days at the top of the smartphone pile.

But with the launch of iOS 7 at WWDC in June, followed by the release of its Touch ID packing iPhone 5S and mid-range iPhone 5C in September, Apple put itself firmly back in the game.

Opening weekend sales of its two new phones topped nine million, while iOS 7 now sits on more then three quarters of all iOS devices.

The new look operating system has given Apple’s phones a new lease of life, with much nattier design and a cleaner look. The iPhone 5s remains a peerless piece of kit, beautifully crafted and with superb, high-end tech.

The iPhone 5C may have taken a mauling for being too pricey, but as sales pick up, it too has proven to be a smart move by Tim Cook and co.

5 Google

google nexus 7 joe

For all of Apple’s success, Google hasn’t exactly been missing out.

Its Android system can now be found on a colossal 81% of all smartphones and its ability in hardware has been confirmed thanks to partnerships with LG and Asus, who made the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 respectively.

The look and feel of Android is so much better than it was even a year ago, while there’s a general feeling that the vanilla version of the OS is far better than the tweaked editions found on Samsung and HTC phones.

In all, Google can seem to do no wrong at the moment.

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