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The 11 best smartphones of 2014: what's the best phone on the market today?

Posted on 25 Jul 2014 at 10:04

Read through this mobile phone buyer's guide and best smartphone of 2014 chart to find out what is the right device for your needs and budget.

Scroll down to see our pick of the best smartphones available at the moment or read on to find out a little more on the questions you should be thinking about before buying any new mobile phone.

Jump to: best smartphone of 2014 chart

11 best smartphones of 2014: Android, iOS or Windows Phone

The number one question to tackle is which platform to buy into. Now that BlackBerry has all-but left the phone game, you have Apple’s iOS, Android and Windows Phone to choose from.

iOS means iPhones, and you probably already know whether you’d like to own an iPhone or not. They’re great devices with a fantastic wealth of apps and games on offer. However, they don’t come cheap. And even if you’re looking at buying a high-end phone, you might want to consider waiting for the iPhone 6 launch in September.

Don’t want an iPhone? Windows Phone handsets and Android phones come in all shapes, sizes and prices. The downside of Windows Phone is that its selection of apps and games isn’t anywhere near as healthy as that of Android or iOS. If you want to play a new game every week, it’s probably not for you.

However, Windows guarantees you a certain level of gloss right down to the super-budget models, and Nokia’s top-end Windows Phone mobiles are pretty impressive.

For many, though, Android is the right choice. Most phones use it, and nowadays it offers a good balance of apps, games and general performance. All the most high-profile phones aside from the iPhone use Android, including the Sony Xperia Z2, the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5.

11 best smartphones of 2014: what size of phone?

Once you’ve picked your side, you need to pick a size. This is partly determined by how much you want to spend, but as long as you’re willing to fork out £150 or more, you have quite a choice.

Most higher-end phones are very large these days, and if you’re not used to a bigger phone we recommend trying one out in a high street shop before buying. Most people can generally get accustomed to phones up to five inches in screen size, but anything larger than that becomes a bit of a struggle for people with smaller hands.

Have huge hands? Want a big screen? In the last couple of years the phone-tablet hybrid market has exploded, and there are several phones that offer 5.7-6.1in screens – truly massive displays for a phone.

For any phones of 5in or larger, we recommend looking for a mobile with a 1080p screen. This will get you nice, sharp images. Thanks to some recent phone bargains, you can even get mobiles with super-sharp screens at the £100 mark, such as the Motorola Moto G. We recommend opting for screen quality over whether it has wireless technology extras like NFC or an IR sensor.

11 best smartphones of 2014: 4G or not 4G?

One wireless technology that does matter, though, is 4G. Once reserved for expensive phones, this super-fast mobile internet standard is now available in fairly low-cost devices too.

Although performance depends on where you live and the network you subscribe to, 4G can get you around ten times the speed of a normal 3G network. While a 3G network might provide 2Mbits/sec downloads, you’ll often get 16-20Mbits/sec from a 4G network in a big city. That may well be faster than your home broadband.

Most contracts are subject to quite limited data allowances, though, so make sure you look into that before getting too excited about 4G hardware.

11 best smartphones of 2014: how important is a camera to you?

The one other bit of hardware that’s important to consider is the camera. If you’re looking at a phone costing £200 or more, you’re almost guaranteed a reasonably good camera, but if you’re a budget buyer you'll find most models make compromises.

Low-end phones often leave out the front camera and the flash. Some don’t even have autofocus. If a phone leaves out any of these, it cuts hugely into the photographic flexibility of a smartphone.

At the higher end of the scale, look out for optical image stabilisation. What this does is comve the lens and/or sensor to compensate for the effect of shaky hands. It allows the phone use longer exposures, allowing more light onto the sensor, which leads to cleaner, less noisy photos when shooting in low light.

11 best smartphones of 2014: how much you want to spend?

How much do you need to spend to get a good phone? Great mobiles start at around £80, with models such as the Motorola Moto E. It’s currently about as cheap a phone as you can get without having to give up too much in the way of looks or build quality.

High-end phones start at around £270, with slightly older mobiles like the LG G2 and Google Nexus 5 providing most of what you get from a much more expensive phone at a less scary price.

If nothing but the best will do, the very latest flagship phones from companies like Samsung, LG and Sony cost between £400-500. On a contract, that normally equates to at least £30 a month unless you’re a better haggler than we are.

Hopefully, you now have a good idea about the kind of phone you’re after. But which specific model should you buy? Here are the mobile phones we recommend.


11 best smartphones of 2014

1. Nexus 5

Price when reviewed: £199 inc VAT

Nexus 5
The Nexus 5 is getting on but it's still a superb smartphone and the price is significantly lower than most flagship devices, which is why it still gets our number one slot. The design is impressive, it's as powerful as you need and the screen is great.

2. Samsung Galaxy S5

Price when reviewed: £550 inc VAT

Samsung Galaxy S5
There's an awful lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy S5, it's good looking, tough, big, feature rich and we love the user-replaceable battery and memory expansion. It's a great smartphone in every way.

3. iPhone 5s

Price when reviewed: £549 inc VAT

iPhone 5S
An outstanding smartphone, but with a 4in screen and wallet-damaging price, it’s no longer the best of the lot.

4. Motorola Moto G

Price when reviewed: £140 inc VAT

Motorola Moto G
A high-quality budget Android handset with an excellent screen and decent battery life. There's now a 4G version as well, for those hankering after faster mobile data.

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/smartphones/387769/htc-one-m8

5. HTC One M8

Price when reviewed: £519 inc VAT

HTC One M8
A beautiful crafted, highly competent smartphone, packed with clever features. Its superb display and battery life make it the best smartphone we've seen from HTC.

6. LG G3

Price when reviewed: £459 inc VAT

LG G3
LG rustles up a classy, top-rung smartphone, with a ridiculously high resolution screen and super fast camera; but that display takes its toll on battery life.

7. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Price when reviewed: £440 inc VAT

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Great battery life and superb performance in an attractive waterproof package; and, unusually for a top-spec Android smartphone, it fits comfortably into your pocket.

8. Nokia Lumia 930

Price when reviewed: £419 inc VAT

Nokia Lumia 930
First impressions of the 930 are positive. It's a Windows Phone device, so it can't compete on apps, but the design of Nokia's flagship is sumptuous and right up there with the best around.

9. Sony Xperia Z2

Price when reviewed: £440 inc VAT

Sony Xperia Z2
Sony proves that big really is beautiful - the Xperia Z2 provides a long-lasting alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8.

10. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Price when reviewed: £465 inc VAT

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
A stupendous smartphone – Samsung’s huge, 5.7in handset supplies oodles of features and a refined all-round performance.

11. Motorola Moto E

Price when reviewed: £79 inc VAT

Motorola Moto E
Makes plenty of compromises to keep costs down, but performs where it counts; the Moto E is another winner from Motorola at a highly tempting price.

Author: Andrew Williams

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User comments

BB10

Have you had a chance to look at BB10 dev handsets or had a sneak peek at the finished article? With the launch at the end of January it would be interesting to know how it holds up against these.

By JamesD29 on 30 Dec 2012

Appreciate the round up.

My iPhone4 contract is now up but really undecided about what to go for now so will wait a bit.

The iPhone5 doesn't really excite me tbh, its greatest quality would be ease of transition from old to new phone.

I was keen on Samsung Galaxy Note II, but tried one in Tesco and it seemed a little slow and the Stylus Pen slightly unresponsive. But then a Tesco display counter probably isn't the best place to test drive it.

Pondering waiting to see what Samsung Galaxy S 4 might offer but that means waiting till maybe second half of 2013!

Will wait a few months anyway.

By stormN on 30 Dec 2012

@stormN

If the iPhone 4 is still working, why upgrade?

By big_D on 31 Dec 2012

@stormN

I have a Lumia 920 (which I love) but the missus has a Note 2, and I am, at times, a little jealous! Don't worry about the Tesco lag, all their Android display models do that. Her's is buttery smooth and never slows down, it's really quite impressive. If you like it, then go for it, because it is a great phone.

By rushandy on 7 Feb 2013

iPhone 5

and the next to come iPhone 5S is the winner im sure.
you can read more about it on my blog at www.imacintech.com

By iMaciNTech on 22 Mar 2013

Samrtphones

I actually did quite a bit of research on these cell phone trade in programs, and www.smartphonecashin.com is definitely the highest paying site. They are also very straightforward and easy to use.

By rony4377 on 8 May 2013

top of the list

found site wrote Galaxy note 2 in on top-of the market and some are telling otherwise. Hope the ranking in not inspired by OS-hyped writers

By hailMe on 10 May 2013

Mobile Development India

I have got the good information about best smartphone for 2013 from this post that provide me great information about each smartphone features which might be very helpful for me. Thanks for sharing this information.

By ChrishTucker on 22 May 2013

Where is the Xperia Z?

??

By bet1001 on 24 May 2013

Where is the Xperia Z?

??

By bet1001 on 24 May 2013

what a joke!

This was written just days ago yet you have not listed the LG G2?! Its probably THE best android device right now PERIOD.. you have a freaking galaxy zoom that no one buys yet you do not mention the G2? What a friggin pathetic article.

By lordinfamous666 on 19 Nov 2013

Wake up PC Pro - something wrong here!

Why are there postings from long before when this "feature" was published on your site (eg December 2012?
I put a comment on here earlier today pointing this out and it has been deleted. What is going on?

By WilliamW on 2 Jan 2014

Omission of G2

I also think the G2 is an outstanding smartphone and is an extraordinary omission from this article. In fact, with the G2 and Nexus 5, I think LG have produced the two best smartphones this year.

By Mark_Lawrence on 4 Jan 2014

Nexus 5 Camera

The 4.4.1 / 4.4.2 updates improved the Nexus 5 camera enormously. While previously the camera produced bland and unremarkable images, shots are now very sharp and colours are impressively accurate. The camera app is now fast and responsive and the HDR+ mode is superb. It's a shame that the camera was so unimpressive on launch that most people do not know that things have changed.

By Mark_Lawrence on 4 Jan 2014

Unbelievable. Look to Japanese waterproof phones.

There are some amazing phones in Japan compared to that old bunch of drowners.
Just check out the specs of phones like the ARROWS NX F-01F or the Xperia TM Z1 f SO-02F or the AQUOS PHONE ZETA SH-01F.

By rogerthat1945 on 28 Feb 2014

Guide for buying smartphone from China

I have written a guide for buying smartphone from China. There are Chinese smartphones which have really good quality and performance. In my guide I am explaining how to pick the right. Check it out on: http://geekify.tk/buy-chinese-smartphone/

By geekify on 18 Mar 2014

Guide for buying smartphone from China

I have written a guide for buying smartphone from China. There are Chinese smartphones which have really good quality and performance. In my guide I am explaining how to pick the right. Check it out on: http://geekify.tk/buy-chinese-smartphone/

By geekify on 18 Mar 2014

Note 3 rules

Besides very high end features (screen, processor, ram etc) , excellent addition of excellent pen and removable battery... So there is no need for further discussion.

By HopeLESS on 15 May 2014

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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