The Best Smartphones of 2014: Did Yours Make The Cut?

There are an awful lot of different smartphones to choose from, so which is the best for you?

It's been a good 12 months for mobile phone fans but things have really turned up a notch since the start of 2014. First we saw plenty of new devices launched in and around CES and Mobile World Congress 2014. The market is fit to burst with some impressive top-of-the-range handsets.

Most of these new high-rolling handsets feature full HD displays and high-end processors, CPUs that make last year’s Snapdragon S4 look practically remedial. This year, we'll be updating this article to include even more new phones as they are released - so stay tuned for beasts like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 when they launch. 

For now, here's our pick of the best handsets so far in 2014. Some of the devices included are 2013 handsets, granted, but as we move forward through the year we'll be adding in all the best new devices as and when we review them. Think of this as the A Team of Phones for 2013-through-2014, the smartphones that truly are a cut above the rest.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm, 176g
  • Display: 5.7in, 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, 3GB of RAM
  • OS: Android 4.4.4 KitKat
  • Camera: 16-megapixel sensor
  • Battery: 3220 mAh   

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 was one of the best handsets in 2013 so the Note 4 has a lot to live up to. Luckily, the Note 4 starts where the Note 3 left off and continues to build on top of it refining the design and adding in new useful features.Samsung has been in the phablet game for a while now. It means the Note 4 design has had a lot of work and it is now streamlined to an impressively thin and easy to hold handset. Once again the display is impressive and the stylus has improved to make it more accurate than ever before. 

Under the hood is a hefty Snapdragon 805 processor allowing for powerful multitasking and strong performance whilst running high intensity apps. There is also more than enough storage for all your media as well; internally there is 32GB of space as well as microSD support up to 128GB. 

Android 5.0 Lollipop will be available on the handset in the coming months as well offering all of Google’s latest mobile features. The Note 4 is once again one of the best handsets we’ve seen this year and in some ways it’s the best Samsung has made too.

Read our full review here.

Apple iPhone 6

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm, 129g
  • Display: 4.7in, 750 x 1334 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: Apple A8 Chipset, 1GB of RAM
  • OS: Apple iOS 8
  • Camera: 8-megapixel sensor
  • Battery: 1810 mAh  

The iPhone 5s was arguably one of the best handsets of 2013; Apple had some work to do to be able to improve upon the handset. The good news is Apple pulled it out of the bag.

A much better sized display, an excellent battery life and some even better imaging quality has made for an all round upgrade to the flagship iPhone.

This time around you can also pick up a 128GB version for the first time. The design has much the same language as before but has improved by being thinner, longer and more refined edges and corners the way round. Touch ID has also made a return on the home button at the bottom of the handset.

Plus iOS 8 comes as standard with all the new features such as HealthKit and HomeKit. NFC technology is finally in the iPhone 6 as well but sadly the Apple Pay technology that makes the most of it isn't active in the UK just yet. It should be at some point during 2015.

Read our full review here.

BlackBerry Passport

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 128 x 90.3 x 9.3 mm, 196g
  • Display: 4.5in, 1440 x 1440 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM
  • OS: BlackBerry 10.3
  • Camera: 13-megapixel sensor
  • Battery: 3450 mAh

BlackBerry has been hard at work for the past few years scrabbling back from the brink. CEO John Chen has decided the best route will be to go down the path of quirky design and that has resulted in a square handset. The BlackBerry Passport comes with a design we’ve never seen on other handsets, it includes a 4.5in display above a full blown QWERTY keyboard across an almost fully square build.

Lots of power can be found inside the Passport with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset and 3GB of RAM, plus the battery is impressive sitting up there with the best and doing better in our battery testing than a big selection of the current flagships.

Read our review here.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7 mm, 155g
  • Display: 4.7in, 720 x 1280 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: Exynos 5 Octa 5430, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Android 4.4.4 KitKat
  • Camera: 12-megapixel sensor
  • Battery: 1860 mAh 

Looking purely at the spec sheet, you may not get a full feel for the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. Samsung has created a product with an excellent design; this time around it has opted for metal edges that give it a much more premium feel. You’ve still got the faux leather backing but on the front there’s a gorgeous 4.7in 720p display.

On board there is 32GB of storage and a really impressive battery to keep it all ticking over. The camera isn’t bad either and stands up to photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S5. On top of all that there's the latest and greatest Android software on board as well, Android 4.4.4 KitKat.

Samsung has created an odd handset in the form of the Galaxy Alpha. It has all the makings of a flagship device but it isn’t the way Samsung wants to market it. Before you head straight to the Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 4 be sure to give the Galaxy Alpha a second look, you may be impressed.

Read our review here.

Nokia Lumia 930

 

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 137 x 71 x 9.8 mm, 167g
  • Display: 5.0in 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1
  • Camera: 20-megapixel sensor
  • Battery: 2420mAh

Nokia’s Lumia 930 reflects a real achievement for Microsoft’s new phone division. It’s got very similar specs inside to the Lumia 1520 but shrinks down the size and gives it a much slicker design. The camera is all the same as before, one of the most impressive on the market. There’s some really good battery life on board plus some seriously speedy performance compared to other Nokia handsets. Windows Phone 8.1 still has some serious issues but it’s grown a lot with this update and is on its way to becoming the OS it was always meant to be.

You can read our review here.

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