Best Mobile Phones In 2014: A Game Of Phones

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. 

HTC One M8

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4 mm, 160 g
  • Display: 5-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Android KitKat 4.4
  • Camera: Dual 4-megapixel camera
  • Battery: 2600mAh

When HTC released the HTC One in 2013 it did an impressive job in terms of design, but didn't manage to shift the phone in the quantities it wanted. As a result, the successor model is kind of a big deal for the company. Fortunately, with the HTC One M8 HTC really has stepped up to the plate. There’s an enlarged 5-inch Full HD 1080p display and a top of the range Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor to power it. RAM is still rated at 2GB to keep it ticking over and you get Android KitKat 4.4 out of the box.

On top of that is HTC’s own user interface, Sense 6.0. It’s had an entirely new redesign with a handful of extra functionality, but most importantly it looks great. The whole handset is now one aluminium uni-body which feels great in the hand. To top it all off, it’s arguably the best looking mobile phone on the market.

Read our hands-on here.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm, 145g
  • Display: 5.1-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Android KitKat 4.4
  • Camera: 16-megapixel camera
  • Battery: 2800mAh

Samsung’s latest flagship handset hasn’t broken the mould but instead built upon what was already an impressive piece of kit. Functionality is the aim of the game here and Samsung’s brought in a load of new features for its latest device, including a heart-rate monitor and a power-saving mode you can activate when you’re running low on battery.

The Galaxy S5 has an impressive 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 but still only has 2GB of RAM which is a bit of a shame. The display is fantastic though, at 5.1-inches many are calling it the brightest and most impressive display available right now.

We aren’t fans of the design, but it may appeal to some. It now has a dimpled back panel, but if it’s not your thing you can always get a case for it.

Read our hands-on here.

Sony Xperia Z2

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm, 163g
  • Display: 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM
  • OS: Android KitKat 4.4
  • Camera: 20.7-megapixel camera
  • Battery: 3200mAh

Announced at Mobile World Congress 2014, Sony’s Xperia Z2 comes only six months after the release of the Xperia Z1, a phone we really took a liking to. This time it’s a gentle upgrade in most areas but it’s all for the better. There’s an even more powerful Snapdragon 801 processor with an impressive 3GB of RAM included for good measure.

Android KitKat 4.4 comes pre-installed and there’s the same 20.7-megapixel camera included with extra features such as a slow-motion mode and 4K video capture. The display has been ramped up from 5-inches to 5.2-inches and bezels have been slimmed down to give more room for the display on the handset.

It’s lighter and slimmer than the previous device as well. Some may still find it unweildy in the hand, but if that’s you, Sony has you covered with another handset nearer the end of this list.

Read our hands on here.

Nexus 5

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6 mm, 130 g
  • Display: 4.95-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800
  • OS: Android KitKat 4.4
  • Camera: 8-megapixel resolution
  • Battery: 2300mAh

Google's fifth generation Nexus has been about for a few months now, but it's still bloody good. At only £299 (via Google play) it's also a bargain. As our review put it: "The Nexus 4 was slippery in the hand and as fragile as an osteoporotic 93-year old. Reviews pointed this out and Google and/or LG took note, swapping out the Nexus 4’s glass back panel in favour of something more grippy and durable. If it looks familiar it should: it’s the same rubberized material used on the Nexus 7."

Read our review here.

iPhone 5s

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 123 x 59 x 7.6mm, 112g
  • Display: 4-inch, 640 x 1136 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: Apple A7,
  • OS: Apple iOS 7.1
  • Camera: 8-megapixel resolution
  • Battery: 1560mAh

The latest and greatest iPhone handset is now one of the older handsets on the list. Released in September 2013, it’s now 6 months old and still being compared to nrand new handsets featured on the list like the HTC One M8. Even though it’s aging quickly, it's still fast and there’s that new fingerprint scanner. What's not to like about the latest iteration of the iPhone? With a snazzy 64-bit processor and an M7 motion co-processor, its specs will knock your socks off.

The display is still the same sort of size as before with a 4-inch screen but there’s clearly a big marker for smaller screen handsets, just look at the sales figures. With the iPhone 5s you’ll also get access to Apple’s iOS 7.1 operating system which builds upon all the changes and design overhaul we saw in iOS 7.

As our reviewer Michael Grothaus put it: "The iPhone 5s is the best smartphone Apple has ever made and the fastest smartphone on the planet. If you are a speed junkie or a fitness buff, ditch your iPhone 5 for the iPhone 5s. It’s well worth it. It’s also worth it for the camera improvements if you enjoy taking lots of pics with your iPhone."

Read our review here.

LG G2

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm, 143g
  • Display: 5.2-inch, 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Android Jelly Bean 4.2
  • Camera: 13-megapixel resolution
  • Battery: 3000mAh

LG's flagship G2 is a strong contender for the best Android handset. On the front, there's a 5.2-inch HD display, while the back features a rather oddly-placed volume/power button on the back alongside the camera. The camera is a 13-megapixel snapper with advanced optical image stabilisation allowing for super-crisp snaps.

Packed inside, there's 2GB RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.2GHz. The LG G2 ships with Android 4.2.2, although we're hopeful this will be updated to Android 4.3 in the near future.

Read our review here.

Nokia Lumia 1020

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm, 158g
  • Display: 4.5-inch 768 x 1280 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 1.5GHz Snapdragon, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Microsoft Windows Phone 8
  • Camera: 41-megapixel sensor
  • Battery: 2000mAh

Nothing divides opinion like Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, but what Nokia has come to the table with here cannot be disputed. The Nokia Lumia 1020’s imaging capabilities, with its 41-megapixel PureView camera, are unprecedented within the mobile space. To back it up there’s a good looking 4.5-inch AMOLED screen made of Gorilla Glass 3.

The processor isn’t the best at 1.5GHz, but there’s 2GB of RAM and a huge 32GB of internal storage. On top of that there’s all the customisation you get with the Lumia range including the beautiful yellow handset you can see above.

Read our review here.

BlackBerry Z10

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 130 x 65.6 x 9 mm, 137.5g
  • Display: 4.2-inch 1280x768 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 + 2GB of RAM
  • OS: BlackBerry 10
  • Camera: 8-megapixel camera
  • Battery: 1800mAh

The BlackBerry Z10. The new BlackBerry brand. And BlackBerry 10 – three new things that the company formerly known as RIM ushered into being in the first quarter of 2013. Expectation was high ahead of launch, networks committed early, and initial reviews – although not exactly glowing – were generally pretty good. Is BlackBerry back?

Our initial conclusion of the handset was that it was good, but not great. BlackBerry 10 is very much a work in progress, and that’s evident when using the Z10. Teething issues aside, the Z10 has a lot going for it with its excellent keyboard, crisp display, easy-to-develop-for platform, and expansive multimedia support.

Read our review here.

BlackBerry Q10

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 119.6 x 66.8 x 10.4 mm, 139g
  • Display:3.1-inch, 720 x 720 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4, 2GB RAM
  • OS: BlackBerry 10
  • Camera: 8-megapixel resolution
  • Battery: 2100mAh

BlackBerry's Q10 follows on from the BlackBerry Z10 touch-only model with an old school physical QWERTY keyboard. It's still using the latest BlackBerry 10 software, however, and the keyboard changes the experience considerably.

All the perks are already there - a slick multitasking experience, nifty widgets, the BlackBerry Hub and a reasonably healthy app ecosystem - but the immediacy of the keyboard means you can just start typing and the universal search function gets you where you need to be sharpish.

Apart from this, the hardware onboard does a good job of keeping the experience in-line with what we've already seen on the BlackBerry Z10. It has a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and a 720p Super AMOLED display. Performance is smooth, fast and reliable, while the handset's exterior build is satisfying to get to grips with.

Read our review here.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 127 x 65 x 9.5mm
  • Display: 4.3-inch 1280x720 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.2 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 + 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Android Jelly Bean version 4.3
  • Camera: 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS
  • Battery: 2300mAh

Introducing the Sony Xperia Z1 Mini. One of the main criticisms of the original handset is the large screen; it could easily be a pain for smaller hands. Sony has listened and created the Compact handset, a small downgrade in only a few specs for a much smaller and tighter handset.

First off the battery and display resolution have taken a bit of a hit, but that will always happen on smaller models. It's down to a 720p resolution and a 2,300mAh battery cell. Secondly the handset is a little bit thicker but because of a smaller display it means it’s easier to fit in your pocket in general.

However, the high-end processor remains the same super-fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, the design is still eye-catching and there's still plenty of storage, microSD support and a potent 20MP camera on the back.

It’s a great design feat that Sony has managed to keep such high end specs inside a smaller handset like this. We’re very impressed. Expect a review very soon.

Read our review here.

Disqus - noscript

Its funny these phones are not even running the latest jellybean 4.2.2 yet the nexus 4
Is left of the list!!! Sent from my nexus 4 running Jellybean 4.2.2.

Couldn't agree more. I use the Nexus 4 also – best Android device around in my opinion. This article's about the best phones launched inside 2013, though. Nexus 4 is a 2012 handset.

Nexus phones suck, along with LG and Samsung phones. Cheap smartphone. Sony, HTC, and Apple are top. And guys (2013), your phone is from 2012. Buy a new one and post back. Sent from my Xperia Z running 4.1.2(and still better than your 4.2.2)

The nexus 4 is only the best smartphone if your priority is having the latest software. Everywhere else it lacks the same grunt that newer phones have.
Having said that, I'll take it any day over the HTC One. Despite the phenomenal hype following that handset, I think it's one of the poorest in years. It's got a doggy camera, a display that only looks good at ui level. Video playback is below average and graphics look a mess. Sense is cumbersome and bloated without any added functionality unlike touchwiz. Blinkfeeds is a very bad idea, boomsound is for teenagers and the very immature amongst us. Zoe? Not quite sure what the benefit of that is. It gets a lot of praise but whenever it's demonstrated, it just looks like a glorified slideshow and a poor one at that.
Seriously I cannot for the life of me, understand what all the hype is about. It's even still 4.7 inches which is the same as the One x. It's like they sacrificed the display size to bring us boomsound. What a joke!
the top android devices announced this year are the S4 and Xperia Z. Just don't see the HTC challenging those two. Have you people actually checked out the gaming graphics on that phone? Horrible!!!!!

Funny how you forgot about ASUS. The padfone 2 has 13mp camera, 60 fps video recording, quad core snapdragon, 2 gig ram, and is not as big as a shoe. It also becomes a 4g tablet.... Bonus to that is all your apps in one device. Next time compare everything.

Hey, it's an on-going list, one that we'll be adding handsets to as and when we test them. The Padfone 2 is great, we loved it, but I haven't got round to adding it to the list yet! Rest assured it'll be on there soon enough.

No LTE

LTE coverage is pretty sparse in the UK. We have EE, and that's about it. That will change in Q3 when O2 and Vodafone release their services, so until then LTE isn't an option for most of us here in the UK.

Been using samsung s3, iphone and the lumias for sometime now and despite all the roar about samsung s3..honestly i think the s3 is a crap not worthy of its price tag. Other than sharing the advantages of the android os wc os very good due to its openess and super fast downloads, the s3 is more like a tothless lion roaring..slow and draggy when being used often despite its much hyped specs, useless features like smart stay which tends to be dumb by doing the opposite of what it is supposed to do and its screen dims whenever it is used outdoors and the most hated feature ie. the broom apps which is supposed to sweep the active memory to make the phone thinks faster each time the bar turns red. Despite the lack of apps available and its weird windows 8 interface wc is a software issue by the way, the lumia is a fine phone way better than the S3 in terms of fluidity, screen responsiveness and ease of use. Never used an HTC before..but i hope to be able get one soon. For those out there who wishes to buy a new phone..please do not decide based only on the specs offered..but please look also for its fluidity and compitability with the OS and whether or not the special features offered really works or not. For me..just like other home appliances products made by samsung..they are really brave by offering bundles of new features and functions as soon as it is available, but one should be aware that such functions may not really work as well as it is portrayed to be. For an android..i would rather go for a sony or HTC as todate. But I know that Samsung will always come out courageously with new features..and I will always give it a test to make sure that it works and I will surely buy a samsung one day:-)

Did not you miss out Samsung Galalxy S4. For me Galaxy S4 wins in features, HTC One wins in design and Xperia Z wins in ruggedness.

Don't ignore lava iris 458Q with android 4.2 jellybean ,quad-core processor & 8 MP camera.

apple was number WAS but you know what nothing is better than the original from was it will soon go back to is and samsung and htc go take those knock offs apple and buy the correct original Iphone

hahaha tim what are u saying apple sucks dude only look at the htc onex it came out 2011 or 2010 iam not sure and the iphone4s came out 2011 or 2012 and the htc one x is better than the iphone 4s htc one have 4ultrapixel camera back and front is 2.1mpx yes iphone 5 1gb RAM htc one 2gb RAM screen resolution iphone 5 has 640 x 1136 pixels htc one has 1080x1136pixels iphone 5 garanty 1year htc one garanty 2years iphone 5 has 8megapixel mega not ultra at the back and in front 1.2mpx

iphone 5 4G: LTE 1800 htc one 4G: LTE 800/1800/2600 yes iphone 5 1.3GHZ htc one 1.7GHz iphone 5 dimensions is 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm htc one 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm htc one: HSPA+; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL data Rate iphone 5 so please all who wrote that iphone 5 and apple is best only know what are u writing before u will do it

Been Using Lava Smart Phone I love to buy his xtron plus

Lava phones aren't available in the UK - this is a UK-facing site and so is the content, hence why we don't talk about the brand.

Apple really does suck. I'm on my 3rd iPhone 4 and it's absolute garbage. Each time I've gone in to the "Geniuses" they've sent me to my provider blaming them and in the end it turns out to be a hardware problem. I've had it!!!!! I'll never buy another Apple product again!
APPLE DIED ALONG WITH STEVE JOBS...

iPhone started out great, but is now absolute garbage!!!

Samsung Galaxy S4 is the best smartphones!!!

You missed the OPPO 5...

Bigger fast

To Tony Okoro,

You say "Boom sound is for kids" then criticize the "gaming graphics"? Good sound is for all to appreciate, (or are you saying only kids listen to music on their phones?) "gaming" is for kids (or adults behaving like one). Maybe you just don't like the term "boom sound" and I agree it is a bit juvenile. But that has more to do with marketing than any fault in the device. I happen to think that a phone is for communication and that the playback of music or taking pictures is best done on dedicated devices. However, the sound on the HTC is better than the competition so it has the edge in that area. Well done HTC. So what's your problem with that exactly?

The areas of the HTC ONE you criticize are the ones that most of the expert reviewers think are outstanding. THAT is what the "hype" is about and I know who I think probably knows best. I have the latest HTC ONE, I am no expert and don't profess to be, but I love it. As far as the camera is concerned, it performs very well indeed, but then if you really want to take good photographs, buy a camera! Cameras in phones are "for kids" and snapshots.

The graphics look a mess to you? Only to you it seems, everyone else thinks they are superb!

I just have a sneaky feeling you work for Nokia or Apple!

what about s4?

"Gaming is for kids." I'm so sick of this stigmata gaming has. I guess I should proclaim Popeyes or KFC is only for black people! Or maybe that tennis is for girls only! Stereotypes ftw!
"Cameras in phones are 'for kids' and snapshots." And after you just used the term 'kids' as a negative. Double standard.

Galaxy S4 is awesome...

This guys obviously a iphone lover..being he liked all the mini phones...I love my note 3..u couldnt "give" me a phone with a little screen like the iPhone has...once u get your hands on a 5.7" full hd 1080p amoled screen...then hold a iphone..its like a little girls play toy

Samsung galaxy s4 is the best

note 3? that phone good in specs and perks, but not the best yet, i heard about 2014 smartphone evolution tech, therefor, its stil early to compare those 2011-2014 best smartphone, and cheers mate,

I don't want an android phone I wan a windws phone because I like that os, but unfortunately I don't like how the nokia phones only have a very slow processor, but phones that have a very powerful processor are the likes of Sony and Samsung, but Samsung are all the same, haven't got as goods a camera as the nokia phones and Samsung and Sony has the android user interface, which is something that I hate. Sony is waterproof so I can use it outside, it is nicely styled but I don't think it comes in pink however Samsung phones does come in a nice pink colour which Is also a problem with the nokia phones because I don't think that they come in a pink colour either.

Can someone please help me, I want a Nokia phone for the camera, which is nicely built like the Sony phones, which is a nice pink colour, but also has a lot of ram and a powerful latest processor, can anyone please come up with some phones that match these requirements because I am coming up short thanks

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