Best Mobile Phones In 2014: A Game Of Phones Feat. OnePlus One, HTC One M8, LG G3 & Samsung Galaxy S5

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.

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.

OnePlus One

  • Dimensions: 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm, 162g
  • Display: 5.5-inch
  • Processor & RAM: 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, 3GB RAM
  • OS: CyanogenMod 11S
  • Camera: 13-megapixel sensor
  • Battery: 3100mAh

Now for the new kid on the block. OnePlus is less than two years old and has spent all that time developing a new high-end handset with a cheap price. The OnePlus One is something stunning and will be launching in both the UK and the US during Q2.

Much like this year's big flagship devices the One comes with a Snapdragon 801 chip with a quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz. On top of that there’s 3GB of RAM running behind the scenes.

The display is 5.5-inch Full HD and has a pixel density of 401ppi. Operating system wise it runs on CyanogenMod 11S which is based on Android 4.4 KitKat. There’s a 3,100 mAh Li-Po battery inside to power it all and the camera is a powerful 13MP.

The design of the handset as a whole is pretty stunning as well, there’s a full metal body encompassing the handset with dimensions of 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm. Right at the bottom there’s some specifically designed JBL stereo speakers to boost the sound.

To top it all off you can get both 16GB or 64GB versions but unlike other manufacturers there’s not a massive price jump between the two; the 64GB model costs just £40 more than the 16GB. Manufactures such as Apple will charge at least £100 for that kind of storage bump.

The main problem with the OnePlus One, especially for those in the UK, is its incompatibility with some 4G networks. To learn more read our review which tells you exactly which networks aren’t compatible.

Read our review here.

LG G3

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 146 x 74 x 8.9 mm, 149g
  • Display: 5.5-inch, 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Android Jelly Bean 4.4.2
  • Camera: 13-megapixel resolution
  • Battery: 3000mAh

LG’s G2 was a stronger contender for the best Android handset of 2013 and the company has only improved it with the next iteration. An even larger 5.5-inch beautiful display is provided giving a fantastic screen resolution making pictures and video look gorgeous.

The camera is pretty nifty and arguably takes better photos than some of the other flagship devices you can pick up today. Plus LG has entirely redesigned the look of UI with an even flatter but more colourful design.

There’s still those buttons on the back which was a innovative new feature on the LG G2 and the Knock On/Knock Code features to turn your handset on have also made the jump. It’s not the cheapest phone on the market but if you’re looking for high performance, a gorgeous display and an interesting design the G3 could be for you.

Read our review here. 

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 review 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 review 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 review here.

Nexus 5

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.

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.

Huawei Ascend P7

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 139.8 x 68.8 x 6.5 mm , 124g
  • Display: 5.0-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Processor & RAM: 1.8GHz quad-core HiSilicon Kirin 910T, 2GB of RAM
  • OS: Android KitKat 4.4
  • Camera: 13-megapixel camera
  • Battery: 2500mAh

Huawei isn’t creating the most revolutionary handsets on the planet but its products are going down an absolute storm in emerging markets. The China based manufacturer is now trying its best to break into western markets and this could be the handset to do it. We think the Ascend P7 looks something akin to a mix of the original couple of iPhones and Sony’s Xperia Z series.

There’s a beautiful glass backed square design with metal edges. It looks quite similar to a Sony Xperia Z handset but there’s a rounded bottom instead of all being square and it's a good deal more svelte than Sony's offering. The display is gorgeous with some ultra-thin bezels around the sides.

In our testing so far, battery life has left something to be desired as it only has a 2,500mAh unit, though power saving modes do help somewhat. The processor seems capable enough but it's not a powerhouse on the same level as the current crop of Snapdragon 800/801-based flagships. It’s also only available in China, Italy and the UK - sorry American fans. You’ll get Android 4.4 KitKat straight up though and there’s also an impressive 13MP camera to take your photos with.

Read our hands-on here. A full review is coming soon.

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.

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