As 2014 draws to a close, it’s time to look at where technological innovation was at its best. The smartphone industry has continued to grow with no hints of a slow-down; and with screen sizes increasing with each new release questions have begun to appear on whether smartphones and tablets will soon merge.
Below is a compilation of the five best smartphones of 2014. We have taken into account the prices, features, specs, user reviews and availability for each and every device and listed it accordingly. Therefore, do not expect to only see the five most expensive devices available – value for money is what makes a product stand out.
The fact that the Sony Xperia Z3 is last on this list shows how far smartphones have come in 2014. A full 5.2inch HD screen with multi-touch technology, quad-core processor, dedicated GPU and a mind-blowing 20MP camera all make the Z3 one of the most feature-packed devices of the year.
Sony kept with Android and added their own touches, which for the most part do not ruin the user experience as does Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Sony’s tweaks include the Bravia engine which make colours on the 5.2inch display vivid and bring a whole new meaning to surreal.
There’s full support for an external keyboard and mouse making the Z3 a portable tablet pc. Last year’s Z2 could have quite easily made it to the list, but the Z3 is placed at 5 because we feel there is something missing.
It’s the brand image that puts the iPhone 6 in ahead of the impressive Sony Xperia Z3. Apple have managed to seamlessly merge a mobile OS into a device that just simply works. It boasts decent features too, including a 4.7inch display, dedicated graphics processor and a very sufficient 8MP camera. Though there is only 1GB RAM, Apple’s hardware has been built to work effortlessly with it’s operating system and that’s what keeps Apple in our list.
Note: The iPhone 6 Plus, also known as the bendy iPhone was not included in the list for obvious reasons. A flexible aluminium housing were not part of the original specifications.
We’d have to be Apple fanboys to not include the Samsung Galaxy S5 in this list. Every year, the Galaxy line-up brings a new smartphone to our hands, and every year it is packed with exciting new features that are yet to be seen anywhere else. Although most of these features will hardly ever be used in a day-to-day basis, they add value to a device which is well below the RRP of it’s closest competitor: the Apple iPhone.
The S5 features a 5.1inch full 1080p HD display backed by a 5K 16MP rear camera for taking images. Full 1080p HD video recording is available at 60fps and a quad-core processor along with a dedicated GPU make mince meat out of any processor-heavy tasks. Obviously, the S5 packs all the connectivity and media features expected of a high-end device but it let down by Samsung’s tampering of the Android UI with TouchWiz.
At number two is the LG G3 which launched in May. It narrowly beats the Samsung Galaxy S5 only because it’s display and build quality edges the standard found in the Galaxy line-up. The G3 is compatible with the latest version of Android and packs expandable memory as well as a generous helping of RAM. A 2.5GHz Krait 400 quad-core processor and an Andreno 300 dedicated GPU also make it one of 2014’s most powerful smartphones along with a superb 4K rear 13MP camera and a front 2MP selfie snapper.
There is some bloatware in the Android OS, however it is minimal and in some places nice to use. The G3 was the very pinnacle of smartphones when it was released, but due to LG’s relative inexperience in the field it lost most of it’s traction a few months after release.
Our winner for 2014 has got to be the best value-for-money smartphone… Ever! At approximately £239 for the 16GB variant, the One packs a full 5-inch 1080p display, 3GB DDR3 RAM and a quad-core processor! It also features everything from the devices listed above including WiFi, NFC, Multi-touch display and a dedicated GPU. The 13MP rear camera is capable of 4K video recording and the front selfie camera is a generous 5MP snapper.
Taking in to account the OnePlus One has every feature a premium smartphone should have already puts it in to the top five, but the low price tag cements it’s position at number one as our favourite smartphone for 2014.