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Nexus 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Sony Xperia Z3 and Amazon Fire Phone: Top 10 smartphones 2014

  • Author:V3 Staff
  • Source:V3 Staff
  • Release Date:2014-11-06

This year has been one of the most interesting in history for smartphone users. Not only have we seen a rapid influx of industry-changing technologies from new players in the market, such as Amazon and Silent Circle, we’ve seen a sweep of innovations from the more established mobile movers and shakers.

This is great, as the influx of new handsets and technologies will not only offer end users more choice, they’ll lead to fresh competition and innovation in the market as each player ups their game to win interest away from their competitors.

However, the flipside of this is that the wealth of innovative releases has made it difficult for many buyers to know what smartphone is best for them. Here to help we’ve created a definitive list of the 10 best smartphones due to arrive this year.

10. Nexus 6

With the Nexus 6 finally unveiled we have to say this is one of the few instances where the run up rumours didn't do the device justice.

Built by Motorola, the Nexus 6 is on paper one of the finest Google flagships ever made and features an impressive array of hardware and software features.

One of the biggest of these is its completely reworked aluminium design. This is a big deal as, while we were fans of the Nexus 5's unassuming design, we found its polycarbonate frame slightly flimsy and the device could break or pick up marks when subjected to even the smallest of bumps.

Even better, within its metallic frame the Nexus 6 houses some pretty top-end components. Chief of these are a sizeable 6in quad HD display, powerful quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 13MP rear camera with Optical Image Stabilisation.

Add to this Google's latest Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, with Samsung Knox integration and a reworked 'Material design', and we think the Nexus 6 could be one of the best handsets this year. Though we'll have to reserve judgement until we've actually tested it. 

9. Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon ended speculation that it was going to enter the handset market all the way back in June, when it unveiled its new Fire Phone.

While the Fire Phone has a fairly unassuming design, under its rubber frame it is full of innovations, featuring Amazon's custom Dynamic Perspective and Firefly technologies.

Dynamic Display is custom screen technology that aims to offer glasses-free 3D viewing experiences using the Fire Phone's four front cameras.

Firefly is an information service that lets Fire Phone owners use the phone's camera and microphone to pull data from Amazon's database on a number of things including books, DVDs, phone numbers, QR codes, CDs, URLS, barcodes and business cards.

8. LG G3
Since releasing its stellar G2 smartphone in 2013, Korean tech firm LG has worked hard to reestablish itself as an innovator in the market. Keeping this up in 2014 LG loaded its latest flagship G3 handset with a wealth of innovative software and hardware features.

Two of the most interesting of these are its 5.5in 2560x1440, 538ppi Quad HD display and advanced 13MP with Optical Image Stabilizer plus (OIS+) and Laser Autofocus rear camera.

The screen is interesting as it uses custom technology from LG that reduces the size of displayed pixels by 40 percent to push the screen's ppi-count past 500. This makes the screen, on paper, one of the sharpest ever made.

Laser Auto Focus is technology similar to that used by law enforcement agencies' radar guns and is designed to improve the phone's data capture and auto focus speeds - according to LG the tech lets the G3's camera focus images in 0.276 seconds making it one of the fastest camera phones available.

These features, combined with the G3's innovative design, which places the power and volume buttons on the phone's back, make it one of 2014's most interesting handsets. 

7. HTC One M8
Taiwanese firm HTC is probably the only company in the world that is as focused on design as Apple. As a result it's no surprise its 2014 flagship smartphone, the One M8, is one of the best looking and designed smartphones currently available.

Even better, underneath the One M8's robust, but elegant metal chassis lies a wealth of top end components. HTC's loaded the M8 with a high power Snapdragon 801 processor, high resolution 5in, 1080x1920, 441ppi, Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen and Duo camera technology.

Duo Camera is a new technology that lets One M8's 4.1MP Ultrapixel rear camera capture spatial information using a second supporting camera sensor. This lets users manually adjust the point of focus and create a depth-of-field effect on a captured image.

The technology also lets the One M8 know the distance of objects in the shot and use the information to selectively ignore items in the foreground when applying filters and make it a great choice for any blogger looking to get creative when shooting photos with their smartphone.

6. Blackphone 
Since news of the PRISM spying campaign broke, privacy has been at the forefront of many people's minds. The scandal has made people more concerned than ever about what happens to their data.

So secure communications specialist Silent Circle teamed up with hardware engineers at Geeksphone to create a new snoop-busting Blackphone. The Blackphone will run using a heavily customised, security-focused version of Android, codenamed PrivatOS.

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption protocol creator and Silent Circle president Phil Zimmermann has lent his support to the phone and promised it will let users securely send and receive data. This all adds up to mean the Blackphone is one of the best choices available for any privacy conscious smartphone buyer.

5. Sony Xperia Z3
Sony continued its rapid-release strategy at the IFA trade show in Berlin at the start of September when it unveiled its latest Xperia Z3 flagship smartphone.

The firm announced the Z3 a mere six months after its predecessor, the Xperia Z2, and while it doesn't offer huge improvements Sony has made a few important changes.

For starters the Xperia Z3 is thinner than the Xperia Z2 and will run using a more current version of Google’s Android 4.4 KitKat operating system.

Add to this its stellar 5.2in Full HD screen, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 20.7MP rear-facing camera and we can't help but be impressed by the Sony Xperia Z3.

4. Nokia Lumia 930
Microsoft made a big deal about Windows Phone 8.1, listing it as the first "enterprise-ready" version of its mobile OS, when it first arrived in the UK.

Having thoroughly tested Windows Phone 8.1 during our full review, we can understand why. Featuring advanced security and productivity features, such as a new Word Flow Keyboard, cheap replica watches and mobile device-management support plus all the inherently great mobile applications seen on previous Windows Phone versions, Windows Phone 8.1 is truly fit for business.

As a result it's no surprise the Lumia 930 – which, as well as running on Windows Phone 8.1 also features top-end hardware, including the Finnish firm's hallowed PureView imaging technology – is one of the best phones to arrive this year.

3. The iPhone 6 Plus
Apple claimed for years that users didn’t want big-screen smartphones and there was no need for a handset to have a display any bigger than 4inches. However, given the popularity of big screens in other ecosystems, such as Android and Windows Phone, it’s become increasingly clear this is a false hypothesis.

Finally aware of this, Apple this year unveiled its first-ever phablet, theiPhone 6 Plus. Featuring a sizeable 1920x1080, 401ppi Retina HD display the iPhone 6 Plus is the first ever handset to bring all the inherent benefits of iOS 8 to the big screen.

As an added incentive Apple’s actually optimised its latest iOS 8 mobile operating system to work better on the iPhone 6 Plus’s display. For example, the iPhone 6 Plus's Messaging and Mail apps have a special two-tier horizontal user interface and separate keyboard with special keys for actions such as cut and paste.

2. Samsung Galaxy S5 

Samsung handsets' releases always come with a lot of fanfare. Luckily this year the fuss was justified and Samsung unveiled what in our mind is its most innovative smartphone to date, the Galaxy S5.

Featuring a rugged, water and dust proof IP-certified design and wealth of top end components, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and upgraded 16MP rear camera, there is a lot to like about the Galaxy S5 from a hardware perspective.

However, the Galaxy S5's charms don't stop there. Samsung's also added custom fingerprint scanner and Knox security services to the phone.

The fingerprint scanner lets users set the Galaxy S5 to only unlock when the user has proven their identity using it. Knox is a sandboxing feature based on NSA technology that lets users set up work and personal areas on the phone. The work side is password protected and encrypts any data stored on it, ensuring it should remain safe should the Galaxy S5 be lost or stolen.

The combination of top end tech and robust security make the Galaxy S5 one of the best Android smartphones currently available to businesses.

1. iPhone 6 

Apple launched its iPhone 5S last September, and according to its own sales stats the handset was another winner. Apple managed to shift nine million iPhone 5S and 5C devices in the first three days of availability.

One year on the firm looks set to continue its success with its latestiPhone 6 smartphone. Unveiled in September the iPhone 6 is in many people’s eyes, including us here at V3, Apple’s most interesting smartphone to date.

Featuring a completely new curvaceous metal design, super-fast A8 processor Apple claims is 25 percent faster than the previous-generation A7 and sizeable 4.7in, 1334x750, 326ppi Retina HD display, coupled with Californian firm’s latest iOS 8 mobile operating system the iPhone 6 is on paper one of 2014’s finest handsets.


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Source from V3 Staff