From Samsung to Sony and Apple to HTC, Matt Warman rounds up the ten best mobile phones on the market today.
Available now: the top 10
Apple iPhone 5S
The iPhone 5S features Apple's new A7 chip, making it "the world’s first smartphone", according to Apple, with a 64-bit processor for blazing fast performance. It includes an 8-megapixel iSight camera with True Tone flash and Touch ID, a new way to unlock your phone with just the touch of a finger. iPhone 5S comes with iOS 7, the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone, and new features such as Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop, enhanced Photos, Safari, Siri and iTunes Radio. It also includes the new M7 motion coprocessor that gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to offload work from the A7 for improved power efficiency. iPhone 5S is available in three metallic finishes including gold, silver and Space Grey.
Screen: 4" 1136x640, Processor: A7, Storage: 16 / 32 / 64GB, Camera: 8MP, 1080p, Size: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm, 158g
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Apple iPhone 5C
The iPhone 5C has a plastic body with a steel reinforced frame and comes in five colours—blue, green, pink, yellow and white. It has a 4-inch Retina display, an 8 megapixel iSight camera and runs on the A6 chip. iPhone 5C comes with more 4G LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world, according to Apple, as well as a new FaceTime HD camera, and iOS 7, the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone. The iPhone offers 10 hours of talk time on 3G networks, up to 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi and LTE networks and up to 8 hours on 3G networks, and up to 10 hours of video playback and up to 40 hours of audio playback. iOS 7 has many new features, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop, enhanced Photos, Safari, Siri and iTunes Radio. iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Numbers and Keynote are also available as free downloads.
Screen: 4" 1136x640, Processor: A6, Storage: 16 / 32GB; Camera: 8MP, 1080p, Size: 124.4 x 59.2 x 8.97 mm, 132g
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Sony Xperia Z1
Running Android 4.2, the Z1 was announced by Sony at the IFA electronics fair in Berlin and is expected to be picked up by a range of major carriers in the UK, including EE who will offer their ‘double-speed’ 4G service on the device for £41 per month plus £29.99 up front. It also features a 3,000mAh battery and 14GB of internal memory, with a quad core 2.2GHz processor. The new device continues Sony’s aim to improve its smartphone line-up, and is the first mainstream such device to feature a 21-megapixel camera.
Screen: 5” 1920x1080, Processor: 2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8974 Quad Core, Storage: Up to 16GB, 2GB RAM, Camera: 20.7MP with Sony Exmor RS, Size: 144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm; 169g
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Samsung Galaxy S4
There’s a 13MP camera and a 5” screen packed into a smaller, lighter, thinner body than the S3, and there’s new eye-tracking technology that simply means you have to tilt your head to scroll on the screen. It’s not perfect but it works. Hovering your finger above a photo or email lets you preview more of it, which works rather more consistently. And there are health features that track how far you’ve walked, a built-in remote control and a deal to print out your photographs. Just in case you feel the need, you can now even take pictures with both the front and the rear cameras at the same time. It packs more screen into the hand than has ever been possible before, and that 5” display offers more pixels per inch than any previous device, and more than the eye can see anyway. It’s compelling in a way that is becoming standard on top of the range mobiles, regardless of the specifications. I think Samsung’s design is excellent, and focusing purely on plastic is to value style over the substance of features, camera, battery life and more.
Screen: 5” Full HD Storage: 2GB RAM; 16/32/64GB + microSD Camera: 13MP (rear); 2MP (front) Size: 69.8 x 136.6 x 7.9mm; 130g
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The latest phone from struggling giant HTC is in a sense a return to form – the new camera is dubbed ultrapixel because of its remarkable low-light performance, and called Zoe after the zoetrope. There’s also a new interface that adds to Android and seeks to aggregate all your social media and news feeds into a single place, great sound and a screen as good as the Xperia Z. HTC knows that much of this is to try to fill idle moments when you’d be fiddling with your phone anyway but the effect is to nudge towards a very different kind of feel for software. It’s user-friendly and design-wise there’s also a lot to like in the solid aluminium unibody construction and a lovely screen. HTC deserves to do well with this device, and may yet recapture its glory days.
Screen: 4.7”, 1920x1080; Processor: 1.7GHz quadcore; Storage: 16/32GB; Camera: 4MP Ultrapixel, 2688x1520; Size: 137x68x9.3mm, 143g
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The HTC One Mini is now also available, sporting a slower processor, a 1.4Ghz dual core, less storage at just 16GB and a lower resolution display. But it retains Blinkfeed, the social aggregator that combines all your news and social feeds into one place, the Boomsound speakers, and the ultrapixel camera that takes really excellent photographs, particularly in low light, and offers the ‘Zoe’ mini films. Samsung has cut back more features for its equivalent device, the S4 Mini.
Screen: 4.3”, 1280x720; Processor: 1.4 GHz dual-core Snapdragon; Storage: 16GB; Camera: 8MP, 1080p; Size: 132x63.2x9.3mm, 122g
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Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Galaxy Note 3 is, as the name implies, Samsung's third generation of a product that attempts to make pen and paper redundant – I really liked the Note 2, and the Note 3 is even better. What the new model adds is a good number of particularly useful new ideas: S Note, the notetaking programme is now accompanied by ‘Action Memo’. Perhaps most useful is Pen Window, which allows you to draw a rectangle whatever size you want and then have another programme running in it. On one level the Galaxy Note 3 is simply an iterative improvement over the existing, excellent models – but those improvements are pretty substantial leaps.
Screen: 5.7”, 1080x1920; Processor: 1.6GHz quadcore; Storage: 16/32/64GB, MicroSD; Camera: 13MP, 1080p; Size: 151x79x8.3mm, 168g
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Motorola Moto G
The Moto G is a solidly built plastic phone with a 4.5” screen, running the latest version of Android to be in any sort of widespread circulation. So far, so unexciting if you’re in the market for a Galaxy S4 or an HTC One. But the Moto G is £135: compared to its rivals at that price, it’s in another league. It would be easy to say the Moto G is not a device to excite geeks: that would be wrong. This is a phone that shows the potential for technology to get better and cheaper. And it’s also the phone to recommend to everyone on a budget, or to anyone who wants to enter the smartphone world for the first time.
Screen 4.5-inch display, 1280 x 720 LCD screen, 329ppi Processor quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 Storage 8/16GB Camera 5MP Size 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6mm
Google Nexus 5
The underlying impression is that with the Nexus 5 Google is producing yet another smartphone that proves a point: its software can not only power premium devices sold for a decent price, but it can also lead the way with innovative ideas that will come to fruition in the future and probably in devices made by others. At this price, that sort of innovation is easy to get excited about.
Display 4.95-inch Full HD IPS (1920×1080, 445ppi), Gorilla Glass 3 OS Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) Camera 8MP rear facing with Optical Image Stabilization (1.3MP front) Battery 2,300mAh (17 hours talk time, 7 hours internet on LTE) CPU 2.3Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (quad-core)Weight: 4.59oz (130g) Dimensions 69.17 x 137.84 x 8.59mm Storage 16GB or 32GB
Nokia Lumia 1520
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better screen than that on the Nokia Lumia 1520 smartphone. And if all the main operating systems were starting with no apps and zero momentum, I’m not sure I’ve seen a better operating system than the latest version of Windows Phone. Add to that Nokia’s famous build quality and the 1520 ought surely to be the top large-screen mobile on the market.
Dimensions: 162.8 x 85.4 x 8.7mm Display size: 6 '' (1920 x 1080) Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-core 2.2 GHz User data storage: In device, Memory card, SkyDrive cloud storage RAM: 2 GB Mass memory: 32 GB
And the best of the rest...
Nokia Lumia 925
Nokia has a new flagship, and the Lumia 925 comes just six months after the Lumia 920. Where its predecessor was defined by its heaviness, this new model is surprisingly light.Part of that is down to a surprising polycarbonate back, which feels both pleasingly tactile and anything but flagship, compared to the metal and glass designs of Apple, HTC and even Huawei. It also provides a two-tone back, which some people will love and many will likely not. Nonetheless, with a slightly square design, the 925 feels premium overall, and benefits from the luxurious look of Windows Phone. A 1.4GHz Snapdrogon processor provides enough oomph, while a 2,000mAh is the usual, disappointing level that means you need to plug it in mid-afternoon, and there’s no SD card either. But a 4.5” display with a 1280x768 display is impressive, there’s now an FM radio and, as usual, Nokia’s emphasis on camera performance
Screen: 4.5”, 1280x768; Processor: 1.5GHz dualcore; Storage: 16GB; Camera: 8.7MP, 1080p; Size: 129x70.6x8.5mm, 139g
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Huawei Ascend P6
Huawei’s Ascend P6 is a remarkable device – at just 6.18mm thin it turns heads in a way that no other phone in its £21-5 per month price range can. Made entirely of glass and steel, there’s distinctly something of the iPhone 4 or 4S about it, with a black edge on a silver frame. If Apple was cross at Samsung’s approach to design, it’s hard to see the iPad-maker being completely sanguine about the P6. And yet perhaps it is Samsung who should be worried: Huawei, a giant of Chinese manufacturing and behind much of the internet’s infrastructure, is trying to do to Samsung what Samsung itself once did to Apple. The P6 is a premium product, albeit only with 3G, at a cheaper price that Samsung’s own, and it uses a version of Android that is modified in a bid to make it easier to use. It features a quad-core processor and offers a better front-facing camera (5MP) than any other on the market. It is, for now at least, the world’s thinnest phone and it features clever design tricks such as a pin to make the extraction of the SD card or SIM card easier. None of this is revolutionary, but it is handy.
Screen: 4.7” 1280X720 Storage: 8GB (4.7BG user available), 2 GB RAM Camera: 8 MP 3264 x 2448p Size: 132.7 x 65.5 x 6.2mm; 120g
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This is the first device from the manufacturer formerly known as RIM to use both the new version of its software, BB10, first seen on the Z10, and also to feature a physical keyboard.That means there are two huge advantages: its small screen drains the battery a little less and means it lasts longer; and the keyboard makes typing the BlackBerry way possible again. Both of these are hugely important to the target market of business people, and both are serious successes. So now there are all the advantages of a modern operating system, from easy web browsing, a growing library of apps and the famed BlackBerry email system. Plus there are the new ideas of the BlackBerry Hub, where all your emails and messages live in one place, and BlackBerry Balance, which easily separates Work and Personal life, even changing the screen colour to differentiate the two.
Screen: 3.1", 720×720 Processor: Dual core 1.5GHz processor Storage: 2GB RAM 16GB storage, expandable via microSD (supports up to 32GB cards) Processor: Dual core 1.5GHz processor Camera: 8MP (rear) 2MP (front)
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Google LG Nexus 4
LG’s Nexus device is a pure Google experience, with no embellishments but those made by Google themselves. As such it takes some customising but at £239 without a contract many consumers have been totally convinced that it is an excellent device. They’re right, and running the latest Android OS it also features updates direct from Google and additional features that haven’t made it to many other handsets yet, including the Photo Sphere technology that means you can take immersive panoramas, as well as wireless charging. The screen isn’t as big as rivals, the design isn’t as conspicuous and – silly as it sounds – the back is ludicrously slippery. But this is Google’s best bargain yet.
Screen: 4.7”, 768x1280; Processor: 1.5GHz quadcore; Storage: 8/16GB; Camera: 8MP, 1080p; Size: 134x69x9.1mm, 139g
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Sony Xperia Z
Sony’s comeback phone is a top device – it’s got a gorgeous, HD screen and a waterproof design that makes a real, minimalist statement. It is big, with a 5” screen, and it feels big in the hand thanks to the square corners, but it is also positioned to capitalise on its size: that screen really comes into its own playing films, the 13MP camera looks almost as good as many standalone cameras and yet it all comes in a package less than 8mm thin. Add in Android apps that make Sony’s entertainment network useful and there’s a lot to like. It’s also got a decent range of accessories available, from cases by third parties to the excellent companion tablet, the Tablet Z.
Screen: 5”, 1920x1080; Processor: 1.5GHz quadcore; Storage: 16GB, MicroSD; Camera: 13.1MP, 1080p; Size: 139x71x7.9mm, 146g
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Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia's newest handset places great emphasis on its photographic capabilities, boasting a second generation 41-megapixel sensor, and available in a choice of yellow, white or black. It claims to 'reinvent zoom, enabling people to discover more detail than the eye can see' due to its PureView technology. Deploying features such as optical image stabilisation, the device claims to be able to produce some of the sharpest images possible on any digital camera. A similar device, the Pureview 808, launched last year, but ran on the now defunct Symbian operating system. The Lumia 1020 includes a new application called Nokia Pro Camera, designed to make it easy for anyone to take professional quality images. Either before a picture is taken or after it has been shot, the user can see how the zoom capability and the chosen settings will affect the final photo or video. Another new feature is dual capture, which simultaneously takes a high resolution 38-megapixel image to set aside for editing, and creates a 5-megapixel picture to share to social networks via Windows Phone 8. The 1020 is expected to hit UK shelves from September.
Screen: 4.5” 1280X768 Storage: 32GB, 2GB RAM, Free Cloud storage 7GB, Camera: 41 MP PureView, Size: 130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4mm; 158g
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