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Top 10 flagship smartphones


News by admin on Tuesday September 23, 2014.

smartphone news · admin

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September has been a hot month for smartphone releases, with most tier-1 companies releasing at least one new handset during the month. Most brands have laid their blueprint for the next six months with new flagships, mid-range, and budget devices. The major platforms have plenty of firepower for the all-important holiday season, and what about the up and comers bubbling under?

Here are the best 11 flagship smartphones you can get right now. Okay, we said top 10, but we added an extra one.

The flagship market is that area of the smartphone world occupied by devices that companies use to push their ethos and sales. Usually the most important handset in the range, the flagship is the one you should be looking at if you want some of the best devices on the market.

Android

HTC One M8

One M8
One M8

In the rapid paced smartphone market, it is amazing to think of the One M8 as a little long in the tooth. Next to most of its rivals it is last gen in terms of some specs, but does that mean that HTC's flag bearer should be ignored? Definitely not, especially if you covet premium design and feel over everything else. Yes, the all-metal design of the One M8 is its calling card, but HTC backs it up with a potent blend of top shelf specs, slick software, and solid performance.

Should you buy? HTC is unlikely to update this handset until next year, so if you do get it you will have the company's flagship for around six months. The metal design is far more dividing than it was on last year's One M7, a handset that was a game changer in many ways. The M8 feels more of an upgrade than a seismic shift, while it is more slippery in hand so will not appeal to everyone. That said, even now this remains one of the best Android options.

Key specs: 5-inch 1080p screen, 441ppi, 4MP Ultrapixel camera, 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM, microSD slot, 2600 mAh battery.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Galaxy S5
Galaxy S5

Like the HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S5 launched at the start of the year and will not be replaced until the same time next year. Next to newer devices on the list it does lack the sheer hardware, but Sammy's flagship is still a fantastic all-round juggernaut. It may not ooze style and sophistication, but this knows what it is and is almost a perfect example of what a smartphone should be in 2014.

Should you buy? Well, I did say almost perfect. It is hard to be overly critical of the Galaxy S5 because it just gets so many things right, but at the same time it is hard to love it too. There is a distinct lack of flair here, minimum passion, and a thought that this is design by committee. That will hardly matter to some, but the opinion dividing TouchWiz Android interface might, while the plastic feel with faux leather still rankles with many. Despite that, there is no doubt that this a very rounded flagship experience and there is a reason why it is so popular.

Key specs: 5.1-inch Super AMOLED 1080p screen, 432ppi, 16MP camera, 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM, microSD slot, 2800 mAh battery.

Sony Xperia Z3

Xperia Z3
Xperia Z3

If you are looking for a giant leap in smartphone technology then the Xperia Z3 is probably not for you (Sony's early year release is the device for that). Instead, the Z3 is an incremental update over the outgoing Xperia Z2, which is not exactly a bad thing. The Xperia Z3 is typical Sony, combining slick premium build with decent software, solid performance, and oh yes, waterproofing. This is a very good smartphone, even if it lacks a certain showbiz next to its rivals.

Should you buy? If a brand new smartphone that is good looking and will do everything you want from it with ease is your thing, then yes you should. The Xperia Z3 is not without its problems, such as the fact that you could probably pick up the Z2 for much cheaper and get much the same experience. Sony is committed to is current design language, and while it can still look very good on some handsets, there is a feeling that it is looking tired across the flagship range.

Key specs: 5.2-inch 1080p screen, 424ppi, 20.7MP camera, 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM, microSD slot, 3100 mAh battery.

OnePlus One

OnePlus One
OnePlus One

No matter how much attention the OnePlus One has gained this year it will always remain an outside, left field choice. Startup company OnePlus has crafted a very good smartphone, good looking, high spec'd, and very affordable. If flagship kicks are you particular bag, but high price points are not then the OnePlus One is well worth paying attention to.

Should you buy? The problem with the OnePlus One is not whether you should buy it, but whether you can. The device is extremely unavailable, only purchasable through invite and has been subject to multiple delays. OnePlus says it will change that as the One goes up for pre-order this month, but still expect supply to be limited. OnePlus has presided over one of the messiest launches and roll outs in tech history, but the device itself is a corker. There are still issues over this device, but on paper it makes you wonder why the similarly spec'd Galaxy S5?s and One M8's of this world cost so much.

Key specs: 5.5-inch 1080p screen, 401ppi, 13MP camera, 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM, 3100 mAh battery.

Motorola Moto X

Moto X
Moto X

The new one, as in the one that replaces the original Moto X. Confusing same name aside, the new Moto X builds on everything good about the first one and corrects just about everything that was wrong. While not a quantum leap, the new Moto X is an even more balanced smartphone experience, quite a compliment considering the first iteration was one of the best feeling handsets ever made. The specs are still behind the absolute cutting edge, but then again so are most of the flagships here, but what the X does is give a great mix of performance and of course software.

Should you buy? If you are a spec hound then probably not, but if you just covet a smartphone that does everything well and then adds some unique software flourishes then yes. Not a work of design art, the Motorola has the X factor in other aspects, not least its near stock Android experience; so one for the purists then.

Key specs: 5.2-inch 1080p screen, 424ppi, 13MP camera, 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM, 2300 mAh battery.

LG G3

G3
G3

The most highly spec'd flagship in this particular section, the LG G3 is a tour de force Android smartphone that deserves its position as the current darling of the Android market. It is the only device here to boast a quad HD screen, and make no mistake, it is an outstanding panel. This is easily the best smartphone LG has ever made and it has catapulted the company to the handset big-time, because this is the real deal and for most people?s money is better than the Galaxy S5.

Should you buy? The simple answer is yes, because there is little to criticize the LG G3 for. Yes, it has fake brushed metal that is just plastic, but yet it looks and feels premium, while the performance and screen are at the top of the charts. LG has finally nailed software too, with its simple UI here probably the best example of a non-stock Android experience. There are some problems of course, as we imagine those after a high quality camera would be better served with others on this list.

Key specs: 5.5-inch Quad HD (1440 x 2560) screen, 534ppi, 13MP camera, 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM, microSD, 3000mAh battery

iOS

iPhone 6

iPhone 6
iPhone 6

Apple announced its latest iPhone last week alongside the iPhone 6 Plus (more on that in our Phablet buyer's guide due this week) and showed off what looks to be yet another very good mobile device. Apple has gotten pretty good at this now and the iPhone 6 is a bottom to top new phone that just works. It races through tasks, looks fantastic, and is probably the most premium mainstream smartphone on the market now. Of course, if you are waging a war on either side of the iOS/Android debate then you will either love or hate this, but for the rest of us this is an amazing smartphone in almost every way.

Should you buy? If you are deeply entrenched in Android then you should run a mile, but for every other consumer the iPhone 6 is a compelling option. It is hugely expensive unlocked and is not the radical shift that many may have hoped for, but is instead a stunning example of what a smartphone should be. That said, it is still not up to scratch if multitasking is something you particularly want, and then there is always the fact that it's Apple's way or the highway. Those interested in specs will deride the iPhone 6, but the all-round experience and the way the handset works with iOS 8 make it a very interesting choice.

Key specs: 4.7-inch (750 x 1334 pixels), 326ppi, 8MP camera, 1.4GHz Apple A8, 1GB of RAM.

Windows

HTC One M8 for Windows

One M8 for Windows
One M8 for Windows

The arrival of HTC's metal clad One M8 on Microsoft's Windows Phone (soon to just be called Windows) platform was pretty huge. The handset gives WP its first true flagship device and one that is already competing with all the Android heavyweights. In other words, if Windows is going to have a breakout hit that surpasses just platform growth then this could be it. Nokia has done an admirable job flying the Windows flag, but the company was often held back by the limitation of the OS. Now that WP 8.1 has grown up expect more flagship quality to arrive, but at the moment the HTC One M8 is the best the platform has to offer. Which is not a complaint as this is the exact same riveting, barnstorming, and sexy smartphone experience it is on Android.

Should you buy? If you have your heart set on Windows or are upgrading from another WP device and want flagship, we could argue that this is your only true high end option. The limitations of this handset are not HTC's doing, but instead are the familiar problems that Windows has suffered for a couple of years. Chief among them is apps, with there still being a distinct lack of top end choice, although the platform as a whole has admittedly grown up. If apps are not a big deal to you then the HTC One M8 for Windows is very, very good.

Key specs: 5-inch 1080p screen, 441ppi, 4MP Ultrapixel camera, 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM, microSD slot, 2600 mAh battery.

Nokia Lumia 930

Lumia 930
Lumia 930

We were debating whether even to include this handset in the list because its specs do lag a little behind the others in this guide. In the end we decided the Lumia 930 is worthy of inclusion because until the One M8 arrived it was the first flagship on Windows (phablets discluded) to have premium metal build, the very best specs, and market leading performance. I reviewed the Lumia 930 back when it was the Verizon exclusive Lumia Icon and I loved it, and if anything it serves as another choice for Windows customers who do not want the slippery HTC One M8.

Should you buy? It is a tough call, but if you can get it at a good price that is a tier below flagship money then it will do all of the things the others here can do, and do them very well. It?s fast, imposing to look at, has a strong feature set, has a very good screen, and is a joy to use. There is a chance this could be replaced soon, so if you want a Nokia (we mean Microsoft) flagship desperately, then you may want to hold off until Redmond details its plans.

Key specs: 5-inch ClearBlack 1080p screen, 441ppi, 20MP camera, 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM, 2420 mAh battery.

Google Nexus

Nexus 5

Nexus 5
Nexus 5

The Nexus 4 took us all by surprise. It was a flagship bothering device that made most of its compromises in the right places and was hugely affordable. We expected much more of the same from Google and LG with the sequel and the companies delivered with the fantastic Nexus 5. This handset improved the previous experience and retained the value for money factor that had been a huge selling point on the 4. This is a flagship handset for less cost, so what's to dislike about that?

Should you buy? Well, the design is still a little bland, but then that is of course subjective. The camera is still patchy at best and downright frustrating at worst, and battery life is not great either. That said, this had an extremely good screen, fast performance, and is a stock Android device, which means it is going to get Android L on day 1. The big problem here is that the Nexus 5 is soon to be replaced by the Motorola built Nexus 6, a handset that will likely land in October. Needless to say, you should probably wait for the 6.

Key specs: 4.95-inch 1080p screen, 445ppi, 8MP camera, 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM, 2300 mAh battery.

Blackberry

Blackberry Z30

Z30
Z30

Next to the others on this list, the Z30 just does not match up in terms of specs and is indeed last generation in that respect. However, one look at the iPhone should tell you specs do not matter, and like Apple, Blackberry gets the most out of its device thanks to quality software. BB10 has come on leaps and bounds and is an enjoyable OS now, quick, intuitive, and easy to use. However, it could be argued that the nice looking Z30 is not the best device to showcase that, especially with the odd but unique Blackberry Passport on the horizon.

Should you buy: The truth is, the Z30 is a mid-range device that happens to be Blackberry?s flagship, so if you can get it for mid-range money then it is a compelling option. Only for those entrenched in the BB ecosystem or wanting to try something new though. It is a good handset for sure, but it is still hard to recommend leaving any of the other platforms for. With the square Passport imminent, we would suggest waiting for that if you are looking to re-board the Blackberry ship.

Key specs: 5-inch 720p screen, 294ppi, 8MP camera, 1.7GHz Qualcomm Pro Snapdragon, 2GB of RAM, microSD slot, 2880 mAh battery.

 
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