The new year is upon us and 2015 has already got off to a flying start with the LG G Flex 2 (which won’t make an appearance in our list until it’s on sale) but so far we’ve yet to see the latest and greatest from the likes of LG, Sony, HTC or Samsung. Mobile World Congress (which is just around the corner) should have some fun new releases for us, but until then we’re left with the devices from 2014, not that that’s a bad thing judging by the quality of devices from last year.
10. Moto G (2014)
When the original Moto G launched towards the end of 2013, it was a pretty big deal and helped lift Motorola’s low-profile to new heights in emerging markets. Here in the US though, it showed users that there was an affordable option to get a smartphone that had great features, up-to-date software and didn’t need you to be tied down into an expensive contract. The Moto G (2014) took that idea and basically built on what Motorola had achieved, and as far as budget handsets are concerned, this is the one smartphone out there to beat.
09. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
If large phones aren’t your thing, then sadly, the Xperia Z3 Compact is your only real option if you also want the best specs available. We say sadly, because we wish there were more phones like this. Being waterproof and featuring the same Snapdragon 801 as many other high-end flagships, and that killer 20.7-megapixel camera, which is one of the best out there, the Xperia Z3 Compact is mightier than it seems. For those interested in true one-handed use and a phone that doesn’t look like the rest of the mini-tablets out there, this is the phone to get.
08. OnePlus One
OnePlus is a company that not everyone is going to love and it’s going to stick like that for quite some time. While the invites, the time-based sales and downright silly marketing schemes they’ve come out with didn’t help the team’s reputation, there’s always going to compromise with a device that costs as little as this. Having to need an invite let’s the company know that you’re willing to actually buy one, and producing only what they need for the foreseeable future helps keeps costs down. In the case of the OnePlus One, a device with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a Snapdragon 801 and much more, it’s hard to argue with its price tag and for a lot of people this is the best device they’ve ever owned. We caught up with OnePlus during CES 2015 and it looks like 2015 is to be a fun year for OnePlus and its fans.
07. HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5
These two giants are about to be replaced with new, shinier models and while the choice between the new models might not be quite so easy, last year it was case of choosing which you prefer, not which one was “better”. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a lot more bells and whistles with the fingerprint sensor, water resistance and a heart-rate monitor, but the HTC One (M8) has great BoomSound speakers and a much better build. Under the hood though, we’re looking at two devices with 5-inch 1080p displays (each with their own pros and cons), the same Snapdragon 801 and 2GB of RAM. Whichever you choose though, you’re going to have a good experience.
06. Sony Xperia Z3
With the Xperia Z3, Sony didn’t really change much – if anything apart from the exterior – of the Xperia Z2, which is a shame as this is a good-looking, high-end smartphone. However, with the same Snapdragon 801, same 20.7-megapixel camera, and the same 5.2-inch 1080p display, it’s safe to say that Sony didn’t go far enough with this. Never mind that though, the Xperia Z3 is easily purchased in the US and it’s one of the best phones to come out of 2014. PS4 fans might want to consider this thanks to Remote Play working pretty well. Having said all that, this is finally available on a US carrier in a relatively timely fashion and can be had from T-Mobile, with Verizon fans looking at the Xperia Z3v.
05. Motorola Moto X 2014
For their 2014 flagship, what Motorola did is they built on top of everything that made the Moto X great, and the Moto X (2014) is better in pretty much every way. It’s slightly bigger at 5.2-inches, there are new materials for Moto Maker and it’s powered by a Snapdragon 801 CPU and has a better camera this time around as well. We reviewed this a little while ago and thought it was a great device from a company that’s trying their best to work their way back to the top. A great all-rounder, this is a device for those that want to live with a great phone, rather than having to make compromises for the phone. With Android 5.0 onboard now, the Moto X (2014) is a great device for anyone, regardless of whether they’re a diehard stock Android fan or not.
04. Motorola DROID Turbo
It’s a real shame that the DROID Turbo isn’t available on anything other than Verizon’s network. Not because their network is bad, far from it, but because it’s such a great Motorola device that we’d love everyone to get the chance to own such a great device. Of course, the Turbo isn’t for everyone, but even so it’s hard to argue with a 5.2-inch Quad HD display and a Snapdragon 805 in such a great-looking phone. If the Moto X on Verizon isn’t enough for you, then the DROID Turbo should be more than you can handle. We reviewed the DROID Turbo and we’re really quite impressed, this is one of the few phones out there that offers some of the best specs available without sacrificing batter life or being a huge mini-tablet.
03. LG G3
So you don’t mind large displays, and you want some of the absolute best specs available on the market? Then you want LG’s G3. It’s a 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 packing device loaded with features, and a classier build that feels good in the hand. That display is front and center with barely any bezel either side or top and bottom and it’s got some cool button action around the back. With an excellent camera that has some of the best autofocus in a smartphone, this is a great device to capture every moment and thanks to some excellent battery life you’ll be able to do just that, all day and then some. The only thing that let’s the G3 down is the Snapdragon 801 inside it, it’s a powerful chip, but compared to the Galaxy Note 4 it isn’t quite geared up to make the most of that super-dense display.
02. Google Nexus 6
What happens when you take the 2014 model of the Moto X and make the absolute best device you can make with the latest version of Android? You get the giant, 5.9-inch Quad HD Nexus 6, complete with Snapdragon 805 and Android 5.0 Lollipop. This is easily the best Nexus smartphone there’s ever been, and while it’s a shame about the high price tag, you can’t have a quality built device cost peanuts. While there’s been some talk of slower speeds due to encryption and some leftover bugs in Lollipop, this is a still a great device. The Nexus 6 is not going to please everyone, not everyone wants a giant phone, but what the Nexus 6 does is provide those that genuinely prefer a stock experience with great hardware to go with it. Something a lot of people have been asking for for a long time. You can purchase the Nexus 6 directly from Google’s Play Store.
01. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was one of the best devices Samsung ever produced, and it’s arguably more of a flagship than the Galaxy S5 was, but this year’s Galaxy Note 4 takes things even further. Packed with all sorts of specs, the Galaxy Note 4 has a Snapdragon 805 with 3GB of RAM under the hood, and a 2560 x 1440 5.7-inch display to boot. With the S-Pen, you can get all sorts of things done on the move, even if that’s just playing your favorite games like a boss. Proving once again, if not in a less exciting manner than last year, that Samsung know how to make large devices better than anyone else, the Galaxy Note 4 does everything.