By the time many of you are reading this, Mobile World Congress will be getting ready and big names like HTC and Samsung preparing to announce their smartphones for 2015. Until then though, there are some excellent options available from 2014 that are still well worth taking a look at. Plus. now that manufacturers are rolling out new and improved versions of their devices, you could get your hands on a pretty great deal across many of the below smartphones.
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. We recently reviewed the Xperia Z3 Compact and we were impressed with the vast majority of Sony's vision.
08. OnePlus One
Over the past few months, OnePlus has done a lot to win people over and they've definitely smoothed things out as far as their reputation is concerned. For 2015, things are looking bright, as the company focuses on developing their own Android firmware and trying out new things. Having to need an invite lets 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. In the next month, this list is set to change quite a bit, and with the Galaxy S6 shaping up to be more of an evolution than this year's HTC One is poised to be, it'll be interesting to see where HTC and Samsung's next generation handsets end up.
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. There's a good chance that Sony is about to introduce a slight upgrade in the form of the Xperia Z4 during MWC 2015, and if they do, we're hoping that they do so with a few more upgrades than they did with the Xperia Z3. As an added bonus, 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
The biggest problem with the Droid Turbo is for some, its biggest strength, the fact that it's only available on Verizon in the US. For a lot of users, that's a real kick in the teeth. With its 5.2-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 805 CPU, massive battery and pretty good looks, the Droid Turbo is the best Droid that Verizon and Motorola have ever released. Some of you might be able to get your hands on this as the Moto Maxx, but in the US it's locked to Verizon, and it doesn't look like that's about to change anytime soon. An excellent device, you can read our review for more info here.
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 lets 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. The Galaxy S6 is just around the corner and there's a good chance that this year's latest from Samsung finally outdoes the Galaxy Note before it.