[fb-exchange] 10 best smartphones on sale today: iPhone 6, Galaxy Note 4 and more

  • From: "Dominique Farrell" <hollyandopal@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <"Undisclosed-Recipient:;"@freelists.org>
  • Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:10:06 -0000

1.  Galaxy Note 4
Pros: Premium build quality, high quality screen, great new features
Cons: High price, fingerprint scanner isn't as good as the iPhone

Just launched, the Note 4 is truly Samsung's greatest phone yet. The company 
has toned down the faux leather back, added metal edges painted to match the 
colour of the phone and included some great new features. 

We love the new health app, and while the heart rate monitor, UV scanner and o2 
saturation tests might be a little superfluous, they do bring the phone in line 
with the Galaxy S5 in terms of features. But with that high resolution, 
1440x2560 resolution AMOLED screen, the Note 4 is a monster for media and 
everything else that makes smartphones great.

But... It is expensive and the fingerprint scanner isn't as good as the one in 
the iPhone. Even so, the Note 4 is our tip, as long as you can handle the size. 

2. Apple iPhone 6

Pros: Thin and light, top-notch design, strong imaging
Cons: High price, lack of 32GB model

The new iPhone is thin, light and beautifully designed. It has a fresh 
operating system that has been updated with exiting new features to manage your 
health and soon, home. 

Apple still does amazing things with its camera too, which produces very 
impressive results. Don't be fooled by its relatively low spec compared to 
other phones, Apple invests a lot of time making its imaging as strong as 
possible. Video also gets an amazing boost with the new 240fps slow motion 

The biggest beef we have with Apple is the price, and lack of 32GB model. If 
you can handle the cost, then go for it. 

3. LG G3

Pros: Good camera and display
Cons: Build quality falls short of some competitors

One of the best phones on the market today. The LG G2 was a great phone, the G3 
is even better. Everything on this phone seems perfectly integrated. 

The back power and volume controls divide some, but we have found them to be 
great once you get used to them. The camera has laser autofocus, which LG says 
is super-quick, we didn't notice much improvement, but the camera is good and 
you can get some really nice shots out of the LG. The display is also something 
to drool over, and the 1440x2560 quad-HD LCD is, without doubt, better than any 
other display on any other phone. 

On the downside, the case doesn't have quite the same build quality as Apple, 
or even LG's own Nexus 5, but it's not a total letdown. The colour options 
could do with more choice, but the gold G3 is actually surprisingly tasteful, 
and can be combined with a black circle view cover to make the phone look very 
cool indeed. 

4. Sony Xperia Z3

Pros: Super camera and image quality
Cons: Not much of an upgrade from the Z2

Sony made a bold choice, and that was to avoid the move towards higher 
resolution screens. Instead it stuck with 1080x1920 in the Z3. That has two 
advantages, it reduces costs and it helps maintain a longer battery life. It's 
also not strictly necessary to have a higher resolution screen, especially when 
- as Sony does - you have better processing and higher quality LCDs in your 

The camera is Sony's proudest moment for the Z3. And it is very good, and has 
been getting better since the 20.3-megapixel sensor was first introduced in the 
Z1. Images look great, and in the Z3 Sony has greatly improved the sensitivity 
in low light. Imaging has always been strong for Sony - it makes sensors for 
Nikon - so this isn't a huge surprise. 

Not so great, the Z3 is replacing the Z2 after just six months. It's likely 
that there will be a Z4 in the new year some time. Sony says this is because it 
entered the larger smartphone market a bit later than most. Even so, it has 
continued to support its phone with software updates. 

5. Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Pros: Gorgeous display and improved camera
Cons: Price versus competing devices

Much larger than the iPhone 6, the Plus adds some other nice features in 
addition to its larger display. For one, it has a full HD 1080x1920 screen. 
While this is modest in resolution compared to the displays on some phones, 
it's still an utterly gorgeous display that is far more than the sum of its 

The camera is improved too, and the biggest advantage is the addition of an 
optical image stabilizer that keeps images blur-free. That's crucial in low 
light conditions, where Apple says it gives you a huge advantage over the 
previous generation. The iPhone 6 has to rely on a purely electronic stabilizer 
too, giving the Plus a real advantage. 

On the downside, it's back to price, with the iPhone 6 Plus costing more than 
the 6, and more than almost any other phone on the market. It has some amazing 
features, and the size should mean you won't need to invest in an iPad Mini, 
but it will put many off, as will the rear cover design, which lacks the 
sophistication of the 5S. 

6. Motorola Moto X

Pros: Superb performance and quality, great battery life
Cons: Screen quality falls behind its competitors

Motorola has had a run of amazing handsets. Buy the X, G or 4G version of the G 
and you'll be getting the best phones for the money. The company has expanded 
the X now from last year, and is finally bringing the case customisation to the 
UK, known as Moto Maker, that allows you to design a phone that suits you. 

Power and performance are stunning, and Motorola has enough unique features to 
make its phones stand out. For example, it can respond to "ok Google Now" in 
standby mode, something no other phone can do at the moment. What's more, its 
battery life is long and impressive. 

Motorola is about to be sold to Lenovo, and while this isn't in itself a 
problem, it means the firm's close ties to Google might be coming to an end. 
This might see some of the things that makes its current crop of phones so 
appealing come to an end, but we do hope not. 

7. HTC One (M8)

Pros: Well-built device and solid UI
Cons: Camera quality falls behind competitors

HTC makes some lovely hardware. For one, it's got a metal-bodied phone, which 
is still something of a rarity. It's well-built, and will survive a lot of 
punishment. HTC also has the cool dot cover cases which show you information 
through a fancy mesh design, that's unique in phones. 

The One M8 has also had a lot of care lavished on its user interface. HTC is 
one of the few companies that still ploughs a lot of time and effort into 
customising Android, and it does show. Some may hate its unique look, but no 
one could ever call HTC a "me too" phone company. 

HTC's bad points congregate around the camera mainly. The company wanted to do 
something clever with imaging, so it included a dual camera which allows you to 
take photos and then adjust the focus later. The problem is, this has largely 
been achieved on other phones - and even Google's Android camera app - through 
software methods. What that leaves you with is an under-specced camera. Even 
so, the One M8 produces good, if not exceptional, images. 

8. Google Nexus 5

Pros: Great build and display, one of first devices in the queue for Android 
Cons: No expandable storage, relatively poor battery life against the 

The Nexus 5 is old now, by far the oldest phone on this list, which makes its 
inclusion even more impressive. Introduced slightly before LG's G2, it has much 
of the same hardware, but there's something about this phone that just 
impresses every time you pick it up. The case feels great, the size is just 
right, and the display is great. 

What you also get is an untouched version of Android. This is how Google 
intended its OS to look, and there's a lot of advantages to that, for one, the 
Nexus 5 is always one of the first devices to get updated to the newest version 
of Android. 

On the negative side, there's no microSD card for extra music storage and the 
battery is pretty bad, and will last far less time than most of the handsets on 
this list. Early problems with the camera were addressed with a software 
update, and while it's never going to be the best phone for photos, it has 
improved enormously. 

9. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Pros: Powerful phone with high-quality display
Cons: Battery life is on the weak side

No, your eyes aren't wrong, we have indeed listed both the Note 4 and Note 3 
here. Why? Well, because the Note 4 is out now, the Note 3 will be cheaper 
while still offering bundles of features. You won't get the heart rate monitor 
or fingerprint scanner, but what you do get is a massively powerful phone with 
a gorgeous 1080x1920 AMOLED display. 

The S Pen means that you can doodle on your phone, make notes and even write 
text messages with handwriting recognition. The camera on the Note 3 is pretty 
much as good as in its successor, and it can produce surprisingly crisp and 
detailed shots. As a phone, it's large, but it's very usable and once you 
become a Note user, it's hard to use anything else. 

Less impressively, the battery has always been weaker than we'd like, and power 
users will find themselves having to recharge it part of the way through the 
day. Even so, this isn't uncommon in phones, and you can work around it. 

10. Nokia Lumia 830

Pros: Solid build quality, crisp and clear screen, camera capabilities
Cons: Windows Phone slightly behind competition with apps - but this is 

Badged as "the affordable flagship", Microsoft has hit on something here. While 
under-powered by Android standards, on Windows Phone everything is a little bit 
lighter and the power difference isn't an issue at all. What you do get is a 
crisp and clear 720x1280 screen and a rock solid handset built in the sturdy 
manner for which Nokia has always been famous. 

Then there's the camera. Here Nokia and Microsoft have nailed it. There are 
plug-in cameras which expand the capabilities of the phone, as well as a really 
nicely-designed camera app that produces amazing results. An update coming 
later this year will also add in some clever modes for flash photography that 
could make this the most capable indoor and low-light shooter on the market. 

The only major problem with the Lumia is that Windows Phone has been the 
slowest off the blocks for apps, but that is less and less of a problem these 
days. Most of the big name tools are available on Microsoft's OS and they run 
beautifully. Games might be less well supported than on Android and iOS, but 
that changes on a weekly basis. 

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  • » [fb-exchange] 10 best smartphones on sale today: iPhone 6, Galaxy Note 4 and more - Dominique Farrell