Best smartphones 2014: The best phones available to buy today
So, you want to buy a new phone? If you're looking for the best smartphone of 2014, you've come to the right place. We will guide you through the hottest mobile phones of the year to save you time when you go to your local phone shop.
We continually update our best smartphones feature to reflect recent launches, putting 2014's latest devices alongside the best of 2013, but all the listed devices have been fully reviewed by us.
Things are changing fast in the world of smartphones: slashed prices, ever-improving hardware, software updates and refreshed handsets arriving every few months means that things never stand still.
It's launch season, meaning plenty of new devices coming out and that means we'll be updating this list regularly over the next weeks and months. This list is never static, it's an ever-changing beast.
Our best smartphones list covers all operating systems, all sizes, and prices, so you'll be armed with everything you need to consider when choosing to buy your next device. Of course, the most important factor in buying a new device is making sure you have the best smartphone for you. The best for your budget, the features you need, the size that feels right and platform that suits you best.
Be sure to let us know what you think is the best smartphone in the comments below.
18. Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini continues Samsung's trend to capitalising on a successful handset name. It's not a mini in the sense that it matches the specs, but in design and to some extent, experience.
Samsung's customisation brings a huge change over Android, packing it with useful features and options, although some might find that over the top. The display is great, if not quite matching the sharpness of the HTC One mini, but here you have the advantage of microSD card expansion and access to the battery, should you wish to swap it on a busy day.
With enough power under the hood, slick design and all that software innovation, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is cheaper and more compact than it's bigger brother, but still delivers a great smartphone experience. It sounds a little expensive in light of devices like the Moto G however, costing £329.
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini because you want the Samsung experience in a compact package.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review
DEALS: Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini deals
17. HTC One mini 2
The HTC One mini 2 offers a premium design and lovely display combined with a mature Sense 6.0 expereince.
It isn't the most powerful of handsets, but it looks and feels better in the hand than many of the more affordable rivals, like the Motorola G.
However there's enough power to keep things ticking along nicely, so perfectly suited for those who want to keep track of the world around them, but perhaps not the best for those who want to play the latest games.
The front-facing speakers offer great performance for music and video fans, by far outclassing other devices in this class. It's expensive, however, at £379.
Buy the HTC One mini 2 if you want that rich HTC Sense experience in a nicely designed, but pocketable handset.
FULL REVIEW: HTC One mini 2 review
DEALS: HTC One mini 2 deals
16. Nokia Lumia 925
The Nokia Lumia 925 rights the wrongs of the Lumia 920, while delivering much of the same goodness. Great design in a nice, slim, handset, brings together the best of Nokia and the best of Windows Phone 8.
The 4.7-inch display looks great, there are plenty of extras that have been added by Nokia and this phone also offers some of the latest upgrades to Windows Phone too, with the Lumia Black update making this device more impressive and compelling.
It's also available for not a lot of cash, costing only £259. However, with the Lumia 930 waiting in the wings, the Lumia 925 is more difficult to recommend: it's still a great handset, but soon to be made redundant.
Buy the Nokia Lumia 925 if you want a wonderfully designed, great value for money, Windows Phone that's a good all-rounder.
FULL REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 925 review
DEALS: Nokia Lumia 925 deals
15. Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia is chasing two things in smartphones: the best Windows Phone experience it can create and the best camera. If those align with your own needs, then the Nokia Lumia 1020 might be the perfect phone for you.
The very capable PureView camera on the back brings options you simply don't get elsewhere in the smartphone world: it's a great performer. The compromise you have to accept however, is that this is a big phone, especially compared to Nokia's "other" flagship, the Lumia 925, although that's about to be replaced with the larger 930. The Nokia Lumia 1020 also struggles with battery life if you're using the camera a lot and can get hot when in use.
In many areas, the Lumia 1020 offers the same experience as other Lumia devices, with Windows Phone offering a great alternative to Android or iOS. There are still some holes in the ecosystem, but Nokia is doing more than any manufacturer to plug them and the recent Lumia Black update brought improvements and features to the experience.
Nokia is being agressive on price, however, as the Lumia 1020 is now down to £359, SIM free.
Buy the Nokia Lumia 1020 if you want the best smartphone camera available.
FULL REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 1020 review
DEALS: Nokia Lumia 1020 deals
14. Apple iPhone 5C
The iPhone 5C is Apple's "colourful" handset. It takes the innards of 2012's iPhone 5, adds a touch more 4G compatibility and a slightly improved battery life and wraps it in a colourful plastic casing.
Originally perceived as the "cheap" handset for those who couldn't afford the iPhone 5S, which offers better performance all round, the iPhone 5C offers a great Apple experience, with access to everything the App Store has in offer. It lacks, slightly, because it doesn't have quite the same potential as the 5S and it could be seen as more expensive than it should be, given the older specs and plastic body and the £429 price tag for the 8GB model.
However, for many, the iPhone 5C will offer a great choice of handset. It might not have the large display of some of the mid-range Android stars, but you still get a great Apple experience.
Buy the iPhone 5C if you want the iPhone experience on a tighter budget.
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPhone 5C review
DEALS: Apple iPhone 5C deals
13. Motorola Moto X
Motorola has been in this business a long time and although it doesn't launch as aggressively as rivals like Samsung, there's still a great feeling of quality when you get your hands on the Motorola Moto X.
The Moto X doesn't go up against the flagship phones out there on the spec sheet, but it still delivers the essentials. The dual-core processor offers plenty of power, partnered with 2GB of RAM and the 4.7-inch display offers plenty of space to play, even if the resolution is a notch down at 720p.
What you do get, however, is the option to customise the exterior of your phone (for those in the US), so you can design it to suit your own style with a choice of 252 different colour combinations.
The software offers a blend of Android KitKat with a range of Motorola tweaks, which we think get the balance just about right. It's all you want of Android and not too heavily drawn off into unnecessary customisation. There's a generous 2,200mAh battery, that will see this phone outlasting some rivals. It might have some mid-range specs, but it delivers an experience that impresses at £329.
Buy the Motorola Moto X if you want an experience close to raw Android, with some clever customisation.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto X review
DEALS: Motorola Moto X deals
12. Sony Xperia Z1
The Sony Xperia Z1 refreshes the excellent Sony Xperia Z, bringing you a powerful handset, with waterproofing, a slick design and a large 5-inch display.
On paper the Z1 sounds like it will be king of all classes, but the boosting of the battery and the accommodation of a 20-megapixel camera, swells the body to larger than its rivals, with a bigger footprint than many rivals, but not quite reaching into phablet territory. But if you can handle the size there are plenty of treats in store.
It's a veritable powerhouse, with great internal hardware, so everything is slick and fast. Waterproofing offers an advantage too. The Xperia Z1 will cost you £479.
Buy the Sony Xperia Z1 if you want big power in a big phone.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z1 review
DEALS: Sony Xperia Z1 deals
11. Nokia Lumia 1520
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is the best Lumia to date. It brings Windows Phone into the realm of the phablet, but it does it with aplomb, giving you a device that offers size, power and a great camera performance.
Nokia's commitment to the platform, dragging apps - kicking and screaming - over to Windows Phone really enhances what's on offer, but also pouring home-grown features in too.
We've been critical of some of the moves of Windows Phone, and of Nokia, in the recent past, but the Lumia 1520 feels like the hero device that Nokia needed. It's powerful, it's wonderful to use and it's the rival of Android peers that rule the big-screen phone world.
It's also fairly affordable for a device of this size, priced at £439.
Buy the Nokia Lumia 1520 if you want the biggest and best Windows Phone experience.
FULL REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 1520 review
DEALS: Nokia Lumia 1520 deals
10. Nexus 5
The Nexus 5 plays out the pure Google dream, debuting Android 4.4 KitKat and bringing you plenty of power for your money. There's also a brilliant display, which gives you plenty of detail and performance to rival some of the top phones out there.
There are downsides, however. We don't think it's the best designed phone around, perhaps less interesting than the Nexus 4 which came before it and as is typical of Nexus devices, the camera isn't so good and neither is the battery, which is the biggest downside.
However, the Nexus 5 delivers plenty in it's aggressively priced package at £299, especially if power and display are top of your list and you have the reassurance of knowing you'll be at the front of the Android upgrade queue too.
For some, however, the refinement added by other manufacturers will bring attractive features out of the box that the Nexus 5 lacks and we suspect it's soon to be replaced by the next-gen Nexus.
Buy the Nexus 5 for the pure Android experience and plenty of power in an affordable package.
FULL REVIEW: Google Nexus 5 review
DEALS: Google Nexus 5 deals
9. Samsung Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 brings more innovation to a phone that's already at the top of its game. The design offers flexibility where others don't, with access to the battery and the option to expand the memory via microSD.
Some may say that there's a feature too many and the design isn't as inspiring as some other devices like the HTC One, but if you opt for the Samsung Galaxy S4, you won't be disappointed. Samsung crams a large 5-inch full HD display into a handset that isn't overly large, so despite going big, the size is still manageable.
Undoubtedly the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be the top smartphone choice for many and sell by the bucketload, but recent launches bring more raw power and a more refeshing user interface.
The SGS4 will cost you around £449.
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 to get flagship performance slightly cheaper, with the option to change battery and expand the storage.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S4 review
DEALS: Samsung Galaxy S4 deals
8. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 takes the large device format and continues to refine it. In this 2013 model, there's a cracking 5.7-inch display offering a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, giving you 386ppi. It's packed into a frame that measures 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3mm, making it one of the most compact devices with such an expansive display.
Some might not like the faux leather back, but you can peel that off and swap it out: as well as access the internals to expand the storage or change the battery.
There's plenty of power, thanks to the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset and 3GB of RAM, meaning that everything is slick and smooth. Samsung hasn't ignored the screen space on offer, giving you innovative features through the S Pen to help keep you productive. Recent updates bring some of the features of the SGS5, keeping this phablet up to date.
You get a lot with the Note 3, but it's also going to cost you a lot at £529. Arguably you can get bigger displays for the same money, but in the Note 3 the blend just feels right. It might be just too big for some.
Buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for the best phablet experience.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review
DEALS: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 deals
7. HTC One (M7)
For a long time the HTC One sat at the top of our Best Smartphones list, but now it finds itself unable to defend that position. The unique features that made this phone great are now easily surpassed by the new HTC One (M8). That doesn't make the original HTC One a lesser device, but with only a £60 price difference between the two, it makes the older model much more difficult to recommend now.
It still has a great display and the BoomSound speakers are second only to those on the new handset. The design is very good, but the original HTC One now obviously lacks some of the specs to compete with the latest devices: it isn't as fast and the battery performance can't match the top run of handsets from the likes of Sony, Samsung and the new HTC One (M8).
However, the HTC One will be more appealing if you can get it for a good price: it still offers a very slick experience, and the recent update to Sense 6.0 enhances the experience, making it feel more up to date. However, the priced has remained fairly high, so whilst other rivals offer better value, the HTC One M7 can be pricey at £399.
Buy the HTC One because you want great design.
FULL REVIEW: HTC One review
DEALS: HTC One (m7) deals
8. LG G2
LG hasn't had the smoothest run of in the world of modern smartphones, but the LG G2 brings things back into focus. There's heaps of power on offer and a 5.2-inch display crammed into a body that's still fairly compact: LG has banished bezels, so you get more space to play.
It's a powerful phone with the latest hardware. The point is though, this phone competes brilliantly with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 while offering a more "Android" experience, through a slightly less customised UI. The camera isn't the best; the SGS4 beats it easily, and the iPhone is streets ahead.
Some have expressed dislike of the rear-mounted buttons, but they make sense when you're in a call and trying to adjust the volume - far more so, at least, than side mounted buttons do.
But best of all, the display is outstanding. LCD screens have great detail, and accurate colours that AMOLED screens can't claim. And the high-quality audio system will blow you away if you plug in some high-quality music, and some decent headphones.
What we like most is that LG hasn't just thrown features at the phone. It's thought about what is missing from current phones, and what customers might like to have, and done its best to incorporate those into the LG G2. It will cost you around £399.
Buy the LG G2 for it's impressive performance, slick design and thoughtful software tweaks.
READ: LG G2 review
DEALS: LG G2 deals
7. Sony Xperia Z2
The Sony Xperia Z2 updates the Xperia Z1, sticking to familiar Xperia Z design. It is slim and solidly built, if a little on the large side, but it does offer a 5.2-inch display and new front-facing speakers.
It's more accomplished all round than the Xperia Z1: the display is better, there's a lot more power and it's better handled. The battery performance is very good and the camera produces great results.
The new front speakers boost the audio delivery, but it won't touch the HTC One for speaker skills. However, the Z2 features in-built noise cancellation if used with compatible headphones, which is a nice unique feature.
There's plenty of refinement in the software, although it doesn't feel as though the Z2 has evolved much over the Z1 in this department, and Sony still seems very focused on pushing its own content services which can be a little intrusive. We still think it's a little uncomfortable to hold due to it's flat, squared, design, but there's no denying the power it offers. It's expensive, however, at £539.
Buy the Sony Xperia Z2 because you're looking for a great media experience on a larger screen.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z2 review
DEALS: Sony Xperia Z2 deals
6. Motorola Moto G
The Motorola Moto G has taken a lot of people by surprise. We've heard the sentiments plenty of times before: performance at a price, without compromise. Motorola, however, went ahead and got it right. The Moto G is a fantastic smartphone and incredible value for money that's difficult to ignore. With a price as low as £100, if you're on a budget, this is the handset to choose.
Take the price out of the equation and you don't feel let down, however. The design is great, the display is excellent and there's plenty of power too. Yes, it will be out-performed by any number of handsets, but those are handsets that will cost you twice, if not three times, as much.
We're really impressed with what you get in the Moto G. It's a great handset and no matter what your budget, if you're after a smartphone for daily use, then this phone pretty much does it. It's fast, the display is lovely and the camera will give you some decent shots too.
Better still, the Motorola Moto G was one of the first non-Nexus devices to be upgraded to Android 4.4 KitKat.
Buy the Motorola Moto G for the best Android experience in a budget handset.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto G review
DEALS: Motorola Moto G deals
5. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is the phone where Sony Mobile got it right. It blends power with performance and design in a handset that will slip into any pocket. There's no shortage of devices at this size, but the Z1 Compact is the best performer by a considerable margin.
Although this handset doesn't have a full HD display, the 4.3-inch 720p screen is packed with detail and it doesn't feel lacking. It also offers better colours and better viewing angles than other Sony phones. There's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage with the option to expand with microSD, all sealed into a water resistant package.
Although it launched on Android 4.3, a KitKat upgrade arrived swiftly. There's plenty of refinement in the software, but a hefty amount of Sony bloat too.
We really love the power controls, which brings day-long performance to the Z1 Compact, easily outlasting many of the devices on this list. Sony's Stamina mode offers granular control over the apps and services, giving you much more control over data and battery use.
The result is a handset that should be seriously considered. It's fairly unique, making it a phone that we'd happily recommend to those looking for a powerful, yet compact, Android handset. It's also priced cheaper than many flagship devices at £399.
Buy the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact for the best flagship Android experience in a compact device.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review
DEALS: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact deals
4. Samsung Galaxy S5
The Samsung Galaxy S5 refines much of what the SGS4 offered. The design is similar, as is the interface, but there's refinement at every level. This is still the Samsung smartphone you know and love, but it's slick and fast, with plenty of power, and offers a stunning 5.1-inch full HD display.
The build offers the same flexibility as previous devices, so you can remove the back of the phone to switch out the battery which gives you all-day performance. The build might be mostly plastic, lacking the premium sheen of some rivals, but that makes for a device that's lighter and more compact.
The addition of a heart rate scanner is one element of a new focus on fitness from Samsung, even if the implementation of the fingerprint scanner is a little awkward. The camera produces great results, and is a good performer in all conditions.
There are perhaps a number of features packed into the Samsung Galaxy S5 that you won't use, but there's no lack of choices. Things like the download booster and user interface features that make use of the larger display give you plenty of useful elements to enhance the day-to-day experience.
We expect the SGS5 to be one of the top selling devices of 2014, such is the success of Samsung's machine, and for many, it will be the phone of choice. It will cost you £549.
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S5 for the vast array of features and great display.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S5 review
DEALS: Samsung Galaxy S5 deals
3. Apple iPhone 5S
With exquisite attention to detail and wonderful design, the iPhone 5S is master of the largest mobile ecosystem around. The design isn't a huge step over the previous edition, but the internal modifications, paired with a new refreshed OS, keeps Apple in the smartphone fight.
The iPhone 5S experience is very refined; it's mature, familiar and intuitive and supported by an App Store that's always first in line for the new apps, while you won't be left waiting for Apple's software updates. This is the handset that iOS 7 was built for and where it performs the best, with Apple pointing to changes in iOS 8 expected in October.
The iPhone 5S sets itself up for future dominance: 64-bit support and a new coprocessor dedicated to handling the motion sensors provide the potential for new directions. The camera is as reliable as ever, with a better flash unit and the addition of a fingerprint scanner provides for easy access with a layer of security, and more effectively implemented than rivals.
Great battery life comes with this phone that is slick and fast in operation, it's just a shame that the display is one of the smallest around. At least it won't be making an unsightly bulge in your pocket, even if buying it might make a little hole in your finances at £549. A late launch in 2013 means the iPhone is unlikely to see a newer version until late 2014.
For many, the iPhone 5S will be the device of choice, hooking into a wider system of devices that work together with minimal fuss.
Buy the iPhone 5S to get the best Apple experience.
FULL REVIEW: iPhone 5S review
DEALS: iPhone 5S deals
2. LG G3
The LG G2 was a great handset and the G3 ups the ante. This is one of the best smartphones out there, fusing the appeal of a large display with a body that's only just larger than other devices at the top of this list.
It's also one of the first mainstream devices to step out of the door with a Quad HD display, or 2560 x 1440, pushing the pixels further than its rivals. It's capable of incredibly sharp details at 538ppi, but be warned - little content really makes use of that resolution, yet.
Although the G3 doesn't offer the same build quality as the HTC One, it's a good looking phone. The design keeps things simple, avoiding some of the kitsch design of the Samsung Galaxy S5. It's easy to grip, although might be a little too large for some.
LG has added plenty of smart functionality to the G3. There's gestures and shortcuts to make your life easier, as well as a range of functions to make use of all the display space, like dual app views.
There's also a really impressive camera on the back which is slick and fast and performs well in most conditions. Add 4K video capture to the list and you've a smartphone package that sees you ready for the future. You also don't pay over the odds for it at £479.
Buy the LG G3 because you want a big screen experience in a managable package.
FULL REVIEW: LG G3 review
DEALS: LG G3 deals
1. HTC One (M8)
The HTC One (M8) comprehensively betters the HTC One, taking the design and user experience of the former and refining it in many areas. There's no doubt that this is a premium device at the top of the Android pile. It's slick and fast and the refinement of the new Sense 6.0 user interface adds plenty to Android 4.4 KitKat.
The design is excellent, with a premium metal body offering a great feel in the hand. But this handset isn't only good looking, it offers a great 5-inch full HD display with some of the nicest visuals you'll find on a device at this size.
With size and power, you might expect the 2800mAh battery to be something of a concern, but the HTC One (M8) offers all-day battery life, along with an extreme power saver mode if you need to last longer.
The camera offers some clever features. Thanks to the Duo Camera you can easily refocus images, as well as apply a number of effects after shooting. They add interest, but if camera performance is the most critical feature you want then you might want to look elsewhere. The HTC One M8 is slick and fast and daily use is a pleasure. It will cost you £549.
Buy the HTC One (M8) for it's design, power and mature user experience.
FULL REVIEW: HTC One (M8) review
DEALS: HTC One (m8) deals