Best smartphone 2015 - buying guide & top mobile phone picks

Find your perfect smartphone from our list of Android, Windows and Apple handsets

Best Mobile Phones 2014

If you've been confused by the sheer number of smartphones available and can't work out which one you should buy, then you've come to the right place. After testing hundreds of mobile phones, we've sifted through all our reviews to bring you the definitive list of what's commonly available and which ones are the best value for money. 

If you're not quite sure about which smartphone is right for you, be sure to check out our handy buying guide on page two to help you narrow down your choice. We explain everything from which operating system you should go for to screen quality, battery life and performance, and how much storage you'll need. We also explain whether you need 4G and the best ways to buy your new handset. 

1. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge cropped

It's eye-wateringly expensive, but the Galaxy S6 Edge really is one of the most desirable phones on the planet right now. Its curved edges look stunning, and it's got plenty of power behind it, too, thanks to Samsung's octa-core Exynos 7420 chip. Its 2,560x1,440 Super AMOLED display is equally stunning, producing rich, vibrant colours and ultra-deep blacks. Its 16-megapixel camera is also fantastic. If you want a smartphone that will truly wow your friends and family, the Galaxy S6 Edge is the phone to buy. 

Price when reviewed: £760 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review Processor: Quad-core 2.1GHz and quad-core 1.5GHz Samsung Exynos 7420 Screen Size: 5.1in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,440, Rear camera: 16-megapixel, Storage: 64GB / 128GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 142x70x7.0mm, Weight: 132g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2

2. Apple iPhone 6

iPhone 6 Plus Lightning port

It took Apple a while, but it finally increased screen size with the iPhone 6 range. Now with a 4.7in display, a fast processor, improved battery life and iOS 8.1, the iPhone 6 is an improvement in every way on the iPhone 5S. We also think that it strikes the perfect balance between screen size and physical size, making it the best iPhone for most people.

Price when reviewed: £619 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full iPhone 6 review
Processor: Dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8, Screen Size: 4.7in, Screen resolution: 1,334x750, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16GB / 64GB / 128GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 138x67x6.9mm, Weight: 129g, Operating system: iOS 8

3. Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen, 2014)

Moto G 2nd Gen cropped

The original Moto G was an exceptional budget smartphone, but Motorola's latest version of this monumental handset is even better. The 2nd Gen Moto G now comes with a large 5in screen, an improved 8-megapixel camera, 4G support and a microSD card slot, making it even more versatile than before.  

Price when reviewed: £145 SIM-free. For the latest prices, see our full Motorola Moto G 2014 review
Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400,Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 8-megapixel, Storage: 8GB / 16GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G Size: 141x70x11mm, Weight: 149g, Operating system: Android 4.4.4

Best of the rest...

4. LG G4

When every other top end smartphone is made of metal, the G4's leather rear really helps it stand out from the crowd. It's also the first smartphone to have a colour spectrum sensor built into its rear camera, allowing it to produce more realistic images. It's not as fast as the S6, but its IPS Quantum display superb, and its battery life is pretty decent too. It's also one of the cheapest flagship phones available today, making it a great choice for those who don't want to shell out for the S6 Edge or iPhone 6.

Price when reviewed: £530 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full LG G4 review
Processor: Hexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,440, Rear camera: 16-megapixel, Storage: 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 149x75x8.9mm, Weight: 155g, Operating system: Android 5.1

5. Apple iPhone 6 Plus

When Apple decided to do big, it went really big, with this huge 5.5in handset. Provided the size doesn't put you off, the high-quality screen, long battery life, brilliant OS and excellent camera make this the best (and most expensive) iPhone that you can buy.

Price when reviewed: £619 SIM-free. For the latest prices, see our full iPhone 6 Plus review
Processor: Dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8, Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16GB / 64GB / 128GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 158x78x7.1mm, Weight: 172g, Operating system: iOS 8

6. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Phones have generally become larger, but with the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact you get a high-end phone in a smaller package. It has the same top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU as its big brother, and is incredibly quick. Its 4.7in, 720p display is excellent and the 20.7-megapixel camera one of the best. If you want a smaller phone, this is the one to buy.

Price when reviewed: £348 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review
Processor: Quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Screen Size: 4.6in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 20.7-megapixel,Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 127x65x8.6mm, Weight: 129g, Operating system: Android 4.4.4

7. Vodafone Smart Ultra 6

The super-sized Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 is something of a budget miracle. Better value than the Moto G, this £125 handset has a 5.5in Full HD display, 13-megapixel camera and a super-fast Snapdragon 615 processor. It's tied to Vodafone, of course, but you won't find a better value smartphone for less.

Price when reviewed: £125 PAYG. For the latest prices, see our full Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 review 
Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080 Rear camera: 13-megapixel,Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 154x77x8.4mm, Weight: 159g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung started the phablet market with its original Note and the Note 4 is the best model yet. A huge screen with a high resolution, plenty of power, tons of battery life and a stylus all combine to make this one of the best phablets you can buy.

Price when reviewed: £600 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review
Processor: Quad-core 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, Screen Size: 5.7in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,440, Rear camera: 16-megapixel, Storage: 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 153x78x8.5mm, Weight: 176g, Operating system: Android 4.4.4

9. Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen, 2015)

If you're looking for extremely low-cost Android phone that you can buy outright, the 2015 edition of the Motorola Moto E should be top of your list. Available for just £109, it's extremely good value. Its 960x540 screen is a little low-res, but its quality is very good. Performance is also respectable, and its battery life of 13h 30m in our video playback test is also extremely good for a budget handset. It even runs the latest version of Android, Lollipop.

Price when reviewed: £109 SIM-free. For the latest prices, see our full Motorola Moto E (2015) review
Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410,Screen Size: 4.5in, Screen resolution: 960x540, Rear camera: 5-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G,Size: 130x67x12.3mm, Weight: 145g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2

10. Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

Taking several design cues from the Xperia Z3 Compact, the M4 Aqua is a beautifully made mid-range handset. With its snappy processor, great battery life and excellent performance, the M4 Aqua puts other £200 handsets to shame. 

Price when reviewed: £225 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Sony Xperia M4 Aqua review
Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, Screen size: 5.0in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 13-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 145x73x7.3mm, Weight: 136g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2

11. Nokia Lumia 930

The Lumia 930 is one of Nokia's first handsets to come with Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, and what a difference it makes. Nokia's also pulled out all the stops to make sure the Lumia 930 is one of the most powerful and well-equipped Windows phones ever made. With a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, a 20-megapixel camera, a large 5in Full HD AMOLED display and a huge 32GB of storage, there's hardly anything left wanting.

Price when reviewed: £462 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Nokia Lumia 930 review 
Processor: Quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Screen size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 20-megapixel,Storage: 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 137x71x9.8mm, Weight: 167g, Operating system: Windows Phone 8.1

12. Microsoft Lumia 640

The Microsoft Lumia 640 is the perfect Windows phone if you don't want to fork out for the Lumia 930: it's much cheaper than Nokia's flagship handset, but it still comes with the latest version of Windows Phone 8.1 operating system (which is due to be upgraded for free to Windows 10 Mobile later this year) and the same funky colours. It also has a great 720p screen and excellent battery life, making this phone a great choice for anyone on a tight budget.

Price when reviewed: £120 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Microsoft Lumia 640 review Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 8-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 141x72x8.8mm, Weight: 145g, Operating system: Windows Phone 8.1