14 best mobile phones to buy in 2014

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

Best Mobile Phones 2014

Page 1 of 214 best mobile phones to buy in 2014

Smartphones have never been bigger. Long gone are the days when phones just made calls and texts and let you play Snake on the train. Now they're our own personal gateway to the internet; they find us our next cup of coffee, play music, take pictures and stream on-demand films and TV shows. Download the right apps (check out our Best Android Apps if you're stuck for ideas) and they can even replace your car's sat-nav, bringing you real-time travel updates and re-routing your journey if there's a pile-up ten miles down the road. There's almost nothing a smartphone can't do these days, so picking the right one for you is important.

Luckily, the sheer variety of smartphones available means there's something for everyone, regardless of how much money you want to spend. Whether you're looking for the latest flagship model or a cheap sub-£100 handset, there's a smartphone to match. Here's our pick of the bunch, from Android to iOS to Windows Phone.

This page has the best mid-range and budget handsets on it, see page two for the best flagship and high-end handsets, and page three if you're considering one of Nokia's excellent Windows Phone handsets.

Motorola New Moto G - the best budget phone just got even better

Motorola New Moto G face on

Our Expert Opinion The original Moto G (featured below) 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 8-megapixel camera and microSD card support, making it even more versatile than before.  

Inside, the phone is almost identical to its predecessor as it uses the same processor and has the same amount of RAM, but the Moto G's performance was already up there with mid-range handsets that were often twice the price, so there's little to complain about on this front. More important is the improved camera, which now produces much better images in a range of aspect ratios. The larger screen doesn't take its toll on the New Moto G's battery life either, as we managed to squeeze another 30 minutes out of it in our video playback test. It's a better phone in almost every respect, although if you want a 4G version, you'll still have to buy the old one - see below.

Price when reviewed: £145 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Motorola New Moto G review.

Key Specs
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
Size 141x70x11mm
Weight 149g
Operating system Android 4.4.4

Motorola Moto G (1st Gen, 4G) - an incredible phone that rewrites the budget handbook

Motorola Moto G

Our Expert Opinion Motorola has thrown the budget smartphone rulebook out the window with the Moto G. While the 3G version has been superceded by the new Moto G (see the top of this article), the 4G version is still alive and kicking. Here, you have an Android smartphone with a quad-core 1.2GHz processor and a high-quality 1,280x720 display, all for a very low price. 

It has a simple, no-frills design that feels incredibly well made on its own, but you can always swap the back cover for a coloured version if you want to add a bit of pizazz to your handset. The phone's only real disadvantage is its basic 5-megapixel camera, but this a minor drawback that's very forgiveable in a phone this cheap. 

Price when reviewed: £160 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Motorola Moto G review.

Key specs
Processor Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Screen size 4.5in
Screen resolution 1,280x720
Rear camera 5-megapixel
Storage 8GB
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 130x66x11.6mm
Weight 143g
Operating system Android 4.4.2

Motorola Moto X (1st gen) - a mid-range master

Motorola Moto X

Our Expert Opinion When Motorola first launched the Moto G last year, it completely redefined what we should expect from a sub-£150 handset, and the Moto X has done exactly the same thing for mid-range smartphones. With its stunning 4.7in AMOLED screen, the Moto X immediately sets itself apart from the rest of the competition. Image quality is fantastic, and its 1,280x720 resolution looks sharp and crisp.

The Moto X handles Android 4.4 KitKat beautifully thanks to its powerful 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and web browsing and graphics performance were also impressive. Its 10-megapixel camera produces bright, accurate photos in all lighting conditions, and its huge 12 and a half hour battery life means it should last all day on a single charge.

With plenty of helpful apps from Motorola onboard as well, the Moto X is a great value phone that gives the Nexus 5 a run for its money.

Price when reviewed: £264 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Motorola Moto X review.

Key specs
Processor Dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
Screen size 4.7in
Screen resolution 1,280x720
Rear camera 10-megapixel
Storage 16GB
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 129x65x9.8mm
Weight 130g
Operating system Android 4.4.2

HTC Desire 816 - an Android phablet that won't break the bank

HTC Desire 816

Our Expert Opinion Oversized phones often come with oversized prices attached to them, but the HTC Desire 816 costs just £270 SIM-free, making it an attractive alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (see below). Its 5.5in display may only have a 1,280x720 resolution, but the quality of the screen is excellent, ensuring your films and videos will always look their best.

The only real weakpoint of the Desire 816 is its 5-megapixel rear camera, but it's a small criticism in the face of its excellent battery life, great performance and affordable price. If you're looking for an inexpensive large-screen phone, the Desire 816 is the phone to buy.

Price when reviewed: £270 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full HTC Desire 816 review.

Key specs
Processor Dual-core 1.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Screen size 5.5in
Screen resolution 1,280x720
Rear camera 5-megapixel
Storage 8GB
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 157x79x8mm
Weight 165g
Operating system Android 4.4.2

1410867640903

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - The new king of the phablets

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Our Expert Opinion Samsung's Note devices singlehandedly created the massive phone, or phablet, market and eventually forced even Apple to follow suit with its own big phone, the excellent iPhone 6 Plus. The latest model is the Note 4 which has a 5.7in screen with a gigantic 2,560x1,440 pixel resolution. As usual it's an AMOLED screen so you get vibrant colours, inky blacks and a whopping battery life of 19 hours thanks to its lower power usage. That makes it the longest-lasting phone we've ever seen. Inside is a powerful Snapdragon 805 chipset that flew through everything we threw at it, games, applications and Android itself all ran silky smooth. 

It comes with Android 4.4.4, with an update to 5.0 likely due soon, but there's plenty of modifications made here, mostly based around the S-Pen that gives the note its name. With this you can annotate, write, doodle and sketch, or use it as a more precise way of tapping the screen in general - which is great for browsing desktop sites on the large screen. That big screen also lets you multitask, with split screen capabilities that make many tasks  far easier. It's a fantastic handset, and though we're not yet ready to say you could do all your computing on a smartphone, the Note 4 comes the closest to date.

Price when reviewed: £600 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review.

Key specs
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

Apple iPhone 6 - the best iPhone to date

Our Expert Opinion If you're already sold on iOS, there's no need to convince you that the iPhone 6 is the smartphone to buy, but for everyone else there's plenty of reasons to consider Apple's latest and greatest. Increasing the screen size to 4.7in in order to better compete with larger Android smartphones was a fantastic move, as anyone that's tried using an iPhone 5S after playing with an Android phablet will attest. A higher resolution helps, even if it can't compete with the Full HD and even QHD screens found in Android handsets, but picture quality is still among the best around.

Naturally, the iPhone 6 is thinner and more sculpted than the outgoing model, with an aluminium frame, curved edges and slightly curved 2.5D glass. It retains the TouhID fingerprint sensor found in the 5S, but introduces several new features including the NFC-based Apple Pay, and the Homekit and Healthkit app hubs for home automation and fitness tracking respectively. It's powerful, has a great camera and iOS 8 is the slickest version of Apple's mobile OS yet.

Yes, you pay a huge premium for the Apple brand, but with Handoff connectivity letting you finish emails, messages and phone calls on your iPad or OS X laptop, the iPhone 6 completes Apple's three tier eco-system in a way that no other Apple handset has done before.

Price when reviewed: £619 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full iPhone 6 review.

Key specs
Processor Dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8
Screen size 4.7in
Screen resolution 1,334x750
Rear camera 8-megapixel
Storage 16GB
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 138.1x67x6.9mm
Weight 129g
Operating system iOS8

Samsung Galaxy S5 - the best Galaxy phone yet

Samsung Galaxy S5

Our Expert Opinion Best seen as a refinement of the already excellent Galaxy S4, the S5 is one of the most powerful smartphones to date. With Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 801 chipset on-board running at a massive 2.5GHz, the Galaxy S5 achieved some of the fastest benchmark scores we've ever seen from an Android smartphone.

With such massive power on tap, we expected the Galaxy S5 to suffer in terms of battery life, but fortunately its energy efficient Qualcomm chip helped the handset reach a best-ever score of 17 hours and 30 minutes in our continuous video rundown test. Compared to the outgoing model, which lasted 10 hours and 43 minutes in the same test, the S5 should easily last you an entire day of moderate-to-heavy use.

The Galaxy S5 has a fantastic screen as well. Samsung's OLED screens have long been a highlight of its phones and the S5 is no exception; the AMOLED panel is one of the best of all the smartphones we've tested. If you've got an older handset, then the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a great choice if you're looking for a new phone.

Price when reviewed: £560 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Samsung Galaxy S5 review.

Key specs
Processor Quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Screen size 5.1in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Rear camera 16-megapixel
Storage 16GB
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 142x72x8.1mm
Weight 145g
Operating system Android 4.4.2

HTC One (m8) - your new best mate

HTC One (m8)

Our Expert Opinion The HTC One (m8) isn't a radical departure from the original HTC One, but HTC has still made all the necessary upgrades you'd expect from a 2014 flagship handset. With an all-metal design, faster internals and a larger screen, you could easily mistake the new handset for the original until you turn it over and spot the unique dual camera. The Duo Camera uses the same 4-megapixel 'Ultrapixel' main sensor as the original HTC One, but this time it's paired with a second, depth-sensing camera. Used together, they let you choose the point of focus in an image even after you've pressed the shutter button.

Inside is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processor, translating into incredibly fast performance, and its Full HD screen is beautiful to look at, too. It's among the best LCD screens we've seen in a smartphone, rivalling the iPhone 5s in terms of brightness and contrast. It's a tough call between the One (m8) and the Galaxy S5 when it comes to naming the ultimate smartphone, but if you prefer a top class metal body and great speakers, the (m8) is definitely the phone for you.

Price when reviewed: £530 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full HTC One (m8) review.

Key specs
Processor Quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Screen size 5in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Rear camera 4-megapixel
Storage 16GB
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 146x70x9.4mm
Weight 160g
Operating system Android 4.4.2

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - the best compact Android handset around

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Our Expert Opinion As Android handsets have got progressively bigger, only one manufacturer is still flying the flag for compact, premium smartphones running Google's operating system. Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact is only the second small flagship, despite the name, but it's a fantastic piece of kit; with the same top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor as its bigger brother, it flies through benchmarks, plays any game you care to throw at it and makes Android 4.4 KitKat feel incredibly responsive. Sony's minimal Xperia custom theme looks great too, being one of very few tweaked versions of Andorid we'd happily use every day.

Battery life is nigh on unbeatable for the size, letting you go an entire day without worrying about running out of juice and still having power left over for the morning after the night before. The 4.7in, 720p display might not top the resolution charts, but it produces stunning pictures anyway, and the 20.7-megapixel camera on the back outperforms virtually every other handset we've seen at this price. The first 'mini' phone that truly lives up to the idea of delivering a flagship experience inside a smaller, cheaper chassis, the Xperia Z3 Compact is the phone to buy if you like your phones small.

Price when reviewed: £348 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review.

Key specs
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

HTC Desire Eye - the ultimate selfie phone

HTC Desire Eye

Our Expert Opinion The Desire Eye is one of HTC's most unusual smartphones to date, as it has a 13-megapixel camera with dual LED flash on both the front and back of the handset. It's the perfect phone for selfie and photography fans alike, and its powerful internals means it's just as fast as HTC's flagship One (m8). 

We're big fans of the Desire Eye's colourful design, too, as its unibody chassis has been injected with colour to create a near-seamless finish from front to back. It's immensely comfy to hold, and its battery life of just under 14 hours in our continuous video playback test means it should get you through the day without any problem. If you're looking for a large phone at a slightly lower price than the flagships, the HTC Desire Eye is an excellent choice. 

Price when reviewed: £410 SIM free. For the latest prices, see our full HTC Desire Eye review.

Key specs
Processor Quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Screen size 5.2in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Rear camera 13-megapixel
Storage 16GB
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 152x74x8.5mm
Weight 154g
Operating system Android 4.4.4

Sponsored Links