The best smartphones money could buy in 2014
Smartphone innovation may have stalled in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from updating and improving upon their best devices. This year, we’ve seen big changes to devices like the iPhone, the Galaxy Note, and the LG G — as well as new contenders like the OnePlus One. But what are the best smartphones of 2014?
Here are our picks.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
If you’re a fan of super-sized phablets and styluses, then Samsung’s Galaxy Note is still the best you can get. Sporting an all-new design with a metallic frame and a stunning Quad HD display — plus a speedy Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera — the Galaxy Note 4 will take anything you can throw at it in its stride. It’ll also be one of Samsung’s first devices to get an Android 5.0 Lollipop update with the South Korean company’s latest TouchWiz user interface.
HTC One M8
HTC is one of a small few Android smartphone makers that cares more about the design of its devices then the numbers on their specifications sheets — and the One M8 is evidence of that. It’s one of the only handsets on the market that’s as pretty as the iPhone, and it’s sleek aluminum form factor is combined with a Snapdragon 801 processor, a 5-inch Full HD display, 32GB of storage as standard, and HTC’s excellent BoomSound speakers.
HTC One M8 for Windows
Prefer Windows Phone to Android? Then it has to be the One M8 for Windows. This handset packs all the same internals as the original One M8 above, but it swaps Android 4.4 KitKat and Sense 6 for Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8.1 software
I’ve used almost all of the smartphones on the list — with the exception of the Galaxy Note 4 and the One M8 for Windows Phone — this year, and the OnePlus One is my second-favorite smartphone. It still amazes me that OnePlus built a device that has a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage — and then priced it at $349, making it cheaper than all of its high-end rivals off-contract. There’s also a 16GB option that’s even more affordable at $299.
Not only does the One have great internals, but it’s also powered by CyanogenMod, which delivers a pure Android experience with some additional apps and tweaks that you won’t mind having.
Moto X (2014)
Motorola was almost slipping off the map until it launched last year’s Moto devices, and this year’s were even better. The new Moto X brought a larger and sharper display, a much-improved design with a metallic chassis, a significantly improved camera, and a faster processor. It was also one of the first third-party smartphones to get an Android 5.0 Lollipop upgrade.
The Moto X is also more affordable than its rivals at just $399.99 off-contract, and it’s the only handset on this list — on the market, in fact — that you can customize the design of.
iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone 6 Plus is the smartphone that convinced me to put down my OnePlus One. It’s downright gorgeous and unbelievably thin, it has mind-blowing battery life, and it’s better than its predecessors in almost every way. The 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch 1080p display, Apple’s new A8 processor, an even better iSight camera with optical image stabilization, and that terrific Touch ID sensor.
Looking for something a little smaller? The iPhone 6 delivers almost everything you get with the iPhone 6 — except optical image stabilization and amazing battery life — but its 4.7-inch display makes it significantly smaller and easier to use with just one hand.
Moto G (2014)
The Moto G isn’t considered a high-end smartphone like the rest of the devices on this list, but I couldn’t help but it include it. If you’re buying a new phone on a budget, this has to be the one you choose. It has a 5-inch 720p display, front-facing stereo speakers like the One M8, excellent battery life, and a quad-core Snapdragon processor. Motorola also delivers a pure Android experience, with a guaranteed Lollipop upgrade.
The original Moto G is Motorola’s best-selling smartphone of all time, and it’s successor is even better. If you can’t afford one of the devices listed above, the new Moto G, at just $179.99, should definitely be the device you choose.