Nowadays, the smartphone market is completely saturated with an overwhelming amount of technology. From Kit Kat and Jelly Bean to Gorilla Glass and iOS, the knowledge the average consumer must possess about the standard features of a smartphone is ludicrous. Of course everybody wants to be able to communicate but the average use for mobile devices today is to stay connected to the rest of the world. With so many phones and services available, deciding which phone is best for you is incredibly daunting. But, consumers need to truly consider why one smartphone’s features benefit them more than another without being completely blinded by the manufacturing brand.
So what it all comes down to is what these phones can do for you. Whether you’re addicted to Facebook, sending mass e-mails or watching movies on Netflix, your phone is the medium. Now I am no tech expert and I am certainly not trying to be one, but it should come as no surprise that there are some underrated phones on the market that fall into the shadows of Apple and Samsung. Instead of simply shooting off an array of dense spec by spec comparisons, this list compiles the main features of the best smartphones available for a variety of users. Whether it’s maximum storage capacity you’re after or an inexpensive deal that you need, these 10 smartphones collectively cover just about every feature necessary.
10. BlackBerry Z30
BlackBerry tops our list off mostly because of its die hard fans. Although the BlackBerry Z30 is outclassed in many areas, the number of consumers that remain loyal to the brand is undeniable. That being said, the Z30 still sports a sleek design and the traditional impressive BlackBerry software. Running on the BlackBerry 10 OS, the Z30 mostly falls short with its 1.7 GHz Dual Core processor.
Don’t get me wrong, the Z30 is an excellent smartphone, but BlackBerry was sharp enough to recognize its audience and cater to its consumers. The 8.0MP auto-focus camera works with backside illumination on the rear and a 2.0MP front-facing camera for things like BBM Video. The unique software provided solely from BlackBerry includes BlackBerryBalance/Protect for security, BlackBerryScreen/Magnify for customers with vision loss or partial vision and BlackBerry Hub for an effortless multi-tasking experience.
9. Nokia Lumia 1520
The best Windows smartphone on the market certainly catches the eye. While it is offered in traditional black or white, the alternative yellow and red options adds a big pop to the aesthetic appeal of the phone. With a 2.20 GHz Quad-Core processor, the 6.0″ screen provides a really different user experience operating on the Windows system.
The home screen does feature customizable widgets and apps similar to many Android operating systems, but the unique ClearBlack display technology sets it apart from the competition. The 20MP autof0cus camera allows you to capture quality photos anytime you need and room for up to 64GB of expandable storage on top of the 16GB internal memory. Biggest downside for many will be the size — it’s massive.
Honorable mention to the Nokia 1020 that packs an unbelievable 41 megapixel PureView autofocus camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, Xenon flash and high resolution zoom. Unfortunately, the camera forced a compromise elsewhere as it only powers a 1.5 GHz Dual-Core processor and 32GB internal memory with no room for an expandable SD card.
8. LG G Flex
The world’s first curved and flexible smartphone arrived April 2014 in the form of the LG G Flex. The biggest smartphone on our list packs a massive 6.0″ screen weighing in at 176.3 grams. Operating on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the LG G Flex delivers a 2.26 GHz Quad-Core for easy multi-tasking on a remarkable OLED display. The ergonomic curve provides a one-of-a-kind feel as the design caters to the shape of your face and a unique rear control panel. To top it all off, the LG G Flex will capture all of life’s moments exactly how they happened with a 13 megapixel rear camera.
7. Google Nexus 5
The LG-built Google Nexus 5 is arguably the best mid-range smartphone available in stores at an entry-level price. While most Canadian network providers sell the 16GB device for $550, Google retails the 16GB Nexus 5 at $350 and only $50 more for the 32GB model.
Running on the Android OS, the Nexus 5 is one of the only smartphones that comes unlocked from your wireless provider which makes traveling with your device much easier when you can simply pop in another carrier’s SIM card. The Google Nexus 5 boasts a 2.26 GHz Quad Core processor on a beautiful 4.95″ screen. If 2-year commitments are not for you, the Nexus 5 is available for an incredibly reasonable price from Google making it one of the best smartphones available without a contract.
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The second biggest device on our list comes from South Korean electronics company, Samsung. Operating on Android OS, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 boasts a 5.7″ screen with a Full HD Super AMOLED display. But, some of the best parts of this phone are actually in the unique features, not the specifications.
Samsung has introduced the new S Note that allows you to type or handwrite notes that you can browse, edit and transform or the new Easy Clip that can remove backgrounds from images providing a very advanced editing experience. The “phablet” comes with a stylus pen that utilizes Direct Pen Input so you can control your device flawlessly by hand or by pen. Add a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor and a 13 megapixel rear camera and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 won’t let you down.
5. Sony XPeria Z2
The freshest smartphone on our list comes from Sony with the XPeria Z2 having been released this past May. The newest model from Sony’s Z series operates on Android 4.4 with a 2.3 GHz Quad-Core processor. The Sony XPeria Z2 also features a 20.7 megapixel rear camera to help you remember your favorites times, people or places perfectly.
Now onto the cool stuff. The 5.2″ Full HD display uses TRILUMINOS and X-Reality technologies that work together to restore missing detail when viewing low-resolution images and expands the range of colors you see to provide a sharp, vibrant photo. Not to mention, it’s dust-resistant and waterproof in freshwater for up to 30 minutes or up to 1 meters below.
4. OnePlus One
The OnePlus One phone might be the least recognizable smartphone on the list. Operating under their product philosophy “Never Settle,” OnePlus aims to become a global technology company simply by committing to quality products without putting unnecessary emphasis on the things that don’t matter. The OnePlus One phone is surprisingly impressive for a smartphone that is not available through any third party distributor.
With a powerful 2.5GHz Quad-Core processor and a unique version of CyanogenMod 11S operating system designed specifically for the One, this phone is special. The design of CyanogenMod 11S appears novice to the eye but its built for users who seek more control in their mobile domain.
The 5.5″ 1080p display works together with the IPS screen made by JDI, the company responsible for the HTC One M8’s excellent screen, providing incredible resolution. Downsides to the phone are lack of external storage, retail cost with no option for contract, and 4G connectivity that means coverage varies from country to country. However, with special modifiable software based on Android, the OnePlus One is in a class of its own.
3. Apple iPhone 5S
The most popular phone in the world: the iPhone. Naturally, Apple is still at the top of the market despite being one of the oldest models on our list. The iPhone 5S obviously still operates on iOS and followed the usual trend of Apple processor upgrades from the A6 chip to the A7 chip.
The 8 megapixel rear camera works together with the new “True Tone” dual-LED flash that uses different color temperatures to create incredibly realistic pictures. The biggest downside to this phone is the considerable difference between processor speeds as Apple packs a weak 1.7 GHz — just under half of the Samsung Galaxy S5. But, until someone can compete with Apple’s seamless hardware-software compatibility, the iPhone 5S remains a top contender.
2. Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung released the latest model of their Galaxy S Series in April of 2014. The S5 upgraded to the Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat operating system this time around and tied the OnePlus One phone for most powerful processor — 2.5GHz — on our list. Compared to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the S5 is bigger, better and faster in virtually every way.
With a 16 megapixel rear lens and 2 megapixel front-facing lens, all social networking junkies should be drooling as the S5 offers the best in-class display. It’s also the first smartphone to feature a heart rate monitor and a unique service coined the “Download Booster” that allows users to maximize their data usage and Wi-Fi connectivity simultaneously to increase download rates.
1. HTC One M8
The first flagship phone of 2014 came from the High-Tech Computer Company. The HTC One M8 was released in March this year to incredible success. Succeeding the highly popular HTC One, the HTC One M(etal) 8 has been voted as the best smartphone right now by TechRadar. It easily falls on just about every top 10 list of smartphones on the market today.
According to Android Central, the HTC One M8 packs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip with 2 GB of DDR2 RAM and 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. The dual front-facing speakers returned with BoomSound software for a 25% increase in sound volume. The 5.0″ LCD screen still displays the trademark HTC BlinkFeed and, like the OnePlus One phone, a 5.0 megapixel front-facing camera — the best on our list.