Samsung Galaxy S4
With its five-inch screen and full HD resolution the Samsung Galaxy S4 boasts the same picture quality as many a TV of five years ago. Weighing only 130g the 7.9mm-thin Galaxy S4 is light and easy to hold in one hand with a well-thought-out, top-notch design. It even has a proximity sensor to gauge how far your ear is from the phone. It is 4G-ready, has a comprehensive Android (Jelly Bean) operating system, a fast dual-core processor and 16GBs of storage for media, care of an expandable memory card slot. And there are two cameras onboard: an eight megapixel in the back and a two megapixel in the front.
Sitting at the top end of the smartphone market, this ranks as one of the better competitors for Apple’s range of iPhones. It has a 119mm (diagonal) full HD screen with a whopping 468ppi and its design is sleek and its construction solid. The devil was in the detail for the HTC One design team, which left no stone unturned – even the bevelled edges shout precision build.
Weighing in at 143g it is light to hold and its Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean operating system is as comprehensive as it is functional. It is 4G-ready and has a USB port and Wi-Fi capabilities. It has a four-megapixel camera in the back capturing 300% more light than the norm, and the innovative HTC One offers one-press continuous shooting. With its VideoPic facility it’s also great for video.
Apple iPhone 5S
Weighing 112g and 58.6mm wide the iPhone 5S is lighter than the Android pretenders nipping at its heels and boasts a supreme aluminium and glass body that has been, as usual, designed to the nth degree. Each element is a wonder in itself but as a composite item the iPhone 5S pushes the envelope. The new feature for this phone is a fingerprint sensor in the Home button for added security and the 101.6mm (diagonal) widescreen has a fingerprint-resistant coating.
It has an eight-megapixel iSight camera with face detection, among others, and has a FaceTime HD camera onboard for videos and one-to-one video calls. It’s super-fast A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor, plus its new iOS 7 operating system, keeps the (up to) 64GB storage capacity and bucket-load of features and apps working furiously for you. It is 3G-capable and 4G-ready and, of course, there always is the useful Intelligent Assistant, Siri.
Apple iPhone 5C
Released recently on the same day as the more sophisticated, more expensive iPhone 5S, the iPhone 5C is solely targeted at winning custom from the cheaper Android smartphones.
The main difference between the iPhone 5C and its close cousin is that it comes in a range of colours, foregoes the cutting-edge fingerprint identity sensor and is ever so slightly bigger and heavier. The iPhone 5C has an A6 chip at its heart rather than the iPhone 5S’s A7 but the 5C is still a cut above many of its Android competitors. As with the 5S, iPhone 5C has ultra-fast wireless and a 1.2-megapixel front camera to enable users to video call over both Wi-Fi and cellular network.
Sony Xperia Z
The Sony Xperia Z’s great leap forward is its waterproofing – even after being submerged in up to one metre for 30 minutes the phone survives. It is dustproof as well, and is expertly manufactured and beautifully crafted – even the on/off button is a marvel. The 7.9mm-thin Xperia Z, made with the principle of showcasing your content and not its own design, has a whacking 13-megapixel camera with a 16x digital zoom capacity and a durable tempered glass and glass fibre polyamide frame. The 127mm 1080p HD TFT screen has a resolution of 444ppi and the model is on the heavy side at 146g, but the 7.9mm-thin Quad Band 4G-ready Xperia Z still packs a punch with its Android Jelly Bean operating system and 16GB of storage (32GB max with a memory card).
Sony Xperia Z1
The next model on from the ground-breaking Xperia Z, is just as impressive as its predecessor. With an incredible 20.7-megapixel camera on board, as well as being water- and dustproof, the 4G-ready ubër-phone that is the Sony Xperia Z1 has a durable tempered glass and aluminium frame and will see off most of the competition. It has a smooth bevelled glass, button-free front dominated by a 127mm, full HD screen. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset, which is said to be the fastest and most capable processor around, is a step up from that afforded the Xperia Z.
Nokia Lumia 925
This may well be the smartphone model that turns around the fortunes of Finnish phone makers Nokia. More expensive than its closely related predecessor, the Lumia 920, the Lumia 925 from Nokia is a decent mobile that boasts a quality build and design. This 4G-ready, Windows Phone 8-operated smartphone won’t cause a iPhone-like buying frenzy though, but, with its 8.7-megapixel, 114mm screen, 32GB memory capacity, Smart Camera feature and award-winning PureView camera technology, it proves itself able to hold its own in the marketplace.
This smartphone is all screen and processing power. The 70.9mm-wide, 143g G2 has an understated but solid design with neat features, such as the power button on the back. It comes with up to 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM for the different Android apps and operating system to devour. But the processing power of the G2 is impressive – with a Quad Core Krait 400 processer driving the phone. This helps a great deal with the monster 13-megapixel OIS camera and eye-catching 133mm, 424ppi resolution crystal-clear screen. The 4G-ready G2 boasts 15 hours of talk time and over 13 hours standby, as well as a best-in-class battery capacity.
Google Nexus 4
Marketed as a smartphone with speed and power to spare, the Nexus 4 from Google is only 3G-capable but it comes with a great design that is in every way matched by its performance as a phone. Designed to work on the Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) system the Nexus 4 offers fast processing speeds with the Qual-comm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, which allows for effortless switching between all those Google apps on offer. The vibrant 119mm (diagonal) display is encased in a scratch-resistant glass and its 320ppi resolution frames pictures perfectly. At 9.1mm thin, the Nexus 4 weighs 139g and offers an eight-megapixel main camera fitted in the back and a 1.3-megapixel camera in the front. The high-performance camera has a natty feature that allows you to ‘sew’ panoramic pictures of a vista together to create an immersive photosphere.
The first of the troubled firm BlackBerry’s smartphone range, and as you’d expect all the best features of BlackBerry’s devices are included. The BlackBerry Z10 is 4G-ready and comes with a 106mm screen and eight-megapixel camera, and runs on the BlackBerry 10 operating system. With 16GB of internal storage, expandable with memory card to 64GB, and 2GB of RAM this no-frills-design 10mm-thick smartphone weighs in at 137.5g, and offers 10 hours of battery talk time. It has a ‘one-swipe and read message’ system, which is easy to use and its touchscreen keyboard learns and adjusts to fit a particular user.