Killer price for an unlocked smartphone, Fast next-generation CPU and GPU
Google has delivered an impressive smartphone with the Nexus 5 from LG, an unlocked powerhouse with a palatable price and solid performance, and the new Android 4.4.1 KitKat update largely fixes the phone's initial camera problems.
Great screen, Low price, Blazing performance
Although the issues we take with the Nexus 5 are considerable, they're not enough to keep us from recommending this device.
One of the issues we have, which is the lackluster camera, might be resolved with a software fix. And even if it were a minor fix, it's not so bad that you'll never be able to take good photos with it.
What really gets us here is what we're not used to seeing, and that's a device with these kinds of specs at this price point.
Impressively spec'd smartphone at a bargain price
It's a year since Google made a splash with an impressively spec'd smartphone at a bargain price. The Nexus 4 wasn't a financial success perhaps but making a profit off selling hardware is rarely the first thing on Google's mind. The pure Android experience was the major selling point and getting more people into their cloud services must've been worth the investment - the Nexus price is clearly subsidized, the way Amazon subsidizes its Kindle tablets so it can make profit on selling content.
Great features at a low price with no contract commitment
The Nexus 5 isn't the best smartphone on the market. In fact, there isn't a "best phone", because folks' needs are different: some want a small phone, others want lots of software features and still others want a phablet or a pen. The Nexus 5 is undoubtedly the best smartphone you can buy for just $349 full retail. It has a great mix of features for the price including a very fast CPU, a sharp full HD IPS display and the promise of always running the latest OS.
Pros: Value for money, display.
There's a lot packed into the Nexus 5, particularly given the £299 and £339 pricepoints for 16GB and 32GB respectively. For that money, you get a display that rivals devices that cost some £200 more, and a chipset that is, in many cases, more powerful. In addition to that, you have a Nexus device, meaning it's uncluttered by bloat and first in line for Android updates.
Long battery life, Has all the S4 features & more
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is simply one balanced performing smartphone! At $300 with a 2-year contract, there's no denying the fact that it's an expensive cost, but as we've come to learn, the hefty pricing does come with some perks. The phablet category saw some new entrants into the space this year, but the Note 3 continues to be the best in its class.
Beautiful large screen, cutting edge tech
Samsung has done it again - and it made it look so easy. The Galaxy Note 3 can pretend it has no competition, while otherwise remarkable rivals know they'll will have to live with - but not quite live up to - comparisons to the gadget that defines an entire segment.
Three generations into it, Samsung is returning to a playground which now has to be shared with others. There are bigger screens out there, waterproof bodies, impressive cameras and immensely powerful chipsets.
Huge full HD display, S Pen digital pen, fast CPU
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is king of the phablets, as was the Note II. Heck, before the original Galaxy Note, there was no such thing as a phablet. Good thing Samsung was cheeky enough to give oversized smartphones a try. The Note 3 is currently among the fastest phablets; only the Sony Xperia Z Ultra shares the Snapdragon 800 CPU with Adreno 330 graphics for now, though we expect that to change as the months pass.
Pros: Improved looks, hugely powerful.
There are a few little things about the Note 3 that we think require some attention, such as photo processing and possible concern over SIM region-locking. These feel like software issues though, and that gives us some hope that they might be fixed at some point in the future. Aside from that, the leap forward from the Note 2 is pretty epic. The included S Pen is great for handling the new air command interface, while handwriting recognition is more accurate now.
Crisp, bold screen, Very powerful
Its huge 5.7-inch size means the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 really won't be to everyone's taste. If you're after a big screen, however, and a phenomenally powerful phone to help tackle anything your working life is likely to throw at it -- and you fancy hand-writing notes with a stylus -- the Note 3 is the best massive mobile around.
Great battery life, Excellent screen, Top-notch specs and performance
If you don't mind feature clutter and the device's high price, or you just want a big-screen phone that has the fastest internals for gaming and multitasking, the Note 3 is the best phone for you. But if a big screen and good performance are mostly what you're after, there are other big-screen options, and there will soon be more. If you can live with a lower-resolution screen (that's still pretty great) and the absence of the S Pen, Samsung's Galaxy Mega is a good choice.
Color variety with its design, Solid build quality for a plastic phone
Even though the high-end segment seems to get all of the attention, the mid-range landscape is quickly seeing the same level of competition. In that sense, the iPhone 5c proves itself as one those trailblazers in the space thatâ??ll keep the heat turned up against the competition.
Bright and cheerful new colors, Solid value
The colorful, plastic iPhone 5c is a welcome upgrade for existing iPhone 4 and 4S owners, and a great introduction to Apple's awesome app platform at a nice price. It's the best $99 phone you'll find on Verizon Wireless, but otherwise, there's not much new to see here.
Colourful options, Smooth OS, Decent battery life
If you're paying a larger price you want a phone which looks and feels premium, and while the iPhone 5C comes with all the Apple hallmarks and tradition, it's a device that falls between two camps. If you want the best Apple has to offer and you're coming from a 4S, then go for the new 5S.
The color of magic
The Apple iPhone 5c is a very solid smartphone - we know it well because we've spent a year with its previous alter ego, the iPhone 5. Try as we might though, we didn't find any difference between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5 that goes beyond the exterior. Sure the battery has grown by 70 mAh, but that's not the kind of difference you can feel in real-life usage.
Glossy, smooth and feels nice in the hand
The iPhone 5C is a nice smartphone. However, we just can't see the need for it in the first place, unless it was cheaper. It's too expensive for what is effectively an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell with minor changes in hardware. There are better and cheaper Android devices on the market and those wishing to stick with iOS should pay the extra £80 for the iPhone 5S.
Excellent build quality, iOS 7 rocks
Taking everything that made the iPhone 5 great and adding in a few more bells and whistles. The iPhone 5C is not the iPhone 5S, but it's still a great little handset in its own right. Should prices come down - which they inevitably will - this handset could become very, very, popular.
Pros: Colourful, solid.
The iPhone 5C is a lovely phone that is solid in its performance and playful it its approach. The combination of the colourful exterior sits beautifully against the latest iOS 7 operating system and it's good to see Apple ditching the ode to faux leather and yellow legal paper shtick. New Apple is an embrace of a modern future. . As an upgrade to the iPhone 4S, the 5C is a perfect option, and it refreshes the iPhone 5 in a way that makes it a lot more fun than the iPhone 5 ever was.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is a spectacular phone. A big part of what makes it spectacular is its incredible specs sheet. Yeah, although its specs can easily be rivaled by strong competitors like the HTC One X, which also has a quad-core processor and the other beloved tech goodies, the Galaxy S III manages to shine brighter, thanks to its superior user experience.
Excellent battery life
So to summarise: if you've been waiting feverishly for the new Samsung Galaxy S3, you will not be disappointed. It's fast, it's sleek and it packs the latest technology that will get your pulse racing.
The recent update has made it an even better phone, and we've been using it out of choice for the last few months - given we've got the choice of most handsets out there, that's a pretty big recommendation for any phone.
Good design and build quality
Subject to further testing, the Galaxy S3 has turned out to be an excellent smartphone. It offers a good design and build quality, despite our small niggles. Samsung has put together an impressive set of hardware resulting in silky smooth performance and extensive software features.
Fast, big display and a great camera
Is the Samsung Galaxy S III an excellent smartphone? Yes it is. Given the millions of preorders, I suspect many of you would buy this no matter what I said about the phone. That speaks of Samsung's momentum in the smartphone market and their excellent track record. Is this Samsung's best Android phone ever? Yes it is, but there is room for improvement. I'd love to see Samsung use high quality materials and cutting edge designs in their top tier phone.
Improved Sense user interface
The HTC One S is simply a fine smartphone. It shows that HTC still knows how to build devices that elicit feelings of lust and desire, and it shows further that the company realizes that its Sense interface has seen better days and needs to get back to the basics. And the basics are what the One S does best. Call audio? Check. Web browser? Check. Camera? Check. Aesthetic appeal? Double check.
Very good call quality
The HTC One S might be the middle child in the new One lineup, but it can't realistically be called mid-range just because the screen is qHD instead of HD. Upper mid-range would be a good fit, if you are a categorization nazi. We loved the compact and sturdy design with a very light and premium feel. In fact, the One S feels higher-end in the hand with its sexy slim metal body, toned by the anodized coating, than the flagship One X, made of fancy plastic.
Beautiful slim but strong design
The HTC One S is a really difficult phone to judge. On the one hand its plasma-etched and super-slim design, fast processor, decent screen and good camera all add up to make this a major improvement over top phones of last year and certainly competitive with many current handsets. But, on the other hand, that plasma finish may not be as tough as first thought, it only packs 16GB of storage and the AMOLED screen is far from perfect.
The HTC One S is one of the top Android phones. The HTC One X has a bigger, higher-resolution display and LTE connectivity (not much use in the UK for now). Hopefully the call quality issues I experienced with my test HTC One S are an isolated incident. The lack of a storage expansion port is a shame, but other than that the HTC One S is a winner.
Stunning design, lovely display
The HTC One S is one of our top picks among Android smartphones. Not only is it one of the few to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, we also like the evolution of HTC Sense. The gorgeous, elegant and durable anodized aluminum unibody casing, impossibly thin profile and attention to detail are hard to beat among Android phones and the Super AMOLED display is super colorful and sharp.
Dual-core Snapdragon S4
Sporting a thinner and lighter design, the One S doesn't deserve to be hidden in the shadow of its pricier brother. With the latest dual-core Snapdragon S4 and noticeable improvements to HTC's Sense UI, as well as Android 4.0 and a potent camera, this phone is likely to play a large part of the manufacturer's renewed efforts after a shaky 2011.
What we like about the BlackBerry Curve 9320 is that it's honest. It's not trying to be better than it is and is quite happy to portray itself as a budget smartphone with a few little extras. And for the people it's aimed at, those who want a phone that makes calls, sends texts/emails and has a good battery, it comes up trumps. Web browsers and cameras are nice to have, but won't swing a sale here. So on that basis, it gets a thumbs up.
Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is not a bad phone in its own right. It offers an established, functional platform with a no-fuss interface alongside elegant styling. However, at the midrange price point, there are simply better-equipped devices to be had.
Even if it were priced lower, the Curve 9320 would still be a hard sell in a market obsessed with touchscreen. RIM has obviously realized that, and has invested highly into recreating their own platform along those lines.
Easy to use core features
There's no two ways about it, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 isn't a phone that will excite many of you. Its screen is small and low resolution and the selection of apps on offer is fairly poor. But, if you're in the market for an upgrade to your old budget BlackBerry or you just want a capable messaging-oriented smartphone with a great keyboard then this phone is well worth a look.
Value for money
The BlackBerry Curve 9320, unlike a lot of budget Android handsets we see, offers two things that are very important and extremely rare at this end of the market: functionality and value for money. RIM has been honest with the marketing it's a phone that's all about social networks and being connected and hasn't attempted to make it into something it's not, and we like that far too many company's these days attempt to oversell their frankly under-specced handsets.
Comes loaded with all the connections you'd expect from an Android phone
All in all, we're impressed with the BlackBerry Curve 9230. The fact that this lower mid-range BlackBerry comes loaded with all the connections you'd expect from an Android phone is reassuring. The OS browser is a pain to use, the app selection isn't great and the Huawei Ascend G300 does offer more for less, however with its keyboard and messaging prowess, it's definitely on the money for a certain type of user.
Great battery life
RIM no longer produces smartphones that compete with the desirability of Apple products and the younger market which once craved BBM is now rapidly migrating to cheap yet stylish Android smartphones and iPhones which now boast iMessage, a more than capable BBM rival. The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is average in almost every way but will still appeal to BlackBerry fans and anyone after a best in class keyboard and upgraded BBM. As a smartphone, it's actually one of the simplest ones out there.
Creaky, plasticky backplate, Tiny, low-res screen
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is a budget option for BBM addicts and those who love the feeling of physical keys under their thumbs. No touchscreen, iffy build quality and a poor selection of apps mean you might be better casting your eye elsewhere, however.
Solid 5-megapixel camera
With the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, you're looking at a solid midrange Android smartphone that packs a punch, and has a reasonable initial price tag. T-Mobile customers wouldn't go wrong with the handset, especially if they don't want to pay top dollar, but it isn't for those looking for the cutting edge.
Fast data when available
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G is an impressive device with great ergonomics and speedy performance. Apart from some issues with the display, it is also built very well. Even if you don't live in an area where you can access T-Mobile's super fast 42Mbps HSPA+ network, the Blaze 4G is a joy to use. Of course, the experience is only that much better if you can take advantage of the high-speed data services while on the go.
Great calling quality
Good things are still found in small packages. In fact, that's essentially what we find with T-Mobile's Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, as it's able to impress us in so many ways. To tell you the truth, we weren't expecting a lot out of this one, especially when the Samsung Galaxy S II is out there floating around, but it's evident that the Blaze 4G is a wonderful alternative for those who prefer a device that's more compact without sacrificing the goods in the specs department.
Well built, fast, and pocket friendly
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G packs enough functionality to keep every potential Android user, who thinks that a screen over 4" in size is too big happy. It is well built, fast, and pocket friendly. It's also got some powerful hardware that makes it relatively future proof.
The smartphone however, is far from perfect. Its Super AMOLED screen has remained in 2010.
We're certainly excited to see dual-core processors trickle down into T-Mobile's mid-tier, and thanks to some well-tuned software, the Blaze 4G is an excellent performer. It's an admirable handset that offers top-notch battery life and network performance, pristine call quality and a beautiful, sturdy enclosure. That said, it's a good handset that stops just short of greatness. To justify its high price, Samsung could've included a better display and its superior 8-megapixel camera.
Good construction, good camera, solid battery life
The biggest hurdle that the HTC Radar 4G has to overcome is the fact that its user experience, and 98 percent of its software, is the same as found on every other Windows Phone that is being sold today or has been sold in the past. Differentiation is difficult for a WP7 device. Still, if you like Windows Phone and want a solid camera in an equally solid body, yet don't want to opt for one of the devices with a massive 4-inch or larger touchscreen, the Radar 4G is for you.
The HTC Radar is all the Trophy was and then some. With a great screen, comfortable, ergonomic design and an attractive interface not to mention all the advantages of Mango. The phone won't do everything an Android handset will, however, it's much easier to work your way around, and with the bonus of the decent 5MP camera and fantastic build quality, buy this and you're onto a winner.
3D movie and 3D game preloaded
The EVO 3D is an odd duck. The phone does certain things exceptionally well while other things rendered us perplexed. For instance, as a standalone smartphone, it's just as speedy an intuitive as the HTC Sensation 4G. Its dual-core Snapdragon, Android 2.3, and HTC Sense 3.0 hat trick will reel in any consumer. The phone also comes with a 3D movie and 3D game preloaded, and it performs quite well in that department.
Well-made and affordable Windows Phone
The HTC Radar 4G looked pretty good for the $99 with contract price tag when it first came out. But the new Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone on T-Mobile gives it a serious run for the money, so be sure to look at the Lumia 710 as well. We like the Radar 4G's sturdy build, bright display and elegant unibody design. We wish the battery were user replaceable though.
Responsive platform experience
Just by looking at the handset, it embodies all the qualities you want with a premium smartphone like its razor sharp looks, solid construction, and premium materials. However, we're not fans of the $299.99 on-contract price that T-Mobile is asking for since its hardware specs and platform experience pale in comparison to some of its rivals.
Finally some top-end specs. Has BlackBerry ripened with age?
It's hard not to recommend the Bold 9900, because here we have a fantastic piece of kit that we can confidently describe as RIM's best BlackBerry to date. That's saying something, because the manufacturer has pumped out some cracking handsets over the years.
Yes, we're dismayed by the lack of a decent camera and slightly disappointed about the web browsing experience, but all of this is irrelevant if you're just buying this as a messaging device, which many people will.
Excellent reception and call quality, a responsive though small touchscreen and a decent camera
Is this RIM's best BlackBerry ever? You bet! The build quality and materials are downright ritzy and tasteful, the keyboard is the best on a mobile device and 4G speeds are good. It has excellent reception and call quality, a responsive though small touchscreen and a decent camera. But some modern amenities are still missing; there's no mobile hotspot feature, no WiFi calling and no front camera. The phone is also quite expensive with a contract at $299 (after a $50 rebate).
Overall, the 9900 is definitely a sexy slab of circuitry, but we still can't skirt around the fact that RIM has been making the same device for years now. We're glad to see the improved specs and solid hardware, but it doesn't detract from the fact that the OS is virtually unchanged except for some visual flair and new APIs.
RIM's BlackBerry Bold remains the company's flagship device. The 9900 is fast, powerful and light, with a hybrid keyboard/touch user interface that should suit all types of user. Combined with the new BlackBerry 7 operating system, this looks set to be the BlackBerry for your pocket.
A handset to turn the tide
The best BlackBerry Bold ever? Perhaps it is. The core features of BlackBerry are still compelling, the keyboard will let you skip over keys rattling out messages, with a rock of the thumb here and a glancing prod there, in ways that only BlackBerry users understand.
The addition of a touchscreen does make a difference, but the overall experience isn't a huge evolution from BB6. Whilst BB7 is familiar, there isn't much here that really drives things forward into the competitive arena.
Awful calling quality
Kudos to LG for thinking outside the box when it comes to the design of the LG Doubleplay, but in all seriousness, it's simply not practical when it comes down to typing messages. Rather, we find the whole thing challenging as we resort to using the on-screen keyboard instead. In addition, we do like the multi-tasking aspects found with the secondary touchscreen, but it doesn't particularly deepen the experience nor does it bring any innovative qualities.
Good tactile keyboard
The LG DoublePlay gets extra points for doing something almost entirely different. For some, the second screen will be a productive aid. However, at the end of the day the second screen feels more like a mistake than a revolution, and as an everyday phone, the DoublePlay just doesn't cut it.
Innovative, and surprisingly useful
There are neither outstanding pros or cons to this device once you take away the dual-display. Considering the radical nature of this technology, I would expect more out of the device as a whole. Check it out. You'll like the idea, you just might not like the phone.
Nice Battery Life, Keyboard Works Well, Runs Latest Android Version
It would be beneficial to preface my final thoughts by mentioning that the LG DoublePlay for T-Mobile is $99 with a two-year contract, unlike so many of it's Android brethren which get much pricier. The DoublePlay looks nice and feels nice, even if it's a bit heavy. The slider is sturdy with good spring, as is the rest of the phone; it's pretty well built. The main-screen size is relatively small and it's made worse by a mediocre resolution.
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