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.
Great camera with 1080p video recording at 60 fps
The LG G2 is an outstanding smartphone almost every way you look at it. The screen is beautiful, albeit a bit off in terms of color temperature, while the camera is simply outstanding - definitely among the very best out there. Under the hood, the Snapdragon 800 processor is doing exactly what you'd expect it to do - making sure that everything operates perfectly smoothly with no hiccups or delays.
Amazing colors, viewing angles, great brightness and contrast
The LG G2 is not just the company's next flagship. It is LG's hope of getting their best shape back after quite a few uninspiring attempts. And this time around, the stakes are higher than ever as the competition out there is in its top form too.
The first thing LG got right is the timing, staying put well after Samsung and HTC unveiled their flagships. This allowed LG to offer the best chipset from Qualcomm, essentially coming up with a 2014 flagship in 2013.
Stunning 5.2-inch edge-to-edge display
The LG G2 is an impressive return to smartphone prominence for the South Korean company but one which still falls slightly short. It is a worthy rival to the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One but thanks to plastic build, peculiar button placement and less than gripping camera is unlikely to worry its more illustrious competition too much.
Large and lovely full HD IPS display, great camera
The LG G2 is assuredly the company's best Android phone yet. We were bullish on the also very good Optimus G Pro, but the G2 is all that and more in a more mainstream size. The display is top notch, performance is fast and fluid, the camera is excellent and the rear buttons actually work nicely. We'd love to see a more interesting and attractive casing that didn't turn murky with fingerprints so quickly, but the phone is nonetheless solidly built and curved nicely to fit in the hand.
Pros: Visually appealing, feels great as a phone.
The G2 is easily a competitor for every other high-end smartphone out there. The "weird" button layout works for us, and it's paired with some smart touch functions that are well thought out. The phone looks and feels great, and just works as a smartphone should. There are some minor things about the G2 we don't like, but our overwhelming sense is that this phone does what we want and it does it well, with style and smoothness.
Large screen, compact phone
Samsung didn't exactly catch us by surprise with the Galaxy S4. Pretty much all the hardware improvements like the faster processor, better camera, and 5" 1080p screen were expected. Samsung simply had to have those in the Galaxy S4 if it wanted its product to be relevant in 2013. However, it's the flawless implementation of all the features that makes the Galaxy S4 the superb smartphone that it is. Design-wise, the latest Samsung flagship is nothing special.
Stunning screen, Superfast processor, Great camera
Make no mistake - the Samsung Galaxy S4 is far, far more than a Galaxy S3 'S' - Samsung may be copying Apple according to some people, but it's not as brazen as the Cupertino brand in flogging the exact same design with a slightly uprated processor and calling it a new phone.
The Galaxy S4 is a great, great device in its own right, re-inventing what it means to own a brilliant smartphone in a number of ways.
More serious and stylish look
While the Samsung Galaxy S4's exterior might be its Achilles' heel, we can't blame Samsung for sticking with the Galaxy S brand image it spent so much resources trying to build (that phone sold over 50 million units too, so being associated with it cannot be too bad).
With the sheer number of excellent flagships to choose from, if you are looking for the best smartphone, you had it better than ever.
Stunning 5-inch Full HD screen
The Samsung Galaxy S4 might not look that different or have that one killer feature that sinks the competition, but it's a worthy successor to the Samsung Galaxy S3.
It's a true high-end powerhouse and undeniably one of the best phones on the market right now, albeit one that will relies a little too heavily on brand appeal and past successes rather than innovation and eye-catching design. Yes, it might not be the most stylish handset on the market, but nor is it a dog.
Huge display in a not so huge phone, excellent camera
The Samsung Galaxy line of smartphones is a juggernaut; like the iPhone, the next generation will sell well based simply on brand loyalty, trust and familiarity. Even so, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a lot to offer, and though I wasn't overwhelmed with love for the Galaxy S III, the S4 is seriously tempting me. The superb camera and related features, comfortable feel in the hand, replaceable battery and software like Smart Stay and Air Gesture are hard to give up once you've used them.
A brilliant phone in almost every way
As we type this we have the SGS3 and the SGS4 on our desk. While, superficially, there's really not a lot of difference between the two, to hold, they couldn't feel more different. We really like the new, more square-feeling SGS4. At the back, we prefer the SGS3 aesthetically, although the case design of the new phone is nicer - albeit still plastic.
There are a stack more options here.
High-resolution display, Fast processor
An alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active - with such impressive characteristics and top-of-the-line hardware specs - is pretty hard to find. As of this review, the Sony Xperia Z is the only capable competitor to Samsung's tough handset as it is also water-resistant and with high-end hardware specifications.
IP57-level water resistance is nice
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is not the best smartphone in the Samsung lineup, but if you add "that I can put in water," things definitely change. It's a very good 2013 flagship aimed at people who until recently had very few options - as you can see there aren't many high-end smartphones with water resistance.
Sure not everyone needs to have an IP57 certified handset, but if it doesn't cost anything in terms of overall smartphone performance than it certainly doesn't hurt having it.
Able to handle dust, water, and all the vicissitudes
We really like the Galaxy S4 Active. It's got the kind of features that we wish the flagship smartphone has. There is a downgrade with some specifications but they don't seem like a big sacrifice. Performance is excellent and the neither display nor the camera could be described as poor. If you want durability, this is the Galaxy S4 for you but it's worth checking out the Xperia Z as an alternative.
Same great features as Galaxy S4 though the camera resolution is demoted
If you love the Samsung Galaxy S4, but work or play in harsh environments where the phone comes into contact with water and dust, then the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is for you. In order to keep the price the same as the regular GS4, Samsung dropped the camera quality down a notch, but you're still getting a very good shooter than can even photograph fishies underwater.
Wow just wow
The Samsung Galaxy s4 active is probably the phone to have right now on the market. Although pretty pricey it is literally a "Smart" phone. The phone may be a little bit bulkier than the other phones in the past, it is life proof, literally. When I purchased the phone the first thing I did was test it to see if it could last in water. I poured water straight into the sound output then played music straight after, and the sound quality was perfect.
Very light and compact for the screen size
LG is taking a sizeable risk by putting stellar specs in a 5.5-incher - despite that the phone is surprisingly compact and light for such a screen size, thanks to the minimum bezel, it still feels a bit unwieldy for anything but a Shaq-sized hand, though less so than the Note II with the same screen size, for instance.
New Snapdragon 600 chipset
The LG Optimus G Pro is the most advanced phablet on the market at the moment. It's also one of the few devices with a 1080p screen that's bigger than 5". The new Snapdragon 600 chipset is still rare enough too.
The updated version of QSlide is there to make full use of the hardware - you can have up to two floating apps running alongside a full screen app, the big screen and fast quad-core Krait 300 CPU wouldn't be giving their 100% otherwise.
Screen transitions and animations are extremely smooth and fast
The LG Optimus G Pro is a very fast and capable phone, let down slightly by a poorly designed user interface and a camera that doesn't quite live up to the billing. It is, however, one of the better large screen smartphones currently available if you can live with these annoying, but not terminal, flaws. You can pick up one of these phablets for as little as $99.00 with a two-year plan from AT&T (amongst other carriers), which is less than half the cost of the Samsung Galaxy Note and Note 2.
Huge IPS full HD display, very fast CPU and GPU, very good camera
The LG Optimus G Pro has everything a super-phone should, except Samsung and Apple's glorious reputations and marketing budgets. In fact, I do wonder if this Android smartphone will get all the respect it deserves. It's LG's best Android phone to date, and we're impressed at the rapid progress they show here in both hardware and software. Yes, it could look more chic and elegant, but one could easily say the same of other Android phones.
Competition to Note II
Seriously, this is one tough competitor to Note 2. I just played with it at my friend's place. Screen is amazing. 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.5 inches (~401 ppi pixel density). Without the stylus, it is same size as Note 2. The crapware on this is incredible. I tried the AT&T version. It has LG and AT&T crapware, and is locked, otherwise the international unlocked and AT&T versions are similar in specs. On the AT&T, out of 32 GB, around 10GB was gobbled up by stock firmware and other crap.
Good value-for-money for a convergence device
Oh, and if you have to have a convergence phone/camera device with optical zoom for whatever daily reason - well, nothing can rival the chubby S4 Zoom then, and Samsung has priced it pretty well to boot, just slightly above its S4 Mini blood brother, throwing in the whole camera part for cheap.
Battery life is decent
It's almost impossible to score the Galaxy S4 Zoom. It is such a niche product. £400 buys you either not much phone or a lot of camera. Actually, it buys you both. But whether that makes it a good deal depends on your needs: do you want a superzoom camera that can make calls and send and receive emails? If so this is the phone/camera for you. Otherwise, look elsewhere.
Pros: Responsive camera, physical controls make for ease of camera use.
READ:. As a phone the S4 Zoom has us equally as charmed as the S4 Mini - it's snappy, great to use, has plenty enough power and is a decent size. As a camera the S4 Zoom performs like a reasonable 16MP, 10x optical zoom compact camera too. Married together and the potential of both sides opens up: there's no need to switch between two products so no waste of precious bag or pocket space, while using apps, snapping shots and sharing on the go are just a few finger taps away.
Deep integrated S Pen features
Sure, there's a premium price attached to the Samsung Galaxy Note II, but there's a very good reason for that. In T-Mobile's case, they're asking a mind-blowing $369.99 for the Note II and that's with a 2-year contract ($649.99 outright), while AT&T and Sprint are selling it for $299. At one point not too long ago, the threshold seen with cream of the crop smartphones topped out at the $300 mark, but with this, it totally kicks down the door and establishes a new tally.
Enormous battery, Expandable memory
It's tricky to pull all of this together in a final summary. Do we mark the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 as a phone with a trillion bells and whistles? Or as a personal media player that makes phone calls?
As a phone, it's big, but once you get over that, if you can, it's great. As a PMP, it really does excel, and as a web communicator, it is almost second to none (though we can't fully get the taste of Flash absence out of our mouth).
Bigger and better screen
At the end of the day, the Samsung Galaxy Note II seems to have completed all it's here to do. Samsung have solidified its lead in the phablet market, while offering enough novelties to keep those already in it interested. There's also plenty of exclusive stuff too.
We guess some people will still be less than impressed by a bigger Galaxy S III with a stylus. And we're not saying that a big screen and a stylus is exactly what makes a near perfect smartphone better.
Increased screen size
Where the Galaxy S II and III were Samsung's answer to the Apple iPhone, the Note II is a step in another direction for different users those requiring something more like an old-school PDA, able to work with a stylus for reading handwriting input and for sketching. As a phone, it has the same kind of capabilities as the Galaxy S III, with slightly faster performance an added bonus to the increased screen size, at the expense of one-handed usability.
Refined and useful pen input
This is a great offering from Samsung, but as with previous Galaxy Note devices it will not suit everyone's tastes.
If you're onboard with the stylus-driven concept there's plenty of rewarding stuff here.
Is it perfect? Of course not. But, it is unquestionably the best realisation of the Galaxy Note concept we've seen so far.
Indeed, we'd go so far as to say this is how the original Galaxy Note should have been.
Oh boy Samsung does it again
I love this phone and to be honest with you I don't see myself using another phone for a very long time. This Quad-core beast can handle it all. I don't even take out my iPad anymore....I don't even feel the desire to buy the Nexus 7 at this point in time because this phone is just fun to use. This is now my personal on the go PC. I put in a 64GB microSD card into it (MicroSD slot another plus btw) and now I take all my movies and music along with me.
Great outdoor visibility with its great display
For the first time in a long time, it's quite possible that LG's fortunes might turn around for the better thanks to the LG Optimus G, especially when it's packing that dreamy combination of a mighty quad-core processor and 4G LTE connectivity. To sweeten the pot even more, both AT&T and Sprint intend to sell this beauty for $199.99 with a 2-year contract thus, presenting it as an admirable option for those looking to get a premier smartphone.
Beefy hardware makes for a fast phone
Thanks to powerful hardware and (some) 4G service, the Optimus G is most capable smartphone LG has ever produced. Media, games, web browsing and even Google Maps all benefit from that large and ever-so sharp display.
Only a few things stand in the way of a more enthusiastic endorsement of Sprint's Optimus G. First, the phone is huge, not so heavy but a whopping 5-inches tall.
Bold and assertive styling
The raw performance of the LG Optimus G is nothing short of superb - you will never feel short on processing power with the latest quad-core silicon and 2GB of RAM at your service. There's a flagship look and feel to the device as well - a first in the US for quite some time.
Nice software additions
LG's finally cracked the high end market with the Optimus G. While other LG Android smartphones have looked good on paper, the Optimus G actually delivers a captivating experience with enjoyable software additions and superlative performance. The 4.7" IPS display is among the best and the phone is good looking too. One caveat, this is a big phone with none of the curvy tricks others employ to make it look and feel smaller.
Fast as Hell!
With the recent price drop, this phone is a no-brainer. Get it, you'll love it. However, if you're prone to dropping your phone a lot, maybe look at the One X+ or the SGS3 instead since I don't think this will hold up to a ton of drops and falls without cracking one of the two large glass panels.
Great screen, Fast performance
The LG Optimus G isn't a bad smartphone: it's fast, has a lot of storage, a good screen, and a decent (albeit not extraordinary) battery life. However, the two biggest features that are intended to make it stand out of the pack -- the quad core processor and the 13 megapixel camera -- both seriously fail to impress. And without those, there isn't really much to recommend it over other more noteworthy devices.
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.
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