Flashback 2014: Top 10 Smartphones Launched

Reviews

When we thought the mobile revolution was over, the smartphone makers hit us with some of the best phones we have ever seen. Although they too had their share of hits and misses from bend-gate to gap-gate, 2014 was full of surprises. Here is our list of best phones of 2014:

1. iPhone 6 Plus

While Apple tried to conform to Steve Job’s ideology that no one would by a large screen phone, they finally released what most would consider a phablet. The 5.5 inch monster comes with the latest iteration of iOS 8 and packs a punch with the latest A8 processor, an amazing camera and includes more sensors than ever before. While the competitors are still struggling to offer a 64-bit processor, Apple has managed to increase the battery life exponentially (24 hours of talktime on 3G), a much improved iSight and allowing you to make calls using VoLTE . The iPhone 6 Plus is almost 1.4 mm thinner and 4 grams lighter than Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

This year, Apple has decided to eliminate the 32GB option and now iPhone 6 Plus is only available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB model. Re-design of the iPhone has done away with squared edges and introduced round edges with thin bezels. Although you might have some concerns about the much hyped bend-gate, research have shown that there are other phones like the M8 which have a higher tendency to bend and if you don’t try to bend it, your iPhone 6 Plus is most likely to stay safe. The fact that first weekend of sales went up to 10 million units goes on to show how well it has been received by consumers.

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 follows the footsteps of its predecessors and comes with a mammoth 5.7 inch screen. Samsung has done a relatively better job by introducing metal edges and a leather back giving it a much more premium feel than its previous iterations. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is a powerful multitasking beast. With a quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor clocked at 2.7GHz, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage you will never have to think again before launching another application. 16MP camera shoots amazingly sharp pictures. You might not be very happy with amount of bloatware that comes with Note 4 and the fingerprint reader isn’t comparable to TouchID but gives you a decent performance.

One of the most hilarious fails of this year was the Gap-gate, you could easily fit in a business card between the screen and the bezel. According to Samsung these gaps are to be expected and could further widen on use but do not affect the functionality of the phone.

3. HTC One (M8)

HTC is famous for making stylish phones and the HTC One M8 is no different. It is one of the most elegant and sophisticated smartphones in the market. The M8 comes with a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 with 2GB of RAM which gives you a snappy performance.

While the world was gushing about 41 MP cameras, HTC introduced the concept of ultrapixels which are essentially larger pixels which capture amazing pictures in low light. It’s a wonder how HTC managed to compete and be better than most flagship devices by offering a 4 ultrapixels camera. HTC hasn’t shied from incorporating features from its rivals like LG’S Knock On you can double tap to turn the screen on or swipe down to activate voice control for making a call. Boom sound and motion control also offer a much better user experience. These are the kind of features you care about and make your life much simpler.

One of the best things about M8 is that it comes in both Android and Windows variants giving you the option to choose your preferred

4. iPhone 6

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Everytime Apple releases a phone, it strives for perfection and iPhone 6 probably comes closes to it. The latest offering from Apple is so light and thin (124 grams and just 0.27 inches thick) that you might have to pinch yourself to believe it. Unlike the iPhone 6 Plus, it comes with a 4.7 inch screen with a different resolution but is fitted with the same A8 processor and camera. The screen is brilliant and is probably one of the best displays we have seen over the years. One can only image what would have happened had Apple decided to fit in the same resolution in iPhone 6 Plus. The only thing you’re missing out on it is the landscape mode that is available on iPhone 6 Plus.

One of the issues we had with the phone was the protruding camera making it impossible to keep it down without a cover.

5. Moto X (2nd Gen)

Moto X made it’s name by providing a more personalized experienced to the user and the second generation Moto X does everything better. The 5.2 inch screen is surprisingly compact and the phone feels sturdy and rock solid. Like other flagship devices it comes with 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB RAM. Motorola have upgraded the camera to 13MP and offer 4K recording but the front camera remains at 2MP. The change in design include moving the two speakers in front like HTC One (M8) but since it is protruding, it is an advantage in case you drop your phone.

Motorola hits a home run with the software while offering the fastest and the best Android experience, it also personalizes the phone with Motorola Touch, Peek and other such pre-loaded features. At 450 USD it’s definitely a bargain.

6. OnePlus One

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2014 has been the year of the Chinese, unlike Xiaomi, OnePlus One has restricted its sale by using an invitation model. Termed as the ‘flagship killer’, it gives phones like Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z3 a run for their money.

The phone feels solid when held and has a removable back panel for customizations. The screen resolution is same as that of the Samsung Galaxy S5, but with a larger screen the sharpness is slightly reduced. The One comes in 16GB and 64 GB model, sadly, without a microSD card. The 2.5 GHz quad core processor and 3100 mAh battery is more than enough to keep you running all day long.

A 13 MP primary camera and 5MP secondary camera will put most devices in its range to shame. At $299, you can’t go wrong with this.

7. Motorola Nexus 6

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Nexus has everything that was missing from Moto X with which it shares quite a lot of similarities. The Nexus series has long been the embodiment of Google’s idea of a smartphone. This year it’s premium and phablet. The Nexus 6 comes for a hefty price tag of $649 and is no longer the premium yet affordable smartphone it once was. It sports a mammoth 5.96 inch display with a mind blwoing display (491 ppi). The screen size doesn’t make it ideal for one handed use and even with a 13 MP camera it isn’t great at low light imaging. The Nexus 6 has a 2.7 GHz quad core Snapdragon 805 with 3GB RAM fitted into it. With a 3200 mAh battery, you could call the battery life average at best.

8. LG G3

LG has definitely put in a lot of effort to catch up with Samsung and HTC. The LG G3 makes things interesting by introducing QHD display, which is pretty similar to saying four times the pixel count. LG packs in 3.6 million pixels in the 5.5 inch screen, while samsung offers only 2 millions pixels for Galaxy S5. The screen is flawless and gives you the feel of holding a premium phone. LG has improved the interface, reducing the cluttered screen and leaned towards flat, modern look. The plastic body has made way for metallic shell. Another huge talking point has been the camera, the 13MP primary camera comes with laser auto focus, basically making it the fastest auto focus camera in the world, allowing you to take more high quality pictures in less time. The secondary camera has been termed as a “selfie camera” and has introduced something similar to a front flash where the screen goes white and LG has included a white tone balancer to account for all skin tone imperfections. All in all, LG has done a good job with the G3 and is definitely one of the reasons to smile this year.

9. Samsung Galaxy S5

We have to admit, Samsung Galaxy S5 has got us all worried, the phone was supposed to run on a 64-bit system but the inability of chip makers to keep up with Apple meant no Android phone ran on 64-bit system. The S5 being an incremental upgrade over its predecessor has managed to sneak in to our list. There is never a question on the hardware for a flagship device, it always ships with the best available in the market and the S5 is no exception, it runs on a 2.5GHz quad-core snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB RAM. There is a removable back cover which comes with a 2800mAh battery and a microSD slot is available. The S5 has a much improved design with the rounded edges making it easy for you hold it. When it comes to software, the Touchwiz has toned down and new fingerprint scanner is slightly unreliable, but is a start.

Also Read: Samsung Announces Five Times Faster WiFi Technology

10. Sony Xperia Z3

How often do you see a company launch two successive flagship devices in one calendar year? No one knows what Sony was thinking, but barely 6 months after releasing the Z2, Sony have launched its predecessor, the Z3. If you own a Z series smart phone, you might not bother yourself reading this cause a lot of it might sound similar to you. Except for the fact that Z3 is lighter and thinner, you can hardly separate these two. The processor has been upgraded to 2.5 GHz from 2.3 GHz but is made from the same Snapdragon 810 chipset. The 20.7MP camera, 5.2 inch screen size and 3GB RAM are all same. Running on 3200mAh battery, the Xperia Z3 offers a great battery life and runs on Android 4.4 with a Lollipop update promised in early 2015.

So there were the best phones launched during 2014,with the future leaning towards the wearable tech we look forward to more innovations and inventions during the next year.

Saurav Anchlia

Saurav Anchlia is the deputy editor for Virtuaniz. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors of Engineering in Bangalore. Saurav is an ardent reader and a fiery debater.He supports Manchester United vehemently and remains optimistic about their chances. He writes for the love of technology and english language. Follow him at @SauravAnchlia.

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