Best smartphone?

Brian G Turner

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Been meaning to ask this for a while ...

What does everyone here think is the best smartphone?

I'm normally something of a closet iPhone fan - the environment is great to work with - and safe - and the hardware is usually top quality. There is a sense that this is a premium phone.

But - over the past couple of years it's become clear that it's premium that comes at a hefty additional price - both for the handset, and the apps - and no longer seems that much of a premium.

For example, though the iPhone camera remains one of the best quality on the market, even at 8MP, it's long felt too limited, especially when other phone have moved beyond that.

The screen size is also quite small for watching anything on - and while there are clear suggestions the iPhone 6 will have a bigger screen, it won't be that much bigger, and will remain one of the smallest among the biggest selling brands.

There's also the point that Sony and Samsung's latest models are certified as waterpoof - surely something that should be standard on premium phones these days, especially considering their cost - and the high chance of getting them wet by accident?

There are also minor annoyances about the iPhone - the inability to expand memory, and the fact that you become locked to a single network, no matter what SIM card you put in.

Despite that I enjoy my iPhone, I've long been looking enviously at the latest Sony Xperia range, especially the Xperia Z1.

It's a solid piece of kit, expandable memory, up to 21MP camera, waterproof, and lush big screen for a phone.

You can do everything on it that I'd need to on an iPhone - and more. And it's a helluva lot cheaper - currently selling at around £350 on Amazon.

The Xperia Z2 is not long out, but it seems the main addition is really just 4K video recording, which I can't see being an issue for me for a long time.

So, what does everyone think about in terms of smartphones? Which do you think are the best? Do you think Apple's lost it? Where are you looking to now?

Just a conversation starter. :)
 

Jo Zebedee

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I actually like Blackberries. Not trendy, I know, but for office functionality on the run (which is what I need) they're hard to beat - the 3g interrnet access, for instance, is a great feature that I use all the time. How else would I have my post count otherwise. ;)
 

Erin99

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*cough* I'mbiasedbutSamsungS4-bigscreennicecameraexpandablememorygiantinternalmemoryHDscreen4GquadcoreandyoucanevengetanActiveversionforthosewhoareactiveandhere'salinkandanotherone *cough*

However, have you looked up this so-called "waterproof"? It only means it's better in mild rain. If you got it seriously wet, it would die. It has the same flaw that all products do: ports. And while ports can be covered in rubber bungs to make them rainproof, they won't stand being dropped in a bath. I remember reading an article on someone who got a new S4 Active, supposedly waterproof, and tried to show off its waterproof feature to his pals by dropping it in a sink. It died.

So don't base your decision on that. Go for whatever else is important to you. Big screen, nice camera, clear display, nice battery life, etc.
 

Lenny

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I've been an Android and HTC man since the release of the HTC Hero - upgraded to the Desire about six months later, the One X two years after that, and I'm looking to upgrade to the One (M8) in a few weeks (having had my One X for just over two years). No real need to upgrade the times I did, but I've managed to sweet-talk my way into some great deals with Orange (though for my upcoming upgrade, I'm likely to switch to giffgaff, unless Orange bow to my pressure).

I'm an Android man because: I find Apple's software constricting and not particularly intuitive (and, with that release of iOS7, immensely hideous); I find Blackberrys unattractive (in design, and software); and I find the Windows Phone OS lacking in features and flat-out ugly (I often look at screenshots and can't help but think that the design team gave up halfway through).

Back in 2009, I would have only recommended Android to computer geeks, because it looked fairly dated and was lacking in features (the difference now with WP8 is that Microsoft came to a saturated market, whilst Google released Android in a market occupied solely by Apple). Over the years, the design has improved considerably, and the OS has gained much-needed functionality and features, and then some.

I don't think Apple have lost it. Sure, they've slipped into the habit of iterating with their yearly refresh, but they still hold the premium market - Android may have 80% of the global smartphone share, but people still talk about having to beat Apple, and everything is still compared to the iPhone.

In terms of the best Android phones, there's little to differentiate the flagships when you look at specs and features. The best experience, I'd argue, has to be the Nexus range (with the Nexus 5 being the most recent) - mid-to-high level specs, pure Android without carrier or manufacturer bloatware, and a very competitive price (you'll be hard-pressed to find anything with similar specs at a similar price).

Samsung appear to have the Android market cornered, with phones that aren't particularly special. Yes, the Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 were a breath of fresh air, but everything Samsung feels, to me, cheap in the hand, the Touchwiz skin cartoonifies Android (and is generally considered the worst Android skin... particularly as the past few versions of Android have been pretty enough to not warrant custom skins), and the phones come with half-baked replacements of every single default app that, if the surveys are to be believed, are rarely, if ever, used. They do have good cameras, though, which are possibly closest to the iPhone.

I've never held a phone as magnificently put together as an HTC. The company isn't doing particularly well, but their build quality is second to none. The screens are very good, and the skin, whilst arguably unnecessary, is the lightest of custom skins. The camera is average, although brilliant in low light. Unfortunately, their phones are often let down by poor battery life. That said, however, reports on the HTC One (M8)'s battery are very positive.

LG are the manufacturers of the Nexus 5, and their most recent flagship, the Optimus G2, might as well be a more premium version of the Nexus 4. The G3 is rumoured to be announced and released soon, and it should be a very nice phone. If you can count on LG for anything, it's beautiful screens, and a long battery life.

I must confess that I've not heard much about Sony's Z2 other than it has a beautiful screen, and an outstanding battery life (if not the best of recent flagships). Sony's Xperia range is their first since the split with Ericsson, and by all reports, they're the best phones Sony have produced for years.

Motorola, finally, buck the flagship trend, and instead more closely mirror what Google have done with the Nexus range - well-specced phones at low prices running almost-pure Android. The Moto G is the entry-level phone, and the Moto X could be considered a direct competitor to the Nexus 5. Both are very well reviewed, with the Moto X being proclaimed, by some, as the most important smartphone since the iPhone. Whilst Google works with partners for the Nexus range, the Moto X was the closest Google came to releasing the mythical "Google Phone". A successor is rumoured to be announced soon.

Of course, each manufacturer has mid-range and entry-level phones, and phones that aren't as large as their flagships - generally, these are "mini" versions with 4" screens rather than 5".

---

Those are my thoughts. I have some brand loyalty to HTC, simply because of the build quality, so I'm looking at getting the One (M8) as my next phone. I tend to root my phones as soon as a I get them, and install custom ROMs as and when I can, so hardware is my biggest consideration.
 

Brian G Turner

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SamsungS4
The S5 does look like a decent piece of kit - don't know much about the S4, though, but I've seen people on Amazon complaining that the S5 is more of an incremental update to the S4 - aside from the waterproofing.

I'm not sure how it applies to the S5, but the Sony Xperia Z1 and Z2 are certified to withstand immersed in 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. BUT the ports must be fully sealed. I've read reports of problems, but I'm given the impression some people are not taking proper care to ensure the ports are fully closed.


It does look like a good phone. The one thing that does put me off is the apparent focus on social media integration, which doesn't serve me personally. However, I do love what they've done with the speakers - something other manufacturers should take note of. :)

My first smartphone was a HTC Desire HD and thought it was great - until I accidentally dropped it in a rock pool. Hence why I'm big on wanting waterproof protection. :)
 

Lenny

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It does look like a good phone. The one thing that does put me off is the apparent focus on social media integration, which doesn't serve me personally. However, I do love what they've done with the speakers - something other manufacturers should take note of. :)

My first smartphone was a HTC Desire HD and thought it was great - until I accidentally dropped it in a rock pool. Hence why I'm big on wanting waterproof protection. :)
BlinkFeed (which is the screen of social media), can be turned off if you don't want it. I've read a fair few reviews that actually really like it, but, like you, I'm not crazy about it, and it would be one of the first things I'd turn off. The phone isn't officially waterproof, though, unfortunately.

Something that should be mentioned about Android phones is that Google sell "Google Play Edition" versions of a few flagships on the US Play Store - in most cases identical hardware, but running the same version of the OS as the Nexus range. The key thing here is the hardware, meaning that even though you can't buy a GPE phone in the UK, you can flash the GPE ROM onto a supported phone (which includes the HTC One M8, and the Samsung Galaxy S4). The program appears to be growing, and I'd expect a number of new GPE devices to be announced at this years Google I/O.
 

AnyaKimlin

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I am not a mobile person (don't own one) but for reading my books and listening to meditation music I do rather like hubby's Samsung. Unfortunately I have no idea which version it is.
 

Darth Angelus

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I am not sure there is such a thing as best smartphone. There could be best for a particular individual, based on which of certain criteria are (the most) important to them.
These criteria could be price, specs, battery life, operating system, user interface, camera, size/weight, real estate, extra features (such as the pen for the Samsung Note series).
I think one criteria that would be quite important for the vast majority of users is reliability, for example that it does not randomly shut down like my friend's former phone did.

If price is not an issue, and you are willing and able to pay for high end phones, you would clearly have more options, of course. Any of the large manufacturers's flagship phones could be the best for your needs, depending on what they are.
Apple iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note III (if you want a bit more real estate and don't mind the size), HTC One, LG G2 and others could all be the best, I think.
 

Phyrebrat

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... I'm normally something of a closet iPhone fan - the environment is great to work with - and safe - and the hardware is usually top quality. There is a sense that this is a premium phone.

But - over the past couple of years it's become clear that it's premium that comes at a hefty additional price - both for the handset, and the apps - and no longer seems that much of a premium.

For example, though the iPhone camera remains one of the best quality on the market, even at 8MP, it's long felt too limited, especially when other phone have moved beyond that.

The screen size is also quite small for watching anything on - and while there are clear suggestions the iPhone 6 will have a bigger screen, it won't be that much bigger, and will remain one of the smallest among the biggest selling brands...
Reading what the others said before me in this thread will give you a better indication - esp if the waterproofing is an issue, but Leisha's put that into perspective - as I only have experience of iPhones having had a 3GS and 5.

But ... I'd be interested in your choice and findings if you do move away from the iPhone because it is something I have been considering - perhaps not as seriously, and certainly not till next Dec when my contract runs out. I'm with you on the hardware and environment, but lately I'm not as gruntled as I used to be.

Apple have become a little bit too - what's the word - sweeping with their changes and secret implementations, and I loathe the arrogance of their 'just find it out for yourself' approach to updates and improvements (I'm gerting used to the new Fisher Price look of iOS7). I'm busy and I don't have the time or wish to uncover all the new tweaks and changes in methodology.

However I have an iMac for Final Cut, Photoshop and Logic, an iPad and an ancient iPod so staying in that family of i-gadgets just seemed simplest to me. Especially after the horrendous experience I had in 2008 with Zune (a Microsoft verision of iPod that doesn't actually communicate properly with it's own Windows-environment software).

What I can say is my partner has an HTC and he finds the battery consumption just as poor as an iPhone. But, as with iPhones, that could be peculiar to certain users.

pH
 

alchemist

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Apple iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note III (if you want a bit more real estate and don't mind the size), HTC One, LG G2 and others could all be the best, I think.
This is what has limited me to smaller phones, as mine has to fit in a pocket. Yet a large reason for my choosing a phone is the ability to write and edit, so smaller screens counted against me.

My last two have been smaller Samsungs. I like the interface and it feels quite intuitive. My only issie was downloading Samsung Kies to my laptop -- it froze the laptop completely - but I've managed to get by without Kies since.
 

Nerds_feather

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Over the past 2 years I've had 4 Android phones and 1 iPhone (current). I had an HTC One S that I loved, but the power button broke after 6 months. The carrier sent me a replacement, but it wouldn't access LTE. The carrier sent me another replacement and it would randomly reset every 10 minutes or so. So I convinced them to let me out of my contract and start anew with the Samsung Galaxy S3. It lasted 15 months before bricking. So I got an iPhone. I very much hope I don't have to get another phone for a long time.

In general, I think the iPhone has much superior physical build quality to the Android phones on the market, and a more elegant OS. This latter is exacerbated by the fact that many manufacturers add their own "skins" and bloatware (a problem with the Galaxy S3). I've also found that many cross-platform apps, for whatever reason, work better on iOS

On the other hand, Android can do some things that iOS can't, and the Galaxy phones have the added bonus of a user replaceable battery and an SD slot, which I miss.

If I were to get an Android phone again, though, I think I'd get whatever the current Nexus phone is (Google's flagship to show off the latest version of its OS). The current one has a decent physical build, no bloatware and is significantly cheaper than other phones with similar specs/features. But I'd probably still get the iPhone instead.
 

mosaix

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Blackberry user for 4 years. Swapped to an iPhone 6 months ago and wouldn't dream of going back. As for the cost, with the EE (Orange) contract I've got I only paid £40 so it was a no-brainer.
 

TheDustyZebra

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I have a Samsung and no complaints about it -- but I did look long and hard at an HTC before getting the Samsung.
 

Kylara

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HTC and Sony Xperia are good. Depends what you want it for. The new HTC has a snazzy extra camera for cool depthy stuff and the Xperias are generally pretty awesome.
 

Parson

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When I read what all you techies do with your phones I feel like a brain dead, bumble handed, Neanderthal. But, I do have a smart phone. I had a couple of BlackBerries, but the last one (Curve) left me with no ability to Synch one day and lost my 300+ entry address book.:mad::confused::mad: And although I can't prove it, my Outlook has not worked correctly since. (I suppose I can't rule out the opposite that Outlook crashed the BlackBerry stuff, that would be a typical M$ tactic.)

Being a poor Parson I was looking for cheap for a replacement. --- I'm still fumbling with an almost working Outlook for 18 months now. --- So I got a Samsung S2 (?) --- It was a close out. It has been dependable, and slowly on I'm learning more and more of its capabilities. Lately I just got a stylus. And all of a sudden I can actually use the on screen key board. What a pleasure! I do love the voice to text feature. I can now keep up a text conversation with my daughter. :cool:

My next phone likely comes in about 6 months, I'm thinking another Samsung. --- Unless losing their case to Apple causes them to crash and burn. ;)
 

cornelius

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I had a nokia lumia 720 but I dropped it and cracked the screen. After a whole ordeal with reperations it ended up being even more broken. I bought a lumia 625 to replace it, only to find out the place across the street now added lumia's as specialty in fixing screens (formerly only Samsung and iPhone). I was really happy with the lumia 720, the camera was amazing and the screen worked even when cracked. Windows 8 worked fine too, there weren't as many apps as Android or IOS but I found substitutes for most of the things I need. The battery was a beast and the seamless slots for sim and microSD were a nice touch. Yet that seamless feel was also the biggest downside as it made the phone more difficult to repair.


I had an iPhone 4S as a substitute for a while and I didn't really like it. The Lumia felt much slicker and worked smoother, but as that 4S was a used device it might have been in a less than optimal condition.
 

Mouse

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(I know nothing about phones, I'm not even entirely sure what a 'smartphone' is, and I rarely even have my mobile on me. But... just wanted to comment on the waterproof thing. I dropped my phone in a waterfall not all that long ago - like, right in the pool - and it works fine still. It's a Samsung.)
 

Parson

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Mouse, I hope your luck is better than mine. I once dropped my "mobile" (the Parson notes how he loves English phraseology) into the lake. It worked fine, --- for about a month and then it trashed. The local phone guru told me that this was a normal procedure. Usually phones dry out and work, but only for a short time. {Sigh!!}
 

jastius

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have you seen the new watch phone? its strapped to your wrist so you can't drop it ... just don't try it for scuba diving :)
 

Mouse

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Mouse, I hope your luck is better than mine. I once dropped my "mobile" (the Parson notes how he loves English phraseology) into the lake. It worked fine, --- for about a month and then it trashed. The local phone guru told me that this was a normal procedure. Usually phones dry out and work, but only for a short time. {Sigh!!}
I'm due for an upgrade in June so if it does conk out, it's all right. ;)
 
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