We round-up the best smartphones to buy in 2014, from all our in-depth mobile phone reviews. No longer just used to make phone calls and send text messages – our smartphones have become pocketable multimedia powerhouses, used for listening to music, watching movies, playing games, browsing the internet and more. So choosing the right one for you is crucial.
It’s been a busy few years for the smartphone market, as Apple’s iPhone has had to make way for a flurry of the best Android phones we've ever seen, not to mention the steadily growing Windows Phone OS. But which are the best smartphones in 2014, and what upcoming smartphones should be on your radar? Read on...
Best smartphones 2014
Apple iPhone 5s
The iPhone 5s has, as ever, divided opinion. Some say Apple has cleverly tweaked one of the best phones on the market, and made it even better. Others, that it hasn’t innovated enough to compete with the increasingly strong Android market. We have to say, we sit firmly in the camp of the former. With a new processor, excellent new operating system, improved camera and of course, that fingerprint scanner, the iPhone is as desirable as ever - that's why we gave it our Smartphone of the Year 2013 Award.
That said, we haven't put the iPhone 5s up against any of 2014's excellent competitors yet - that's a job for our 2014 Awards - but until then, it remains our current Award-winning phone, and for good reason.
Chiefly, it is our favourite phone when it comes to sound quality. Songs are remarkably clear and packed with crisp detail, with a precision and rhythmic handling that most smartphones simply cannot match.
Sure, the iTunes experience divides opinion and can make things a fiddle, but the flipside is the convenience of the iTunes Store and streaming music via AirPlay.
We're itching to see what the iPhone 6 has to offer this year - we're keeping our fingers crossed for a full HD screen to keep Apple's handset competitive with the other leading handsets in 2014.
MORE: Read our full Apple iPhone 5s review
Best alternative smartphones 2014
The HTC One M8 took everything that was good with the HTC One, added some extra features and made it great. The One M8 is as lovely to hold as is it to use thanks to its 90% metal body and a processor upgrade and addition of a microSD card slot are welcomed with open arms. If you're after one of the best Android phones currently on the market, then look no further.
MORE: Read our full HTC One M8 review
The G3 arrived on the smartphone scene with incredibly big shoes to fill. But fill them it does. With a stonkingly sharp Quad HD display, lightning fast processor and a fantastic camera, the LG G3 is a vast improvement over the G2, which is certainly saying something. One of the best smartphones available at the moment, the G3 definitely warrants your attention.
MORE: Read our full LG G3 review
The Z1 saw Sony pull up a chair at the top table where mobile phones were concerned in 2013, and the Z2 aims to manouevre Sony's Xperia range to the head of the table.
The new design is largely the same but with rounded edges and a slightly larger screen, which will help when it comes to watching video if maybe not holding the thing.
Also new is 4K video recording and noise cancelling technology, which very much tickle our sound and vision fancy. Undoubtedly a contender for the best smartphone award in 2014.
MORE: Read our full Sony Xperia Z2 review
The Samsung Galaxy S5 was officially revealed at MWC and... well, we're a little underwhelmed.
There are clear improvements, refinements to the OS, improvements to the specs, the addition of some new features, but the plastic casing remains and despite a finger scanner and heart rate monitor, we hoped for more innovation.
MORE: Read our full Samsung Galaxy S5 review
Best budget smartphone
It might be nearly a year old, but we're still big fans of Google's Nexus 5. A recent re-test saw it lose its full five stars to become a solid four, but if you're looking for a budget smartphone there's still a lot here to like.
Running Android's latest 4.4 KitKat iteration, the Nexus 5 offers the purest form of Android, an experience that was much revered on its predecessor, the Nexus 4, and we love it here too.
It's slick and easy to use, picture quality is good and we love its way with music. If only it's camera was a little bit better... but at this price, we can forgive it.
Because like its predecessor, the Nexus 5 has a very reasonable price tag compared to other similarly specced handsets, available at £299 (16GB) or £339 (32GB) (or even a little cheaper with a bit of internet searching). Welcome to the 'budget' category of the smartphone world.
While it's had to make way for some better performing handsets in 2014, we can't wait to see what's next for Google's handset. Bring on the Nexus 6...
MORE: Read our full Nexus 5 review
More after the break
Best Windows Phone smartphone
Windows Phone has had quite the battle on its hands up against the mobile behemoths of iOS and Android, but the Nokia Lumia 925 has done its best to draw users over the WinPho way of life, alongside the likes of the flagship Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 1520 phablet.
In place of the Nokia Lumia 920’s shiny plastic shell, the Lumia 925 has opted for a slimmer, lighter and classier design, with a metal edge and understated matte polycarbonate back panel. Its camera is a key focus too, offering pinsharp snaps with a fast autofocus and natural colour palette.
The Nokia Lumia 925 now has a successor in the form of the recently announced Lumia 930, which we'll be reviewing very soon. This means you can get the Lumia 925 at a better price than ever, making it very much worth a look.
MORE: Read our full Nokia Lumia 925 review
ALSO CONSIDER: Nokia Lumia 1520
More top smartphones for 2014
Here's a selection of more mobile phones that we think are worth looking out for during 2014, complete with links to relevant news stories and hands-on reviews.
Take a look at the long-awaited, much-rumoured "budget" iPhone 5C. A cheap iPhone, it is not, but it is indeed, as the rumours tipped, a plastic iPhone.
The iPhone 5C doesn’t feel like a plastic phone, and as the firm has gone to great lengths to explain, this is different. Rather like the M&S ads in fact, this isn’t just plastic, this is Apple iPhone plastic.
And on first impressions, they might just be right. The iPhone 5C is a quality, and slightly different product – and after playing with it, it's easy to imagine the 5C becoming another Apple hit.
More: Read our hands on iPhone 5C review
The original phablet is back and, Samsung says, better than ever. The Galaxy Note 3, launched at IFA 2013, comes with a new, soft-textured back panel, doing away with the infamous plastic casing and has an even bigger 5.7in screen.
On the inside you'll find, crucially, support for hi-res audio, as well as a new and improved S Pen stylus for tapping away on that big, 1080p Super AMOLED screen.
MORE: Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review
Launched at IFA 2013, the Sony Xperia Z1 looks similar to the Xperia Z but somewhat more premium and less angular.
Inside it has had a much more thorough upgrade, with a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB of storage, which is expandable up to 64GB via microSD. There's also a 20.7MP camera , 5in full HD screen and it's fully waterproof to make slips and spills less of a worry.
Its predecessor, the Sony Xperia Z2, launched just six months after it hit shelves late last year, but it means you can now get the Z1 for a steal.
MORE: Read our full Sony Xperia Z1 review
It has a 6.4in screen, which uses the same Triluminos technology seen in the company's 2013 TVs, and the latest Bravia X-Reality Engine. And despite its size, its a fully fledged 4G smartphone too. Too big? Read our review and decide for yourself...
MORE: Read our full Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
Upcoming smartphones in 2014
Apple iPhone 6
Apple is the last of big smartphone players to present its 2014 flagship. The iPhone 6 is expected to come with a larger, 4.8in screen, an improved processor and an upgraded camera. It will come running iOS 8, bringing with it a plethora of new features.