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Smartphone reviews

Smartphones ranging in price from $139 to $1129 are put through their paces in our lab.
 
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01 .Introduction

smartphone reviews

We review the latest smartphones, priced from $139 to $1129.

Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which smartphones have the best:

  • web-browser performance
  • sound, picture, and video quality
  • battery life
  • display
  • reception
  • email and SMS performance
  • handling, and
  • durability.

On this page you'll find:

Apple iOS

At four inches, the display on the iPhone 5C and 5S is a significant increase on the 3.5-inch display on every iPhone for the last six years. However, the iPhone 5 series' 4-inch display still only places it in the middle of the pack as far as screen size for smartphones is concerned, with several smartphones now available with 4.5-inch screens or larger.

Look for Apple to answer the critics with the next iPhone models, out later this year, rumoured to deliver 4.7-inch and even 5-inch plus screens.

Android (Google)

Samsung continues to dominate the Android space as far as sales are concerned and our testers judged some newer Samsung models to be among the best smartphones of the latest batch, including the latest Samsung Galaxy S5. New mobiles from HTC, LG, and Sony are also delivering impressive results, with a wide variety of smartphone choices in terms of size, price and features. The Google Nexus 5 remains one of the best value large screen mobiles.

Alternatives

The BlackBerry Z10 scored slightly better than a range of new Windows Phone 8 smartphones; however, it's the overall support for BlackBerry that is the major issue rather than the performance of any one model. Microsoft and Nokia seem determined to ensure Windows Phone 8 is a relevant player over the next few years and several new models in this batch indicate that Windows Phone 8 will be the only significant alternative to Apple's iOS or Google's Android OS. BlackBerry may very well go the way of the Palm OS in the not-too-distant future.

Read our free article on smartphone data usage to make sure you're not paying more than you need to, and see our article on smartphone operating systems to help you decide on the software, a factor to consider for your overall experience on the OS.

Brands tested

  • Apple
  • BlackBerry
  • Huawei
  • HTC
  • LG
  • Motorola
  • Nokia
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • ZTE

Models tested

  • Apple iPhone 4s
  • Apple iPhone 5c
  • Apple iPhone 5s
  • BlackBerry Q10
  • BlackBerry Q5 #
  • BlackBerry Z10
  • BlackBerry Z30 #
  • HTC Desire 300 #
  • HTC Desire 500
  • HTC Desire 601 #
  • HTC One
  • HTC One M8 #
  • HTC One Max #
  • HTC One mini
  • HTC One SV
  • Huawei Ascend Mate #
  • Huawei Ascend P6 #
  • LG G Flex D955 #
  • LG G2
  • LG Google Nexus 5
  • LG L40 #
  • LG L70 #
  • LG L90 #
  • LG Optimus F5 #
  • LG Optimus L4 II #
  • Motorola Moto G #
  • Motorola Moto X #
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
  • Nokia Lumia 1320 #
  • Nokia Lumia 1520 #
  • Nokia Lumia 625 #
  • Nokia Lumia 925
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 #
  • Samsung Galaxy Express II #
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo #
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket #
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket Neo #
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 active
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 #
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
  • Sony Xperia E C1505
  • Sony Xperia E1 #
  • Sony Xperia L C2105 #
  • Sony Xperia M
  • Sony Xperia SP C5303
  • Sony Xperia V LT25i
  • Sony Xperia Z C6603
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z1
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact #
  • Sony Xperia Z2 #
  • Sony Xperia ZR C5503
  • ZTE Open  #

# new models

How we test

Our testers rate the following aspects of each phone:
Web browser performance
is scored on how easy it is to start the browser, navigate to sites, enter addresses and use favourites and bookmarks. A practical test on content downloads is also carried out, and extra points are awarded for Wi-Fi connectivity.
Sound quality For both incoming and outgoing calls, our testers carry out a number of acoustic measurements, such as frequency response. In addition, a user panel subjectively rates the sound quality of calls.
Email
Our testers check how easy it is to set up an email account as well as send, retrieve and read emails.
Camera score
Our testers assess the phone’s digital camera capabilities to produce an image in different lighting situations. The resulting photo images are then printed and rated for resolution, colour reproduction, and noise. They also look at how easy the phone is to use in picture-taking mode.
Music quality
Our testers measure the ability of the phone to perform as a music player. They test the phones with the headphones supplied as well as a set of reference headphones. They also assess how easy it is to navigate through playlists, music transfers, volume control, and available memory.
Reception They measure the phones’ receiving sensitivity and sending power (particularly important in areas with poor network coverage) in both the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands for GSM networks and on 2100MHz for the 3G network.
Handling
Our testers assess the keypad, touchscreen, and keyboard, as well as general handling and menu controls when using the phone. 
Touchscreen quality is examined, including the speed of refresh and accuracy of operation.
Battery life This is mainly based on the time-in-use result, but testers also consider the charging time and battery-status warning.
GPS performance
is measured for accuracy and speed.
Synchronisation
This score is based on how easy the phone is to use when working with contacts and information stored on another computer or online to keep contacts and messages up to date.
SMS
use is examined by writing and receiving an SMS, and checking the suitability of the display for texting.
Display score Our testers look at the size of the display as well as quality of the image with regard to sharpness and colour clarity.
Durability
Our testers simulate falls from a table or out of a shirt pocket up to 25 times, as well as storing the phones in hot, damp conditions and carrying out a rain test.

For more information about mobile phones, see Phones and mobile devices.

 
 

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