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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. 

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. 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 is one of the best value large sceen mobiles available at the moment.

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. There is not too much evidence to suggest the same can be said about BlackBerry.

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

Models tested

  • Apple iPhone 5c
  • Apple iPhone 5s
  • BlackBerry Z10
  • BlackBerry Q10
  • Google Nexus 5
  • HTC One
  • HTC One XL
  • HTC One X
  • HTC One S
  • HTC Desire 600 Dual SIM
  • HTC Windows Phone 8X
  • HTC Desire X
  • HTC One V
  • HTC Desire C
  • HTC Desire 500 #
  • HTC One mini #
  • Huawei Ascend Mate MT1-U06
  • Huawei Ascend P1 U9200
  • Huawei Ascend G510
  • Huawei Ascend Y300-0100
  • LG Optimus L7 II P710
  • LG Optimus L5 II E460
  • LG Optimus L5 E610
  • LG G2 #
  • LG Google Nexus 5 #
  • Motorola RAZR i XT890
  • Nokia Lumia 925
  • Nokia Lumia 720
  • Nokia Lumia 820
  • Nokia 808 PureView RM-807
  • Nokia Lumia 620
  • Nokia Lumia 520
  • Nokia Lumia 1020 #
  • Nokia Lumia 625 #
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend #
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7105
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega GT-I9205
  • Samsung Galaxy S III 4G GT-I9305 #
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 active i9295
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini GT-I9195
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
  • Samsung Ativ S GT-I8750 16GB
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 GT-I8160
  • Samsung Galaxy Express GT-I8730
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-I7710
  • Samsung Galaxy Young GT-S6310
  • Sony Xperia M #
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra #
  • Sony Xperia Z1 #
  • Sony Xperia Z C6603
  • Sony Xperia V LT25i
  • Sony Xperia ZR C5503
  • Sony Xperia SP C5303
  • Sony Xperia L C2105
  • Sony Xperia E C1505

# new models

Discontinued (but may still be available in some stores or online)

  • Apple iPhone 3G S
  • Apple iPhone 4 (8GB)
  • Apple iPhone 4S (16GB)
  • Apple iPhone 5
  • BlackBerry Bold 9790
  • BlackBerry Bold 9900
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
  • BlackBerry Curve 9360
  • BlackBerry Torch 9810
  • BlackBerry Torch 9860
  • Google Nexus 4
  • HTC Desire S
  • HTC EVO 3D
  • HTC Explorer
  • HTC Incredible S
  • HTC Windows Phone 8S
  • HTC One SV
  • HTC Radar
  • HTC Rhyme
  • HTC Sensation
  • HTC Sensation XE
  • HTC Sensation XL
  • HTC Velocity LTE
  • HTC Wildfire S
  • Huawei Ascend Y201 Pro U8666E-1
  • Huawei Ideos X3 U8510
  • LG Optimus 3D Max P720
  • LG Optimus 4x HD P880
  • LG Optimus L3 Dual SIM E405
  • LG Optimus L3 II E430
  • LG Optimus L9 P760
  • LG Optimus Maximo True 4G
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Motorola Defy Mini XT320
  • Motorola Defy +
  • Motorola Motoluxe XT615
  • Motorola RAZR Maxx XT910
  • Motorola RAZR XT910
  • Nokia 800 Lumia
  • Nokia 808 PureView
  • Nokia Lumia 610
  • Nokia Lumia 710
  • Nokia Lumia 900
  • Nokia Lumia 920
  • Nokia N9
  • Panasonic Eluga dL1
  • Samsung Galaxy Beam
  • Samsung Galaxy W
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame GT-S6810P
  • Samsung Galaxy Gio
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 4G
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini GT-I8190 (4 GB)
  • Samsung Nexus
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia, Arc S
  • Sony Xperia Go
  • Sony Xperia P
  • Sony Xperia S
  • Sony Xperia Sola
  • Sony Xperia tipo
  • Sony Xperia tipo dual ST21i2
  • Sony Xperia U

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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