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Friday, 19 December 2014

10 best smartphones of 2014

10 best smartphones of 2014

When we talk about the Indian smartphone landscape, the year 2014 was pretty eventful. It not only witnessed the rise of (usable) budget Android devices with the entry of players like Asus and Motorola, but also marked the arrival of value-for-money premium smartphones from OnePlus and Xiaomi. 

Of course the flagships from the leading players also got iterative upgrades and reached new levels of refinements in usability at a time when consumers have started valuing user experience more than just hardware specifications. 

We’ve compiled a list of 10 best smartphones, in no particular order…

1. Apple iPhone 6 Plus

December 19,2014
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
After much deliberation, Apple finally entered the phablet territory with its 5.5-inch screen equipped iPhone 6 Plus offering the best of both tablet and smartphone form factors.

It’s also the best iPhone ever sporting a much superior camera, improved performance and a longer battery backup compared to the iPhone 6 and previous iterations. The phone’s camera features mechanical Optical Image Stabilization that counters hand shake to take high-quality low light and action photos. The full-HD display is also one of the brightest and vivid ones we've seen.

Apple also managed to silence critics who wanted to see a fresh iPhone design and yet offer a large phone that doesn't disappoint when it comes to ergonomics and handling, retaining the premium look and feel.

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

December 19,2014
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung’s high-end phablet also got a big upgrade and it’s safe to say is one of the most well designed phones from the company’s stable. It looks a lot like its predecessor, but is smaller, lighter and better designed. It now comes with a metal frame that makes it look premium.

Galaxy Note 4 has a crisp and sharp, 5.7-inch QHD (1440x2560p) display, and is powered by the top-end 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, and 3GB RAM. 

The 16MP rear camera takes some breath taking photos and comes with Optical Image Stabilization for better low-light shots. The phone’s 3.7MP front camera allows users to take wide-angle selfies (120-degree). But the USP of the Note is its multi-tasking abilities and the S Pen related functionality that leverages the big screen to the fullest.

3. Motorola Moto G (Second generation)

December 19,2014
Motorola Moto G (Second generation)
Motorola’s best-selling budget smartphone got even better with the second iteration. In fact, the second-generation Moto G is one of the most well rounded budget smartphones available in the market. 

It improvises on the original Moto G by offering an enhanced 8MP rear camera and a storage expansion slot, addressing the two gaps.

The other specifications and features are similar to that of the Moto G which is still a great budget phone combining good ergonomics, decent performance and a clean, near-stock version of Android. It’s also among the first smartphones to get the Android Lollipop update.

4. Sony Xperia Z3

December 19,2014
Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 is the Japanese giant’s answer to Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8) and iPhone 6. While it doesn’t come with gimmicky features and sensors, the overall experience offered by the phone, in terms of everyday performance, battery backup and mobile gaming is unparalleled. 

Even the audio quality offered by the phone’s external speakers is amazing. The 20.7MP rear camera comes with a wide angled lens and finds itself a place among the best smartphone cameras in the market today. In terms of design, the phone stays loyal to Sony’s OmniBalance philosophy but is the company’s most refined offering yet.

5. OnePlus One

December 19,2014
OnePlus One
Pitched as the ’flagship killer,’ the OnePlus One reached the Indian shores just before the end of the year. The phone created ripples with its high-end, flagship-like hardware specifications and premium design at half the price. It was also notorious as one of toughest phones to acquire due to the "invite system" put in place by the company as the OnePlus One's production was limited.

Not only is the phone a performance powerhorse, it is also a very well-rounded offering with equal emphasis on ergonomics and form factor. It doesn't boast of an all-metal chassis or water and dust resistant shell, but OnePlus One is certainly a well-made phone. The OnePlus One runs CyanogenMod flavour of Android which is known for its customisability, enhanced performance and additional features. 

However, the software is now a bone of contention between OnePlus and Micromax with the latter fighting for exclusivity over Cyanogen’s custom UI. The phone’s sales are on hold as it works on finding a solution. OnePlus is also developing its own Android-based OS which is expected to be out in February.

6. Oppo Find 7

December 19,2014
Oppo Find 7
Oppo's flagship model, Find 7, is one of the most under-rated smartphones available in the Indian market. More than just high-end hardware specifications, the phone brings to the table some really innovative features.

Sporting a 5.5-inch display, this smartphone is among the few models in India to have a QHD (2440x1560p) screen that looks crisp, sharp and vivid. It is powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB RAM and packs 32GB internal storage with 128GB microSD support offering excellent performance.

However, features like VOOC fast charging (A 30 minute charge gets Find 7 to 75% of full battery), enhanced audio output quality, and 4K video recording capability are the primary reasons you should choose the Find 7 over flagships from leading brands.

7. Xiaomi Mi 3

December 19,2014
Xiaomi Mi 3
Xiaomi kicked off its Indian operations with the launch of Mi 3, its flagship device that featured high-end hardware rivalling the likes of Google’s Nexus 5, but costed almost half the price. 

It was one of the first true ‘value for money’ devices delivering a combination of high-end hardware, software full of usability tweaks and good build quality that placed it right next to the likes of premium phones. 

With the Xiaomi Mi 3, the company managed to offer high-end specifications (2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB RAM) and a full-HD display at a budget price by cutting marketing and distribution costs and adopting a direct to consumer, online-only model. The disappointing bit was that the phone was only available for one month.

8. HTC One (M8)

December 19,2014
HTC One (M8)
HTC One (M8) is among the best Android smartphones available in the market in terms of performance, build quality as well as software. Not much changed if you compare it with the original HTC One, but the company improvised on the design, taking care of finer nuances.

HTC One (M8)'s audio quality and output are also superior when compared to other phones. The variant available in India comes with a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor and 2GB RAM, offering lag-free gaming and multimedia performance.

The form factor of the phone also makes it fit for one hand use even though it now offers a bigger display. The camera is not exactly the strong point of the phone and the Dual Camera feature is gimmicky, but it still does a fairly decent job.

9. Motorola Moto X (Gen 2)

December 19,2014
Motorola Moto X (Gen 2)
The new Moto X is not just an upgrade, it’s a completely new phone. It looks much more premium compared to the original one thanks to its all-aluminium frame. Despite sporting a larger, 5.2-inch display, it still doesn't feel cumbersome to hold and fits nicely in your hands. 

Motorola didn’t want to leave any stone unturned and upgraded the hardware specifications to be on par with other flagships. It is powered by a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB RAM offering superior performance aided by the phone’s near-stock operating system.

The original Moto X is known for its special features, namely, Active display and Touchless control. The two features have also been updated to support more functions. The phone’s camera can record 4K and slo-mo videos, matching the video recording capabilities of other top-end phones in the market today.

10. Nokia Lumia 830

December 19,2014
Nokia Lumia 830
Microsoft's Nokia Lumia 830 aimed to reduce the gap between a mid-ranger and a high-end phone. In fact the company positioned the phone as 'an affordable flagship,' with a premium form factor and a good quality camera. 

Lumia 830 is a good looking phone that also feels solid and durable thanks to its metal frame and high quality construction. While the phone features a smaller sensor in terms of Megapixels compared to flagship phones, it still offers one of the best results when it comes to image quality. 

The phone's hardware is not top-of-the-line but it still delivers great performance. It comes with Lumia Denim, th latest version of Windows Phone that comes with an enhanced camera app offering features like speedy shooting and ‘rich capture’.

It’s safe to say that the Lumia 830 is without doubt a well rounded smartphone
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