x PhoneArena is looking for new authors! To view all available positions, click here.
  • Home
  • News
  • Meet the top 10 most impressive smartphones we have reviewed in 2014 so far

Meet the top 10 most impressive smartphones we have reviewed in 2014 so far

Meet the top 10 most impressive smartphones we have reviewed in 2014 so far
Boy, does time fly! It feels like it has been ages since we reviewed the amazing Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, all the way back in January. A ton of other devices have gone through our hands since then, and we thought it's time we gave the best ones yet another nod of approval, in case you somehow missed them.

First of, a fair warning: since the iPhone 6 is yet to be released,, we're talking Android devices exclusively. The extremely solid Lumia 1520 would have had a place on this list, of course, were it not for the fact that we reviewed it at the end of 2013, which excludes its entry on a technicality. In any case, and without any further ado, it's time to start the countdown. And yes, we're doing this reverse style -- from least to most impressive (in the big picture, they are all impressive, of course). Let's go!

10. HTC One M8



Ah, the One M8! Hardly any phone in Android land right now can claim to be as sophisticated in terms of its build or compare with the feel you get when handling the aluminum-clad shell of the M8. And while pretty much every single bit of the M8 is downright awesome, we were once again disappointed to see HTC unwilling to swap out the UltraPixel camera slapped on the back with a more standard solution. Oh well, can't have it all!


PROS

  • Seamless design that’s even more gorgeous than ever
  • Great front-facing stereo speakers
  • Duo effects add that professional look to our photos
  • Sense 6.0 is a clean & modern looking skin
  • Motion Launch gestures give us quick access functionality

CONS

  • ‘UltraPixel’ camera is still an underperformer
  • Not waterproof like many other flagships
PhoneArena rating:
8.8


9. Sony Xperia T2 Ultra



The giant Xperia T2 Ultra is not an infallible device, and we did have a few complaints, but as soon as the results from our battery test came out, we realized that these were small trade-offs for such an incredible, industry-leading battery life. Seriously, Sony, awesome job on this one!


PROS

  • The longest battery life we've tested on a mobile, with record 10+ hours of screen-on time
  • Slim and light for a 6-incher
  • Dual SIM Active device with fine call quality
  • Good pictures and video in all situations
  • Interface options that aide one-handed operation
  • Strong loudspeaker

CONS

  • Uncomfortable to use with one hand and carry around
  • Ships with one bit older, Android 4.3 version
  • The stock charger is just 0.85A, so it takes 4+ hours to fully charge the phablet
  • Rear cover is a fingerprint and pocket lint magnet
PhoneArena rating:
8.8


8. Huawei Ascend P7



Like its predecessor, the Ascend P7's chink in its armor is its sluggish Huawei processor. With that said, pretty much every other part of the P7 -- we loved. Especially its svelte body, its great cameras (selfie panoramas, anybody?!), and, typical of Huawei, excellent call quality.

PROS

  • Thin and light premium design
  • 8 MP wide-angle front camera
  • Good call quality
  • Strong and full loudspeaker

CONS

  • Midrange processor
  • Sluggish browser
PhoneArena rating:
8.8



7. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact



Until just days ago, Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact was basically unrivaled in its niche -- a compact handset with very powerful hardware packed into it. Now that Samsung has outed the Galaxy Alpha, the Z1 Compact will feel the heat, but that's a different topic altogether. We tested the Z1 Compact, and just loved it. Indeed, with some minor hiccups here and there, the 'mini' version of the Xperia Z1 proved to be a very desirable piece of tech if you are looking for something pocket-friendly.

PROS

  • Stylish, compact design
  • Cutting-edge performance
  • Great camera
  • Water- and dust-resistnace (IP 58)

CONS

  • Relatively small display
  • Minor UI issues
PhoneArena rating:
9



6. Oppo Find 7a



We found that the Oppo Find 7a, especially considering the discount in asking price when compared with mainstream flagships, is one heck of a proposition from a company whose products we tend to respect, even though we don't necessarily see them in the West often. In any case, the Find 7a is well-rounded package -- not without its weaknesses, yet the pros definitely outweigh the few annoyances (come on Oppo, either crank the brightness, or use a less reflective glass for the display!)

PROS

  • Attractive and ergonomic design
  • Simplistic manufacturer skin with double-tap-to-wake functionality
  • A performance powerhouse
  • Great camera overall
  • Rapid charging is awesome
  • Relatively affordable, at $499 unlocked

CONS

  • Direct sunlight makes the display hard to operate
  • Blueish screen
  • Battery loses too much juice in standby mode
PhoneArena rating:
9



5. LG G Pro 2



With its (relatively) compact and lightweight body, the G Pro 2 is one awesome device for the phablet lovers out there. Sure, its biggest competitor -- the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 -- is an equally sound buy, but we we were really impressed with the G Pro 2 nevertheless. The device is well-built and sturdy, and honestly leaves very little to desire.

PROS

  • Relatively easy to handle
  • Lightweight
  • Great display
  • A performance powerhouse
  • Great all around camera

CONS

  • No stereo speakers
  • Software still could use some fine-tuning
PhoneArena rating:
9


4. Samsung Galaxy S5 Active



If, in your head, the only thing missing from the Galaxy S5 is a sturdy enough construction to brave even the most inhospitable places on earth, while working jobs that most of us consider impossible, the S5 Active is the device to have right now. Sure, it's not exactly pleasant to look at, but we've already established that you value function over looks, so there you go!

PROS

  • Tougher construction so it’s not as brittle as the Galaxy S5
  • Most of the specs and features have been left intact
  • Activity Zone is great for the outdoorsy folks
  • Similar overall performance to the Galaxy S5

CONS

  • Slippery feel in the hand
  • Design language isn’t as pleasant
  • Low lighting camera performance is underwhelming
PhoneArena rating:
9


3. Samsung Galaxy S5



Sure, devices like the Galaxy S5 Active have their own, tight following, but for the rest of the world -- the standard Galaxy S5 will do. And do it does! Among the big releases this year, the S5 is one of the most impressive, all-around bundles that Samsung, or anybody, has managed to put together. True, the TouchWiz software still is something of an acquired taste, but the good definitely outweighs the bad.

PROS

  • Nice and inviting Glam design
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Vibrant and punchy screen
  • Unsurpassed performance in the high-end Android class
  • Streamlined and feature-rich user experience
  • Wonderful camera

CONS

  • Lack of premium construction materials
  • Unbalanced screen colors
  • Fingerprint and heart rate sensors could be better
PhoneArena rating:
9.1


2. LG G3



Technically, the LG G3 is tied for the first spot with the next (and last) device on our list today, but we felt like putting it second to last for just one simple reason. No matter our deep and sincere respect for LG's work here, the G3 did strike us as an amazing device that feels just a tad under-cooked. Indeed, while this is a very impressive smartphone regardless of how you look at it, LG could have applied just one more thin layer of polish and steal the show.

PROS

  • Massive screen with great resolution
  • Elegant design
  • Well-organized user interface with a plethora of features

CONS

  • Bulky
  • Exhibits some UI lag
  • Some gimmicky features
  • Lack of stereo speakers
PhoneArena rating:
9.2


1. Sony Xperia Z2



Yep, that's right -- the Sony Xperia Z2 shares the crown with the LG G3, and it deserved every bit of the accolades it accumulated. The water-proof, glass-and-metal Z2 retains Sony's signature OmniBalance design, and packs some serious hardware muscle underneath the exterior. Perhaps the most unpleasant part of the Z2 is its size -- it's a pretty bulky device for its display diagonal, but considering what you get in return, we'd say that's a deal worth taking.

PROS

  • Solid and eye-pleasing design
  • Large and vibrant display
  • Streamlined and polished user experience
  • Quality camera

CONS

  • A bit bulky
  • Slightly oversaturated screen
  • Average speakers
PhoneArena rating:
9.2

123 Comments
  • Options
    Close




posted on 15 Aug 2014, 07:52 6

1. Scarambay (Posts: 44; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)


I would love to pick Xperia Z2 over all others any day.. if, and that's a big IF, its camera was as awesome as it was touted to be. Galaxy S5 wins the camera round.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:02 14

8. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


As always, Samsung always ranks #1 in the camera department.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:04 10

11. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


No. Apparently, it ties with Sony.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:05 11

14. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Blind tests conclude Samsung ranked #1 THREE times in a row.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:13 10

22. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Blind camera tests aren't professional, it's just like a guessing game without prizes. In the camera comparisons, Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5 are mostly a tie or comes close to one another, so both are good if you ask me.

But also, I need to correct you a bit, the one who always rank #1 in the camera department in smartphones is Nokia, not Samsung.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:19 6

26. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Seems like someone's mad they voted for the S5 instead of the Z2 three times in a row. Face it, Samsung does a hell better job than Sony in the camera department. Nokia? Well... Yeah that's no competition.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:25 9

30. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm mad for stating a fact, that makes perfect sense. Sony and Samsung are both good in the camera department, software issues that made Sony phones camera bad is in the past, the Z2 has improved a lot and now it's one of the flagships with the best camera you can buy right now.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:13 4

23. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Pa testings in almost any department are known to be pretty bad. Especially the blind comparisons. They are very limited and don't even have any reference shots.

And besides DxO mark gave more points to Z2 in photos. S5 won in video. And that 4:3 sensor is a absolute must for me.

Not saying the S5 camera is worse. It's amazing. But for me the Z2's camera is the better option.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:30 4

33. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Comment #82

http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Camera-comparison-Sony-Xperia-Z2-vs-Samsung-Galaxy-S5-LG-G2-HTC-One-M8-iPhone-5s_id3708/page/7

34.11% vs 6.32% (this was the article you tried defending your hate to PA for Z2 ranking last)

http://www.phonearena.com/news/Samsung-Galaxy-S5-tops-our-blind-camera-comparison-for-the-third-time-in-a-row-LG-G3-close-second_id57178

Want me to find more?

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:38 7

39. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


No need. But I don't get your point. And in fact I don't really even want to get it.

But it's kinda funny how you trust PA in camera tests but not in display measurements, isn't it?

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:41 1

41. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


See the thing is, YOU voted for the best smartphone camera. PA took the shots, and YOU picked which phone did the best. Kinda funny how that works, right?

PA's method for testing screen brightness and accuracy is probably the worst I've ever seen. Let's not even go there.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:50 5

54. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


So you don't even want to discuss about it. Fine. I'll shut up too.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 11:24

103. sachouba (Posts: 36; Member since: 08 Jun 2014)


Why do you love 4:3 photos ? It looks absolutely horrible on my phone, my TV, my tablet and my laptop screen. And I prefer taking 16Mpx photos in Auto mode instead of the 8Mpx of the Z2.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 11:41

105. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Because 4:3 gives you a LOT bigger field of view. I mean a LOT. Why would I choose to see less when I can see more? Almost anytime I take photos I just couldn't fit everything I want in the photo in 16:9. 4:3 is a must.

If you love megapixels you can take 20mpx images on the Z2 lol. But yeah the superior auto mode uses oversampling (like Lumia 1020 in 5mpx images) so it's not just a normal 8mpx image.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:51 7

55. neela_akaash (Posts: 173; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


Z2 deserves to be in the first place....

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:01

66. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Idk about that...

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:04 2

68. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Wtf? What about #9? "But I think it deserves #1."

????

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:07

71. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Comment #37.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:13 2

75. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


That one has nothing to do with you saying Z2 deserves to be #1.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:17 3

77. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4336; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Overall the Sony Xperia Z2 is a better phone than the Samsung Galaxy S5. It looks better, it has a better display, it has a better IP rating. The only thing the GS5 has over the Z2 is camera.

Don't get me wrong the Z2's camera is not inferior, it's just that the GS5's is slightly better. I will put it this way. The Z2 is a 92 & the GS5 is a 95 in the camera only.

In overall phone comparison the GS5 is a 92 & the Z2 is a 95. Meaning both phones are EPIC!

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:29 1

83. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


And the feel and touch and the heavy weight, Dragontrail glass. When you hold it, it feels and screams quality and prestige.

The oppo7 is the same. Quality, with Carbon fibre.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:25 1

82. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


Agree.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:07 2

72. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4336; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


I have to agree, the Samsung phones ALWAYS have the BEST camera's hands down. Nokia has better but the bulk they add on the phones makes brings down the awesome level.

Samsung #1 always in the camera department!

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 09:16 4

76. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4041; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


He's blinded by Samsung.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 10:04 2

92. power_x (Posts: 238; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


NOKIA RULES THE CAMERA

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 11:18

102. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


PureView

posted on 16 Aug 2014, 05:20

122. nasznjoka (Posts: 351; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)


They don't they just put 41mpx on a phone that's not quality, its quantity. Quality is use the like others and beat them

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 11:25

104. marcski07 (Posts: 500; Member since: 25 Apr 2014)


come one just accept it, sony is the best smartphone, the display & camera, are just for OC's who are really have professional eyes, for an average joe, z2 is the best pick. I've seen z2, and also s5, yes, the diplay of s5 are more vibrant than z2, but i couldn't see any difference about camera, they are both good. and the screen display of z2 is okay with me, so what it makes me choose z2 than s5 is the design, and camera features of z2, and many more! what i like tho with s5 is removable battery, so if, only if, the design of s5 are not ugly and samsung galaxy looks all the same that make them look generic and cheap, I will pick samsung. design is big deal for me. How would you like your soon-to-be-wife, is smart, fast & reliable, but looks ugly and generic looking face?

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 21:22

108. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


A non biased article by Chris P

No mentioning of 3gb Ram on the Z2
+1

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 23:23 2

120. Genza (Posts: 254; Member since: 12 Mar 2014)


I don't know why you think that the S5 has better camera than the Z2, sure the S5 is able to take lovely pictures and videos in good light and stable conditions.

But the S5 has crappy low light performance and the phase detection auto focus also pretty much useless in low light.
The video also will looks like an earthquake when you try record a video in unstable conditions like when you walking around.

In my point of view camera should be like a swiss army knife (capable and good enough to use in any situation) and because of that the Z2 is better than the S5.
Because the Z2 can take great pictures not only in good light condition but also in low light like this one.
https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/60305679@N04/

The Z2 video stabilization also can only be match by 3 axis OIS in Lumia Pureview phones like 925.

I only agree with you if, and that's a really..really big IF, its camera was able to perform much better than the Z2.

The S5 can little bit better than Z2 in good light, but the Z2 crush the S5 in low light and the Z2 also destroy the S5 when it comes to video stabilization so overall the Z2 is better than S5.

posted on 16 Aug 2014, 09:38

123. Windswept7 (Posts: 3; Member since: 16 Aug 2014)


I sell all these phones, and real cameras too, I have the Sony z2 and while the camera is quite good, there is more to a camera than what most review sites cover.

From my extensive tests, surprisingly the LG G3 seems to be able to produce the best photos in a larger variety of conditions than any other phone. This is primarily because of both the optical stabilization and finding a good balance between more detail (megapixels) and more clarity (pixel size).

Due to the stabilization, LG have allowed the camera to take a longer exposure than most smartphones will allow, HTC M8 being the exception.

The sony Z2 shutter time can not be adjusted to take longer exposures this may change in android L also possibly adding raw functionality which could greatly improve the camera potential, because the sensor is very capable.

Samsung's photos look very good until you realise they are over sharpened and and soon as the light begins to dim - blurry. Hopefully the Note 4 will improve upon this with stabilization then we might see the best camera (in a smartphone) available.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 07:54

2. justsayit (Posts: 229; Member since: 09 May 2013)


got build quality issue still can be top 1!
http://www.phonearena.com/news/Hardware-issues-affecting-Sony-Xperia-Z2-owners-in-Singapore_id54950

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:07 5

17. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3207; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


That issue isn't even real. Even on my Z2 the the top right gap between the glass and bezel is slightly bigger than on the left. However, you can only see it when you look as closely as your eyes can focus. That thing is absolutely normal on any phone. It does not affect waterproofing since the sealing's are somewhere beneath. So yeah.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:09 2

19. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Isn't real to you but was a problem with production nonetheless.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 17:35

107. TMach (Posts: 385; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


I am guessing this issue was restricted to early production ones released in Japan etc. mine has no gaps either side, so not an issue. Certainly not an issue that has been reported on European issue Z2s!

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 07:57 9

3. vipervoid123 (Posts: 135; Member since: 27 Aug 2013)


wow unexpected PA can give Z2 the 1st place in this list ~

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:03 4

9. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


They did it so half the site won't go crazy lol. But I think it deserves #1.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 10:45 4

100. buccob (Posts: 1543; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Wow dude... you really are annoying when it comes to articles showing Sony some credit...

We all know you are a Samsung hyper fan and a bigger Sony Hater... we all get it... but you need to stop your non-sense comments bashing every single opinion and fact that anyone elses post.

Everybody agree that the camera on the S5 is better than the one on the Z2... I am a Sony fan but I agree with that FACT, because Sony needs to improve their software and calibration methods.... BUT you need to drop a couple of notches when you read an article that you don't agree based on your personal opinions...

I have had a Samsung flagship and now I own a Sony phone... and I try to make my opinions unbiased, but you completely discredit Sony even when you don't even own the phones. Just ignore other people's comments if what you're going to do is just bash around stating that Samsung is better, and more popular, and sells more... whatever... this is actually one of the first articles I read on PA where they give a Sony Xperia a higher rank than every other flagship out there... So people is actually surprised, but not because it didn't deserved it, but because PA have had a record of partiality in the past.... and this article took a turn for the better, unbiased way.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 21:24 1

109. Raito (Posts: 4; Member since: 15 Aug 2014)


Hahaha,its because he's paid by Samsung,obviously :)

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 21:26

110. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


But he did give credit to Sony.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 22:46

119. Raito (Posts: 4; Member since: 15 Aug 2014)


It's to hide the fact that he was Samsung employee,it's very common in marketing world

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 07:59 6

4. xperian (Posts: 60; Member since: 10 Apr 2014)


Z2>M8>G3>others

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 21:27

111. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


Especially the 3 Gb Ram

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:00 2

5. TisaTsir (Posts: 65; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)


Looking at the performance of both z2 and the latest xperia T3, sony xperia z3 will be the best smartphone of 2014. But note4 will be a beast.

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:01 1

7. madlaw1071 (Posts: 3; Member since: 25 Jun 2009)


How is the One Plus One not on this list?

posted on 15 Aug 2014, 08:05 3

12. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


2 posts since June 2009? lolwut

PA never sent an invite to OPO.