Best Smartphones of 2014: 15 Chart Toppers and Head Turners of Year Gone By

Last Updated: January 9, 2015

Looking for the best phones of 2014? You will find them here.

2014 has been the year the smartphone industry stepped up to the plate. It has been the year in which the industry repeatedly reinvented itself and crossed its own expectations.  There have been some wins and losses here and there, but in totality, it has been a wonderful year. This is the year that the consumer has reinforced the fact that he looks towards the specs and the value-for-money in a device and not just towards fancy tweaks and brand images.

The smartphone industry has changed the reigning trends. While in 2013, Samsung claimed the title of the biggest smartphone company, in 2014, Chinese brands such as Xiaomi and Gionee made inroads into the industry and definitively changed our perception of phones. But that is not all. 2014 was the year in which the consumer either went for a premium phone which he had large pockets for or went for a phone that offered the best value for his money. A phone that did not have either of these could not appeal to the consumer.

So what did 2014 throw up in terms of interesting smartphones? Which was the most innovative phone of the year? Which phone redefined its brand? Which phone established its brand?

Scroll down for our list of the 15 best phones of 2014, in no particular order.

1. HTC One M8

HTC One M8

Brand philosophy: To create phones that look good and reflect creativity. Most of all this phone should be very personalized when it comes to the software. In totality, the HTC One M8 is something that you can flaunt at parties, besides having all the premium features one can desire.

Special features: A full aluminum form factor, an amazing camera with a great camera app, boasting of features such as Zoe videos and great
camera editing features. Most importantly, a Duo camera for amazing refocus.

Launch date: March 2014

Price: Rs. 49,990 (MRP)

The HTC One M8 made a splash at the start of the year. It built on its predecessor – the One M7, but it is the HTC One M8 which really brought on the fireworks. One look at the M8 would leave no doubt about its being a premium device. The premium metallic body has a great in-hand feel and the 5-inch full HD display works amazingly well. The 2600 mAh battery can last a whole day. A Duo camera makes it easy to not just refocus, but also merge two different images right on the phone itself.

But the hardware is not the only thing special about the HTC One M8, the software also plays its part. The HTC One M8 runs on Android 4.4
and boasts of Sense 6.0. Any mention of the phone will be incomplete without the mention of Zoe videos, which actually provide you dated
videos with music and effects alike.

2. Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Brand philosophy: The Samsung Galaxy was quintessiantally the reinvented Samsung Galaxy S5. The world has called it the ‘phone that the Samsung Galaxy S5 should have been’. The failure of the Galaxy S5 was the form factor and the price and that’s where the Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes in.

Special features: The star of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is the hardware, most importantly its form factor. The handset feels light as a feather and  is perfectly balanced. Samsung has deviated from its plastic form factor and added a solid aluminum feel to the sides of the device. Besides this, the handset boasts of software tweaks such as My Magazine and hardware tweaks such as a heart rate sensor and fingerprint sensor .

Launch date: August 2014

Price: Rs. 39,990 (MRP)

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is a proof of the consumer’s power. Samsung, which entered the year with a mighty mandate from the consumer as the biggest brand out there, did not head to the market trend in the beginning of the year and gave us a plasticky Galaxy S5, which then flopped, despite having great hardware and software inside. This rejection led to the birth of Samsung Galaxy Alpha.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is light as a feather and feels like a premium smartphone. It’s 4.7-inch 720p display is well-lit while Android 4.4 and TouchWiz make for a good software experience, but it is ultimately the hardware that is the star of this device. The device feels so light and so premium that you have to experience it to really feel it. It is also equipped with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 so that doesn’t seem a fragile device despite being as suave as it is. The Exynos 5 CPU and 2 GB give you a smooth and optimized experience, while the 1860 mAh battery lasts a full day.

The hidden delight of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is its 12-megapixel rear cam which has the fastest autofocus and shutter speed seen in recent times.

3. Moto X

Moto X

Brand Philosophy: Motorola has, in its second innings, proved consistently its focus to set itself apart from the market. The Moto X is the best example of this philosophy. It comes with 4 sensors around the display and  full Touchless control and awesome customizability accompanying it on the software side. The device has been so impressive that Google has lent it out for its Nexus 6.

Special features: The Moto X stands out in terms of its 4 on-board sensors. These sensors give Touchless control in the true sense – the handset responds amazingly and unbelievably well. The other impressive features include its 5.2-inch full HD display and a well-performing 13-megapixel rear cam.

Launch date: September 2014

Price: Rs. 32,999 for the 32 GB model/ Rs. 29,990 for the 16 GB model (Recently revised)

The Motorola Moto X was Motorola’s star this year. It was launched alongside the Moto 360 smartwatch and Moto G, and overshadowed the other two devices with its stellar performance.  The Moto X is loaded with well-performing sensors and you don’t need to touch the device to make it respond. This is, in fact, the thing that sets it apart from the rest of the lot. The Moto X (2014) is easily the most innovative phone of the year.

But, sensors are not all that the Moto X offers – a 5.2-inch full HD display shines out, while 2 GB RAM and Qualcomm 801 CPU lend the performance the device needs. The 13-megapixel rear cam has an amazingly simple camera app, but still performs pretty well. The 2300 mAh battery lasts a full day.

The whole Moto X experience is something that anyone would cherish.

4. Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3

Brand Philosophy: Sony’s brand philosophy, with regard to its flagship Xperia Z series is ‘megapixels do matter’. The Sony Xperia Z3 retains a 20.7-megapixel rear cam, retained from its predecessor Xperia Z2. Also, the phone continues to be waterproof like the rest of the Xperia Z series.

Special features: The Sony Xperia Z3 is designed for premium consumer with a craving for megapixels. It is extremely thin, IP68 certified and also comes with an amazing form factor.

Launch date: September 2014

Price: Rs. 49,990 (MRP)

The Sony Xperia Z3 carries on the baton from the Sony Xperia Z2. It is a premium phone that is certified  waterproof and has the highest megapixel count apart from the Nokia Lumia 1020. But the camera is not the only star of the Sony Xperia Z3 – rather, it’s form factor plays an important part.

The Sony Xperia Z3 comes equipped with a 5.2-inch full HD display, protected by a shatterproof  glass. Sony’s own skin works well, on the top of Android 4.4. The device comes equipped with 3 GB RAM and a Snapdragon 801 processor which gives good performance. The 20.7-megapixel rear cam is supported on the software side by a great camera app which comes with new modes such as AR Fun and Live from YouTube. The 3100 mAh battery too lasts long.

5. Xiaomi Mi3

xiaomi_mi_3

Brand Philosophy: Xiaomi’s brand philosophy is simple – take over the market by providing the consumer with exemplary value-for-money phones. The Xiaomi Mi3 is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the page-turner of the year. It provided far more value-for-money than other brands and changed the market philosophy altogether, which resulted in Xiaomi becoming one of the top 5 brands in the market, despite its limited presence in just 3 markets right now.

Special features:  There are no special features in the Xiaomi Mi3, if you are looking for some fancy tweaks. But, if you dig in deeper, you will find two cool things about – its price tag and the Xiaomi MiUi ROM, both of which make this phone more than a pleasure to use.

Launch date: July 2014 (India)

Price: Rs. 13,999 (MRP)

The Xiaomi Mi3 is definitely the phone that changed the way we think. It established Xiaomi as a definitive brand. The Xiaomi Mi3 succeeded in doing so, because of the features it packed in, despite the mid-range pricing. The treat with this phone was definitely its performance, since it came equipped with Snapdragon 800 and 2GB RAM. The MiUi ROM offers cool features such as Private Messaging, which you would have expected in a high-range phone before the release of the Xiaomi Mi3. The features of the device are really amazing – a 50-inch full HD display, a 13-megapixel rear cam and a 3050 mAh battery, which was something unprecedented before the launch of the device and even after its launch, hasn’t had great competition. The flash sales are the proof that the handset has done well and makes us very hopeful for teh Xiaomi Mi4.

6. Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6

Brand Philosophy:  Apple’s philosophy is pretty well known. But, this philosophy went for a toss, when it came to the iPhone 6, which increased in size and also changed its shape. Apple has definitely put its ears to the ground and come up with a bigger and better iPhone.

Special features: The most special feature of the Apple iPhone 6 is its form factor. It is big, yet it fits perfectly in your palm. Apple, like always, has also revamped its software – iOS 8 comes with tweaks such as Healthbook and Apple Pay.

Launch date: September 2014

Price: Rs. 53,500 (MRP)

Apple iPhone 6 is defining milestone in Apple’s history. The screen size has been increased to 4.7 inches. Apple has come out with shatterproof glass. The change is size is expected to be retained in the iPhone’s coming generations, which makes this the iPhone that changed the whole brand philosophy for Apple, moving away from Steve Jobs’ philosophy of retaining 3.5-inch displays.

Apple’s A8 chipset and its 1.4-Ghz dual-core processor  works amazingly well. Even though the phone comes with just 1 GB RAM, it actually has a fluid performance. The 8-megapixel rear cam works amazingly well. The device’s 1810 mAh battery lasts a whole day.

7. OnePlus One

OnePlus One

Brand philosophy: OnePlus One was an unknown brand an year back. It brought out something that we could only dream about – a CyanogenMod OS based OS. This is what every mid-range phone should look, feel and work like.

Special features: The OnePlus One comes with a 5.5-inch full HD display, a Snapdragon 801 processor and 3 GB RAM. But the star of thedevice is the CyanogenMod 11 S OS.

Launch date: December 2014 (India)

Price: Rs. 21,990 (MRP)

The OnePlus One smartphone is something you might have never heard of before this year, but in case you have heard of it, you wouldn’t forget it. This is a phone that looks premium, but does not have the premium pricing. The OnePlus matches all top phones, spec for spec. 

The CyanogenMod OS is as customizable as you can expect it to be. The 13-megapixel rear camera also performs pretty well. The Qualcomm 801 CPU and 3GB RAM work well. The 3100 mAh battery works amazingly well. The OnePlus One is the most amazing mid-range phone available in the market, although its sale has been currently restricted by the Indian court.

8. LG G3

lg G3

Brand philosophy: The LG G3 is something that really surprised us with all it offered. It came with an Aluminum form actor, a power button at the back that works amazingly and a brilliant camera with features such as Laser Autofocus. It offers premium features for a premium price.

Special features: The special features of the LG G3 include a power button at the back, laser autofocus and a 2K 5.5-inch display

Launch  date: May 2014

Price: Rs. 49,999 (MRP)

The LG G3 is an outright premium phone and one with the best camera out there. It has a suave Aluminum-based form factor which makes feel great, but the real treat is the other hardware of the device. It’s 2K display works amazingly well, while its Snapdragon 801 CPU and 3 GB RAM give you performance you can only dream about. The Laser Autofocus is accurate and pretty damn fast, making the camera experience of the 13-megapixel rear cam pretty awesome. The 3000 mAh battery lasts pretty long.

The LG G3 is designed to attract the premium consumer and it actually stands its ground as a premium phone. It has unique features, but besides that it has the best display and the best smartphone camera out there, if you discount the Nokia Lumia 1020.

9. BlackBerry Passport

Bb passport

Brand Philosophy: BlackBerry hit the rock bottom in 2013, so this year the only way it could go was up. The company therefore, went back to the drawing board and came up with something as unique as it can get in form of the BlackBerry Passport. This square-shaped phone is the most unique phone of the year and has undoubtedly brought BlackBerry back in the reckoning.

Special features: The special features of the BlackBerry Passport are definitely its unique form factor, a QWERTY keyboard along with a 4.5-inch and premium build quality.

Launch date: June 2014

Price: Rs. 49,999 (MRP)

The BlackBerry Passport is a uniquely shaped device – something that has required a lot of daring on the part of BlackBerry. BlackBerry has opted for a Snapdragon 801 CPU and 3 GB RAM, which work well in coordination with the BlackBerry 10.3 OS.  The 13-megapixel rear cam works well, too. The 3450 mAh battery lasts a whole day.

The BlackBerry Passport is the only premium touch and type phone available out there.

10. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Brand Philosophy: The Samsung Galaxy Note series is the god of big phones and retains its crown with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Special features: The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 grabs the baton from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and does it well. Its special features include a 5.7-inch 2K display and a 16-megapixel Dual shot camera that can simultaneously record HD videos and images.

Launch date: September 2014

Price: Rs. 58,300 (MRP)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is something that whosoever has laid his hands on, will cherish. The Galaxy Note was the world’s first phablet and three years later, it still leads the pack. There is a reason behind it – Samsung puts it whole weight being the Note, which results in an amazing device. The 5.7-inch 2K display lights up like its Christmas, while under the hood, the Snapdragon 805 processor works fluidly, thanks to the 3GB RAM. The 16-megapixel rear cam has a wide-angle lens. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can also shoot 4K videos. The Samsung skin is amazing the TouchWiz UI can multi-task like there is no tomorrow. To top it all it has a decent 3220 mAh battery.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is an amazing premium device with the only competition being the iPhone 6.

11. Huawei Honor 6

huawei_honor_6

Brand Philosophy: Huawei’s brand philosophy is simple – it wants to provide a well-performing phone for the mid-range consumer. That is what is reflected in this light, super-smooth and bright device.

Special features: The Huawei Honor 6 is a 3GB phone available at a price of Rs. 19,999. The handset looks smooth  and is great to handle. The 13-megapixel rear cam works well. But the best feature undoubtedly is the Huawei Emotion UI, which provides some amazing skins and amazing effects.

Launch date: August 2014

Price: Rs. 19,999

The Huawei Honor is a mid-range stunner, undoubtedly. The Huawei Honor is made for those people who want a performer, yet something that doesn’t pinch their pocket. It is armed with a stunning display and a HiSilicon Kirin 920 Hi 3630 processor inside. The unibody phone looks and feels good. But, it is the 3GB RAM that is star of the handset. The Huawei Honor 6 is a super-fast powerhouse. a 5-inch display, Android 4.4 and a 3100 mAh battery all work well together.

The Huawei Emotion UI is something that makes this phone even better than it is. The whole experience of the Huawei Honor 6 is cherishable and relishable.

12. Asus Zenfone 5

Asus-Zenfone-5

Brand Philosophy: Asus has been present in the smartphone market for a long time. But, with the Zenfone series, it wants to go mainstream. It wants attack the mid-range and low-range smartphone market, which constitutes a chunk of the smartphone market in countries such as India and China.

Special features: The star of the Asus Zenfone series is its form factor. Asus brings in very stylish phones priced in the low-range. On the top of that, the Asus Zen UI also looks and works well.

Launch date: January 2014

Price: Rs. 8,999

The Asus Zenfone series is like Asus turning a new page – Asus has been in the market fringes for long, sometimes producing Nexus phones  and sometimes working on stuff such as the Transformer series. With the Zenfone series, it steps into the centre and is actually looking towards competing with the likes of Xiaomi and Micromax. The Asus Zenfone 5 looks unbelievably good for its price tag. It also has a 2 GHz Intel Atom CPU inside along with 2 GB RAM. The Asus skin on the top of Android 4.3 and 2050 mAh battery.

The best part of owning and Asus Zenfone is having something to show off, even though, you wouldn’t have spent so much on it. There is stuff such as reading mode, gloves-free mode and music mode onboard and the 8-megapixel rear cam works better than you would expected.

13. Gionee Elife S5.5

Gionee Elife S5.5

Brand philosophy: Gionee  is trying to establish itself as a mid-range brand. It has therefore latched itself to producing phones that stand out. One such phone that we saw in 2014 was the Gionee Elife S5.5, which was the world’s thinnest phone. It has been succeeded by an even thinner Elife S5.1, but the Gionee Elife S5.5 was undoubtedly the star of the year.

Special features: The Gionee Elife S5.5 is something that is made for blatantly showing off. This is a razor-thin handset, equipped with a powerful core.

Launch date: February 2014

Price: Rs. 22,990

The Gionee Elife S5.5 was something that the brand needed to establish market presence. Thin phones have always been in and Gionee has capitalized on them by producing the world’s thinnest phones. The Gionee Elife S5.5 gives you something to cherish at a mid-range price – a full HD 5-inch display, 2 GB RAM, a 1.7-GHz octa-core CPU, Amigo 2.3 UI and a 2300 mAh battery. But, the best part of the handset, apart from the thin unibody shell is the 13-megapixel rear cam, which works efficiently and gives you some vibrant clicks.

Well, simply put, thin is in.

14. Nexus 6

Nexus 6

Brand Philosophy: The philosophy behind the Nexus series is simple – to provide you stock Android goodness at a very economical rate.

Special features:  There are 3 special features – The light unibody shell that is easy to hold and equipped with sensors, a good camera and most of all – extremely customizable, easily rootable and very simple Stock Android.

Launch date: October 2014

Price: Rs. 44,000

The Nexus is a shift in Google’s philosophy. Google has moved ahead from the mid-range to the premium range. Not just that, the Nexus 6 is the most powerful Nexus phone ever produced. This might be the best Nexus ever made. This Nexus is made by Motorola and inspired from the new Moto X. But, there are differences. The Nexus 6 comes with a 6-inch 2K display which indicates that Nexus has moved into the phablet category.

The Nexus 6 comes with Android Lollipop out-of-the-box. Inside, it has a 2.7-GHz Snapdragon 805 CPU accompanied by 3 GB RAM. The 13-megapixel rear cam works well, while the 3220 mAh battery lasts a full day.

15. HTC Desire Eye

HTC-Desire-EYE 

Brand philosophy: The philosophy being the HTC Desire Eye is to cash on the selfie craze that took over the world in 2014. A selfie phone is a treat for selfie-obsessed people all over the world.

Special features:  The best feature of the HTC Desire Eye is undoubtedly its 13-megapixel front cam, which is something that everyone who wants good selfies would cherish..

Launch date: October 2014

Price: Rs. 35,990

The HTC Desire Eye stands out as a phone for the selfieobsesssed. After the phablet trend, the next trend in the line seems that of selfie phones. The HTC Desire Eye is equipped with dual 13-megapixel cameras with dual LED flash on each side. It comes equipped with a Snapdragon 801 processor inside along with 2 GB RAM, which means that it is just as powerful as the flagship HTC One M8. The Android 4.4 and HTC Sense 6.0 support the dual-cameras while the 2400 mAh battery lasts a whole day.

The HTC Desire Eye is a daring move on the part of HTC and it might just start the trend that might rule 2015.

LEAVE A REPLY