Notebookcheck's Top 10 Smartphones

Staff (translated by Martina Osztovits), 08/06/2014

August 2014 update. Here you'll find the latest smartphones reviewed by Notebookcheck. Our Top 10 list is regularly updated, maintained and commented on by our editors. This page is intended to help our readers decide which product to purchase.

 

For the original German article, see here.

Smartphones destroy everything else in terms of sales in the mobile-phone market. These incredibly versatile devices outstripped normal cell phones ages ago. With even stronger processors and growing display sizes, so-called "phablets" are encroaching on tablet territory. The line between these devices is growing increasingly blurry - at least at the peak of the market. These smartphone-tablet crossbreeds have taken many of the top spots in our smartphone Top 10 list. As a result, most of the top models in our list are occupied by very recently released devices. Still, here and there a brave old soldier has clung on to the top of the ladder.

Notebookcheck Smartphone Charts as of August 2014

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMCardreaderPrice/Buy
104/1492%Samsung Galaxy S50.145 kg5.1-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974ACQualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at $592
205/1489%Sony Xperia Z20.162 kg5.2-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974ABQualcomm Adreno 3303 GByesstarting at $660
-04/1489%HTC One M80.160 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974ACQualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at $660
-10/1389%Apple iPhone 5S0.112 kg4.0-inch
640x1136 glossy
Apple A7Imagination PowerVR G64301 GBnostarting at $684
502/1488%Sony Xperia Z1 Compact0.137 kg4.3-inch 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at $438
new08/1487%Nokia Lumia 9300.170 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at $600
-11/1387%Google Nexus 50.130 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GBnostarting at $384
-10/1387%Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N90050.168 kg5.7-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3303 GByesstarting at $585
-10/1387%Apple iPhone 5C0.132 kg4.0-inch
640x1136 glossy
Apple A6Imagination PowerVR SGX543MP31 GBnostarting at $509
new08/1486%LG G30.149 kg5.5-inch 1440x2560 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974ACQualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at $649

Top 10 smartphones from the last 10 months - current reviews are listed first

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMCardreaderPrice/Buy
new08/1482%Archos 50c Oxygen0.140 kg5.0-inch 720x1280 glossyMediaTek MT6592ARM Mali-450 MP41 GByesstarting at €199
new08/1482%Huawei Ascend G7500.162 kg5.5-inch 720x1280 glossyMediaTek MT6592ARM Mali-450 MP42 GByesstarting at $339
new08/1480%Huawei Ascend G60.115 kg4.5-inch 540x960 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226Qualcomm Adreno 3051 GByesstarting at $224
new08/1478%iOcean X7S0.135 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyMediaTek MT6592ARM Mali-450 MP42 GByesstarting at $258

Further reviews from each month - current reviews are listed first

Editors' Comments

After the lively month of June, the editorial office was not as busy in July, but we still reviewed six new smartphones. Two of them were real highlights: The LG G3 is a bit late in comparison with the high-end devices from the competition, but it is the first smartphone with a WQHD display. But is this convenient in practice? The review is pretty critical. A bit better – and without any big drawbacks – is the current top device Lumia 930 from Nokia. But we should say Microsoft since the takeover of the Finnish company by the Americans is completed by now. However, the familiar name Nokia can still be used (for now?). Our review field of the last weeks is complemented by two devices from the manufacturer Huawei. iOcean, another Chinese manufacturer, also offers a new smartphone. From France is the Archos 50c Oxygen – a typical mainstream model, which was actually able to impress our editors. Only the two high-end devices from LG and Nokia made our Top 10, but both devices can only take lower spots.

An alternative for the top devices: Nokia Lumia 930
An alternative for the top devices: Nokia Lumia 930
Pixels alone are not enough: LG G3
Pixels alone are not enough: LG G3
A small surprise from France: Archos 50c Oxygen
A small surprise from France: Archos 50c Oxygen
Cannot completely meet the expectations: Huawei Ascend G750
Cannot completely meet the expectations: Huawei Ascend G750
More illusion than reality: Huawei Ascend G6
More illusion than reality: Huawei Ascend G6
Budget device with drawbacks: iOcean X7S
Budget device with drawbacks: iOcean X7S
Unrivaled in the entry-level class: Motorola Moto E
Unrivaled in the entry-level class: Motorola Moto E
Great price-performance ratio: The Motorola Moto G
Great price-performance ratio: The Motorola Moto G
Bargain from the Windows world: Nokia Lumia 625
Bargain from the Windows world: Nokia Lumia 625

 

 

The devices of the Nokia Lumia 9xx-series always offered very sturdy cases and a high build quality. But also bulky and heavy phones, where the performance usually couldn't compete with the top rivals. The first high-end device of the Finns after the takeover from Microsoft still offers the previously mentioned virtues, but it is also a big improvement in terms of weight and dimensions. And Microsoft also takes another direction in regard to the components. The Snapdragon 800 is not the latest evolution of the high-performance SoC, but the Lumia 930 does not have to hide behind the competition with this components. The verdict is therefore mainly positive as well. The author praises the very bright Full HD display with wide viewing angles and the high-quality case in particular. Voice quality, battery runtime and the performance can convince as well. So is it a contender for the top spot? Not quite. The color reproduction is not accurate enough, and we don't like the missing microSD slot. The Lumia 930 also gets pretty hot under load. But apart from that, the new flagship device from Microsoft is a great smartphone.

The same applies for the LG G3 as well. But the new top version from the South Korean manufacturer does not just want to convince with a good overall package. The G3 is once again more of a technology showcase since it is the first smartphone with WQHD resolution, four times the pixels of an HD panel. The numbers are: 2560x1440 pixels with an incredible pixel density of 534 ppi. But to come to the point: We could not see a sharper picture compared to a Full HD display. The very high resolution actually comes with some drawbacks. It starts with a sobering black value, continues with the resulting low contrast and ends with a frequent brightness decrease due to overheating. Most of the time you can only use around 300 nits, which is just not enough for a high-end smartphone. The high temperature development also has a negative effect on the performance. To make matters worse, there are issues like micro stutters, missing USB 3.0 and annoying bloat ware. This sounds like a crushing verdict so far. But the LG G3 could actually be one of the best smartphones if the manufacturer had integrated a decent Full HD panel instead of the WQHD display. There are many advantages, for example the fast SoC, the great cameras, the fast flash storage, the good voice quality and many more. In the end, the G3 can just take a place in our Top 10, but it cannot compete with the front runners. 

The Archos 50c Oxygen probably did not want to enter our Top 10 in the first place, but the French smartphone still manages a decent performance. The 5-inch device offers an eight-core processor and an IPS HD panel for 200 Euros. The package is complemented by an 8 MP camera and 8 GB expandable storage. However, you cannot install apps on the expandable storage, which leads to a point deduction. But the Oxygen also collects many points, for instance for the nice thin case, the dual-SIM feature or the decent speakers. Combined with the good performance and the convenient features, the Archos smartphone really does a good job. Our main criticisms concern the average voice quality and the limited internal storage. 

The Huawei Ascend G750 is more of an upper mainstream smartphone. For an RRP of 349 Euros, it comes with a 5.5-inch display with HD resolution, similar to the Archos smartphone. The processor is identical as well, just like the internal storage. So is the big additional charge justified? If you look at the identical rating of the Archos 50c Oxygen it probably isn't. However, the Huawei smartphone does show some advantages over the Archos in our review. For example the better voice quality, but also the replaceable battery. Otherwise, the two rivals are pretty similar, although the G750 cannot quite compete with the design of the Oxygen. The isolated dropouts of the WLAN module and the sometimes very hot power adaptor prevent a better rating.

Huawei offers another smartphone with the Ascend G6. It is very similar to the high-end devices in terms of design, but otherwise, the 4.5-inch smartphone is a mainstream device. The internal storage is very small with just 4 GB, but it can fortunately be expanded. However, apps cannot be installed on the microSD cards, which is not easy to understand when you consider the low capacity. Other drawbacks are the pretty low performance, the mediocre speakers and the low resolution. Advantages of the G6 on the other hand are the well-built case with convenient haptics, the long battery runtime and the bright display with wide viewing angles. The cameras do a good job as well. The hands-free feature could be louder and the GPS module could be more precise.

The last device is the iOcean X7S, a further development of the already reviewed X7. This model uses an eight-core processor from MediaTek, which also powers the Archos 50c Oxygen and the Huawei Ascend G750. The large five inch IPS display does have the Full HD resolution, which is really rare for less than 250 Euros. iOcean includes features like dual-SIM, replaceable battery and two high-resolution cameras. The 16 GB storage can also be expanded. Installing apps on a microSD card was no problem in our review. In the end, it still wasn't enough for a very good rating. The display is just not bright enough, the battery runtimes are to short and the power adaptor produces an annoying high-pitched whistling noise.

 

 

Currently, there is no way around the Motorola Moto E in the entry-level category. With the Moto E, the Americans continue what they have begun with the Moto G: great smartphones for extremely fair prices. The cheaper Moto E even mends the weakness of its bigger brother: memory is expandable now. Certainly, Motorola has to use cheaper components, but it is not striking where they made cuts. Quite the contrary: You'll get a fully fledged smartphone with good display, decent performance, appealing features and high usability for 119 Euros (~$161).

Although the Motorola Moto G has been already available for a while, it is still one of the smartphones with the best price-performance ratio. The 4.5-inch device brings high performance, a bright HD display and a long battery life for significantly below 200 Euros (~$272). In addition, it has a robust build, and the back cover can be replaced if needed. The non-expandable memory and the fixed battery are smaller weaknesses.

The Nokia Lumia 625 with Windows OS continues to have an outstanding price-performance ratio, too. It is, like the Motorola Moto G, available for significantly below 200 Euros (~$272) and has similar qualities. The battery life is long and the subjective performance is high. In addition, it features LTE, and the internal memory can be expanded via microSD card. With 4.7-inches, the display is relatively big, but the resolution of 480x800 pixels is only modest. But, without doubt, the price-performance ratio of the Nokia Lumia 625 is top.

Although the Nexus 5 has already been available for months and achieved a place in our smartphone Top 10, it is still worth looking at the Google Nexus 4. Remainders of the former top model from the search engine giant are currently still available. Those who buy it will get a device with excellent build quality, great performance and the best update support - for a really reasonable price.

 

Award: Nokia Lumia 930

It's been a while since a Windows smartphone got our Editor's Choice award. The new top version from Microsoft, however, the Nokia Lumia 930, really earned the award. For once, the Americans continue the Finnish tradition of high-quality cases. But the new Lumia 930 can also convince with new features like the low weight and the slim dimensions. The user does not have to make any compromises in terms of components, either: Fast SoC, great OLED display with Full HD resolution, high performance, great cameras. Our only serious criticism: The storage cannot be expanded, and it gets pretty hot under load: But the verdict in the end is: Well done, Microsoft!

Recent Smartphone Awards

Editor's Choice in August 2014: Nokia Lumia 930
Editor's Choice in August 2014: Nokia Lumia 930
Editor's Choice in July 2014: HTC One Mini 2
Editor's Choice in July 2014: HTC One Mini 2
Editor's Choice in June 2014: Sony Xperia Z2
Editor's Choice in June 2014: Sony Xperia Z2
Best Value Award in June 2014: Motorola Moto E
Best Value Award in June 2014: Motorola Moto E
Editor's Choice in May 2014: Samsung Galaxy S5
Editor's Choice in May 2014: Samsung Galaxy S5
Editor's Choice in April 2014: HTC One M8
Editor's Choice in April 2014: HTC One M8
Best Value Award in April 2014: Huawei Ascend Y530
Best Value Award in April 2014: Huawei Ascend Y530
Editor's Choice in February 2014: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Editor's Choice in February 2014: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Editor's Choice in January 2014: Nokia Lumia 1520
Editor's Choice in January 2014: Nokia Lumia 1520
Editor's Choice in December 2013: Asus New PadFone
Editor's Choice in December 2013: Asus New PadFone
Best Value Award in December 2013: Motorola Moto G
Best Value Award in December 2013: Motorola Moto G
Editor's Choice in November 2013: Google Nexus 5
Editor's Choice in November 2013: Google Nexus 5
Best Value Award in November 2013: Google Nexus 5
Best Value Award in November 2013: Google Nexus 5
Best Value Award in August 2013: Google Nexus 4
Best Value Award in August 2013: Google Nexus 4
 
 

Automated top 10 list updated daily

of the last 10 months
1
91% v4
Review Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone
Samsung Galaxy S5
Review Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 05/11/2014
2
89% v4
Sony Xperia Z2 Smartphone Review
Sony Xperia Z2
Sony Xperia Z2 Smartphone Review
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 05/21/2014
3
89% v4
HTC One M8
HTC One M8
Review HTC One M8 Smartphone
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 04/29/2014
4
89% v4
Review Apple iPhone 5S Smartphone
Apple iPhone 5S
Review Apple iPhone 5S Smartphone
Apple A7, Imagination PowerVR G6430, 10/24/2013
5
88% v4
Review Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Smartphone
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Review Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Smartphone
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 02/14/2014
6
87% v4
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini Smartphone Review
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini Smartphone Review
Samsung Exynos 3470 Quad, ARM Mali-400 MP4, 08/18/2014
7
87% v4
Nokia Lumia 930 Smartphone Review
Nokia Lumia 930
Nokia Lumia 930 Smartphone Review
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 07/24/2014
8
87% v4
Review Google Nexus 5 Smartphone
Google Nexus 5
Review Google Nexus 5 Smartphone
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 11/27/2013
9
87% v4
Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 10/30/2013
10
86% v4
LG G3 Smartphone and LG G Watch Review
LG G3
LG G3 Smartphone and LG G Watch Review
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 07/18/2014

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Smartphones
Author: Staff, 2014-08- 6 (Update: 2014-08-11)