Notebookcheck's Top 10 Smartphones

Staff (translated by Martina Osztovits), 09/06/2014

September 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 September 2014

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMCardreaderPrice/Buy
104/1492%Samsung Galaxy S50.145 kg5.1" 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974ACQualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesfrom $592
205/1489%Sony Xperia Z20.162 kg5.2" 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974ABQualcomm Adreno 3303 GByesfrom $660
-04/1489%HTC One M80.160 kg5.0" 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974ACQualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesfrom $660
-10/1389%Apple iPhone 5S0.112 kg4.0"
640x1136 glossy
Apple A7Imagination PowerVR G64301 GBnofrom $684
502/1488%Sony Xperia Z1 Compact0.137 kg4.3" 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesfrom $438
new09/1487%Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini0.120 kg4.5" 720x1280 glossySamsung Exynos 3470 QuadARM Mali-400 MP41.5 GByesfrom $448
-08/1487%Nokia Lumia 9300.170 kg5.0" 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesfrom $600
-11/1387%Google Nexus 50.130 kg5.0" 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GBnofrom $384
-10/1387%Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N90050.168 kg5.7" 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3303 GByesfrom $585
-10/1387%Apple iPhone 5C0.132 kg4.0"
640x1136 glossy
Apple A6Imagination PowerVR SGX543MP31 GBnofrom $509

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

Editors' Comments

It was that quiet in our smartphone test lab that we almost had to skip this article in September. Coming events cast their shadow before: The Sony Xperia Z3 and the new smartphones from Apple, which might be introduced on 11th of September, are soon to come. Finally, we only reviewed a single smartphone in August, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini. In view of the big name, it will certainly not get boring - neither for us nor for the readers according to the hits. Although the S5 Mini is only a mid range device, it still made it into our smartphone top 10. So, August was not completely boring. 

A strong Mini...
A strong Mini...
... the Galaxy S5 Mini
... the Galaxy S5 Mini
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

If a Samsung smartphone of the Galaxy S family goes through our tests, the devices currently in our top list are challenged. The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini is the small edition of the current flagship of the South Koreans. In view of the 4.5 inch screen, "Mini" does not seem to be exactly the right word. However, in times of steadily growing displays, the small version of top models get bigger and bigger, too. The strategy is always the same: The smaller the display, the less features. To date, the only notable exception is the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, which only has a smaller display and a lower resolution, while all other features are identical to the top model's. Currently, only Apple and Sony offer high-end 4.x inch models, whereas the iPhone 5S will be replaced soon. Let's turn to the S5 Mini again. It looks nearly exactly like its bigger brother. Only some details are different. Alike the big S5, it has a flawless build quality, is made from high-end polycarbonate and features a replaceable battery - Samsung Standard so to say. In addition, it inherited the fingerprint reader, the heart beat sensor, and the Super-AMOLED technology from the top model. The Mini also bring most of the vast and useful software options. But, the similarities end here. The display is 4.5 inch and "only" features a standard HD resolution, the RAM capacity was decreased to 1.5 GB, and computational tasks are done by a quad core processor from Samsung with a significantly lower clock rate than the Snapdragon 801 in the flagship model. The Adreno 330 in the S5 can also not keep up with the ARM Mali-400 MP4 at all. Is the S5 Mini a sham? Not at all. Its list of pros is long: waterproof case, replaceable battery, good voice quality, good cameras, decent performance, long battery life - to mention just a few. But, there were also few points of critique. First of all the fingerprint reader and the heart beat sensor did not always work reliably. In addition, the installed bloatware is partly annoying. Overall, the S5 Mini is still one of the best Minis,  and emphasizes this with a place in our Top 10.

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: Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

There are only few options for those looking for a current top smartphone with a display smaller than five inch. Currently the Apple iPhone 5S and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact are the only high-end smartphones with small size. The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini is another exciting alternative. Despite being just a mid-range smartphone, its features are extensive and the performance is more than sufficient. So, it could be just the right phone for many buyers. Usually, only high-end models feature fingerprint reader, heart beat sensor, LTE and Super-AMOLED. Although processor and RAM are slightly reduced, they are still more than acceptable. The build quality of the case is good and the voice quality is very high. The S5 Mini just is not a good choice for those who want to use a smartphones as gaming console. However, these might also feel that the display is too small.

Recent Smartphone Awards

Editor's Choice in September 2014: Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Editor's Choice in September 2014: Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
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 im April 2014: Huawei Ascend Y530
Best Value Award im April 2014: Huawei Ascend Y530
Editor`s Choice im Februar 2014: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Editor`s Choice im Februar 2014: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Best Value Award in April 2014: Huawei Ascend Y530
Best Value Award in April 2014: Huawei Ascend Y530
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
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
5
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
6
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
7
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
8
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
9
86% v4
Review LG G Flex Phablet
LG G Flex
Review LG G Flex Phablet
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 02/22/2014
10
86% v4
Review Nokia Lumia 1520 Phablet
Nokia Lumia 1520
Review Nokia Lumia 1520 Phablet
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 01/17/2014

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Smartphones
Author: Staff, 2014-09- 6 (Update: 2014-09- 6)