Notebookcheck's Top 10 Smartphones

Redaktion (translated by Martina Osztovits), 04/05/2014

April 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 Smartphones Chart as of April 2014

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMCardreaderPrice/Buy
110/1390%Apple iPhone 5S0.112 kg4.0-inch
640x1136 glossy
Apple A7Imagination PowerVR G64301 GBnostarting at 619 Euros
202/1488%Sony Xperia Z1 Compact0.137 kg4.3-inch 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at 471 Euros
-10/1388%Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N90050.168 kg5.7-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3303 GByes

starting at 452 Euros

411/1387%Google Nexus 50.130 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GBnostarting at 355 Euros
-10/1387%Apple iPhone 5C0.132 kg4.0-inch
640x1136 glossy
Apple A6Imagination PowerVR SGX543MP31 GBnostarting at 499 Euros
602/1486%LG G Flex0.176 kg6.0-inch 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GBnostarting at 699 Euros
-01/1486%Nokia Lumia 15200.210 kg6.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at 585 Euros
-09/1386%LG G20.2 kg5.2-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GBnostarting at 449 Euros
902/1485%Motorola Moto X0.1304.7-inch 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro MSM8960DTQualcomm Adreno 3201.8 GBnostarting at 349 Euros
-12/1385%Asus New Padfone0.145 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at 715 Euros

Top 10 smartphones from the last 9 months - current reviews are listed first

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMCardreaderPrice/Buy
new03/1484%Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo0.162 kg5.5-inch 720x1280 glossySamsung Exynos 5260 HexaARM Mali-T6242 GByesstarting at 429 Euros
new03/1484%Wiko Highway0.154 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyMediatek MT6592ARM Mali-450 MP42 GBnostarting at 349 Euros
new03/1483%Nokia Lumia 1320

0.220 kg6.0-inch 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 400 8930ABQualcomm Adreno 3051 GByesstarting at 279 Euros
new03/1475%Acer Liquid Z50.147 kg4.3-inch 480x854 glossyMediaTek MT6572ARM Mali-400 MP0.5 GByesstarting at 168 Euros

Further reviews from each month - current reviews are listed first

Editors' Comments

Storm in a teacup does not absolutely accurately describe the changes in our smartphone Top 10 in April. Our recently introduced new rating system was applied to the reviews of the previous months with the update of our top lists. Since the changes had especially big effects on the rating of smartphones, our Top 10 devices were mixed up quite a lot. The goal of the new rating system was to focus more on important aspects of smartphones like cameras and speakers. In addition, the sub-ratings for weight and battery life no longer depend on notebooks' for a higher variance of the results. The total ratings of the devices fell slightly and more room is left for new top smartphones. In addition, the results of the devices differ more from each other than previously. With rating system v3, five smartphones shared the highest rating. So, it was hardly impossible to distinguish nuances. Our new rating system considers significantly more aspects, and so it allows a more detailed view.

Not a bargain: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
Not a bargain: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
Eight cores from the French: Wiko Highway
Eight cores from the French: Wiko Highway
Phablet, the second: Nokia Lumia 1320
Phablet, the second: Nokia Lumia 1320
Big display, small price: Acer Liquid Z5
Big display, small price: Acer Liquid Z5
Outstanding price-performance ratio: Motorola Moto G
Outstanding price-performance ratio: Motorola Moto G
Bargain from the Windows world: Nokia Lumia 625
Bargain from the Windows world: Nokia Lumia 625

None of the smartphones tested in March managed to jump into our "new" Top 10. We reviewed four new models. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo left the best impression; it is a cheap derivative of the South Korean's top model. The Wiko Highway competes with eight cores from MediaTek. It is a successful debut of the French manufacturer. With the Lumia 1320, Nokia has acted in a similar fashion to Samsung and offers a cheap alternative to the Lumia 1520 top model - but the respectful distance is noticeable. Upper entry-level or lower mid-range - the Acer Liquid Z5 wants to attract customers here. The price is alright, the overall impression is only modest and the competition is big.

Our smartphone Top 10 has changed a lot, but the new devices from March have not contributed to this. Also with the new rating system, only flagship models of premium manufacturers make it into the Top 10. However, the ranking has changed a lot compared to the previous months. There weren't big surprises. This was not the idea of the new rating system: nuances, not massive changes.

Let's start with the newcomers from March. Samsung has not offered a phablet with mid-range price for a long time. If you think the Galaxy Note 3 Neo will change this, you err. While its RRP of 579 Euros (~$793) is significantly lower than its "big" brother's, their street prices only differ by about 50 Euro (~$68). Nevertheless, it is not an over-priced version of the flagship model. Samsung equipped the Neo with a six-core Exynos 5260 Hexa from its own production for good performance. The buyer has to accept compromises in the display, which "only" features an HD resolution, and in features: USB 2.0 instead of 3.0, 16 instead of 32 GB internal memory, 2 instead of 3 GB of RAM. It still comes with a stylus, decent cameras and flawless build quality. If the street price falls, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo could be an aspirant for our "Best Value" award. However, it is currently too expensive for it.

In consideration of its features including an eight-core processor from MediaTek, 2 GB of RAM and a fast GPU, the Wiko Highway's price of 350 Euros (~$479) is moderate. The French smartphone does not lack performance, and the manufacturer makes nearly everything right in the camera aspect: 16 MP, good image quality - unfortunately, this is still rare. In addition, high-quality case and Full HD display contribute to the successful debut. Dual SIM support and great service offers complete the positive overall impression.

The Nokia Lumia 1320, the second phablet from the Finns under the flag of Redmond, also left a positive impression. Nokia saved in several aspects compared to the Lumia 1520 paragon: processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 400), standard HD display, and significantly worse cameras. Still, only the top models offer PureView. However, the features are overall impressive for a mid-range device for just under 400 Euros (~$548), since the 1320 has, typical of Nokia, a flawless build quality and brings color to the smartphone range. Finally, the phablet is convincing because of its very bright display, which is even fun outdoors.

The Acer Liquid Z5 is only rarely fun. If you buy the rather cheap 5-inch smartphone, you focus on a big display for a fair price. That's what you will get here - no more and no less. The inner components point toward low-end, the display and the other features are rather mid-range. At least, the performance is passable, and two SIM slots increase the flexibility for the user. In addition, the build quality cannot be criticized. Nevertheless, there are also many points of critique: The GPU receiver only works insufficiently and the quality of the cameras is below average. We observed some program crashes in our test.

While the Motorola Moto G was not reviewed in March, it is still one of the smartphones with the best price-performance ratios and is worth mentioning. The 4.5-inch device brings high performance, a bright HD display and a long battery life for significantly below 200 Euros (~$274). In addition, it has a robust build, and the back cover can be replaced if needed. The not 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 (~$274) 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.

Awards of previous months in this category


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 Padphone
Editor's Choice in December 2013: Asus New Padphone
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 month
1
90% v4
Review Apple iPhone 5S Smartphone
Apple iPhone 5S
Review Apple iPhone 5S Smartphone
Apple A7, Imagination PowerVR G6430, 10/24/2013
2
88% v4
Review Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Smartphone
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Review Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Smartphone
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 02/14/2014
3
88% v4
Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Review Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Smartphone
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 10/30/2013
4
87% v4
Review Google Nexus 5 Smartphone
Google Nexus 5
Review Google Nexus 5 Smartphone
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 11/27/2013
5
87% v4
Review Apple iPhone 5c Smartphone
Apple iPhone 5c
Review Apple iPhone 5c Smartphone
Apple A6, PowerVR SGX543MP3, 10/08/2013
6
86% v4
Review LG G Flex Phablet
LG G Flex
Review LG G Flex Phablet
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 02/22/2014
7
86% v4
Review Nokia Lumia 1520 Phablet
Nokia Lumia 1520
Review Nokia Lumia 1520 Phablet
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 01/17/2014
8
86% v4
Review LG G2 Smartphone
LG G2
Review LG G2 Smartphone
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 09/24/2013
9
85% v4
Review Motorola Moto X Smartphone
Motorola Moto X
Review Motorola Moto X Smartphone
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro MSM8960DT, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 02/28/2014
10
85% v4
Review Asus New Padfone Smartphone
Asus New Padfone
Review Asus New Padfone Smartphone
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 12/20/2013

Comment this article:

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Smartphones
Author: Redaktion, 2014-04- 5 (Update: 2014-04- 5)