Notebookcheck's Top 10 Smartphones

Redaktion (translated by Martina Osztovits), 07/07/2014

July 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 July 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
611/1387%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
902/1486%LG G Flex0.176 kg6.0-inch 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GBnostarting at $534
-01/1486%Nokia Lumia 15200.210 kg6.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Adreno 3302 GByesstarting at $482

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

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMCardreaderPrice/Buy
new06/1485%Huawei Ascend P70.124 kg5.0-inch 1080x1920 glossyHiSilicon Kirin 910TARM Mali-450 MP42 GByesstarting at $470
new06/1485%HTC One Mini 20.137 kg4.5-inch 720x1280 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226Qualcomm Adreno 3051 GByesstarting at $343
new06/1481%Acer Liquid E3 E3800.135 kg4.7-inch 720x1280 glossyMediaTek MT6589PowerVR SGX5442 GByesstarting at 249 Euros
new06/1481%Nokia Lumia 6300.134 kg4.5-inch 480x854 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226Qualcomm Adreno 3050.5 GByesstarting at $196
new06/1480%HTC Desire 3100.140 kg4.5-inch 480x854 glossyMediaTek MT6582MARM Mali-400 MP2 1 GByesstarting at $184
new07/1480%Sony Xperia M20.149 kg4.8-inch 540x960 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926Qualcomm Adreno 3051 GByesstarting at $345
new06/1479%Sony Xperia E10.119 kg4.0-inch 480x800 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 200 8210Qualcomm Adreno 3020.5 GByesstarting at $199
new06/1478%LG L700.126 kg4.5-inch 480x800 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 200 8210Qualcomm Adreno 3021 GByesstarting at $199
new05/1478%LG L400.113 kg3.5-inch 320x480 glossyQualcomm Snapdragon 200 8210Qualcomm Adreno 3020.5 GByesstarting at 89 Euros

Further reviews from each month - current reviews are listed first

Editors' Comments

While smartphone mania broke out in Notebookcheck's laboratory in May, it was slightly quieter in June. At least, the manufacturers did not flood us with flagship smartphones unlike in previous months. Nevertheless, it was not boring. After all, we reviewed nine smartphones; eight of them were entry-level or mid-range. However, the HTC One Mini 2 wants to penetrate into the upper class with features it inherited from its bigger brother, the One M8, and attract customers who do not want displays with a size of 5-inches or bigger. Finally, it gets apparent, that HTC not only shrunk the display but also cut technical details. As a result, it was not sufficient for our Top 10, and the HTC One Mini 2 came out as an upper mid-range device. We will explain shortly why it is still a great smartphone. The very slim Huawei Ascend P7 is also a well-made device. The top model from the Chinese is geared toward the high-end competition with its 5-inch FHD display and its powerful quad-core SoC. Nevertheless, it is not on par with devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5. In addition, we also reviewed smartphones from Acer, LG, Nokia, and Sony in the previous weeks.

Slim and noble: Huawei Ascend P7
Slim and noble: Huawei Ascend P7
Top build quality and great cameras: HTC One Mini 2
Top build quality and great cameras: HTC One Mini 2
With "Plus" in the mid-range: Acer Liquid E3
With "Plus" in the mid-range: Acer Liquid E3
Fair offer: Sony Xperia M2
Fair offer: Sony Xperia M2
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

 

 

After a flood of entry-level and mid-range smartphones, finally a top model came into our test lab at the end of June. Alike its predecessor, the Huawei Ascend P7 wants to combine very powerful hardware with an extremely slim case. Add high-end components - especially the 5-inch FHD display - and the high-end smartphone is done. The review of the Huawei Ascend P7 proves that it is not quite as easy to take a place among established devices.  Although the device performs well in nearly all aspects, only the case rating is good enough for the top. The used materials and the build quality are absolutely convincing and we liked the plain elegance of the design. Furthermore, the very bright display with wide viewing angles and the throughout good features stood out positively. But, Huawei did not meet the high demands on a high-end smartphone with its own SoC, even if the performance is more than good. Due to a slightly higher black value, the contrast is only average. The battery runtimes were also not completely convincing. In addition, the speaker and the cameras do not live up to the high demands. To summarize, the Huawei Ascend P7 looks great and feels nice to the touch, but the components are a mixed bag. Anyway, the attack on the Top 10 failed.

HTC also wants to earn another place among our Top 10 and competes with the One Mini 2. Its bigger brother is currently 3rd in our top list. Due to its lower performance and weaker main camera, the HTC flagship cannot compete with the smartphone leader, the Samsung Galaxy S5. In addition, we disapproved of the manufacturer for cheating in certain benchmarks and so slightly reduced the rating. In contrast, the manufacturer does not cheat here. In addition, we like that the 4.5-inch smartphone uses the nearly perfect case of its bigger brother. Smartphones from HTC are unrivaled in terms of haptics and build quality. However, this is not true for the features of the One Mini 2 - which are typically mid-range: cheap quad-core SoC, 1 GB of RAM, HD resolution. This is not critique per se, but the One Mini 2 is rather expensive. You can get the same hardware much cheaper - e.g. in the Motorola Moto G evergreen. However, the latter does not feature such a great case and good cameras. Especially the HTC's 5 MP front camera is ideal for selfies and groufies, and its speakers are good, too.

The Acer Liquid E3 is also mid-range. We reviewed the better equipped Plus model, which comes with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB flash memory. It is quasi-standard for Acer devices that they sport two SIM slots. You'll get a solid, well-made smartphone with a 4.7-inch HD display for 250 Euros (~$340). Thanks to the IPS technology, the viewing angles are wide. The other test results of the display are also nothing to sneeze at. The main camera is apt for occasional snapshots, too. Unfortunately, the battery is too small and the graphics performance already reaches its limits in regard to current requirements.

Nokia's current entry-level smartphone is already available for less than 150 Euros (~$204). Cutbacks are apparent in the Lumia 630. While the Snapdragon 400 SoC is apt for the price point, several apps cannot even be downloaded from the Windows store because of the small RAM capacity. Furthermore, the resolution of the otherwise good 4.5-inch display is only modest. We liked the colorful case with flawless build quality, the very long battery runtimes, and the replaceable battery best. Overall, the Lumia 630 performs worse than its predecessor in several aspects. We think that the latter is the better offer. E.g. Nokia did not equip the Lumia 630 with a front camera.

Sony and LG competed with two smartphones each in June. While the LG L40, the L70 and the Sony Xperia E1 are entry-level devices, the Sony Xperia M2 is mid-range. In the E1, the highly pronounced music-player feature and the correspondingly tuned speaker are interesting. Otherwise, the music phone is unremarkable. This is also true for the two smaller L phones from LG. Both are based on cheap, functional hardware. Their strengths are brightness of the displays and battery life. Cameras, speech quality and small internal memory are disturbing. The Sony Xperia M2 performs definitely better. The Japanese produced an attractive bundle with bright display, LTE, big battery and good headset for just under 250 Euros (~$340). However, the resolution is low, and the cameras do not work well.

Last, but not least, is the HTC Desire 310. We liked the build quality, the long battery runtimes the replaceable battery and the expandable memory of the sub-200 Euros (~$272) smartphone. The points of critique: only 1.8 GB free memory, 854x480 pixel resolution, sub-par display brightness, and modest cameras.

 

 

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: HTC One Mini 2

In June, the bigger HTC One Mini 2 won the "Editor’s Choiceaward. Now it is the smaller brother's turn. This time, the high performance and the uncompromising features are not decisive since the HTC One Mini 2 is only mid-range in these aspects. The 4.5-inch smartphone got the award for the haptically great case with unique build quality, which is unrivaled in the mid-range, and the two cameras. A 5 MP front camera is very rare. Since the HTC One Mini 2 does not have serious weaknesses, it honestly earned the award.

Recent Smartphone Awards


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
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
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
9
87% v4
Review Apple iPhone 5c Smartphone
Apple iPhone 5c
Review Apple iPhone 5c Smartphone
Apple A6, PowerVR SGX543MP3, 10/08/2013
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: Redaktion, 2014-07- 7 (Update: 2014-07- 8)