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The 23 best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2014

We review and rank the 23 best smartphones money can buy

Best smartphones

Smartphones are an important and personal purchase and at PC Advisor we review all the major devices available to buy in the UK and here is where we rank them into the 23 best smartphones of 2014. When you've found the phone you like, compare mobile phone deals to get the best tariff. See also20 best Android smartphones in UK: What's the best Android phone you can buy in 2014?  

We test and review smartphones in-depth and here are the best of the best from all the operating systems including iOS, Android and Windows Phone. We update this story all the time as we review the latest smartphones. Take a look at: The 23 best tablets of 2014: What's the best tablet in the UK right now?

Smartphones and features to look out for in 2014

Although we've ranked the 23 best smartphones which we've reviewed, there are some upcoming handsets to be aware of. Once we've had them in, tested them fully, and reviewed them, they are likely to make this chart. This means it might be worth holding off your purchase for a little while.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has now had our review treatment and comes with features like dust- and waterproofing which is becoming more common. Like the iPhone 5s it has a fingerprint scanner and also adds a heart rate monitor which is something we've not seen on a smartphone before. Scroll down to see where it ranks.

Also announced at MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the Sony Xperia Z2, the latest iteration of its flagship smartphone. Not much has changed compared to the Z2 but improvements have been made. Like other new flagships, it's got the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. It can also record and output 4k video.

HTC has now announced the HTC One M8 and it's already on sale and in our chart. See also: All New HTC One (M8) release date, price, specs and features.

LG is thought to be replacing it with the LG G3 but not until May, according to rumours. Other smartphones to look out for this year but are likely to be a way off are the Google Nexus 6 and iPhone 6.

23 Best Smartphones of 2014

23. BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Z10
  • Reviewed on: 5 February 13
  • RRP: From £36 per month
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

The design and build quality of the Z10 just makes it seem like a cheap plastic iPhone to us. Hardware is reasonable with the screen being the stand out feature and the BlackBerry 10 software makes this the most attractive BlackBerry smartphone to date. However, given the price, the iPhone or a decent Android handset is still a preferable option.

22. iPhone 5C

iPhone 5C
  • Reviewed on: 25 September 13
  • RRP: £469 inc VAT and £569 inc VAT; (16GB and 32GB)
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

The iPhone 5C is a nice smartphone. However, we just can't see the need for it in the first place, unless it was cheaper. It's too expensive for what is effectively an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell with minor changes in hardware. There are better and cheaper Android devices on the market and those wishing to stick with iOS should pay the extra £80 for the iPhone 5S.

21. Nokia Lumia 520

Nokia Lumia 520
  • Reviewed on: 26 February 14
  • RRP: £103 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

If you're looking for a cheap smartphone, you may have just found it. The Nokia Lumia 520 doesn't tick all the boxes on our features wishlist, but it capably handles those that are most important. Windows Phone 8 is a beautiful operating system, but it still lacks apps. If you can get past this and don't mind sacrificing some performance, the Lumia 520 is a strong budget buy.

20. Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
  • Reviewed on: 31 July 13
  • RRP: Around £380 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Galaxy S4 mini is a great mid-range option, offering the same styling – which includes the same mediocre build quality – as its flagship counterpart, with a cheaper price tag. The cameras are good but the screen and storage are both under par. Consider the HTC One mini or the Nexus 4 as serious alternatives.

19. Nokia Lumia 720

Nokia Lumia 720
  • Reviewed on: 29 April 13
  • RRP: Around £200-250 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

We really like the Lumia 720. Nokia has made a well-balanced smartphone which could be exactly what Windows Phone 8 needs. It offers decent performance at a more than decent price.

18. Nokia Lumia 1320

Nokia Lumia 1320
  • Reviewed on: 11 April 14
  • RRP: £238 inc VAT SIM-free
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

With 'okay' performance and a good but not great screen, the Lumia 1320 still offers good value for money. It's certainly not the best handset on the market, but if you want a Windows Phone with a big screen, and you can't or don't want to stretch up to the faster 1520, you won't regret buying the Lumia 1320. The camera is basic and the storage limited, but the battery life is brilliant.

17. Nokia Lumia 1520

Nokia Lumia 1520
  • Reviewed on: 6 December 13
  • RRP: £550 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Nokia Lumia 1520 has got so many things right including build quality, a great camera and a good looking screen. It's the best Windows Phone yet but software is still lacking and we just wish the darn thing was smaller because it's severely off putting.

16. HTC One Max

HTC One Max
  • Reviewed on: 1 November 13
  • RRP: £599 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

It won't be for everyone, but if you want a big phone (and we mean BIG), you could do a lot worse than the HTC One Max. This is a serious performer that is built to look good and last.

15. HTC one mini

HTC one mini
  • Reviewed on: 29 July 13
  • RRP: £379
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The HTC One mini isn't as good as the HTC One. Its performance is decent but not spectacular, and the addition of a layer of plastic has removed some of the original's chic. But this is a very strong handset at a decent price. Well worth a look.

14. Huawei Ascend P6

Huawei Ascend P6
  • Reviewed on: 16 August 13
  • RRP: £309 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Huawei Ascend P6 is a fantastic and desirable smartphone, whether it's an iPhone copy or not. It provides real value for money even if it is lacking NFC and 4G support. We particularly like the cameras and the customisable user interface.

13. HTC Desire 500

HTC Desire 500
  • Reviewed on: 6 December 13
  • RRP: £199 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The HTC Desire 500 is a great-looking device, with tons of unique software and solid mid-range smartphone specs on board. It's hard to find any real weaknesses with the phone, including its reasonable £199 price tag. To sum up, it's simply a very good mid-range Android smartphone.

12. Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Reviewed on: 11 July 13
  • RRP: Around £500 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Galaxy S4 is a great phone with outstanding hardware and performance, but it's not flawless. We're disappointed with the build quality considering the handset costs a fair bit more than its rivals and while the S4 is packed with features we find a lot of them to be gimmicky.

11. Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z
  • Reviewed on: 17 June 13
  • RRP: £520 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The Xperia Z is the first smartphone which Sony has really nailed. We love the stylish, desirable and rugged design. The combination of excellent performance, a stunning screen and great cameras make the Xperia Z a force to be reckoned with. There is very little to say about this phone that is negative.

10. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Reviewed on: 26 September 13
  • RRP: £599 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

We're not sure you need all the extra features that Samsung packs in, and we could live without the S Pen. And not everyone needs or wants a smartphone with a 6in display. Neither is the camera all that great. But be in no doubt about it, the Galaxy Note 3 is a high-quality portable device, offering the best performance we've ever seen, a stunning screen and nice build quality.

9. HTC One

  • Reviewed on: 30 September 13
  • RRP: £449 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The HTC One is up there with the very best smartphones on the market today. It has superb performance, and excellent build quality spoiled only slightly by running hot in use. You can't fault the feature set, and it matches the other high-end products in terms of price. In terms of audio and visual output it is unsurpassed. The interface might be an acquired taste for some, and we weren't overly impressed with the camera. It's not perfect, but alongside the Xperia Z and iPhone 5 this is about as good a phone as you can buy.

8. Motorola Moto G

Motorola Moto G
  • Reviewed on: 17 March 14
  • RRP: £135 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Motorola's Moto G is the best budget smartphone around. At £135 it's got great build quality, an excellent screen, decent cameras and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean soon to be upgrade to 4.4 KitKat. It's only limited in the storage department and a lack of 4G support.

7. Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Reviewed on: 14 April 14
  • RRP: £549 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Things haven't changed much from the Galaxy S4 but Samsung, as usual, has packed the Galaxy S5 with features. However, a lot are somewhat unnecessary. The heart rate monitor is a prime example and while the fingerprint scanner is cool, it's difficult to use. There is some top end hardware here, particularly the screen, but nothing which stands out in a busy and competitive market. A key element is that the design of the Galaxy S5 falls short. It's plastic, looks like every other Samsung handset and doesn't feel premium. Galaxy S4 users needn’t upgrade and anyone looking for a flagship smartphone can get better elsewhere.

6. iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S
  • Reviewed on: 10 October 13
  • RRP: 16GB £549 inc VAT; 32GB £629 inc VAT; 64GB £709 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

If you already own an iPhone 5, it’s hard to justify upgrading to the 5S. Yes, it’s considerably faster and takes better photos and videos in low light, but the 5 is still a great smartphone and has at least another year in it before apps (and possibly iOS 8) start to find the A6 processor’s limits. Those with a 4S (or 4) are in for a treat, though. As well as serious performance gains, the bigger screen and lighter weight make a huge difference, and the fingerprint scanner is a bonus. Ultimately, if you want an iPhone, the 5S won’t disappoint and is one of the most future-proof of the current smartphone crop.

5. Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1
  • Reviewed on: 25 September 13
  • RRP: £599 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Sony has upgraded its fantastic Xperia Z. The Xperia Z1 feels nicer but is unfortunately bigger and heavier. It's a powerhouse with an all-round impressive specification. Easily one of the best Android handsets around but the high price tag taints this slightly.

4. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
  • Reviewed on: 28 January 14
  • RRP: £399 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

We love what Sony has done with the Xperia Z1 Compact. Finally consumers have the choice to buy a high-end smartphone without being forced to use a large screen. The fact it's cheaper than most flagship devices makes it one of the best smartphones around.

3. Google Nexus 5

Google Nexus 5
  • Reviewed on: 8 November 13
  • RRP: £299 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Google and LG have done a fantastic job with the Nexus 5, producing a very desirable phone at an outrageously low price. It's the best value-for-money smartphone out there right now.

2. HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)
  • Reviewed on: 9 April 14
  • RRP: £550 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Like the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2, the new HTC One M8 isn't a big leap compared to the previous model. WHat HTC has done is taken a great phone and made it better. The M8 looks and feels gorgeous and with important upgrades including a microSD card slot and an innovative camera. This is a very desirable smartphone.

1. LG G2

  • Reviewed on: 21 February 14
  • RRP: £399 inc VAT (PAYG)
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

LG has trumped the competition with the G2. The phone offers a combination of value for money with high-end features which we haven't seen from rival flagship devices. A great specification combined with impressive design and handy software features mean there's very little to dislike about this handset - only really the lack of a microSD card slot.

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