The ZTE Blade S6 Plus is a nice phablet for £200, but it doesn't offer enough to make it worth an extra £50 on top of the standard model, which already has a large 5in screen. In comparison to that phone it's lost some of the features we liked, and despite having a larger battery runtime still isn't great. If you're looking for a 5.5in phablet at £200, our money would be on the Kingzone Z1.
We're really very impressed by the Doogee F1 Turbo Mini. At £82 or £104 (depending on how you buy it) this is the cheapest 4G phone we've ever seen. It's better-looking and more powerful than any budget phone has any right to be.
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.
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.
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.
The most fun Nokia on the market, the Lumia 735 really is an ideal smartphone for selfies. At just £189 we can picture many a teenage girl - and boy - adding this great-value Windows Phone to their Christmas list. Given the low- to mid-range price its performance is sufficient, and we appreciate the extras such as microSD support, Qi wireless charging and 4G LTE. We just hope the Lumia Denim update fires up that camera a bit quicker.
The Lumia 930 is a step in the right direction with its semi-metal design and decent hardware line-up. We like the screen and camera but it's lacking additional features and doesn't have expandable storage. Windows Phone 8.1 vastly improves things on the software side but the platform is still not a priority for developers – especially when it comes to third-party hardware.
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.
If you're looking for a cheap 4G smartphone then the Moto E 4G is the best deal on the market right now. If you would rather have a cheap dual-SIM phone with 3G connectivity then the mark 3 Moto G is your best bet. But the new Moto G 4G for 2015 is not the best phone for either customer, and its larger, higher-resolution screen, marginally improved photography credentials and stereo sound are not enough for us to turn a blind eye to its £60 higher price, slower hardware and missing software features.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The new Moto E 4G is a worthy upgrade over the original Moto E, with upgrades in every area. For an extra £20 it adds 4G LTE connectivity and a front-facing camera, plus performance and storage improvements. It might not be as fast as the grey-market Doogee F1 Turbo Mini, but this Moto E 4G is a much better deal than the EE Kestrel, making it the best budget 4G phone intended for UK sale we've seen.
With a bigger screen, much better speakers and improved cameras, the new Moto G is a great budget smartphone. The lack of support for 4G will be a deal-breaker for some, though. It isn't without its rivals, but if you're specifically looking for a budget dual-SIM Android phone, it's a good choice.
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.
Huawei has produced a stunning smartphone in the Ascend P7 and this is couple with good value for money with that non-flagship price tag. There's some decent hardware on offer here, particularly the camera but the P7 is let down by software performance issues.
We're impressed with the UMI Zero. Ultra-thin, light, good-looking and tough, it packs some impressive hardware for the price. If you're happy to buy a rooted Chinese smartphone then it's a great deal - especially at $203.
The Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ is one of the best dual-SIM phones we've reviewed and a good choice for the price. It has a nice design and good features like a Full HD display and 13 Mp camera but bear in mind that the Moto G 2014 and ZTE Blade S6 are both cheaper and dual-SIM. However, in the wider smartphone market there is tough competition and its lack of a microSD card slot and other hardware such as 4G LTE support mean it's outpaced by the Honor 6.
For a £200 phone the Kingzone Z1 is a very decent proposition. It has a nice build, some pleasing connectivity features, and we were astonished to find faster performance than phones that cost three times the price, although cutbacks have been made - notably in the screen and fingerprint sensor, although the latter has other uses beyond security.
The Huawei P8 has excellent design and build for a price lower than other flagship rivals. On the whole hardware is decent too, particularly in the photography department. However, poor performance and buggy software taint the experience to frustrating level which make it very difficult to recommend.
At a touch over £150 the ZTE Blade S6 is a great-value Android Lollipop phone with strong general performance and an attractive iPhone 6-like build. Dual-SIM and 4G LTE connectivity, a selection of smart gestures and a capable Sony camera all add to this phone's appeal, but its battery life is no better than average and we're not so keen on the idea of having all our apps by default laid bare on the home screen.
Even more than a year after launch, the iPhone 5S is still a great choice. It's roughly £100 cheaper now to buy SIM free and has TouchID, a great camera and remains a solid performer. The 4in screen is cramped compared to the 5in (and bigger) rivals, but if you want a smaller smartphone, we can still recommend it.
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.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the S5 mini is a very decent Android phone. Our key concerns lie in its pricing and performance: while most users will find it more than fast enough for day-to-day tasks, the price tag is a lot higher than we'd like to pay in terms of what we get in return. The new dust- and waterproof casing is a nice touch, but the S5 mini isn't as good-looking as the HTC One mini 2, while the heart-rate monitor and fingerprint scanner are welcome but not essential additions.
When put next to the Galaxy S5, it's hard to find reasons to buy the A5 instead. It's not a bad phone, but the S5 is simply better value now that it has dropped in price.
The HTC One mini 2 is one of the better examples of a mid-ranged version of a flagship smartphone. It has the same premium feel as the M8 with only a few downgrades - namely a lower res screen and no Duo Camera or IR blaster. The camera is a little disappointing but good performance and software balance things out.
As with the iPhone 6, it's hard to come to a conclusion about the iPhone 6 Plus. For a start, it’s unusual for Apple not to make the first move, so while the iPhone 6 Plus is the biggest and fastest iPhone ever, there are even bigger smartphones with higher resolution screens in the Android stable.
There’s also the unknown for a lot of people. Is a 5.5in screen too big? Conversely, is it big enough to replace a tablet such as the iPad mini? These are questions that have no definitive answers: screen size is and will always be a personal preference. There will be iPhone owners that will prefer to stick with a smaller screen and opt to hold onto their iPhone 5s / 5c / 5 or buy a 4.7in iPhone 6.
Others will love the extra size for browsing websites, watching videos, using detailed apps (such as Garageband) and browsing their iCloud Photo Library. Yet more might feel that 5.5in isn’t enough to comfortably browse some websites or use fiddly controls in apps. As Jason Snell observed above, if you’re not sure, it’s well worth heading to an Apple store to try out an iPhone 6 Plus before you buy.
One thing is for sure: the iPhone 6 Plus is expensive. If you're a dedicated iPhone user and would never consider switching to Android, you'll save money by going for the smaller iPhone 6. But saving money has never been a goal for most iPhone buyers and on that basis, the iPhone 6 Plus is a very fine smartphone indeed.
There are some good things about the Nexus 6 including build quality and some top-end hardware such as the screen, processor and camera. However, it's simply too big, unwieldy and expensive to warrant awarding it anything higher than four stars and really get behind it (unless we wanted to hid from something). In the phablet market, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is simply better even if it is pricier and the excellent LG G3 at less than £300 is another thorn in the Nexus 6's side.
The standard, non-customised Moto X is a desirable smartphone, but it's a little overpriced especially if you compare it with the Nexus 5. So Google's phone may lack the premium build quality and hi-res camera, but in most other respects it's a match for the Motorola at a significantly lower price.
What makes the new Moto X really attractive is Moto Maker, as it's unlikely anyone else will choose your combination of customisations. (But it may also make it harder to resell when it's time to upgrade.) It's just a shame that Motorola decided not to add a microSD slot: there's no such thing as too much storage.
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.
Although not much has changed from the Xperia Z1, the Xperia Z2 is another solid effort from Sony. The smartphone is a good all-rounder with a great screen, camera, build quality and performance. We just wish it wasn't quite so bulky.
We are thoroughly impressed with the HTC Desire Eye: it's fast, it's great value (assuming it comes in around £350), it has a nice screen and it sounds great. Better still, it makes you look pretty.
The Galaxy Note Edge is one of the most interesting smartphones around and while the edge screen is genuinely useful at times, it also remains a slight gimmick. Hardware is top notch and although we dislike the faux leather, build quality is good. The Note Edge is big and expensive so it might be worth waiting for the next generation before taking the plunge.
This really is the Samsung iPhone, and the South Korean firm has done a fantastic job of it. By putting build quality before specification it has produced a truly desirable, premium phone with a mid-range price. And still the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is still astonishingly fast.
There are only two, possibly three, bad things to say about the OnePlus One, if you are happy to buy online direct from OnePlus. We wish there was expandable storage, and it's bigger than other smartphones with similarly sized displays. And if we are being really harsh, we would hope for a better camera. But at the price the OnePlus One is an amazing deal. It's a flagship smartphone for a mid-range price. Bargain. Get them while they are hot.
LG 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. That fault is rectified in the new LG G3, and if you can afford that handset it will be worth the upgrade. But the LG G2 remains a great handset.
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.
The Sony Xperia Z3 is undoubtedly a decent and desirable smartphone but Z2 owners will have little reason to upgrade unless PS4 Remote Play or High-Res audio are must-haves. In terms of the wider market, the Z3 is up there with the best and a solid choice even if it doesn't have the amount of bells and whistles which others do.
We're seriously impressed by the Honor 6 which costs just £249 while providing specs you would normally pay a lot more for. It has a decent 5in Full HD screen, high quality cameras, good battery life, 4G support, good performance, expandable storage and wireless features like NFC and an IR blaster. The microSD cards slot is limited to 32 GB and Emotion UI isn't the best Android software but these don't stop the Honor 6 being the best value smartphone around.
The Galaxy Note 4 is a bit of a handful and is rather expensive but lovers of the Galaxy Note range will likely be enamoured with this edition. It is, on the whole, a great device with plenty of power and features. As long as you're aware that you're buying a huge phone and will get the most out of what it offers. Otherwise a smaller and cheaper handset is probably a better choice – the Galaxy S5 or one of its rivals.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is a beautiful smartphone, one of the most attractive but the design has flaws such as sharp edges. While a non-removable battery is an inevitable outcome, we're surprised about the lack of waterproofing and a microSD card slot. Hardware is strong with a gorgeous screen, fast processor and great all-round camera. The key point here is that while dual edge display sounds like an amazing innovation it has very limited in functionality so simply isn't worth the extra money compared to the regular Galaxy S6.
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 one desirable smartphone.
The HTC One M9 is now available but the M8 remains a good choice since the 2015 model is very similar.
If you are an iPhone user, and you specifically want an iPhone to be your next smartphone, the iPhone 6 is the best yet. It's a slick, well-built, beautifully designed handset. Performance is good, the display is good, and the iOS eco-system is, well, good. Where the choice becomes more difficult is in quantifying the value of the iPhone 6 in the wider market. Step over to the Android world and you could get a similar experience with a better display for a lot less money. And you could expand the storage. There is no question that these days there is better value in the Android world, but value isn't really the point with an iPhone. iPhones are great, and the iPhone 6 is the best yet. If you are dedicated to using an Apple phone, it should be your next handset.
The HTC One M9 is a genuinely desirable smartphone with the best design and build available in Android land, even with Samsung upping the ante. It's good to see the powerful Snapdragon 810 and more memory, however, some key hardware remains the same meaning M8 users are unlikely to be tempted to upgrade – and the old model is now an attractive buy at around £350. The fact the Galaxy S6 is the same price with more impressive specs is also not a good thing for HTC.
LG has impressed us with the G3 which comes in at under £500 but packs amazing features including that Quad HD and a camera with a laser auto focus. The device is surprisingly small considering the 5.5in display and we like the more premium design. It's another winner from LG.
LG has gone down an unexpected route with leather models which we like apart from a couple of colours. The so called ceramic model will be cheaper but feels cheap and plasticky. On the whole, hardware is once again strong - particularly the camera - but not massively different from the G3 and has tough competition. We feel build quality could be better with a metal frame and dimensions going down, not the reverse. This is the flagship to go for if you want a removable battery and expandable storage but it's a shame to see features like wireless charging dropped. (Remember the G3 is now a steal at under £300 SIM-free)
The Xperia Z3 compact is great little smartphone offering pretty much everything available on the full-size Z3 (including PS4 Remote Play and High-Res audio) apart from a Full HD screen. The new design is thinner and lighter plus the display is bigger than previously. At £349, this is not only the best mini smartphone you can buy, it's one of the best smartphones around.
Samsung's Galaxy S6 is the best Android phone of 2015 so far, although we've yet to see what's to come from the LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z4. It's fast, it's well built, it has a gorgeous screen and the software isn't overly intrusive. The fingerprint scanner is vastly improved, the heart-rate scanner a potential draw for some users, and the wireless- and fast charging welcome inclusions. We'd like to see the price come down (which we are sure it will) and it's a shame we've lost the removable battery, waterproofing and microSD support, but these are all things we can live with.