Smartphones Review

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Smartphones are America's new preferred computer. You can talk and text with loved ones whenever you please, have video conversations across national boundaries, capture moments in life big and small and access the collective knowledge of the entire planet, all with a little handset that slips into your purse or pocket. If you already own a smartphone, you know the power they put in your palm. If you don't, it's easy to discover how getting one transforms the way we interact with the world.

Music, Everywhere
Nothing starts the day off right like the perfect song. For years, we've turned to MP3 players to get our musical fixes, but they're limited to the songs in our libraries. Not only does every smartphone have an MP3 player built in; they also let you supplement your collection with music streaming services. You can listen to a near-infinite number of songs through apps like Spotify, Pandora and iTunes Radio, often for free.

Capture Your Life
Today's smartphone cameras are almost as capable as dedicated point-and-shoot devices. Some are even more impressive. If you don't already take it for granted, you might not see the value in being able to shoot crystal-clear photos and on-the-spot video whenever you like. But when you're spending time with a loved one and suddenly wish you could capture a memory for all time, that smartphone becomes priceless.

There's an App for Everything
All smartphones come with a series of pre-installed applications to get you started. Their true power and versatility, however, are in downloadable third-party apps. Many are free, and others cost somewhere between $1 and $5, but all open up new uses you might never have thought of. Your smartphone can become a level to keep your pictures straight; an atlas of the world; a viewfinder into all the stars in the sky; or a cookbook with guides to your favorite recipes. If you can imagine it, chances are one of the hundreds of thousands of apps out there will let you do it with your smartphone.

Of course, picking the right device is no easy feat. There's a wealth of options to choose from, and if you're not a technology mastermind, some of the specifications can get overwhelming. Below, we outline what to look for as you're reading our top 10 smartphone reviews, like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One (M8) and the LG G2. Should you still have questions, check out the articles on smartphones we've put together.

Smartphones: What to Look For

Deciding to buy a smartphone is the easy part; picking one can get tough. Consider each of the attributes below when you're making your decision, and you'll find the process a lot more straightforward:

Design
Good design is all about how a phone feels in your hand, and how well it reflects what you want to do with it. A lot of that's up to the individual – after all, if portability and ease of use are important to you, you'd choose a very different phone than if you wanted a multimedia powerhouse that can play movies on a big screen and give you great stereo sound. In general, though, the lighter a phone is, the easier it'll be to carry around and the more natural it will feel when held against your ear.

Cameras
For many people, the camera is the most important part of any smartphone. If that includes you, you'll want to consider several factors. A phone's megapixel count is important – the more megapixels, the bigger and more detailed the image – but it's not the only spec you should consider. Look at each phone's aperture size, too. Larger apertures have lower F-stop numbers and let in much more light, which will give you brighter, more vibrant images.

If you're interested in taking videos with your new smartphone, look at the frame rates you'll have access to. All of the best smartphones can shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second, but if you get a phone with a higher potential frame rate, you can shoot video and play it back in slow motion.

Battery Life
Having a powerful new smartphone is only fun if it will work all day long, no matter what you do with it. Bigger smartphones often have bigger batteries that help them last much longer through the day. You'll still want to get into the habit of charging your phone every night, but if you get a phone with a sizable battery, you'll be able to browse the web longer, watch more videos and listen to more music between charges.

Internal Specs
As apps get increasingly complex, having a phone with the speed to handle them can be important. When it comes to a phone's internal components, bigger numbers are usually better, but look at our overall performance score for an at-a-glance idea of how speedy each phone is.

If you think you'll be taking lots of photos and videos and storing plenty of music on your phone, you'll need internal storage to match. Some devices, such as the iPhone, don't have expandable storage but come in versions with plenty of space built in. Other phones may have much less built-in storage, but you can buy microSD cards and plug them in to expand your drive space.

Features
Sometimes the technology features built into a smartphone can be as important as the apps you download. Some, such as support for Bluetooth, have become commonplace. Others, such as infrared blasters that turn your phone into a remote for your TV, are only available on a few devices.

Most modern phones have near field communication chips that let you tap the phone on a scanner to make a purchase or trade information with someone. Many also have gyroscopes, compasses and accelerometers that, in tandem, can help your phone know exactly where it is and how it's oriented at any time. This can be useful for apps that track your fitness performance, help you stargaze, or otherwise respond to your movements.

Smartphones are fantastically powerful computers that travel with you wherever you go. Pretty much everyone needs a cell phone these days, even if it's just to help them in emergencies. But with the added power of smartphones, that cellular device can turn into an iPod, a camera, a library and so much more, right when you need it.

 
 
Electronics » Cell Phones » Smartphones
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Samsung Galaxy S5 HTC One LG G2 Samsung Galaxy Note Apple iPhone LG G Flex Nokia Lumia Huawei Ascend Mate2 Sony Xperia Google Nexus
Samsung Galaxy S5 HTC One LG G2 Samsung Galaxy Note Apple iPhone LG G Flex Nokia Lumia Huawei Ascend Mate2 Sony Xperia Google Nexus
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Ratings
8.77
8.48
8.25
7.98
7.48
7.48
7.38
7.28
7.20
6.50
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
8.00
10.00
7.00
9.75
10.00
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8.75
9.00
8.50
8.75
7.50
9.00
6.25
10.00
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10.00
8.00
3.50
8.00
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4.50
7.25
10.00
9.00
8.75
7.75
9.50
4.50
8.00
7.00
6.75
8.75
8.25
6.25
6.00
7.00
8.25
3.75
9.75
8.25
9.50
5.75
2.00
8.00
6.00
 
Design
Usability Score 70% 100% 65% 85% 100% 65% 75% 95% 90% 100%
Operating System Android 4.4.2 Android 4.4.2 Android 4.2.2 Android 4.3 iOS 7 Android 4.2.2 WP8 Android 4.3 Android 4.3 Android 4.4
Screen Size (inches) 5.1 5 5.2 5.7 4 6 5 6.1 5 4.95
Display Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1136 x 640 1280 x 720 1920 x 1080 1280 x 720 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Pixel Density (PPI) 432 441 423 386 326 245 441 241 441 445
Screen Technology AMOLED Super LCD IPS LCD AMOLED IPS LCD POLED AMOLED IPS LCS LCD IPS LCD
Weight (ounces) 5.11 5.64 5.04 5.93 3.95 6.24 5.89 7.13 5.71 4.59
Dimensions (inches) 5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 6.32 x 3.21 x 0.34 5.39 x 2.80 x 0.39 6.34 x 3.33 x 0.37 5.74 x 2.91 x 0.34 5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34
Cameras
Image Quality Score 100% 65% 70% 80% 90% 65% 100% 75% 70% 40%
Resolution (MP) 16 4 13 13 8 13 20 13 20.7 8
Aperture Size (F-stop) 2.2 2 2.4 2.2 2.2 2.4 2.4 2 2 2.5
Max Video Resolution 4K 1080p 1080p 4K 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Max Video Frame Rate (fps) 120 60 60 120 120 60 30 30 30 30
Flash Type LED Dual LED LED LED Dual LED LED Dual LED LED LED LED
Panorama Photos
Optical Image Stabilization   
   
  
Depth Camera  
        
Front-Facing Resolution (MP) 2 5 2.1 2 1.2 2.1 1.2 5 2 1.3
Front-Facing Video Resolution 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 720p 1080p 720p 1080p 1080p 720p
Battery Life
Talk Time (hours) 21 20 25 25 10.5 25.5 16.5 25 15 15.3
Standby Time (hours) 390 496 540 528 250 600 432 650 600 300
Web Browsing (hours) 10 9.5 11.5 5 10 9.5 7 8.5 6 4.5
Video Playback (hours) 12 11 12 13.5 10.5 20 9 12.5 7 5
Battery Capacity (mAh) 2800 2600 3000 3200 1560 3500 2420 4050 3000 2300
Wireless Charging Some Models   Some Models    
  
Internal Specs
Benchmark Results 87% 79% 87% 89% 94% 100% 78% 41% 95% 72%
Processor Architecture 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 64-bit 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit 32-bit
Processor Speed (GHz) 2.5 2.3 2.26 2.3 1.3 2.26 2.2 1.6 2.2 2.26
Number of Cores 4 4 4 4 2 4 4 4 4 4
RAM (GB) 2 2 2 3 1 2 2 2 2 2
Built-In Storage (GB) 16/32 16/32 32 32 16/32/64 32 32 16 32 16/32
Expandable Storage
 
   
 
Features
4G LTE
Tethering / Wi-Fi Hotspot
Bluetooth 4.0
Gyroscope
Compass
Accelerometer
Near Field Communication
 
 
Infrared Blaster
 
    
FM Radio  
  
 
Fingerprint Scanner
   
     
Water Resistant
       
 
Included Headphones
    
Carriers
Verizon Wireless
 
   
AT&T
 
  
T-Mobile
 
Sprint