Picking the best smartphones of 2014 is really a subjective proposal because opinions vary from one person and one website to the next so the following list is simply what we think were the best in 2014 in no particular order. Feel free to chime in at the end of this article in the comments with which phones made the top of your list in 2014!
Moto X 2nd Gen
Motorola has done some interesting things these past few generations with their smartphones, the most interesting is Moto Maker and the Moto X line. The first Moto X was pretty cool with some very neat software features and tweaks unique to Motorola. There was some argument on whether or not the Moto X was a true flagship device but to be honest, neither generation really needed to prove it was a flagship device as they were both fantastic phones. The lines between specs and price to be a flagship device are being blurred and the Moto X can proudly stand as one of the phones that has started that trend. We like the Moto X 2nd Gen for it’s blend of pure Android and Moto software tweaks for a full review of the device head over to Droid Life.
iPhone 6 Plus
After years of scoffing at Android and swearing that users would never want a large screen phone, Apple finally caved into the market demand and pulled out their iPhone 6 Plus. For all intents and purposes the iPhone 6 Plus is basically a big iPhone 6 with some minor changes for the bigger screen. While Apple hasn’t quite optimized their software to take advantage of the bigger screen, such as lackluster multi-tasking and no user controllability of screen real estate, they have offered up an excellent display that takes full advantage of multi-media, productivity apps and games. iOS apps are arguable the best of any mobile operating system and the larger 6 plus makes apps shine. Apple does have work to do on iOS if it expects to continue to compete with Android in the larger market but taking this step into phablet territory was a good start. We like the iPhone 6 Plus for it’s continued app ecosystem and excellent hardware. You can read our iPhone 6 review here on Techaeris.
Google’s Nexus 6 continues to grow (literally) and bring new ideas about software and hardware to the table. This year Motorola was chosen to be the manufacturer of Google’s flagship Nexus phone, and boy what a ship it was. The Nexus 6 comes in with a whopping 5.96″ screen. The design of the Nexus 6 is similar to the Moto X line with the dimple on the back and the ring LED flash around the camera lens, but while it shares similar looks with the Moto X the software is completely different. Google introduced Android 5.0 Lollipop with the Nexus 6, a whole new design effort from Google dubbed “Material Design”. The goal of Android 5.0 is to keep the software from decaying the user experience and making the software work better to stay out of the way of the user. It’s a love it or hate kind of upgrade with some embracing Material Design and others just hating it. One things for sure, you have to credit Google for at least trying to improve their software. Whether they got it right or wrong is subjective. We like the Google Nexus 6 for pushing Android to the next level and for that whale of a screen! You can read our Nexus 6 review here on Techaeris.
HTC seems to have turned things around with the launch of it’s HTC One M7. An aluminum unibody beauty that really wowed a lot of phone users. They followed it up with an even more sleek design in the M8 and even made improvements on it’s HTC Sense software experience. HTC Blinkfeed is actually a pretty decent experience and overall HTC and its Sense software is the least obtrusive of the Android “skins” out there. We like the HTC One M8 for it’s slick design and construction materials as well as its excellent optimization of HTC Sense. Check out the HTC One M8 review over on CNET.
OK. so the Lumia 1520 isn’t exactly a 2014 phone, it’s a couple of years old now but I included it on this wrap up because it’s still a relevant device and probably the nicest Windows Phone on the US market. In all honesty, the 1520 was my first experience with a Windows Phone 8.1 device and I enjoyed much of what it had to offer. With the exception of a few missing Google apps I could actually see myself using Windows Phone as an everyday device. I think Windows Phone gets an unfair rap and is accused of a lot of things it simply isn’t. There is potential in this operating system and I hope that Microsoft continues to cultivate it and make this OS what it can be. We like the Lumia 1520 for it’s beautiful design, great battery life, wonderful operating system experience and for just plain hanging in there against the big two. You can read our review of the Lumia 1520 here on Techaeris.
Galaxy Note 4
We wrap up the list with the Galaxy Note 4. Samsung is arguable the creator of the mainstream phablet market in its creation of the first Galaxy Note. Many scoffed at it’s size and made fun of people talking on such a large “phone” but the darned thing just gets more popular each year – and the Note 4 is not an exception. While Touchwiz has much to be desired, Samsung got a lot right with its depth of multi-tasking and its S-Pen integration. People scoffed at the idea of the stylus coming back, yet it is here and people love it, mostly because this “stylus” is much more than a piece of plastic, it has software built around it. Constantly testing the market waters, the Note 4 also launched this year with the Note 4 Edge which features a screen which curves around the right side of the phone. Like the original Note series, only time will tell if the Edge series catches on. Samsung still continues to deliver some of the nicest screens in the business and some great photo and video quality. We like the Galaxy Note 4 for its versatility and user convenience. Check out the Galaxy Note 4 review over on The Next Web.