We've seen so many great smartphones this year, it isn't easy to pick just one. Let Gizmag try to help with your decision, as we compare the features and specs of some of the best smartphones of 2014.

Update: This guide is now out of date. You can check out our most recent version here.

For this smartphone comparison, we picked 12 of the best (or best values) you'll find today:

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • HTC One (M8)
  • LG G3
  • Google/Motorola Nexus 6
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
  • OnePlus One
  • Nokia Lumia 930 (aka Lumia Icon)
  • HTC Desire Eye
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)

For each category, you'll see three rows of phones, ordered exactly as they are in this list. You'll see faint labels above each phone, in case you forget which is which.


With Apple finally joining the trend of big-ass phones this year, every one of our handsets, considered normal by today's standards, would have been called huge just three or four years ago.

The enormous Nexus 6 is the biggest in this bunch, but several others aren't far behind. And even the smallest, the iPhone 6, towers over the iPhones of yesteryear.


None of these phones are ridiculously heavy, but the Lumia 930 (known as the Lumia Icon in the US) has the least favorable size-to-weight ratio.


While most smartphones still have plastic backs, this year we saw several flagships add metallic bands around their edges – making them something like half premium. That includes the Galaxy Note 4, two of Motorola's phones and the Lumia.

If you want a full metal handset, then the iPhones, OnePlus One and HTC One (M8) are your only choices in this bunch.


These are the color options available for each phone ... but just remember that they might not all be available in your area.

The Moto X gives you the most options, as you can customize it at the Moto Maker website. And though its baby brother, the Moto G, only sells in two colors, Motorola offers snap-on shells (sold separately) that let you liven things up a bit.

Display (size)

These percentages tell you how much screen real estate each gives you, compared to the largest in the group, the Nexus 6.

Navigation buttons

Some of the phones, though, sacrifice a little bit of that real estate for onscreen navigation buttons. Android's Immersive Mode fades them out in the most important areas (like videos and some reading apps), but in other places they will take up some space.

The OnePlus One lets you choose between onscreen and below-screen (capacitive) keys.

Display (resolution)

This year pixel densities skyrocketed, with the ultra-sharp Quad HD displays found in the Note 4, LG G3 and Nexus 6. Though your eyes will probably notice a difference with Quad HD, the 1080p displays still look very sharp.

The 720p Moto G is the only phone in this group with a mid-ranged pixel density: it's sharp by 2011 standards, but not so much by today's.

Display (type)

Our group is evenly split between IPS and AMOLED display panels.

Fingerprint sensor

Apple's and Samsung's flagships all have fingerprint sensors in their home buttons. Though the sensor in the Note 4 is better than the one in the Galaxy S5, Apple's Touch ID is the winner: you just touch it from any angle, compared to swiping from one angle on the Galaxy phones.


Only the Galaxy Note includes a stylus – and loads of pen-friendly software. The S Pen in the Note 4 is also much improved over older versions, with increased sensitivity that has a more natural feel.

Any phone can use capacitive styluses, which simulate finger touches, but the Note's digitizer stylus (including pressure sensitivity and a hovering cursor) makes it stand out from the pack.

Water resistance

Though the Motorola phones all offer some light water resistance (good for the occasional splash), only the Galaxy S5 has full water resistance. You can soak it in 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for half an hour, and it will keep on ticking.

One-handed mode

As phones get bigger, they become harder to use with one hand. But Apple's, Samsung's and LG's phones include one-handed modes to help out with that.

Apple's one-handed mode slides the top of the screen down to the bottom, Samsung's shrinks the entire display and LG's just slides over the buttons on keyboards and number pads. And they're all optional.

Split-screen multitasking