We’re now almost finished with the big smartphone release cycle leading into the holiday season.
If you’ve been holding out for a new smartphone all year, now is a good time to buy. We likely won’t see any more splashy smartphone launches until 2015.
Note: We update this list approximately once a month. Our rankings are based on a variety of factors including design, software and hardware features, content selection, carrier availability, and price. We only consider phones that are available in the U.S. at the time of publication. We list approximate prices for what phones cost without a contract. Prices vary from carrier to carrier and retailer to retailer. You can see September’s smartphone rankings here.
If you're still married to the idea of a physical keyboard on your phone, then BlackBerry's Q10 is the first (and only) phone you should consider buying.
The downside: BlackBerry doesn't have a good app selection.
Price: Around $US390
Amazon's first smartphone, the Fire phone, generated a lot of hype before it launched in July. But just about every critic bashed it. It's an interesting device thanks to its screen's 3D effects, but it doesn't have the same vibrant app ecosystem as the iPhone or Android phones.
Samsung popularised the 'phablet' category with the Galaxy Note more than two years ago. Now the phone is in its third generation with the Galaxy Note 3.
The Galaxy Note 3 has the biggest screen yet, 5.7 inches, yet its body is actually thinner and lighter than the last model. It also comes with a special stylus called the S Pen for drawing or taking notes.
But unless you really need a new Galaxy Note right away, you should wait. Samsung recently unveiled the successor, the Galaxy Note 4. That phone will launch in a few weeks.
Price: Around $US516
The Nokia Lumia 1020 has been the company's flagship phone for well over a year now. But it's about to be replaced by the newer Lumia 830. Still, it's a well-loved device among Windows Phone fans. It also has a really nice camera.
Price: Around $US610, only on AT&T
The Lumia 1520 is the first Windows Phone phablet ever made. It has a huge 6-inch screen, which gives you extra room for more apps and Live Tiles on your home screen. If you like Windows Phones and want a giant screen, this is your best option.
Price: Around $US585, only on AT&T
The HTC One M8 For Windows is the best phone you can buy running the Windows Phone operating system. It has a gorgeous metal body and the new version of Windows Phone, 8.1, which includes the excellent digital assistant Cortana.
It's only available on Verizon for now, but will come to AT&T and T-Mobile later this year.
Price: Around $US600, only on Verizon
Apple's iPhone 5S may be over a year old, but it's still a really good phone, especially if you don't want a bigger screen. If you want a great iPhone experience at a discount, get the iPhone 5S. However, if you want the best experience, you're better off spending the extra $US100 on an iPhone 6.
Price: Starts at $US549
LG's current flagship, the G3, has one of the sharpest displays ever put on a smartphone. It's also massive thanks to its 5.5-inch display. That makes the G3 more like a phablet than a standard smartphone.
It's a good Android phone, but LG put the power and volume keys on the back of the device, which is pretty awkward.
Price: Around $US599
Google's current flagship phone is the Nexus 5, which was made in partnership with LG.
Like all of Google's Nexus devices, the Nexus 5 runs a pure version of Android, meaning you won't find any modifications to the software. It also gets software updates much faster than other Android phones. But perhaps the best part is the value. You can get the Nexus 5 unlocked for about half the price as other top-tier smartphones.
The only downside: the camera isn't that great.
Price: $349 unlocked from Google. Works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and several other international carriers.
Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5, is a nice improvement over last year's phone. Instead of weighing the device down with a bunch of unnecessary features, Samsung focused on improving the stuff people care about the most. The Galaxy S5 has the best screen ever made for a smartphone. The camera is really good, too.
But if you don't like phones made out of plastic, you should probably look for something else.
Price: Around $US610
What if you could get a smartphone with a huge 5.5-inch screen, great software, and zippy internal specs that rival the best smartphones?
That's what Chinese startup OnePlus did with its new flagship phone, the One. The OnePlus One only costs $US300 unlocked, which is much cheaper than other premium phones like the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5, which can cost $US650 or more.
The downside? Supplies are extremely limited and you need an invitation from a current OnePlus One owner to buy the phone.
$300 unlocked. Works on T-Mobile or AT&T.
Motorola's new Moto X, which just launched in September, is a strong contender for best Android phone. Similar to Google's Nexus 5, the Moto X runs a nearly clean version of Android, meaning you get software updates a lot faster. The phone also looks really nice and has a 5.2-inch display.
Price: Around $US500
HTC's flagship phone, the HTC One (M8), is the best Android phone you can buy.
Like the original, the new HTC One, which is also called the M8, has a gorgeous design and high-quality metal construction. It also has an extra rear camera that acts as a depth sensor so you can edit photos later and change the focus.
Price: Around $US540
If you want a phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus is the best phone you can buy. Unlike other phablets that can be thick, chunky, and plasticky, the iPhone 6 Plus is thin, gorgeous, and made of metal. It doesn't feel like you're lugging around a giant phone.
Price: Starts at $US749
The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone. Unless you really like using Android or Windows Phones, the iPhone 6 should be your first choice.
Why? It's the perfect mix of design, hardware specs, and app selection. Apple also finally caught up to its competitors by adding a larger screen to the iPhone 6. It's 4.7 inches, up from the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5S.
Price: Starts at $US649
Samsung's new phablet, the Galaxy Note 4, launches in the US on October 14. It has the same size screen (5.7 inches) as last year's model, but the resolution is much sharper. It also has a metal band around the edge, which makes it feel better in the hand.
The Note Edge is similar to the Galaxy Note 4, but it has a secondary screen on the side that changes depending on what app you're using. The 'edge' screen can also display information like news updates and other notifications when the rest of the screen is switched off.
Samsung hasn't said when the Note Edge will launch, but it will likely be a limited release later this fall.
Any BlackBerry fans still out there? You're probably excited for the Passport, BlackBerry's upcoming flagship phone. It has a physical keyboard and a squarish, 4.5-inch screen.
BlackBerry will sell the Passport unlocked for $US599 soon. Unfortunately, early reviews aren't very good.
Google's next phone, the so-called Nexus 6, has leaked a bunch of times over the last few weeks. This time, it looks like Google partnered with Motorola to build its flagship phone. The Nexus 6, which will reportedly have a huge 6-inch screen, seems like a super-sized version of the Moto X.
Google is expected to formally unveil the Nexus 6 later in October.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.