Happy New Year!
Didn’t get what you want over the holidays? Here are the best smartphones to look at.
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 December’s smartphone rankings here.
BlackBerry has gone back to the basics.
Its latest phone, the Classic, looks a lot like the BlackBerry Bold from a few years ago. It has a physical keyboard, trackpad, and larger screen. If you want a phone with a keyboard, the Classic is the best phone to buy.
Price: $US449 unlocked from BlackBerry.
Amazon's first smartphone, the Fire phone, generated a lot of hype before it launched last summer. 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.
The Nokia Lumia 830 is one of the newest phones from Microsoft. It runs the Windows Phone 8 operating system and has a sharp 5-inch screen.
Price: About $US450 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.
Price: Around $US600.
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.
Price: About $US945.
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.
Even though Google just announced its newest flagship phone, the Nexus 6, last year's model is still a good phone.
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: $US349 unlocked from Google. Works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and several other international carriers.
Sony's flagship Z3 phone is one of the best Android phones to come out this year. It has a sharp 5.2-inch screen, incredible camera, and is resistant to water.
Price: About $US630.
The Galaxy S5 may be close to a year old, but it's still one of the best Android phones you can buy. It has an incredible screen, one of the best ever put on a smartphone.
But if you don't like phones made out of plastic, you should probably look for something else.
Fair warning: Samsung's next Galaxy phone should be coming out this spring. You might want to wait!
Price: Around $US610.
Google's newest flagship phone is the Nexus 6, a massive device with a 6-inch screen. It's made by Motorola and is the first phone to run Lollipop, the new version of Android with a brand new design.
Price: Starts at $US649.
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.
$US300 unlocked. Works on T-Mobile or AT&T.
Motorola's new Moto X, which launched in September, is a strong contender for best Android phone. Similar to Google's Nexus 6, 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.
The HTC One M8 is nearly a year old, but it's still a great device. HTC is one of the only Android manufacturers that can make phones a good looking as the iPhone.
However, a new version of the phone should be launching this spring. You might want to hold out for that.
Price: Around $US540.
Samsung's new Galaxy Note 4 is the best phone the company has ever made.
It has an incredibly crisp 5.7-inch screen, the best display ever used on a smartphone. It also has a metal frame around the edges, which makes the phone feel a lot sturdier than previous versions. If you want a phablet-sized phone, the Galaxy Note 4 is one of the top devices you should consider.
Price: About $US750.
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.
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