10 best smartphones of 2014

(Photo : OnePlus)

Too bad it requires some "light" hacking to get it working on U.S. carriers, none of whom offer the One in stores.

6. Google Nexus 6

Simply put, Google's Nexus 6 is a beast - for better and worse. Besides the run-of-the-mill camera, the Nexus 6 boasts some of the fastest guts and one of the nicest, biggest screens out there.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that it was the first smartphone that came with the completely redesigned, highly-rated Android 5 Lollipop installed. Read the full hands-on for more details, but the long and short of it is that this is a great smartphone that most will nonetheless find highly impractical in both size and price.

5. Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The iOS counterpart for the Nexus 6, Apple finally produced a phablet that puts iOS on a 5.5-inch display. Other than the updated operating system and bigger footprint, the iPhone 6 Plus shares most of the incremental hardware improvements that Apple included in the iPhone 6, with the much-welcome addition of optical image stabilization added.

As a phablet, it's still impractical for a lot of people (even with Apple's "reachability" feature), and the price isn't welcoming, either. But it's an iPhone, and it's got a display over 5-inches, and that's big news, no matter how late in the game it arrived.

4. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 deserves a higher place than Apple's first phablet attempt though, and not just because Samsung got there (three years) earlier.

With a fast-charging, ultra energy saving mode battery, microSD support, a Quad HD 5.7-inch display, a fast processor, and big-screen accessibility software that has been refined over nearly half a decade of trial and error, the Galaxy Note 4 is a better phablet than both Apple and Google's first attempts. It's also very expensive, of course.

3. LG G3

After a concerted attempt to re-launch its brand last year, LG has become somewhat a surprise Android smartphone powerhouse - especially with this year's follow up to the LG G2.

Coming out relatively early in the year, the G3 nevertheless boasts the first ultra high QHD resolution on a 5.5-inch display, garnering it a ridiculous 534 pixels per inch (beat that, Apple), along with internal hardware that's snappy and up to snuff with all of the other flagships of the year.

And while its 13-megapixel camera doesn't look amazing on paper, its phase detection, optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, and laser autofocus makes it a surprising contender for the best quality/easiest smartphone snapper in actual use.

I'm still not fully on board with the back panel-based volume rocker/standby button combination, but that feature - along with incredibly slim bezels top, bottom, and on both sides - does help bring what otherwise might be considered a phablet down to a manageable size.

If you want a brilliant display, balanced features, quick Android upgrades, and a price tag that beats other devices in its screen-size class, look no further than the LG G3.

2. Apple iPhone 6

To be honest, Apple's latest iteration of the iPhone isn't incredibly impressive in many of its hardware specs, compared to Android equivalents.

But Apple's increasingly interconnected device ecosystem, app selection, and ease of use - which only gets more user-friendly with every new device and iOS upgrade - makes up for the iPhone 6's relatively small incremental step up this year. So does the (finally!) larger screen.

While Apple's iPhone 6 was a little more divisive this year - see our highly-commented double-feature reviews "Why I'm Getting Rid of My iPhone 6 and Leaving Apple After Four Years" and its follow-up, "In Defense of the iPhone 6" for more details - it's still good enough to warrant an (almost) top spot for the smartphone of the year.

However, if Apple continues to rest on its laurels, only following device trends from Android manufacturers years after they originally innovate them, don't expect the iPhone 6s, 6c, 7, or whatever Apple releases in 2015 to hold such a top spot.

1. Motorola Moto X (2014)

The Motorola Moto X (2014 edition) is the prime example of how incremental improvements can take a good piece of technology and make it great.

(Photo : Motorola)

It might not be the highest-powered specs beast of the pack, it doesn't come with a pixel-packed QHD screen or an experimental Oculus VR kit, and it's not built with a full "premium" aluminum unibody or offered in gold.

But for all its lack of ostentation, the Moto X 2014 makes up in pure down-to-earth, good-old usability.

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Wireless (iOttie)
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Case-Mate Case-Mate iPhone 6 Sheer Glam - Champagne w/ Clear Bumper
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VTech VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch, Blue
Toy (VTech)
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  • Features a voice recorder with five wacky voice-changing effects; equipped with both an alarm and a timer
  • Comes loaded with 4 exciting learning games to keep fun right on the wrist; download more games and watch displays through VTech s Learning Lodge
  • Micro USB charges the watch and allows transfer of videos and images to a computer; splash and sweat resistant but not meant to be submerged or taken into the shower...
EasyAcc EasyAcc Metal 10400mAh Power Bank Portable External Battery Charger for iPhone iPad Samsung Smartphones - Black
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