With the pace of smartphone evolution moving so fast, there’s always something waiting in the wings. This year’s gathering of the phone nerds has just taken place in Barcelona, with Mobile World Congress 2014 seeing stacks of new mobiles revealed.
The arrival of 4K video capture on several mobiles and a continued emphasis on larger displays were the key trends this year. Although many manufactories didn’t expose all of 2014’s phone plans, these new teck still get our fingertips the most flustered. These are the five, in no particular order.
1. Yota Phone 2
Not likely to arrive before very late in 2014, the next-gen Yota Phone was at MWC 2014 in the form of a concept device. And what an exciting concept it is too, expanding on the genius idea of sticking a low power epaper display on the back of the phone by making this B&W display now a full touchscreen.
This means many key phone functions can be carried out via the vastly more efficient epaper screen, meaning battery life ought to be immense when using this always-on screen alone for your notifications. Internally, the ubiquitous Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 runs the show, with the “main” colour screen a 5-inch unit outputting at 1080 resolution – and the epaper screen managing a decent 960 x 540.
2. Samsung Galaxy S5
The Galaxy S5 is a little more angular than the curved Galaxy S4, with Samsung still sticking with the physical Home button and once again eschewing a move to software buttons. While it’s not hugely thrilling to look at, the insides of the S5 are more than capable, with a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 801 processor running the show and backed by 2GB of RAM.
The Galaxy S range has had great cameras since the Galaxy SII blew everyone away with its colour reproduction and speed, and Samsung’s continuing to lead here with a 16-megapixel sensor in the Galaxy S5. Plus, as we’re seeing many other phone makers introduce, the S5’s camera lets you adjust shot focus after you’ve taken a photo, if you fancy entering the required mode. And it’s waterproof now, too.
3. Huawei Ascend G6
As far as Huawei is concerned, the big selling point of the Ascend G6 is its five-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera, meaning that, if you like looking at your own face, you can do so in better clarity than on rival hardware. The rear camera’s an eight-megapixel unit manufactured by Sony, so proper pics of things other than your gurning face ought to come out nice too.
The G6 is bordering on the ‘budget’ spec for 2014 elsewhere, though, combining a quad-core 1.2GHz chipset with 1GB of RAM and a low-ish resolution display of 540 x 960. On just a 4.5-inch IPS screen that resolution shouldn’t be too much of a deal-breaker, with Huawei compensating with a low RRP of around €249 (£205). Not bad for a slim 4G phone.
4. LG G Pro 2
LG’s well-teased 5.9-inch whopper was one of the hits of MWC 2014, with the phablet device and its knock-knock screen unlocking tricks, post-shot refocusing and clever display scaling for one-handed use showing that LG’s really getting on the ball with its software features. The hardware’s about as impressive as it gets too, with the G Pro 2 running on a 2.26GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB of RAM, plus its 13megapixel camera has 4K video capture and a 120fps slow-motion recording option for… whatever that might be for.
5. HTC Desire 816
The smartphone world’s moved on a lot since the first HTC Desire blew us all away. The Desire 816’s 5.5-inch 1280 x 720 display is positively middle-of-the-road in terms of dimension and resolution in 2014, as screen sizes continue to explode and resolutions reach ever higher levels.
The plastic casing of the 816 may look a little cheap in comparison with the gloriously premium HTC One it takes many design cues from, but that’s part of the compromise – HTC wants to make a cheap phablet for the mass market. With the same big, front-facing speakers and that huge screen, it’s one for the heavy media consumers.
The above are the best smartphones for 2014, those we consider to be the best across all platforms. But unfortunately, all these phones that haven’t yet launched have a common shortcoming: battery life. The more key functions they have, the more batteries drain. It is expected that the backup external battery that is represented by Kinkoo Infinite One protable charger will become more and more popular.It should be the perfect companion with those smart phones.