The Best Mobile Phones Of 2014
The smartphone game changes from year-to-year. In 2014, we saw the iPhone go big, Sony go small and the Blackberry go square. As brands battle to put out the best specifications for the next bigger and better “killer” feature, finding the right smartphone match at an increasingly cluttered sphere can be a challenge.
Just as a good credit card is assessed based on criteria like interest rate, balance transfer and annual fees, a smartphone’s appeal boils down to these few primary areas: design, camera, battery-life, app-ecosystem and price (and obviously, the presence of an Apple logo, if you’re a fanboy…). We take a look at some of the best mobile phones in the following categories for the year:
Best smartphone for the amateur photographer – iPhone 6 Plus
Fans of photography and Instagram will find delight in the iPhone 6 Plus, which really doubles up as an iCamera. The latest iteration of the device features an improved f/2.2 aperture and processing algorithms that will make your pictures look better than ever.
It comes with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a new phase detection feature called “Focus Pixels” that lets your camera focus much (MUCH) faster and lets you capture the best moments while you’re on the run.
The iPhone is also currently the only smartphone that offers the “True Tone” flash, a dual-colour (temperature) flash that has each colour firing at varying intensities to make sure colours and skin tone stay true.
Video features include time lapse and a new continuous autofocus that lets you shoot at 60 frames per second (FPS) and also in slow-mo at 240 FPS.
However, one common complaint is that the iPhone does not have any storage expansion slot, and the new storage tiers – 16GB, 64GB and 128GB – make it an impetus for users to spend extra on space.
Most entry-level DSLR cameras cost at least RM1,000, so paying RM2,749 for a nifty device that also doubles up as a smartphone would make sense to the aspiring photographer. It also gives you some serious bragging rights, and for many, that’s reason enough to buy it.
Best smartphone with the longest battery life – Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones have a well-deserved reputation for delivering long battery endurance. The Galaxy Note 4 keeps that streak going, with a high-capacity 3,200-mAh battery that is removable.
For folks who always find themselves away from a plug socket, the ability to switch a dead battery for a fully charged one is an enticing option. You can maximise battery life with the Ultra Power Saving Mode, which turns your display to black and white, and shuts off apps you don’t need.
It recharges quickly too, so you spend less time plugged in and waiting when you need a charge. The devices charges up to 50% in about 30 minutes. A 10% charge will last up to 24 hours.
In addition, it comes with a 5.7-inch high-resolution screen that lets you take excellent outdoor shots on its OIS-equipped 16-megapixel camera. Its 3.7-megapixel front-facing camera also lets you take some pretty cool selfies, and features a 120-degree pan to fit more friends in the picture.
However, a common grouse with the Samsung Note 4 is that its low light and indoor shots are not as good as they should be. Retailing from RM2,499, it also costs significantly more than other phablets, like the LG G3.
UMobile wins this category with the cheapest cost of ownership of just RM3,231 over 24 months. For more mobile plan options for an Samsung Galaxy Note 4, click here.
Best smartphone on Android platform – Nexus 6
Android is giving the iPhone a run for its money with an ever-expanding range of devices that let you access Android apps and a more open app-ecosystem.
The Nexus 6 is our top pick for the best Android phone for its user-friendly display screen, lasting battery life and top-notch overall performance. It is powered by Qualcomm’s most powerful chipset to date – the Snapdragon 805 processor – which means that nothing in the Google Play store can cause the lightning-quick phablet to blink.
Another driving factor of the Nexus 6 is the screen. Measuring six-inches, this AMOLED panel has a native 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution that creates stunning brightness and clarity on your smartphone.
Because it runs stock Android, it is easier to use than a maximalist Samsung interface (unless clutter is your thing), and you don’t have to sift through multiple redundant apps (or bloatwares) or confusing menu like you do on a Samsung phone.
But just make sure you know what you are getting into – it’s unbelievably huge! It is wider than an iPhone 6 Plus and taller than a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, making it giant among giants, and is a somewhat tricky phone to handle (especially if you’re a Hobbit).
Retailing from RM2,650, it is also the most expensive Nexus to date, though its hefty price-tag may be justified by it being the most powerful “pure” Android handset currently available.
Best smartphone for a tight budget – Xiaomi Redmi 1S
Proving that good things come in small packages, the Xiaomi Redmi 1S packs some serious value for your money. Retailing from just RM419, it offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.6GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM.
It comes with a 4.7-inch display and pushes a decent 720p HD resolution. On top of that, it also has 8GB of expandable storage with microSD slot and is the only mobile at the price range to have an 8MP camera.
The Xiaomi Redmi 1S comes with a 2,000mAh capacity battery that is replaceable under its removable back cover. Meanwhile, the dual-SIM slots support 3G and 2G connectivity respectively.
Some users complain that the Redmi 1s gets heated easily, especially on average gameplay, but this is quite common among smartphones. The battery is quite slow to charge.
However, for a phone that costs below RM500, this mini firecracker packs enough power, features and refinement. Combined this with the fact that some Snapdragon 400-powered phones can cost up to RM1,000 more than the Redmi 1S, it is easy to see why this budget smartphone emerges as our top choice.
Match this smartphone with the best mobile plan. With just RM1,872, Celcom offers a pretty good plan for the Xiaomi Redmi 1s. For more mobile plan options for an Samsung Galaxy Note 4, click here.
Our smartphones have become the single most important devices we own. They’re our means of communicating with our loved ones, to navigate our demands at home and at work, our game consoles, navigators and conduit for watching and reading anything the Internet offers.
Every buyer evaluates the criteria of buying a smartphone differently and obviously, what matters to you most (and least) will determine which smartphone you will get.
These smartphones do not come for cheap, though splurging on a handset that comes with multiple functions that will make your life easier may make financial sense to some.
Prices are set to go up even more when the Goods and Services Tax (GST) comes into force in April, 2015. Post-GST, the iPhone 6 Plus could cost from RM2,913.76, while a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 could set you back from RM2,648.94.
A mobile data plan that offers monthly instalments deals can make the prospect of owning a smartphone more feasible. The advent of budget smartphones like the Xiaomi Red 1S and HTC Desire 310 also opens up a new world of options for the budget-conscious consumer.