2014 saw a bumper crop of new smartphones, including the long-awaited “bigger” iPhones, what is arguably Samsung’s best looking smartphone ever and BlackBerry’s return to its classic QWERTY roots. If a new smartphone is on your holiday shopping list, I’ve put together a collection of 10 of the biggest smartphone releases of the year —complete with a comparison of key features— that should make choosing the perfect smartphone a little easier.

2014 Smartphone Roundup: Comparison of Key Specs

Display Size/Density


Primary Camera


Operating System

iPhone 6

4.7-inch Retina

326 ppi  



129 g

iOS 8

iPhone 6 Plus

5.5-inch Retina

401 ppi



172 g

iOS 8

Galaxy S5

5.1-inch Full HD

432 ppi 

Quad-core Snapdragon 801 @2.5GHz 


145 g

Android 4.4.2

Galaxy Alpha

4.7-inch HD 

312 ppi 

Quad-core Snapdragon 801 @2.5GHz 


115 g

Android 4.4.4

Galaxy Note 4

5.7-inch Quad HD

515 ppi


Snapdragon 805


 16 MP

176 g

Android 4.4.4

Xperia Z3

5.2-inch Full HD

424 ppi

Quad-core Snapdragon 801 @2.5GHz 

 20.7 MP

152 g

Android 4.4.4 

Moto X

5.2-inch Full HD

424 ppi 

Quad-core Snapdragon 801 @2.5GHz


144 g

Android 4.4.4 

Moto G

5-inch HD

294 ppi 


Snapdragon 400



149 g 

Android 4.4.4

HTC One M8 

5-inch Full HD

441 ppi 

Quad-core Snapdragon 801 @2.3GHz 

Dual 4MP

160 g

Android 4.4.2 

BlackBerry Classic 


720 x 720

291 ppi


Snapdragon S4 Plus




BlackBerry 10.3.1

Apple iPhone 6

After years of insisting that smaller was better, Apple fans finally got a bigger iPhone in the iPhone 6 with its 4.7-inch Retina display. The iPhone 6 is also Apple’s thinnest phone ever. The camera’s 8MP count seems low compared to the double digits most smartphones use today, but the iPhone 6 camera punches above its weight and produces excellent photos.

iPhone 6.jpg

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

If the iPhone 6 wasn’t big enough, Apple also went all in on the phablet market with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Besides being larger than the iPhone 6 and boasting a higher pixel density Full HD display, the iPhone 6 Plus improves on an already excellent camera by adding optical image stabilization. 

Galaxy S5.jpgSamsung Galaxy S5

Taking over from the Galaxy S4 as the best-selling Android smartphone of the year, the Galaxy S5 didn’t mess much with Samsung’s winning formula. The Galaxy S5 is a big smartphone in a polycarbonate shell with niceties like a fingerprint sensorheart rate monitor, microSD card slot for inexpensive storage expansion and IP67 water and dust proof rating.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Those who found the Galaxy S5 too large or a little on the “plasticy” side should love the Galaxy Alpha. It offers the same performance as the Galaxy S5, but in a more compact size and wrapped in a metal frame. This may well be Samsung’s most attractive smartphone ever. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the chamfered edge iPhone 4 and 5 models from Apple, has the same size display as the iPhone 6 but weighs even less. than Apple’s thin new iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The company that popularized the phablet also released an update to its class-leading Note, with the Galaxy Note 4. New for 2014, the 5.7-inch display gets a huge boost in resolution to 1440 x 2560 pixels —an amazing 551 pixels per inch. There aren’t many phablets bigger than this and there certainly aren’t any with a better looking display than the Galaxy Note 4’s.

Galaxy Note 4.jpg

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony’s latest flagship smartphone doesn’t stray far in design from the previous generation —it’s still a big, beautiful slab of waterproof, metal-framed glass. This Android phone impresses with its battery life and camera and does double duty as Playstation 4 remote player (you can even mount it to a PS4 controller). If you don’t care for the size, Sony also released the well-received Xperia Z3 Compact this year. 

MotoX.jpgMotorola Moto X

Last year’s Moto X was one of the most popular Android phones and this year, it got even better. Bigger, faster and still close to a stock Android experience, it’s no wonder the Moto X has so many fans. Its AMOLED display has a neat trick in its ability to display Active Display notifications without waking the smartphone up or draining the battery.

Motorola Moto G

The Moto G isn’t the biggest or fastest smartphone released in 2014. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the 2014 Moto G delivered a high end smartphone experience at a budget price.

HTC One M8

No list of top smartphones for 2014 would complete without one of the earliest entries of the year, the HTC One M8. Featuring a stunning all metal case, one of the most attractively designed smartphones of 2013 got even better. Stereo front-facing BoomSound speakers make the HTC One M8 the best sounding smartphone of 2014. Its unique camera doesn’t compare to the competition when it comes to scenic shots, but the dual image sensor and Ultra pixels mean good low-light performance and the ability to refocus the photo after the fact —that’s a pretty nifty trick in its own.

Classic.jpgBlackBerry Classic

Canadian icon and smartphone pioneer BlackBerry made several attempts to regain the old QWERTY magic with the Q10 and Q5. But it was the newest addition to the BlackBerry line-up —the Classic— that’s got BlackBerry fans excited. It’s like the Bold 9900, updated for BlackBerry 10, with a larger touchscreen and not just the physical QWERTY keyboard but also both the shortcut keys and touchpad intact. Coming soon!

There’s not a bad smartpone on this list. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preferences such as the size of display you’d like, which operating system you prefer and budget.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN, About.com, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.


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