When the Galaxy Note 3 was released one year ago, it marked a substantial step forward not just because it was new, but was arguably the big generational "tock" in Samsung's handset lifecycle. It had a brand-new bright, vivid (even accurate, in the right mode) 1080p Super AMOLED display, more modern design language that later influenced the Galaxy S5, excellent LTE support, a Snapdragon 800 (remember, the S4 had the lowly 600), an up-to-date 13MP camera, and launched with Android 4.3, which had been announced just around two months prior (even if KitKat did launch four weeks later on the Nexus 5).
The original Moto X was a very well-reviewed phone, but it just didn't sell as well as Motorola and Google had hoped. It deserved more attention than it got, but the smartphone consuming public can be a fickle beast. That's why this year's Moto X makes a few changes to appeal to a wider audience. It's a little bigger, a lot faster, and has a more premium design.
This approach is rife with benefits and a few drawbacks, but one thing is certain, this is one of the best smartphones ever created.
Samsung has seen incredible success with its Android devices over the years. The Korean OEM didn't have to change much from one year to the next, but still the smartphone-consuming public was practically begging to trade up to the latest and greatest Galaxy S. Then something changed with the Galaxy S5—despite being a competent phone in almost every way, sales were below projections. Samsung's profits declined when they should have been skyrocketing.
If you've never heard of a smartphone maker by the name of Meizu, that's understandable. (Even though we actually reviewed their first Android smartphone about 2 years ago.) That's because Meizu, despite selling some phones outside of its home market - China - does no advertising and has very little press outreach in the western world.
Meizu's latest phone, the MX4, sells in mainland China for under $300 (1,799 Chinese Yuan) in 16GB trim.
I wrote a review of the G3 just about two months ago, and at the time, I really enjoyed it. While the model I was provided was designed for Korea, it worked on AT&T's LTE network and generally provided a steady wireless experience. I found Wi-Fi connectivity was a bit spotty, though, and there were occasional network hiccups that are to be expected of a piece of hardware not specifically certified for a particular carrier.
When it comes to affordable, off-contract handsets, BLU is one of my favorite phone manufacturers on the market. The company offers a myriad of devices to fit a wide range of budgets, and today's release features a couple of new handsets for those looking to pick up a smartphone for around $150 or less. As always with BLU, that's an off-contract price.
These two new phones – the Studio C Mini and Studio 5.0 C HD – are made to compete directly with Motorola's budget devices, the Moto E and Moto G, respectively.
By now, you've probably heard a lot about Amazon's Fire Phone. I figure that most people aren't really curious about what the overall phone is like – if you've used a Kindle Fire/HD/HDX then you already know. It's about Amazon services and a weird launcher layout thing. Most people are curious about the four front-facing cameras and Dynamic Perspective. I'm with you on that – that's exactly what I was curious about before getting this phone for review.
LG's G2 was one of the most cultishly-loved smartphones of 2013, to an extent that, frankly, befuddled me. It had a terribly ugly software layer, felt cheaply built, and ticked almost no boxes in terms of innovation. The G2 was a specification junkie's wet dream, and that's exactly the sort of buyer the phone ended up attracting. Appearance, software features, and design aren't high on such people's lists.
Even in the face of criticism, though, success with a group like that isn't something you just let go.
Can you make a smartphone without compromise? Is it possible to cram top-of-the-line hardware into a slim phone body, then fit it with well-regarded software, then sell it for about half the price of competing devices, and call the resulting product a "flagship killer?" Can you, as the ceaseless OnePlus promotion machine so succinctly puts it, "never settle?"
In a word, no. The OnePlus One, the maiden Android phone from a boutique manufacturer, is not completely without its shortcomings (or indeed, its compromises).
The Galaxy S4 was the most popular Android smartphone of all time. The Galaxy S5 will likely take that title soon enough. Say what you will about Samsung's choice of materials or its design aesthetic, its phones are incredibly popular and well-liked by a great many people. The Galaxy S5 won't cause the faithful to waiver, either - it's an absolute affirmation of the company's commitment to improving its flagship product with every generation.