Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Best Smartphones in 2018 – Phone Reviews & Comparisons

Samsung Galaxy S6


The best android phone out there’ this is what a lot of people are saying about Samsung’s new version of their iconic phone and there is good reason for it too. Practically restarting their design for the phone this made a big impact on the outcome of the phone, a change that many people were overjoyed about and this is why.

The most noticeable change is that of the casing for the phone, in previous models the Samsung chose to use a plastic case to cover the phone but now they’ve finally stepped into the modern age and gone with a metal frame to surround the glass case, a much better frame if you are known to drop your phone a lot. As far as the actual design for the phone goes it is a lot more like the Galaxy S4 with its curved edges, making a much smoother feel for the phone overall and much comfier to hold for long times without its pointy edges.

The screen is sitting at 5.1 inches and whilst this makes it one of the biggest screens for a phone the quality of the graphics is a perfect match at 1440 x 2560ppi, the best display quality of any phone right now. This could be considered a bit of overkill since the amount of pixels reduces the battery life quite significantly, but I’ll go over that later. Samsung seem to have just looked for the highest possible quality for a phone screen of this size and usually this would be a good thing, however in this case it wasn’t necessary, the excess of pixels can make it look a lot sharper but at the same due to the size of the screen it can lead to a small strain on the eyes with especially detailed images, so a warning if you suffer from vision problems and plan on using this phone. A fatal design flaw of the phone was its size, whilst they managed to make it very thin they did this by making the battery smaller than in previous models, also decreasing the battery life of a phone that needs as much as it can get to power such a power-hungry screen.

For some reason Samsung felt the need to follow in the footsteps of other popular phones and go with the slim feel design, something that isn’t always a better design. Though it isn’t all bad, with the curved edges and the slim feel Samsung did get comfort right when they were planning the design since the phone feels great in-hand no matter how long you hold it for. Another thing that Samsung chose to copy from the trends is to keep the heart rate monitor. Whilst every smart phone seems to have one now very few can get it right to the point where it becomes useful and not just another app taking up precious space, it is able to accurately take a heart rate reading and show you an easy to read chart to see how your heart rate has risen and fallen the over the course of the previous readings.

An impressive feat they managed to accomplish with the S6 is to see how much they could pack into one phone, and in this case they chose to put two wireless charger abilities into the same phone. Both of the wireless chargers were effective at charging the phone from just placing it down on the surface of the charger but the key differences were that in the case of the Tylt stand it is possible to just place the phone almost in any direction or at any angle and it will begin to charge. This differs from the Fonesalesman’s portable charger that is useful for people who travel a lot but unless you can find a relatively flat surface that won’t move around a lot this won’t work. The surface has practically no grip and with the phone also having no grip it makes it slip and slide around a lot with movement. However the main problem with both of the chargers was that it heated up the phone significantly, not enough to cause any damage but enough that anything too close certainly got a lot warmer.

To a lot of people’s appreciation the Galaxy S6 is using TouchWiz UI along with Android 5.0.2. These two combined create a much smoother interface and remove all of the well-known bugs on the previous versions such as the phone not thinking it had a silent mode leading to a lot of peoples phones always making noise for any notification. The new version made the apps all smoother and more spaced around the screen, making it feel less crowded and giving you more room to customise the interface to suit which apps you use the most. One of the best features of using TouchWIz is that it’s very simplistic in how it displays its apps. The easily interpreted images make it nice and easy to figure out what button does what, a handy feature if you’re new to smartphones. As for the fluidity of the interface this is the most responsive Samsung phone yet, leaving little lag or stuttering to be found during anything you might be doing. However there is still the flaw of a slow opening speed in comparison to other mainstream smartphones, the phone usually takes a second or two to open from its dormant mode which isn’t very long but can be a pain when you need to access something quickly.

As for the processor the S6 is running on the octa-core Exynos processor. The power of this core gives the S6 plenty of processing power so that the phone feels as smooth as ever and has plenty of power for you to have multiple apps running no matter what. One of the other anticipated features of the S6 is its ability to use Wi-Fi calling. Essentially this means that you’ll be able to call and talk to people over the phone just by using Wi-Fi instead of the radio signal usually used.
The feature of Samsung phones that a lot of people enjoy is the power of the camera. From the quality of the photos to the viewing distance it provides there is a lot of capabilities in this camera and anyone will tell you it’s one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. The speed in which you can take a photo is amazing compared to the few seconds it takes to open the camera, let it focus and then take the photo that most other phone cameras can’t. Perfect if you find yourself missing out on taking a photo of the moments you never want to forget. The camera is running with a 16MP sensor, allowing it to adjust the lighting of the camera to suit darker environments.

Being able to listen to music in high quality is always a must for any phone, luckily Samsung didn’t skip out on this feature and made sure that any music you play is in the best possibly quality and you can completely control all aspects of it that you would need and more. With effects like the equaliser and smart volume at your disposal you can fully customise any music you want to listen to. One of the more modern feature apps is the infra-red blaster on the top of the phone allowing you to use a wireless smart remote app to control what you watch on TV.

As for the cost of the phone you can usually purchase the Samsung Galaxy S6 for about £479.99. Now this is a lot to pay for a phone when most phones don’t even cost more than £200 but if its quality for money that you’re worried about then you need not fret, the S6 certainly does give you bang for your buck. However no one would say they are happy to pay almost £500 just for a phone no matter how much they use it. When very few phones cost more than £200 this is a big turn off for the phone even with its quality provided.

Overall the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a remarkable phone that has learnt a lot from past mistakes in previous generations. This decision to change the way they make the phone has both improved the overall quality of the phone and overcrowded the functions it provides, trying to cram as many different features into the phone at once may have been overkill but it doesn’t seem to affect the phones performance in any way so it can’t really be seen as a bad thing other than increasing the overall price of the phone, a very large turn-off to the majority of people.

Iphone 6


Apple finally decided to change things up a bit with their new release of the IPhone this year and overall it seems to have been a worthwhile change, record sales of the new apple product estimate that at launch a new Iphone6 was being bought once every 10 seconds, an incredible achievement since apple had a bad reputation for just sticking a new number on the practically the same phone as previous versions. You can really feel the difference with this one and here’s why.

The first thing you’ll notice is that they made the screen bigger, not in the traditional sense where they make the whole screen large in general, no all they have done is made the screen longer to accommodate one extra line of apps on the display, a preferable change for any IPhone user since the previous screen size was much smaller than the rival android phones.

Another noticeable change is the change in thickness, turning the previously bulky phone into a far sleeker new model which seems strong and durable enough that it won’t bend under pressure like a certain other model of the iPhone that was brought out prior to this one. The edges of the phone have been smoothed out even further to give it a much curvier look and feel a lot better in-hand. As for the dimensions the phone itself is 6.9mm, thinner than almost any phone on the market. Another change was the movement of the power button to a more central position on side of the phone making it easier to access overall.

These are the only main changes that the Iphone 6 has received compared to previous models, all of the other main design aspects like the speakers, headphone port and lightning charger port are all in the same position as before.

Now as for the specs for this phone the screen resolution is sitting at 1334 x 750, whilst this is an improvement from the previous screen resolutions, it’s expected since the size of the screen got bigger. Luckily this means that no quality has been lost in the screen size change but it does mean that there was no graphics increase either, a slight downside to having the bigger screen. With regards to the battery life there has been a small increase in how long it seemed to last but if you do plan on using it all day it’s a good thing the LCD display has been increased, making it a lot easier to see the screen during the day time hours. For a processor the Iphone6 is running a 1.39 GHz dual core A8 processor with 64 bit architecture and 1GB of RAM. If you don’t speak tech then this translates to being a smooth phone with very little lag and it won’t overheat at all, a problem that some users had with previous models occasionally.

The camera has undergone a few minor changes to that of its predecessors, the camera is still stuck with using an 8MP sensor which is very far behind most phones being released however 8MP is nothing to scoff at as it can still be seen as HD quality. A regular problem with IPhone is the speed at taking photos without using the ‘burst mode’ that was implemented a few generations back, however without the knowledge of how to access these bursts it made it rather a bust. The camera speed has been slightly improved however it still lacks the ability to take those ‘in the moment’ snaps that some phones are able to capture. A nice new feature that was added was the built-in ability to take time lapses without needing to download any extra apps, a very long awaited feature even if it could be solved by downloading an app.
One feature that Apple has given its Iphone 6 that no other phone has is ‘Apple Pay’ and whilst this sounds like a really lazy feature it does have some practical uses if you can get past the fact that only a few different places supports this as of today, but many stores .

The main reason to want to use Apple’s fingerprint recognition system to pay for your online searches seems like nothing more than to save time, however it does mean that you don’t run the risk of anyone being able to crack your password if this is the only one you use. So far the only banks to join this new trend is the Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays, Halifax, NatWest, ulster bank, HSBC and Santander. More and more shops are getting on board with the idea of paying through your phone just by waving it over a scanner, it saves a lot of time when in a big line so why wouldn’t shops want to save time?
Going onto to talk about the interface there really isn’t a lot to say, the only change is a slight increase in sensitivity but other than that they haven’t changed anything in regards to the way the layout is set, But why would they? Most people prefer the way the iPhone sets out its apps and I can’t disagree, the cartoonish squares in an orderly row lets you set things out the way you want to with full personalisation for the apps you frequent more than others.

Just like all IPhones before it apple has done a good job at keeping music the way it should be, there’s no excessive buttons or needless options and it makes browsing through your music library easy and hassle free. The sound quality you get out of the speakers still isn’t the best but if you use some headphones then it sounds almost pristine, the playback is completely at your disposal just like you’d expect and you can pause, play and rewind your songs to your hearts content. The only problematic feature about the iPhones music is when you lock your phone it’s easy to accidentally double tap the home button, making it impossible to control the music playing which can be a big pain if it needs pausing quickly.

The Iphone6 can’t really be flawed, apple did a great job at not making the same mistakes as the Iphone5 and were able to increase the design without creating any new problems. Whilst there is nothing that makes this phone stand out above all other phones it does come in the standard 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions which range from costing £539 for 16Gb up to £619 for the 64GB and £789 for the 128GB. Whilst this makes it one of the most expensive phones on the market to date the quality you receive is assured to be worth it. But if you want to stay on top of the newest products then the Iphone6s will soon be released so it may be worth the wait if you want to make sure you have all the newest features coming out of apple.


lg g4

The LG G4 certainly isn’t one of the mainstream smartphones that are more commonly seen but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good phone, with the recent edition to the brand it seems that LG want to make their phone a lot more popular and with good reason too.

As a whole LG have done much better than in previous versions of their iconic phone, paying more attention to the features that users enjoyed about their phone and maximising on those, however this does come at a cost. What LG have yet to accomplish is creating a balanced phone that provides a high quality product in all aspects of itself. One of the things that the G4 has going for it is its different take on the design of the phone, with the leather case being one of the two styles available it’s clear that LG want to distinguish themselves from the competition by not using a typical metal case for their phone. The only problem with using a leather case is the quality of the leather, even if you don’t regularly use leather you can tell that it isn’t good leather, it’s far too thin and feels less durable than the sleek metal casing most phones come in.

Though the leather does have its benefits, by slightly bulging out the back of the case it feels comfortable in hand and provided a bit more grip than most phones, making it less likely for you to lose your grip and drop it. Although one of the design flaws that LG failed to notice was that by making the battery removable they made the back of the phone look a lot less smooth, with the lines going around it the quality just doesn’t look as good. LG has continued with its previous designs and stayed with keeping all buttons to the side of the phone, making the front of the phone look much sleeker and leaving more room for the screen. All of the buttons are easy to access no matter which hand is your dominant one and they don’t take away from the comfort of holding the G4 which is an added bonus.

The specs are one of the best things about the G4, it seems LG wanted to make sure their phone used some of the highest quality parts to be around for a phone and put them to good use. With a screen resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels on a 5.5 inch screen this makes for a very nice viewing experience. The screen quality suits the size perfectly and really benefits the phones boosted focus on the camera being as good as it can be, so if it’s photography you’re interested in then this phone will certainly suit you.

However there is a flaw to the G4’s design, with it having such a large screen this means if you don’t have large hands then you will struggle to get your hand around it with ease. The best thing about the G4s display is how good it looks, the quality of the screen is one of the best looking of any phone on the market so far and with the contrast at its optimal settings then you can really see how far ahead this is compared to other phones on the market. The flaw to this amazing display quality is that the auto brightness doesn’t seem to be able to set it to the right settings, you might strain to see things very well in the dark when the screen is set far too low to see, an easily avoidable problem by not using auto-brightness but an annoyance all the same.

The G4 is running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor with X10 LTE and a 1.8GHz 64-bit HexaCore CPU. Even if you don’t speak tech that sounds impressive and it really is, being one of the most powerful phone processors on the market there’s a reason that the phone feels so smooth all the time. There wasn’t any lag no matter how many apps were running or when using demanding apps, leaving me very happy with how smooth the whole phone felt. The battery life is another high point for the G4 as it manages to last practically a whole day and then some, something that wasn’t expected from such a demanding screen resolution however this was made possible from the changeable battery that’s easy to carry around with you. This extended battery life makes up for the unfortunate reduction to the appearance at the back of the phone.

One of the changes that was made to the LG series that we all appreciate is the difference in the layout of the apps and the way notifications work now. The app layout seems a lot more tidy and mature compared to previous versions with the apps all laid out evenly in tidy little squares instead of being curved or circular like a lot of phones do now. However one of the better improvements was to the notification system. This used to be more of a pain than anything because all it did was come up with useless notifications like what the weather was in Bristol, something I’d never need to know. Though I do like what it is now when it came up with some useful notifications like would I want to add a frequent caller to my contacts or what the weather was like on that day in my location, something that was far more useful than what it used to be.

The thing that LG wants to show off about its new phone is how strong the camera is and they have a right to be proud. With a 16MP camera on the rear fused with an f1.8 aperture that provides very high quality photos with superb lighting correction for any atmosphere. The camera also comes with enough settings to adjust to any possible situations so that you can always take a perfect photo with ease. One of the best bits about the camera is that it loads in 0.6 seconds on average so that you can capture the moment at any point in time. When used in good lighting the auto focus and colour correction is able to perfect any photo that you wish to take any time you need it.

The media on the G4 is the highest of any smartphone on the market, allowing you to change practically every setting that alters your listening experience along with supporting all different file types for any kind of music. One of the interesting things you can do with the G4 is to split audio between headphones and a Bluetooth device, meaning you could be listening to something in your headphones whilst playing something out loud over a speaker.

Overall the LG G4 is extremely high quality with all of its components and LG have spent a lot of time in improving everything that people enjoyed about previous generations of the phone. The best thing about the G4 is its screen quality which in turn improve the camera capabilities as well, a major boost to the overall quality of the phone and a big selling point for it. However having all of these advanced capabilities does come at a price, a price of $609.99 to be precise. Whilst this is still expensive it isn’t the most expensive phone going and with the quality of product you’re receiving then it is certainly worth it in my opinion.

HTC One M9

htc 1 m9

HTC know that they got it right with their last phone and why shouldn’t they? It had practically no flaws in it and gave an all-around good experience with the features it provided. Now that the M9 is on the market we can see that it had a full internal revamp and they kept everything that people enjoyed about the phone and made it better, something that a lot of other phone manufacturers don’t realise is the right thing to do.

Even just at a glance you can tell that effort went into making the M9 look good, with its smooth metallic case and no bumps or other extremities protruding from the back it feels very comfortable to hold, though this does mean that it has little grip so if you are prone to dropping your phone then you may want to invest in a case. The sleek design for the case may make it look good but it does mean that it’s also prone to getting scratched, especially if you keep your phone in the same pocket as your keys and loose change. Whilst HTC did try to keep everything that people enjoyed about it they did make the mistake of shifting the lock button to the side of the phone, even though this resembles what android phones do with their lock button it is right next to the volume buttons, this can cause a lot of hassle when fumbling for the lock button when you can’t see it in front of you.

What could bother some people is the way that HTC keeps its logo on the bottom of the phone in the middle, restricting the size of the screen to a few centimetres smaller. However as a whole HTC have kept their phone on top of the market when it comes to the design, even with the lock button causing a few problems you can easily get used to the positioning from some trial and error, but the best thing about the M9 is just how it feels as a phone overall no matter how you look at it.

One of the things that HTC has kept the same is the screen size for their phone, it still sits at 5 inches and even though this is smaller than most phones that are dominating the markets the 1080p quality stands for itself and suits the size quaintly. There’s no need to have such a large screen if It means reducing the comfortability of the phone or making it more expensive for no reason as I’m sure most would agree with a lot of android phones.

However that being said the small screen can hold you back when wanting to take extremely high quality photos like some other phones allow you to do but even so the quality of photos you can take with the M9 is still very good. The screens 441 pixels per inch creates a perfectly sharp viewing experience since the phone is under 6 inches unlike a lot of others that are unable to replicate the same sharp effect since that they lose from having such a big screen. However the screen could be slightly bigger if there wasn’t the black bars running along the top and bottom for no distinct reason, a small flaw in the design but it’s bearable since it only loses a few centimetres at most.

The specs for the M9 are significantly increased from previous versions which still may not excuse how costly the phone is but it does increase the quality of the phone and how smooth it runs in all conditions. By running an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset with 3GB of RAM, a LCD3 screen and a 2840 mAh battery. Overall this means that whilst this isn’t the best specs for a phone on the market it does allow you to do practically anything without getting any lag and run the phone very smoothly. Since the space between the screen and the sensor has been decreased it has slightly increased the sensitivity of the phone but not by much unfortunately. The M9 was able to run demanding games with ease but it did quickly burn through the battery if I played it for too long. But with regards to the battery HTC have tried to improve the battery life with the snapdragon chipset but even with this they were unable to prevent the battery from quickly slipping away. There is one problem with its ability to run things so smoothly though and that’s the heat it gives off, even with the metal case to disburse heat more effectively it can still get rather warm after long periods of use or from using a lot of apps at once that are overly demanding.

For most phones the audio is merely a given that it has to have, some phones work toward trying to make the listening experience better than normal but HTC go one step further and use BoomSound speakers combined with dolby support to provide a high quality surround sound experience. To complement the quality of the sound HTC have released their own earbuds made for the M9 to maximise the listening experience you get out of it. However even though the audio capabilities are very strong with the M9 its music interface seems rather redundant in the sense that it is outdated compared to the quality of the music. Unlike most phones that have noticed the popularity of using phones for music HTC have been reluctant to change their music control interface leading to a lack of personalisation for the listening experience.

Another change the M9 received was to its main camera, getting an overhaul and receiving a 20.7MP sensor, one of the higher quality cameras on the market. You’d think that with the larger megapixel count it would make the camera a lot better but unfortunately that’s not the case. As a whole the camera just seemed average really, it did a good job in different lightings and colour correction but nothing really stood out over the others as a selling point to me. A big problem with the camera is its shutter speed, it lacks the ability to capture quick moments and if the phone has been dormant for a little while it can take a few seconds to ‘wake up’ properly without any lag present.

Overall the HTC One M9 did improve all the internal capabilities of its previous versions however it lacked any change wow factor that made it stand out above the others. Most things about the M9 seem to be well done but just don’t make it seem like anything special other than its sleek design but other than that there wasn’t a lot about the M9 to make it better than its competition. If you look at the cost of the M9 it can usually be found for close to £580. At this price you’d expect exceptionally good results from a phone that costs more than phones with a lot better specs than it provides, so it leaves the question that what is so special about the M9 to make it seem worth this much?

Sony Xperia Z3

sony xperia z3

After only releasing the previous model close to 6 months ago Sony are really trying to stay on top of the smartphone market by reducing the time between models, though is this really a good thing and not just an excuse for increasing the price of what seems to be barely different from the previous model?

The new model is actually smaller than its previous self by a few points of a millimetre off of each dimension, not a noticeable change but an odd one since usually bigger is better when it comes to smartphones. From the side the Z3 looks very similar to an IPhone with its thickness also resembling that of an Iphone5, but this isn’t a bad thing as the design is a popular one and the front screen seeming very typically android with its logo in the top centre and a slim black bar surrounding the screen along the sides.

Just like the other phones that decided to stick with a better looking metal case it does mean that it’s easier to drop the Z3 and with its glass screen this can lead to cracking the screen easily. Just like a lot of phones Sony chose to curve off the edges of the phone to make it feel more comfortable to hold. A massive downside to the Z3 is the charging port is on the side of the phone making it much harder to charge and use the phone at the same time. Another poor design choice was making the port covers stick out on the side of the phone slightly. Since the phone is waterproof ( a very nice idea for a phone I might add ) the covers can become annoying and fiddly as well as taking away from the smooth feel along the side of the phone.

Because it’s a smaller phone it does suit people with smaller hands that prefer a more ‘cosy’ phone that’s more about utility than maximising every little detail of itself. However that being said one of the better features of the Z3 is the camera button that allows you to bring up the camera in seconds without having to unlock your phone or click on an app anywhere.
By being a phone known for being waterproof it only makes sense that Sony have tried to do this as well as possible and to an extent they achieved this. The Z3 receives a rating of IP65/IP68 and can comfortably stay up to 2 metres underwater for plenty of time to do anything you need with it.

The specs for the Z3 aren’t majorly impressive in regards to screen size but it is using everything it can to make the controller compatible games enjoyable to play with minimal lag. With the screen size at 5.2 inches protected by shatter proof glass with 1080 x 1920 pixels and 424 ppi pixel density the screen resolution is as high quality as a phone screen can get. By running on android OS with a Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801 and a Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 CPU there is a lot of power running behind the scenes to try and make the gaming experience for this phone as high as possible. One of the features that the Z3 provides is to put the phone into ‘stamina mode’ which can conserve your phones battery life by a very large amount, not that it needs to do this anyway when the phone was able to last over a day of fairly constant use and gaming, a very nice surprise when most phones can’t last a few hours of use let alone a whole day.

One of the key thing that people buy a Sony phone for is the remote play feature which allows you to plug in a PlayStation controller and play games through your phone if there is a PlayStation running that game on the same network as your phone. Whilst this does mean you can’t be taking it anywhere it does mean you can play your favourite games without needing to be at your TV all the time. This doesn’t come without problems though, to set it up takes a fair bit of time and know-how about what to do which could be found easily on the internet but for something you can do on the PS4 normally it is a pain to have to sync everything up and connect it all. Without a controller you are still able to play any game from the PS4 however it does result in trying to use an on-screen display of controls which can be very difficult for any game that requires precision.

Since Sony is well known for having a strong camera it only makes sense that it has G Lens technology, an Exmor RS sensor and a Bionz processor. These three combined certainly improve the quality of photos you can take but it was the interface that I found to be lacking. It took too long to try and capture the ‘in the moment’ photos even with the camera button on the side of the phone. By having such a complex photography options it can be a hassle for taking quick snaps but at the same time it does make it better for taking still shots and adding just the right effects and where the focus should be or how to adjust the lighting to perfectly suit the surroundings.

Overall the Sony Xperia Z3 is far too similar to its previous version that was released barely 6 months prior to its own release and for not much noticeable reason really. The quality of the phone has remained the same with the dimensions being slightly reduced as the sole change and even that isn’t noticeable unless you knew about it. There’s nothing wrong with the Z3 but for how much extra it costs than the Z2 it probably isn’t worth it. The Z3 can cost up to £499 whereas the Z2 only costs up to £330. To say this is only a small difference is a major understatement and for the difference in quality it probably isn’t worth it to go for the Z3 instead of the Z2.

Bridget Rogers
Bridget Rogers
Bridget Rogers is an independent freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Bridget's work can be found on a variety of sources in both online and print media.


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