GSMArena smartphone shopping guide: August 2014

GSMArena team, 29 August 2014.

400-500

Only flagships are left here and they may not stay long - the new Galaxy Note is said to be announced next week - a fact that is bound to drop the price of the old one, probably the Galaxy S5 price tag too. Same goes for the Sony Xperia Z2.

As for the Lumia 930, it's facing actual competition in the Windows Phone market for the first time in a while so we'd keep an eye on its price, too. The competition comes from the HTC One (M8) for Windows, which is exclusive to Verizon in the US for now. If HTC expands availability it would find a place in the next buyer's guide.

Anyway, the Nokia Lumia 930 is the successor the Lumia 1020 has been waiting for. It has a relatively big camera sensor with 20MP resolution and is optically stabilized unlike the competing Xperia Z phones. It can't record 2160p video but the sound quality of its videos is second to none.

The camera has proper manual controls and can do "lossless digital zoom," provided you shoot at 5MP resolution (often good enough, 20MP can be overkill). It's easily one of the top cameraphones on the market right now.

The Lumia 930 has a 5" 1080p AMOLED screen with great sunlight legibility thanks to the proprietary ClearBlack tech. The usual Nokia software advantages like a free SatNav app are in place too.

Unlike the other Windows Phone handsets we've encountered so far, this one is powered by Snapdragon 800, on par with the Android flagships.


Nokia Lumia 930
Pros Cons
  • 5" 1080p AMOLED screen, ClearBlack
  • Windows Phone 8.1
  • Snapdragon 800
  • 20MP/1080p camera with OIS, great audio capture
  • Free voice-guided navigation
  • Non-expandable storage
  • No 2160p video capture
  • Easily heats up unpleasantly in prolonged use
Review

The Nokia Lumia 1520 has the same chipset and camera as the Lumia 930 but is actually a bit cheaper. It offers a larger screen too, a full inch more, if that's an advantage of you.

It has a 6" 1080p IPS screen with ClearBlack tech, a 20MP/1080p camera with optical stabilization and lossless digital zoom, Snapdragon 800, the works. It even has a microSD card slot, so storage isn't an issue even if you need more than 32GB. And the battery is predictably beefier, 3,400mAh.


Nokia Lumia 1520
Pros Cons
  • 6" 1080p IPS screen
  • Windows Phone 8.1
  • Snapdragon 800
  • 20MP/1080p camera with OIS, great audio capture
  • Free voice-guided navigation
  • No 2160p video capture
  • Larger than most phones
Review

You may be surprised to find that the LG G3 just manages to slip into the sub-400 category. This is for the 16GB version, of course, and storage isn't a problem - the G3 has a microSD card slot. Bear in mind that the 16GB model has 2GB of RAM, while the 32GB model has 3GB. Not that our benchmarks found much difference but in the long run as apps get heavier it might matter.

You get a relatively small device for its whopping 5.5" screen (not much bigger than an Xperia Z1, for example). The screen has QHD resolution, that's 1,440 x 2,560, or halfway between a FullHD TV and a 4K UHD TV.

The LG G3 brings an improved optical stabilization for the camera, 2160p video capture mode and a highly advanced focusing system that works great in the dark. The 3,000mAh battery is user-replaceable to boot, unlike the G2 battery.


LG G3
Pros Cons
  • 5.5" 1440p IPS screen
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Snapdragon 801
  • 13MP/2160p camera with OIS and laser focus
  • Compact for its screen size
  • Big for a smartphone
  • Chipset easily overheats, reducing its performance in longer use
  • Screen contrast is not the best
Review

The Sony Xperia Z2 is about the same size as the chunky Xperia Z1 though it makes up for it with more real estate - it's a 5.2" 1080p screen. It's an IPS screen, too, finally improving the viewing angles that were a common issue of its predecessors.

It also upgrades the chipset to Snapdragon 801, adds a gig of RAM and enables 2160p video capture. The upgrades aren't earth-shattering but the Xperia Z3 is rumored to bring even less. We'd still wait until it's official though, if nothing else for the price drop.


Sony Xperia Z2
Pros Cons
  • 5.2" 1080p IPS screen
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Snapdragon 801
  • 20.7MP/2160p camera
  • IP58-certified
  • Stereo speakers
  • Large for its screen size
Review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is about to be replaced too but again this just means its price may drop soon, it's an excellent device otherwise.

The 5.7" Super AMOLED screen with 1080p resolution is beautiful and the S Pen stylus will have you jotting down more notes than you would on any other phone. The software is rich in proprietary features, including a Personal/Work switch, which is about to become standard for all Androids with the L release.

The Galaxy Note 3 has a 13MP camera that shoots 2160p video. In 1080p videos it can do lossless digital zoom similar to the Nokia. In terms of processing power, the phablet comes either with a Snapdragon 800 or an Exynos 5 Octa, both versions with 3GB RAM.


Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Pros Cons
  • 5.7" 1080p Super AMOLED
  • S Pen stylus
  • Android 4.4 KitKat with KNOX
  • Snapdragon 800 - OR - Exynos 5 Octa
  • 13MP/2160p camera
  • Mono speaker
Review

The Samsung Galaxy S5 builds on the highly successful Galaxy S4 with a new screen - 5.1" 1080p Super AMOLED with more accurate colors and reduced power usage. The phone is based on a Snapdragon 801 chipset.

It's IP67-certified so it can go in the water (though not as deep as the Xperia Z1), it has a heart rate monitor for exercise buffs, plus a fingerprint sensor for Private mode with separate secured storage and secured PayPal transactions.

Samsung used a 16MP sensor of its own design - it has a 16:9 aspect ratio so no cropping is necessary when showing photos on a widescreen TV.


Samsung Galaxy S5
Pros Cons
  • 5.1" 1080p Super AMOLED
  • Android 4.4 KitKat with KNOX, Private mode
  • Snapdragon 801
  • 16MP/2160p camera
  • IP67 certified
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Mono speaker
Review