So, you’re deciding which smartphone you should choose and we can see that’s no mean feat; the market is saturated and trawling through the specs and ins and outs of each handset can be a nightmare. That’s why we’ve broken it all down for you in one easy, bite-sized flagship smartphone comparison.
Of course, before reading this advice, you must first work out what you want out of a phone: what’s your budget? Will you use your phone as your main camera and video recorder, or do you simply scoff at the idea because you have a beloved Nixon D7100 hanging round your neck making you an ideal victim of petty crime? Do you want to use your mobile to play music, or watch films, or are you not that fussed and just want one that does the job and looks the part, thank you very much? Consider, people, consider.
Done? Ok, so; please welcome into the ring: Google’s Nexus 4, HTC’s One, the iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and the Blackberry Z10.
These contenders have all been released in the UK over the last year; the Blackberry Z10 and Google’s Nexus 4 – both released in first week of February- and the HTC One – which is still only available for pre-order - are the newest and freshest players in the ring. The iPhone 5 was released in September, while the Galaxy S3 has been around since last summer. But let’s not be ageist here, readers, sometimes the old ones are the best.
Let’s start with the most important aspect first; looks – of course. The winner probably has to be the iPhone 5; the simple, neat and sturdy design is classically stylish, suggesting premium quality and class. However the Nexus 4 is not far behind at all; in fact I’d even go so far as to say that the handsets that are available without the slightly odd/garish sparkly back, match the iPhone looks wise; the front is entirely glass giving a clean and sharp look and it is set within a chrome bezel. Very smart indeed. The HTC One is also rather beautiful and is probably a tied second place with the Nexus; one reviewer describing how it ‘wows the second it hits the hand’. The body is aluminium, giving a ‘total metal effect’ which suggests top quality. The Galaxy S3 and the Blackberry Z10 fall into the rather more plastic-y category; and while this might suit some people (especially those who prefer lighter feeling phones) it does lack a feeling of quality. However the plastic-y nature of the phone is misleading, especially in Galaxy’s case; not only are the solid Gorilla glass and curved edges beautiful but it doesn't take long to work out how high quality this handset is. It also comes in a range of colours which is great if you want something different from the standard black and white.
So, what about the display? Well this is where things all get a bit close because, to be honest, they are all fantastic. All of them are HD so it’s a struggle to decipher the differences, but at a push I’d say the Nexus and the HTC One are crowned joint winners of this category. They have a clarity that ‘has to be seen to be believed’. The colours are vivid and beautiful and the text and icons are razor sharp. There is no gap at all between the glass and the display on the Nexus 4 which contributes massively to the image sharpness. The iPhone and the Galaxy S3 are also incredibly sharp but the auto-brightness levels on the Samsung can be a little bit too low and this feature doesn't offer much variation; it’s a case of all or nothing, really. But, hey – they’re all amazing.
Unlike the displays which you couldn’t really separate with a fag paper, the cameras vary a bit. All of them have one 8megapixel camera, except the Nexus which has two - one 8megapixel at the rear and one 2.1 at the front. HTC are the self-proclaimed winners of this category, however; they claim their ultrapixel sensor collects 300% more light than the cameras of their rivals. But they haven't been around long enough to have been involved in this little test:
So for this reason, I am going to tie the HTC One with the iPhone 5; whose camera is a constant performer. The other three cameras can only be described as ‘good but not that good’. Although they do have some pretty cool features; the Nexus 4, like the iPhone, has a panorama feature called the 'Photo Sphere' which you can use to snap panoramically and up and down; capturing a complete circle.The Blackberry also has a pretty awesome time feature too which allows you to touch your subjects face and go back to a time when their expression was just perfect. Pretty cool – but not enough to pip it for the firm, I’m afraid.
Dull but important things like battery life and storage
All of the phones have a pretty standardly disappointing battery life; but the Galaxy just creeps ahead of its competitors here lasting more than the average day! The Blackberry and Galaxy both have removable batteries which is a plus, while the Nexus 4, iPhone 5 and HTC don't. Although this is not really too much of a biggy; just something to note.
They are all pretty damn quick both web browsing and functioning offline so it’s hard to differentiate between them all, but it does mean there are no major worries in that department.
Storage, however does have a winner; the Galaxy S3 which has the option of a 16/32/64 GB model and caters for a microSD card. The Blackberry Z10 also has room for extra storage with a microSD card. The others, however, don’t. The main (and perhaps only) major downside of the Nexus 4 is it’s storage restrictions; it comes with either a 8 or 16GB capacity; which isn’t great for all you content devourers out there. The iPhone is also pretty disappointing here; although you can get it in either a 16/32/64GB form there is a serious price tag attached to the more capable handsets.
The Nexus and the HTC run on the latest version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean which is tried, tested and loved. The Blackberry Z10 runs on the latest Blackberry Operating System which is very different to what we’re used to: I’ve heard reports of it being a bit confusing but this is probably just because it is totally new. At least Blackberry’s OS is evolving with the times; unlike Apple. The iPhone 5 has an ageing OS which has hardly altered since it was first employed almost 6 years ago. Apple’s reluctance here means they are beginning to fall behind in functionality and agitating many fans who want something new.
Take a look at this perfectly formed comparison table to help with all the facts and figures:
|Nexus 4||133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1mm||139g||4.7” HD, 768x1280, 318ppi||2,100mAh||8/16GB (no microSD slot)||Android Jelly Bean 4.2||£239 (8GB), £279 (16GB)|
|HTC One||137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm||143g||4.7” HD,1080p, 468ppi||2300mAh||32/64GB (no microSD slot)||Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2||£519.99 (32GB)|
|iPhone 5||123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm||112g||4” Retina, 1136x640, 326ppi||1440 mAh||16/32/64GB, (no microSD slot)||Apple iOS 6||£130.50 (16GB), £196.08 (32GB), £261.66 (64GB)|
|Galaxy SIII||136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm||133g||4.8" HD, 720 x 1280,||2,100mAh||16/32/64 GB(microSD slot)||Android Jelly Bean 4.1||From £450(16GB). Varies between providers/stores.|
|Blackberry Z10||130 x 65.5 x 9mm||135.4g||4.2”,1280x768, 356ppi||1800mAh||16GB (microSD slot)||Blackberry 10 OS||£480, Payment plans available|
Extra, interesting features:
The HTC One is aimed at ‘Generation Feed’. In other words, those of us who check our phones every other second to catch up on the latest news or see what friends are up to. There is a neat feature called the BlinkFeed which pulls all of this content into one single activity feed. Original, but it might not suit everyone and is hard to get rid of! If you're not into your social media or keeping up to date on what's happening in the world, then this puppy probably isn't for you. But it does also have top notch audio capabilities; their already impressive BeatsAudio has been enhanced further to create BoomSound; they’ve added two front facing speakers and an amplifier to make the sound quality almost perfect.
The Z10 doesn’t have anything that really makes it stand out from the others; apart from its messaging hub; a ‘universal’ inbox which pulls in messages from all communication points. You can post Facebook and Twitter replies and updates via the Hub. By putting all of them together it means you can access your messages without having to run separate applications simultaneously. There is also a peek gesture which enables you to see who’s messaged without having to exit an application. It’s cool, basically; especially if you're a bit of a social media addict. But there have been some criticisms of this handset's app selection; or lack thereof. If you are an app devourer then this might not be the phone for you.
The Galaxy S3 and the iPhone are just classically lovely and essentially do everything you want them to. But close on their heels is the Nexus 4 which is a brand new, unique, fresh and premium handset that is beautifully designed. It’s got style written all over it; and it's good value! Like the iPhone and the S3 it does everything you want it to; quickly, efficiently and elegantly. Hurrah!
Basically all of these phones are fantastic; great feats of technological engineering! Our smartphone makers have excelled themselves. They are all beautiful; they look and feel great in the hand; their displays are all defined by their clarity and sharpness; they're quick both web browsing and functioning offline and are wonderful play things and communication tools (notice how this has been usurped as the most important factor - what a strange world we live in!)
If you're looking for a phone that is simple, efficient and top-notch quality then the Nexus 4 is probably the winner for you. It's a true all-rounder; beautifully designed, which a fantastic display; essentially it is a stylish, top-end handset that performs and has a very reasonable price-tag. Pure class!
Of course the iPhone 5 is a great phone but it has an aging Operating System which means it is slowly falling behind its competitors. After all, we all like something different, don’t we!? It also falls behind in the price stakes; the contracts are by far the most expensive around and it costs you £66 if you want to increase your storage from 8 to 16GB (and so on), although paying for the handset up front might well work out as a good deal. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a great phone; it just stumbles a bit on the design. But, if you’re happy with the lighter/plastic/fun look then this one is probably a winner for you.
The HTC One is a beautiful design and looks to be the Taiwanese firm’s life-line in their time of need. It hasn’t even been released yet so is at a bit of a disadvantage to the others, but we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes down. Watch this space. The Blackberry Z10 is a great phone; but it is pipped to the front by all of the others in most ways – apart from a few of its features. It’s a good phone, but it doesn’t really stand out. Although if you're a messaging freak then it's definitely for you.
But, let’s face it – they’re all great! Just go with your heart, reader (we haven't really helped, have we!?) And don’t forget that you can help fund your new handset by recycling your old phone with us here at OnRecycle. Like us on Facebook if you’re happy with our service, too ;).