2014 Best of Year Smartphone Awards

Android or iOS, we've got the lowdown on the best smartphones money can buy.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Smartphones are released at such a blistering pace that it can be tough for regular people to keep up with what's hot and what's not. iOS or Android? Is a huge screen worth it? Is this phone's camera any good? How's the battery life?

Who can tell?

We can, because we've separated the wheat from the chaff in our labs. This holiday season, you can head to the store armed with the knowledge that you're going to get the right phone for you. Here's what to keep an eye out for.

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Best Android Smartphone

Sony Xperia Z3

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Sony Xperia Z3

It's hard not to gush about the Sony Xperia Z3. Offering an amazing camera and equally unbelievable battery life, this is the complete package for Android fans. Did we mention it's also waterproof and can play PS4 games? This smartphone aced our tests, and should be your choice if you want raw performance and awesome features. (Est. price: $600–$625, off contract)

Our full review of the Sony Xperia Z3 is coming soon.

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung's gigantic Galaxy Note 4 has a beautiful display and one of the most useful peripherals available for a smartphone—the iconic S-Pen. The Note 4 lags behind the Sony Xperia Z3 in camera and battery performance, but it's still head and shoulders above most of the competition in more ways than one. (Est. price: $300, on-contract; $700–$825, off-contract)

Our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is coming soon.



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Best iOS Smartphone

Apple iPhone 6

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Apple iPhone 6

This year, Apple released a brand-new design for its iconic smartphone, ditching sharp edges in favor of smooth curves. Under the hood, though, it's still filled with class-leading hardware that delivers excellent performance. The impressively high-res screen has been bumped up to 4.7 inches, a size we prefer over the larger iPhone 6 since it gives you better battery life with otherwise comparable performance. (Est. price: $199, on-contract; $650, off-contract)

Our full review of the Apple iPhone 6 is coming soon.

Runner-up: Apple iPhone 6 Plus

If you absolutely need that extra screen real estate, this is Apple's first iPhone with a display larger than 5 inches—5.5, to be exact. With much of the same hardware as the iPhone 6, the only sore spot here is comparably short battery life. (Est. price: $299, on-contract; $750, off-contract)

Our full review of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus is coming soon.



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Best Value Smartphone

Motorola Moto G

The best way to save money on your phone bill is to buy an unlocked phone to use with a prepaid plan. To that end, we recommend the Motorola Moto G with LTE: It's got a great screen, outstanding battery life, and it definitely won't break the bank. Sure, the camera isn't anything to write home about, the processor isn't cutting-edge, and it's not the sexiest design, but there's simply no better bang for your buck available today. (Est. price: $179–$219, off contract)

Read our full review of the Motorola Moto G with LTE.


Best Smartphone Camera

Sony Xperia Z3

If you're looking to ditch your point-and-shoot but don't want to sacrifice picture quality in the process, the Sony Xperia Z3 is the phone you want to buy. With the same kind of sensor that you'd find in entry-level standalone cameras, this phone not only offers great still image quality, but it can also shoot 4K video better than any other phone on the market. (Est. price: $600–$625, off contract)

Our full review of the Sony Xperia Z3 is coming soon.



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Best Large-Screen Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus may be grabbing more headlines, but in our opinion, the Note 4 is easily the better huge-screen phone. First and foremost, its incredibly pixel-dense 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED Display produces deep blacks and gorgeous colors that really make photos and graphics pop. The included S-Pen lets you take flawless handwritten notes, and the expansive screen real estate is perfect for gaming and video-watching.

But that's not all. Behind the screen is some of the best hardware Android phones have to offer, producing silky-smooth performance and incredibly long battery life. Heck, you can even use this phone as the display in a VR headset. It's that good. (Est. price: $199, on-contract; $650, off-contract)

Our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is coming soon.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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