Smartphones – 2014 Ratings

Posted by Canstar Blue February 12th 2015

You are viewing the archived 2014 ratings for smartphones. Go to the current smartphones ratings.
Whether you’re an Apple addict, Nokia nut, or an adoring Android fan: compare mobile phones with our customer satisfaction ratings and set your sights on a winner.

* Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order.
^ Compatibility with other products and services

See Our Ratings Methodology.

Apple & Samsung: Smartphone Award Winners, in our ratingsSome impressive product releases last year and a dedicated fan base mean it will probably not come as a big surprise that both Apple and Samsung have received our Most Satisfied Customers Award – Smartphones.

It’s a terrific result for both brands, who managed five star ratings in many of our ratings criteria. Additionally, one other rated brand also made waves in this year’s results:

  • Samsung excelled in the areas of processor speed, camera quality, and compatibility with other devices, while
  • Apple achieved top ratings for processor speed, technical support, and user friendliness.
  • LG stood out with a five star rating for value for money, technical support, and battery life.

We also looked at Nokia, Sony, and HTC in these results.

With the release late last year of such juggernauts as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the new HTC One M8, it seems the smartphone war continues to be a clash of the titans in terms of price, specs and overall capability. We’ve taken a look at some of the leading smartphones currently on the market, and how they stack up in terms of price, battery life, screen type and several other features.

Price (RRP)

Phone Price ($RRP)
iPhone 6 $869
iPhone 6 Plus $999
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 $949
Samsung Galaxy s5 $799
LG G3 $699
Nokia Lumia 930 $729
HTC One M8 $849
Sony Xperia Z2 $759

As you’d expect at the top end of the market, none of these smartphones are easy on your wallet, but some are better value than others. The LG G3 is the least expensive, coming in at just under $700, followed by the Lumia 930, Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5 which are all priced between $700 and $800. The HTC One is a little dearer at $849, but it’s still a hundred less than the Galaxy Note 4 – a price which reflects the Note’s greater size and capabilities, which we’ll get into below. Just remember, these prices are manufacturer RRPs and represent the base model phone – different carriers will have varying prices, and models with greater storage will cost more.

Operating System (OS)

Our smartphone field has representatives from all three major operating systems. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus both run Apple’s proprietary iOS 8, the Nokia Lumia 930 is the first Australian phone to arrive with the newly-updated Windows Phone 8.1, and the remainder all run Google’s open-source Android platform. Android’s open-source nature means that manufacturers are free to modify it as they see fit,  so unfortunately software updates are slower to roll out; Google’s own Nexus line are the only smartphones to have updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop, but expect it to be rolled out to other manufacturers sometime this year.

Screen size and resolution

Phone Screen Size / Type Resolution (i.e. screen sharpness)
iPhone 6 4.7 inches, Retina HD 1,334 x 750 pixels, 326 pixels per inch
iPhone 6 Plus 5.5 inches, Retina HD screen 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 401 pixels per inch
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 5.7 inches, Super AMOLED 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 515 pixels per inch
Samsung Galaxy s5 5.1 inches, Super AMOLED 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 432 pixels per inch
LG G3 5.5 inches, IPS LCD 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 538 pixels per inch
Nokia Lumia 930 5 inches, AMOLED 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 441 pixels per inch
HTC One M8 5 inches, Super LCD 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 441 pixels per inch
Sony Xperia Z2 5.2 inches, IPS LCD 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 424 pixels per inch

In terms of size, the iPhone 6 is again the smallest at 4.7 inches, slightly smaller than the G3, Lumia 930 and Galaxy S5 which all come in at around 5 inches across. The Sony Xperia Z2 pushes this up to 5.2 inches, before we really start entering ‘phablet’ territory with the iPhone 6 Plus, LG G3 and the Galaxy Note 4, which come in at 5.5 each and 5.7 inches respectively – approaching tablet size.

The displays equipped on each of these top smartphones speak volumes for how far such devices have come in recent years; every phone here has a Full HD display or better, with the LG G3 and the Galaxy Note 4 having whopping Quad HD displays for even sharper resolution. All of these phones have passed the point where pixels are no longer visible to the naked eye, and they’re all ideal for viewing electronic media such as webpages, images or video. In terms of sheer pixel density however, the Note 4 and the G3 lead the pack: the iPhone 6 has a density of 326ppi (pixels per inch), and the remainder have between 400 and 450, whereas the Quad HD phones from LG and Samsung have densities of over 500ppi.

Camera

Phone Camera (rear) Camera (front)
iPhone 6 8 megapixels 1.2 megapixels
iPhone 6 Plus 8 megapixels 1.2 megapixels
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 16 megapixels 3.7 megapixels
Samsung Galaxy s5 16 megapixels 2 megapixels
LG G3 13 megapixels 2.1 megapixels
Nokia Lumia 930 20 megapixels 1.2 megapixels
HTC One M8 4 megapixels 5 megapixels
Sony Xperia Z2 20.7 megapixels 2.2 megapixels

Similarly to the screen resolutions mentioned above, the camera on modern flagship smartphones are very powerful. The cameras built into the Note 4, S5 and G3 all have resolutions of over 10 megapixels (MP), whilst Sony and Nokia’s offerings both pack in more than 20. Whilst the HTC One and both iPhones may seem lacking in the resolution department, they actually make up for this using larger pixel sizes that capture more light – effectively creating higher resolution images. In terms of their front cameras (which we know you’ll be using exclusively for taking selfies) the HTC leads the way with a 5MP camera, whilst the two iPhones and the Lumia have the lowest at 1.2MP. Don’t worry though, as these front cameras are built for convenience rather than clarity: you’re unlikely to be snapping breathtaking landscapes with your front-facing camera.

In addition to their hardware, each phone’s camera packs in clever features to enable you to accomplish more. Both iPhones are able to shoot HD video at 60fps, as well as taking slow motion video at a whopping 240fps; the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy Note 4 can shoot video in 4K resolution; HTC’s proprietary Zoe™ camera app lets you take burst shots and quick videos, which you can then combine with soundtracks into special moments to save and share. All the phones also come with Optical Image Stabilisation, which reduces motion blur, as well as High Dynamic Range (HDR), which enhances natural light in shots with strong contrast such as glare or shadow. Each of these phones is really packed full of features to make your photos beautiful.

Interesting features

They wouldn’t be flagship models if they didn’t have a few tricks and gimmicks up their sleeves. Top smartphones are often where manufacturers debut their latest technology, and this crop of phones is no exception. The Sony Xperia Z2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 are both waterproof and dust resistant, up to the standards of IP58 and IP67 respectively. The first digit of this refers to the level of solid particle protection, and the second to liquid protection: so the S5 has better dustproofing, but the Z2 is more water resistant.

Both the iPhone models and the Galaxy S5 are equipped with fingerprint scanners built into the home button, which can be used to unlock your phone and provide secure authorisation for online payments such as on the app store. Apple’s phones can also share content and apps seamlessly via iCloud with other Apple products you own, meaning you can work on documents, emails and messages on your Mac before finishing them off on your iPhone or iPad.

The HTC One comes with a unique camera setup: in addition to its main camera, it has a secondary camera placed above it which captures depth information. This allows you to actually alter the perspective of your photos after taking them, creating a whole new way of sharing your photos with friends. The HTC’s twin front-facing speakers also provide unparalleled clarity and volume compared to other phone speakers – perfect for games, music and media.

The Lumia 930 comes with built-in wireless charging for extra convenience – you just place the phone on a charging pad and it charges inductively, with no need for any messy or easily damaged cables. The Lumia’s Windows Phone software also means deep integration with OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service. You can synchronise every photo, video and file on your phone to your OneDrive account (which comes with 15GB of free storage), and with Office coming pre-installed you can create and edit documents in all the major Office programs before saving them online.

How we rated smartphones

Canstar Blue commissions Colmar Brunton to regularly survey 3,000 Australian consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a smart phone (i.e. a mobile phone that can access the Internet) in the last two years – in this case, 1,749 Australians.

Each brand must have received at least 30 responses in order to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey.

Past Ratings
Smartphones (2013)
Smartphones (2012)