Black Friday around the corner and it's also nearly time for the holiday shopping spree. Our last smartphone buyer's guide for 2014 will hopefully come in handy when you out there trying to find a smartphone present for your closest ones... or for yourself.
Our last Smartphone buyer's guide came out in August and we've seen plenty of action since then. IFA 2014 took place in September and we saw the introduction of a myriad of new devices. And most of these are already available to purchase now.
There were a few flagships announced at the IFA 2014 (such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, or the Sony Xperia Z3) but the majority of the newly announced devices fit in an expanded mid-range segment. In this segment HD screens, quad-core processors and quality cameras are the norm now. You can even find new advancements like an ARMv8 64-bit processors and, of course, when it comes to Android, everything pre-KitKat simply doesn't cut it.
While the mid-range offer arguably the best bang for the buck ratio, the sub-€100 market has a lot to offer, too. Continued pressure from Microsoft has driven KitKat phones to double-digit prices, but Lumias still have the upper hand (and lower price). The Lumia lineup begins with a quad-core processor and a 480 x 800px screen and builds up from there.
Outside of the IFA announcements, we also have a handful of flagships, which were all announced earlier this year. They are soon to be replaced at next year's CES (January) or MWC (February) so their price has tumbled making them an even better deal. The LG G3 can pick a fight with any flagship, yet it won't hurt your wallet much.
And it's already getting Android 5.0 Lollipop, almost as fast as the Nexus devices. The fast track update schedule and the continued support are both becoming an important differentiators as in recent years the hardware way outlives the software. Today's €200 phones have 2012 flagship specs, yet the new, cheaper devices run better because makers rarely update their older phones past the two year mark. The Galaxy S III never got to KitKat, but the cheaper Moto G is still flying high on the latest Android, and both have almost identical hardware ticking inside.
You can read the guide page by page or just jump to the price range you had in mind. Perhaps, it will be useful to check out the pages before and after your price group - perhaps you can find what you're looking for at less cost or something considerably better for just a bit more.
Unlike the previous installment, this smartphone buyer's guide goes over the €500. While you can't go wrong buying from the top shelf, we tried to listen to the brain more than the heart here.
In this edition we've also included a page of devices that didn't quite make the shortlist of recommendations, but still deserve to be mentioned. You can think of that page as... our reserve list. The devices featured on it are excellent devices on their own and they have their particular selling points that just might click for you even though the price premium can come as outrageous. For one, we know many of you will be seduced by metal unibodies and won't care if you can get better specs for less.
Nor should you you can have a whole list of excellent phones to choose from at around €300-400 with great screens, great cameras and a variety of connectivity options. So to pick anything for more money than that, you must be really listening to your heart rather than your head. We are far from judging anyone, we only mean to make a point that we've covered that group as well.