Best 10 smartphones at the close of 2014 – B

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6. HTC One M8 for Windows

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Image: HTC

HTC releases amazing hardware designs and I was pleased to see them take the exact HTC One M8 Android hardware and release aWindows Phone version. The HTC One M8 for Windows is one of those rare Windows Phone devices with support for an IR blaster too so you truly do get the full HTC One M8 experience with a different operating system.

The HTC One M8 for Windows launched on Verizon, but has since come to AT&T with T-Mobile rolling it out soon as well. The camera experience is good, but like the Android version it captures limited detail with the UltraPixel lens. Since most people use their phones for social networking and online sharing, this may not be a concern for the masses.

The metal design feels great in your hand, the LCD display looks fantastic, and the device is very responsive.

7. BlackBerry Passport

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I honestly thought I would never include another BlackBerry in a top ten smartphone list, but the BlackBerry Passport seriously impressed me (check out my full review ). I purchased my own after reading early reviews and am glad I did. The BlackBerry Passport has specifications that beat nearly every smartphone today and comes in a unique form factor that is optimized for productivity.

Amazon’s Android AppStore is included on the BlackBerry Passport and it is also easy to sideload the Snap application for access to the Google Play Store. Although there are very few missing apps thanks to support for Android, not all are optimized for the square display and performance can be poor at times.

The BlackBerry Passport has a 4.5-inch 1440 x 1440 pixel resolution display, full hardware QWERTY keyboard, 13-megapixel camera, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, microSD card slot, and large 3,450 mAh battery.

If unified communications is important to you, then it will be tough to beat the awesome BlackBerry Hub. You can pick up the unlocked BlackBerry Passport for $599 to use with T-Mobile or AT&T in the US.

8. Nokia Lumia 1520

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Image: Nokia

The Nokia Lumia 1520 remains the best Windows Phone available today and has just about everything you could want in a smartphone. This includes one of the best cameras available on a phone, microSD expansion card slot, large high-resolution display, Qi wireless charging, extremely long battery life, and the latest version of Windows Phone 8.1.

Unfortunately, it is only sold on one US carrier (AT&T) and at select online retailers, so it will not be purchased by the masses. The app gap continues to shrink with Windows Phone 8.1 and lately I have been impressed with releases like SmartThings and Alaska Airlines.

Windows Phone 8.1 itself is a satisfying OS with the best personal assistant in Cortana, a very functional Action Center, nearly perfect folder implementation on the home screen, and more. I bought the unlocked 1520.3 and could not be happier with a Windows Phone device. It is a bit sad that we have gone a year without any new high-end Lumia devices or further rollout of the Lumia 1520.

9. LG G3

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Image: LG

LG was the first to launch a smartphone with a quad HD display and I purchased one for myself after taking it for a test drive . It turns out that I like other 1080p displays better and returned the LG G3.

The LG G3 is still a great choice with the microSD card slot, removable battery, fantastic camera, and innovative rear button design. You get a massive 5.5 inch display in a reasonable form factor thanks to some of the smallest bezels you can find on a smartphone.

The LG G3 is available now on all major US carriers and since it has been out now for several months, you can find some good deals and plenty of accessories.

10. HTC One M8 Android

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Image: HTC

The new HTC One (M8) Android is a nice upgrade to the M7 in most regards. It is one of the fastest smartphones available today. The camera is often referred to as the Achilles heel of this phone, but honestly the photos are just fine for social networks and sharing photos online with family and friends.

HTC improved its Sense 6 UI so that it honestly enhances, rather than detracts from, the Android experience. They continue to upgrade it with their new Eye Experience and an Android Lollipop update likely to come in early 2015. There is just the right amount of customizations, settings, and features without being overbearing like Samsung tends to do.

You can purchase the One M8 on all carriers and it remains an excellent choice.

As I stated in the beginning, we all have our preferences and you may have a different order for these high-end smartphones. I think this list covers the full top ten, but if you have another recommendation I would love to hear about it too.

Best 10 smartphones at the close of 2014 -A.


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