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Apple iPhone 6 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z3

By S21, 4 Nov 2014

It's the epic tech battle of 2014. The smartphone giants have unleashed their very best phones in a gigantic wave of awesomeness. Now it's time to sort the hype from the reality and answer the biggest question that confronts each and every one of us.

Which is the best smartphone of 2014?

Today's best buy: Sony Xperia Z3 UK SIM-Free S ... from Amazon (£195.7)

Let's start with a quick overview of the 4 candidates:

Apple iPhone 6
The iPhone 6 comes with a big 4.7 inch screen and NFC cashless payments. It's probably the most beautiful, most practical, most desirable phone in the marketplace in 2014.
  HTC One M8
The HTC One M8 builds on last year's One with a premium metal design, superb stereo audio, blazing fast performance and Android KitKat with BlinkFeed. The camera is unique, with a second lens to capture depth information and Ultrapixels for low light performance.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the fastest, most powerful Galaxy smartphone ever, with a stylish new look, fingerprint and heart rate scanners, ultra-fast camera and extended battery life.
  Sony Xperia Z3
With premium styling and awesome specs, the Z3 is one of the best camera phones ever, able to record 4K UHD video. Battery life is superb, and it's waterproof and dustproof too!

Hardware, looks & design

iPhone 6 Crafted from anodized aluminum, stainless steel, and glass, the iPhone 6 is a drop-dead gorgeous, seamless phone that just oozes class and sophistication. It's shockingly thin at just 6.9mm and weighs just 129g. 100%
HTC One M8 The brushed aluminium unibody of the One M8 has an even higher metal component than the HTC One. The twin Boomsound speakers look the business and deliver a full-flavoured rich stereo sound. The phone is heavy though, weighing 160g, and it's a chunky 9.35mm at its thickest part. 90%
Galaxy S5 The S5 is made of plastic, with a perforated rear casing design. It can't match the premium looks of its rivals, but it is water- and dust-resistant. It's quite slim at 8.1 mm thick, and weighs in at a moderate 145g. 80%
Xperia Z3 The Sony is another beautiful phone, with the front and back surfaces made from strong tempered glass, and with a rounded aluminium frame and aluminium details. Twin stereo speakers are a bonus, and it goes even further than the Samsung, being fully waterproof and dustproof. It's superslim at just 7.3mm, and weighs in at 152g. 100%

Screen size & quality

iPhone 6 The iPhone 6 has a 4.7 inch Retina HD display. It's a very bright IPS display with good contrast and readability, but with just 1334 x 750 pixel resolution, or 326ppi (points per inch). 85%
HTC One M8 The One M8 has a large 5 inch display. Like the iPhone, it uses IPS technology and is bold and bright. It has the benefit of full HD resolution with 1080 x 1920 pixels and a much higher 441ppi.
Galaxy S5 The S5's screen measures 5.1 inches. It's an AMOLED display with superb brightness and colour saturation and effectively infinite contrast. It's also full HD resolution with a pixel density of 432 ppi. It's an outstanding screen and one of the best features of the phone. 100%
Xperia Z3 The Xperia Z3 has the biggest screen of the four, measuring 5.2 inches. It's another IPS display using Sony's OptiContrast panel, Live Colour LED and Triluminos technology. As with the other Android phones, it's full HD with 1080 x 1920 pixels. 95%

Operating system

iPhone 6 iOS remains the easiest mobile OS to use, with the widest choice of apps, the Siri intelligent assistant and the new health & fitness features of iOS 8. However, it lacks the customisation options of Android. 95%
HTC One M8 The One M8 runs Android 4.4 with the benefits of HTC Sense and BlinkFeed. 90%
Galaxy S5 The S5 also runs Android 4.4 and comes with a ton of extra stuff including the S-Voice personal assistant and lots of new fitness features. 90%
Xperia Z3 The Xperia Z3 runs almost pure Android 4.4 with barely any customisation from Sony. 85%

Hardware specs

iPhone 6 The iPhone is very fast, with a 64-bit A8 processor and M8 motion coprocessor. Memory options are 16GB, 64GB and 128GB. There's just 1GB of RAM, but it manages to outperform the Android phones in many benchmark tests. 95%
HTC One M8 The M8 runs with a 2.3GHz quadcore Snapdragon 801 processor. Memory options are 16GB or 32GB, and there's also a microSD memory card slot, giving an easy upgrade of an extra 128GB. RAM is a healthy 2GB. 90%
Galaxy S5 The S4 also has a Snapdragon 801 processor, but running at an even faster 2.5GHz. The phone comes with either 16GB or 32GB of memory and you can add up to 128GB of extra memory via a microSD card. RAM is again 2GB. 95%
Xperia Z3 The Z3 matches the S5 with a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor. The onboard flash memory is limited to 16GB, but there's a microSD card slot that will accept cards up to 128GB. RAM is a very generous 3GB. 95%


iPhone 6 An 8 megapixel camera with touch autofocus, LED flash and low light capability, plus a HD front-facing camera. High quality optics make for great shots. The camera can record full 1080p HD video. 90%
HTC One M8 HTC's UltraPixel camera has excellent low-light performance, but the 4 megapixel resolution can't capture fine details. Groovy post-processing tools let you change the focus of a shot after taking the picture! Video performance is 1080p and the front-facing camera uses a conventional 5 megapixel sensor. 85%
Galaxy S5 The S5 has an impressive 16 megapixel camera and claims the world's fastest autofocus in a camera phone. Also impressive is real-time HDR and 4K ultra HD video capture. The front camera has 2 megapixel resolution with 1080p HD video recording. 95%
Xperia Z3 Sony has equipped the Z3 with an incredible 20.7 megapixel camera with exceptional low light performance. It also offers 4K UHD video recording. The front camera features a 2.2 megapixel Exmor RS sensor with 1080p video capture. 95%


iPhone 6 You'll be spending around £40/month for the 16GB version, or £539 sim free. But we'd recommend the 64GB version, which will set you back £45/month or £619 sim free. 75%
HTC One M8 Available for £30/month or around £450 sim free. 95%
Galaxy S5 The S5 is available for just under £30/month or around £400 sim free. 100%
Xperia Z3 You can pick up the Sony for around £30/month, or £450 sim free. 95%

So, here are the final scores:

So there you have it. It's a close call, and we reckon you won't go far wrong with any of these beauties, but by a whisker the Sony Xperia Z3 gets our vote.

Do you agree? Do you also find it to be a self-evident truth that the Xperia Z3 is the best smartphone of 2014? Or do you disagree? Is this a poisonous falsehood that must be opposed by all right-minded people?

Do write your comments below. We'd love to hear what you think.

Best buys
Sony Xperia Z3 UK SIM-Free S ...
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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UK SI ...
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Sony Xperia Z3 UK SIM-Free S ...
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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UK SI ...
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Sony Xperia Z3+ Plus Dual SI ...
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Sony Xperia Z3 German Versio ...
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Comment by Qasid from UK on 20th Feb 2015
I have the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S5, and even though the 6 Plus hasn't been reviewed (although it is essentially the same as the iPhone 6), I would still go for the S5 as the better phone overall because of its functionality. There is so much more you can do with the S5 when compared to the iPhone.
The only reason I use my iPhone more than the S5 is because of the UI. It is so much more easier to use for the basics (phone, texting, etc) and build quality is top notch.

Comment by Antonio from Italy on 26th Jan 2015
Great comparison, I agree but iphone is treated way too well... it's an overpriced and pompous fashion toy. Apple ruined hi-te

Comment by Trevor from England on 18th Jan 2015
I also agree with your choice, I upgraded my much loved xperia s to a z3 the day after launch. After considering the others it was the obvious choice and I've not regretted it.
For me the Samsung is far too cheap from a build quality point of view, and the low spec camera put me off the HTC.
As for the iphone whilst I don't doubt it's the bees knees to iphone fans it's just over priced and is not the market leader it should be from a spec view point. Instead of just making a 16GB version with a memory card slot apple insist in ripping people off.

Comment by ste from england on 2nd Dec 2014
you should definitely add a longevity comparison, for example, a 3+ year old iPhone 4s fetches more than a 1 year old HTC one m7, ridiculous, but due to so many android phones coming out they depreciate so quickly. iPhone is always a good investment and will surely return you good money if and when you decide to sell it.

Comment by Adrianeds from Wales on 5th Nov 2014
I agree with your choice, as I bought the Xperia Z3 on the day it launched, & I have to say it is one mighty beast. I have the Xperia Z Ultra as well, & there is quite a big difference between them. The screen on the Z3 is twice as bright as the screen on the Z Ultra. The speed is incredible, & the camera is just spectacular. I think this is the best phone of 2014.

Comment by Rosie from UK on 4th Nov 2014
I've just got an Xperia Z3 Compact and am very pleased with it. It was very hard to choose which to get but Z3 compact won over with great camera

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