Category Archives: Reviews

The Best Compact Mobile Phones

mobile phone sticking out of trouser pocket

mobile phone sticking out of trouser pocket

 

Squeezing all the features of modern, flagship smartphones into devices which slip effortlessly into a trouser pocket has become the number one challenge in the mobile phone industry. Several manufactures have tried (and failed) to downsize the modern smartphone, whilst keeping all the bells and whistles on which we’ve become hopelessly dependent.  

Fitting all the features of a top-of-the-range phone into a smaller body is a real challenge, but a handful of mobile sellers have nailed it. Here are 5 of the best compact mobile phones of 2015.

Sony Xperia Z5

Squeaking into this countdown with a 4.6 inch screen, Sony’s flagship compact phone is the most powerful ‘smaller’ mobile phone on the market. The Xperia Z5 is feature-rich, with fingerprint security lurking under the power button, a whopping-great 23-megapixel camera on-board and extra storage options and a hulking great battery, allowing 3 days’ use from a single charge.

Like many smartphones in this day and age, the Z5 is waterproof, coping with depths of up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

The Z5 is a very powerful, premium-feel smartphone which lasts longer than most on a single charge and belies its relatively small stature.

Motorola Moto G

Not only is the Motorola Moto G pocket-friendly, it’s also a touch more forgiving on the wallet, coming in at under £200.

The Moto G runs a no-frills version of Android but is surprisingly nippy and responsive despite the obvious budget phone affectations. It comes equipped with a decent camera and a microSD slot for bumping up storage if the 8 or 16 GB built-in doesn’t cut the mustard.

Rather niftily, given the price tag, the Moto G is also waterproof, able to withstand depths of 1m for up to 30 minutes, so it’s more than capable of dealing with clumsy household spillages or getting caught in a downpour.

If you’re in the market for a reliable, responsive and long-lasting little smartphone, the Moto G is a fantastically affordable option.

Samsung Galaxy A3

Samsung have very much led the way in the move from pocket-sized mobile phones to the giant tech we see being lugged around today. The Korean mega-brand also have a reputation for churning out flimsy-framed, budget versions of their flagship handsets.

Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy A3 is neither flimsy-framed nor low-end. And it just about squeezes into this list of non-enormous smartphones with a 4.5 inch 540 x 960 Super AMOLED display, providing a crisp and clear display.

Under the bonnet the Galaxy A3 is loaded with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 401 processor and 1.5GB of RAM – all pretty standard stuff, really. There’s also an 8 megapixel snapper on the rear and a 5 megapixel effort on the front.

But the real selling point for this functional and compact Samsung is the premium-feel metal casing, which has become a bit of a collector’s item in Samsung’s back catalogue.

Couple this sturdy metal casing with the affordable price tag and the Galaxy A3 becomes a very attractive option for those looking to downsize.

HTC One mini 2

HTC are renowned for their paving-slab-sized handsets and the flagship One handset rightly claims its title as one of the best smartphones ever produced. It was also very, very big.

The One mini 2 brings the same premium build-quality as the original HTC One to the compact mobile party and comes kitted-out with a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM and a very impressive 4.5 inch 720 x 1280 Super LCD2 screen.

There’s a more-than-decent 13 megapixel camera fitted on the rear and a nifty 5 megapixel front facing camera, covering all your selfie needs. Unlike the original HTC One mini, there’s also a microSD card slot, to boost it above the 16GB of storage that comes built in.

LG G2 Mini

LG are many people’s favourite ‘second team’ behind the usual suspects: Apple, Samsung and HTC. Over the past half-decade, the team at LG have consistently churned out some top quality tech Though they may not have garnered the critical acclaim their devices deserve, LG have racked up the sales and the the LG G2 Mini is one of the best-selling compacts around, despite being relatively expensive when compared to other offerings.

The LG G2 mini includes the same powerhouse battery as the larger G2, with a 2440mAh power cell, all squeezed into a 129.6 x 66 x 9.8mm frame, smaller than the G2’s 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9mm.

The LG G2 Mini’s size means the RAM has been reduced to 1GB and is ‘only’ packing a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, compared to the LG G2’s 2.26GHz Snapdragon 800.

The 4.7-inch display has a resolution of 540 x 960 and a pixel density of 234ppi, again not packing the same punch as its big brother.

 

OnePlus One review: Powerful, elegant and affordable

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composition-main

OnePlus is the new Chinese startup company entering the smartphone market and this new One handset is their debut model.

The OnePlus One showcases a range of hardware features one would normally find on a big-budget flagship handset. It also comes kitted-out with the open-source, firmware-based software package CyanogenMod which hands more customizing control over to the user.

With CyanogenMod onboard, you can tweak your phone’s settings to your heart’s content; much more so than with Google’s Android stock offering. Modification and the capacity to personalise have always been Android’s trump cards over Apple’s glossy, but rigid iOS, so it’s interesting to see a new player in the smartphone market really lead on this key point of difference.

The OnePlus One’s standout feature in terms of hardware is probably the mightily impressive full-HD screen, which pumps out a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution, and is covered by a slick covering of Gorilla Glass 3. This screen spec puts the OnePlus One right up there on a level with some of the best-selling flagship phones on the market and gives the One handset a real head start on many other wallet-friendly offerings.

It’s a big ‘un

Fans of phablet style handsets will love the OnePlus One; it is an enormous device. Measuring in at 75.9mm by 152.9mm it’s a real monster and you can pretty much forget using it one-handed unless you have hands the size of shovels. That being said, the OnePlus One is impressively thin, coming in at just 8.9mm, so despite either end of the phone having different postcodes, it doesn’t actually feel too bulky to hold.

The OnePlus One’s screen is vivid and crisp, and web browsing and sifting through your emails will never look better.  The option to have the Android touch buttons either on the screen or  just below it is a nice little touch, with the latter setup freeing up even more screen space.

The camera

Savvy consumers have become accustomed to the commercial smoke and mirrors employed by  marketing departments of top-selling tech brands. The shrewd shopper can easily unpick a snappy advert for a new device which claims to pack in all the best features for half the price of the market leaders. The sums just don’t add up; concessions on quality need to be made somewhere, right?

Put simply, if you want to sell a phone on the cheap, then something’s gotta give and nine times out of ten, the camera is the sacrificial lamb. The OnePlus One manages to buck this trend and uses a 13-megapixel rear-mounted camera with a Sony sensor, six-element lens setup and f/2.0 aperture for lower-light shots.

The front-facing camera operates at 5MP, which is obviously nothing special, but is well over the 1.3-megapixel sensor found on the Google Nexus 5 (another phone which seemed too good to be true, promising all the bells & whistles but without the crippling price tag) and is more than decent enough to capture the occasional selfie.

Performance

It is a mark of how rapidly smartphone technology is advancing that this OnePlus One handset, on paper at least, actually has more grunt under the bonnet than the Galaxy S5 but comes in at a fraction of the price. The OnePlus One runs on a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU and a 578MHz Adreno 330 GPU, with 3GB of RAM. These impressive numbers easily place the OnePlus One handset in the realm of ‘superphone’ and certainly belie the handset’s reasonable price tag.

Summary

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone and want to try something a little different then this OnePlus One handset comes highly recommended; it’s got to be one of the best smartphones currently doing the rounds. This sleek 5.5inch One device looks set to become the new benchmark for what is expected of an ‘affordable’ smartphone, with a high-end spec sheet coupled with an elegant design.