2014 showed that the smartphone game is getting harder.
Incremental improvements and top notch software means mobile-makers are having to up their design game if they don’t want sales to plummet.
Fortunately, the year has served up some superb devices, with nearly every key player releasing a device worthy of inclusion in our top five.
We’ve whittled down the very best and come up with a list of handsets that have taken the whole smartphone sector up another level.
1 LG G3
This will go down as the year that LG finally pulled away from its key rival Samsung. And it’s all down to the G3.
This phone is an absolute stunner, from its metal–like finish (which is actually 80% polycarbonate), to its bezel–free frame and 2K display, which serves up movies and YouTube clips with clarity no other smartphone can match.
Its rear button controls, brought over from last year’s G2, are novel but not gimmicky, while the proprietary Smart Clean and Smart Notice features are ace for ditching cached files and conserving battery life respectively.
Chuck in a beefed up processor and laser–focus camera and you have the year’s hottest handset.
2 Apple iPhone 6
The iPhone 6’s design might not be as natty as its 5s predecessor.
But Apple’s decision to finally push the screen size up to 4.7–inches has made its latest phone a huge success. Sales hit 10 million in its opening weekend (including the larger iPhone 6 Plus), and it’s easy to see why.
The beefed up camera lens is sensational, while the screen itself is a cut above, delivering superb detail from stills and movies.
Touch ID remains the best security feature on any smartphone, while the Health app has plenty of potential, especially with next year’s Apple Watch launch.
Apple Pay is also set to revolutionise mobile wallets. iOS’s solidity and sheer breadth of well–designed apps help make the iPhone 6 another Apple success.
3 Sony Xperia Z3
Sony’s line of impressive Xperia Z devices get updated every six months. And its latest Z3 edition is unquestionably the best yet.
That’s not just because of its strong take on Google Android or its superb 20.7 megapixel camera, which makes the most of the Big S’s imaging nous.
Its ability to play nice with your console via PS4 Remote Play makes it the ultimate phone for gamers who want more than the odd 69p casual title to while away an hour.
The battery life is way beyond rival phones from Samsung, while its 3GB of RAM and quad–core processor make it fast and easy to use.
4 HTC One M8
HTC’s struggles seem to be behind it thanks to its superb One (M8).
Although its ostensibly an iterative update on 2013’s One (M7), it still rates as one of the best designed smartphones out there, with a slick, all–metal frame.
That’s before we’ve got to the excellent Ultra Pixel camera, less intrusive and more intuitive than ever Sense custom skin and the brilliant Dot View cover, which shows key information without the need to fire the handset up from sleep mode.
The second camera lens allows you to refocus images after you’ve taken them, while HTC BoomSound and Zoe make a welcome return.
The screen is sharp and clear and the Snapdragon 801 processor means it never misses a beat either.
HTC’s best ever phone is unquestionably of 2014’s greatest too.
5 Motorola Moto G
There are fancier phones on the market, but the latest version of Motorola’s Moto G is undoubtedly the budget buy of 2014.
Its use of stock Android means it gets the latest Google software alongside flagship Nexus and Google Play kit, while the £150 SIM–free price tag is hugely attractive considering the specs on offer.
They include a decent eight megapixel camera. the clever Lost Phone Web Portal and Motorola Assist for breezy syncing.
Dual SIM support makes it great for those who have separate work and private numbers, a feature that rarely gets seen on these shores.
And it's solid and comes with the kind of extras you’d expect from a handset twice the price.