Some mobile makers consistently deliver the goods.
This year has seen Apple maintain its usual high standards (iOS 8 glitches aside), Google continue its domination of the smartphone space and LG release a stunning flagship.
Meanwhile, HTC has got itself back on its feet, while Sony has shown its decision to ditch Ericsson all those years ago was a wise one.
Here is our pick of the top five mobile winners of 2014.
When leaked court documents revealed an internal Apple memo complaining that, “Consumers want what we don’t have,” it was clear what it meant.
Apple’s failure to release larger handsets wasn’t the disaster some made out (its iPhone sales have always been buoyant), but its decision to bolster the screen size of its handsets hasn’t exactly hurt it either.
Opening weekend sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus topped 10 million, with 70 million iPhone sales estimated for the final quarter of 2014.
Throw in healthy, multi–billion dollar profits, the launch of the Apple Watch, plus a huge app revenue stream despite market share being well behind Google Android, and you can say that this has been another winning year for Tim Cook and co.
Android Lollipop’s buggy rollout may have been a major blip for Google, but on the whole 2014 has seen it strengthen across the board.
Its market share is now 83% globally according to Strategy Analytics, giving it huge sway in the budget and high end smartphone sectors.
Lollipop’s new design and features hold huge promise for 2015, while its premium new Nexus 6 handset marks a new stage in its attempts to compete as a high end mobile maker in its own right.
Android Wear and Google Fit showed the company’s intentions to take on Apple on the key battlegrounds of wearables and health, while its attempts to curb fragmentation with its Android One project and its Material Design language are starting to bear fruit.
After a shaky couple of years, 2014 saw HTC return to profit, bolstered by the release of its critically acclaimed One (M8) and its Nexus 9 tablet, built for Google.
Sales of those devices haven’t been stratospheric, but the former is such a good phone, showing the company’s design team is second only to Jony Ive’s Apple engineering group.
Its camera focused Desire Eye holds a lot of promise in the mid–range sector and with more to come next year, it seems the Taiwanese company has finally turned a corner.
LG has become something of a darling of the smartphone world. It’s seen a series of record breaking quarters, the last reported three month period seeing it shift 16.8 million smartphones, a company record.
That represented a doubling of sales compared to the same timeframe in 2013 and its best quarter in five years overall financially.
This has been down largely to the stunning G3, arguably the year’s best phone, with a superb 2K screen, bezel–free panel and unique, rear–configured button controls.
Sony isn’t having the best of times financially. But its handsets continued to win plaudits in 2014, especially its Z3 and Z3 Compact.
The latter pair’s ability to hook up with PS4 Remote Play make them a unique proposition in the smartphone gaming sector.
Their impressive cameras and sharp take on Google Android also help them stand out from the crowd.
The premium feel of the devices also helped it win a critical victory over Samsung, whose cheap–looking handsets have been widely derided this year.