The year is coming to an end and things get a little quiet normally in the ‘new phone’ department, but smartphones often make for popular Christmas gifts.
We have had quite a few customers saying already that they have bought someone special a new phone. Many can’t wait to see the recipient’s reaction, especially as many are not expecting such a great gift.
Interest and demand in the iPhone 7 & 7 Plus from Apple remains strong as does the DTEK60 by BlackBerry.
Just hitting the virtual shelves is an interesting product from Kodak, the Ektra, an Android smartphone with a focus on image capture, just look at the size of the lens.
We will be giving the Kodak our normal review treatment over the coming weeks.
So here is our top 10 list for December:
If you want to see our previous top 10 lists you can do so here.
10. Honor 5C
The Honor 5C is another example to be considered alongside the Moto. Perhaps the Honor brand is a little less known to you? Well they are actually owned by Chinese giant Huawei, so aren’t some venture-capital backed startup with little credibility.
This is very similar to the 5X that launched earlier this year. The screen though is a touch smaller at 5.2″. On the front the selfie camera gets a boost to 8 megapixels as well.
The 5C provides 2 quad-core processors, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. There’s also a microSD card slot and the option for dual SIM. Did I mention it has a fingerprint reader and aircraft grade aluminium?!
Running Google Android you get all the well-advertised Google services. There are a few Honor tweaks and customisations to the UI, but nothing too heavy or off-putting.
9. Apple iPhone SE
The SE uses the chassis of the iPhone 5S, an exceptionally popular phone, and replaces the internals with virtually all of the current internals from the iPhone 6S. How, I am not sure, but the resulting device is well, superb!
Yes there are bigger bezels and it looks a little dated, but it works and I have shown it to people I know using the iPhone 4 and 5 and 5S and they were all very impressed. Most are stuck with the older phones because they love the form factor.
As the cheapest iPhone yet, prices start at £359 for the 16GB model, but your probably best opting for the 64GB model at £439. Both are available in Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.
iOS 9 is installed as is the powerful Apple A9 processor, 13 megapixel camera, with 4K recording, 4G connectivity, Apple Pay and much more.
The small screen at 4″ keeps the physical size down but the resolution is a little yesteryear at 326 pixels per inch, but for text messages, phone calls and web browsing it is perfectly acceptable, just lacking some of the richer detail from the HD displays on the larger iPhones.
8. Honor 8
We think this an unsung hero amongst many of the phones on the market today. The Honor 8 really can be compared to premium smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 7. It might not tick every box for everyone, but one box it will tick is price.
Honor have made a name for themselves with their cheaper phones. Now they have branched out into more feature rich, flagship territory with the Honor 8.
Based on the P9 from parent company Huawei, the 8 still benefits from all of the great features that have made the Honor line so popular.
It’s a flagship phone without the flagship price. As such you can expect dual SIM connectivity, 4G, 5.2″ HD display, USB-C connector, fingerprint scanner, dual 12 megapixel rear cameras, 8 megapixel front camera, smart key, fast charging… you get the idea!
Honor 8 is available in 3 colours with a striking light and eye-catching 15 layer glass back panel. You’d be doing yourself an injustice if you didn’t even consider this as your next handset.
7. Moto Z
Recent news suggest more and more manufacturers are getting on board with making mods for the Moto Z. I believe I read somewhere as many as 250 developers are working on projects.
Already a projector, speaker, larger battery and camera module exist, but what additional innovations are around the corner?
The Moto Z is perhaps the ‘perfect’ modular phone.
The Z on its own is a stunning, sleek and powerful smartphone. Attach the optional modules by the power of magnetism and you can thoroughly transform it. Watch it become a device that lasts all day, powers out your favourite tunes or becomes a mobile cinema with the projector.
Pick, choose and snap Mods on or off as frequently as you like, without needing to power the phone down. Connect and disconnect to your heart’s content and use the Mods that work best for you.
A smooth user experience, some nice software enhancements from Moto and a profile that is just 5.2mm thick, in addition to the quad HD display, 4GB RAM, 32GB of internal memory, microSD card slot and aluminium body; there is a lot going for this handset.
6. Priv by BlackBerry
However, there are an equal number of supporters and happy users.
A year on from its launch, the Priv is still a strong performing product and can compete with the best of the rest. Launching at £549, the Priv is now £224 cheaper at £325 inclusive of VAT. That is a lot of phone for the money.
One of, if not the only Android smartphone with a physical keyboard that slides out from the bottom of the device, the Priv runs the Android operating system, which BlackBerry have rolled out monthly updates to since is launched.
Powerful and flexible with a massive application library Android gives you the ability to do a lot on the move, it can replace your desktop computer.
An exclusive DTEK by BlackBerry warning system app, provides you with the power of privacy and to monitor the security of your device.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM keeps things ticking along nicely and with an internally fixed 3410mAh battery a full days work away from power is more than possible.
A larger 5.44-inch QHD (2560×1440) dual-curved AMOLED display with deep and rich colours makes for a great viewing experience, particularly media such as video and images.
The rear mounted 18 megapixel camera with Schneider-Kreuznach certified camera optics captures stunning photos which can be stored on the internal 32GB of memory, and if you need more space you have the microSD card slot too.
5. Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge
Despite its position in the list, the S7/S7 Edge is still a fantastic phone. Currently, there is a little sweetener, that is a FREE Gear VR (2016 Edition) worth £95.
Having personally been using this for 6 months now I am really impressed with the performance, reliability and the camera images. There are though newer devices which are justifiably better value all-round. Consider the Honor 8 for instance.
It is quite amazing to have something just so powerful in your pocket and at your fingertips. You can remain connected and functional all from this one device with incredible ease. A heavy day’s usage can affect the battery, but a few tweaks to your approach for a long day and you can still get by.
Unless you are a photo fanatic, the S7 can replace larger dedicated cameras. Great features include 4K video recording, time lapse, slow motion. You can also double-tap power to launch the camera; a very handy addition.
Whilst the Edge probably is the better aesthetically, I feel the standard S7 feels more secure in my hand, but I have always been a fan of the ‘smaller’ phone.
If you use the Edge, the added screen functionality is improved from the S6 version. More capability for faster interaction with the phone can be very useful for some, but for others affects the grip of the handset.
Great results come from the internal camera, plus focus speed of the lens is really, really quick. Both phones are fingerprint magnets although that’s a minor gripe for a device with this speed, performance and general appeal.
4. CAT S60
Dedicated thermal cameras exist but they’re not exactly pocket friendly. Nor can they do a lot more than just thermal imaging.
Of course they have their place but the S60 can work well for those who may benefit from thermal imaging and the integration with a more advanced personal device.
Built into a very solid and rugged frame, the S60 is a drop and water resistant to 5 metres. This is an Android smartphone which can serve construction workers, site managers, engineers and the outdoors type very well.
Create, edit and review documents on the go. Manage your email, music or catch up with the latest news. Navigate from point A to B via C. The S60 is an all-round modern smartphone device that just works.
32GB of internal storage can be expanded via a microSD card. Plus you can run 2 SIM cards, combining a personal and work SIM into one phone.
3. Moto G4
This is a smartphone that will be gifted to a lot of people this year. Ultimately because it offers so much for the money!
I am inclined to use the word ‘budget’ to describe this handset. This can have a negative connotation though. Really this is just ‘exceedingly good value’.
Sporting a large 5.5 inch touchscreen display, Moto’s G4 still manages to feel great in hand despite being larger than previous generations. This is thanks to smooth curved edges and premium materials.
With an almost stock Android experience, the G4 is not laden with unused memory-hungry apps. There have been a number of other welcome improvements too. These include revisions to the camera software and a bump in battery size, which somewhat compensates for the larger screen.
Android 6 is installed out of the box. ‘Doze’ is a feature of this version, bringing increased standby times we all desire.
Available in 2 variants, the Moto G4 can be purchased as a single or dual SIM option. The Black colour is the single SIM option, whilst the White is the dual SIM.
The default storage is 16GB of internal memory coupled with 2GB of RAM. You can expand this with a microSD memory card.
The popularity has been for the dual SIM variant so far.
2. DTEK60 by BlackBerry
They may well be outsourcing the manufacture of the hardware, but the DTEK60 that follows on from the DTEK50 is well built and performs well.
The DTEK60 is a larger and more capable variant that meets the needs of more demanding users.
An Android device with a focus on security, this is the first to have a fingerprint scanner built in.
A smart and solidly constructed device it is essentially an enlarged DTEK50 with a few tweaks.
Great speakers, a respectable camera, high resolution screen, microSD card slot, NFC, 4G, Bluetooth and more.
USB Type-C connectivity is also present, a change to the microUSB found on the DTEK50.
BlackBerry’s DTEK application is present to monitor and advise on the security status of your device. It also provides other software enhancements designed to make your life and mobile communications easier to manage.
BlackBerry Hub is a one-stop shop for all your communications, be that multiple email accounts, social media and more.
A customisable convenience key is also a nice touch for one-touch access to a frequently required app or setting.
1. Apple iPhone 7/7 Plus
Whilst the removal or the headphone jack still remains a contentious issue, a lot of the complaining has died down here. Apple do include an adapter in the box along with Lightning EarPods and there is always Bluetooth.
Existing iPhone 6S and 6S Plus users may not see enough features to upgrade given the iPhone 7 expected premium pricing. However if you’re due an upgrade, then heck why not? If you’re a generation further back, then the new integrated Touch ID sensor and iOS 10 features could more easily sway you.
The addition of an IP rating is great. This provides peace of mind should you be using the iPhone in the rain or want to snap a picture by a waterfall or fountain.
At this point Apple are now perfecting what was already a very good product.
The processor is now more efficient and the home button replaced with a capacitive glass panel. The 7 Plus also makes use of a 2nd camera, primarily for optical zoom but also for depth of field techniques.
2 new colours make an appearance: Black and Jet Black. Although the fingerprint magnet that is the Jet Black is only available on higher storage models.
Demand is still high for all variants. Supply has struggled to keep up with the exclusive Jet Black being the option delayed most. As we enter November, stock has improved significantly.
256 GB of storage is available which should keep even the most hardcore of users happy. Although if the Plus model is your choice, at over £900 this purchase might not be the easiest to justify.
Clove top 10 information
Please do remember that this list is our top 10 based on our preferences, feelings, sales and customer feedback. Others may have a very different opinion on what makes their top 10. For a complete list of the phones that we range, see our SIM free smartphones section.
If you have any questions then contact us on email@example.com or by phoning +44 (0)1202552936 and we will happily help.