Clove’s top 10 smartphones May 2017
So to anyone that follows mobile technology then you can probably already guess what is at the top of the list for this month!
Yes – spoiler alert – it is the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+. But then again, what else was it going to be?!
The change at the top has a knock-on effect down our list.
There has also been, what to some will be a surprise entrant, the BlackBerry KEYone.
At the time of writing, KEYone stock has not begun shipping from Clove, so normally we would not include the phone. The demand has been so high though, with stock imminent, that we have made an exception. Yes, it has a keyboard and yes, many are criticising it. Yet many still want such a device; be that due to nostalgia or legitimate personal preference.
Globally, the success of the KEYone may not even touch the sides of the S8, however that’s not the point. It was always going to be a niche product and not for everyone.
As devices become more similar, there is a space for brands to produce more unique and niche products. There does have to be a call and demand, but not everything has to sell millions to be a good product for those who want it.
As for a personal though this month: Android-powered cameras. This is a market I think could grow more. Samsung dabbled, as did Panasonic and Nikon. Imagine though a partnership of leading camera brands such as Nikon or Canon with the Google Pixel/Android experience. I’m not talking about a camera with a phone attached, or a phone with a camera attached. What I’m referring to is a camera with a modern, connected OS, rather than the frustratingly clunky interfaces most camera manufacturers continue to insist on, with their ragged crossover apps for connecting to mobile devices. I digress, but you probably see my point.
So here is the top 10 list for May 2017.
If you want to see our previous top 10 lists you can do so here.
10. Honor 6X
The 6X sits below the more premium 8 but above thecheaper 5C and 5X models. It is more of a premium mid-tier smartphone if that makes sense.
It’s available today for well under £250 in Gold, Silver and Grey colours. This makes it more than half the price of top-tier handsets from Samsung or Apple. Each comes with 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM.
You get a fingerprint sensor, dual rear camera and large Full HD screen.
The fingerprint sensor is a new 3rd generation model. This provides accurate results in just 0.3 seconds and has gesture control support. Tap or slide on the sensor to interact with the system notification shade or scroll depending on the app.
Dual cameras so far have only been seen on high-end handsets. The secondary 2MP sensor activates some interesting depth of field bokeh effects. You can select these post-capture or, if you have the time, set up scenes as you shoot. This extra module also improves autofocus time and enables a pseudo aperture selector on screen.
The 6X looks very smart for a phone at this price point. 2.5D curved edge glass sweeps into the casing. A metallic tinted material is used for the body. This remains lightweight, reflective and durable, without the cost of milled aluminium.
9. Apple iPhone 7/7 Plus
If you are a more technically aware reader or know your smartphones, you might wince when someone says they have an iPhone and pull out a completely different brand of phone, which is a smartphone, but not an iPhone. However, to me this is no greater proof that the power of branding and you have to hand it to Apple.
We are months away from any revisions to the 7 and 7 Plus, but that does not stop the rumour mill running at 100mph. What will Apple do to celebrate a milestone in the iPhone history, only time will tell
However, here and now in the present day, the 7 and 7 Plus are exceptionally great phones that offer a lot in stylish packages.
The S8 range might now have them beaten, just, in pure appeal and camera capabilities but we are splitting hairs.
The two flavours mean that those who prefer a smaller or larger screen are catered for, although the 7 Plus does bring additional camera benefits.
Within the last few months, Apple added the Red colour option to the range in addition to the already present, Silver, Black, Jet Black, Gold, Rose gold. The Red colours has sparked a resurgence in tech circles to talk about this masterclass of smartphone. The only difference is the colour, plus, with every purchase Apple donate to the Product(RED) HIV/AIDS programmes. Of course if you already own an iPhone or don’t like the red colour, you can always donate directly.
The complaints surrounding the lack of headphone jack no longer really seems to be an issue, more of an irritation for some. An adapter is included for those who must use 3.5mm headphones.
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 on a 5S or 6, 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. And what great pictures they will be from the the built in camera. Seen all the ads promoting the iPhone’s camera capabilities.
The processor is now more efficient and the home button replaced with a capacitive glass panel.
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.
8. Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017 Edition)
Whilst it will not have the power-users chomping at the bit, for the majority of us the A3 is actually very impressive for the £280 price point.
With a 720p resolution the screen is not a massive power drain, yet is plenty crisp enough to complete all your tasks and enjoy media on the go.
4G and WiFi connectivity are present, as is USB Type-C connectivity, IP 168 water resistance, 16GB internal storage and a 13-megapixel rear camera.
And in an age where security and privacy is so important the fingerprint sensor should please many.
7. CAT S60
If you are looking for a new smartphone for you mum, aunt or friend, this is unlikely to be the one unless being used for professional purposes.
On the flipside, if you’re a bit of a power user and find yourself in the outdoors in your spare time, maybe it’s worth consideration.
For those who want a rugged and reliable phone that can survive water, impacts and a bit of a tougher life, the S60 is one you must consider.
A definite unique feature and big selling point is the built-in thermal camera. Have you seen what it can do? Check out just some examples of how it can be used here.
Dedicated thermal cameras exist but they’re not exactly pocket friendly. Nor can they do a lot more than just thermal imaging. As a result the S60 is a very compelling device. Capture thermal images and video, create the report and send it off all whilst several hundred miles away from the office and in the middle of almost nowhere!
Built into a very solid and rugged frame, the S60 is 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.
6. LG G6
2017’s flagship device from LG, the G6 reverts away from the modular design of the G5, but has launched in shadow of the media frenzy that is the S8.
The G6 is on paper as well as in everyday performance everything a leading smartphone should be.
Plenty of unique features here on the G6, the most prominent of all being the 18:9 (or 2:1) screen ratio for the large 5.7″ display. With over 80% screen to body ratio, the screen dominates the front of the handset.The LG G6 also features a return of the rear-mounted power button, this time integrated into the fingerprint sensor. Volume controls are located on one side.It is too IP rated, so for those working and wishing to use the phone in wet or dusty conditions, no problem.
A dual camera set up has been an important development in mobile photography in the past year, although depending on the implementation, results can vary drastically. At their best, dual cameras allow you to take images with enhanced depth of field, contrast and brightness, plus introduce special effect and layering technology not possible with just one lens.
LG have always pushed the boundaries of camera technology with the G range. On the LG G6, both rear cameras have a 1/3.06″sensor with f/2.4 aperture and 1.12μm size pixels. The difference is one lens has a super-wide 125° field of view compared to the standard 71° on the other.Switching between the two cameras is easy as swiping across the screen. Also available are specialised shooting modes and effects utilising both lenses simultaneously.
32GB storage, 4GB RAM, MicroSD card slot (up to 256GB) and a 3,300 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 are all reasons to pick the G6 as your next device.
5. Moto G5
Shrinking back to the 5″ display found on the Moto G3, the Moto G5 brings back a bit more of a compact form factor and improves the material quality alongside it.
An aluminium effect body makes the handset look classy. The camera module also stands out with a design influence from the Moto Z range.
Retaining affordability, the G5 is available with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, also providing microSD expansion and fingerprint security for just £170
Android is the operating system of choice, updated to 7.0 Nougat in 2017. All of the Google services are pre-installed, as well as some neat Moto additions such as the karate-chop motion to turn the flashlight on. Innovative and useful tweaks that just make the device a little more fun, but useful.
The battery is removable, unusual for a modern phone, and new compared to previous internal batteries in past Gs.
This is a great first smartphone or for those looking for the ultimate blend of performance and price. You can’t go too far wrong here, especially when the smaller screen appeals to those who want one-handed use.
See it in action in our hands on review here.
4. Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge
Android 7.0 updates are now available to deliver many of the latest software enhancements, including a blue light filter.
The S7 is 5.1″ and S7 Edge 5.5″, with a curvature to the edges of the display which slim it in the hand.
The bezel might be larger than the new S8. To me though this has the feeling, even if it’s only psychological, that the S7 will be more robust.
Having personally been using the S7 for best part of a year now now, I am really impressed with the performance, reliability and camera. I see little need to change or opt for the newer model right now.
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, although a few tweaks in your approach to a long day and you can still easily get by.
Unless you are a photo fanatic, the S7 can replace larger dedicated cameras. Great features include 4K video recording, time lapse and 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. I have always though 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 the edge does affect gripping the handset.
Great results come from the internal camera, plus the 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.
3. Moto G4
Yes, the older G4 from Moto remains the better seller to date. Why? I am not entirely sure.
Proof that the tried and tested is perhaps more desirable or maybe the larger screen is still the benefit? Whatever the reason both are great pieces of kit.
Irrespective of your day to day needs, even the most demanding smartphone users ‘could’ use this. For lighter users who want a functional smartphone which survives 18 months to 2 years then you can do a lot worse.
On trend with a large 5.5 inch touchscreen display, Moto’s G4 feels great in hand, thanks in part to smooth curved edges and premium materials.
With an almost stock Android experience, the G4 is not laden with unused memory-hungry apps. Other improvements include revisions to the camera software and a bump in battery size, which somewhat compensates for the larger screen.
The handset launched with Android 6 and has since updated to 7.0 with the benefits that this brings.
As we are nearing the end of the Moto G4’s shelf life (because of the G5) it can now only be purchased as a dual SIM option, in white colour only.
The default storage is 16GB of internal memory coupled with 2GB of RAM. You can expand this with a microSD memory card.
2. BlackBerry KEYone
There are those that love the idea and are a bit nostalgic. Of course the flipside are those who feel it is a lost product in today’s all-touch environment.
I am not here to argue who is right or wrong. To each their own. What I can say is that judging by the interest here at Clove, there are a good few people who like what the KEYone offers.
It ticks the boxes for a solid high-mid specification; it’s not all singing and dancing, but definitely not a budget device.
One thing it does offer is performance and battery life. The KEYone’s blend of power-efficient processor, reduced screen size and physically large battery make for a total workhorse of a phone.
The keys offer tactile feedback. They also include an integrated capacitive trackpad and fingerprint sensor. Plus the 4.5″ touchscreen is large and responsive enough for when you need it.
You can set shortcuts to certain keys on the 4-row keyboard with short or long presses. There’s even a programmable shortcut key on the side of the phone.
Android 7.0 is the operating system of choice over the older BlackBerry OS. This offers access to all the latest social and messaging platforms, with additional BlackBerry security layered on top.
BlackBerry too have added a variety of apps on top to give extra value and functionality to the phone.
32GB of internal storage, 3GB RAM, MicroSD memory card slot, 8MP front camera with flash, 12MP auto-focus large pixel rear camera, fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C connector and RGB notification LED are all built into it.
Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+
Every year manufacturers try to wow us with a new flagship release. In recent years though it has become increasingly difficult to be impressed. Many of the advancements in recent devices are not the big jumps in technology they once were.
Samsung has chosen to make an obvious statement with the new Galaxy S8 range. The screen is the most important feature of the phone. It is the window through which we view and interact with the modern world.
The last few generations have given us truly curved edges and new ways to interact. With the S8, Samsung take this to the logical extreme available in modern technology. The Infinity Display is available in 2 variants; the standard S8 has a 5.8″ screen and the S8+ comes with a 6.2″ panel.
Other important and notable hardware features are:
- 2.4 GHz Samsung Exynos 9 Octa 8995 processor / 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage & microSD support (up to 256GB)
- 12MP dual-pixel camera with smart OIS
- 8MP selfie camera with face tracking autofocus
- 3,000 (S8) 3,500 (S8+) mAh battery with fast charging and wireless charging (Qi or PMA)
- Bluetooth 5.0 / GPS / Dual Band Wi-Fi / NFC
- Gorilla Glass 5 front & back
- IP68 water and dust resistant
- USB Type-C / 3.5mm audio jack
Naturally this is an Android phone with a hefty amount of additional software features. In addition to standard Android features are Samsung’s developments, including the new Bixby Assistant. You can also turn the phone into a desktop workstation via Samsung DeX.
Google accounts, corporate exachange email accounts, social media accounts and more, they all run like a charm on the S8. It is the S7 perfected. Whilst some may not see a need to upgrade from the S7 but when held side-by-side you really can see how impressive it is to fit such a screen in only a marginally larger body.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning +44 (0)1202 552936 and we will happily help.