Clove’s top 10 smartphones July 2017
This is traditionally the point in the year when releases start to slow down. There are though a few more phones in the pipeline. For instance we’ve yet to see the new Nokia handsets launch in the UK. Moto also haven’t played their hand yet, so far only releasing budget models.
We also have Honor, Huawei’s wallet-friendly online brand. Their new Honor 9 model was announced and launched just a couple of weeks ago but hasn’t had time to enter our list just yet.
It’ll be interesting to see how well phones from all these names fare in the coming month.
But on to our July listings! Last month saw the launch of both the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and HTC U 11. Both of these phones have found their way into the revised top-ten. Read on to see where we’ve put them.
This does mean that a couple of older models have had to slip away. The Moto G4 is no more, and nor is the Galaxy S7. Sales of both have recently dropped in favour of their replacement models.
Surprising many, the BlackBerry KEYone has remained our best seller by far. We have only briefly been in stock at any point in the last 6 weeks, with KEYones flying out the door just as quickly as they arrive. For that reason it keeps our number 1 spot.
If you want to see our previous top 10 lists you can do so here.
10. Moto E4
With the Moto G now a mid-range phone (and included further down this list), and the Moto C providing the real budget ‘essentials’ experience, there is a small but necessary gap to fill in the smartphone pyramid.
Entering that space of affordable with a few mod-cons, is the all-new Moto E4. Available for only £129, this simple handset still provides a 5″ HD display, 8MP camera and removable 2,800 mAh battery. An up to date Android 7.1.1 installation runs the show, plus there’s a basic fingerprint sensor, making this one of the cheapest devices on the market to include both.
If you want a larger version, the E4 Plus has a 5.5″ display and costs £169. The extra cash also nets you a huge 5,000 mAh battery.
The rest of the specifications are pretty basic, but that hasn’t stopped us receiving a lot of interest in the E4. It has quietly filled the sub £150 space the original Moto G and Wileyfox Swift have left behind.
9. Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4
The previous Xcover 3 was somewhat of a sleeper hit. Due to its popularity with workers and companies as a robust phone for staff, it sold well throughout its lifespan. It even received a specification bump midway through, keeping it on sale much longer most phones these days.
It had to end someday though and Samsung have recently pulled the plug on the Xcover 3. As a result, plenty of people looking for one have stumbled upon its successor.
The Xcover 4 basically has everything that made the last version so popular. It also has the usual improvements to the OS, screen, processor, camera etc. that one expects from an incremental upgrade.
Xcover 4 now ships with Android 7.0 and a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor. The screen is bumped up to 5 inches and has a new ‘glove-mode’ with better touch sensitivity.
Other improvements include a programmable key and NFC. This supports Android Pay contactless payments and passive pairing/checking in. A redesigned case improves grip and notches the IP rating from IP67 to IP68.
Finally, Samsung have also included their Knox security software. A nod to the amount of companies that were interested in the Xcover range, this allows for simple management of device deployments and supports popular off-the-shelf MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions.
8. LG G6
The G6 is LG’s 2017’s flagship device. It pivots away from the modular design of the G5 to a more traditional smartphone style, albeit one with an interesting 18:9 screen ratio.
Frustratingly for LG it launched in shadow of the media frenzy that was the S8, which pulled a similar trick. Whilst well-received by critics and customers, this has impacted on the G6 which has slid down our top ten this month.
On paper the G6 does everything you would expect a leading smartphone to. If you’re looking for a top-tier handset but don’t want to commit to the Samsung brand, LG’s G6 offers a more than capable alternative.
There are plenty of unique features, the most prominent being the 18:9 (or 2:1) screen ratio. With over 80% screen-to-body ratio, this 5.7″ display 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. An IP rating is here too, so there’s no problem if this used in a damp or dusty environment.
A dual camera set up has been an important development in mobile photography in the past year. Depending on the implementation though, 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.
7. HTC U 11
HTC’s latest flagship entry has received a mixed response from critics. On paper the specifications look more than capable and match up to its competition. The camera too, has received some excellent reviews, including a 90/100 from DxOMark, making it their highest ever scoring mobile camera.
Still, it seems that the average buyer may not be sold on the Edge Sense control. For those not in the loop, HTC U 11 has a squeezable edge. You read that right. You can squeeze it.
Squeezing can launch and operate the camera, as well as implementing other context-sensitive actions depending on the app you’re in.
It’s certainly a novel feature and performs just like you’d expect. Still it’s the kind of thing that’s difficult to get across to people without them actually trying it.
Whether it’s HTC’s stripped back marketing or consumer confusion, we haven’t seen the kind of sales we’d expect for the U 11, which is why it doesn’t feature further up the list.
This is still a very good smartphone though and potentially has the best mobile camera to date. HTC’s Sense software is also considered by many to be one of the best OEM implementations of Android on a mainstream smartphone.
If you want to try something a little different, the HTC U 11 certainly ticks that box.
6. Honor 8 Pro
The Honor 8 Pro perhaps stretches the ideas of affordability Honor is known for. Still, when you look at the specifications this phone provides, you are still getting incredible value for money.
When you consider a Galaxy S8, LG G6 or HTC U11 set you back upwards of £600, then £475 for the Honor 8 Pro becomes much more palatable.
Especially so when you consider some of the raw specifications: 5.7″ 2K screen, 64GB/6GB storage & RAM, and an improved dual-camera with dedicated black & white sensor.
Backed by Huawei you can be assured of great product quality and support.
The massive battery comes in at 4,000 mAh, plus the power efficient processing that goes on in the background will give nothing but impressive screen-on and standby time.
If you want the best modern specifications, but also want to ensure you are not spending more than you have to, give the Honor 8 Pro a go.
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, compared to the previous 5.5″ G4.
Also gone from the G4 is the metal frame. The G5 returns to a plastic construction to cut costs, although it looks better than it used to thanks to a brushed aluminium effect.
The camera module also stands out; this is now a design hallmark across all new Moto handsets which helps them stand out in a crowd.
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 Moto 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. CAT S60
A niche requirement it may well be but it suits those that need, tough, rugged and capable.
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 flip-side, 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.
3. 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.
2. Sony Xperia XZ Premium
One of the most anticipated releases of the past few months, the Xperia XZ Premium certainly lived up to expectations. If it wasn’t for the admittedly unexpected strong performance of the KEYone, the Premium would be taking our top spot this month.
Marketed as having the world’s first 4K HDR screen, the display on the XZ Premium really has to be seen to be believed. Marketing videos don’t do it justice as both the brightness and colours deliver exceptional quality.
The upgraded camera sensor is known in the marketing blurb as MotionEye. The key selling point is the new 960 fps super-slow motion shooting mode. This is perhaps a touch gimmicky and following initial use, probably needs an update or two to stabilise and remove some artefacts.
Otherwise though the standard still photography and high definition video recording (including 4K) are exceptional. Sony’s imaging prowess is known globally and the XZ Premium captures detailed, natural shots in a variety of conditions.
Other added-value extras include the Qnovo Battery Care system, which intelligently manages power during charging and discharge, to extend the lifespan of the battery.
Add in stereo speakers, Hi-Res audio support, Bluetooth 5, IP68 water resistance, Gorilla Glass 5 and PlayStation 4 Remote Play and you have a phone that offers up all the very latest in connectivity.
For some the industrial looking design and thick top/bottom bezels may be off-putting. Others find them very attractive and useful when holding the phone in landscape. Each to their own.
Whatever you’re feelings on the design, you can’t deny the Xperia XZ Premium includes just about everything you could want from a flagship phone at this time.
1. BlackBerry KEYone
There are those that love the idea and are a bit nostalgic. Of course the flip side 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. It’s not for everyone and to each their own. What I can say though is that by judging by the interest here at Clove, there are plenty of 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 excellent 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.
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)1202 552936 and we will happily help.