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Smartphone Shootout

With a projected sales figure of over 1 billion units world wide, it is safe to say that smartphones are pretty much taking over the world. Everywhere you go you are sure to see someone flicking across their screen, or playing games, watching movies, listening to their favourite tunes or even taking pictures of friends and loved ones. The capabilities of smartphones grow with every new iteration and so does the list of available smartphone, so let’s take a look at the best of the best and what they have to offer.

Looking at the 5 top choices, we have 3 android devices, a windows phone and of course the inevitable iPhone.  So let’s begin with the one that everyone knows, but not everyone loves.

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iPhone 5s, is the newest version of the extremely popular iPhone range of phones. Calling it a brand new phone isn’t quite true, because it is basically an iPhone5 with update features and a new processor and the same old small 4-inch display. In terms of new technology the 5s offers touch ID on the new update home button,  this allows you to unlock the phone without the use of a passcode, but by just resting your finger on the home button for a short while. This can also be used instead of your iTunes password, so it saves you having to enter your password every time you purchase a new app. The camera is a 8 mega-pixel snapper that will allow some of the best photos on the market, although it doesn’t really beat it’s competitors, the 5s camera will be more than capable of providing you with high quality pictures in pretty much all conditions. The new A7 chip is Apple’s first 64-bit chip in a phone and allows for what Apple claims is performance that is twice as fast as the normal iPhone5. Overall the iPhone 5s is a excellent phone, but you still have to ask yourself if it really is worth upgrading from an iPhone5 or even a 4s to the latest version? Apple iPhone 5s  will launch be available around December and given the 25,000 baht price range of the iPhone 5, it’s fair to expect the 5s to be in a similar price range.

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Next up is the Nokia Lumia 925, the only Windows phone on the list. Windows phones have been growing in stature the last couple of years and with Microsoft buying Nokia and it’s massive portfolio of patents we can rest assured that the quality will be improving drastically over the coming time period. Currently the Lumia 925 is Nokia’s flagship model. Compared to other top models, the Lumia lags behind a little bit in the specs department, being the only dual-core phone on the list. This coupled with a slightly inferior screen compared to others, puts the 925 on the back foot and it doesn’t really have enough to to bring it back into the fight. It has an excellent camera and the build quality has been upgraded a lot since the 920, but memory has been halved to 16gb and the micro-sd slot has also been removed. Windows interface is not to everyone’s liking but they do an excellent job of basic functions such as contacts, calling and messaging. With a price tag of only 16,500 baht it is by far the cheapest phone on the list, but it also feels it.

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Getting to the android phones we start with the Sony Xperia Z. This is the toughest phone on the list, being dust and water resistant while still looking absolutely stunning is quite a challenge and Sony pulls it off big time. The brilliant 5-inch display is one of the best on the market. The camera sounds impressive at 13.1 mega pixels but is just ok, although the HD video recording is fantastic. Spec wise the Xperia Z is a monster and will be fast and powerful enough to last stay up to par for a long time. The excellent sound engine used with the Walkman style music player is fantastic, couple that with the gorgeous 5-inch display and your mobile movie going experience jsut got a whole lot better. Sony gives you 16gb of internal storage with the ability to use up to a 32gb sd card. There really is very little not too like about the Z, apart from the fact that the battery is not removable the Z offers you one of the most complete smartphone experiences available. It’s also about to get a whole lot better with the Xperia Z One on the horizon. The Xperia Z currently sells for 18,990 baht and the Xperia Z One will most likely be around 21,000 baht at launch.

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Next up is the Samsung Galaxy S4. For the last couple of years Samsung has consistently making some of the best top end phones on the market and for a long time they were the only true challenger to Apple’s crown. When the S2 came out it was considered the best phone on the market by many and to this day many consider it to be one of the best ever made, the S3 wasn’t a major increase over the S2 but it didn’t need to be and was still the best Android phone on the market and quite possibly the best phone full stop. The S4 is a brilliant phone, make no mistake about that, it quite simply is one of the best on the market, but there in lies its problem, it’s one of the best and no longer the best. It’s not enough of an improvement over the S3. On the plus side the 5-inch display is pretty much the best on the market, the camera is brilliant in the right conditions but performs poorly in low light conditions. Performance wise the S4 is rapid and will remain relevant for a long time. The problem is that the new feature Samsung put on the S4 feels cumbersome and flawed and sadly they simply feel gimmicky and don’t really work all that well, of course you can just switch them off, but then you have a S3 with a better screen and camera. The S4 currently retails for around 19,800 baht.

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Lastly we have the HTC One. HTC is a company that seemed in trouble the just a couple of years ago, when it brought out a couple of mediocre phones in succession. That all changed with the launch of the One range of phones and has come to climax with the HTC One. Everything from the design, the gorgeous 4,7-inch display, to Beats Boomsound and the addition of HTC Zoe makes this phone the best android phone on the market at the moment.  HTC Sense interface has been improved to such a level that many consider it to be better  and easier to use than stock Android. The only major gripe is the fact that yet again HTC doesn’t offer the ability to use a sd-card and even though 32gb is plenty of space, the Zoe features do use quite a lot of space. The camera is brilliant in general, but because of the 4 mega-pixel sensor photo’s don’t enlarge well. The battery life is a big improvement over the One X but is still not as good as it should be.  Overall though the HTC One is the best phone on the market, including the newly launched iPhone S5. The HTC One currently retails for about 20,900 baht.

So there you have it. The top five phones available on Samui at the moment and Samuitimes personal pick is the HTC One. What is your favourite?

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