SMARTPHONES are in almost every Australian’s pocket for good reason: not only are they incredibly useful but they’re available at almost every price point.
Whether you’re willing to pay top dollar for the best phone photo shooter around, or if you’ve got less than $100 to spare, our smartphone roundup has you covered.
LG / 4.5/5 / $928 / harveynorman.com.au
LG’S flagship phone stands out like a leather-bound tome in a library of paperbacks. That is thanks to its luxurious leather back panel, and subtly curved screen. Mercifully, the G4 has the smarts to back up its tall-poppy appearance. Its 16-megapixel camera features a wide, f1.8 aperture and larger image sensor aided by infra-red focal guidance. There’s an 8-megapixel selfie camera upfront, a sizeable 3000mAh battery, and LED enhancements that make its 5.5-inch display look brighter. It does omit a fingerprint scanner and does not quite match the speed of its rivals thanks to a slower processor, but the LG G4 is an able and attractive sharpshooter in stores July 14.
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung / 5/5 / $999-$1299 / samsung.com/au
It’s been said good things come to those who wait and in this case that means striking new colours. Samsung’s redesigned glass and metal phone is now available in “gold platinum” and “blue topaz” — an attractive step up from the conservative white and black finishes of its first release. The rest of the GS6 remains top of the line, with a 16-megapixel camera that launches with two taps of its home button and is still unrivalled, a better fingerprint scanner, crisper, 577ppi screen, wireless charging, and a powerful octa-core chip. Users cannot remove its battery or add more memory to this phone, and should choose a model carefully, but it is the smartphone to beat.
Moto E 2015
Motorola / 3.5/5 / $249 / motorola.com.au
For less than $250, you get a lot of technology inside the Moto E’s rubberised shell. The second-generation Motorola budget smartphone has grown up, with a slightly larger touchscreen at 4.5 inches, twice the built-in storage at 8GB, a front-facing camera for selfies, and 4G connectivity for faster downloads. Other notable features include a snappy gesture that lets you flick the phone twice to open its 8-megapixel camera, and once more to open the front camera, dual SIM card slots, and pure Google Android Lollipop software. Its battery is not removable, its 1GB RAM slows the system, and its camera is average, but the second Moto E does more than you’d anticipate.
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
Microsoft / 3.5/5 / $399 / harveynorman.com.au
IT doesn’t bear the Nokia name but this 4G Microsoft phone benefits from its Lumia predecessors and adds a big screen for little money. The 640 XL has a 5.7-inch display, matching the size of Samsung’s Galaxy Note, and delivers it in a body that weighs just 171g and features a removable cover, should you wish to swap batteries or add a 128GB memory card. Its 13-megapixel rear camera is a highlight, offering an f2.0 aperture and burst mode, and its 3000mAh battery lasts beyond a long day. Compromises to achieve its $399 price include a slower processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB built-in memory, a lack of optical image stabilisation, and a 259ppi screen. The Lumia 640 XL is a solid, budget phablet, however, and one that will keep going long after smaller phones have quit.
Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 3 4.0
Alcatel / 2/5 / $59 / optus.com.au
Smartphones do not come much cheaper than this sub-$60 model likely to prove useful as a cheap introduction to the technology or a traveller’s phone (though an unlocking fee applies). For $59, the Alcatel phone delivers a 4-inch touchscreen, a basic two-megapixel camera, a front-facing VGA camera, and apps compatible with Google Android KitKat. The phone is restricted to 3G use, but users can remove its battery or add a 32GB memory card to boost its 4GB storage. It offers very few bells and whistles, as you’d expect, and its WVGA screen is tricky to read, but budget buyers should be appeased.