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Best Windows Phones 2014: Which should you buy?

By Simon Thomas on 08th September 2014

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Looking to buy a Windows Phone? Want to findout what is the best Windows smartphone? Then you've come to the right place. 

Whether your looking for a flagship smartphone, a more affordable mobile or an over-sized phablet there is a Windows Phone out there for you. We've reviewed all the Windows Phone smartphones released and put together a list of the 6 best devices in the world today.

Nokia are currently the primary manufacturer producing Windows Phone 8 devices, which is no surprise given that the Finnish company are now owned by Microsoft. However, there are still other manufacturers who manufacturer Windows smartphones with Microsoft seemingly in the mobile market for the long term.

Windows Phone 8 is a great mobile operating system: it's intuitive, simple yet has all the features you expect and more. Not only is it the perfect starting point for those new to smartphones, but it's also great for business users thanks to its integration with Windows 8 and Microsoft Office.

So let's start our countdown.

6. Nokia Lumia 1520

Nokia Lumia 1520

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a hugely powerful Windows Phone device and the only phablet on this list, so those looking for a large display should look no further. It has a quad-core processor, which is a feat only made possible thanks to the release of Windows Phone 8.1.

It was also the first Windows device to come with a 1080p display, giving its 6 inch touch-screen a 367ppi. The IPS display also comes with ClearBlack technology resulting in deeper blacks, High Brightness mode and Sunlight Readability. If that isn't enough it's also 'Super-Sensitive' meaning the touch-screen can be used even when wearing gloves.

Nokia's Lumia 1520 has an impressive 20 mega-pixel Pureview camera with optical-image stabilisation (OIS), 32GB of on-board memory and supports 4G, 3G, WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth. It's also pretty slim and lightweight (8.7mm and 209g respectively) for its size, but phablets by design arn't the most portable mobile devices around.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is currently available to buy for around £450, which isn't cheap but it is a high-end device with a spacious 6-inch display and that alone makes it a worthwhile addition in our list.

5. Nokia Lumia 1020

 Nokia Lumia 1020

Many of our readers to see Nokia's Lumia 1020 coming in fifth place on our list. Especially considering the media attention its stunning 41 mega-pixel Pureview camera has attracted. Don't get us wrong anyone looking for a smartphone with a great camera should look no further than the Lumia 1020.

The 41 mega-pixel Pureview Camera has a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, a dual LED Xenon flash and optical-image-stabilisation (OIS). It takes snaps and videos that stand up to standalone digital cameras, Nokia's Pro Camera software is excellent and  a range of camera accessories are available.

The rest of the smartphone isn't too shabby either. The Lumia 1020 has a 4.5 inch 720p display (334ppi) and is powered by a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor backed up by 2GB of RAM. It's 32GB of onboard memory can be expanded using microSD cards and it supports 4G LTE, NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi and 3G.

However, ironically the Pureview camera lens is also why the Lumia 1020 has missed out on being higher in our list. Its inclusion makes the Lumia 1020 a pretty bulky and heavy device (10.4mm and 158g respectively). Also, its plastic, colourful design - although feeling solid and sturdy - lacks the style and subtly of other flagship smartphones.

Looking for a camera phone? Then look no further the Nokia Lumia 1020 has the best camera of any smartphone in the world. It's also got a great all-round specification, but the camera adds bulk and its design lacks polish and subtly compared to the Lumia 930 and HTC One M8 for Windows.

4. Nokia Lumia 830

Nokia Lumia 830

The Nokia Lumia 830 is a mid-range handset that comes with a premium ultra thin design that comes pre-loaded with the very latest version of Windows Phone 8.1, complete with the Lumia Denim update.

Essentially, the Lumia 830 is a more affordable version of the Lumia 930 with a similar design and a toned down specification. You get the same vibrant design with a aluminum frame which gives it that all-important premium feel and at just 8.55mm and 150g it's pretty portable for a device with a 5-inch display.

You also get the very latest version of Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, 4G LTE support and an excellent 10 mega-pixel with Zeiss optics and optical-image-stabilisation. The 5-inch display runs at a 720p resolution and the power has been toned down to a 1.2GHz quad-core offering backed up by 1GB of RAM, but it's still super smooth around the operating system.

With an expected price of around £280 the Nokia Lumia 830 is a great choice for those who are looking for a well-built Windows Phone with a solid mid-range specification. The display isn't as good as on the flagship Lumia 930 nor is it as powerful, but it's still a great handset that offers good value for money and 4G LTE connectivity.

3. Nokia Lumia 530

Nokia Lumia 530

The Nokia Lumia 520 is the best selling handset of all time and it's popularity was due to the amazing value it offered. Now its successor has arrived and it follows on exactly from where it's successor left off delivering an improved specification at an even lower pricepoint.

For just £60 you get a smartphone with a 4-inch display (480 x 854 pixels), a quad-core 1.2Ghz processor and a 5 mega-pixel camera. You'll be pleased to hear it comes pre-loaded with Windows Phone 8.1, so you'll still able to enjoy all the new features of Windows Phone and download the latest apps.

The Nokia Lumia 530 is a little chunkier than some smartphones on the market (11.7mm), it doesn't support 4G LTE and lacks a front-facing camera. But for the money you won't find a better value Windows Phone in the world right now. And for that reason alone it comes highly recommended.

2. HTC One M8 for Windows

HTC One M8 for Windows

Those looking for a Windows Phone with a premium build should look no further than the HTC One M8 for Windows. It's premium unibody design is over 90 per cent metal is unrivalled by any other smartphone in the world, looking and feeling in a different league to everything else.

The new Windows version of the smartphone is identical to the award winning Android version other than it comes pre-loaded with Windows Phone 8.1. That means you get the same stunning 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core processor, Ultrapixel Duo camera and crystal clear audio at high volumes thanks to its Boomsound speakers.

When you add in the new found compatibility with Microsoft Office and the stunning Windows interface the HTC One M8 is a must-have device for business users. And it's build-quality and specification make it one of the two best Windows smartphones in the world today. The only reason it misses out on top-spot is that you don't get the extra software Lumia software you do with Nokia's handsets.

1. Nokia Lumia 930

Nokia Lumia 930

The Nokia Lumia 930 is the successor to the Lumia 925 but it’s such a huge upgrade that it hardly seems fair to lump it in with its predecessor. Where to start? How about with what hasn’t really changed. The build is pretty similar, but that’s no bad thing as the Lumia 925 was the most premium looking Lumia phone available.

The Nokia Lumia 930 has an aluminium frame with a polycarbonate back, which can be nabbed in either the distinctively bright Lumia colours or a more understated black or white. Under the hood there’s a powerful 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM, plus of course it comes with Windows Phone 8.1, so you’ll be able to enjoy Cortana and Action Centre. 

The Lumia 930 also has a mightily impressive 20 megapixel camera. Like other high end Lumia’s it uses a Carl Zeiss lens and it features optical image stabilisation to reduce the effect of camera shake. The end result is highly detailed photos that almost always come out in focus.

And we haven’t even talked about the screen. It’s a 5 inch 1080 x 1920 AMOLED display with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, so it’s an incredibly sharp full HD affair and with the help of Nokia’s ClearBlack technology it also has superior contrast. There’s 32GB of built in storage, so memory needn’t run low and it supports 3G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC.

Whether you’re after style, power, a camera phone or a great screen for media the Nokia Lumia 930 has it all. It’s a great all-rounder and still the best Windows Phone currently available.

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