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Is one of these phones your next BIG thing?

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Nokia Lumia 1320 vs HTC One M8

You’re buying a new phone, yay! That means you have some big choices to make. Literally. It’s not enough for handsets to only make calls and receive hilariously autocorrected texts from our mothers anymore. We also use them to play games, video chat, take (and edit) photos, read books, and watch movies. No wonder screens are getting bigger: we need space for all the stuff we want to do, but in a gadget you can still (just about) squeeze into a pocket.

These three phones are all trying to lure you in with their big screens and ever bigger promises. But can they live up to their supersized hype?

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

This phone has a lot going for it. Possibly too much. It has a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, a Super AMOLED display with 1080 pixel resolution, and a sharp-looking 5.7 inch screen. It runs both Android 4.3 and the Microsoft suite, so you get access to apps and Office. It also has a custom UI, Touchwiz, which adds extra features to Android, including Multiview, which lets you run two apps on screen at once, and S Voice, Samsung’s alternative to Siri. It has 32GB internal memory plus a MicroSD memory card slot and a USB 3.0 socket means faster charging.

But what really makes it stand out is the S Pen stylus. You can use it to handwrite texts and emails and with Action Memo, you can write something down and instantly search the web for it. You can even open a new window simply by drawing one. And speaking of drawing, the Sketchbook app lets you create some pretty sophisticated touchscreen art. There’s also an impressive 13 megapixel camera with an LED flash, although the lack of Samsung’s Night mode restricts late-night selfie potential.

Unsurprisingly, all this uses a lot of battery, and makes it the opposite of intuitive to use. But if you want a phone that does a bit of everything, grab it with both hands. (At 8 cm across, you’ll have to.)

Nokia Lumia 1320

Not just a big phone, a giant. You might need to start a high-protein diet and do some stretches before lifting this one. At a massive 8.6 cm wide and 1 cm thick, it weighs 220g, more than 50g more than either of the other phones here. Possibly more than any other phone, ever. That means there’s plenty of room for its 6 inch display, although that would be more of a bonus for games and movies if the resolution were higher than 720 pixels. Still, there’s more to life than looks. Which is good to bear in mind when you’re assessing this phone’s photographic abilities: the camera is the same 5 megapixel one that Nokia’s cheaper models carry.

Being a Windows phone, though, it’s solid and reliable for making calls and browsing the internet, and the 1GB of RAM is great for gaming, even if the apps selection is less than stellar. And of course it comes with Microsoft Office – and no danger of squinting to see your documents. The fact that it comes in yellow and red as well as black and white makes it seem more appealing, regardless of its merits. But overall, it’s too bulky and too basic for a phone that isn’t at the bottom end of the market.

HTC One M8

Hello, gorgeous. Sorry to be superficial, but this is one good-looking phone. The sleek, curved, mostly metal handset comes in silver or metallic grey and at 7.1 cm slips easily into your hand. But that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. It has a quad core Snapdragon 801 processor running Android 4.4 and the 5 inch SLCD screen with 1080 pixel resolution makes videos look great – although you’ll have to download external software to watch them. It’s also designed to sound good, with a BoomSound speaker system that has more power than standard phone speakers, providing a richer sound. And it’s easy to use: its MotionLaunch software means that you can start using the phone with one quick swipe, tap it to wake it from standby mode, and answer a call by holding it to your ear. Memory is just 16GB, but there’s a MicroSD memory card slot.

The Duo Camera hardware promises plenty, including the ability to focus on specific parts of an image while taking a photo, but it’s based on two cameras that are 4 megapixels and 2.1 megapixels respectively, meaning results are limited, as are photo editing capabilities. But if you’re more into consuming media than creating it, and want something substantial but intuitive to use, this might be the phone for you. And have I mentioned that it’s pretty?

So, which phone is the biggest and best? Turns out, those two things might not be related. While Nokia wins in the size department, Samsung has fit a lot more features into a (slightly) smaller space. But HTC may have found the best balance between functionality, size, and design.

By Staff Writer | June 9th, 2014





Staff WriterIs one of these phones your next BIG thing?