Cell phones & services

What's behind our cell phone & service Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 149 models in cell phones & services to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score is based mainly on Ease of use, Messaging, Web browsing, Display quality, Voice quality, Phoning, Battery life, Camera Image and Video quality, and Portability. Music, camera, and other features and capabilities are also considered. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points. Phones are listed in performance order, within carriers. Due to test upgrades, and phone firmware updates, results may vary from past Ratings.
  • Ease of use
    Ease of use mainly considers how easy is it is to access the phone's various features and modes, such as phoning, messaging, Web browsing, the camera, the music player, applications and other multimedia content. We also consider one-handed operation, programmable shortcuts and touch screens.
  • Messaging
    Messaging mainly assesses keyboard ergonomics, e-mail readability, attachment capabilities, and text-messaging features. It also considers display size and corporate capabilities.
  • Web browsing
    Web browsing mainly assesses browser capabilities, including the phone's ability to handle more than one browser, display size, processor, and data connections, such as 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi.
  • Display quality
    Display quality represents overall picture quality, which includes pixel resolution, contrast in normal and bright lighting (outdoor use), and color accuracy.
  • Voice quality
    Voice quality considers listening quality which reflects what you hear; talking, what's heard by other phones. Tests were conducted in noisy and quiet environments using live phone calls indicated by carrier used.
  • Phoning
    Phoning considers the step-saving functions for making and receiving calls. These include hands-free capabilities such as voice command and Bluetooth, one-handed operation, speed dialing, ringer controls, call timers, and other features. We also evaluated keypad readability under different lighting conditions, and holding a phone while on a call.
  • Battery life
    Battery life represents tests under nominal cell-network-signals, including battery consumption performing tasks that involve voice, data, display, and other factors.
  • Camera: Image quality
    Image quality is based on objective and subjective judgments of test images, which includes evaluating resolution, dynamic range, color accuracy, and visual noise.
  • Camera: Video quality
    Video quality is based on the judgments of trained panelists who viewed recorded video images shot at the highest quality setting available in multiple lighting conditions.
  • Portability
    Portability represents our judgment based on the best combination of size and weight.
  • Display diagonal size
    Display diagonal size is the diagonal length of main display measured to the nearest tenth of an inch. Some folding models have an additional, external display for viewing the time, music tracks, and other functions.
  • Display resolution
    Is the manufacturer-stated number of pixels, horizontally by vertically, that the screen can display.
  • Broadband data
    Indicates the highest-speed mobile broadband data network the phone supports in the U.S. Generally, LTE, WiMAX, and HSPA+ are considered the fastest, and EV-DO and HSPA and HSDPA are much faster than 1xRTT and EDGE. Most broadband phones will default to slower data networks when the fastest one they support isn't available. We also indicate which models are considered "4G" based on the definitions from the carriers. Check with your carrier to see which broadband data networks are available in your area.
  • Operating system
    Operating system indicates the smart phone's operating system. See "Buying Advice" for more information about the operating systems.



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Recommended cell phones & services

Recommended cell phones & services are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Cell phones are some of the hottest products on the market, as shown by the excitement that surrounds newly-released smart phones and upgraded cell phone features and cell phone providers. In many families, every member has a cell phone. So it's wise to do some research before making your cell-phone buying decision. If you're looking for information about cell phones & services, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ cell phone & service reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our cell phone & service buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and cell phone & service reviews to help you choose the best cell phone & service for your needs.

Recently reviewed cell phones & services

6 (32GB) (AT&T)

The Nexus 6 is a smartphone designed for use on the AT&T network, including its HSPA+ and LTE "4G" network. It runs on the Android operating system. This model has a 6-inch touch-screen display, a 13-megapixel camera, and a virtual QWERTY keyboard.

Cell phone & service buying guide

Cell phones now allow easier texting, Web surfing, GPS navigation, and social networking while keeping up with their day job--voice calling. Smart phones such as the iPhone and Android-based models are leading the charge. Thanks to their advanced operating systems, they can run all types of applications, from Twitter to games, restaurant guides, shopping assistants, and more. Their cameras are getting better, too. The newest smart phones typically come with 8-, or higher-megapixel cameras with advanced controls and the ability to take HD videos. And unlike most stand-alone cameras, they provide a multitude of ways to share their content via Facebook, YouTube, e-mail and a new host of Internet-based "cloud" services. The data networks they run on are getting faster, too, enabling them to download and upload large files in less time, provide a better Web-browsing experience, and perform new tricks such as stream high-definition videos, and support video chats via front-facing cameras. Conventional cell phones aren't gathering dust, though. Many of the newest models have large displays, keyboards, and Internet capabilities. Their e-mail and applications aren't as robust as a smart phone's, but they're less complicated to use. And there still are phones with fewer bells and whistles for users with more straightforward needs.

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