Our Guide to Mobile Manufacturers

by - Last Updated on April 9, 2018

Choosing a new mobile can be tough. There are plenty of options out there and narrowing those down to the phone that’s perfect for you is far from easy. One of the many considerations that you have is brand name, and that’s why we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about the mobile world’s biggest manufacturers.

Is Brand Really Important?

For some people the right label on a product is essential. However, even if you don’t have loyalty to one particular brand, knowing which brands have a good reputation for producing which kinds of phones can help narrow the smartphone field a little. There are, of course, hundreds of mobile brands, but we’re sticking to the ones that are readily available on the high street to give you a realistic picture of your options.

So, without further ado, here’s the down-low on the biggest mobile brand names and the phones that made them famous.

Samsung

We couldn’t not start this list with Samsung. This South Korean company frequently tops phone bestseller lists with its all-star Galaxy S series of mobiles. Founded in 1938, Samsung began producing mobiles in 2000 before finally hitting it big with the best-selling Samsung Galaxy SIII in 2012. Since then, the Galaxy S flagship phone has generally been the must-have Android mobile of the year.

Best Known For:

Samsung are certainly best known for their Galaxy S flagship series of phones, as well as the Galaxy Note series of phablets. They do, however, cater to the mid-range market with their regular Galaxy series.

As a general rule, Samsung phones have excellent displays (with all but the cheapest options featuring high-quality Super AMOLED screens), solid cameras, and great build quality. Samsung phones are workhorses, with solid power and processing speeds, and all run Android. However, the downside is that they don’t tend to come cheap.

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • The Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+ (flagships)
  • The Galaxy Note8 (phablet)
  • The Galaxy A3 (mid-range)
  • The Galaxy J3 (mid-range)

Apple

Obviously, Apple are one of the most recognisable names in the mobile world. From the launch of the very first iPhone in 2007, Apple have dominated the mobile phone market. The newest iPhone model is usually the absolute must-have mobile on shelves.

Best Known For:

Apple make one kind of phone, the iPhone, which is known for its legendary stylish design and impressive specs. You can expect an intuitive user interface, lots of power, great cameras, and a fantastic looking mobile.

However, you will be limited to using Apple’s iOS operating system, and iPhones have very hefty price tags. But perfection doesn’t come cheap…

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • The iPhone X (flagship)
  • The iPhone 8 Plus (phablet)
  • The iPhone 8 (mid-range, though still with a big price tag)

Sony

Japanese company Sony has been making mobiles since 2001, originally under the Sony Ericsson brand. Whilst they’re not quite the hard hitters in the market that they used to be, their Xperia series has proven to be a steady seller, and one that pleases most shoppers no matter their budget.

Best Known For:

Sony brand all their mobiles currently under the Xperia series, and there really is something for everyone, with prices going from low budget to flagship. An Xperia phone generally has excellent sound quality (for music), and a rectangular, angular design that’s very distinctive. You can also expect to see good camera specs. Sony also have a range of Xperia Compact phones, which are a nice alternative to today’s big screen mobiles.

However, that angular design isn’t for everyone, and Xperia phones tend not to top the list on any of their specs. As a general rule, an Xperia isn’t going to be the best phone at any one thing, though it could be the best all-around phone due to a combination of solid specs.

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • The Xperia XZ2 (flagship)
  • The Xperia XZ2 Compact (smaller flagship)
  • The Xperia XA2 (mid-range)
  • The Xperia L1 (budget)

Huawei (Honor)

Whilst it might not be one of the most well-known names on this list, the Chinese company Huawei is the largest telecommunications manufacturer in the world. However, they’ve been marketing in the West for only a few years, meaning many people aren’t yet familiar with the brand. Honor is simply a sub-brand of Huawei, targeted more towards online buyers and younger customers.

Best Known For:

Huawei have made a fast reputation for themselves for providing phones with high specs for very reasonable prices. If you’re looking for a high powered bargain, then Huawei is going to be the brand for you.

The downside of this is that whilst you’re getting great specs in some things, there are occasional sacrifices. As a general rule, Huawei (and Honor) phones don’t have the greatest display resolution, for example. However, given the power and processing specs in combination with an affordable price when compared to other flagship phones, that might be a compromise you’re willing to make.

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • The Mate 10 Pro (flagship)
  • The P20 Pro (next generation flagship)
  • The Honor 7X (mid-range)

Motorola (Moto)

American company Motorola were one of the original mobile manufacturers, but when smartphones came along, Motorola’s fame faded. However, they’ve recently made a come back with some fantastic new releases, and for some customers, Motorola’s affordable smartphones are exactly what the doctor ordered. Moto is a sub-brand of Motorola.

Best Known For:

In recent years, Motorola have become best known for their very affordable and very sturdy models. This makes a Motorola a great choice for kids in particular. They tend to have mid-range to budget models that are long-lasting and not as fragile as the normal touchscreen phone.

The downside? Motorola isn’t for flagship buyers. You’re not going to find a Motorola model that competes against, say, a Samsung Galaxy. But at these prices you can’t be too picky. If you’re looking for something that will last, then Motorola is your best bet.

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • The Moto G5 (lower mid-range)
  • The Moto C (budget)

Nokia

Finnish company Nokia have a long and complicated history on the mobile market. They were one of the original innovators of cell phones, but again, when touch screen smartphones came along their reputation suffered. Then their phone division merged with Microsoft, and for a few years Nokia were one of the only Windows phone brands. Microsoft eventually went in a different direction and in the last year Nokia has rebranded and come out with a new line of Android smartphones.

Best Known For:

It’s tempting to say that Nokia are best known for their history, rather than their current line up. But their newest incarnation, though very recent, is starting to make an impact on the market. As a general rule you can expect fair prices and excellent cameras (Nokia nearly always use Zeiss lenses on their phones). In addition, Nokia do still make some of the last non-touchscreen phones around, so if you’re looking for a phone with a physical keyboard, this could be your only chance.

The downside here is that the new Nokia line is so new that it’s hard to judge how popular and reliable their handsets are going to be. But initial reviews are promising, and given the price point if you’re a keen photographer a Nokia could be what you need.

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • The Nokia 5 (mid-range)
  • The Nokia 3 (budget)
  • The Nokia 3310 (physical keyboard, non-smart phone)

LG

LG is a Korean company probably better known for home electronics rather than mobiles. However, in the early 2000s, LG made some of the most stylish and desirable phones around. Nowadays, the company is known as one of the more innovative mobile producers, but the upshot of this is that their phones can be hit or miss.

Best Known For:

As we said, LG phones are innovative. LG have experimented with modular phones (where you can add parts you want, such as better cameras), as well as many different design ethics. Generally, you can expect an LG phone to have at least one super-cool feature selling point, and their models are usually good looking too.

On the flip side, some of LG’s feature selling points are gimmicky rather than useful (like the modular phone) and prices can get a little steep if you compare specs to similarly powerful models. However, LG definitely makes unique phones, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ve found it.

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • LG V30 (flagship)
  • LG Q6 (upper mid-range)
  • LG G6 (mid-range)

HTC

HTC is a Chinese company that for a while (in the early 2010s) were making some of the most desirable flagship phones around. However, they’ve lost a lot of market share in the last few years, and had a few launch failures, meaning they’re not quite as popular as they used to be. In the past, HTC made both Android and Windows phones, but nowadays they focus solely on Android devices.

Best Known For:

As we said, HTC were once known for high-end mobiles, but currently, it’s tough to tell exactly what kind of market they’re targeting. As a general rule, a top end HTC will have solid specs and a good display, and their budget models tend to be relatively affordable for the specs you get. However, there’s little that stands out about an HTC phone when compared to some of the other brands on this list.

But the same goes for the opposite side of the story, there are no real flaws in HTC phones either. You won’t be getting the greatest phone around, but nor will you be getting the worst. An HTC will be dependable and do everything you need it to do, and if the price is right can be a great buy.

Best-Selling Current Models:

  • HTC U11 (flagship)
  • HTC Desire 650 (lower mid-range)

And All the Rest…

There are a few other brands that you might come across when shopping, so here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common:

  • BlackBerry: Once famous for their physical keyboard phones, BlackBerry currently makes touchscreen phones. The company does seem to be constantly on the verge of ceasing production but then surprises everyone with a new release. Though they do have their own operating system, BlackBerry’s newest releases are Android phones. A BlackBerry can be pricey though, and the brand is nowhere near as popular as it once was.
  • Doro: Doro are a speciality phone maker who focuses mainly on making easy to use physical keyboard phones with big buttons. Their models are mainly designed for elderly users or small children who may find more modern touchscreen phones difficult to use.
  • OnePlus: OnePlus is a Chinese company that originally only sold phones online. However, their models are now available in shops and are generally high specced with reasonable prices.
  • ZTE: ZTE is another Chinese company that’s occasionally seen in the UK market. Their phones tend to be affordable and very stylish, though specs aren’t always great.
  • Alcatel: Alcatel is a brand name owned by Nokia and sometimes seen in the UK. They make budget phones, both smartphones and physical keyboard models. Alcatel mobiles are usually cheap with low specs, but very solid.