Camera

It's a real mixed bag when it comes to the cameras adorning these four flagship smartphones, with widely varying specs on the front and rear.

Taking a look at the rear cameras and the Sony Xperia Z2 comes out on top in terms of megapixel count with a 20.7MP Exmor RS sensor.

That's followed by the Samsung Galaxy S5's 16MP snapper, the 13MP camera on the Huawei Ascend P7 and then the slightly left field ultrapixel offering on the HTC One M8 which translates to 4MP.

The slightly left field ultrapixel offering on the M8

Megapixels aren't everything in the camera world though, and even though the M8 has a 4MP snapper - it actually has an additional depth sensor on the rear too.

This allows it to capture more information on every photo you take, opening up a range of editing possibilities in post production, from background defocus to a freaky 3D parallax effect.

The M8's camera and production speed is the quickest out of the four handsets here, with HTC's own imaging chip working alongside the imaging support on the 801 chipset from Qualcomm.

For the best day to day photos the Xperia Z2 comes out on top with a high level of detail, and along with the Galaxy S5 it can also record 4K video.

Sony Xperia Z2
You'll find the best all round camera on the Z2

In general though you'll be able to take some pretty decent photos will all four handsets - even the M8 - so we'd recommend trying them out in store first before making up your mind completely.

Turning out attention to the front facing snappers and in recent months these cameras have been given a lot more attention from manufacturers thanks to the increased popularity of video calling and the selfie craze.

It's the Huawei Ascend P7 which heads the pack here with a world-leading 8MP camera looking you dead in the face. There's even a dedicated selfie mode as well as the option to take a panoramic selfie.

Huawei Ascend P7
The Ascend P7 has an 8MP camera... on the front!

Unsurprisingly the Ascend P7 is one of the best front facing cameras we've witnessed and it easily tops the 2.2MP Xperia Z2 and 2MP Galaxy S5.

Its closest competitor is the HTC One M8 which sports a 5MP front sanpper - amusingly that's a higher megapixel count than the rear camera - and it does a decent job of capturing your mug.

Battery

Battery life has seen an improvement in the latest generation of flagship devices, partly thanks to the 801 processor inside three of the handsets here, with the phones easily lasting a whole day on one charge.

We've been impressed with the battery life on the One M8, Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5, and with careful usage you can eek out a day and a half and sometimes even two days on a single charge.

The Xperia Z2 has the largest battery at 3200mAh, followed by the S5 at 2800mAh and then the One M8 at 2600mAh. Even though the M8 has a considerably smaller battery than the Z2 there's only a slight difference in battery life between the two, with the latter coming out on top.

Samsung Galaxy S5
The Galaxy S5 has a removable battery

Battery life on the Huawei Ascend P7 is currently unknown, but due to its slender frame it houses the smallest power pack of the four at 2500mAh.

With an untested, and lower powered, processor we'll have to wait for our in depth review to see how it performs.

All four manufacturers have also improved their power saving modes, allowing you to make the most of every last drop of juice by reducing functionality and shutting off various data hogs.

Storage

The good news for storage fans is that all four smartphones come with a microSD slot allowing you to build on the allotted internal space.

You'll find the Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2 and One M8 can handle microSD cards up to 128GB in size, while the Ascend P7 is a little more restricted with support for cards up to 32GB.

All four also come with 16GB of internal storage, but if you're willing to splash a bit of extra cash you can pick the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 up in 32GB variants as well.

Price

When it comes to price the Huawei Ascend P7 is in a league of its own with a recommended retail price of €449.

A direct conversion sees that translate into £370, although add on some taxes and the SIM-free P7 will probably go for around £400 in the UK.

Meanwhile the Galaxy S5, One M8 and Xperia Z2 all retail for more than £500 SIM-free, making them considerably more expensive than the Ascend P7.

Early verdict

All four handsets are solid offerings and you're unlikely to be disappointed with any of them. We're really being spoilt by manufacturers in 2014.

The One M8 is great for design, the Xperia Z2 boasts the best camera, the Galaxy S5 has a stunning screen and the Ascend P7 is the most affordable - there's something for everyone here.

If none of these take your fancy though fear not, for there's the LG G3 and iPhone 6 on the horizon, and if you're on a tighter budget you'll want to check out the OnePlus One.