What is the most beautiful flagship phone?

A whole crop of new superphones is upon us, each one dazzling us with its design. We want you to tell us which you think is the most beautiful.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

New phones launch almost every day, it seems, but it's the flagships that steal the headlines and, indeed, our hearts. With the latest cutting-edge technology, these top-of-the-range phones are intended to showcase the absolute best a mobile maker is able to offer.

Design is of the utmost importance if a company hopes to put its phone into pockets the world over. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder, so we've brought together the best offerings from the biggest mobile players -- the Apple iPhone 5S, the HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2 -- and we want you to tell us which you think is the most beautiful flagship phone money can buy right now.

Have a look through the galleries on this page and let us know where your vote lies in the comments section.

The HTC One M8

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The headline feature of the One M8's design is undoubtedly its all-metal construction. Speaking about last year's One, HTC explained, "The dream was this zero gap construction, to come up with a phone that has no part breaks, no moving parts, that is completely seamless."

"It's interesting to see how we've had to take something that was actually quite good and take that to the next level," said Claude Zellweger, HTC's associate vice president of design, about the new One M8.

"We took that metal housing and we were able to wrap it all the way around to the screen, completely eliminating all of the polycarbonate sidewalls that we had before," Zellweger said.

"In your hand, you can feel the authenticity of the materials... the rigidity and the strength. When you hold the phone in your hand you don't feel any hard edge anymore. That wouldn't have been possible without countless hours of work between the design team, the engineering teams and the antenna teams."

The Samsung Galaxy S5

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Flying in the face of rumours that it would be launching a metal-bodied S5 this year, Samsung stuck with the plastic materials we're familiar with from previous Galaxy phones.

"I don't think that people need radical re-designs every year," said Stephen Taylor, Samsung's vice president for brand at this year's Mobile World Congress. "You have to create a design theme that people identify with. If you came out with a radical design right now, would that have fitted with the Galaxy story that we have created over the last 3 or 4 years?

"It's about making evolutions that matter, so I think the improvements to the covers, finishes and colours are a step forward for people. If you look at the feedback, it felt like making [the S5] more durable and keeping the sleek design was what people were after. Waterproof and dustproof elements are more important," Taylor said.

Speaking to Engadget's Mat Smith about the choice of plastic over metal, senior product designer Dong Hun Kim said, "With the GS5, we looked into all kinds of designs and materials. We were open to all options. We wanted something with a pleasing feel... and better grip. With plastic, the texture is warmer... if we used metal, the designs felt heavy and cold."

As CNET's own David Carnoy points out, rather than making the phone feel cheap, Samsung's use of plastic in its flagships allows for a lighter design, adds the flexibility of a removable battery and has allowed Samsung to add water resistancy to the S5.

The Sony Xperia Z2

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

A plastic body isn't a required feature for a phone to play well around liquids, however, as Sony proved with its Xperia Z2. Like HTC, Sony opted for metal for its phone. The Z2's frame is machined from a single piece of aluminium, with the front and back panels made from toughened glass, which Sony claims gives the phone "a slimmer and more comfortable feel".

There's no question that it has a strikingly minimalist appearance -- one I'm very keen on -- but Sony also argues that the one-piece aluminium structure helps make the phone very stable. As on the Z and Z1, its waterproofing is a key feature, allowing it to not only tolerate spilled drinks, but to be used as an underwater camera.

"You can take pictures with the best camera phone while swimming in freshwater for up to 30 minutes. You can even dive up to 1.5m with it," Sony boasts. The metal frame has had to accommodate a camera shutter button as the display won't register finger taps when wet.

The Apple iPhone 5S

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Apple loves making a big deal of its precise attention to detail in the design and production of its products, and nowhere is this more the case than in the iPhone 5 and 5S.

"What makes [the] iPhone 5 so unique is how it feels in your hand," says Apple's Jony Ive in the iPhone 5's launch video, "The materials it's been made with, the remarkable precision with which it's been built -- never before have we built a product with this extraordinary level of fit and finish.

"We began with a design we really love, but to build it, to implement it, we had to look way beyond what we knew to be possible. We've developed manufacturing processes that are our most complex and ambitious. The variances between product to product we now measure in microns."

Unlike its rivals, who have ballooned their flagship phones to 5 inches or more, Apple has stuck rigidly to smaller sizes. The iPhone 5 was the first time the display size had changed, from 3.5 inches to 4, and it wasn't a decision the company took lightly.

"We don't want to make a new phone, we want to make a much better phone. iPhone 5 is the result of this approach. It's been completely redesigned," Ive claims. "Even with the larger display, it's the thinnest, lightest iPhone we've ever built."

Which of these top phones gets your pulse racing? Or are there older mobiles you think got it right? Be sure to leave your comments below.

 

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