You’re shopping for an Android phone, but which should you buy? There are so many options, it can make for a puzzling experience. While you should take your time and pick the phone that suits you best, we’ve compiled a list of the seven best available right now. From feature-rich smartphones to sleeper hits you may not have thought of, our list will get you started on the right path.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The flagship phone from Samsung is also considered the flagship phone of Android by many — and with good reason. This phone outsells entire lineups from some other companies, and is packed solid with features not available on other devices, like a fingerprint scanner. With a robust 5-inch Super AMOLED screen, the Galaxy S5 is also water resistant, and lighter than you’d think when in the hand.
It’s also readily available. The Galaxy S5 can be found just about anywhere, from retail spots like Best Buy to standalone carrier stores. If you want a great Android phone, you just can’t miss with the Galaxy S5.
HTC One (M8)
If the Galaxy S5 is the flagship model for Android, the HTC One (M8) is the affordable luxury sedan. The metal casing of the One (M8) is just plain sexy, and adds a welcome heft to the device. Another 5-inch screen doesn’t disappoint in the least, and HTC’s motion and gesture controls only beg you to use this one.
Like the Galaxy S5, this one is available anywhere you go. Unlike the Galaxy S5, it’s a head turner. Sleek, modern metal and a vibrant screen make for attention-grabbing cool. A ton of useful tweaks to an Android OS that has been largely un-altered is wonderful for purists, and Blinkfeed is a marvelous addition for social junkies.
There isn’t a lot to the Nexus 5, a LG-made device from Google. It’s got a 5-inch screen (seeing a trend, yet?), a solid build, and a more-than-adequate spec list. The camera is decent, but has some issues dogging it, and isn’t nearly as nice as the previous two handsets listed. A solid performer, it’s got one feature the others can’t even touch.
The Nexus 5 checks in at roughly $350-400 off contract (compared to the $650+ for the first two in this list), making it a flagship you can actually afford. As is Google’s want, you won’t be able to snap this one up from many retailers or carrier stores (T-Mobile might have it for you, though — check with your local store). You will have to order online from Google Play, but don’t let that dissuade you. It’s also worth looking into prepaid, should you decide to snap this one up. Oh, and a bonus, it’s factory unlocked so if you ever travel you can swap out the SIM card for a prepaid one from overseas to save a bunch on roaming charges.
We know what you’re thinking, Android fans. “No way that’s one of the best Android phones available right now!” That’s assumption is just dead wrong, though. A bit long in the tooth, the Moto X is still a performer, and one worth checking out.
It won’t stack up spec wise to the others (slightly smaller screen, less megapixels, processor power, etc.), but when you actually start using the Moto X, you get why it’s good. Active Notifications are a joy, and the 4.7-inch screen leaves nothing to be desired. The camera is an able performer, and the price is dropping daily in anticipation for the follow-up X+1. If you need a solid phone for a good price, the Moto X is worth a look.
The G3 has quiet strength; it doesn’t have the prowess of a Samsung or HTC, but the G3 might be the best device of them all. Spec junkies will know it stacks up perfectly to the others, making it a nearly moot point. The screen is gorgeous (and at a resolution of 1440 x 2560, aka QHD, it’s crisper than the others in the list), the camera is great, and the rear controls are actually nice (once you get used to reaching around back to turn the volume up or down).
Where the LG G3 really makes strides is in the battery department. LG made some tweaks to how battery juice is drawn, altering things like screen refresh rate, to give you the most battery life you’re going to find anywhere. You can also pick the G3 up at any carrier store, so it’s there for the taking. If you’re all about the latest and greatest, the G3 is also one of the newest devices on the list.
Here’s one for you (One pun!) — how about a phone that checks all the spec boxes, but doesn’t ask for two-weeks’ salary? The OnePlus One does just that, bringing you a stellar device at a price you can’t argue with. For what the Nexus 5 costs, you can get your hands on one of the best devices around.
OnePlus also uses Cyanogen’s version of Android, which may be a bit confusing to you, but think of it as outsourcing a skin. HTC, Samsung, and LG all use a skinned version of Android — meaning it’s their “take” on how Android should act. OnePlus simply went with a popular company that was already doing similar things for the rooted device crowd.
Unfortunately, OnePlus is a new company, and the popularity of their device is outpacing their ambitions. The One is currently on a bit of a wait-list, so getting one ASAP might not happen. If you can wait a spell, though, it is worth a look.
Oppo Find 7
If the OnePlus One is calling your name, but you can’t get hold of one — there is an alternative. Oppo is more established, has a solid UI, and can be readily obtained. A thoroughly modern phone, the Find 7 will not leave you wanting under the hood, either. A 5.5-inch Quad HD display fronts the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 and Adreno 330 GPU. 3GB RAM, 16 or 32GB of expandable storage, and a 13 megapixel Sony camera make for a very respectable device. The 3,000mAh battery can charge to full in about 45 minutes, too, making time spent tethered to a wall a thing of the past.
Samsung Note 3
To be quite blunt, we didn’t want the same manufacturer on the list twice. To be even more blunt, there was no way we’d exclude the Note 3 from any best-of list for Android devices.
The biggest device on this list, the Note 3 bridges a gap really well. If you want the utility of a tablet, and the features of a phone, the Note 3 is worth your attention. A 5.5-inch screen gives you all the real estate you’d need, and an included stylus is a fun way to take notes or quickly navigate your device.
The Note 3, like the Moto X, isn’t long for this world as a follow-up is on the way. It is, however, a device that will go down as one of the best Android has ever seen. It’s also available everywhere, and can be snapped up for a lot less than some others on this list. We suggest taking a look at the Note 3 if you want a bigger device that can bridge your work/home life.
These selections should get you started on your journey for finding a new device, and will at least point you in the right direction. It might be hard to know what it is you’re looking for, but with so many Android phones available, you’ll find exactly what you need in no time.
If we were to narrow it down to one or two, we’d suggest you at least put the LG G3 on your list. A bit different than the rest, the G3 may end up the Android device to beat when it’s all said and done. That’s saying a lot, considering the competition.
What do you guys think? This list accurate? Did we miss your favorite?