We're inundated with choice in the Android marketplace, but each year there are only a few devices that really rise to the top of the heap to contend for the title of best Android phone. With the likes of the Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 now tempting smartphone owners everywhere, there's no better time to update our list. Of course, there are flagships galore, but expect a couple of lower-end great-value devices to creep in too. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here's are the best Android smartphones of 2015.
- On a budget? Check out our list of best Android phones under $200.
- On less of a budget? Go to best cheap Android phones.
1. Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 Edge
It may seem strange or even somehow corrupt to have two phones sharing the top spot, but the sheer quality of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge - and their similarity to each other - means they both deserve it. After a couple of years of resting on its laurels with the 'S' series design, Samsung has finally listened to its fans and create a phone that has a look to match its next-generation hardware. It's an elegant, glossy combination of glass and metal that eradicates the memory of Samsung's previous plastic flagships.
Bravely, Samsung has done away with a microSD slot and removable back cover, which is a powerful way of saying that everything you need in a phone is already contained within the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. A non-removable battery seems all the braver given the phones' QHD displays, but it does a great job, and is boosted by a one-hour fast-charge function. The S6 duo are also by far and away the fastest phones in the world thanks to the latest model of Samsung's octa-core Exynos chipsets.
Top that off with an updated, less bloatware-infested TouchWiz UI layered over the lovely Android Lollipop, and you have two phones that stand unrivalled as the best in the world.
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note 4 has been a truly satisfying release from Samsung where the Korean giant has done almost everything right: it has continued to focus on the basics, which the company first told us about when they released the Galaxy S5. What Samsung failed to achieve with the S5 it has done fantastically with the Note 4. Samsung clearly listened to what fans have to say about bloatware and design.
This focus on the basics has endowed the Galaxy Note 4 with an exceptional camera, excellent battery, brilliant screen, great specs, minimal bloatware, revised design and updated TouchWiz user interface. But the Note series has always been about the S Pen stylus, and the Note 4 has simplified, improved and perfected the S Pen and software that supports it. This is an extremely good phone, and can now be bought for around 620 USD for an unlocked international version.
|Galaxy Note 4|
|System||Android 4.4.4, TouchWiz UI with S Pen stylus|
|Display||5.7 inch, QHD Super AMOLED (2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 515 ppi)|
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 5433 Octa-Core (four 1.9 GHz cores, four 1.3 GHz cores) / Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Quad-Core (2.7 GHz)|
|Internal Memory||32 GB + micro SD up to 128 GB|
|Connectivity||GSM, HSDPA, LTE (Cat.6 / Cat.4), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Bluetooth 4.1, IR blaster, microUSB 2.0, fingerprint scanner, UV sensor|
|Camera||16 MP with Optical Image Stabilzation(rear), 3.7 MP (front), heart-rate sensor|
|Battery||3,220 mAh (removable), Turbo charging|
|Dimensions||153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm|
|Price||850 USD (off-contract) / 299 USD (on-contract)|
3. LG G3
No surprises here, the LG G3 is a fantastic device. From it's excellent design, great battery life and speedy user interface, to its innovative software features and outstanding camera, it has almost all bases covered.
Packing a 5.5-inch QHD display, it was the first widely available Android phone to feature that screen definition, but it didn't take a hit on battery life due to LG’s clever power optimizations. The LG G3 is a well considered improvement to its predecessor - the underrated LG G2 - but improves on several key features that really matter, proving that LG is listening to its critics too. The LG G3 price starts at 480 USD off contract on a carrier-branded device.
|System||Android 4.4.2 KitKat|
|Display||5.5 inch, QHD IPS+ LCD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 534 ppi)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz, Quad-Core|
|RAM||2 GB (with 16 GB version) and 3 GB (with 32 GB version)|
|Internal Memory||16/32 GB (+ microSD up to 2 TB)|
|Battery||3,000 mAh (removable)|
|Camera||13 MP, OIS with laser-autofocus (rear), 2.1 MP (front)|
|Connectivity||GSM/HSDPA/LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 2.0|
|Dimensions||146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm|
|Price||480 USD (off-contract)|
4. Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 is not a huge improvement over the Z2, but it is still enough of an upgrade to make it one of the finest phones available. Internally there's a lot that stays the same between the current and previous model but Sony has made a few key improvements that actually add up to a lot more than the specs sheet might suggest.
The Xperia Z3 has had its screen tweaked to produce better results. It has a slightly faster processor, and a well thought-out design change with metal frame and rubberized plastic corners to act as built-in shock absorbent bumpers and a better waterproof rating. The Xperia Z3 price currently sits around the 550 USD mark.
|System||Android 4.4.4, Xperia UI|
|Display||5.2-inch, Full HD IPS LCD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 424 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz, Quad-Core, Adreno 330 GPU|
|Internal storage||16/32 GB + microSD up to 128 GB|
|Battery||3,100 mAh (non-removable)|
|Camera||20.7 MP (back), 2.2 MP (front)|
|Connectivity||GSM/HSDPA/LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC|
|Dimensions||146 x 72 x 7.3 mm|
|Price||550 USD (off-contract)|
5. Nexus 6
We waited and waited for this one. Then we waited some more, then finally when the Nexus 6 arrived in our hands, our initial feelings were mixed. Was the Nexus 6 just too big? Thankfully, it didn't take long for this Motorola-designed flagship to win us round.
An improvement over the Nexus 5 in every way, the Nexus 6 is rocking a QHD display, and what better way to show it off than on a huge 6-inch screen. Stock Android 5.0 Lollipop straight out of the box, one of the best processors currently on the market, and a 13 MP camera with OIS and dual-LED flash round out specs on a device worthy of its 649 USD price tag. The fact that it's water resistant, and you can pump around 6 hours of battery into it in just 15 minutes thanks to its included turbo-charger only sweetens the deal. The Nexus 6 price ranges between 250 USD on contract, to 650 USD outright (32 GB) or just over 1000 USD (64 GB).
|System||Android 5.0 Lollipop, stock|
|Display||5.96-inch, QHD AMOLED (2560 x 1440 pixels, 493 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 805, 2.7 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Battery||3,220 mAh + wireless charging and turbo charge functionality|
|Internal Memory||32 GB / 64 GB|
|Camera||13 MP (rear), 2 MP (front)|
|Dimensions||159.26 x 82.98 x 10.06 mm|
|Connectivity||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Price||250 USD (on-contract), 650 USD for 32 GB or 1000 USD for 64 GB (off-contract)|
6.LG G Flex 2
Definitely the biggest oddball on our list, but we have a lot of love for the curved design on the G Flex 2. While there's a lot of excitement around the mild curves on the Galaxy S6 Edge, they're not nearly as audacious as the curved-screen design of the G Flex 2. it was the first phone to come packing a 64-bit Snapdragon 810, which is still one of the most powerful on the market, and it also has a solid 13MP camera.
Much was made of the 'self-healing' coating on the LG G Flex 2, but when we carried out a test ourselves, it unfortunately failed to come good on this impressive promise. Every smartphone maker is prone to a bit of marketing hyperbole though, so we're prepared to forgive it on account of its otherwise innovative and powerful features.
7. HTC One M9
The poor HTC One M9 in some ways had the toughest job to impress us. Its predecessor - the One M8 - was lauded for its stunning design, and HTC made the decision to keep the external look more or less the same for the One M9. Not only that, they've stuck to the same 5-inch Full HD display while other phones have moved towards QHD. The familiar look of the One M9 meant that it had no chance to dazzle us quite like its predecessor a year ago.
Despite keeping things as they were externally - albeit with a bit more sheen - the HTC One M9 is still one of the most powerful and eye-catching phones around. HTC's decision to move the 4MP UltraPixel camera round to the front of the phone was a good one, leaving the back of the phone with a 20MP snapper. Its Snapdragon 810 chipset ranks the One M9 just short of the Galaxy S6 in terms of power, and it offers crisp stereo audio thanks to upgraded BoomSound speakers.
8. Motorola Moto G (2014)
Motorola knocked our socks off with the original Moto G. It was an incredibly low-priced smartphone that delivered great performance. Motorola improved on that recipe with the Moto G (2014). Motorola knows the specs race isn't everything, so lots of the internals remain the same between the two generations, but three key additions have been made in the new Moto G (2014): microSD expansion, a better camera and stereo front-facing speakers.
Thanks to the very minimal changes that Motorola makes to stock Android, the new Moto G (2014) will get the latest Android updates just as fast as Nexus devices; it was one of the earliest handsets to be updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Moto G (2014) delivers rock solid performance, rapid updates and a bloat-free interface at a rock bottom price. In its class it is unbeatable, and it might even make you reconsider forking out for a full-priced flagship when you can get an Android experience this good for this price. The Moto G (2014) price is just 179.99 USD outright, and 138 GBP in the UK.
|Moto G (2014)|
|System||Android 4.4.4, near-stock Android|
|Display||5 inch, IPS LCD (1,280 x 720 pixels, 294 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 400, 1.2 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Internal Memory||8 / 16 GB + microSD (up to 32 GB)|
|Battery||2,070 mAh, non-removable|
|Camera||8 MP (rear), 2 MP (front)|
|Connectvity||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, dual-SIM and DTV version available|
|Dimensions||70.7 x 141.5 x 6.0-11.0 mm|
|Price||179.99 USD (off-contract)|
9. Huawei Ascend Mate 7
Huawei has really produced a winner with the Ascend Mate 7, which is the oddly-named successor to the Mate 2. The Mate 7 actually has a 6-inch screen, but even if the name is a little confusing, the device is pure magic. Looking like a redesigned HTC One Max gives the Mate 7 a very refined appearance and the all-new EMUI 3.0 is a nicely balanced and unique user interface. Huawei's usual mix of interesting and useful software additions add nice extras, but it's really all about the fantastic finger scanner, which is the best on Android so far.
The Mate 7 is also a bit of a hardware beast, and using the device is snappy and enjoyable. Add to that a relatively low price tag and a fantastic 4,100 mAh battery and the Mate 7 demands you pay attention. Not having an app drawer is a slightly weird quirk that you quickly get used to, and it is more than made up for by Huawei's attention to detail. Everything about the Mate 7 screams premium and it thoroughly deserves a spot on this list and wider distribution than it currently enjoys. The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 price starts at 515 USD for a 16 GB unlocked version.
- Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review.
|Processor||Quad-core HiSilicon Kirin 9251.8 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7|
|RAM||2 GB (16 GB version), 3 GB (32 GB version)|
|Internal Memory||16/32 GB + microSD|
|System||Android 4.4.2 KitKat, EMUI 3.0|
|Camera||13 MP (rear); 5 MP (front)|
|Display||6.0 inch, IPS LCD Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 368 ppi)|
|Dimensions||157 x 81 x 7.9 mm|
|Connectivity||GSM, HSDPA, LTE (Cat. 6), Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, NFC|
|Price||515 USD (off-contract)|
10. Moto X (2014)
The Moto X is a stylish, powerful phone that's worthy of its flagship status at Motorola. True to Motorola's reputation for offering plenty of customizability, the Moto X lets you choose between leather and wood back covers, framed by a metallic rim all around the sides.
At 5.2 inches, the Moto X has a big display with a Full HD resolution. One of its biggest plus-point in our eyes is the fact that it runs an almost-stock version of Android, and is quick to receive the latest updates (it was running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop at the time of writing). This also means minimal bloatware, leaving you to fill the phone up with the apps you want.
Despite our criticisms of its weak battery and underwhelming camera, the Moto X is a fast and well-designed phone, with a tempting mid-range price of 499 USD in the US, and 386 GBP in the UK.
Did we miss anything? Disagree with our order? Let us know in the comments.
And if it's apps you're after, we've got you covered with our mega-list of the best Android apps. Check it out!
Updated by Robert Zak, 31/3/15