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. These are usually the manufacturer flagships, but occasionally lower cost devices creep in unexpectedly as well. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff and, we've pulled together the ten best Android smartphones that you can buy right now. We'll update this list as new devices become available, so check back in whenever you're looking to upgrade.
- On a budget? Check out the best Android phones under 200 USD
1. LG G3
No surprises here, the LG G3 is a fantastic device, from it's excellent design, great battery life, speedy user interface, 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 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 are listening to their critics too. The LG G3 is easily our pick for the best Android phone of the year so far.
|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|
2. HTC One (M8)
HTC know how to do a whole lot with a specs sheet that looks a little dated and the HTC One (M8) is no exception. When the One (M8)'s specs became known before it was released, a few critics groaned, but we knew HTC would bring it in all the ways that mattered.
Following on from the phenomenal success of the HTC One, the One (M8) introduced an aluminum unibody, Duo Camera, Motion Launch gestures, unparalleled speed, Extreme Power Saving Mode, liquid smooth HTC Sense 6 and a great 5-inch Full HD display.
The legendary BoomSound speakers also got a big improvement, making the M8 the choice for mobile media junkies. It's a little heavy and bulky and the 4 UltraPixel camera is not really sufficient for what we’d expect, but it's a very solid entry.
|System||Android 4.4.2, Sense 6|
|Display||5 inch, Full HD Super LCD3 (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 441 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 801, 2.3 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Internal Memory||16 GB + microSD (up to 128 GB)|
|Camera||4 UltraPixel, Duo-camera, (rear); 5 MP (front)|
|Connectivity||HSPA, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC|
|Dimensions||146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4 mm|
3. Sony Xperia Z2
It was a tight call for third position, but the Xperia Z2 takes third place because after a while the One (M8) really showed its strengths over time, whereas the Xperia Z2 showed a few flaws that weren’t initially apparent. The fact that shooting in 4K video quickly heats the device up to the point it stops working is a serious - if highly localized - problem.
Having said that though, the Xperia Z2 is a very good performer: with a great 20.7 MP camera, smooth Xperia UI, hefty battery life and waterproof chassis, it is a great choice for those on the move that want hi-res photos, long battery life, and protection against the elements.
The 5.2-inch Full HD display is pretty great too, but the UI is looking a little dated and there’s not so many useful software features added compared to the G3 and HTC One (M8).
|System||Android 4.4.2 KitKat, Xperia UI|
|Display||5.2 inch, Full-HD TRILUMINOS display (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 424 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 801, 2.3 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Internal Memory||16 GB (+ microSD up to 64 GB)|
|Camera||20.7 MP (rear), 2.2 MP (front)|
|Dimensions||146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm|
|Connectivity||UMTS HSPA+, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0|
4. Samsung Galaxy S5
While Samsung are frequently criticized for adding too many gimmicky software features, the Galaxy S5 goes relatively light on unnecessary software features and has refreshed the TouchWiz interface at the same time. The Galaxy S5 also introduced a finger scanner and heart rate monitor, along with water-resistance, excellent battery optimizations and super fast shooting with the exceptionally good camera.
Despite the Galaxy S5 looking great on paper and being a very solid performer, it somehow still fails to really wow. The interface overhaul is inconsistent and is quite laggy, the design is tired, the specs didn’t make a huge jump from the Galaxy S4 and many early adopters felt slighted when the Galaxy S5 LTE-A appeared with the specs they had expected from the S5.
By all means the Galaxy S5 is still a very nice phone and it deserves to be in our top five, but it lacks that oomph we all wanted to see from Samsung’s latest flagship and that would have made it place higher on our list.
|System||Android 4.4.2, TouchWiz|
|Display||5.1 inch, Full-HD Super AMOLED (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 432 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Internal Memory||16 / 32 GB (+ microSD up to 128 GB)|
|Camera||16 MP (rear), 2.1 MP (front)|
|Connectivity||LTE Cat 4, HSPA+, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, IrDA, NFC, USB 3.0|
|Dimensions||142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm|
|Other features||Finger sensor, heart-rate monitor, water-resistant (IP67)|
5. Oppo Find 7
The Oppo Find 7 was a bit of a surprise this year, with the relatively young manufacturer putting out an incredibly good smartphone that really should make the major OEMs sit up and take notice. Despite appearing with Android 4.3, the Find 7 is a seriously great smartphone, with super fast performance, top-end specs, excellent 13 MP camera and impressive 5.5-inch QHD display.
With specs and performance that give the Galaxy Note 3 a real run for its money, the Oppo Find 7 put Oppo on the map of companies to look out for. The Color OS needs a little work, and it desperately needs faster updates, but for what it is, the Find 7 is a very good device. If you like a dark horse or simply want something on the cutting edge of what's new, the Oppo Find 7 may just be the Android for you. It is also available in a non-QHD version, the Oppo Find 7a.
|Find 7||Find 7a|
|System||Android 4.3, Color OS 2.0||Android 4.3, Color OS 2.0|
|Display||5.5 inch, IPS LCD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 538 ppi)||5.5 inch, IPS LCD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 400 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz, Quad-Core||Snapdragon 800, 2.3 GHz, Quad-Core|
|RAM||3 GB||2 GB|
|Internal Memory||32 GB (+ microSD up to 128 GB)||16 GB (+ microSD up to 128 GB)|
|Battery||3,000 mAh, removable, VOOC-rapid charge function||2,800 mAh, removable, VOOC-rapid charge function|
|Camera||13 MP (rear), 5 MP (front)||13 MP (rear), 5 MP (front)|
|Connectivity||LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.0||LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Dimensions||152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm||152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm|
|Weight||171 g||171 g|
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Despite being almost a year old, the Galaxy Note 3 is still a star performer and easily deserves a high place on a list of the best Androids you can buy right now. Samsung got almost everything right with the Note 3. Sure, the design looks the same and the interface was in need of an overhaul, but as a stylus-supported business tool, the Note 3 is without parallel.
Any limitations found in Samsung smartphones seem to be so overshadowed by just how great the S Pen, Air Command and integrated software features are on a Note device that you don’t even notice them. Still, the Note 3 has a good 13 MP camera, decent battery life, good internals and nice 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, but really, it’s all about that S Pen.
|Galaxy Note 3|
|System||Android 4.4.2, TouchWiz UI with S Pen stylus|
|Display||5.7 inch, Full-HD Super AMOLED (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 386 ppi)|
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa-Core, 1.9 GHz (3G variant) / Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-Core, 2.3 GHz (LTE variant)|
|Internal Memory||32 GB, (+ micro SD up to 128 GB)|
|Connectivity||HSPA or LTE, W-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI (MHL), Micro-USB 3.0|
|Camera||13 MP (rear), 2 MP (front)|
|Batery||3,200 mAh (removable)|
|Dimensions||151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm|
7. Google Nexus 5
Speaking of older phones that have held up exceptionally well over time, the Google Nexus 5, built by LG, is a phone that just doesn’t seem to date. Rapidly approaching the year-old mark as well, the Nexus 5 has super fast speed and internals that are still competitive against many much newer devices as far as performance is concerned.
Running stock Android, the Nexus 5 has a natural advantage for a speedy user interface and it gets firmware updates faster than anyone else in the Android ecosystem. The unimpressive camera at launch received several updates that really made it shine, but the battery life has never been particularly good. The Nexus 5 has a very low price, though, that makes up for some of its limitations and it is an all-round great device that is hard to beat for the money.
|System||Android 4.4.2, stock Android|
|Display||4.95 inch, LCD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 445 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 800, 2.3 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Internal Memory||16 / 32 GB|
|Camera||8 MP (rear), 1.3 MP (front)|
|Connectvity||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Qi|
|Dimensions||137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm|
8. OnePlus One
Another surprise entry on this list is the excellent offering by new Chinese start-up, the OnePlus One. The hype machine almost exploded in the build up to this low-cost, top-end device, although various issues with distribution, support and a very weird invitation system put a bad stain on an otherwise great device, not to mention OnePlus’ debatable attitude to its customers.
Still, if you can look past these issues, and actually get ahold of a OnePlus One, you’re in for a treat. Blessed with top-shelf specs at a rock-bottom price, with a great OS built especially for OnePlus by CyanogenMod, the OnePlus One is the kind of smartphone we’d expect from a company in their third year of production, not from their very first phone.
But issues with distribution and support are a real consideration for anyone looking at a new phone, which is why the OnePlus one didn’t rank higher. If you can live with these potential problems and just want more specs for your dollar the OnePlus One is the one.
|System||Android 4.4.4, CyanogenMod 11S|
|Display||5.5-inch, Full-HD IPS (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 401 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Internal storage||16/64 GB|
|Camera||13 MP (back), 5 MP (front)|
|Connectivity||GSM/HSDPA/LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, Worldwide 4G LTE|
|Dimensions||152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm|
9. Motorola Moto G
The Moto G is almost ridiculously good for what it costs. Even at a higher price point, the Moto G would stand up very well, but considering how cheap it is, it is really remarkable just how good Motorola managed to make this device. From a very thin manufacturer skin that allows super fast firmware updates, to very limited pre-installed apps, the Moto G is designed to be bare bones, but the overall package still manages to knock socks off.
With the Moto G Motorola managed to prove that you don’t need a high price tag or high-end specs to produce a seriously good phone. If you want a cheap, well built, fast smartphone with the latest version of Android and don’t mind so much about battery size or camera resolution, then you simply cannot go past the Moto G.
|System||Android 4.4.4 KitKat, near-stock Android|
|Display||4.5 inch, IPS LCD (1,280 x 720 pixels, 326 ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 400, 1.2 GHz, Quad-Core|
|Internal Memory||8/16 GB|
|Conncetivity||GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA+, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS|
|Dimensions||129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm|
|Camera||5 MP (rear), 1.3 MP (front)|
10. Motorola Moto X
The Moto X made some serious waves when it first appeared, from its Touchless Controls and Active Display to the always-listening core, the Moto X was a minor revolution for usability. While the battery life is not great by any stretch and the camera could be much better, the Moto X makes up for its hardware shortcomings with an amazingly innovative approach to how we actually use our smartphones.
Many of its key features are already making their way into other devices or have been taken on by clever app developers, but the relatively high price of the Moto X damaged its uptake to a degree and stopped it from placing higher on our top ten.
till, if you want a unique smartphone that will change the way you think about how you use it, the Moto X is the phone for you. It has also received a nice price drop, making it an even more attractive option.
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, 1.7 GHz, Dual-Core (with dedicated chips for language and gesture controls)|
|System||Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, near-stock Android|
|Camera||10 MP (rear); 2 MP (front)|
|Display||4.7 inch, HD AMOLED display (1,080 x 720 pixels, 321 ppi)|
|Dimensions||129.3 x 65.3 x 5.6-10.4 mm|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, HSPA, LTE|
Did we miss anything? Disagree with our order? Head to the forum to share your top ten Android phones.
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