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Best Android phones of 2014: our top 10

Kris Carlon
22

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.

top android devices androidpit
With so many great choices on offer, we've pulled together the best Android phones available. / © ANDROIDPIT

1. LG G3

lg g3 top 1
The LG G3 looks great, performs exceptionally well and covers all bases. © ANDROIDPIT

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
Weight 149 g

2. HTC One (M8)

htc one m8 top 4
The HTC One (M8) may have a weak camera, but that's about its only flaw. © ANDROIDPIT

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
RAM 2 GB
Internal Memory 16 GB + microSD (up to 128 GB)
Battery 2,600 mAh
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
Weight 160 g

3. Sony Xperia Z2

sony xperia z2 top 3
The Sony Xperia Z2 has so many good features the few bad ones are easy to overlook. © ANDROIDPIT

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).

  Xperia Z2
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
RAM 3 GB
Battery 3,200 mAh
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
Weight 158 g
Connectivity UMTS HSPA+, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0

4. Samsung Galaxy S5

samsung galaxy s5 astuce 1
The Galaxy S5 is yet another great offering from Samsung. / © AndroidPIT

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.

  Galaxy S5
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
RAM 2 GB
Internal Memory 16 / 32 GB (+ microSD up to 128 GB)
Battery 2,800 mAh
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
Weight 145 g
Other features Finger sensor, heart-rate monitor, water-resistant (IP67)

5. Oppo Find 7

oppo find 7a 4
For a relative newcomer, the Oppo Find 7 brings a lot to the Android table. / © ANDROIDPIT

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

samsung galaxy note 3 top 5
The Galaxy Note 3 is impossible to beat in the stylus stakes. © ANDROIDPIT

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)
RAM 3 GB
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
Weight 168 g

7. Google Nexus 5

nexus 5 top 7
The Nexus 5 has, and will continue to, withstand the test of time very well. © ANDROIDPIT

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.

  Nexus 5
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
RAM 2 GB
Internal Memory 16 / 32 GB
Battery 2,300 mAh
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
Weight 130 g

8. OnePlus One

oneplus one sandstone back teaser
The OnePlus One is an outstanding first device from a new company. / © AndroidPIT

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
RAM 3 GB
Internal storage 16/64 GB 
Battery 3,100 mAh
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
Weight 162 g

9. Motorola Moto G

motorola moto g top 9
The Moto G forced everyone to rethink what they could expect from a low cost smartphone. © ANDROIDPIT

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.

  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
RAM 1 GB
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
Weight 143 g
Battery 2,070 mAh
Camera 5 MP (rear), 1.3 MP (front)

10. Motorola Moto X

moto x top 6 gross
The Moto X changed the way we thought about using our smartphones.© ANDROIDPIT

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)
RAM 2 GB
Internal Memory 16/32GB
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)
Battery 2,200 mAh
Dimensions 129.3 x 65.3 x 5.6-10.4 mm
Weight 130 g
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.

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!

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Comments

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  • Richard Page 3 weeks ago Link

    The Nexus 5 can make the list but not the G2......what is going on here?

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      Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

      The theory is that why would you buy a G2 when you can have a G3? Trust me, as much as we all love the Nexus 5 , I expect it to disappear from this list when the N6 arrives too.

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    • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

      Well, if we talk about best of the best, Nexus 5 shouldn't be on the list at all, motorolas as well. G2 also, old device.

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  • Ranjeesh 3 weeks ago Link

    For me, Nexus 5 and Moto G should be in the top 5. They were the best bang for buck in their respective price ranges and pretty good performers too.

    Z2 wasn't a great improvement on the Z1 and we all know the story about S5.

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    • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

      Well, thank god it's not about you. The list is about best of the best and those two you mentioned can be thankful they are on the list at all.

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      • Ranjeesh 3 weeks ago Link

        The list is not about the best of best or flagships. It is about the phones which were successful overall and were able to deliver what was promised and what we expected of them.

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      • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

        Sorry, "best android phone" can only be and is about flagships. Delivering in hardware is an absolute minimum. Hardware inferiority can be tolerable if the phone in question has supremacy in other categories, but that rarely, or rather never happens. A mediocre device is usually just a mediocre device. There is simply no way comparing Moto G or Nexus 5 with the likes of S5 or Z2. Of course, those two are amazing phones in their own way, but they're a level below the top (in case of Nexus 5, Moto phones are even worse). So, the list as is right now is rather good, but Moto phones should be off the list and the order should be changed here and there, e.g. Nexus 5 should be on the last place etc.

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  • CJ Brown 3 weeks ago Link

    Very grateful Motorola got mentioned for 2 Devices (proud Moto X user)
    Oppo looks like it will steal One Plus's thunder (better customer service is a plus)
    Huawei should be in Top 10 for 2015 (push Sony off the list)

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      Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

      The Ascend P7 would have been number 11 - in fact it almost was number 10 but I couldn't deny the importance of the Moto X (and Huawei aren't easily accessible everywhere)

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    • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

      Sony hate much, huh? Huawei is not even close to push anyone off the list, let alone Sony. And motorolas are basically midrange devices in mildly interesting packages, shouldn't be on the list at all. See, I can do that too.

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  • AnnDroidGirl 3 weeks ago Link

    I love my Moto X!

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  • CJ Brown 3 weeks ago Link

    The Huawei Ascend P7 is a quality Android Smart Phone (in my opinion). I am also impressed by the Oppo Find 7 (more than the OnePlus - in my opinion). Both are perfect for the "no contract" market (as are the Nexus 5 and Moto X - in my opinion):...


    Samsung and Sony maintain their superiority via an ability to offer their product(s) globally - an important issue that both Huawei and Oppo need to improve upon, if they are to enter the Top 10. I did enjoy this article, overall, because it also hints at what the future holds (ie Nexus 6, Moto X2, etc) ...

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    • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

      I agree on basically everything you said, except the part about how Samsung and Sony maintain their superiority. While it is certain that global availability of their devices plays a major role in their supremacy (regarding sales, mind you), their devices are still undoubtedly better devices on every front then the counterparts from Huawei and the likes.

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  • Robert Reid 3 weeks ago Link

    Your rating of the Z2 placing 3rd because the 4K overheats shouldn't be a consideration considering many others do not have this feature (M8 does not and cannot be added by software). Its a very high tech offering (something to make a big noise about that will lead others). It doesn't overheat on normal use. Additionally the Z2 offers significant waterproof prowess, the very best camera, with 3GB ram with 3200mAh battery (M8 2600mAh)! The M8 is barely an upgrade of its predecessor.

    The Z2 beats the M8 (easily) on many levels including many beneficial software comforts like being lag free during navigation and UI generally (if it isn't broken don't fix it). As NDTV Gadgets said "the M8 will appeal only to those who either place a high value on design, or seriously dislike Samsung and Sony. We're less enthusiastic about the M8 than we are about the inevitable price cut the M7 will receive. HTC seriously needs a reinvention, and the One (M8) is not it."

    I appreciate your note that it was a tight race for 3rd spot, but considering these points it shouldn't have been. The Z2 is the outlier.

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    • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

      Dear sir, I wholeheartedly agree.

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      Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

      Obviously there's more to it than just the 4K overheating issue, that was simply an example, but I love your input and the fact you have facts to support it. For me, the speed and feature set of the M8 puts it above the waterproofness and a higher resolution camera. The Z2 camera has a lot of issues (not that the M8's doesn't!) and the M8 battery is superb, despite its size. But of course, you have to make a call somewhere and I guess we just ended up on different sides of the line. Hit the forum and share your top ten!

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  • Scott 3 weeks ago Link

    Kris, how on "god's green earth" (figure of speech) lol , could you all ever call the htc one m8 bulky? Thats is absurd. Heavy? Maybe in comparison to the plethora of plastic devices out there. But you get a feeling of a solid device in your hand with the all metal htc. Also, it really should have been #1. Better UI, front facing speakers, better design, better battery life, more vivid screen, Faster, and more likely to receive faster updates due to htc advantage and the unintrusive sense 6 ui. I think tge G3 is an awesome phone. I just think the m8 is a better overall phone. Between the m8 and the g3, i would say the g3 was bulky because it is wider, making it a bit harder to hold in the hand too. Just my 2 cents. Thanks!

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    • Bojan M. 3 weeks ago Link

      We all have personal preferences, for you it's M8, for me it's Z2. Since I tried almost all the phones on this list, and if I really have to force myself to be objective, I would say G3 is overall the best device at the moment. Forced objectively, I would say that Z2 is also better than M8. But, that doesn't matter in the end. Enjoy the M8, m8 :)

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      Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

      Hey Scott, thanks for your pick. I think you and @Robert Reid could have an interesting debate about the Z2 vs M8 question! I still think the M8 is heavy and bulky though! :D

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  • Patrick Smith 3 weeks ago Link

    So far no phone released this year have tempted me to switch from the Nexus 5. I think I may keep it for another year.

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  • steve 3 weeks ago Link

    The S5 is my pick, it offers finger print id, water resistant, beautiful soft touch back, probably the fastest processor out of the bunch and usb 3.0 for very fast recharge time, not to forget ultra power saving mode...

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  • ashiik ali 1 week ago Link

    if value for money is considered, then S5 won't be in the list

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