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, 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. Update: We've finally got a new number one place holder!
- On a budget? Check out the best Android phones under $200 or the best cheap Android phones.
- Looking to get an Android tablet? Check out the best Android tablets from 2014.
1. 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 is clearly listening 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, although it does comes at a rpice: around 850 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|
2. 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 is listening to their critics too.
|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|
3. Sony Xperia Z3
Sony recently dropped the Xperia Z3, the six-months-later update to the Xperia Z2. Given this short time frame, the Z3 is certainly not a huge improvement over the Z2, but it is still an improvement. 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 clocked processor, 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. Everything also seems to be running a bit smoother than the Z2. It's probably not enough to make a Z2 owner upgrade, but the Z3 is a seriously good option for anyone thinking about a new phone.
|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|
4. 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|
5. Sony Xperia Z2
It was a tight call for fourth position, but the Xperia Z2 takes fourth 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, amongst a few others. The Xperia Z3, on the other hand, has made enough improvements over the Z2 to sneak by the One (M8) though to clinch second place.
Having said that though, the Xperia Z2 is still a very good performer (and will now be cheaper when the Xperia Z3 hits the market): 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 starting to look a little dated and there’s not so many useful software features added compared to the G3 and HTC One (M8).
- Hands-on Sony Xperia Z2 review
|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|
6. Samsung Galaxy S5
While Samsung is frequently criticized for adding too many gimmicky software features, the Galaxy S5 goes relatively light on unnecessary software features and has partially 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)|
7. 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|
8. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
When Sony originally released their ''compact'' flagship, the Xperia Z1 Compact, it was a watershed moment: finally there was a smaller-screened Android device that didn't cut corners where hardware was concerned. Many of us had long been waiting to see a ''mini'' device that truly deserved the flagship's name, and Sony delivered it to us. Now, they've improved on that recipe with the Xperia Z3 Compact.
The Z3 Compact is simply a smaller Xperia Z3, which was announced at the same time, although you make some sacrifices in terms of display resolution and pixel density for obvious reasons. The Z3 Compact has the same high-end specs inside and doesn't even scrimp on the famous 20.7 MP Sony G Lens camera. While we tend to like the Z3 a little more, there's no denying that as far as hardware and experience goes the Z3 Compact can hold its own amongst the big boys. Heck, it even out-benchmarks the HTC One (M8).
- Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review.
- Sony Xperia Z3 Compact vs Xperia Z3.
- Sony Xperia Z3 Compact vs Xperia Z1 Compact.
|Processor||Quad-core Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz, Adreno 330 GPU|
|Internal Memory||16 GB + microSD|
|System||Android 4.4.4 KitKat, Xperia UI|
|Camera||20.7 MP (rear); 2.2 MP (front)|
|Display||4.6 inch, IPS LCD HD display (1,280 x 720 pixels, 319 ppi)|
|Battery||2,600 mAh (non-removable)|
|Dimensions||127.3 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm|
|Connectivity||GSM, HSDPA, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, NFC.|
9. Motorola Moto G (2014)
Motorola knocked our socks off with the orginal Moto G. It was an incredibly low priced smartphone that delivered great performance. Now, Motorola has improved on that recipe with the Moto G (2014). Motorola knows the specs race isn't everything, so lots of the internal specs reamin 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, and we already know that the Moto G (2014) is in line for Android L. The new 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.
|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|
10. 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.
- 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|
Did we miss anything? Disagree with our order? Head to the forum to share your top ten Android phones.
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