Samsung is without a doubt the biggest name in the Android world, and so if you are considering purchasing a new phone, logic dictates you may be looking to pick up a phone made by the Korean giant. But which phone is right for your individual needs? While it might be easy to just say “get a Note or the latest Galaxy S”, Samsung’s line-up is actually quite robust with a variety of phones covering prices as low as $150 or as high as $1000.

Even more confusing, some of Samsung’s mid-range and entry line-ups are so similar in specs and design that picking a phone can be a bit confusing. That’s where we come in. In this list, we break down some of the best high, mid, and even entry-level options from Samsung.

Editor’s note: We will be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.

Best Samsung phone all around:

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

Following a successful launch of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Samsung seemed to have a pretty good idea as to what users want in a smartphone. Solid battery life, high-res screens, impressive camera performance and more were all things the company achieved with the 2016 flagships. And while the Note 7 seemed to improve even more in those areas, overheating problems caused the device to enter total recall mode.

Now we get to see what Samsung has in store for us in 2017. It should come as no surprise that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus feature top-of-the-line specifications, great cameras and an all-new design that’s truly futuristic.

This time around, Samsung included a curved screen on both the S8 and S8 Plus, as well as a unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio that allows for a much more comfortable in-hand feel. The company even ditched its famous physical home button and included on-screen navigation keys (finally). Under the hood, these devices come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor (or Exynos 8895, depending on the region), 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of on-board storage, and one of the latest versions of Android, 7.0 Nougat.

Samsung even launched a few extra accessories alongside the S8 that you should definitely consider checking out. The new Samsung DeX dock lets you use your S8 as a desktop computer, and there’s also a new Gear 360 camera that allows for shooting video in 4K and live streaming to YouTube. Of course, there’s also a new Galaxy S8-compatible Gear VR headset, complete with a controller for easier navigation.

All in all, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are two of the most promising smartphones launching in 2017.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S8

  • 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 570 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 processor (depending on region)
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm, 155 g

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

  • 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 529 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 processor (depending on region)
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,500 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173 g

Read more

 

Honorable mentions:

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Want a flagship Samsung experience, but without paying top dollar? Now that a new flagship is out on the market, that means plenty of deals are starting to pop up. Right now you can get the S7 starting around $430, with the edge priced around $600.

Get Galaxy S7 for $430 / Get Galaxy S7 edge for $600

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

While the Galaxy S series is already waterproof and dust resistant these days, if you want even more protection — that’s where the Active series comes in. Until (if) an S8 Active surfaces, the S7 Active is the latest member of this family and, at least in the US, is exclusive to AT&T.

Get Galaxy S7 Active for $695

Samsung Galaxy Note 7R

The story of the Galaxy Note 7 is a sad one, but despite the explosive drama, its one stunning phone. Thankfully, a refurbished version (that doesn’t explode) is hitting South Korea and select markets in the near future — okay so it’s not “available now” but will be in the near future.. Just don’t expect it to officially make a return to the U.S.

Learn more about the Galaxy Note 7R


Best mid-range Samsung phone:

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) and A5 (2017)

The Galaxy A family seems to be Samsung’s flagship mid-range line, getting way more marketing attention than the C series — at least in the United States. Although the Galaxy A7 and A5 are an obvious step downward from the Galaxy S7 or S8 lines, they could be perfect for you if you are looking for a solid Android experience for below $400.

Essentially the Galaxy A7 and A5 are the same phone, with the former packing a 5.7-inch display while the latter sticks to a more modest 5.2-inch display. Both are packing 1080p super AMOLED panels. Under the hood you’ll find the A7 and A5 are powered by the Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 7880 with 3GB RAM.

Other key specs include 32GB storage with microSD, 16MP front/rear cameras, and a 3600 mAh or 3000 mAh battery respectively. There is at least one big downside though, and that’s the software is still based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. That’s slightly disappointing, considering these phones were released in January of 2017. Of course a Nougat update shouldn’t be too terribly far off.

Overall, the Galaxy A series is a great substitute to the S line if you are looking to save some hard earned cash.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, 424ppi (Galaxy A5)
  • 5.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, 386ppi (Galaxy A7)
  • Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 7880
  • 3 GB of RAM
  • 32 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion
  • 16 MP rear and front cameras
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery for A5, 3,600 mAh for A7
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm, 155 g (Galaxy A5)
  • 156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm, 186 g (Galaxy A7)

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Honorable mentions:

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

The Galaxy S6 is now two years old, but still remains a solid option for those that gotta have a flagship. Just keep in mind that major software updates are starting to come to a close so if that’s important to you, getting a newer mid-range might actually be the better deal here for most buyers. That said, if you buy the Galaxy S6 used or refurbished — you can get it for way below the $300/$400 mark.

Get Galaxy S6 for $350 / Get Galaxy S6 edge for $425

Samsung Galaxy C7 / C7 Pro / C5 Pro

Frankly, the Galaxy C7 family is in many ways better than the A series, offering more RAM and built in storage. That said, the Galaxy A series seems to be more widely available in many markets (including the US). One note, the Pro variant of the C7 isn’t that much different than the slightly older C7 and is about $60 cheaper.

Get Galaxy C7 for $292 / Get Galaxy C7 Pro for $350 / Get Galaxy C5 Pro for $350


Best cheap Samsung phone:

Samsung Galaxy J7  / J7 Prime /  J7 V

best Samsung phones

When it comes to affordable Samsung phones, the J7 family is pretty easy to recommend. Each of these models have slightly different designs and specs, though they certainly aren’t worlds apart. The J7 and J7 Prime are both powered by an Exynos 7870 processor, while the J7 V trades in the Exynos chip for a Snapdragon 625. You get 3GB RAM with the Prime model, and 2GB for the other two. It’s also worth noting the Prime and standard J7 have better 13MP shooters, instead of an 8MP main camera.

Turning to the display, while all three have 5.5-inch sizes, the technology and resolutions differ.  The Prime has an LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920,  meanwhile the J7 and J7 V offer 720 x 1280 resolutions, with Super AMOLED and TFT technologies respectively. The majority of the other specs remain the same across the board, including 16GB storage with microSD and 3,300 mAh batteries. That said, the Prime’s battery is the only one that isn’t removable.

Pricing for the J7 is set at $200 (or $160 via Boost Mobile), with the Verizon only J7 V set at $240. If you are interested in the Prime’s higher resolution and higher RAM count, you’ll pay around $50 more than the standard Galaxy J7.

Editor’s note: The Galaxy J7 Prime known as the Galaxy On NXT in India and other select markets. This variant offers the same looks and core specs, but with double the internal storage for roughly the same price.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with 720 x 1280 resolution (Galaxy J7)
  • 5.5-inch LCD display with 1080 x 1920 resolution (Galaxy J7 Prime)
  • 5.5-inch TFT display with 720 x 1280 resolution (Galaxy J7 V)
  • Samsung Exynos 7870 or Snapdragon 625, depending on market
  • 2 GB of RAM for J7 and J7 V, 3GB for Prime
  • 16 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 13MP main camera for J7 and J7 Prime, 8MP main cam for J7 V
  • 5MP selfie cam for J7 and J7 V, 8MP selfie cam for J7 Prime
  • 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat for J7 V, Android 6.0 Marshmallow for J7 and J7 Prime

Read more

Honorable mentions:

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

If you are looking for a smaller handset, the Galaxy A3 could be perfect, thanks to its compact 4.7-inch display. The rest of the specs are on par with the J7 family as well, though it does offer a smaller 2350 mAh battery. Keep in mind that this phone isn’t officially available in the US, though you can find the international version pretty easily at places like Amazon — just make sure the bands support your particular carrier.

Get Galaxy A3 (2017) for $260

Samsung Galaxy C5

While the C7 and C7 Pro are essentially the same phone with just minor changes, the gap between the C5 and the C5 Pro is actually a bit larger. That said, it’s still a good phone if you’re on a tight budget. Core specs include a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display (1080p), a Snapdragon 617, 4GB RAM, and 32 or 64GB storage. On the camera front you get a 16MP main cam and 8MP front shooter. The phone offers a non-removable 2,600 mAh battery and runs on Android 6.0-based software.

Get Galaxy C5 for $250


Best entry-level Samsung phone:

Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) and its variants

best Samsung phones

While the Galaxy J7 and the honorable mentions listed above are the best ‘cheap’ Samsung phones, what if you are looking for the bare minimum? You simply want a phone that can do the basics relatively well. Whether you are looking for a secondary phone, a phone for a student, or just have a really thin budget — Samsung still has an option for you.

Okay, so the Galaxy J3 isn’t going to blow your socks off. Don’t let that fool you, it’s still a pretty great handset, especially considering it costs around $150. Unfortunately, Samsung’s budget-friendly headsets can be a massively confusing, especially since it seems that Samsung and its carrier partners have renamed the same phone like a hundred times. Even worse AT&T GoPhone has the Samsung Galaxy Express Prime 2 for $130, while AT&T (postpaid) has the J3 (2017) for $180 — and yet they are, as far as we can tell from specs and design, the EXACT same device.

The confusion continues as the AT&T J3 (2017) and Prime 2 are powered by an Exynos 7570, while the J3 V, J3 Emerge, and other 2017 J3 variants are typically powered by either a Snapdragon 410 or 425. Aside from the processor, all the models are roughly the same, and all have just 1.5GB RAM. If you are planning on getting this phone, don’t pay more than $150 for it. Sprint’s Emerge, for example, is $235 — which means it’s only like a few dollars cheaper than the more powerful Samsung Galaxy J7 V.

The low amount of RAM is easily the biggest weakness for this phone, though for users with modest needs, it should still get the job done well enough. Other specs include a 5-inch 1280 x 720 display, 16GB storage with microSD for expansion, a 5MP rear cam, 2MP front cam, a 2,600 mAh battery, and Android 7.0 Nougat powered software for the AT&T variant. It is worth noting, that if you are picking up another variant other than the AT&T version, there’s a good chance your phone might still have Marshmallow-based software.

Again, while the hardware specs are nowhere near those of the Galaxy S8 series, Galaxy A family, or even the J7, the price tag might be right for someone looking for an entry-level handset that comes from one of the world’s most popular handset makers.

Specs

  • 5-inch 720 x 1280, 294ppi (TFT for most variants)
  • Exynos 7570 (AT&T version)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 8917 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 8916 (most other variants)
  • 1.5 GB of RAM
  • 16 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion
  • 5 MP rear camera, 2 MP front camera
  • Removable 2,600 mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow or 7.0 Nougat
  • Roughly 139.7 x 69.9 x 8.9, dimensions and weight may vary slightly based on model

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And that’s all folks. Agree with our picks? Any major Samsung handset we didn’t mention that you feel should have made the list? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

Andrew Grush
Andrew is one of the three Managing Editors of Android Authority, primarily responsible for the overseeing of US team of writers, in addition to several other projects such as VR Source and more. He loves tech, gaming, his family, and good conversations with like-minded folks.
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