With Android thoroughly dominating the mobile industry, picking the best Android smartphones is almost synonymous with choosing the best smartphones, period. But while Android phones have few real opponents on other platforms, internal competition is incredibly fierce.
From sleek devices that impress with premium design, to powerhouses brimming with features, to all-around great devices, and affordable phones that punch above their weight, the Android ecosystem is populated by a staggering variety of attractive phones.
But “greatness” is subjective, and sometimes spec sheets and feature lists are not enough to make an idea of how good a phone really is. In this roundup, we’re looking at the absolute best—the Android phones you can’t go wrong with.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
After a controversial 2016, Samsung’s Galaxy Note line is back in full force. With top-of-the-line specs, a stunning design, an all-new dual-camera setup, and new software features, the Galaxy Note 8 is the best Android phone you can buy right now.
The Note 8’s near-bezel-less 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio is one of our favorite parts about this phone. DisplayMate agrees with us too. It’s big, maybe too big for some people, but at least the company puts that screen to good use. There’s a new App Pairing feature that allows you to open up two favorited apps in multi-window at the same time, and there are a few new S Pen features that will satisfy the stylus users out there.
What’s more, the new dual-camera setup on the back performs incredibly well. While picture quality isn’t a huge step up from what we saw on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, the extra 12 MP sensor with OIS allows you to take clear, concise photos and impressive bokeh shots in just about any situation.
No, it’s not perfect, but no phone is. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor placement is still super annoying, and this phone is expensive. If those things don’t matter to you though, the Note 8 might be the right phone for you. Check out our full review below!
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specs
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 color comparison
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs the competition
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 quick look
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Essential Phone
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy Note Fan Edition quick look
- Top five new Galaxy Note 8 features
- Galaxy Note 8 price, release date, and carrier deals
Google Pixel 2
The Pixel 2 is Google’s latest flagship smartphone, and it’s great at just about everything. It doesn’t have as many bells or whistles as the Note 8, but if you’re in the market for a simple Android phone, the Pixel 2 is a great option.
This device has a 5-inch OLED 1080p display with a pixel density of 441 ppi. It doesn’t have a fancy 18:9 aspect ratio screen or a bezel-less design, though it does have front-facing speakers above and below the display. Inside, it comes with a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, along with 4 GB of LPDDR4x RAM. You can buy the phone with either 64 GB or 128 GB of on board storage, but there’s no microSD card to add additional storage.
If you like taking photos with your phone, you’ll be very pleased with the Pixel 2’s 12.2 MP camera. Not only has it been named the smartphone camera on the market according to DxOMark, we found the Pixel 2’s main camera to be incredibly impressive in most situations. There’s even a portrait mode on the front and back cameras, even though the phone doesn’t have a dual-camera setup.
You might be wondering why we haven’t mentioned the Pixel 2 XL. It’s a great phone—don’t get us wrong—but just know that the XL’s display has had its fair share of issues since launch. The LG-made pOLED 6.0-inch display on the 2 XL shows off a blue tint when the phone is tilted, it’s not tuned to be as vibrant as other OLED panels, and many early adopters have already been noticing burn-in issues. Google says it will continue to combat these issues with software updates, and it’s also extended the warranty to two years.
If you want a Pixel phone with a larger battery and can live with a mediocre display, we’d recommend going for the Pixel 2 XL—you’ll be very happy. But if you can live with a smaller battery and a smaller screen (that doesn’t have any issues), we’d recommend the Pixel 2.
- Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL review: the way Android is meant to be
- Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL specs
- Google Pixel 2 XL unboxing and first impressions
- Google Pixel 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8: the flagship battle
- Google Pixel 2 vs Google Pixel: what’s changed?
- Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL specs: Google’s vision for the modern flagship
- Google Pixel 2 cases: here are some of the best you can buy
- Google Pixel 2 XL cases: here are some of your best options
The V30 is the latest flagship phone from LG, which has been struggling to compete, at least in sales, with its biggest Android rival Samsung. It is also the successor to 2016’s LG V20, which included a secondary 2.1-inch screen on top for showing app shortcuts, media controls, and more. The V30 does away with that secondary display, and instead has one nearly bezel-free 6-inch screen, using LG’s new Plastic OLED (pOLED) panel. LG offers a slide-out menu on the phone’s display (called the Floating Bar) that floats around the screen as a substitute (sort for) for folks who might miss the secondary display.
In terms of hardware specs, the LG V30 has everything you would expect from a flagship phone in early 2018. It has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 4 GB RAM, along with 64 GB of onboard storage, a 3,300 mAh battery, and a IP68 dust and water resistance rating. LG is heavily promoting the advanced camera and photography features on the V30, too. It has a dual rear camera that includes a 16 MP sensor with a f/1.6 aperture, along with a 13 MP sensor with a f/1.9 aperture. The rear camera has a Crystal Clear Lens instead of plastic, which should mean you should get more realistic looking photos with the V30. Video creators should have fun with software features like Cine Video, which allows users to quickly put in video effects, along with Point Zoom, which will let owners zoom into any point in a video.
Audiophiles should also be happy with the LG V30, as it has support for Hi-Fi Quad DAC tuned by B&O Play. It is also the first smartphone to support MQA, which is supposed to let users stream high-res audio, but with a smaller file size and no loss in quality.
- LG V30 review: a photography and videography dream
- LG V30 specs
- Five reasons why the LG V30 is better than the Galaxy Note 8
- LG V30 vs Galaxy Note 8: camera features
- What it’s like to film with the LG V30
- LG V30 vs G6 quick look: LG has finally hit a groove
- Inside the LG V30’s new display: POLED vs Samsung’s Super AMOLED
- LG V30 price, release date, and carrier deals
- Best LG V30 cases
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.
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 best smartphones that launched in 2017.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus review
- Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus specs, price, deals, and more
- What I don’t like about the Galaxy S8 Plus
- 5 reasons why the Galaxy S8 Plus is my daily driver
- Samsung Galaxy S8 color comparison
- Samsung Galaxy S8 vs the competition
- Best Galaxy S8 Cases / Galaxy S8 Plus cases
- Hands-on with the new 4K Gear 360
- Samsung Gear VR (2017) review
The first thing you’ll notice with the 5T is its bit 6.01-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. This makes the device look more in line with other 2017 devices, especially because its predecessor came with a more traditional 16:9 screen. The under-the-hood specs are mostly the same as the OnePlus 5’s, but OnePlus decided to switch up the camera setup this time around. Now, in place of the OnePlus 5’s telephoto lens, the 5T sports a secondary 20 MP sensor that uses a fancy new technology called Intelligent Pixel Technology. Basically, it takes better low-light photos than before.
The other big change with the 5T is in regards to biometric security. Not only has the fingerprint sensor moved around to the back, you can also unlock the 5T using face recognition. It’s super fast, but we’ve found it to miss a handful of times for some unknown reason.
Perhaps the biggest missing feature on the 5T is an IP rating for dust and water resistance, which is a feature pretty much every other flagship device has. If you can get past that, the OnePlus 5T will be a great option for most people— especially because it costs a fraction of the price of most competing smartphones.
- OnePlus 5T review
- Best OnePlus 5T cases
- OnePlus 5T specs
- OnePlus 5T price, release date, and deals
- OnePlus 5T vs OnePlus 5: worth the upgrade?
- OnePlus 5T vs Samsung Galaxy S8
- OnePlus 5T vs LG G6
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro has all the features one would expect from the latest high-end flagship smartphones on the market. It has a 6-inch OLED display with an 18:9 ratio, a Full HD+ resolution of 2,160 x 1,080, and very small of bezels on the top and bottom of the display. Inside, there’s Huawei’s in-house octa-core Kirin 970 processor, along with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit for faster on-board AI processing. Huawei claims we will see more improvements in AI on the Mate 10 Pro in future updates.
You can purchase this phone with either 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage, or upgrade to 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of on board storage. There’s no microSD card for adding additional storage, by the way, nor does it have a 3.5 mm headphone jack (the slightly smaller Mate 10 has both). The Mate 10 Pro ships with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box.
The Mate 10 Pro also comes with an IP67 dust- and water-resistance rating, as well as a large 4,000 mAh battery which supports Huawei Supercharge. This allows the Mate 10 Pro to go up to nearly a full charge in about an hour. The Mate 10 Pro also has a fantastic dual-camera setup with a 20 MP monochrome sensor combined with a 12 MP RGB sensor. The phone got a high 97 score for its rear camera features from the image testing DxOMark, which is right up there with the iPhone 8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8.
- Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro review: all about promises
- Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro vs the competition
- Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro pricing and availability
- Huawei Mate 10 series specs: better, faster, stronger
The HTC 10 was one of our favorite Android phones of 2016, and for good reason. The Taiwanese company absolutely nailed the design of the 10, and it worked hard at scaling back the software to make it feel like the bare-bones Android experience we all know and love. And while it didn’t have a bunch of gimmicky extras, that was okay. The HTC 10 was a solid Android phone that nailed the basics.
Now HTC is back with the 10’s successor, the HTC U11. With an eye-catching, glossy design, all-day battery life, and a smooth and snappy software experience, the U11 competes toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 when it comes to performance. It also has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, according to DxOMark.
The standout feature on the U11 is something HTC calls Edge Sense. The sides of the phone are pressure sensitive, and this allows you to physically squeeze the phone to activate a specific function or open an app like the camera or web browser. Having to squeeze your phone to make it do something does sound a bit odd, but we’ve really found this feature to come in handy.
Before you go out and spend $650 on this baby, there are a few things you should know. For starters, this phone doesn’t have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, meaning you’ll either need to use Bluetooth headphones or carry around the included headphone adapter everywhere you go. Also, while HTC’s Sense is one of our favorite Android skins out there, it is feeling a bit dated at this point.
If you can get past those few caveats, though, the U11 will certainly not disappoint.
- HTC U11 review
- HTC U11 specs, price, deals, and more
- HTC U11 Edge Sense: what can it do?
- HTC U11 vs the competition
- Best HTC U11 cases
- Has the HTC U11 already made the U Ultra obsolete?
- HTC U11 announced: everything you need to know
Cast your vote, and participate in our giveaway!
There you have it – our picks from the best Android has to offer right now. Out of those listed, which do you feel is the very best? Be sure to sound off in the poll below. Each month we will also be conducting a giveaway, giving our readers a chance to win the phone with the most votes.
Congratulations to Bram W. (Netherlands), winner of our January 2018 giveaway!
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