Selecting a brand new Android cellphone isn’t simple. The Android universe is teeming with choices, from super-expensive flagship telephones, to inexpensive fashions that make just a few calculated compromises, to fashions expressly designed for, say, nice images.
Likelihood is that whichever cellphone you purchase, you’ll maintain it for not less than two years. So selecting the perfect Android cellphone for you isn’t a choice it’s best to take frivolously. However we will make issues simpler: We’ve made picks for the perfect Android cellphone in a number of classes. Take a look at our abstract checklist beneath, or maintain studying for the small print on each.
On the backside of this text, we additionally checklist all our current Android cellphone evaluations—in case you’ve got your eye on a mannequin that doesn’t make our lower.
Up to date 1/18/18: We’ve new picks for the perfect cellphone for photographers, phablet lovers, and discount hunters.
Greatest total cellphone
Samsung’s flagship telephones are normally fairly good, however the Galaxy S8 and S8+ actually pull out all of the stops and ship a cellphone that’s extra polished, usable, and technically spectacular than ever earlier than. Inside and outside, this cellphone is a masterpiece.
The beautiful design is constructed round a giant, tall 18.5:9 side ratio AMOLED show that delivers the perfect brightness, distinction, and coloration we’ve ever seen. The brand new kind issue isn’t simply good wanting, it’s extra snug and usable, too.
Inside you’ll discover the primary cellphone with a 10nm Snapdragon 835 chip, which supplies it top-tier efficiency and glorious energy effectivity. In actual fact, these telephones carried out simply nice in our battery benchmarks (roughly 9 hours), with real-world use simply taking us by means of a busy day.
There are such a lot of options it’s onerous to checklist all of them. Bluetooth 5, assist for future gigabit LTE, wi-fi charging (Qi and PMA), iris scanner, Samsung Pay and Android Pay assist, USB-C, headphone jack, IP68 water proofing, microSD card assist… for such a clean, slim, enticing cellphone, it positive packs in a ton of “stuff.”
Samsung’s software program is best than ever, too.
You continue to must deal with far an excessive amount of bloatware and from Samsung and carriers, and the fingerprint sensor is positioned in a horrible location. However these sore spots are comparatively minor distractions from a cellphone that does extra, appears higher, and is extra pleasant to make use of than anything available on the market.
Greatest cellphone for photographers
The original Google Pixel produces superb pictures, however the Pixel 2 takes images to a complete new degree. Certainly. The digicam in Google’s newest smartphone isn’t simply the perfect in an Android cellphone this yr. It has additionally raised the bar for your entire smartphone business.
The very first thing you’ll discover concerning the Pixel 2’s digicam is its specs. Like final yr, Google hasn’t gone with a twin digicam set-up, and in reality it, hasn’t actually upgraded the a lot in any respect. Take a look at this specs comparability:
2016 Pixel: 12.three MP, f/2.zero, digital picture stabilization, section detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
2017 Pixel: 12.2 MP, f/1.eight, optical picture stabilization, section detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
As all the time, nonetheless, specs don’t inform the entire story. For one, optical picture stabilization makes an enormous distinction in each low-light state of affairs and movement pics, however what’s most spectacular is what Google is doing behind the scenes. Within the Pixel 2, Google is utilizing its AI and machine-learning engines to amplify its picture processing prowess, and the outcomes are merely stellar. For instance, even with out a second digicam, the Pixel 2 telephones take among the finest portraits this aspect of an DSLR, even besting Apple’s stellar iPhone X.
However the perfect half is likely to be that each the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have the very same digicam. The upshot is the smaller and cheaper Pixel cellphone doesn’t hand over something to the bigger one relating to the images—it even has the Pixel Visual Core picture processing chip that Google simply turned on within the Android 8.1 update. So it doesn’t matter what sort of photographer you might be, the Pixel 2 is the cellphone that must be in your pocket.
Greatest phablet (over 5.5 inches)
The Galaxy S8+ was our favourite phablet of 2017 till we acquired our arms on the Notice eight. Whereas it’s solely a fraction of an inch greater than the S8+, and comes with the identical processor and storage, Samsung has upgraded its productiveness phablet in a lot of significant methods.
A very powerful change is within the digicam. For the primary time in a Galaxy flagship cellphone, Samsung has added a second digicam to the rear setup, bringing 2x optical zoom and a real portrait mode. That’s on high of the already nice digicam that’s within the Galaxy S8. The Notice eight has among the best cameras we’ve utilized in a smartphone, and the addition of a second lens makes a noticeable distinction, most notably with a brand new portrait mode that allows you to modify the depth of the bokeh impact.
And there are different little upgrades as nicely. The larger show makes it really feel extra substantial to carry, and with the next most brightness, it’s a lot simpler to learn in direct daylight. The battery within the Notice eight is definitely smaller than the Galaxy S8’s (three,300mAh vs three,500mAh), however Samsung’s OS optimizations make it final simply as lengthy. And even with the identical processor, the cellphone feels quicker, due to 6GB of RAM and a more recent model of Android Nougat.
However the perfect purpose to decide on the Notice eight over the Galaxy S8+ is the S Pen. Like Notes of outdated, there’s a slot on the underside of the machine to maintain the stylus tucked away till you want it, and Samsung has added just a few new tips to maximise its usefulness, equivalent to Reside Message that allows you to ship animated notes and higher third-party app assist. Samsung has tailor-made the entire Notice eight expertise across the S Pen, and the result’s a novel, outstanding cellphone.
At $950, it’s not low-cost, however if you’d like the perfect phablet, it’ll be price it.
Greatest cellphone for Tango
Augmented actuality is the tech buzzword of the second, and Google has its personal platform for AR known as Tango. Nevertheless, not like Pokemon Go, Tango requires some critical specs to operate, and there are solely two telephones in a position to run its apps, the Asus Zenfone AR and Lenovo Phab2 Professional. And one in all them is clearly superior.
Should you’re seeking to take a look at out Google AR apps, Asus’s Zenfone AR is the best choice. It has a Snapdragon 821 chip, as much as 8GB of RAM, and as much as 128GB of storage. However what makes it Tango-ready is its spectacular digicam array. It has three rear cameras: one 23MP fundamental one, together with motion-tracking and depth-sensing cameras devoted to AR. Its 1440×2560 Tremendous AMOLED show is crisp and vibrant, and handles monitoring with ease. Add all of it up, and also you’ve acquired a tool able to deal with in the present day’s AR apps (and possibly tomorrow’s too).
However what offers the Zenfone AR its edge over the Lenovo Phab2 Professional is its dimension. With a slim body and a 5.7-inch display screen, it matches comfortably in your pocket and your arms, and feels extra like a cellphone than the 6.Four-inch Phab2 Professional. And it’s even suitable with Google’s Daydream VR platform, so that you’ll be on the reducing fringe of each side of actuality.
And whereas Tango remains to be an rising platform, there are more than enough apps to maintain you occupied, like Wayfare View for 3D purchasing and Google Measure. The Zenfone AR isn’t good, however if you’d like AR in your life, it’s the one cellphone you can purchase.
Greatest finances cellphone ($300 or much less)
There was a time when the phrases “finances” and “Android” conjured pictures of disposable, plastic telephones with small screens.
The Moto G5 punches means above its weight with a high quality 5.2-inch 1080p show, metallic physique, fingerprint sensor, and a really respectable digicam for its worth. For $230 you get 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM with a Snapdragon 625 processor, or for $300 you possibly can bump that as much as 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
Not solely that, nevertheless it’s totally 4G LTE suitable on all 4 main U.S. carriers—one thing that not numerous finances telephones can declare.
The cellphone has its drawbacks, together with microUSB as an alternative of USB-C and a scarcity of NFC, to not point out that the digicam is enough however doesn’t maintain up in opposition to top-end telephones.
As a whole package deal, although, the construct high quality, specs, efficiency, battery life, and software program expertise right here is means higher than we’re used to seeing within the $200-300 worth vary.
Greatest bang for the buck
OK, it’s attending to the purpose the place this class ought to simply be “Most up-to-date OnePlus launch.” For years, the corporate’s handsets have dominated the worth class, with premium specs and design for tons of lower than its rivals. And the OnePlus 5T solely widens the hole.
Whereas the OnePlus 5 that launched earlier this yr remains to be a stable worth, its 5.5-inch display screen and design appear a bit stale. OnePlus modified that with the 5T. Whereas it has the identical Snapdragon 835 chip, RAM, and storage because the 5, the display screen has modified dramatically, bringing it extra in step with the premium Android telephones. The 5T has a 6-inch, 18:9 OLED show, and the bezels round it have been diminished so the general footprint hasn’t modified a lot.
Which means the OnePlus 5T has a show, processor, and battery that may stand shoulder to shoulder with the Pixel 2 XL and Galaxy S8. However whereas it would appear and feel like a premium cellphone, it doesn’t value as a lot as one: At simply $500, the OnePlus 5T is a downright steal.
How we take a look at Android telephones
Firstly, we spend not less than a number of days with the cellphone underneath evaluation, treating it as if it have been our one and solely. No variety of lab exams or benchmarks will inform you as a lot a few cellphone as residing with it for awhile. We’re involved with real-world efficiency, stability, interface usability, digicam high quality, and whether or not proprietary options are helpful or cumbersome. We use social media, test e-mail, play video games, take images and movies in a wide range of situations, navigate round city, and do all of the issues most individuals do with their telephones.
After all, we additionally run in depth benchmarks: 3DMark (each Ice Storm Limitless and Sling Shot), PCMark, GFXBench, AnTuTu, Geekbench, and Vellamo. We run all our exams with the cellphone arrange the best way it could be out of the field, with out disabling any pre-installed apps or providers. We do, nonetheless, make efforts to verify benchmarks aren’t interrupted by notifications and that background downloads aren’t going down. We could not report outcomes from all of those exams (real-world on a regular basis efficiency is much extra vital than benchmarks), however we do share probably the most fascinating outcomes.
Earlier than working every benchmark, we be certain that the cellphone is charged to 100 p.c, plugged in, and left to chill off. Telephones can generally run slower as their batteries get low, and charging the cellphone could make it sizzling and trigger the SoC to decelerate. So we do our greatest to verify each take a look at begins with the cellphone topped off and at room temperature.
After we run battery benchmarks (PCMark and Geekbench), we calibrate the show to 200 nits and disable all auto-brightness and screen-dimming options. Show brightness performs a serious function in draining your battery, and we need to create a degree enjoying area. After all, we additionally maintain a detailed eye on how lengthy the battery lasts in our on a regular basis use, together with screen-on time, standby time, and even how briskly the battery costs with the included charger.
What to search for in a cellphone
Smartphones are very private. Everybody has completely different wants, a novel finances, and private preferences. You may must entry safe company e-mail and paperwork with a cellphone that works on a lot of networks world wide. Otherwise you may spend all of your time chronicling your life on Snapchat.
That mentioned, there are main options of all smartphones that it’s best to evaluate earlier than making a purchase order determination.