The best Android phones at Sprint (October 2017)

    We’re asked on a regular basis to help determine which phone is the best one available. We get it as a team here at AndroidGuys, but we also field it on an individual level, too. To help address that, we’ve put together a list of the top models you can currently buy at the carrier in question.

    If you’re in the market for a new smartphone from Sprint, this is where you’ll want to start. Note that while this is called the “best Android phones” you can purchase this month, it’s worth noting there are plenty of other models to choose from.

    Best is not a universal term to apply to all consumers. Some of you might have a limited budget; some of you may only have very modest needs. To that end, we suggest digging around a little bit and checking with the service provider.

    With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the best phones you can purchase this month from Sprint.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 8

    This year’s Note device has been the hardest wait because of the Note 7’s crazy fiery outcome last year. Early in the year with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Samsung proved that delivering excellent hardware could effectively silence the woes. The Note 8 continues that successful formula – maybe a bit too closely with the S8 Plus, where most of the specs are equivalent.

    So front and center is 6.3″ of that visually stunning, curved Infinity Display with shrunken bezels at a 18.5:9 and brilliant S-AMOLED panel at a QHD+ resolution (2960×1440 pixels). But we must warn to tread carefully if you’re weary about large phones; this is a 0.1″ increase from the already sizable S8 Plus. Under the hood is still the octa-core Snapdragon 835 (but with 6GB of RAM now), 64GB internal storage + microSD expansion, mono bottom-placed speaker, fast-capable wireless charging, and yes, the infamous button to toggle Samsung’s own Bixby virtual assistant. It’s all protected by a IP68 waterproof casing.

    The Note 8 in Orchid Gray.

    The main differences that the Note 8 brings to the table are a secondary, telephoto sensor and the excellent S Pen stylus. The primary 12MP f/1.7 sensor with quick Dual Pixel focus is still present, but the additional 12MP sensor allows for optical 2x zoom and a new Live Focus mode that can create Portrait-effect captures like on the iPhone. The S Pen hardware and experience is very similar to the Note 7, but we can now send glow-y written animated messages.

    Samsung hasn’t yet been able to incorporate the fingerprint scanner under the display, so we again have that unfortunate placement next to the rear cameras. And the Note 8’s colossal size makes the scanner even less feasible than on the S8+. At least there’s alternatives for security like face unlock or the IRIS retinal scanner. Another downer is that battery capacity had to take a hit to make way for the stylus, down to 3,300mAh from 3,500mAh on the S8+. Samsung is of course being exceedingly cautious to play on the safe side with the battery after the Note 7 fiasco.

    The Note 8’s software is driven by Android Nougat 7.1.1 and the latest Samsung Experience interface. Bixby, the company’s software assistant, is also fully incorporated  and its voice commands are growing in capability. You’ll find the Note 8 in two color in the US: Midnight Black or Orchid Gray. A point of contention for many will be the price tag, which now inches close to the $1k mark. On Sprint, the Note 8 retails for $960, or you can opt for the carrier’s monthly financing to soften the blow.

    Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

    Although the Note 8 is technically newer, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are still relevant. The feature set is almost identical, and being a few months old, you could save a couple hundred in comparison.

    To recap, the only things the Note 8 really has on the Galaxy S8 duo is a secondary, 2x telephoto sensor, 2GB more of RAM, the S Pen stylus. The rest of the core specs are the same: octa-core Snapdragon 835 chipset, 64GB internal storage + microSD expansion, Dual Pixel 12MP f/1.7 primary sensor, fast-capable wireless charging, and IP68 rated waterproofing.

    The S8 and S8 Plus are what started Samsung’s beautiful curved Infinity Display, with elongated 18.5:9 ratio’d panel with tiny bezels and QHD+, HDR-capable S-AMOLED tech. But with the S8 and S8 Plus, you’ll get more manageable sizes, at 5.8″ and 6.2″, respectively. Even, the S8 Plus’ battery is 200mAh more than the Note 8, at 3,500mAh vs. 3,300mAh.

    On Sprint, you can find the Galaxy S8 duo in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, or Arctic Silver flavors. The standard Galaxy S8 retails for $750 and the larger S8 Plus goes for $850, with the option for monthly payments.

    LG V30+

    LG’s V-series Fall releases have been stealing the flagship show as of late, and this year is no exception. The V30 one-ups the G6 in many ways, where we’re used to seeing only minimal improvements in brotherly variants.

    The LG V30 in Cloud Silver color.

    The first thing to note is the design advancement. The bezels on the V30 are noticeably smaller than the G6 just a few months ago, and the glass on the sides of the display have a premium curve (similar to the current Galaxy phones). Also, LG has finally dropped old LCD technology and embraced OLED – a 6.0″ QHD P-OLED panel to be exact.

    Other key hardware includes the commonly used Snapdragon 835 chipset with 4GB of RAM, 3,300mAh battery (no longer removable), wireless charging, and a IP68 rated waterproof chassis. It’s important to know that Sprint is getting the slightly higher-end version of LG’s latest, the V30+. The difference with the vanilla V30 is double the base storage, to 128GB instead of 64GB. MicroSD expansion is of course also available.

    As for cameras, the LG V30 continues with a 16MP rear unit, but now with the largest lens aperture found on a phone, f/1.6. The secondary, 13MP wide-angle camera also gets a low-light improvement with a f/1.9 aperture. On the front is a 5MP selfie shooter with f/2.2 aperture.

    One of the V-series’ standout features is HiFi-capable output from the headphone jack, and LG and ESS Technology have partnered once again for the best mobile dedicated sound processor, aka Quad DAC, you can find on a smartphone. It now comes with a handful of meticulously-tuned EQ profiles meant to suit a wide range of audiophiles.

    The software on the V30 is driven by the latest Android Nougat build (v7.1.2) and LG’s latest UX interface, which brings some lofty updates like a Floating Bar for shortcuts, ability to lock the camera zoom on an object, more Always-On display options, and voice recognition to unlock the phone.

    Essential Phone

    The Essential Phone is the first phone from a startup company led by one of the co-founders of Android, Andy Rubin. It turned out to be a very well-done original device that could stack up against the more established competition, especially because of its dramatic edge-to-edge display design. And Sprint happens to be the only carrier offering it.

    The Essential Phone, aka PH-1, in Black Moon color.

    The Essential Phone’s standout features are its 5.7″ almost bezel-less QHD LCD panel, dual camera system, and exceptional construction – titanium frame and ceramic back panel. It keeps up with other flagship specs, such as the octa-core Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage (but no microSD card slot), 3,040mAh battery, and Bluetooth 5.0. A couple compromises worth noting are its lack of waterproofing, a headphone jack, and wireless charging. There’s also that unusual disruption at the top of the display to retain the selfie camera.

    Like Motorola and Huawei, the Essential Phone’s dual camera system utilizes a secondary, monochrome sensor to boost image quality. Spec-wise, these are 13MP and f/1.85 aperture lenses. And the small notch at the top, center of the display houses a 8MP f/2.2 camera.

    One of the Essential Phone’s prime features is to only bare the essentials on the software front, meaning no bloatware or frills. So we have up-to-date Android and near-stock interface experience. Through Sprint, it retails for $700 outright or you can can break it up monthly, in only the Moon Black color.

    HTC U11

    HTC needed to make a big statement with its 2017 flagship, and it has definitely seemed to do so with the HTC U11. The device features design cues taken from the HTC U Ultra lineup with a shiny metallic finish, but there are extra goodies thrown in.

    The specs for the U11 line up with other 2017 flagships, as the device features a 5.5-inch 2K display, while being powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. The U11 also includes two different variants – 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

    As for the cameras, the U11 features a 16MP front camera with HTC’s UltraPixel technology. The rear camera features a 12MP Sony IMX362 sensor with a f/1.7 aperture and the ability to shoot up to 4K video.

    Other features of the U11 include a 3,000mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, along with a USB Type-C charging port. Finally, the U11 features Edge Sense Technology with a pressure-sensitive frame, which allows users to perform various tasks by simply squeezing the edges of the U11.

    Pricing for the HTC U11 comes just under $700 through Sprint; customers can opt for monthly payments for the device or purchase it outright.

    Motorola Z2 Force

    Motorola’s second generation Z Force arrived in the middle of 2017 with quite a powerful spec sheet. Powered by the newest version of Android on the market, 7.1.1 Nougat, the Z2 Force will be offered across a variety of carriers. This is somewhat of a departure for Motorola who had been heading toward a direct-to-consumer only route.

    Interestingly enough, Motorola has opted for a smaller battery capacity for the Z2 Force. But, don’t let that discourage you from buying as it does have feature the TurboPower Charge capability and Android is ever more optimal for battery life. There’s also the expanding portfolio of Moto Mods. New this year is a external battery TurboPower shell, Moto 360 camera, JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker, and a sweet GamePad mod with physical gaming controls.

    Currently, the Moto Z2 Force is available in a few color variants with pricing that hovers around $750-$800.