You’re searching for your next phone and all you want to know is what your best option is. Well, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the five best Android smartphones regardless of price. These devices are the cream of the crop. They’ll offer excellent performance and a long lifespan.
Without further ado, here are our picks in no particular order.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 combines power, speed, and beauty to be one of the best smartphones of the year. Samsung simply had to put out an amazing device after the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and it delivered. The Galaxy Note 8 is expensive at a $999 initial asking price, but delivers some of the best performance available on a smartphone today.
The standout feature of the Galaxy Note 8 has to be the display. The 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display features the new 18:9 aspect ration that most phones moved to in 2017. It’s big, bright, and the colors pop unlike any other on the market. Combine a beautiful curved display with almost no bezels and you have a recipe for success. One thing to keep in mind is that the display is one of the largest on the market and even though the bezels are tiny, the phone is too big for most people to use one-handed. If you have smaller hands, you may want to consider other options.
Samsung finally joined the dual-camera club with the Galaxy Note 8. Though Samsung had featured dual cameras on some of its mid-range phones, the Note 8 was the first flagship the company produced with the camera setup. And boy did it impress! DxOMark gave the Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s camera a 94 rating. One of the biggest reasons it scored so highly was the excellent zoom feature that the second lens enables on the device. The device also got high scores for autofocus, flash, exposure, and contrast.
While Samsung’s software skin may have been a reason to avoid its devices in the past, that has changed in recent years. Samsung made some smart design and aesthetic choices which makes using its devices fun and easy. There are still a ton of features packed in, but you don’t feel overwhelmed when setting up the phone or during daily use. Samsung gives you the tools to make the phone function exactly how you want it to.
Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL
These phones really need no introduction. Google’s own flagships are nothing short of excellent. Despite some early issues, the Google Pixel 2 XL is the flagship of choice for many power users, while the smaller Pixel 2 gives those who want a smaller device a compelling option. No matter how big you like your screen, you can’t go wrong with a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.
The devices feature Google’s vision for the Android operating system. The small additions that Google has added into pure Android make the Pixel devices a joy to use and some of the fastest and smoothest on the market. If there’s one thing Google does right, it’s software.
Another thing that Google absolutely nailed is the speakers in the Pixels. Both devices feature front-facing speakers that rank near that best for any phone on the market. While they aren’t the loudest in history, they sound great and speakers pointed toward you are always going to sound better than ones pointed away from you. We absolutely love the speakers on the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
Last but certainly not least is the camera. The Pixels have what is widely seen as the best camera in a smartphone on the market. The camera app is dead simple and just takes great shots. A portrait mode gives a great depth-of-field effect, and pictures feel true to life and give plenty of detail. If you want the phone with the best camera, the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL is a no-brainer.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus
Samsung’s newest phones are also its best phones. The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus came out less than a month ago to high praise around the tech industry. While there aren’t huge changes from last year’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, there didn’t need to be for Samsung to stay atop the Android latter.
The most notable new addition to the devices is the dual mechanical aperture lens. Depending on your lighting, the lens will change between a f/1.5 aperture and a f/2.4 aperture. This allows the camera to let in more light when it needs it. In practice, pictures look absolutely fantastic, just like they did last year. The new camera setup does improve the reduction of noise in low-light situations and maintaining fine lines in pictures. While most may not notice a difference, it is there and camera hounds will know what to look for.
Read more: How to get Android 8.0 AOSP on the Galaxy S9
Another notable change is how Samsung is differentiating the two devices. While last year’s devices both featured a single camera and 4 GB of RAM, that’s not the case this year. Spending the extra ~$120 on the Galaxy S9 Plus will get you an extra 2 GB of RAM (to 6 GB total) which matches the Galaxy Note 8. It also has a dual camera system, where the S9 just has a single shooter.
Despite their differences, the devices are largely the same. Both feature the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor that promises better performance and better battery life. Both have all-day battery life and Android Oreo on board, along with Samsung’s own software enhancements.
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Despite the controversy that surrounds the company, Huawei churns out great devices every year. This year is no different with the Mate 10 Pro. The device is Huawei’s best phone ever and offers customers blistering speed, fantastic looks, and quality build quality.
Like most flagships released in 2017, Huawei opted for a glass and metal sandwich for the Mate 10 Pro. This gives the device an ultra-premium feel in the hand. When you pick it up, you instantly remember why you dropped $800 on the device. It feels like something that would cost that much.
Between the glass on the front and back of the device sits an absolutely gigantic battery. The battery measures in at 4,000 mAh making it one of the largest on the market today. It tops battery champs like the Pixel 2 XL and OnePlus 5T, being equaled only by the Razer Phone. Combining that big of a battery with strong background restrictions in software means that the Mate 10 Pro ranks near the top of the charts in battery life.
The Mate 10 Pro ships with the brand new Kirin 970 chips that boasts enhanced A.I. capabilities. What exactly does that mean? Huawei says that the chip has an on-board NPU (Neural Processing Unit) that allows it to process A.I.-related tasks faster than ever. This lets the Mate 10 Pro provide contextually aware smart tips, offer better noise cancelation in calls, and scene recognition in the camera application. This is one seriously smartphone.
The OnePlus 5T is simply one of the best values in phones today. The “budget flagship” has better specs than many on this list with. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage. For just $60 more, you can bump that up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.
Those excellent specs don’t mean anything if the software isn’t great too. Luckily, OnePlus’ own OxygenOS version of Android is one of the best skins on the market. Combining the simplicity of stock Android with subtle tweaks and features, Oxygen OS offers Toyota reliability and Lamborghini speed.
OnePlus has released two devices for the last couple of years. This year saw that OnePlus 5 and 5T. So, what’s the difference? Not too much. The OnePlus 5T has a larger, 6-inch 18:9 AMOLED display. If you’re into bigger phones with huge screens, you’ll love the OnePlus 5T due to that very display. It’s big, bright, and has great color reproduction. OnePlus also changed up its dual-camera setup, but the changes were pretty minor. While not the best camera on the market, the OnePlus 5T can still take some great pictures.
The OnePlus 5T isn’t perfect, but it does fill the void left by the death of the Nexus program. You can get a great flagship device with close to stock Android for a fair price. If you’re not a fan of the software that comes on the OnePlus 5T (it is running Android 8.0 Oreo), you can flash any number of custom ROMs currently under development.
OnePlus recently stopped selling the OnePlus 5T since the release of the OnePlus 6 is imminent. Right now, the only place you can pick one up is through a third-party retailer like GearBest or used on Swappa. If you’re looking for a device today, the OnePlus 5T is still a great choice, but you may want to wait for the 6 to hit in the next couple of months.