Here at AndroidGuys, we see different people test different phones every day. Good phones, bad phones, and everything in between. But have you ever wondered what are we actually using? Which is the phone we’ve decided to go through the ups and downs of life, from this day until our last day?
Now, the AG staff is sharing this classified, never-seen-before information with you. No, seriously, some of the guys have written some thoughts about their current phones, why do they like them, and what’s bad about their beloved pieces of technology. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, want to read some thoughts on the behavior of some devices after several months (I’m looking at you, Samsung), or are just curious about our thoughts, then join us!
2Scott Webster: Google Pixel
So many phones go through Scott’s office that I believe that whatever he’s using is probably the best of the best. Announced in September 2016, the Google Pixel is the company’s first phone built from the ground up by Google itself. It boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 5-inch screen, and is the first phone to ship with Android 7.1. Google Assistant also makes its first appearance here, promising a plethora of features and interaction.
What Scott likes:
Seriously, what’s not to like about this phone? It’s fast, powerful, and smart as hell. Google Assistant is fun to use and provides more help than your traditional searches and Google Now features. The Android 7.1 Nougat build is the most intuitive one yet and feels more cohesive than ever before. Oh, and then there’s that camera. Wow, it truly delivers pictures that no other phone has so far.
What Scott dislikes:
The black version could be a little sexier; I’d recommend the silver or blue models over the black. Storage on the low at 32GB is just about the limit of what you should offer on a flagship device in late 2016. I’d be more comfortable with 64GB and don’t want to pay for the 128GB edition. Also, being nitpicky, I think water resistance should be a standard by now.
Get the brand-new Google Pixel directly from the search giant’s website.
3Donovan Jeska: Huawei Nexus 6P
Released in October 2015, the Huawei Nexus 6P was a fan-favorite among Android enthusiasts. After a bumpy start, in which the Frost White version couldn’t be found anywhere and some initial reports of the camera housing crystal breaking, it became one of the best phones your money could get you. Packing a 5.7″ screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, and 3GB of RAM, the beloved 6P is still one of the best phones released under the now-dead Nexus program.
What Dono likes:
The last, best Nexus phone is a flagship in its own right at a cheaper price than most flagships. It’s got a decent battery, strong processor and RAM, and runs pure, sweet, delicious Stock Android.
What Dono dislikes:
I wish the camera was better. It struggles with small and close up subjects, and sometimes it drops connection for no reason at all.
Get the Huawei Nexus 6P here.
4Daniel Treccagnoli: Google Pixel XL
The Pixel’s big brother makes an appearance here, too. Unlike last year, when Google decided to introduce two Nexus devices, the smaller sibling actually has the same internal components as its bigger counterpart. So, just as the Google Pixel, the XL packs the same Snapdragon 821, 4GB of RAM, 12.3MP camera combo, albeit using a 5.5-inch screen instead. The same software innovations and additions are present on the XL as well.
What Daniel likes:
Feels great to hold, and it’s fast and has a decent battery. Hardware is excellent, the buttons are solid and clicky, and the metal body is smooth and easy to grip. Pixel Launcher is a great home launcher, I wish it was available on other phones as well. I don’t use the camera often but it’s been great so far. Google Assistant is definitely the most useful new feature I use. Overall the phone is just super solid and premium.
What Daniel dislikes:
The speaker is only a single bottom firing deal, which I hate no matter how loud it is. Also it’s very slippery and definitely needs a case.
Head to the Google Store and purchase one. Be fast though, sometimes they’re out of stock.
5Derrick Miyao: LeEco Pro3
Now this is interesting. For those who don’t know, the LeEco Pro3 is a phone with amazing internal components at a compelling $400 price. Snapdragon 821, 4GB of RAM, 32/64GB of internal storage, 5.5″ 1080p screen, and a premium metal build are all part of the amazing package provided by LeEco. Also, Derrick says it’s good, and if he does, I believe him.
What Derrick likes:
I’m using the LeEco Pro3 to review. It’s a compelling phone, not only does it have top-line specs, but the price is so affordable at $399. It runs full Android 6.0 with eui, but the experience is very intuitive and a refreshing take on Android. The phone is blazing fast with the Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM. It doesn’t come with AT&T bloatware since it is unlocked and free from carriers, and the additional software to stream (LeTV Live) content is perfect for someone like me who doesn’t actively search for new videos.
The 1080p display is gorgeous. I usually am a display snob and stick to my OLED panels, but the Pro3’s screen is extremely bright and colorful. The large 4070mAh gets me through a full day with ease. I have over 50% battery life remaining after starting my day at 5am and finishing at 10pm. It’s everything we’ve been asking for in a smartphone for the last couple of years and is very reasonable at $399. It’s a ridiculous deal if you can grab if for $299 during LeEco’s flash sale which is coming again on November 9th at www.lemall.com.
Lastly, the build quality is superb. It’s got an all metal build, with 2.5d glass and a clear coat that resists scratches and dings. The LeEco Pro3 might be my favorite phone of 2016, I just need a little more time with it to confirm that decision.
To make an even bolder statement, I think LeEco will replace LG, Sony and HTC in the US over the next two years. Its first Pro series phone is a major hit. Once LeEco makes a version that is compatible with CDMA networks too, it’s game on, and the competition needs to look real hard in the mirror to turn things around.
Remember the day you heard about LeEco, because it’s here to stay.
What Derrick dislikes:
The camera. It’s unfair for me to make this statement, because the last three phones I used were the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Pixel XL. All of those phones cost $400+ more than the Pro3 and take better low-light photos. However the camera still takes great pictures and I have been using it for a few Instagram pics lately. The natural tone dual LED also makes the people in my images come out more realistic looking too.
Sounds interesting? Buy the LeEco Pro3 here.
6Andrew Orr: iPhone 6s
WHAT? We’re AndroidGuys, Orr. Regardless, this just shows the beauty of technology. Just enjoy it and appreciate what both Google and Apple are doing for customers. Released in 2015, the iPhone 6s was the first phone from the fruit company to incorporate 3D Touch. Also, it got a spec bump from its predecessor, the iPhone 6, receiving an Apple A9 processor, 2GB of RAM and improved camera.
What Andrew likes:
I know, now that I’ve admitted I’m an iPhone user, I’ve lost all credibility writing for an Android website. That being said, there are a number of things I like about the iPhone. My biggest use of the phone is mobile photography, and iPhones have always had good cameras. I also use a number of photo editing apps that are iOS-only, so for now I’m tied into Apple’s ecosystem. iPhone screens are also fairly color-neutral, and this is important in photography. There are no color casts and Apple doesn’t over-saturate the screen to make it look artificially better.
What Andrew dislikes:
My biggest complaint about the iPhone 6s is the battery life. When I’m walking through the woods snapping photos, I quickly run out of juice, because of the GPS and location-tagging features. So bringing along a battery pack is essential.
You can get the courageous iPhone 7 or the not-as-courageous iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s from Apple.
7Matt Fish: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Considered by many to be the best phone released in 2016 (especially after the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco), the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor (or an Exynos 8890, depending on the region), coupled with 4GB of RAM, one of the most gorgeous screens ever seen on a smartphone and the amazing camera experience Samsung is known for. For this year, they’ve retained and improved the “edge” part of the phone, bringing new functionality.
What Matt likes:
Screen clarity and overall speed of the device. Decent amount of storage that’s easily and cheaply expandable. Gear VR compatibility is a nice bonus feature. Camera is astounding and shoots quickly.
What Matt dislikes:
Edge screen can be touchy. Phone gets warm when playing intensive games. Fingerprint scanner is far from perfect.
8Craig Hurda: Alcatel Idol 4
Craig is here to let us know that you can also have an awesome Android experience without breaking the bank. Released in June 2016, the Alcatel Idol 4 is renowned for its snappy experience for less than a Benjamin, thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 and 2 or 3GB of RAM (depends on the model). Fortunately for the consumer, the days where a $99 phone would be slower than Windows Vista booting up are a thing of the past.
What Craig likes:
$99 off-contact, and that includes a VR headset! It also comes with Android Marshmallow. It’s not too big (hard to find a decent phone under 5.5″ for more a lot of money), and is actually very responsive. Plus battery life is great; I get over a full 18-hour day on a charge. The camera is surprisingly good even in low light.
What Craig dislikes:
Of course it could always be faster. And would be willing to take some performance/battery life/other away for a top-tier camera.
Buy the Alcatel Idol 4 here.
9Luke Nam: iPhone 6s
ANOTHER? At least two iPhones and not everyone answered the poll… Anyways, Luke points out a flaw with the Android ecosystem that Google has failed to address after all these years. His views on the bad things of his phone are a constant complaint among iPhone users, yet every year Apple comes with a “look, we’ve made our phone even thinner!” instead of providing a battery that lasts for a day.
What Luke likes:
iMessaging is the main reason that I use this phone. Most of my friends have iPhones and makes messaging very quick. App optimization for iOS devices is a plus as well.
What Luke dislikes:
Battery life is horrible. Also, Siri never gets anything right.
As said before, head to Apple’s website to buy one.
10Eric Johnson: Google Pixel XL
It’s no wonder that an Android-focused site has so many Nexus/Pixel phones. They have stock Android, a decent mechanism of updates (staged rollouts suck), and are closely supervised by Google. They always manage to perform well and Google always uses them to showcase their shiny new Android versions.
What Eric likes:
I love the premium look and feel of the device, the snappy performance, and the camera. Google has done a great job at producing a device worthy of the flagship title.
What Eric dislikes:
I would have liked to see a 6″ variation of the Pixel. Though the 5.5″ Pixel XL is a decent sized device, I still find myself wanting more screen.
The Google Store is your friend if you want to buy one and be as happy as Eric.
11Jason Botha: Huawei P9 Lite
Huawei is on the rise, nobody can deny that. The Chinese giant is constantly bringing new devices that work quite well, are not expensive, and offer useful features. Jason has elected the Huawei P9 Lite as his daily driver, a phone that comes with a HiSilicon Kirin 650 processor, 2or 3GB of RAM (depends on the model), 16GB of storage, a 13MP camera, and a 3000mAh battery. You will have to cope with the heavily-modified EMUI skin, though.
What Jason likes:
The Huawei P9 Lite is the P9’s smaller sibling. I started to use it over my LG G4 as it offered me outstanding battery life, along with a plethora of software features that are actually something one uses and is not just a gimmick. The spec sheet is quite frankly sufficient for any realistic task and the phone is a good all-rounder in its respective category. The camera is good, the screen is good and the power is good.
What Jason dislikes:
I would like to see a more stock-like Android skin, but with the same features as the current software offers.
Want one? You can get it here.
12Travis Feiock: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Thankfully for Samsung, their S7 and S7 Edge phones are working quite well without exploding in your hand. Unfortunately, as is almost always the case with Samsung devices, there’s a little of housekeeping to be done after about half a year of owning it. Actually, the S7 line was the first phone to have incorporated Samsung’s efforts of streamlining TouchWiz, its Android skin. Seems like it has improved but there’s still work to do.
What Travis likes:
The screen on this phone is the best part. It is just beautiful to look at! The brightness and contrast are perfect. The edges being curved are great too, since it makes this phone feel smaller in your hand than any other 5.5-inch phone. I also love that it has the always-on screen so I don’t have to turn the phone on to see notifications and time. I am also super happy they added the SD card slot back, it is a must!
What Travis dislikes:
As with any phone that is purchased from a carrier these days, all the junkware that is installed really bugs me. If I could uninstall these it would not be so bad but…at least on my Sprint version, I am stuck with all of it. Sure, there are apps that can hide these from my view, but it still takes up a chunk of space on my phone. Also, after about 4-6 months of use, the phone has just become so slow it’s almost unbearable at times. Even after uninstalling a ton of apps and cleaning up videos and pictures, it was still painful. The only fix seemed to be resetting to factory and starting fresh.
13Alexandra Arici: Xiaomi Mi 4i
Another interesting choice here. Just as Huawei, Xiaomi is another brand that is making big strides towards snatching market share from the current, established players. Not only their phones are reasonably priced, but also are feature-packed and have decent components under the hood. A prime example of Xiaomi’s philosophy is the Xiaomi Mi 4i. Announced in April 2015, it is still a very capable phone to this day. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, 2GB of RAM, a 13MP camera, and a whopping 3120mAh battery power this colorful phone.
What Alexandra likes:
For a budget smartphone like this, the Xiaomi Mi 4i features a nice, crisp display and a really solid 13MP main camera. I really like the overall aspect of the phone, especially its sleek polycarbonate shell.
What Alexandra dislikes:
The device tends to heat up while you’re in-call, which is really annoying. Xiaomi addressed this issue with a soft update, but I guess it was not enough. Xiaomi’s native web browser is really unresponsive and trying to type something in it is truly excruciating.
14Matt Adams: Google Pixel XL
Matt rounds up the list with another Pixel phone. You can’t go wrong with a Pixel. Sure, it’s the most expensive phone ever released by Google, but it makes up for it by bringing top-of-the-line internals, direct updates from Google, free Google Drive storage for full-sized pictures, and a gorgeous design.
What Matt likes:
I’ve never been one to obsess over stock Android, but the Pixel XL’s software may the best I’ve ever used. Android 7.1 is buttery smooth and the added features of the Pixel launcher make it stand out from a simple Nexus device. I’ve never experienced even a stutter with the phone in the time I’ve had it. Battery life remains excellent and the camera is one of the best I’ve ever used. If Google was really trying to make their own iPhone, I think it nailed the features that make the iPhone stand out.
What Matt dislikes:
I can’t complain too much about the Pixel. But, the speaker is truly terrible. The placement means it can easily be blocked with one finger, completely negating the sound coming out of it. It also doesn’t get loud enough or provide quality audio. When it was leaked that HTC was making the Pixel line I hoped that meant we’d be getting phones with excellent audio. We definitely didn’t and I’m disappointed.
Convinced? The Google Store is here for all of your purchasing needs.
The good thing about the current phone market is that you don’t need to shell out $700 anymore in order to get a decent phone. Three years ago, if you bought a $99 phone, you were going to have a bad time. However, now you can get an Alcatel Idol 4, a wonderful phone that one of our own is using and loving. What a time to be alive.
An interesting fact is that two people writing for an Android site are using iPhones. This is just a reminder for us to not argue about which phone or operating system is better. We have a great selection of phones and software to choose from, each with its strengths and quirks. Let’s just appreciate and hope that they continue to bring innovation to the table. After all, we are the ones getting the benefits.
Here are some other links that might be useful in case you’re in the market for a new phone:
- Unlocked Smartphones Buyers Guide
- Verizon Buyer’s Guide
- AT&T Buyer’s Guide
- T-Mobile Buyer’s Guide
- Google Pixel XL initial impressions
- Our ever-increasing archive of smartphone reviews
Do you have any favorites? Is there a phone you expected to be here but isn’t? Any suggestions of other great phones for fellow readers? Sound off in the comments!