Hundreds of Android smartphones come out every year — 90 percent of which is junk. Ignore Samsung’s million Galaxy smartphones and whatever freebie devices your carrier so desperately tries to trick you into buying. There are only 10 Android smartphones worth considering. This is the list of them. You’re welcome.
1. Moto X (2014)
Last year’s Moto X was a near-perfect Android smartphone, if only it had better specs. Motorola’s swapped the plastic construction for aluminum, made the screen bigger and sharper, increased the processing power, and added wood and leather finishes to its Moto Maker. Motorola may be a Lenovo company now, but who cares? The second-generation Moto X is a brilliant Android smartphone.
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung pioneered the big screen smartphone with the original Galaxy Note. For its fourth-gen phablet (the term doesn’t even faze us anymore), Samsung’s boosted the screen to Quad HD resolution (2560 x 1440), added in a fingerprint sensor and heart rate monitor, and increased the two cameras to 16-megapixel (with optical image stabilization) on the rear and 3.7-megapixel on the front. The core S Pen and long-lasting battery life are still present, but the entire package is more polished and refined.
3. LG G3
LG phones have been uninspiring the last few years. Things changed this year. The G3 is the company’s return to greatness; a phablet with a 5.5-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440) display without the thick bezels surrounding it. Rear-placed buttons that feel natural and a lightning fast 13-megapixel camera that uses laser and radar-gun technology to achieve instant autofocus make the G3 a worthy pocket companion.
4. HTC One (M8)
The One (M7) was proof that a metal Android smartphone could be built beautifully, but the One (M8) takes things to a whole new level. The plastic side fillers are gone and in its place is a stunning metal body, chamfered edges, and the Duo camera, which lets you adjust the focus after you take a shot.
5. Sharp Aquos Crystal
Sharp’s first U.S. smartphone comes with mid-range performance and so-so camera, but look at it — it’s gorgeous. Three sides of the device has virtually no bezel. You’d never guess the Aquos Crystal has a 5-inch display.
6. Nexus 6
Buy a Nexus 6 if you want the really, really big smartphone. No, seriously — the Nexus 6′s 5.96-inch Quad HD screen is so huge you will almost certainly not be able to use it with one hand or fit it into your skinny jeans. Resembling a very large Moto X (2014), the Nexus 6 is fast, its camera better than predecessors and its software is the latest Android 5.0 “Lollipop”.
7. Sony Xperia Z3
Don’t let Verizon’s Xperia Z3v fool you. That’s not the Sony device you want. The Z3v on T-Mobile rightfully deserves a slot on this list solely because its battery lasts up to two days and its 20.7-megapixel camera takes incredible photos. And did we say the sleek glass and aluminum design, waterproofing, and PlayStation 4 Remote Play connectivity are sick features?
8. One Plus One
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the One Plus One. And if you have, there’s a good chance you couldn’t buy one. That’s because the company only sells the One Plus One through invitations; it’s nigh impossible to get one. If there’s any Android smartphone that gives you top-of-the-line performance, a big sharp screen, lots of battery and a design that just feels different, it’s the One Plus One. It also helps the phone is only $349 for a 64GB model — unlocked.
9. Samsung Galaxy S5
The Galaxy Note 4 might be a huge hit, but Samsung’s smaller Galaxy S5 is still a respectable guy. With a 5.1-inch Full HD screen, 16-megapixel camera, and a built-in heart rate monitor and fingerprint sensor, the Galaxy S5 makes for a great Android smartphone if you’re too lazy to consider other options. It’s like an iPhone; when in doubt, this is the one for most people.
10. HTC Desire Eye
Arriving on the scene only a few weeks ago, the Desire Eye is laser-focused on one key feature: selfies. See that camera on the front? It’s a 13-megapixel one with dual LED flash; same as the one on the back. Say goodbye to low-res selfies forever. The seamless injection-molded design, large 5.2-inch screen and BoomSound stereo speakers are also rad.