10: Nexus 5X
Update: The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have been inducted into our best Android phone club now that we have updated the list for March 2016.
The best Android phones on the market a year ago are getting even better in 2016, with better cameras, processors and apps, and some of them are coming in at cheaper prices.
That has made deciding between the overwhelming number of handsets a seemingly impossible task. The good news is that we’re on top of it. It’s sort of our job to write phone reviews.
While our official best phones list serves its purpose for a wider audience, including iPhone lovers, there are plenty of Google-powered phones that deserve extra focus. You demanded it.
Smaller, but still (almost) perfectly-formed
OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 2700mAh | Rear camera: 12.3MP dual | Front camera: 5MP
Nexus 5X is a fantastic phone choice for someone who is okay with a basic-looking design on the outside, above average specs on the inside and the latest Android software throughout.
That pretty much sums up Google’s affordable 5.2-inch phone. Its screen isn’t little by any hand stretch, but doesn’t make you strain for fingers like most phablets. If it wore a t-shirt, it’d be a size medium.
There’s a pro and con to the Nexus 5X price in the US. It’s available off-contract for $299, but you won’t be able buy it at AT&T, Verizon or any other carrier. That means no installment plans. Don’t worry, this seems like a lot upfront, but it’s way cheaper in the long run.
9. OnePlus 2
9. OnePlus 2
A bargain handset of flagship proportions
OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 3GB/4GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB | Battery: 3,300mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
The OnePlus 2 proves that the OnePlus One was more just beginner’s luck, as with high-end specs and an impressively low price it’s just as hard to resist as the first one was.
If the big and bright 5.5-inch 1080p display doesn’t get your attention the powerful Snapdragon 810 processor and up to 4GB of RAM probably will.
It’s a fairly stylish handset too, especially if you shell out a little extra for a wooden back, and with a fingerprint scanner and even USB Type-C included it offers far more than you could ever expect for the money.
There are some compromises. There’s no NFC or fast charging for example and the camera is hardly market-leading, so if money is no object something like theSamsung Galaxy S6 would make for a better all-round phone, but there are few handsets around which are as good value as this.
8: HTC One M9
8. HTC One M9
Not quite up the 5-star standard, but HTC still has the most beautiful phone around
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1080p | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery:2840mAh | Rear camera: 20.7MP | Front camera: 4MP
For all the work Samsung’s done on improving the design of its flagship HTC still has it beat. The One M9 is easily the best looking Android phone around and arguably the best looking handset running any OS.
Not only does it look incredible but it’s got lots of power and a decent 20.7MP camera on the back, with its UltraPixel snapper relegated to selfie duties. Plus its slick Sense interface and impressive BoomSound audio make it a joy to use.
The HTC One M9 isn’t a big upgrade over the One M8, but that phone was our favourite for a long time so any improvements guaranteed this a place in our chart. Compared to the Galaxy S6 and LG G4 this feels lacking in specs and features, but it’s as close to a work of art as a phone has come.
7: Nexus 6P
7. Nexus 6P
The most premium Nexus yet still undercuts rivals
OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 3,450mAh | Rear camera: 12.3MP | Front camera: 8MP
Samsung still has the edge when it comes to Android phablets, but the Nexus 6P makes for a convincing alternative.
It’s not as expensive as the Galaxy S6 Edge+ yet it has almost as good specs, a premium metal build, decent speakers and the latest version of Android.
Its 5.7-inch QHD screen looks great, there’s an accurate fingerprint scanner on board and it will get Android updates faster than most rivals.
The camera bulge on the back is a little ugly and the Nexus 6P lacks some high-end features like wireless charging and optical image stabilisation, but that’s a small price to pay for a top phone at a not quite top end price.
6: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+
6. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+
OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 1440×2560 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP
If you loved the idea of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge but wished it was a little bigger the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is for you.
It’s almost the same phone, with that dual-curved display still the star of the show and yet still a little bit pointless, though undeniably good looking.
But curves aside it’s a top notch QHD screen and if anything it’s even better for being stretched out to 5.7 inches.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ also has a brilliant 16MP snapper, a speedy fingerprint scanner and oodles of power, packing in an octa-core Exynos 7420 processor and pumping the RAM up to 4GB, from 3GB on the standard S6 Edge.
Sadly this phablet version still suffers its compact companion’s main issue, namely battery life, which at no more than a day really doesn’t cut it for a flagship, despite the inclusion of both fast and wireless charging. That holds it back, but in most other ways this is easily the best phablet money can buy.
See the best Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ deals
5: LG V10
5. LG V10
It’s all about the selfie cam for LG’s big phone
OS: Android 5.1.1 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: around 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP (120 degree wide angle)
The LG V10 is the perfect phone for selfie-obsessed millennials with hands as big as their egos. It’s also a lot of fun for camera-happy solo travels who want to forgo the embarrassing selfie stick.
It has a 5MP front-facing camera with a 120 degree angle lens that captures your face, your friends’ faces and even the background in ultra-wide photos. The forthcoming LG G5 achieves a similar feat with its rear-facing camera.
The LG V10 specs are fast enough, though not the fastest on the market, and the rugged rubber back makes it durable, if a tad ugly. Nothing good can be said about LG’s software or the higher than average price.
4: LG G4
4. LG G4
An Android phone that’s all about its camera and a strange look
OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: removable 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP
The LG G4 has one of the best screens around, a unique design and a strong camera which gives it a great foundation at the top of the mobile market.
The curved chassis might be thick, but it doesn’t feel too overbearing in the hand, and battery life still isn’t great – but that’s a common theme across most of the top-end handsets today.
It’s stuffed full of features, the removable battery will be a real plus point for many, and the G4 certainly stands out in a crowd of metal and glass covered smartphones.
3: Samsung Galaxy Note 5
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 5
As slick as its glass back
OS: Android 5.1.1 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 1440p | Memory: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP
If you think bigger is better and the pen is mightier when it comes to the best Android phones, then the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 sounds like the phablet-sized phone for you.
Its 5.7-inch screen gives you ample room to doodle with the S Pen, and while it’s certainly bigger in the hand, than the Galaxy S7, its curved back makes it easy enough to hold if you have a large grasp. I also got better use of split-screen multitasking and the camera on this beast of a phone.
Gone is the plastic casing of older Note phones that you may be upgraded from, but be warned: the microSD card slot and swappable battery are missing too. Expandable storage may come back to the Samsung Galaxy Note 6 in a couple of months.
2: Samsung Galaxy S7
2. Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung now owns second place as well
OS: Android 6.0.1 | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | RAM: 4GB |Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP
Second place goes to the Samsung Galaxy S7. The Galaxy S6 was our favorite Android phone of 2015, but now the Galaxy S7 has improved on it in almost every way.
There’s a brand new waterproof design with a variety of little changes that make it much more comfortable to hold.
It doesn’t look as innovative as the Galaxy S7 Edge with its curved display, but this version is much more compact than the Galaxy S6 Edge+.
The issues come in the high price and the fact there’s only one storage version. But you can always buy a microSD card, up to 200GB, and get a bit of extra room.
If you’re looking for one of the best, high-end phones in the world right now – this Android is a great choice.
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1: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The Edge screen finally reaches number one
OS: Android 6.0.1 | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3,600mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP
It has finally happened – the Edge version of a Samsung phone is now actually the best Android phone in the world.
Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge expands on what the curved display from the Galaxy S6 Edge can do. It has found a happy medium at the 5.5-inch size as well as adding in a lot of new functionality for the most innovative screen tech in phones.
The camera may look like it has dropped when you see it on the spec sheet – but in fact bringing it down to 12MP and updating the sensor technology has meant this is one of the best phone cameras out there.
All in all, the Galaxy S7 Edge is an improvement on everything that went before it. Finally, Samsung has nailed the most interesting version of its phone and made the Galaxy S7 Edge the reigning champion of the phone game.