Best Android phones (January 2015)

nexus 6p vs samsung galaxy note 5 aa (26 of 26)

With Android thoroughly dominating the mobile industry, picking the best Android smartphones is almost synonymous with choosing the best smartphones, period. But while Android phones have few real opponents on other platforms, internal competition is incredibly fierce.

From sleek devices that impress with premium design, to powerhouses brimming with features, to all-around great devices, and affordable phones that punch above their weight, the Android ecosystem is populated by a staggering variety of attractive phones.

But “greatness” is subjective, and sometimes spec sheets and feature lists are not enough to make an idea of how good a phone really is. In this roundup, we’re looking at the absolute best – the Android phones you can’t go wrong with.

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.
Update, January 2015: After much deliberation, we’ve decided to crown the Huawei-made Nexus 6P as the best Android smartphone you can buy today. Following that is the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Motorola Moto X Style (Pure Edition), and finally the LG V10. While the Sony Xperia Z5 and LG G4 are still great smartphones, we’ve decided to remove them from our list.

Nexus 6P

As the successor to last year’s Motorola Nexus 6, Google recently unveiled the Huawei-made Nexus 6P. This device is the higher-end of the two Nexus phones announced at Google’s event, and that’s incredibly apparent when looking at the spec sheet.

It comes with a big 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, super fast Snapdragon 810 processor, a giant 3450mAh battery and an impressive 12MP rear-facing camera. Want to get your hands on one? The Nexus 6P is pretty cheap, considering the specs and build quality. You can purchase it from the Google Store starting at just $499!

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5

It’s an all-around solid device, boasting an all-glass chassis that’s similar to that of the Galaxy S6. It comes with an improved S Pen and some great multitasking features that will make it easy to get work done. The software is much more clean and simple than we’ve seen from the company in the past, too.

With all of that said, though, this device doesn’t come without its caveats. Samsung’s decision to omit the microSD card slot and removable battery has been a controversial one over the past few weeks, especially among Samsung die-hards. Even with these notable omissions, the Note 5 can still be considered one of the best out there.

  • 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 resolution, 518ppi
  • Samsung Exynos 7420 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, no microSD card slot
  • 16MP rear cam, 5MP front cam
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm, 171g
  • Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Silver Titan, White Pearl

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Samsung Galaxy S6 / Galaxy S6 Edge

Depending on who you ask, one might tell you that the last truly impressive member of the Galaxy S family was the widely popular GS3. While the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 were not bad handsets, their highly derivative nature came under fire, bolstered further by the fact that many of its rivals have since taken to pushing more premium builds made of metal, glass and other similar materials.

With the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Korean giant has finally delivered a truly premium Galaxy S experience, melding a glass front and back with a metal frame. Most tech journalists and even everyday tech enthusiasts agree that the redesign is a welcome one. Of course, Samsung’s new look isn’t without sacrifice, ditching Samsung staples like a removable back and battery. The microSD slot is also absent on the Galaxy S6.

Another major change for the Galaxy S6 is the processing package, with Samsung electing to leave behind Qualcomm, solely offering up its Exynos 7420 processor, paired with 3GB RAM. And finally, the software has also been scaled back a bit with the latest iteration of the Galaxy S.

Specs

  • 5.1-inch Super AMOLED with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 577 ppi
  • Exynos 7420
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32/64/128GB storage options (non-expandable)
  • 16 MP rear camera with OIS
  • 5 MP front-facing camera with 90 degree wide angle lens
  • Non-removable 2,550 mAh battery (S6), 2,600mAh battery (S6 Edge)
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm, 138g
  • White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz (S6 only), Green Emerald (S6 Edge only)

 

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Motorola Moto X Style (aka Pure Edition)

With the original Moto X, Motorola proved you don’t need to have the latest specs to get a great user experience. With the second generation, the Lenovo-owned company took no chances and double-downed on the spec side as well, packing the new Moto X (2014) with a dense 5.2-inch AMOLED screen, a beefy processor, and a capable 13MP camera. But with the Moto X Style, Motorola reaches the perfect balance between performance, simplicity, price and… well, style.

By Style we are mostly referring customization capabilities, a factor which has been an integral part of the Moto X experience since day one. Customers can use Moto Maker to manipulate their devices’ aesthetics to their will. You can change the color of the metal areas, engrave the back and even choose from a plethora of back options, including materials leather, wood, rubber and other materials.

The device is not a bad contender in terms of hardware, either. The larger screen puts the phone up with contenders like the OnePlus 2, Nexus 6, LG G4 and the Galaxy Note series. It may not sport the “best” processor in the market, but the Snapdragon 808 is pretty close to the 810, and Motorola has proven time and again they can make a super fast phone without the greatest chipset. The best part? This phone’s price will start at only $399!

It’s worth noting that the phone will be sold in most markets under the Style branding, though in the United States it will be sold as the Moto X Pure Edition, an unlocked model that will play nice with all U.S. carriers.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch display with QHD 2560x1440p resolution, 520ppi
  • 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 16/32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 21MP rear cam, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06mm, 179g
  • Customizable via Moto Maker

 
BUY NOW FROM MOTOROLA – $399
BUY NOW FROM AMAZON – $378

LG V10

If you aren’t completely satisfied with the LG G4, perhaps the V10 will suit your needs. It has the same powerful Snapdragon 808 processor and 16MP rear-facing camera as the G4, but with a few extra features included. Most notably, the V10 sports a secondary “ticker” display LG calls the Second Screen. This extra display aims to provide its users useful information without the need to turn on the main screen. It will display app shortcuts, notifications, and even weather and battery percentage information. Although the placement is a bit wonky, we’re sure you’ll be pretty happy with the added benefit of having a secondary display.

The V10 also has two front-facing cameras for wide-angle selfies, a fingerprint scanner that’s actually really reliable, a MIL-STD-810G Transit Drop Compliant rating for shock absorption, and a 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC electronic processor with support for Qualcomm’s QFE2550 closed-loop antenna tuning solution. It’s also the first smartphone ever to come with a manual mode for taking video.

  • Main display: 5.7-inch IPS Quantum Display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 513ppi
    • Secondary display: 2.1-inch IPS Quantum Display with 160 x 1040 resolution, 513ppi
  • Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • Adreno 418 GPU
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 2TB
  • 16MP rear-facing camera, 5MP Dual Lens front-facing camera
  • Removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • 159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6mm, 192g
  • Space Black, Luxe White, Modern Beige, Ocean Blue, Opal Blue

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