It’s an exciting time to watch the smartphone market. Android smartphones fly at us quickly. Manufacturers tend to upgrade as often as possible, beefing up flagships with the latest specs and getting them in the hands of consumers. While just a year or two ago a 720p screen was pleasing enough, today we flinch when something doesn’t offer 1080p, and Quad HD is quickly becoming the norm among the more premium members of the flock.
There are a ton of great Android smartphones out there right now, far more than I can fit in a top 5 list (which we why I went a little beyond five), but we need to stick with tradition and keep it narrowed down at least a little bit.
We considered a bunch and we’re here with these five, but please, as always, keep in mind that there’s no specific order here. We know that one user might love a big screen while another might never consider a phablet, and that’s why we’re just listing our favorites. Also, be sure to check the wildcards because, technically, this could be a Top 7 Android smartphones.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is a real beaut. We’re working on our full review right now but here’s teaser: it’s a fantastic and well-built Android device. The phone has already received critical acclaim from reviewers across the industry, and for good reason. Its Quad HD Super AMOLED display is stellar and it packs some of the finest hardware on the block. You’ll find a Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM, expandable storage, a 16-megapixel camera with OIS and more. The design is the best we’ve ever seen from a note product, and it offers beautiful and sharp metal edges that finally put to rest those claims Samsung can’t build premium-feeling handsets.
2. LG G3
The LG G3 is another Quad HD smartphone that continues to impress us. From its lengthy battery life to its solid camera, the G3 is a phone we’re proud to carry in our pockets day-in and day-out. While LG opted for a “metallic” design that actually employs plastic instead of metal, we love that the screen nearly reaches from side-to-side of the front face. Its camera snaps photos super quickly thanks to “laser” auto-focus, and the phone feels both thin and light despite the large 5.5-inch display. The G3 looks like it will remain a powerhouse for the foreseeable future, at least until LG trumps its own flagship with something new.
3. Moto X (2014)
The Moto X (2014) is a fantastic follow-up to last year’s Moto X, a device that ultimately won the TechnoBuffalo phone of the year award. It offers a more premium design with metal edges, an improved – but still not fantastic – camera, a sharper 1080p display and amazing custom software features created by Motorola. We love that the customization is also still intact, allowing users to choose from different back panels, including leather, and unique accent colors. The barebones Android experience is appreciated, and if last year is any indication Moto X (2014) owners should be among the first to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop.
4. HTC One (M8)
We really love the HTC Desire Eye, the company’s new smartphone, but it’s not out yet. Since HTC has promised frequent software updates to the HTC One (M8), and has continued to deliver, the phone still deserves a spot on our top 5 list. It’s starting to show its age – you won’t find a Quad HD display or the latest Snapdragon 805 processor here – but the design is still jaw dropping after all of this time. HTC has continued to boost the value of the One (M8) with frequent updates to the Dot View cover, too, a promise for Android 5.0 Lollipop, new “Eye” camera features and more, and we applaud the dedication.
5. Xperia Z3 Compact
We were torn between including the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact here, but ultimately decided with the smaller form factor to switch things up a bit on this list. Sony is one of the few (only?) Android manufacturers that releases not only a large flagship, but a smaller one for folks who don’t want bigger screens. We love that it provides choice and think it’s worth rewarding with a spot in our top 5. The Xperia Z3 Compact also features unique options like the ability to enable PlayStation 4 RemotePlay. Its water resistance, 20.7-megapixel camera and compact design round out our favorite features of this 4.7-inch handset.
We have to be completely honest here. Yes, the Nexus 6 probably does deserve a spot on this list. After all, it packs some of the best specs out there, will launch with a pure version of Android 5.0 Lollipop and has an amazing 6-inch Quad HD display. The only problem? We haven’t used it yet, and so we still don’t know just how great it actually performs. We don’t really have any doubts, but we don’t want to ding phones we’ve used just to put something we haven’t in the top 5. Stay tuned though; this will almost certainly make an appearance in the January 2015 Top Android phones list.
We didn’t forget! No way! The OnePlus One is an amazing smartphone and hands-down would easily walk onto our top 5 list if not for one problem: it’s still not widely available. Yes, it’s one of the top 5 best smartphones on the market, certainly, but OnePlus needs to make it more widely available so that customers can actually buy one. Its limited availability is the only reason that we give pause here, because unless you get an invite or – if you’re lucky enough to pre-order one on Oct. 27 – you can’t buy one as easily as every other smartphone on this list. Once that’s settled, perhaps by the next time our list comes around, we’ll revisit. But worry not, OnePlus One owners; you’ve made a fantastic choice.