Wow, where did 2014 go?
We brought you our last top 5 Android list back in October and, as it’s already the first quarter of this year, it’s time to revisit that list. There are certainly some new models to discuss, the G Flex 2 was just introduced during CES 2015, for example, but we’re also just a couple of months away from Mobile World Congress, where it’s almost certain that the following phones will be replaced by the next batch of flagships.
Here’s what we think are the current top crop of Android smartphones. As always, though we know it’s bound to be discussed in the comments below, these aren’t in any particular order. Also, it’s a rare time, but there are actually far more than 5 Android smartphones that we recommend right now — which is great news for consumers and why we have an extensive wild card selection.
Alas, we need to pick just 5. There are Android phones that suit different needs and lifestyles, and these are simply the picks that we think are among the best out there.
Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note 4 is awesome — Samsung really nailed it out of the park, and to this day I’m still impressed with the more refined design. Its Quad HD display is stunning, the software still runs smooth after months of usage, and the camera rocks. The fingerprint reader still leaves a bit to be desired, it’s just not that accurate so I still have it turned off, but that’s just a small nitpick. Me? I honestly prefer the Galaxy Note Edge because I’m fascinated by the curved display, but the Galaxy Note 4 is probably the safest bet for most Android smartphone buyers due to its larger screen and more affordable pricetag.
Google Nexus 6
What’s not to love about the Nexus 6? You’ll find a massive Quad HD display, Android 5.0 Lollipop, water and dust resistance, stereo front-facing speakers, wireless charging and more. Plus, Google keeps it up to date with the latest Android releases — though Motorola deserves a hat tip for its fast roll-outs, too. The only problem remaining with the Nexus 6 is that it’s still incredibly hard to find in stock. If you can handle the size and can find one, by all means, dive in.
It won our phone of the year, and it still freakin’ rocks our socks off into 2015. Plenty of the TechnoBuffalo staff have purchased their own OnePlus One units, and it’s finally easier to pick up your own. The best part of the whole deal is you’re getting a flagship device for a price that’s not a whole lot more than a phone with a two-year contract. Travel the world and swap SIMs at your leisure — the OnePlus One is a perfect companion. We prefer the 32GB model in sandstone black, which gives you a bit more storage to play with, and we’re certain you’ll love CyanogenMod, which offers an incredible software experience.
Moto X (2014)
Motorola won our 2013 Phone of the Year award with the original Moto X, and the 2014 model improved on that device in pretty much every way. You’ll find plenty of customization options, including leather and wood back panel choices, an upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, amazing add-on software features like Motorola Active Display and more. If the Nexus 6 is too big for your liking, look no further than the Moto X (2014).
Motorola DROID Turbo
We can sit here and talk about flagship specs and awesome features all we want, but none of that really matters when your smartphone’s battery is dead. With the DROID Turbo, you win all around. It promises up to 48 hours of battery life while also offering a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display, a 21MP camera, Motorola’s awesome custom software and a body that’s not all that fat. If you want a smartphone that keeps on going, and going, and going, then head on over to Verizon and check out the DROID Turbo.
Xperia Z3 Compact
The Xperia Z3 Compact made our top 5 list the last time around, and it gets another hat tip in this list, though as a Wild Card because there are so many rumors that an Xperia Z4 is right over the horizon. The Xperia Z3 Compact is notable because it includes flagship specs in a smaller form factor, which is something other phone OEMs have been afraid to do. Sony’s mobile business has certainly taken a hit, so we wonder if this is a strategy that will continue into the future. Either way: the Xperia Z3 Compact is a solid choice, and we love the added dust and water resistance, the 20.7-megapixel camera and the ability to stream PlayStation 4 games right to the phone.
LG G Flex 2
Look, I love the LG G3 as much as the next person, but I think a lot of folks might be better served by the new G Flex 2, especially since it packs refinements to some of the hardware in the G3, like the camera, the laser auto-focus and the software. Also, it’s one of the few phones right now with a more powerful Snapdragon 810 processor. Plus it has a curved display, and that’s just cool. It’s not in the top 5 list for one reason: it’s not available for purchase yet.
HTC One (M8)
The HTC One (M8) should be in the top 5, but it’s up against some serious competition from newer handsets. It’s still a fantastic smartphone, but we’re bumping it to a Wild Card choice for one main reason: we’re confident that HTC has its One (M9) in the pipeline and it’s probably launching soon, so if you love HTC hardware, you might just want to wait. Still, it more than deserves a mention, especially since HTC is following through with its promised HTC Advantage upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop right now.
Those are our picks for right now, but we know you probably have some of your own favorites, so be sure to let us know in the comments what you think is the best device on the market right now, and don’t be afraid to let us know what you’re looking forward to in the coming months, either.