This year is seriously cruising by. Can you believe we’re already in the second quarter? The good news is that summer is just around the corner and, of course, it also means we’re back with our quarterly list of the very best Android smartphones you can buy.
Samsung and HTC have new flagship smartphones out. You can already order the One M9 directly from HTC and it’s hitting U.S. carriers soon. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge hit store shelves today.
It is, at least to my knowledge, the only time that new phones have made this list before they’re actually available for purchase. That’s great news for you — they’re fresh off the factory lines with long lives ahead of them.
Please, as always, keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily in any particular order. Purists might prefer the Nexus 6, for example, while Sense fans might naturally prefer the One M9. Without further ado, let’s dive into the five best smartphones that are on the market now.
1. Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge
This was a tough one, and ultimately I decided to just combine the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge into one choice. Both phones rule, and in general we don’t feel that the extra $100 is worth the curved display on the Galaxy S6 Edge.
You can expect the best display on the market, an incredible aluminum and glass design that both looks gorgeous and feels premium, a camera that will impress nearly every single time and — my favorite — built in support for PMA and Qi, the two most popular wireless standards. Samsung is also going to launch Samsung Pay this summer, which will allow you to use the phone to make purchases in millions of stores.
You really can’t go wrong with the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge right now.
2. Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note 4 is still the best phablet on the market in my book. The S Pen functionality is unmatched, I love the large Quad HD Super AMOLED display, and expandable storage and a removable battery are still huge pros for folks who want those options.
The battery will easily get you through a full day of use, no matter what you’re doing, and your jaw will drop the second you attach the Note 4 to the Gear VR. Plus, you still have plenty of time until Samsung upgrades the Note 4, which probably won’t happen until September.
3. HTC One M9
HTC didn’t exactly blow us away with the One M9 this year, which feels more like a slight bump over last year’s One M8. Still, it offers a gorgeous all aluminum body, and I particularly like the model with gold accents. Sense 7 is the best version of HTC’s user interface yet, too, and offers compelling options like a custom theme generator and more.
The camera isn’t as good as we had hoped, but hopefully future software updates bring it up to speed with competitors. If you love HTC, the One M9 is the best phone it has ever made.
4. Nexus 6
You really can’t ever go wrong with a Nexus device. The Nexus 6 offers the latest Android updates, which right now means early access to Android 5.1.
Plus you get a Quad HD display that’s among the largest on the market, built-in wireless charging, a pretty decent camera and solid battery life. Again — this phone is for the folks who want pure Android, and that’s a good thing considering Android 5.1 Lollipop is leagues ahead of KitKat.
5. Moto X (2nd Generation)
The Moto X still holds a special place in our hearts. We dubbed the original the phone of the year and praised Motorola’s efforts to allow consumers to tweak the colors during the ordering process. This year’s model is kind of like a miniature Nexus 6, but with a few software customizations from Motorola that add to the experience instead of detracting from it. The new red leather version has us drooling, so send us some pictures if that’s the version you end up with.
I really loved the OnePlus One for a long time, and the recent Cyanogenmod 12S and OxygenOS breathe some fresh life into the phone. I’ve listed this in the wild card section for two reasons. First, my unit’s battery life has hit the dust and I’m not receiving all of my messages. Second, it looks like another model might be just over the horizon. Still, as we’ve said before, it’s a fantastic smartphone for the price, especially if you’re looking for an unlocked handset.
We love the DROID Turbo, especially its incredible battery life. Plus, Motorola seemed ahead of most of the competition when it introduced it with a Quad HD display and little bloatware, which other manufacturers have started to mimic. Even today, many months after launch, it’s a highly desirable handset and deserves a shout-out.
Our only pause is that it’s not as widely available in the U.S. as other handsets on this list, most of which can be purchased directly from all four U.S. carriers. The DROID Turbo is limited to Verizon in the U.S., unless you want to seek out the international model.