Wow, we had a busy winter and early spring, at least in terms of new Android phones. This year kicked off with CES 2014 in January, and was followed quickly by Mobile World Congress 2014 in February where we had our first look at the Galaxy S5. Then, in late March, we were introduced to the HTC One (M8). Smartphone makers certainly aren’t sitting still — who could expect them to? — and that means the market is ripe with some new devices.
So, of course, we’re here to bring you our latest quarterly listing of the top 5 Android phones on the market. As usual, these are not in any specific order. Yes, we think the One (M8) is the best Android phone on the market right now, but we know tastes differ among consumers. Let’s get started.
1. Galaxy S5
The Galaxy S5 is currently hitting carrier stores in the United States, but thankfully we’ve already spent enough time with it to know it’s one of the best offerings you’ll find on a store shelf. We’re huge fans of its IP67 water and dust resistance rating, which means you won’t have to worry about damaging it as much. Also, the Galaxy S5 has a larger 5.1-inch screen this year, a Snapdragon 801 processor, a refined user interface and a decent 16-megapixel camera. Toss in the heart-rate monitor, step counter and more, and the Galaxy S5 also doubles as a solid fitness tracker. A removable battery and expandable storage are just two final reasons why we know most folks are going to love this phone.
2. HTC One (M8)
When we reviewed it, we called the HTC One (M8) the “best Android smartphone period.” We’re sticking by that claim still, largely thanks to its incredible industrial design, top notch specs including a 5-inch display, stellar BoomSound speakers, a Snapdragon 801 processor and HTC’s willingness to toss in expandable storage this time around. The camera is unique in that it lets you snap 3D images or refocus your photos, but it’s definitely weak if you’re looking for large photos to crop and print. If you want one of the best looking Android phones on the market, and one that performs at the top of its class, the HTC One (M8) is a no brainer.
3. Xperia Z2
We don’t usually include phones that aren’t yet for sale in the United States, but we’re breaking that tradition for the Xperia Z2. We fell in love with its 5.2-inch 1080p display during Mobile World Congress, and it packs some of the best hardware at its size. That includes a Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM – the S5 and One (M8) have 2GB – and a 20.7 megapixel camera that’s capable of recording 2K and 4K video. The Z2 also keeps Sony’s industrial design language on a par with earlier handsets, which means you’ll get the sharp corners, clean design and water resistance found in earlier handsets. Still no word on a U.S. launch, but we’ll let you know if that changes.
4. Moto X
It’s the phone we can’t stop loving. Motorola obviously hit it out of the park last year with the Moto X, which we awarded our Smartphone of the Year (2013) award. The device still lives up to the hype, and even though it doesn’t have the hardware specs of other phones on this list, it has the software chops to still rock out. The phone is always on, ready to accept commands with a quick “Ok Google Now,” which means you don’t even have to touch the device. Also, we’re still big fans of the customization options, which now include wooden backs and collegiate logos. You really can’t go wrong with the Moto X, and it starts at just 1 cent on contract, or can be purchased for $349.99 contract-free.
5. Galaxy Note 3
The Galaxy Note 3 is still in our stable of rotating daily drivers. It’s large but also very much in charge. We’re still huge fans of taking notes with the S Pen (yes, seriously!), and love the real-estate provided by the huge 5.7-inch screen. Each iteration of the Galaxy Note sports a larger display than it’s predecessor. Also, its battery is more than enough to get us through a full day of use. The Snapdragon 800 processor is quick, and 3GB of RAM keeps everything moving smoothly, even with multiple apps open and TouchWiz being its somewhat clunky self. The Galaxy Note 3 is still an amazing choice, even with the Galaxy S5 already available in some markets, but you’ll miss out on the heart rate monitor, faster camera and insane power saving mode on the newer phone.
There are so many Android phones to choose from these days, and there are always going to be a couple of wild cards to pick from. You may also want to consider a Google Play edition device, like the new One (M8) GPE, or the Nexus 5 — though with the latter the camera complaints are becoming too rampant that we don’t feel it fits on this list any longer. The G Pro 2 may soon make it to the U.S., and that’s a compelling device, while the LG G2 is still one of our favorites, too. We think we’ve made a pretty balanced list of the top Android phones, including some with the best hardware possible, while others have an unbeatable software experience.