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.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
After a controversial 2016, Samsung’s Galaxy Note line is back in full force. With top-of-the-line specs, a stunning design, an all-new dual-camera setup, and new software features, the Galaxy Note 8 is the best Android phone you can buy right now.
The Note 8’s near-bezel-less 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio is one of our favorite parts about this phone. DisplayMate agrees with us too. It’s big, maybe too big for some people, but at least the company puts that screen to good use. There’s a new App Pairing feature that allows you to open up two favorited apps in multi-window at the same time, and there are a few new S Pen features that will satisfy the stylus users out there.
What’s more, the new dual-camera setup on the back performs incredibly well. While picture quality isn’t a huge step up from what we saw on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, the extra 12 MP sensor with OIS allows you to take clear, concise photos and impressive bokeh shots in just about any situation.
No, it’s not perfect, but no phone is. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor placement is still super annoying, and this phone is expensive. If those things don’t matter to you though, the Note 8 might be the right phone for you.
Google Pixel 2
The Pixel 2 is Google’s latest flagship smartphone, and it’s great at just about everything. It doesn’t have as many bells or whistles as the Note 8, but if you’re in the market for a simple Android phone, the Pixel 2 is a great option.
This device has a 5-inch OLED 1080p display with a pixel density of 441 ppi. It doesn’t have a fancy 18:9 aspect ratio screen or a bezel-less design, though it does have front-facing speakers above and below the display. Inside, it comes with a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, along with 4 GB of LPDDR4x RAM. You can buy the phone with either 64 GB or 128 GB of on board storage, but there’s no microSD card to add additional storage.
If you like taking photos with your phone, you’ll be very pleased with the Pixel 2’s 12.2 MP camera. Not only has it been named the smartphone camera on the market according to DxOMark, we found the Pixel 2’s main camera to be incredibly impressive in most situations. There’s even a portrait mode on the front and back cameras, even though the phone doesn’t have a dual-camera setup.
You might be wondering why we haven’t mentioned the Pixel 2 XL. It’s a great phone—don’t get us wrong—but just know that the XL’s display has had its fair share of issues since launch. The LG-made pOLED 6.0-inch display on the 2 XL shows off a blue tint when the phone is tilted, it’s not tuned to be as vibrant as other OLED panels, and many early adopters have already been noticing burn-in issues. Google says it will continue to combat these issues with software updates, and it’s also extended the warranty to two years.
If you want a Pixel phone with a larger battery and can live with a mediocre display, we’d recommend going for the Pixel 2 XL—you’ll be very happy. But if you can live with a smaller battery and a smaller screen (that doesn’t have any issues), we’d recommend the Pixel 2.
The V30 is the latest flagship phone from LG, which has been struggling to compete, at least in sales, with its biggest Android rival Samsung. It is also the successor to 2016’s LG V20, which included a secondary 2.1-inch screen on top for showing app shortcuts, media controls, and more. The V30 does away with that secondary display, and instead has one nearly bezel-free 6-inch screen, using LG’s new Plastic OLED (pOLED) panel. LG offers a slide-out menu on the phone’s display (called the Floating Bar) that floats around the screen as a substitute (sort for) for folks who might miss the secondary display.
In terms of hardware specs, the LG V30 has everything you would expect from a flagship phone in 2017. It has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 4 GB RAM, along with 64 GB of onboard storage, a 3,300 mAh battery, and a IP68 dust and water resistance rating. LG is heavily promoting the advanced camera and photography features on the V30m too. It has a dual rear camera that includes a 16 MP sensor with a f/1.6 aperture, along with a 13 MP sensor with a f/1.9 aperture. The rear camera has a Crystal Clear Lens instead of plastic, which should mean you should get more realistic looking photos with the V30. Video creators should have fun with software features like Cine Video, which allows users to quickly put in video effects, along with Point Zoom, which will let owners zoom into any point in a video.
Audiophiles should also be happy with the LG V30, as it has support for Hi-Fi Quad DAC tuned by B&O Play. It is also the first smartphone to support MQA, which is supposed to let users stream high-res audio, but with a smaller file size and no loss in quality.