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9to5Google Gift Guide: These are the four best Android phones to buy this holiday season


If you’re looking to buy an Android phone for one of your loved ones this holiday season, we’ve got you covered here at 9to5Google. We’ve had our hands on most Android phones that have hit the market over the last 12 months, and now it’s time to decide which are the best of the best. We’ve decided on four specific Android handsets that should be your go-to if you’re looking a great Android gift…

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – $600 (or ~$30/month)

Samsung launched a pair of absolutely stunning flagship phones earlier this year, and they hold up as some of the best ever. They’re a twist on the ideas that Samsung started with the Galaxy S6: all-glass on the front and back, just a little bit of bezel, and a newly premium feel that sets them apart from the Galaxy phones of years past. They still feature Samsung’s long-hated TouchWiz Android skin on the software side, but — whether you get the Snapdragon variant or the Exynos variant — they’re definitely powerful, smooth, and polished.

But the Galaxy S7 Edge, which is both more attractive and more capable, is probably the one you want. On the specs side, the Galaxy S7 Edge packs the Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of base storage, a microSD card slot, 12MP rear camera, IP68 dust/water resistance, a 3,600 mAh battery that will last you all day, and that sleek and attractive curved 5.5-inch QHD SuperAMOLED display.

32GB and 64GB models are available, but you might be pleased that your options extend beyond that. Since the Coral Blue Galaxy Note 7 was recalled, Samsung has made the Galaxy S7 available in that color. You can find the new color at T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

Check out our full review of the Galaxy S7 edge.


LG V20 – $685 (or ~$30/month)

While Samsung had some problems with the Note 7 and its explosions, LG took advantage of the hole left in the market with its LG V20, the successor to last year’s V10. This device has a huge 5.7-inch Quad HD IPS display, the Snapdragon 820 system-on-a-chip, 4GB RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 3,200 mAh removable battery. Like its sibling the G5, the LG V20 sports a dual-camera system which can photos in both standard and wide-angle modes. Also setting the hefty V20 apart, the phone has a built-in 32-bit HiFi DAC which improves music for audiophiles.


Here’s what we said about the phone in our full review:

At the end of the day, there’s not much more to say about the V20. It is a fantastic device, and I can easily say that if you’re looking for a top of the line Android experience that, again, isn’t a Pixel, you should absolutely be looking at the V20.

This phone may be one of the best phones of year, but that means it also has one of the highest prices. Currently, you can grab the phone from a variety of carriers, such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Sprint, for around $800 — or about $30 per month. You can also pick it up unlocked — if you take a look around, you might be able to find it for less than $700 at eBay from a respected seller.

Google Pixel – $649 (or $27/month)

If we’re going to talk about the best Android phones you can buy this holiday season, there’s no way to avoid talking about the Google Pixel and the Pixel XL, which are widely regarded as the best Android phones ever — and by some the best phones ever. These two smartphones, designed by Google to make the very best of what the company has to offer in both software and hardware, are impressive to say the least.

Here’s what we said in our full review:

I would pick this phone over most Android phones. But I’m also a big fan of Google software, and I prefer to use Android the way Google intends it. None of the other OEMs can offer this flavor of Android that has this degree of Google’s mark and influence. All things considered, these phones aren’t perfect. But no phones are, and if you’re one who loves Google’s software and services as much as I do, they might be the imperfect phones for you.

As for the specs of this thing, you’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 system-on-a-chip, 4GB of RAM, 32 or 128GB of storage, and the amazing 12.3MP camera on the back — which DxOMark says is the best camera on a smartphone. Android Nougat is installed right out of the box, you’ll be the first to get the latest future versions, and other software features — like Google Assistant — are exclusive to this device. Other perks include 24/7 support (great for those not-so-tech-savvy family and friends!), support for Google’s Daydream VR, unlimited full resolution photo and video backups (also great for technologically-challenged family members!), and more.

Pricing for the Pixel starts at $649 for the 5-inch model and the larger 5.5-inch Pixel XL goes for $769 (the two are practically identical save for screen size and battery capacity). There’s also a higher-capacity 128GB storage tier for those who need more space. Monthly financing is available through the Google Store, Project Fi, and through Verizon Wireless. Unlocked, these phones will work with just about any major carrier.

OnePlus 3T – $439

Finally, you might be wondering which phone you should go with if you’re wanting to save a bit of money but not lose out on quality. Just a few months ago, we would have suggested the OnePlus 3, which was the latest handset from Chinese company OnePlus. Now, though, you should probably go with its successor, the OnePlus 3T. The phone is almost identical to the OnePlus 3, but it has a better Snapdragon 821 processor and a slightly larger battery at 3,400 mAh compared to 3,000 mAh hours of the 3.


Like the standard OnePlus 3, though, you’ll find a 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 4, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (sans a MicroSD slot, unfortunately). You’ll also be able to charge the phone super-fast with OnePlus’ “Dash Charge” tech, and as for cameras, the OnePlus 3 has a 16MP main camera with optical image stabilization, and a 16MP camera is on the front.

Of course the phone also has many of the features you’ve come to expect from a flagship in 2016, and that means there isn’t much compromise with this phone compared to the options I listed above. The OnePlus 3T has a fingerprint sensor, sports a sleek design made of anodized aluminum, comes in two colors, has a 3.5 mm audio jack, sports usual connectivity interfaces like Bluetooth and NFC, and more. Be sure to check out our own unboxing and impressions write-up. The OnePlus 3 can be had from November 22nd from for $439.

If you’re looking for something cheaper, stay tuned for our budget Android phone gift guide!

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.