Looking for a new smartphone? There are dozens upon dozens of great options on the market today, but finding the best of the best can be a bit difficult. We’ve seen some great launches through the year and more should be coming soon too, so let’s take a look at the best Android smartphones you can buy as of May 2017.
The best gifts for Android users
NEW FOR MAY:
Samsung Galaxy S8/Galaxy S8+
After going on sale late last month, Samsung’s latest pair of flagship phones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are off to a fantastic start. The new bezel-light phones usher in a new design language for Samsung with further revised software with new features like Bixby.
The Galaxy S8 is a 5.8-inch device where the S8+ is a 6.2-inch monster, or at least, it would be without this design. Thanks to the thin bezels all around, the S8 and S8+ are both very compact compared to devices with similar or even smaller screen sizes. It’s impressive both in pictures and in person.
Under the hood, the Galaxy S8 packs the Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a microSD card slot. There’s also USB-C for quick charging and data transfer, as well as video output via Samsung’s DeX dock which offers up a full desktop environment when plugged into the necessary peripherals. The S8 also packs Nougat out the box with a cleaner software build.
Pricing is for the Galaxy S8 starts at around $750, while the larger S8+ comes in at around $850. Both devices are available now via Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Best Buy, and Sprint. Unlocked units are also coming later this month.
The other big release for May is the BlackBerry Keyone, going on sale later this month. This device is a return to the good ol’ days for BlackBerry, including that always-available full physical keyboard right below the display.
The KeyOne runs on top of a Snapdragon 625 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and has a 4.5-inch display. That sounds small, but it’s due to the fact that the device has that keyboard below. The phone ships with Android 7.1.1 and the latest Android security patch. Further, it offers up BlackBerry’s special security enhancements and a surprisingly good 12MP camera on the rear.
Obviously, the Keyone isn’t the phone for everyone, especially at $549, but it is an excellent option nonetheless. Sales of the phone will open up on May 31st with both GSM and CDMA variants on their way.
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
One of the more impressive debuts to come out of MWC 2017 was the LG G6 ─ the company’s new bezel-light flagship for the year. After the failure that was the LG G5, the company needs a win, and it might just have that in the G6.
Packed inside of the LG G6 is a Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, wireless charging, USB-C, Android Nougat, Google Assistant, and a 3,300 mAh battery. However, the biggest story here is what you can actually see. First of all, the LG G6 has super thin bezels on all sides, allowing that 5.7-inch display to fit into the footprint of a phone with a much smaller display. Then, there’s the removal of the modular components, making room for IP68 protection against dust and water.
The LG G6 is a pretty solid smartphone, but it’s not perfect. As we noted in our review, the device still lacks in certain areas such as performance. That said, it’s still a fantastic device. You can order now from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, B&HPhoto, and Best Buy.
Google Pixel/Pixel XL
When talking about the best Android phones, there’s no way to avoid talking about the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. These two smartphones, designed by Google from the ground up, show off the best that the company has to offer, and it’s impressive. While not perfect, Google’s efforts with the Pixel show just how good Android can be, both in terms of stability, performance, and the overall experience.
The Pixel packs top-tier specs including the Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 32 or 128GB of storage, and the breathtaking 12.3MP camera on the back. Google’s services are pre-loaded out of the box, the latest version of Android is pushed immediately, and Google Assistant is showcased front and center. Other perks include the 24/7 support, unlimited full resolution photo and video backups, and support for Google’s all new Daydream VR experience.
Pricing for the Pixel starts at $649 for the 5-inch variant and $769 for the larger 5.5-inch Pixel XL. Add $100 to either for the 128GB storage tier. Monthly financing is available both through the Google Store and Verizon Wireless.
Huawei P10/P10 Plus
MWC 2017 also saw the early debut of Huawei’s flagship P Series device for 2017 ─ the Huawei P10. The P10 isn’t a massive departure from 2016’s P9, but it still brings some welcome enhancements.
First, the P10 has picked up the same great Leica dual-camera system from the Mate 9, and has also brought several new color options to the table, as well as a new, unique metal build. Further, the P10 offers EMUI 5.1 and a new front-facing fingerprint sensor that can double as navigation buttons.
The P10 runs on top of the Kirin 960 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 3,200 mAh battery with Nougat and a 5.1-inch 1080p display. The P10 Plus, on the other hand, brings 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a much bigger 3,750mAh battery, under a 5.5-inch QHD display. Unfortunately, we don’t have any details just yet on what the P10 and P10 Plus will cost. Both phones are available now overseas, but they won’t be coming to the US. You can read our full review here.
Honor 8 Pro
Another option that won’t be coming to the US, but is quite solid is the Honor 8 Pro. Announced this month for European markets, the Honor 8 Pro packs a metal build, dual-camera, powerful specs into a fairly affordable device. Under the hood, you’ll find the Kirin 960 chipset, 6GB of RAM, a massive 4,000 mAh battery, USB-C, and 64GB of speedy UFS 2.1 storage. Of course, Android Nougat and EMUI 5.1 are also included. Pre-orders are live now for European customers.
Announced toward the end of 2016, the OnePlus 3T is the successor to the OnePlus 3, although it’s really just a slight refresh. Compared to the OnePlus 3 the 3T brings the updated Snapdragon 821 chipset, a larger 3,400 mAh battery, a new color variant, and an updated 16MP front facing camera sensor.
Aside from that, the OnePlus 3T is the same as the OnePlus 3, bringing Dash Charge fast charging, a 5.5-inch 1080p Optic AMOLED display, 6GB of RAM, and USB-C — all wrapped up in that aluminum chassis. Starting at $439, it’s slightly more expensive than the OnePlus 3 was, but not without reason. The phone is available now from OnePlus’ website. You can even pick up the limited edition black model…
Huawei Mate 9 (US Release)
As expected, Huawei launched the Mate 9 in the US market at CES 2017 for the pretty reasonable price of $599. Packed inside of its gorgeous aluminum design, the Mate 9 has Huawei’s in-house Kirin 960 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a dual-camera system, a 5.9-inch 1080p display, and Android Nougat. Alongside Google’s latest OS, Huawei has also included the latest version of its EMUI software skin, and it’s finally pretty good.
The Mate 9 will also be updated in the coming weeks to include Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant in place of the Pixel-locked Google Assistant. We’ll be revisiting the device soon, but in the meantime, you can read our full review here and buy the phone from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo, Jet.com, or Newegg for $599 unlocked. It works on any GSM carrier including T-Mobile and AT&T.
If you want a big, feature-rich phone that doesn’t explode, the LG V20 might be your best bet. Packing a 5.7-inch Quad HD IPS display, Snapdragon 820 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 3,200 mAh removable battery, the V20 is a power user’s phone without question. This is only emphasized with the dual-camera system on the back which can take standard and wide-angle pictures as well as bringing enhanced stabilization in video. Entertainment only gets better with the built-in 32-bit HiFi DAC which makes listening to music a joy.
The LG V20 is one of the best smartphones we’ve used this year, but the most surprising thing about it is the price. While a similar option from Samsung, Apple, or Google could cost you well upwards of $800, the V20 averages out at about $770. Pricing varies by carrier, landing at $672 on Verizon at its lowest point and $830 on AT&T and its highest. Monthly pricing across all major carriers lands at around $28 a month and the phone is available via Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Sprint. You can also pick it up unlocked. We’ve also seen some pretty spectacular deals on the phone, cutting the price by hundreds.
Moto Z/Moto Z Force
From Motorola/Lenovo, one, or rather two, of the best options you can pick up come in the form of the Moto Z and the Moto Z Force. Both devices pack 5.5-inch AMOLED displays, the Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and Motorola’s thin software layer on top of Android.
The Moto Z brings a 2,600 mAh battery, 13MP camera, and comes in at just 5.2mm thin. The Moto Z Force, on the other hand, brings a 3,500 mAh battery, 21MP rear camera, and is 7mm thin. It also brings a ‘ShatterShield’ display which won’t break. Unfortunately, that model is exclusive to Verizon Wireless.
Both devices run on top of Android Nougat, and lack headphone jacks. However, they do include USB-C adapters in the box. That port also includes Turbo Charging which promises up to 15 hours of power with a 15-minute charge. Both are also compatible with Google’s Daydream VR platform. The big story, though, is without a doubt the compatibility with Moto Mods, a method of expanding the phone’s capabilities with modules such as battery packs, speakers, and even a camera.
ZTE Axon 7
If you want a flagship experience, but at a slightly lower price point, the ZTE Axon 7 is an option worth considering. Starting at just $399, the Axon 7 packs a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, all-metal design, front facing speakers, and premium specifications including the top of the line Snapdragon 820 chipset. It also packs an insane 6GB of RAM and support for Google Daydream, all while running on top of Android Nougat.