The 9 Best Android Phones to Buy in 2017

Not a fan of the iPhone? These Android phones don't disappoint

The Android market is fiercely competitive. With brands like Google, LG, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola all competing for a share of the pie, it’s no wonder that Android fans are every bit as loyal as Apple fanboys, if not more. But there are a lot of differences between all the smartphones. Do you want the best camera? The best sound/audio? The best value? Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best Android smartphones by category to help make your buying decision even easier.

1
Best Overall: Google Pixel

Google Pixel
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Google quietly retired their line of Nexus phones this year, but that doesn’t mean the tech giant is quitting the mobile market for good. In fact, they’ve just released the Google Pixel, an Android smartphone that makes the most of the OS while rivaling Apple’s simple and intuitive UI.

The design is two-tone black with a slight wedge form that makes the phone easier to hold in one hand. The bottom has a USB port, a speaker and a microphone. On the top of the back is a fingerprint scanner that you can swipe to open your screen, again facilitating one-handed use.

The five-inch screen uses AMOLED for a full HD screen. Pixel is the first to use Android v7.1, the latest and greatest edition of Android. The new OS is intuitive and cleaner than previous versions, replacing the app drawer with an upward swipe to show your apps. The Pixel also includes Google Assistant, the machine-learning AI deployed in Google Home. Locked in an arms race with Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant learns more about you the more you use it, responding to a host of voice commands. As with all assistants, it still is in the early stages and has a ways to go before it functions perfectly, but still has plenty of functionality and is a big upgrade over Google Voice.

The Pixel camera is 12.3MP with HDR+ enhancing darker areas and competes with the best camera phones, scoring an all-time high of 89 on DxO tests. The 2,770mAh battery, however, lags behind a bit with high-end Android competitors.

2
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S7 (Unlocked)

Samsung Galaxy S7
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Launched in early 2016, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the the crème de la crème of Android smartphones. It is the primary competitor of Apple’s latest iPhone, the 6S, and if budget is not an issue, it is the best Android smartphone you can find.

The S7’s major selling points have nothing to do with individual components or features—like a high-megapixel camera or long-lasting battery (though it certainly has both). The S7 is more an exercise in balance. It’s a jack of all trades, capable of delivering performance, reliability and longevity on par with that of the iPhone. In short, it packs a whole lot of tech into a super sleek, super slim package. The 3000 mAh battery allows up to nine hours of continuous use; the 12-megapixel main camera promises solid image resolution; and the 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 CPU provides a solid foundation for gaming, browsing, sharing, texting, listening and every other smartphone activity. It also features a super sharp 5.1-inch AMOLED screen, a water-repellent coating and a MicroSD slot. There’s no standout feature with the S7, but you’re even harder pressed to find a drawback. This phone on Amazon.com is an international version and will work with T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon customers can find the phone here.

3
Best for Gaming: Google Nexus 6P (Unlocked)

Google Nexus 6P
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Google continues to up its smartphone game with the latest generation Nexus 6P. This phone has all the features you should expect from a phablet device—or, more accurately, a gaming device. It has a 5.7-inch, 2560 x 1440 screen bolstered by a 3GB and 3,450 mAh battery—specs that ensure solid, high-performance gaming for more than nine hours. But it’s not just a gaming device. If you’re not much of a gamer, the 6P offers impressive video performance as well. Some users have complaints about Google’s software integration, which is surprising when you consider how the Android OS is developed by Google. But most agree that these issues are marginal when compared to the excellent camera (12.3-megapixel rear; 8-megapixel front-facing), battery life and Super AMOLED display. The Nexus 6P is, first and foremost, a smartphone, but if you’re a fan of phablets and smartphone gaming, this is one worth looking into.

4
Best Battery and Value: Moto Z Play

Moto Z Play
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Want a phone that can hold a charge for most of the work week? Well lucky for you, the Moto Z Play has arrived, with a fast-charging 3,510mAh battery in tow. The phone lasts over 4 days on normal usage, and can be recharged via the USB-C connector in less than an hour.

In addition to the massive battery, this is the mid-range entry in Motorola’s customizable Moto Z series. Like its cousins, the Moto Z Play can be equipped with any number of snap-on customizations that do everything from boost sound quality to add 10x optical zoom.

But even if you eschew the accessories, the Z Play boasts an excellent build for the price point. It has a large 5.5-inch display with a serviceable 403 pixel density and HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. The 2GHZ octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and 3GB RAM deliver an enjoyable browsing experience, while the 32GB storage can be supplemented by a microSD slot.

5
Best Camera: LG G5 (Unlocked)

LG G5
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The LG G5 is unique among competitors in that it features a semi-modular build. This allows you to slide out the bottom of the device and switch in various accessories and components. The most compelling of these modules is the battery, a factor which may intrigue smartphone users who are tired of their batteries croaking before their phones. You can also add USB accessories like a camera grip or digital-to-analog converter. The modular capabilities are somewhat limited, so don’t expect your smartphone experience to be completely revolutionized. However, this very feature allows for something quite unexpected: an awesome, highly versatile camera. It’s actually two cameras in one: The main, rear camera features both a 16-megapixel sensor with a 78-degree lens and an eight-megapixel sensor with a 135-degree, wide-angle lens. Even the front-facing camera is above average at eight megapixels. Add in the camera grip enabled by the modular design and you have a fairly novel camera experience for the world of smartphones.

6
Best Budget: Motorola Moto G4 (Unlocked)

Motorola Moto G4
Courtesy of Amazon.com

There’s value, and then there’s budget. What’s the difference? Well, value implies the best bang for your buck, while budget suggests price is the overriding factor in the purchase decision. If you find yourself in the latter camp, the Motorola Moto G4 is the smartphone for you. This is a bare bones mobile device for people who want a smartphone but are limited by a sub-$300 budget. Its specs are middling: Snapdragon 617 processor (1.5 GHz); 5.5-inch, 1,280 x 720 display; 3000 mAh display; 2 GB RAM; 16 GB of storage space (expandable up to 32 or 64 GB. The 13-megapixel camera is a step up from its predecessors, and is actually pretty decent for the price poin. What’s important here is the price. For its cost, there really isn’t much competition.

7
Best Audio/Sound: HTC 10 (Unlocked)

HTC 10
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The HTC 10 could compete with the likes of all the major Android flagship phones—the Galaxy S7, Nexus 6P, G5—but it has one standout feature that gives it an edge when it comes to audio and sound quality. Unlike pretty much every other device on the market, the HTC 10 features a front-facing tweeter and a subwoofer that doubles as the speakerphone along the base of the phone. This allows the phone to blast sound for a whole audience—and at a decent quality that’s not too shabby in the bass department. It’s the first Android phone to officially support Apple AirPlay, the WiFi protocol used by most wireless speakers. But it’s not just a portable speaker; the HTC 10 features fast performance and a solid design, to boot. With the Snapdragon 810 processor at 2.2 GHz, 5.2-inch display and 3,000 mAh battery capable of lasting up to seven hours, it’s every bit as good as its competitors in most areas. The 12- and five-megapixel rear and front-facing cameras are nothing to write home about, but it’s also nothing to complain about.

8
Best Phablet: Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Google Pixel XL is the best phablet out there and has a large 5.5” screen with quad-HD resolution display. Images on the screen are immersive and captivating with AMOLED protected by Gorilla Glass4. The vibrant images on the screen are totally lag-free, thanks to the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB RAM.

Other than the improved screen resolution and beefier 3,450mAh battery, the Pixel XL is nearly identical to its smaller brother. That means the simple two-tone back and wedge design with a stenciled Google “G.” It also means you get the highly-rated 12.3MP camera and latest Android software, which provides an unrivaled and uncluttered user experience on Android devices. 

9
Runner-Up, Best Phablet: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (Unlocked)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Here’s a powerful phone for phablet fans. The Galaxy Note has been around for years, and the latest generation of this crossover mobile device is the best in its class. It’s fast, beautiful and capable of performing a wide range of tasks. It features Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 7420 Octa-Core processor running at 2.1 GHz with a huge, 5.7-inch display AMOLED display at 2560 × 1440. The 4 GB RAM offers a solid foundation for video, gaming and other high-CPU activities. And then there’s the camera—arguably the best phablet camera to date. It features a 16-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.9 aperture, optical image stabilization, object tracking autofocus and real-time HDR. That’s a powerful little shooter capable of competing with most mid-range point-and-shoots. It also includes a slim, sturdy design with a thinner bezel than its predecessor, and an S Pen stylus with a spring-loaded mechanism that ejects the pen. This is a big, versatile device that really blurs the line between phone and tablet.

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