Do you find it difficult to keep track of which Android phone is currently the best? Which is the better option: the HTC One (M8), or the Samsung Galaxy S5? Is LG’s latest phone better than the Nexus 5, or is it just more expensive? These are all good questions.
To help you out, we’ve created a list of our current top Android phones. This list isn’t in any particular order but we'll make sure it always has the best of the best Android phones you can buy right now.
HTC One (M8)
The HTC One (M8) is the HTC flagship for 2014. Like its predecessor the One (M7), the One (M8) is a beautiful, sleek device that is a pleasure to behold and easy to use. It's fast, smooth and sports a great 5 inch 1080p display.
The camera is a continuation of HTC's Ultrapixel approach, whereby the number of megapixels is toned-back in order to provide better low-light photos. Despite only technically working with 4MP, the camera on the HTC One (M8) holds its own against the other powerhouse handsets on the market.
A new camera addition is the depth sensor. This allows for some funky post-photo editing at the tap of an icon. Thanks to the sensor, the camera can distinguish foreground objects from those at the back. This opens up the door for all kinds of visual effects that highlight the target of your picture without directly affecting it.
Last year the One (M7) proved to be a fantastic device that was easily the equal of Samsung's offering, we expect the (M8) of 2014 to be the same.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The GS5 boasts a 16MP camera, powerful quad-core 2.5GHz CPU, 5.1 inch 1080p display and a new soft-touch back that adds to grip and ditches the glossy plastic look that has plagued Samsungs for years.
Other additions to the Galaxy S5 are a fingerprint scanner located under the screen, a heart-rate monitor and some cool camera utilities like the ability to refocus a photo after it has been taken.
Our favourite feature is that the Galaxy S5 is water resistance. It can be left in to up to 1m of water for up to half an hour, so you can't go swimming with it but you don't need to worry about accidental liquid damage.
Sony Xperia Z2
The Xperia Z2 debuted a mere 6-months after its predecessor - the Z1. It's Sony's newest flagship device with a 5.2 inch display, 20.7MP camera that can be used underwater, powerful Snapdragon 801 CPU, a huge 3200mAh battery and 3GB of RAM.
It’s also waterproof. It’s not merely water- resistant, mind you; it’s fully waterproof. The Z2 is rated IP55 and IP58, meaning it can be submersed in over a metre of water ‘continuously’ for at least over half an hour and can withstand jet pressure like that from a tap. It’s so good at it that you can even take photos underwater using the dedicated camera button on the side.
Sony may not have the reputation of Apple or Samsung, but the Z2 is shaping up to be a truly awesome phone. Not only is it more water-resistant than the Galaxy S5, its battery is as big as those found on most maxi-sized phablets. Long live the long-life charge.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
It speaks to its quality that the Galaxy Note 3 is still the best ‘phablet’ device around. At 5.7 inches, the 1080p display of the Note 3 isn’t actually that large compared to other modern phablets, but it’s definitely a step up from the 5.1-inch standard that most flagships offer.
It also sports the surprisingly useful S-Pen stylus. You mightn’t think that a stylus has much of a place on a smartphone in 2014 but you’d be wrong. It’s very well integrated and great for taking notes, drawing and editing pictures or documents.
The Note 3 provides a smooth user experience, has impressive specs and a truly fantastic camera. It’s one of our picks for best phone cameras on the market and it’s a great option for happy-snappers.
Google Nexus 5
The LG-made Google Nexus 5 is the best smartphone if you’re comparing quality to price. When you buy it outright Google actually subsidises some of the cost for you, so you end up with a top-tier phone for a mid-range price. That's if you grab it from the Google Play store. From carriers it's still a bit cheaper than other top-end phones, but often sits above the mid-range.
By top-tier we mean it has the same Snapdragon 800 CPU as the Note 3, 2GB of RAM and a great 5 inch 1080p display with 445 pixels per inch (ppi). That’s about 120 more ppi than an iPhone Retina Display.
Being a native Google device it runs vanilla Android. This means that it doesn’t have a top-heavy UI slowing it down. It also ensures that you’ll get Android updates almost as soon as they come out, instead of waiting for months like you would with another handset.
Speaking of LG-made devices with Snapdragon 800 CPUs, the LG G2 is a top-notch handset. It’s fast, smooth, and the 5 inch 1080p display is ‘a treat’, as our own Joe Hanlon put it.
The physical design can cause arguments, as it did in our office. The G2 has relocated the lock/power and volume buttons to the rear of the device. Either you’ll love it or you’ll hate it and that’s all there is to say about this little feature.
Stylistically it’s a bit of a boring smartphone with a standard design made of plastic, but that doesn’t detract from the snappy and beautiful user experience.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Thanks to the upcoming release of the Galaxy S5, the S4 has already started dropping price on some carriers. As such, it's become a pretty good deal for the price. Just be sure that you're not paying top-dollar for an S4 if you get it before the S5 is released on the 11th of April. You don't want to pay premium prices for a year-old phone.
The Galaxy S4 was the best-selling Android of 2013 and for good reason. It was fast, pretty, and the successor to the ever-wonderful Galaxy S3. The GS4 wasn’t a mammoth upgrade over its predecessor and has now been surpassed by other devices in terms of raw hardware power since its early 2013 release. Be that as it may it’s still a very good option if you want a killer smartphone with a 5 inch screen and 1080p display.
The HTC One was and still is the straight-up competitor for the Galaxy S4. It may not have sold as many units in 2013, but it took the MWC award for Best Smartphone of last year. The One has recently been supplanted by the One (M8), but that doesn't detract from its beauty or quality. Thanks to its relegation, it should now be cheaper than ever, which is great news. Just make sure you're not paying top-dollar for this now 2nd-place HTC handset.
The One boasts the best aesthetic design of 2013. Its unibody aluminium frame isn’t just an impressive engineering feat; it’s also a thing of beauty. The camera, too, is still one of the better shooters on the market, offering great low-light shots.
Sony Xperia Z1
The Xperia Z1 has also recently been ousted by a newer, shinier offering from its own manufacturer - The Z2. Still, as with the others this just means that it's now more affordable, and should still be considered if you're after a great phone but can't justify premium prices.
It boasts all the trimmings of a top-tier Android: a powerful snapdragon 800 processor, 20.7MP camera, 2GB of RAM, a 1080p 5 inch display, and a smooth user interface. It’s also just as waterproof as the newer Z2 with IP55 and IP58 ratings for water resistance.