Big, small, stock, or skinned, if you're in the market for a new smartphone, chances are there's an Android option to fit your fancy. And unlike Apple's rigid yearly release cycle, Google's hardware partners release a seemingly endless stream of new devices year round. But therein lies the problem: With so many options out there, how do you settle on the right phone? Luckily for you, we test and review nearly every smartphone available, and we’ve got some advice for you here.
There's a lot to like when it comes to Google's Android OS. So much, in fact, that reports from research firm Strategy Analytics indicate that Android holds 79 per cent of the global market. That's an impressive figure, but when you consider Android's endless customisability and the vast array of hardware choices, it shouldn't be all that surprising.
Not all Android is created equal, though. Device manufacturers like HTC and Samsung have been applying their own visions to Android for some time now. If the words TouchWiz or Sense make you shudder, then something like a Nexus is what you're after.
Every manufacturer tries to set its smartphones apart with some whiz-bang feature or eye-popping specs. But do you really need a 1080p display or 20-megapixel camera? And what should we make of the ever growing phablet?
Settling on Android as your mobile OS of choice is only half the battle. So in this article, we’ve rounded up what we believe are the top ten options in Android which are on sale now. Let’s look at those phones…
HTC One (£440)
The innovative, well-built, aluminium-clad HTC One is an easy pick. Its strong design perspective won't be for everyone, especially Android purists – but it's a major step forward, and should satisfy those who think Samsung's plastic-based Galaxy phones look and feel a little chintzy.
The revamped model of this phone is about to be unveiled, so if you’re thinking of buying, you might want to hold off for a couple of weeks and see if any price drops are imminent (the rumour is that HTC may continue to sell this model at a cheaper price).
Motorola Moto X (£290)
Although the Moto X isn’t built with top notch specifications, it performs well, and its battery life is strong. It’s a nice size for one-handed use, and the camera features will really appeal to anyone who likes to take a lot of shots.
This is a great phone, particularly for the price you can get it now.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (£450)
Samsung’s top-tier phablet, the 5.7in Galaxy Note 3, is a powerful, full HD phablet that may be the only mobile device you ever need.
Samsung Galaxy S4 (£360)
The fully loaded, speedy Samsung Galaxy S4 is still a great phone with a boat-load of features – and now the Galaxy S5 is due (in a month), prices have dipped. This is a real bargain at around the mid-£300 mark – plus if you can wait until after the S5 is out, prices might drop further still.
HTC One Max (£540)
The HTC One Max is a hulking, aluminium-clad phablet with an extra-large 5.9in screen. The fingerprint scanner is pointless, but the sharp 1080p LCD and best-in-class front-facing speakers make it a top choice for on-the-go media consumption.
LG G Flex (£530)
It's big, it's curved, and it flexes. But get past the headline grabbing features and you're left with a powerful and functional big-screen phablet. Videos look great on the panoramic display and LG did a great job of taking advantage of the added screen real estate. This is the only phone we haven’t published a review of, but that review is underway now, so look out for it very soon (and see our hands-on with the G Flex in the meantime).
LG G2 (£340)
The LG G2 has a superb screen, the UI and software extras are impressive, and battery life is really good. If you want superb performance levels, this handset offers that at a very reasonable price.
Google Nexus 5 (£299)
Google has delivered an impressive smartphone with the Nexus 5, a powerhouse with a palatable price and good performance. It’s also great for those who like their Android experience pure, of course.
Sony Xperia Z1 (£410)
The megapixel war is back on in the smartphone world. The Xperia Z1 packs a 20.7-megapixel sensor that takes great pictures, and the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor lets Sony implement some fun camera tricks. It falls just short of greatness, but it's still one of the best Android options out there, especially if waterproofing is a high priority.
Motorola Moto G (£165)
If you want a budget Android phone, this is the one to get. The Moto G is cheap yet well-built, and it boasts a good screen and a capable processor, along with a no-frills approach to Android. Quite simply, this budget handset has “winner” written all over it.