While there is something to be said for the simplicity of an iPhone, one of the most appealing aspects of the Android operating system is that it's a smartphone system that seems to offer its consumers nearly limitless options. If someone is after a phone with some very particular specifications or want to have a lot of different possible options within a certain budget range, then Android phones are pretty much guaranteed to leave them a satisfied customer. But, while variety can be the spice of life it can also leave a lot of people feeling a little confused, thanks to the many possible options, and unsure of what can work well for them versus what they should leave behind. It also seems like a lot of Android manufacturers can get so wrapped up in ensuring that they have the latest and greatest features and options for their consumers that they actually wind up dropping the ball when it comes to the nuts and bolts of their products.
So then, out of the dozens of available Android smartphones that exist on the marketplace today, which ones have managed to become the leaders of the pack and distinguish themselves as an especially worthy investment device? Or on the other hand, out of the hundreds of Android devices out there, which ones have just fallen unacceptably short? Which smartphones might look like a great option, but have a deal-breaker flaw that the companies should fix, and that consumers should avoid?
30 Best: Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung's line of Galaxy smartphones are widely considered to be the top of the line phones when it comes to the Android operating system, and their reputation for being the best of the best is definitely well earned. The phones come with a pretty hefty price tag that can range anywhere from $700 to $1000, but for that price you get pretty much every great feature that an Android phone can offer, and a performance that can match or beat the performance of nearly every other phone on the market. It may be Samsung's flagship phone, but it also seems like it's kind of Android's unofficial flagship phone.
29 Needs Improvement: Lenovo Phab 2 Pro
In theory, the idea of a hybrid between a phone and a tablet sounds like it could be pretty rad, but it turns out that when you try to take those two pieces of tech and make them meet in the middle you kind of wind up getting the worst of both worlds instead of the best. If you're into a really big phone then the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is definitely the smartphone for you, but if you're looking for a smartphone then this guy is an awkward and clunky choice, and if you're looking for a tablet, then the Phab 2 is too small.
28 Best: Google Pixel 2
Seeing as Google is the creator of the Android smartphone operating system it's really no surprise that they have come out with a really awesome Android phone too. At around $650 dollars a Pixel 2 is definitely a significant financial investment, but for that price you're getting pretty much top of the line everything. The real standout feature on this standout phone is its camera. The Pixel 2 camera is easily one of the best on the phone market, and depending on your personal preferences it might actually be the best, which is quite an achievement in the world of smartphones.
27 Needs Improvement: Essential PH-1
As far as smartphones go you could do worse than the Essential PH-1, but you could probably do a lot better too. The phone does well as a phone on its own, but its specs and features leave something to be desired, especially when it comes to its camera and its audio. The camera is slower than what most people would want or expect, and unfortunately the PH-1 is one among many smartphones that for whatever reason have decided to completely ditch a headphone jack. It also has a below average battery life, which puts it behind the pack of the average Android.
26 Best: HTC U11
When it comes to style it's hard to imagine a phone that's more pleasant and interesting to look at than the HTC U11, and luckily the phone isn't just a pretty piece of tech. The high quality screen matches the beauty of the phone's overall design, and the audio, video, and camera performance are all top notch as well. The speakers on the phone are a real stand out feature, and for the around $650 price tag you also get the exceptionally handy feature of water resistance, so a fluke accident won't destroy an investment that is quite a lot for most people.
25 Needs Improvement: Nokia 2
The old standby cellphone company Nokia has been taking a lot of steps to get with the times and offer some really great smartphones for a competitive market, but unfortunately one place where their new work falls short is with their Nokia 2. The Nokia 2 is their most basic phone and is definitely priced affordably, but ultimately you get what you pay for with this phone. Nothing about the phone is exceptional or even performs very well, and while everyone loves a budget phone it would probably be better for Nokia to up the price but sell a product that actually works well.
24 Best: OnePlus 6
Phone manufacturer OnePlus seems to release a new edition of their phones on a fairly regular basis and seems to take a lot of the constructive criticism towards their past phones into account when creating their new installments, and the OnePlus 6 makes it clear that their strategy of constant evolution is really working well for them. The OnePlus 6 comes in with a pretty hefty price tag that nears $600, but what makes this phone stand out so dramatically is that it can really compete with the highest end Android phones on the market, some of which will cost nearly a thousand dollars.
23 Needs Improvement: HTC Bolt
The HTC Bolt is the kind of phone that sounds great when you're researching a new phone to buy, but unfortunately doesn't perform particularly well in real life situations. The phone that is exclusively available for Sprint customers has some upsides, one of the bigger ones being that it is water resistant, but it also has a lot of small problems that wind up making the phone feeling physically and functionally clunky. As you might expect with the name "Bolt," its performance is fast, but the Bolt also has a tendency to get uncomfortably hot after extended periods of use.
22 Best: Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The world of smartphones is one that is always developing and evolving, and every brand always wants to be on the cutting edge of the newest and best features. That's obviously understandable, but when you shell out hundreds of dollars for a phone that will become obsolete in the next six months it's certainly a disappointment. One of the best things about phones like Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is that while they're certainly going to come out with new editions of the phone as time goes on, you can hold on to your Note 8 for quite a while and still have a fabulous phone that can compete with a lot of newbies.
21 Needs Improvement: Motorola Moto Z Play
As far as phones go, the Motorola Moto Z Play isn't really a bad phone on its face. It's definitely a decent deal for the cost and will probably fulfill all of your basic smartphone needs without a problem. Where the Moto Z Play falls short is really in comparison to many of Motorola's other phones, which are pretty well known for being some of the best and most cost effective smartphones available on the market today. The Moto Z Play's battery is really all it has going for it, and when you can get a sleeker and better performing Moto phone for the same price it's hard to see how the Z will compete.
20 Best: Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei smartphones have really built their name as a brand on creating phones that are high quality and come at a really competitive price, which is why the considerably more expensive Huawei P20 Pro seems like such a departure for the brand. But they have departed from their standard for good reason it seems, because the P20 Pro is a phone that can compete with some of the highest quality Android phones on the market. It seems like Huawei wanted to create a phone that could compete with the top of the line Samsungs and iPhones of the world, and with the P20 they succeeded.
19 Needs Improvement: ZTE Axon M
The concept behind the ZTE Axon M is an understandable. It seems like ZTE wanted to create a kind of mini tablet phone with their Axon M, but much like the Phab 2 Pro we discussed earlier on in the list, it seems like an idea that is good in theory but that just doesn't work out very well in reality. ZTE puts an extra unusual spin on their mini tablet phone by essentially making it a foldout phone, and gives it some kind of nifty features like allowing you to run a program on each screen, but ultimately it's just too clunky for a smartphone.
18 Best: LG G7 ThinQ
While LG doesn't get as much hype or attention as many of the biggest Android phone brands, the company does manage to keep on offering smartphones that can easily compete with the best of the best on the market. While the LG G7 ThinQ for the most part just simply offers its users an above average performance and specs on nearly every aspect of the phone, one of their coolest features is their waterproofing. Many expensive cameras offer some water resistance, but the G7 ThinQ can last in the water for about 30 minutes, which we are sure is very appealing for clumsier phone owners.
17 Needs Improvement: HTC U Ultra
The HTC U Ultra certainly sticks with the HTC company standard of creating some of the prettiest and most unique phones on the market, but unfortunately on nearly every other metric of smartphone qualities it's a phone that falls short and feels anything but ultra. The bezel of the phone makes it one of the bigger options available on the market, but you don't really get anything extra in quality for the extra size, and it's honestly so big that it can be difficult to operate with one hand. Its dual screen design also means that you see notifications all the time, which for some might be an annoyance.
16 Best: Motorola Moto G6
If you're looking for a budget Android smartphone that will give you the feel of a luxury phone at the price of a budget phone then nearly any phone fan will recommend one of Motorola's Moto phones, which reliably end up near the top or at the top of most best Android lists. The Moto G6 definitely fulfills the expectations of Moto fans, giving a high performance and the experience of a high-end phone with no major faults. The G6 does well at everything, but it features an exceptionally great screen, which is a big plus for a lot of casual smartphone users who are satisfied with something basic but pretty.
15 Needs Improvement: Samsung J3
When it comes to high-end Android phones it seems like Samsung has carved out a pretty huge chunk of the marketplace for themselves, but their budget phone offerings often leave something to be desired. Unfortunately that is the case with the Samsung J3. The J3 doesn't have one particular area in which it's really terrible, but it's just a phone that is mediocre on nearly every metric. When you consider how many awesome options there are out there in the smartphone market for buyers who are looking for a decent phone that's inexpensive, the J3 just can't compete with the better options out there.
14 Best: Honor 7X
For a while it seemed like some super expensive flagship phones from some very well known electronics brands completely dominated the smartphone market. While those original powerhouses still retain a lot of their power, the arena of high quality budget phones from smaller companies has exploded in the past few years, and Honor is one of the biggest heavy hitters when it comes to that arena. So then, it's really no surprise that the Honor 7X is one of the best entries into the budget Android phone markets, and with a $200 dollar price tag, it's astoundingly close in quality to a lot of higher end phones.
13 Needs Improvement: Alcatel Idol 5S
As far as budget phones go, the Alcatel Idol 5S actually isn't a bad option. Or rather, it wouldn't be a bad option if it had a much better battery life. The Idol 5S has a very solid list of specs that could actually make it into one of the best budget phones available on the market, however its battery performance is so poor that it makes what could be a great phone into an automatic pass. There are also other budget phones that can offer a very similar experience, without the user having to worry that they're about to run out of gas.
12 Best: LG V30
LG's flagship phone, the LG V30, is a phone that is definitely worthy of being the flagship for one of the biggest smartphone companies in the world. For anyone who is looking for the performance of a flagship phone like the Samsung Galaxy or the Google Pixel but who also wants to save a hundred dollars or more on their phone, the V30 is easily one of the best options on the marketplace and can truly give you an experience that will rival something like the Galaxy or the Pixel. The V30 is a great smartphone experience from top to bottom.
11 Needs Improvement: LG Stylo 3
For customers who are looking for an inexpensive phone that comes with a stylus, the LG Stylo 3 is really the only option available on the smartphone market right now. However, that is unfortunately the only distinction that can really be made about the LG Stylo 3. If you're looking for a budget version of the Samsung Note 8, which seems like the phone that has inspired the Stylo 3, then you'll be sorely disappointed if you decide to make the Stylo 3 your choice of smartphone. Its removable battery is handy, but other than that there's really nothing worth noting about this stylus phone.
10 Best: BlackBerry Key2
BlackBerry was kind of the origin of all smartphones, so it's strange that their brand has pretty much fallen off of the market in terms of visibility. However if you're interested in an updated BlackBerry experience and a legitimately great smartphone with a hard keyboard on it then the BlackBerry Key2 is really the best option available. The sleek design can compete with any of your normal smartphones, and although the keyboard looks like it's on the small side it's actually surprisingly easy to use. Phones have come a very long way in the past few years, but it's nice to still have the option of actual buttons.
9 Needs Improvement: Honor 7S
The Honor 7s is nice to look at and priced very competitively, but unfortunately its ability to compete really ends there. Honor offers quite a few quality phones, but the 7s really can't hang with its brand counterparts, and while it doesn't have the look of a cheap phone it does unfortunately have the performance of a cheap phone. The biggest shortcoming of the Honor 7s that is most likely to make its users the most frustrated is how slow the performance of the phone is, it's slow even for a budget phone, which should give you an idea of how sluggish it really is.
8 Best: Huawei Mate 10
Huawei seems to specialize in good phones for a better price, so it's no surprise that their flagship phone, the Huawei Mate 10, gives its users exactly what they've come to expect from the brand. The Mate 10 lags behind its competitors on a few features like waterproofing and wireless charging, but other than that it's a device that can give users the performance of a much more expensive phone for an easily affordable price. When it comes to battery life, storage, and camera performance, the phone can match phones like a Samsung or a Pixel, but the price undercuts nearly every other high-end phone available.
7 Needs Improvement: Vivo Nex
Vivo has really made a name for themselves by creating some super low-budget phones that exceed your expectations considering their price, and while the Vivo Nex definitely seems like a cool phone it's a very sleek and cutting edge design that just doesn't work all that well day to day. This phone is one that isn't really designed to function well in a global marketplace, which makes a lot of its flashier and more enticing features essentially useless to many of its potential users. It's also a phone that's tough to find even if you want one, which makes it a bit of a pain to deal with on every level.
6 Best: Nokia 6.1
The Nokia 6 was a pretty solid entry into the budget smartphone market, and the 6.1 version is pretty much just what you'd expect and want out of the new and improved Nokia phone. The 6.1 gives users a very solid Android experience and gives you the kind of quality you'd hope for out of a $250 smartphone, but where Nokia has always excelled and where the 6.1 continues to excel is in its durability. The all metal body and thickness of the phone might be a bit too much for some, but if you want a phone that will survive some rough treatment then this is your phone.
5 Needs Improvement: Huawei Mate RS Porsche Design
Smartphone brand Huawei is pretty well known for selling high quality products at exceptionally reasonable prices, but the Porsche design of the Mate RS comes with an unfortunate Porsche-level price tag. Obviously if you're a big car fan then this is a pretty unique offering for a cellphone, but aside from having the label "Porsche" on it there's really nothing about this phone that is exceptional or that makes it worthy of the high price. It's reasonable to expect someone to pay premium prices for a premium product, but a black phone with a Porsche logo on it isn't exactly premium.
4 Best: Motorola Moto E5 Plus
While Samsung seems to be the dominant brand when it comes to the higher end of Android phones, it seems like most other companies are having a tough time competing with Motorola's offerings in the budget phone and mid range markets. Their reputation for providing a great phone for a great price is also well-earned. It's a lot harder to find a Moto phone that is below average than it is to find one that is above average. The Moto E5 Plus can definitely hang with the rest of the Moto crowd, and if you're looking for a big screen and big battery, this might be the option for you.
3 Needs Improvement: Sony Xperia XZ2
The Sony Xperia line is a collection of smartphones that are generally decent phones that perform well, but they seem to be considerably overpriced when you compare their performance to other phones with similar capabilities but much lower price tags. Unfortunately the same can be said for their Xperia XZ2 phone, which is a fine phone on its face but does not give you the kind of features and performance that most people would expect comes along with a $800 price tag. For that kind of high-end price you can get the nicest Android phones available, so the XZ2's mid range performance just isn't enough.
2 Best: Razer Phone
Most people who are looking for a smartphone want a phone that functions well as a phone first, and other features that perform well are a bonus. While that's understandable. At this point it's obvious that smartphones are useful for a lot more than basic communication. The Razer Phone is a unique offering on the smartphone market because it's a phone that is designed for optimal game playing. With a price tag of around $700 it's definitely a good chunk of change, but if gaming on your phone is something you're doing all the time then it's hard to imagine a better smartphone for you.
1 Needs Improvement: LG Q6
The LG Q6 is a mid-range phone that has completely middle of the road performance, and its specs in comparison to its price tag make it seem like an overpriced and overwhelming piece of technology that doesn't really fit into a marketplace that has so many exceptional offerings for its consumers. The easily damaged plastic back of the phone does not seem to be a great fit for a phone that debuted with a price tag of nearly $400 dollars, and unfortunately the performance of the internal components seems to be pretty much on the same level as its exterior.
References: cnet.com, tomsguide.com, androidauthority.com, androidpit.com