Halloween has come and gone, and Google has delivered the tasty treat we’ve all been waiting for. We’re talking about the Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KITKAT, of course. You can find out every single thing you need to know about those beautiful concoctions in our round-up post, where Edgar wraps up everything there is to know about the release (including some cool system apps and wallpapers that you can already download!). Now that all of that is out of the way, it’s time to run through our best Android phones list for November. Buckle up!
It might be a bit alarming that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has dropped to number 5 on our list this month, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 is getting… old. Not quite old enough to knock it out of the top 5, mind you, but old. Samsung is doing some good things lately, with the company delivering timely Android OS upgrades. Some users are already getting set up with Android 4.3, which brings a Premium Suite upgrade that improves camera features and adds compatibility for the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch.
4 – HTC One
HTC One’s big brother One Max isn’t on this list, but that’s because it offers nearly nothing over the more pocketable 4.7-inch version. The HTC One is still a fine phone by this year’s standards, and like Samsung is doing with the Galaxy S4, HTC is getting serious about Android upgrades. 4.3 is rolling out to most users right now (though Verizon faithful will have to wait until the end of this month after an unfortunate delay). With HTC already promising Android 4.4 KitKat down the line, this is still one attractive pickup (and the Snapdragon 600 processor inside this thing is still strong enough to keep it ticking as smoothly as any other).
Surprised to see the Galaxy Note 3 jump back two spots this month? This is still a fine phone, folks, but a certain other South Korean company has been coming with some major heat lately — more on that later. It was hard to put the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in the middle of the pack considering it doesn’t have “middle of the pack” specs. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM and a 13 megapixel camera aren’t middle of the pack specs, but I could still do without a lot of Samsung’s TouchWiz. And 5.7 inches is just big enough to be uncomfortable (despite the phone being the same overall size as the Galaxy Note 2).
2 – LG G2
Last month, I applauded LG for a finely crafted phone, but didn’t think their software was the bee’s knees. It still isn’t the light coat of paint I’d prefer, but it has grown on me, and I find it to be more lightweight and pain-free to use than Samsung’s TouchWiz.
The G2’s Snapdragon 800 processor makes this thing ridiculously fast, and the beautiful 5.2-inch 1080p display is absolutely scrumptious. Gimmicks like the back-facing buttons and LG KnockOn don’t phase me, so they didn’t factor in here — it was pure smartphone mastery that made me award LG the number two slot.
1 – Nexus 5 by LG
I bet you saw this coming. The Nexus 5 is but a few days old, but it’s one exciting device for many different reasons. It’ll be the absolute first phone with Android 4.4 KITKAT. It’ll be the fastest Nexus smartphone ever, with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 quad-core chipset and 2GB of RAM.
It’ll have the most beautiful display of any Nexus handset with a 4.95-inch 1080p HD display. And while the 8 megapixel backside-illuminated camera with Optical Image Stabilization might not be the best camera in the world, it should suffice for most modest cell-phone photographers’ needs.
Specs alone aren’t the only thing to consider, though (which is why the Note 3 isn’t number one on this list). To get all of this in a package that starts at just $350 is astounding. It makes the Nexus 5 the best value in smartphones, and considering you’ll be promised the latest Android upgrades as soon as you can get them,we’d say there’s no reason to consider anything else (unless, you know, you’re stuck with someone like Verizon).
- Moto X — It slipped outside the top 5 thanks to some very strong launches last month, but the Moto X is still one of the best Android phones you can get. Great battery life, Touchless Controls and Active Notifications make sure of that.
- Motorola DROID Maxx — Think Moto X, except with two full days of battery life, a bigger display and sweet Kevlar back-coated goodness.
- Sony Xperia Z1 — Sony’s “Ultra” variant of the Z is a bit too much for our tastes, but the Z1 is still a fine device. We wish Sony would find a way to chop that bezel down, though.
- Nexus 4 by LG — Yes, it’s been handily outclassed by the Nexus 5, but the Nexus 4 will be a force for quite some time. You might have to take to eBay to get yours at this point, though, as Google has taken it off the Play Store.
- Motorola DROID Mini — Let’s face it: not everyone is impressed by a bigger display. This 4.3-inch smartphone was considered “big” by 2010’s standards, but if you need a smaller-than-average smartphone you can’t get much better than this.
Phones to look forward to
These phones aren’t available yet, but we know they’re on their way and we know we’re anticipating them a great deal. Said to be out at some point this fall, let’s take a look at two of the most exciting devices on the horizon (which isn’t saying much, but work with me here).
LG’s first smartphone with a virtually unbreakable display, the curvaceous LG G Flex is like a G2… except curvy. While some might not be moved or impressed by the unique contours of this thing, it’s still going to be a powerhouse for at least a few months. We’re not sure when to expect it, nor are we exactly sure where to expect it, but it’s coming.
Samsung has a curvy smartphone of their own coming, except its curve is more… weird. The Galaxy Round features a horizontal curve, which we guess is good for those who want a phone that can hug the contours of your backside more effectively. It remains to be seen if this unorthodox form factor will make people flock, but one thing’s for sure — it has our attention.
This device has a lot of firsts attached to its name. It’s one of the first phones with a rotating camera, giving you a suitable camera for both front and rear facing shots. It’ll also be the first phone that will come with the ability to flash CyanogenMod out of the box. (There will also be a special edition of the device that comes with CyanogenMod pre-installed.) Its specs will include 2GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and more. December is the last known launch window.
This small handset will be taking a serious crack at the DROID Mini’s crown once it launches. The 4.3 inch 720p Xperia Z1 Mini packs a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.0, a 2,300 mAh battery and more. Sony (or Sony Ericsson) has always been known for creating great “mini” phones, and it looks like the trend won’t stop whenever this thing launches. We should be seeing it in mere weeks.
These phones are selling like hot cakes on Amazon. Note that these aren’t necessarily Amazon’s true best-sellers, but best sellers out of the ones we haven’t already mentioned. Take a look and see if some of these other hot phones are worth your time and money:
- Samsung Galaxy S3
- LG Optimus G
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2
- LG Optimus G Pro
- Motorola DROID Ultra
- HTC One Mini
- Pantech Perception
- HTC EVO 4G LTE
- Sony Xperia Ion
- Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro
What say you?
And that’s a wrap! There were a lot of changes this month. You may agree with some, you may agree with all, or you may think this list is pretty much worthless. We don’t care which side of the line you stand on — we just want to hear your thoughts! Let them be heard in the comments section below. Here’s to a great forthcoming holiday season!