Best Android Phones [March 2014 / MWC Edition]

We’re heading home from Mobile World Congress, folks (read through all the exciting coverage here) and the dust is finally settling. With most of the great phones for the first half of 2014 announced, it’s time to take a look at all of them in our March edition of Best Android Phones. We’ll take a look at the power rankings for the devices currently out in the market, and then we’ll take a nice, comprehensive look on everything on the horizon. Strap in!

5 – Motorola Moto X

Moto X active notifications

The Moto X might soon be running its course, but it doesn’t look like this phone is going to crash and burn, or disappear overnight. Despite Motorola’s shaky future with Lenovo having bought them from Google, we imagine they’re approaching support for the Moto X with the same philosophies they were when they were still under Google’s wing. We’ll have to see how fast they are to get the first major upgrade since Android 4.4.2 out of the door, but we don’t have any doubt Motorola will not disappoint.

4 – Sony Xperia Z1s

Sony-Xperia-Z1s

Sony’s Xperia Z1s slides back a couple spots for one damning reason — it still doesn’t have KitKat. Literally every other device in the top 5 does. But the lack of the absolute latest version of Android doesn’t cause us to overlook its other notable qualities, namely its beautiful display, insane camera, fast internals and the ability to be dunked in a refreshing drink of water.

3 – Nexus 5 by LG

Nexus 5 front

Can’t say much about the Nexus 5 that we haven’t already said, folks. It’s powerful, it’s inexpensive, and it has support directly from Google. The Nexus 5 is guaranteed to be among the first devices in line for new versions of Android, and things should stay that way for at least the next two years. It falls short in some areas keeping it from the top of this list — namely tinny speakers and an inconsistent camera — but this would still be near the top of our list of choices when the time comes to buy a new smartphone.

2 – LG G2

lg-g2-10

LG isn’t lollygagging when it comes to upgrades — they’ve already gotten their firmware stable enough for AT&T and T-Mobile to be comfortable sending it out to their respective versions. The powerful hardware sitting inside this thing still means it’s a major contender at the point-of-sale when you’re trying to decide which device to open your wallet for. A Snapdragon 800 process and 2GB of RAM, full HD display, 13 megapixel camera and more will do that. Rumors of an LG G3 are already beginning to take form, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook those which came before it.

1 – Samsung Galaxy Note 3

galaxy-note-3-multiwindow

Alas, we come to the top of the throne, a position the Galaxy Note 3 has protected for a couple of months now. Those beefy internals — consisting of a Snapdragon 800 chipset and 3GB of RAM — are even more valuable considering Samsung’s big flagship device for 2014 (Galaxy S5, if you haven’t been paying attention) won’t match some of it. We’d venture to guess that the Note 3 is going to be here for a while, though there are several new devices on the horizon that will serious challenge its position (some of which we’ll talk about quite soon).

Runner-ups

  1. HTC One — It was named the mobile phone of the year at Mobile World Congress, and for good reason.
  2. Samsung Galaxy S4 — Its younger brother has been born, but until it’s available for purchase the S4 remains a solid buy.
  3. LG G Flex — Moves up a spot, but not on its own merit. Still a phone worthy of your attention, though.
  4. Motorola DROID Maxx – Because we just can’t get over that massive battery.
  5. Sony Xperia Z1 — Two iterations later and the original is still pretty nice.

Phones to look forward to

These phones haven’t been launched yet, but there’s reason to take notice. Most of the devices in this edition have only been announced this past week, so be sure to stay on the lookout for all the latest news about pricing, release date and availability on Phandroid.com.

Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5 didn’t receive the warmest of receptions from the collective Phandroid faithful, but we’re still considering this perhaps the biggest launch for 2014. Maybe some of that is due to Samsung’s name and status alone, with the South Korean company being the sole owner of the top Android OEM spot by far. Regardless, the Galaxy S5 is nothing to sneeze at.

samsung-galaxy-s5-2

Snapdragon 801 processor. 2GB of RAM. 16 megapixel camera with phase detection autofocus. USB 3.0. A freakin’ fingerprint scanner. Say what you want about the “lack” of a leap over the Samsung Galaxy S4, but the successor still isn’t matched by many other competitors. You need only check out our hands-on look at the device, as well as our comparison to the Galaxy S4, to see why this thing will still turn heads when it hits store shelves this April.

Sony Xperia Z2

Listen up, Sony: it’s not often you impress us. Your phones are pretty and they’re quite solid, and perhaps some of our apprehension is due to the fact that the phones aren’t normally widely available for those of us in the states. Our friends up north and across the pond get to have all the fun!

sony-xperia-z2-9

But the Xperia Z2 changes all of that. This phone has us excited in every way imaginable. Great specs, great design, great features, great everything. From where we’re standing this phone is nearly perfect. The only issue we have is wondering whether or not those in the States will ever get their hands on it.

Thankfully it looks like Sony’s relationships with carriers in the United States are improving, with T-Mobile gladly taking on the top-ranked Xperia Z1s as an exclusive option. Let’s hope this particular phone — which you can check out in our hands on from Mobile World Congress right here — can stretch even further.

LG G Pro 2

LG-G2-Mini-G-Pro-2-10

LG felt like they had to come out of the gate with a very significant offering to take on the beast known as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and we feel like they might have delivered with the G Pro 2. This 5.9-inch phablet brings a 13 megapixel camera, Snapdragon 800 processor and 3GB of RAM to the over-sized form factor, and does so with unique features such as LG KnockOn, and rear-facing buttons. Check out our hands-on coverage for a deeper look at the G Pro 2, and keep an eye on this one for sure.

  HTC Desire 816

We’re waiting on HTC’s exciting March 25th event for their biggest (figuratively, not literally) phone of the year to be announced, but the Desire 816 deserves a tad bit of shine until then. HTC was adamant about wanting to refocus on the mid-range sector, and the Desire 816 is the first example of that.

htc-desire-816-2

Its 5.5-inch display is only 720p and it only has a Snapdragon 400 processor, but it could be a very capable device for the right price. You’ll want to see our hands-on from Mobile World Congress if you’re interested in seeing what HTC can provide for those whose budgets aren’t as big as they’d like.

Nokia X Family

We can’t confidently profess that many people are actually “looking forward” to the Nokia X. Even if it wasn’t specced incredibly low (so much so that it’ll cost as little as $100), the device is only set for launch in limited regions — the UK and North America not included. But the Nokia X is still an interesting device to keep an eye on, and for a few different reasons.

Nokia-X-XL-7

It’s made by Nokia, who — first of all — scoffed at the idea of ever making an Android phone. Secondly, they’re soon to be swept under the Microsoft wing just as quickly as their market share plummeted with the advent of Android. Thirdly, it’s Android like we’ve never seen it, and that alone leaves intrigue. We’ve got full hands-on for you right here.

LG G2 Mini

LG-G2-Mini-G-Pro-2-6

What can we say? It’s another Mini phone. They’re made to look similar to the phones they’re named after, except they’re a tad smaller and tend to have weaker specs. That was exactly the case with the LG G2 Mini. The phone isn’t bad, though, and we’re having a hard time seriously calling a 4.7-inch device “mini,” but we’ll bite. Hands-on right here.

YotaPhone

The YotaPhone has always been an underdog device. It’s hard to gain attention without a strong name or reputation behind you. But like the original device, the new YotaPhone shakes things up enough to make us stand up and take notice.

new-yotaphone-5

The latest iteration — announced at this past MWC — improves on the dual-display design, with the backside of the device housing a higher quality e-ink display used to feed you updates on your life. Its e-Ink technology means you can get access to all these things without the significant battery drain that typically comes with having to power a full HD LCD-based display each time you want to check your email or text messages.

And if you’re worried that a phone like this doesn’t concern itself with beefy internals, guess again — the new YotaPhone can go toe-to-toe with any smartphone set to launch this year. Find out more in our hands-on.

Jolla Phone

jolla-4

We’ve been following this one around for quite some time, and we finally got a chance to check one out for ourselves at Mobile World Congress. The Jolla Phone isn’t exactly an Android phone. It’s a custom version of Meego that Jolla is calling SailFish OS. That aside, it will be able to run Android apps using an on-board Android runtime. It has a very unique gesture-based design and some nice customization features that you won’t quite find anywhere else.

Everything else

MWC 2014 wasn’t just about phones, of course. There were tablets, smart watches and every other piece of emergent technology you could hope to hear about it. Be sure to read about the top Mobile World Congress 2014 announcements right here.

Rumor Mill

Most of the latest rumors have been made official as of Mobile World Congress, though there might still be some stragglers who couldn’t quite make it for the big show in Barcelona. These devices are still keeping a low profile, though it won’t be long before we hear even more.

HTC M8 / The All New HTC One

HTC has scheduled an event for March 25th, and all signs point to the company finally introducing the successor to 2013’s HTC One. It’s been masked under the code name “HTC M8″ for most of the past few months, though recent rumors have suggested HTC will refer to this one as “the All New HTC One.” Very classy, HTC.

htc one silver

So what will give consumers reason to buy one once they’re available this Spring or Summer? The latest rumors put the display around 5 inches with 1080p HD resolution, a Snapdragon 800 (2.3GHz) or 801 (2.5GHz) processor, 2GB of RAM, a new ultrapixel camera on the back with a secondary camera for focus assist, a 4-megapixel front camera, and boom sound speakers. Also of note is the device’s lack of physical buttons for navigation — everything’s on-screen now.

Not many people were impressed with Samsung’s latest entry in the Galaxy S line, so the ball is in HTC’s court to introduce a device that can capture the interests of those who might be looking for a change of pace. It’s all going down in New York next month.

Motorola Moto X2

We don’t know much about this device or what it would bring, but Motorola has confirmed plans to release a follow-up to the Moto X that was launched last Summer. Like the original, the Moto X2 (which we’ll be calling it for the time being) is said to be coming late Summer, and we imagine Motorola will look to focus on areas of supreme build quality, great battery life and simple software, the same secret sauce that made the Moto X one of the hottest devices of the year.

Of course, the spotlight on Big M’s back is bigger than ever now that they’ve been acquired by Lenovo. We’ll have to wait and see how the Chinese company’s acquisition of the originators of mobile telephony will impact their future performance, though all signs indicate we shouldn’t see a huge departure from the norm.

Amazon Best Sellers

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:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Mega
  2. Samsung Galaxy S3
  3. Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  4. Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
  5. Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro
  6. LG Optimus G Pro
  7. Motorola DROID Ultra
  8. HTC One Mini
  9. Casio G’zOne Commando
  10. Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

What say you?

We might not have had many phone launches since the last time we’ve done this, but we sure have had a ton of new device announcements. It’ll be interesting to see where all those devices fall once they’re available for purchase, but for now we’ll just be counting down the days until we can walk into the store and buy them. Let us know which devices you’re looking forward to the most going forward, and be sure to give us your own top 5 list if you feel differently about the rankings!

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  • supremekizzle

    G2> Note 3. I have a tablet for when I want a tablet. I don’t want to carry a beastly phone with me everywhere.

    • robjackson81

      i=”” have=”” no=”” clue=”” what=”” you=”” are=”” trying=”” to=”” say=””””… i=””” mean=””” really=”””, wtf?=”””

      • supremekizzle

        Yeah I have no idea what happened. Disqus or chrome messed up my comment and made it all “”===^^°°¢=¢×€℅|°

        • robjackson81

          Now you edited and made me look like the idiot. But I will take my punishment like a man and leave it etched in Disqustone.

          • supremekizzle

            Whatever man. People have upvoted you with absolutely no context as to why you wrote it that way. I think they’re Samboys thinking that it was a clever insult on your part about my G2 over N3 comment. Lol

        • toomuchgame441

          I still dont know what you’re trying to say… you said the G2 is less than the N3 and that you wont want to carry a beastly phone with you everywhere?…. both are beastly phones… so again… what are u talking about?

        • http://codeversed.com/ Steve Albright

          Rob tried blaming the mobile app… within 0.2 seconds.

  • Aaron Mayeux

    No LG G3 rumors?

  • CGS

    I think the “All New One” is going to be my “all new phone”. Either that or one of the new LG phones. I don’t want to upgrade to the GS5 to have a phone that looks like an uglier version of the phone I’ve owned for two years. But if HTC announces something with an SD slot or even a 128GB model that will 100% be my new phone.

  • Shane Grimes

    Really dig the z2. My question is will version see it and will it have wireless charging? We will see.

    • Shane Grimes

      *Verizon

    • KiwiBri

      no wireless charging :(

  • Delmar

    Finally the gnote3 receiving some recognition

  • godrilla

    Just got my tmobile note 3 with 10,000 milliamp battery and case from amazon and 64 gig micro sd card by SanDisk this thing is a beast.

    • Anthony McKay

      Compensate much?..

      • Henri Weich Conradie

        You’re mistaking a massive battery for a Corvette, I believe.

        • Anthony McKay

          Common mistake

      • lolwut

        Maybe it’s the opposite and he needs 10,000MAh for all the girls who call and text all day

        • godrilla

          Lol, max brightness, satellite view via gps, bluetooth on pandora high quality stream, Netflix, YouTube, 4k recording, 1080p playback, airview, random speed test, gaming, smart commands on, I abused the battery with no charging for full 48 hours.

          • http://batman-news.com Drderpderperstein

            :O

    • Guest

      That must make a big phone even bigger. I can’t see adding anything like that to my Note 3! I keep an extra battery and I am good for a full day not matter how I use it.

      • godrilla

        It’s definitely an eye opener. If I’m going to go out I’m definitely going to go with slim factory design. But I need the battery and case because I broke my note 2 glass cleaning snow lol. So I need to protect my note 3.

  • jessez93

    Welllll. I’m still using my N4 and it still holds up well for my needs ;)

  • Francisco Enrique Perez Abreu

    A device carrying TouchWiz in number one? How much did they pay you? LOL “

    • CBNforum

      Most users don’t mind TouchWiz, ask anyone who doesn’t read these tech sites and they will probably ask what you are talking about… they just love the phone. For those who really hate the TouchWiz launcher you can also replace it and maintain all other features.

  • CodyTaylor

    Really hope these new HTC one renders are wrong….. Just do not get the point of having on screen buttons and keeping the “HTC” black bar on the bottom. If they’re going to have that, might as well have capacitive buttons and keep the screen real estate

    • xanok

      Fingerprint sensor.

  • Andrew White

    How can you really rate these devices with so many variables i.e. size, UI, processor speed, ram, camera, price (location specific), android version, build and SD card (y/n).
    There will always be some overlap with last years tech bleeding into the next.
    When we finally have 8 core 64 bit processors running at 3Ghz with 128GB of internal storage, 4GB of ram, 4k screens and video recording/playback etc. in an agreed optimum most popular size that every manufacturer offers.
    Which could be as close as 2 years from now, then what really may make the difference is the operating system and we are starting to see evidence of that with Sailfish, Firefox, Tizen, Ubuntu and Blackphone’s Private O/S.

  • http://www.swornbrotherhood.com/ nemesys06

    I agree with the list for the most part. having all but the z1 I feel the note 3 is the best. it’s not just the raw power (my g2 scores slightly higher on benchmarks but both are equally smooth); but more or less the features. the variety the note 3 offers is unmatched, unrivaled, and nothing seems to be in the works to compete with it. people complain about touchwiz, so install a third party launcher. I use all the features it offers but roll with next launcher and tsf . it is an android device you customize it how you want it. the note 3 is an amazing phone and I see no signs of anybody competing with it until the note 4. I had hopes the one max would be a serious contender but that was a joke.

    • KiwiBri

      If you install next launcher do you loose spen availability? What’s tsf?

  • Anthony Johnson

    The best phone which I like the most out of all these
    sets is Galaxy S5 but still miss the special features which I was expecting in
    this latest version that is recently launched in Mobile World Congress at
    Barcelona. The feature which I like the most in my Galaxy S4 apart from its app
    and processor is its qi enabled which support wireless charging which I think
    is not available in Galaxy S5. Or is it anyone could answer this?

    And yes the worst one is Nokia X lol. Don’t know why they
    have launched this Android phone without direct access to play store which might
    prove biggest drawback in future.

    • Baka3

      Anthony they might add a case for that. They have the same ports around the battery that the note 3 has.

      • Anthony Johnson

        You mean to say that a receiver is required for it?

    • Guest

      As long as Samsung insists on the heavy hand of TouchWiz, it will not be a top Android phone. I’ve had a moto x for about a month. Best phone I have ever had. Perfect size (for me), love my ebony wood back, and the enhancements that Moto put on stock Android, are just the right things. They are supremely useful but do not slow down what I think is the best OS.

  • Keith Young

    I have been using a Moto X GSM Dev Edition now for 3 weeks. It is absolutely brilliant. No problem getting a full 24 hours from the battery and it is very snappy, the active notifications is a brilliant feature. It doesn’t have quad core power but I don’t game so I don’t see it that as important.
    It is a fantastic phone!!

  • http://droidpanic.com/ Ganix Trejo

    I love the LG G Pro 2 and I want to try it. I have the LG G2 and it goes so smooth and it is so lovely… :P

  • Daniel

    If I was buying this generation, which I still might! I would definitely go for the Xperia Z2!
    I’ve wanted to try Sony for a long time and with the S5 and M8 being so mediocre, it’s just between the LG G Pro 2 and the Z2! Z2 wins thanks to fully waterproof and camera button.

    • frederigoxcz305

      My Uncle Jacob got a year 2013 Audi TT RS Coupe by working part
      time online. imp source B­u­z­z­3­4­.­ℂ­o­m