Best Android Phones [April 2014]

best-phones

It’s April, don’t be the fool that buys some joke of an Android phone. As manufacturers push their major spring handset launches, the question of which is best takes on a whole new level of relevancy. New contenders have emerged, causing a significant shakeup over last month, but we’ve reviewed the competition and parsed out the best from the rest.

5 — Motorola Moto X

Moto X Touchless Control DSC00742

The Moto X hangs on to a spot in our top five for mostly one reason: last month, Motorola (soon to be a Lenovo company) introduced a new set of color options to its Moto Maker platform, breathing some life into a handset that is near due a true upgrade. The Moto X was never in the top of its class in regards to specs, but it brings up the rear based on a combination of other factors — the aforementioned customization options, an attractive price point, and enhanced notification and voice recognitions capabilities.

4 — Nexus 5 by LG

Nexus 5 shortcuts DSC05742

For the Android purist, there is no doubt a Nexus-branded handset with direct support from Google is the way to go, and the Nexus 5 is a testament to this fact. It remains a strong contender even as Google Play Editions of handsets like the HTC One M8 put pressure on the N5, which simply can’t hold pace on a pure spec-to-spec comparison. Similar to the Moto X, the Nexus 5 is an appealing option when it comes to price and pure Android performance, but an onslaught of new handsets makes it hard to justify a higher position on our list.

3 — Samsung Galaxy Note 3

galaxy-note-3-multiwindow

The Galaxy Note 3 has the goods to carry the banner of best Android phone, but it slips in no small part due to the recent release of several flagship releases from Samsung’s competitors. The Note 3, however, holds a unique position as one of the few Android-based handsets to feature dedicated stylus input via Samsung’s S Pen, a must-have for multitasking power users. Combined with numerous enhancements by way of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, the Note 3 easily dominates the “phablet” category.

2 — LG G Pro 2

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

When we said the Galaxy Note 3 easily dominates the “phablet” category, it comes with one caveat: the LG G Pro 2. This overachiever lacks dedicated stylus input but makes up for it in sheer performance. It features a big, beautiful display; bleeding-edge processing; and a strong camera. If there is one drawback to the G Pro 2, it is its currently limited availability, which at the moment only includes select regions in Asia. US users might need to plop down full price for an import or cross their fingers for a local carrier release.

1 — HTC One M8

htc one m8 hands-on 11

Announced at the end of March and available for purchase immediately, there is no question that the HTC One M8, for now at least, deserves its rank as the top Android phone. The 2014 edition of the popular One franchise features a gorgeous brushed-aluminum design paired with powerful hardware and a refined take on HTC’s Sense software. More impressive still is the One M8’s innovative camera design, which features two lenses that can be creatively used to alter an image’s focus and depth-of-field after the fact.

Runner-ups…

  1. LG G2 — Bumped from the main list by the new G Pro 2, the more readily available G2 remains one of the best all-around Android devices on the market.
  2. HTC One (2013) — We’re looking at the original One with new eyes after the release of the One M8, and it still looks pretty darn good. Buyers of this older edition are sure to benefit from close-out sales.
  3. Samsung Galaxy S4 — Similar to the One, the launch of the Galaxy S5 later this month has the S4 looking a little down and out. We’d hold off for now, but look for this one to see serious price drops, as well.
  4. Sony Xperia Z1s — Sony style, durability, and a powerful camera make it worthy of consideration, but a lack of KitKat and the looming launch of the Z2 have our attention shifted elsewhere.
  5. Motorola DROID Maxx — Not the focus of Motorola’s latest advertising efforts, but we’re still paying attention. Their next-best phone and a top choice for Verizon subscribers.

Phones to look forward to

Not on the market just yet, but, oh, they will be soon. Here are the phones to look forward to this month and beyond.

Samsung Galaxy S5

samsung-galaxy-s5-2

Missing our main list by a matter of days, the Galaxy S5 will launch globally later this month (it’s up for preorder in most places already), bringing Samsung’s 2014 flagship into the Best Phones fold. Our initial impressions see this phone fighting for a top spot, but overall feedback has been mixed. It’s specs line up with the HTC One M8 and others of that class, but Samsung could have taken more risks in designing a phone that truly surpasses the Galaxy S4 it will replace. An iterative upgrade? Maybe. It’s at least worth holding off any immediate phone purchase in order to get a more adequate impression of the S5 upon its release.

Sony Xperia Z2

sony-xperia-z2-1

A standout from February’s Mobile World Congress, the Sony Xperia Z2 was recently delayed until May. It’s all good, however. That just gives us more time to lust over its refined style and impressive hardware compliment. The Z2 improves everything we loved from older Z series releases (water resistance, superb camera, and sharp lines) without feeling like a rehash. Here’s hoping it gets a wider release than the Sony handsets we are used to.

Oppo Find 7

oppo-find-7

Oppo might not be the most recognizable brand, but they sure know how to get fanboys excited. Their Find 7 goes up for international preorder in a matter of days, and Android lovers are eager to get their hands on the device, which is outfitted with the sort of hardware that could make even Samsung or HTC nervous. That includes a large 1080p display, Snapdragon processor, and 13MP camera. A premium version will also be offered sporting a faster processor and more RAM.

OnePlus One

oneplus one ruler logo

Some consider the OnePlus One vaporware (vapor hardware?), but it’s safe to say this one is no longer churning through the rumor mill. While an official unveiling will come later this month, rumored specs include the latest in Snapdragon processing, a Full HD display, and more. The best part? It could launch for less than $400.

Rumor Mill

LG G3

LG-G2-2

As attention has turned to the release of the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, and LG’s own G Pro 2, talk of the G3 has quieted a little in recent weeks. Most recently, the phone was tipped for a June unveiling. This followup to last year’s G2 (pictured) could include a 2K display, octa-core processing, and a 16MP camera. We just hope they stick with the rear-mounted volume rocker introduced with the G2.

Moto X2

Motorola Moto X DSC00701

There is very little to go off of, but there is no doubt that Motorola is cooking up a successor to their Moto X. The original X introduced several novel concepts, most notably the ability to customize various aspects of the handset’s build. Expect the Moto X2 to follow this formula when it launches with updated specs and hardware, most likely during the second half of the year.

Amazon Best Sellers

So we’ve covered most of our bases, but if you’re looking for more ideas yet here is a selection of top devices from Amazon’s Best Sellers list. Note that this ranking excludes devices we have mentioned above and does not take into account carrier variants as well as color options.

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

What say you?

That’s our opinion, but what’s yours? With so many major releases landing in stores in the wake of CES and Mobile World Congress, debate over which Android phone to buy will reach a fever pitch this month. Is it the HTC One? The Samsung Galaxy S5? Or something else entirely? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • mcgp

    Moto Maxx tops the Moto X. Period. Same guts, 2 day battery life with moderate to heavy usage. I have the Maxx, my daughter has the X. Even though she chose the colors, she still wants my phone, (bigger screen, batt life). Just my opinion, but everyone always forgets the Maxx in favor of the X. Big mistake.

    • phinn

      Nah, I’d rather have the Moto X any day, it’s a more pure, non-carrier specific device. Not to take anything else away from the Maxx it’s a great phone.

      • mcgp

        We just had a 16 hour day at Disneyland for my daughters 16th birthday. At the end of the day, her X had a 3% charge, mine had a 65% charge, pretty equal usage (pics, videos, social media stuff, etc). The X rocks, most phones can’t touch that battery, but the Maxx… Well, it is in a class of it’s own. This is just my opinion, I don’t want to get in a troll war. Just saying most reviewers don’t give it enough credit.

        • theonetrueMike

          Because its on one carrier…one…1…uno…ichi

    • h4rr4r

      Not if you don’t want to be stuck on verizon, or dislike bloatware, or want a more vanilla android experience.

      • Matthew Merrick

        More vanilla? How so? It’s basically the exact same firmware.

      • mcgp

        It is exactly the same as the X, bloatware is practically non existent (to me, a non-issue as I hide what I don’t want anyways) and I have unlimited, non throttle-able data. So, as humbly as I can, I will stick with my opinion (and my daughter’s as well).

        • h4rr4r

          Hiding it is not the same as not having it. You can hide an STI too, does not mean you don’t have the herp.

  • housry23

    I can’t believe the Moto G isn’t on here. At $200 it’s a great value. No it doesn’t have the best specs, but I’ve referred several of my friends on Pre-Paid services to the Moto G and they absolutely love it. If anything it should be on Amazons top seller list. Every time I check Amazon for its top selling unlocked phones, the Moto G is on top.

    • DavidVarghese

      As a best value? It can’t be beat.
      But I think this list is to name the top tier android phones you can buy today.

  • phinn

    I’d say top two are still Nexus 5 and Moto X. With the HTC One and GS5 appealing as well (but too big in size, and too far removed from pure-Android UI for my taste). Really looking forward to 2H this year when Moto X2, new Nexus 5 & 7s launch with next version of Android starting with “L.”

    • Arnold Hider

      U would really put the the nexus 5 and moto X over the note 3? U know the moto X have a dual core processor right?

  • No_Nickname90

    That LG G3 is lookin’ mighty nice with that edge, to edge display.

    • WhoaManWtF

      That is even the G2 in the picture, and it is great… Because of it I have no interest in upgrading for the foreseeable future.

  • geminiY

    I don’t think the M8 deserves the top spot because of the camera. It only has two 4MP cameras on the back… considering phones are getting into the 40MP range, 4MP is unacceptable for a top tier device. If they packed in two 8MP cameras it would be a different story, but 4MP camera? That is so 2009 lol

    • JointhePredacons

      Its a 4MP Ultrapixel, not sure what the confusion is, its not a standard 4MP camera. Plus the M8 has a standard 5MP FFC, something that hasnt ever been on the front of any phone.

      • Sean Royce

        4MP is still 4MP is any world. My first digital camera when I was about 11 Was 4MP. HTC really do need to step up their game.

        • Sterling Mace

          Boy do I feel old…

        • Alexander99999

          4MP isn’t 4MP It’s 4UP there still can show 2-4k graphic, you will not get a screen with higher screen before M8 is dead!

          • Sean Royce

            That made no sense.

    • Arnold Hider

      I agree with u

  • h4rr4r

    I hope that OnePlus One ships the same day. My contract with VZW is up the day before and I would love a CM phone.

  • supremekizzle

    Why is Kevin doing a “best android phone countdown?” He doesn’t even use Android! Wtf?

    • Mark Wheeler

      I dunno based on Chris twitter I was Under the impression that he and a bunch of the sister site guys were let go and mobile roar podcast is dead. Chris never mentioned names but I’m assuming that’s what’s up. Winsource, isource and even chrome spot haven’t been updated in days

  • CGS

    That Oppo phone looks nice. TBH I rarely read articles or just skim them when they’re about Oppo…dunno why, just unfamiliar. But I’ll have to look more into that phone. Anyway, while I have yet to see the M8 in person that’s going to be my next phone. Hopefully I can get it by the 22nd (payday). I’d always been drawn to the M7 but the lack of an SD-slot prevented me from trading in my Galaxy. But I’m definitely ready to go back to HTC, at least for a while.

  • Fel Pe

    Note 3 still the best phone. Period.

    • Lennatron

      Agreed. It should be ahead of the Pro 2.

    • Arnold Hider

      Note 3 is the best by far right now

  • JointhePredacons

    M8 is looking great, cant wait to trade my M7 in for it !

  • theonetrueMike

    Omg I blame edger for LG ever being on a list! The G2 PRO cannot be better since it lacks the amazing features the galaxy note 3 gives users..galaxy gear support is kinda awesome also! I just don’t get it…I am a moto x user am I’m glad to see the phone still in the running of top 5

  • Se7eNMONK3YS

    Xiaomi MI3, beats my note 3, also tops benchmarks, my daughter like it so much, she sold her note 3 and got one.

    • simpleas

  • JGuerra13

    Htc One M8 is better phone, yo kevin …. have you seen any video of the M8 to be submerged in water, take a look at this video it was submerged during 6:40 minutes amazing even though the certified IP67. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhwvXTVQoPM

  • CerealFTW

    G2 is still better than the moto x despite the g2 pro being on the list(kinda misleading). And the g2 should be above the note 3 Imo. And the only thing I don’t like about the m8 is the HTC logo bar, besides that it’s pretty much perfect.

    • Arnold Hider

      G2 above the note 3? How? I wanna hear this

  • Anthony Johnson

    According to me Nexus 5 should deserve a number one spot
    in the race of Android’s best phone as I consider it as one of the best phone I
    have ever had in my entire life till date. The main feature which I like the
    most in it is for charging purpose I have to just put it on qi charger and it
    starts charging. Another feature which I like is that this device directly comes
    under Google so all the updates from Android is readily or instantly available
    on Nexus 5 without waiting for them as compare to other Smartphones which
    receive updates according to their respective carriers.

    • Anna

      i have to agree. taking into consideration price, which most people do. especially if like me you d rather buy a handset up front rather than get a 2yr contract.

      • Anna

        (then if we are going on price id wack the Moto G on the list too because it really set a new standard for budget phones!!)

    • Arnold Hider

      Get the note 3 I don’t think u would be talking like this

    • Groundfire

      I agree with this. I owned every Nexus in the existence. I own Note 3 right now and I’m not as happy as I was with my Nexus 5. Worse part of this statement is that I am a Samsung Certified Phone Expert (I work for a wireless company)

  • simpleas

    I think like most people, when I buy a device, it’s not all about a beauty contest. The Galaxy series always had an overwhelming advantage for me. The S5, Now with ip67, best display ever, probably fastest download speeds, monster battery life, fastest cpu, heartrate sensor, fingerprint, thermometer etc etc. All these thing, the geek in me want. The One is gorgeous but I value features and usability over looks. The features always seem to top other phones every time a new top tier galaxy is released. People are not dumb. When they see what the Galaxy offers, they want it. Other companies just can’t compete with the r&d budget of samsung. But I do believe in competition so hopefully some genius will innovate something great from htc lg etc. LIke samsungs isocell and the ability to make things smalller and smaller yet have a bigger screen and longer battery each iteration. Which I don’t think any other company pulled off. A huge technological feat in itself.

  • xjedinerdx

    Note 3 is one of the best phones, people always attack Samsung for their designs but they always pull out the best features and hardware.

  • watcheronthewall

    I swear HTC is paying off the people writing these articles… The Note 3 blows away the HTC M8. And I’m an HTC user…

    • Alexander99999

      I’m a One M8 user and I don’t think they do! Perfect phone – I was a Galaxy user before, so I know Samsung much to say it

    • radiotrib

      The big point is that the top three are the top three … nothing else to come c,lose, so bitching about a point here or there makes no Sense at all …

    • Geek Man

      I agree with you.
      It is the same news when the HTC ONE came out.. Same story, same gimmick, same publicity. When the promotional funding runs out, it just dies.

  • Smartphone World
  • Barry D.

    Still happy with my S3.. Nothing here makes me want to buy it even if my phone is getting dated… except maybe the Nexus.

    • j7981

      Really? I don’t honestly get what’s so great about the S3. I have one and can’t wait until my contract’s up.

      • Barry D.

        *shrug* lots of rom development and it still does what I need it to do.

  • Smartphone World
  • gator9422

    LOL @ the Note 3 blows away the M8?! AHAHAAHA it’s a plastic pos that feels like a playskool phone only thing that is cool is the stylus. My friends have the Note 3 and when they seen my m8 they were drooling basically. Besides the M8 camera being ehhh it’s top notch in every category. I love the speakers and how fluid the phone is…not like that bloated touchwiz interface that can be laggy and isn’t close to as fluid as sense 6.

  • Dt Bell

    I am perfectly happy with the placement of the N5. lower end of the top5 what’s not to like?

  • Arnold Hider

    Right Now I dont Think No Phone Is Better than the Note 3. 5.7 inch screen with a 1080 resolution. Stylus pen that can do wonders. 2.3 MP processor. Come on man

  • Arnold Hider

    Yes blows away the m8.