Best Android Phones [August 2014]

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Samsung, LG, and HTC continue to duke it out for the top spot in this August edition of our monthly best phones list. Not a lot has changed as manufacturers shift their attention from summer to fall, but several potentially killer handsets are rumored to be just around the corner. Could a big shakeup in our rankings be in the future? Read on for the full rundown!

Previously: JulyJune | May | April | March | February

5. Sony Xperia Z2

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The Xperia Z2 has finally been getting some US love with the official launch of the unlocked version of phone via Sony’s online store.  At the same, time it’s looking less and less likely we will see an actual carrier-backed release. That doesn’t change our opinion: the Xperia Z2 is one of the best combinations of top-notch handset design and premium smartphone features we have seen in recent months. That should be changing soon, though. The Sony Xperia Z3 is rumored for a September launch with the potential to usurp the Z2’s spot on our list.

4. Nexus 5

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The Nexus 5 stands alone as the only option for the Android purist. It has the spec sheet to earn its place as Google’s preferred reference platform for app developers, and direct support from the Android team means the N5 will be among the first to land the highly-anticipated Android L update. It doesn’t hurt that the Nexus 5’s $350 price tag makes it an easy sell for those in the market for a new handset.

3. Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5 wood DSC05783

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 continues to dominate the field when it comes to pure market saturation. While the 2014 flagship hasn’t proven to be the most compelling update to the Galaxy S4, that hasn’t stopped folks from lining up to buy one. Top-tier specs, a gorgeous 1080p Super AMOLED display, and intriguing features like a fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor add up to one of the best Android phones currently available.

2. HTC One M8

htc one m8 wm_1

HTC hasn’t put the flashiest marketing behind their One M8, so it’s easy to forget about the handset amongst all the talk of the Galaxy S5 and LG G3. The phone is front and center in our minds, however, and holds on to the number two spot on our list of the best Android phones available. Solid, industrial design meets HTC’s graceful Sense interface to create one of the best Android experiences around.

1. LG G3

LG-G3-Artsy

The LG G3 took the Android world by storm when it debuted with its Quad HD display. Aside from providing some of the most brilliant visuals we have ever seen on a smartphone, the G3 goes with top-of-the-line components for nearly every hardware spec. An innovative design that places the phone’s power button and volume rocker in an easily reached cluster on the rear of the device helps give the G3 a sleek, minimalist feel. A simplified user interface does away with the bloat for a seamless Android experience.

Honorable Mentions

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With a list limited to five phones, some tough decisions have to be made when it comes to picking the best of the best. Below find the handsets that just barely missed out on making our main list.

  1. Xiaomi Mi4 — Xiaomi’s latest is the specced-out Mi4, a stylish handset that has the spec sheet to do battle with almost any Android out there while somehow managing to maintain a $460 price tag.
  2. OnePlus One — Initially marred by availability and hardware issues, the OnePlus One features solid combination of specs and affordable pricing for those willing to take a chance on a lesser established brand.
  3. Oppo Find 7a — The Find 7a spares no expense when it comes to premium power and features but still manages to come in at a price that won’t break the bank.
  4. Moto X — This build-your-own device lets user put their own personal touch on an Android handset for the masses.
  5. Amazon Fire Phone — Not your typical Android device, while the Fire Phone sees some room for improvement fans of Amazon’s content ecosystem might consider the retailer’s debut smartphone.

Rumor Mill

Next month’s IFA show means there is plenty to look forward to when it comes to Android smartphones. While there are few announced phones on the horizon awaiting release, the number of rumored devices seems to increase every day. Below we take a look at just a small sampling of some of the bigger names to keep an eye on.

Nexus 6

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While rumors of a new Google initiative dubbed Android Silver threatened to derail the Nexus program, the line of Google Experience developer devices is alive and well, according to recent reports. The latest buzz suggests Motorola could be developing a 5.9-inch phablet that could eventually launch as the Nexus 6. With the Nexus 5 closing in on the first anniversary of its release, the timing is right for its successor, supposedly codenamed Shamu, to make its debut.

Moto X+1 & Moto Maxx

moto x plus 1 leak

Motorola is keeping busy beyond plans to build Google’s next Nexus device. Rumors continue to swirl about the Moto X’s followup the Moto X+1. Most recently we glimpsed perhaps our best look at the phone to date with all signs pointing toward an official unveiling this month. Evidence is also continuing to mount for a set of updated Moto handsets for Verizon. Though Droid branding is absent, a newly uncovered Moto Maxx trademark could indicate sequels are in line for Verizon’s popular trio of Motorola-made Android smartphones.

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3 back leak

The Sony Xperia Z2 is a great device, but Sony isn’t settling at that. Rumor has the Sony Xperia Z3 is already in line for an announcement next month at the yearly IFA expo in Berlin. We expect a refined, marginal upgrade over the Xperia Z2, but in this case that’s just enough to grab our attention. Even better, the Z3 is rumored to see a wider US release than other recent Sony handsets. Also expected to debut alongside the Xperia Z3 is the Xperia Z3 Compact.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 & Galaxy Alpha

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Next month’s IFA show will have plenty in store for the Android fan, and one of the most highly-anticipated devices that could launch at the show is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. While a lot is still out of focus in terms of the Note 4, we expect at the very least to see Samsung’s 2560 x 1440 AMOLED display make an appearance. Also gaining steam are rumors of Samsung’s aluminum-bodied Galaxy Alpha, which was recently pictured in detail

Amazon Best Sellers

If it hasn’t appeared on our list yet and it’s worth buying, chances are you’ll find it on Amazon’s Best Sellers list. Below find all the phones that are still raking in the sales despite the fact that we didn’t have room for them on our own list.

  1. Samsung Galaxy S4
  2. Samsung Galaxy Mega
  3. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  4. LG G2
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note II
  6. Samsung Galaxy S III
  7. HTC One M7
  8. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
  9. Casio G’zOne Commando
  10. LG G Flex

What say you?

That’s our take on the top Android phones out there. What’s the view from the peanut gallery? Did we leave your favorite phone off? Are our rankings all wrong? Sound off in the comments below and let us know your pick for the top Android phone available!

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  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    I wouldn’t put one plus on any list since it still says invite required to purchase. They can keep it you know where. I wouldn’t buy anything one plus that includes the tablet and rumored watch etc just because it’s a ridiculous company for various reasons.

  • Mitchell Toland Jr.

    I had the Nexus 5 for 6 months prior to getting the OnePlus One. I decided to sell it after using the OPO for a few days, it’s simply an upgrade in every category. Yes, it will suck not having Android L immediately upon release but for everything else the OPO brings to the table, I’m OK with that. (Who knows I may buy the Nexus 6….). My experience has been nearly perfect, minus a few software hiccups such as the speakerphone volume being too low. I personally have not experienced any hardware issues, such as the “yellow banding” some seem to complain about. The only thing I really miss about my Nexus5 is wireless charging, but considering my battery life has basically more than doubled with the OnePlus One it was worth losing wireless charging.

    I was one who criticized OnePlus for the invite system, but they’ve shipped over 100k units, at least based on order #’s they have. People seem to forget how much of an inventory problem the Nexus 4 had in its time. It was an awful experience waiting on the N4. OnePlus is not even a year old at this point, I’m willing to give it some time to sort things out.

    • steveb944

      It’s not an ‘upgrade in every category’ as each device serves different purposes. 1. Pure Android in a currently mainstream size. 2. A big Chinese phone with software and hardware that still has gaps.

      Time has been given. Nexus 4 wasn’t sold on a raffle system, you could actually attempt to BUY, instead of jumping through hoops just to do some guerrilla marketing like Oneplus.

  • King_James_The_Wicked

    The LG G3 would be the best phone ever if it would have just come with the wireless charging back plate out of the box. Now that I finally got a proper wireless and NFC back plate it is perfect. Buttery Goodness… With The GEL Launcher

    • jfelts

      Do you also use a case on your phone? I’m wondering if I want to get the wireless back plate but I always use a phone case. Specifically Spigen.
      Where did you get your wireless back plate?

    • Tony Lai

      I got the folio circle case from at&t that supports powermat wireless charging. Works great and circle view is a nice addition. I was able to get a powermat station for 2 devices for $18 on amazon.

    • Logan

      mine gets pretty toasty. But I’ve also been playing that batman game thats like 1.6 gb just to download. If I’m not playing games there’s no issues.

    • Durin123

      Just get Nova. You don’t need to put GEL in your hair to be able to use it.

  • Lobster Magnet

    The G3 is definately a great phone. Coming from a Note 3 it’s not even a contest. While some people are disappointed that it didn’t have the SD801 , the performance is still better then the S5. I benchmarked mine at 37k on antutu. There is no custom kernel or ROM on my phone, however, it is rooted. Once AOSP ROMs are released this phone will be more of a beast. While the note 4 is rumored to have a 2k SAMOLED display and the SD805, the physical buttons and TW ruin the experience. That’s why I switched to LG.

    • jfelts

      Do you have issues at all with Overheating? I plan on getting the LG G3 on August 10th but I keep thinking maybe I should hold out for the Note 4. I wish the LG G3 had a front facing speaker and was IP67 certified.

      • Tony Lai

        Note 4 will most likely not have front facing speakers either though.
        I dont have overheating issues on my G3, but I don’t really game on it.

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Yep, the G3 is the only phone I’d consider trading my Note3 for. A bit of a wash, though, since while you do get away from Touchwhiz and the waste-of-bezel buttons, you also give up the better AMOLED display for LGs crappier LCD display.

      • cheetoresidue

        I have the g3 and if Samsung comes out with a 2k amoled display it will kill the g3 display. Until that happens the g3 screen is king. I just hope Samsung updates ugly touchWiz and stops making bandaid looking phones with fake stitching… Coming from a previous Samsung owner.

    • Barry Christian

      I have a Note 3 and have been considering the LG G3, but I want to wait on the Note 4 before I decide. Help me out here if you don’t mind.
      1. Do you miss the stylus? I go through spurts of using it a lot and then I don’t for a while so I am not sure if it is a necessity or not.
      2. How about the buttons on the back? Have you gotten used to them? I have the feeling I will either love this or hate it and it worries me.
      3. Is the laser making a difference in your photos? Speeding up the shots?
      4. What do you think of the photos you are getting out of it?

      Thanks

      • Lobster Magnet

        I haven’t had it over heat and I turned off the thermal throttling and still no issues. I get on average 4-5 hours OST which is much better than my Note 3 had. The G3 is honestly much better than I expected, I don’t miss the s-pen at all because this phone is a great size for what it is.

        LG has done a good job with their new UX, and while it’s not perfect I barely had any LG bloat (I believe 3-4 apps). The laser makes a HUGE difference in the speed of focusing. I use my wife’s S5 sometimes and that thing takes forever in comparison and the S5 camera crashes a lot. The photo quality is on par if not better in some cases compared to the S5.

        The back buttons are awesome seriously, I thought it was a gimmick on the G2, however, they are very natural to use. I really can’t go back to side buttons because what LG has done is innovative compared to Samsung and their styling. I don’t hate Samsung in any way, I just want then to change their bland styling which is one reason I switched to LG.

        The stock launcher is slow on the G3 isn’t great, I much prefer nova due to it’s speed and customizations. I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself. The note 4 in my opinion will be very similar to their trends and I don’t want a fingerprint scanner or UV sensor because you can’t remove hardware bloat. I hope Samsung can not take some cues from LG and we can get even better phones in the future.

  • J Cav the Great

    My next phone has to be <5.2 inches…..however, if I don't see a good phone by the time my contract is up in November, I may just cop the LG G3 or anything besides a Samsung. I am hoping for a Nexus 5 2014 or Sony Z3 compact or Moto X2….

    • Tony Lai

      G3 has the form factor of 5.0~5.2″ phone.

  • $109007720

    My last 4 phones were: LG Optimus G, LG G2, Samsung S5 and LG G3. I got to say I prefer LG over Samsung.

  • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxYqhKH_VguXO3F2nsMCCHg RedZobe

    LG G3 is best phone (In my opinion.). It is one of pioneers of the QHD race.

  • Tony Lai

    G3 is really the king of android at the moment, for maybe 2-3 months tho :)

  • LastManStranded

    Screen that barely makes a difference. Worse speaker and a laggier experience puts the G3 at #2 and the M8 at #1 for me.

    • barondebxl

      Agreed. G3 has many reports of lag.

      • synplex

        Agreed. What phone doesn’t? But XDA can fix any lag … for Free!

  • donkeykong85

    G3 looks awesome but it too big for me. Nexus devices and Moto x are my choices.

  • Barry Christian

    I’m not too happy about the peanut gallery reference, but here goes anyway. LOL
    I, of course, don’t agree with your list as it is. Why else post? :-)
    Your number one choice interests me because I considered trading in my Note 3 for it, but in the end decided I would wait to see what the Note 4 brings. Speaking of the Galaxy Note 3, I think it deserves a spot in the top 5 as it is still my favorite that is currently out with the possible exception of the LG G3. If there was no Note 4 coming out, I would have a tough time deciding between the Note 3 and the LG G3. I really like the HTC M8 but the camera puts me off. The Nexus is great especially for the price, but the S5 is a miss to me. It should have had QHD and/or be waterproof. I am not familiar with the Sony so have no opinion there.
    Anyway, for the Note 3 to not even be honorable mention tells me you guys don’t have any or enough people who have used one. Everyone I know who has one loves it. I only considered leaving it because my particular one was acting up and I am eligible for an upgrade, but I got it fixed with a factory reset. I love the stylus and the big screen. Because I like it, the Note 4 already has a leg up as my next phone.
    I still don’t understand what HTC was thinking with that camera. I would jump on an HTC One if it had a better camera. A friend of mine has one and it is great with that one exception, but it is a big exception to me. My phone is now my only camera that I use.

    Oh well, to each, his own.

  • magicrobots

    I just picked up a Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and it is a dreamboat. iPhone 5 form factor, exceptional camera, kit kat, 2GB RAM, Snapdragon 800, sd card slot, you name it. Other than wireless charging this thing has everything I want. I love it.

    EDIT: wireless charging is basically taken care of with the magnetic dock which you can get a $5 ebay knockoff version of, and oh yeah it’s waterproof. Did I already say I love this thing? I love this thing.

  • barondebxl

    1. M8
    2. S5
    3.G3

    The rest doesn’t really matter

    • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

      Except The Z2 blows the S5 out of the water and the M8 is incredibly overrated.

      • barondebxl

        The Z2 is a piece of shyt. I had it for a couple of days and I sold it asap. It gets really hot with regular usage. Its the worst flagship this year hands down and doesn’t come close to the S5

        • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

          Having a phone for a couple of days is not enough time to give it a proper review. You’re spewing complete crap. I’ve had mine for months and it’s never once got extremely hot on me. You have no idea what you’re talking about. This is also my first sony phone too. So there’s no bias here.

          • barondebxl

            The Z2 was my first Sony phone too but I don’t think I’ll buy another one anytime soon, it really disappointed me. The overheating issues are really disturbing, when I got the device i was setting up my phone and just downloaded my apps. The phone got so hot that I had to turn it off just so it could cool down. Also you can’t shoot 4k more than 5 min, the camera will shut down cause of heat. You’re the one who is not objective and you just wanna defend your purchase. The Z2 is number 5 on this list but it does not deserve it, not when the phone gets that hot. It’s the worst flagship of 2014 so far .

          • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

            It’s definitely not. Besides, who the hell actually wants to record in 4K on a smart phone of all devices. Less then 10% of the population own 4k displays. It’s not worth it at this point, nor is it beneficial. And no, it does not at all get as hot as you make it out to either. I’ve used one for a substantial period of time now and even when gaming it only gets mildly warm. You obviously had a faulty device, or you’re exaggerating a lot.

          • barondebxl

            Typical cop out “why would anyone want to record 4k on a smartphone…” Maybe you should ask Sony. If they put it in their device it is supposed to work properly like it does on the S5. But no, it shuts down after a little while because of heat issues. I see what’s going on here, youre just fixated on defending your Z2 I get it. But again, I tried all the phones expect the G3, the Z2 is definitely not as good as the M8 or S5. Its awkward in the hand, bulky, and heats up a lot. Besides it will be forgotten soon as the Z3 release is approaching. The Z2 got the best specs on paper but fails to deliver a better experience than the other devices. No more Sony for me unless they get their shyt together.

          • synplex

            You clearly had a defective phone or malicious software running because my Z2 never ran hot. Why didn’t you exchange it for another instead of bitching on the web?

          • barondebxl

            Me and the many users on XDA complaining about overheating issues. Besides, the UI does have some lag here and there as well. Some of you just like defending their phones by any means necessary, some true flagship soldiers..

      • Dwight

        Please explain why the m8 is overrated. I’m not trying to defend my purchase – I love my m8, and it isn’t any worse of a phone becuase you point out some flaws. I’m just curious what you think is wrong with it. The only 2 things I wish were different are the camera and a removeable battery (although that is not worth trading the metal for).

        • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

          How is it not overrated? The only reason people say it’s the best is because HTC is the under dog that’s quite possibly going to go defunct unless something drastic is done about their current situation. Not to mention the aluminium is not at all premium. Saying that it is means I could say any can of coke or pepsi is premium. HTC bloat is terrible, although Samsung and Sony are just as bad in that regard. Sense also feels too locked down to me for some reason. I’m not a fan of Sense UI either. The camera isn’t at all up to par, and the gimmicky dual camera was a very poor marketing idea. In saying that though, these things aren’t major issues. If someone offered to give me an M8 for free I’d take it. I just think it’s way too overhyped compared to other equal and or better phones.

          • barondebxl

            It’s not. Have you ever owned the M8? There’s no faster device on the market. Battery life is great and the speakers are awesome. 2 things I would change on theM8 is the camera, iI would love to have the S5 camera in the M8. The other thing would be a removable battery.

  • Jordy Bookal

    The galaxy S5 doesn’t belong on this list

  • jezzain

    LG G3,HTC M8, GALAXY NOTE 3, XPERIA Z2, NEXUS 5 that’s what the list is supposed to look like

  • SpaceGhost09

    Couldn’t be happier with my g3 purchase, everyone should at least take a good look at this device if thinking about getting a new phone.

    • barondebxl

      My issue with the G3 is the lag

      • SpaceGhost09

        I think the lg launcher has a little stutter in it, I use nova which is always snappy

  • maclv

    Love the G3. Back buttons are the best. Can’t live without knock on. Love the minimalist ui coming from the G2

  • Bryon Jorgenson

    The only thing keeping me from trading in my note 3 for a G3 is LG’s lack of tri band antenna which the note 3 has. Being on sprints network LG doesn’t let me make calls and surf the Web which I can do on all Samsung devices as long as I have a 4G connection

  • Zachary James

    ive had a droid razr maxx for a while now. its an amzong phone. Definitley better then iphone.

  • schlanz

    Note 3 doesn’t even get in the honorable mentions now? smh

    its still arguably better than 90% of that entire list.

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