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
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’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
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 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.
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).
- HTC One — It was named the mobile phone of the year at Mobile World Congress, and for good reason.
- Samsung Galaxy S4 — Its younger brother has been born, but until it’s available for purchase the S4 remains a solid buy.
- LG G Flex — Moves up a spot, but not on its own merit. Still a phone worthy of your attention, though.
- Motorola DROID Maxx — Because we just can’t get over that massive battery.
- 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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Mega
- Samsung Galaxy S3
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
- Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro
- LG Optimus G Pro
- Motorola DROID Ultra
- HTC One Mini
- Casio G’zOne Commando
- 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!