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Best Android smartphones of 2015: The 49 best Android phones you can buy in the UK today - best Androids reviews

The 49 best Android smartphones reviewed | Best Android phones you can buy in the UK in 2015

Reviews of the 49 best Android smartphones that are available to buy in the UK in 2015. Best Android phones. Best Androids reviews. See also: The 38 best smartphones: What's the best phone you can buy in 2015?

New entry: UMI Hammer - see where it ranks below.

The mobile phone industry has been turned on its head in the past seven years, with practically every phone now sold a ‘smart’ one with manifold mobile-computer possibilities. For most people the default choice is now thoroughly Android. The combined weight of Google with its Android software and all its hardware licensees, such as HTC, Sony, LG and Samsung, has created a buoyant and incredibly competitive market among handset manufacturers.

We identify two main categories of Android smartphones: the flagship devices that go head-to-head with leading Windows Phones and the iPhone, and the larger mass of more affordable options, typically priced around £100-£230 when sold SIM-free. Also see: Best SIM-only deals: Best SIM-only and Data SIM deals for smartphone and tablet users

In the UK, many Android smartphones will be sold on contract, of course, often with no upfront cost, but on a two-year contract. Another option may be a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) handset that requires topping up with credit for calls and data. But bear in mind that PAYG phones may be locked to the selling operator, which will try to recoup its loss-leading sale price with costlier fees. When you've found the phone you like, compare mobile phone deals to get the best tariff. (See also: what's the best Android tablet?)

Best Android smartphones 2014

How to choose a premium Android phone

The flagship Android smartphones of 2015 now all come with quad or even octa-core processors, huge 5in and larger touchscreen displays and 2GB or more of memory. They are also 4G-capable and ready to join the UK’s established LTE networks, and most now sport dual-band Wi-Fi with draft 11ac, so can take advantage of faster data links to the latest wireless routers.

The arms race for more processor cores and higher clock speeds was started by Android hardware makers, desperate to differentiate themselves with specifications against rival devices. We're now at the point where few phones are not powerful enough to meet your needs. With Google pedaling hard to speed up its software, interface stickiness is now barely a problem on the best Android hardware. The main processor will be integrated as a system-on-a-chip with the graphics processor, and all the best Android phones can play action games fluidly.

Although benchmark speed tests tell us little about the suitability of a smartphone to serve in its chosen role as our personal internet gateway and digital assistant. We don’t recommend you make your purchasing decision on these alone, though. See also: What's the fastest smartphone 2015.

With development of the modern smartphone now slowing, manufacturers are building on existing components, notably the camera. Nokia made great strides with ultra-high pixel photography with the Lumia 1020 phone and its 41Mp camera, although as a sub-brand of Microsoft, its handset runs Windows Phone software. HTC went for UltraPixel capturing more light but has now gone down the more traditional route of simply more pixels like Sony and others.

On the video side, we’re seeing 4K-class UHD video recording, high-speed shooting for slow-motion playback, and front Skype cameras equally at home with full-HD face capture.

Other features typically only found in the leading Android devices include NFC, even if it remains a novelty for the greater majority of users, and infrared transmitters that allow your phone to replace your TV channel zapper. Some even have fingerprint scanners and heart rate monitors - should those tickle your fancy.

Best Android phones: How to choose a budget Android phone

Typically, the budget end of the market includes phones that try to look as impressive as possible, while built down to a low price using older or slower components, and with plastic shells and buttons.

With Google keen to get Android phones into as many hands as possible, subsidised handsets have appeared that make usable smartphones more accessible than we ever. Decent-spec phones such as the Google Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 enabled handsets with all the headline features of a flagship smartphone to be brought into reach for under £300.

Sacrifices can include lower-quality displays, both in pixel count, which makes text blurrier, and also in colour/image quality. Processors may also be slower or less efficient, meaning more interface lag is likely and perceptibly slowed screen animations.

Cameras may cite as many pixels as their more expensive stablemates, but will use low-grade sensors and cheaper optics, giving lower-quality photos. And built-in storage can be limited to a paltry 4GB, which means you’ll depend on slow and fiddly SD cards just to keep your music collection to hand.

But if you can work through such limitations and don’t have the budget for the full smartphone experience, some budget smartphones are very tempting without breaking the bank.

Best Android phones: what to look for

As you'll see from our reviews of the best Android smartphones (below) there is a wide variety of Android operating systems on the market. So do be aware that not all Androids are made equal. Each manufacturer puts on to Google's OS its own stylings and features: Samsung's TouchWizz interface is very different from HTC's Sense, for instance. But it's also worth pointing out that there are different iterations of Android included with brand new phones, and your phone is not likely to be upgraded when a new Android comes out.

If you like the design of a phone but not the user interface, you can still customise things thanks to the openness of Android. Not only can you choose your own widgets, there are various launchers available including Google's own giving you a vanilla Nexus look and feel. See: Make your own Google Play Edition smartphone and best Custom Launchers for Android.

Also some Android phones - none here - don't give you access to Google Play and all the apps and media contained therein. This is a big point: don't get caught out.

Unlike Windows Phone and BlackBerry the Android world is full of great apps. Unlike Apple's iOS you have a choice of music and movie stores. And almost all Android phones charge and synch from vanilla USB cables, and allow for the addition of SD cards for expanded storage.

The bottom line is that the best Android phones, those reviewed here, are the best phones you can buy. They certainly offer the best value. But be aware that there is wide variety in the Android world. Check reviews from trusted sites such as PC Advisor before parting with any cash.

Best Android phones: best Android smartphone reviews

49. HTC Desire 610

Overall, the HTC Desire 610 will appeal to anyone looking for a reasonably priced all-rounder to use for browsing the web, taking good photos, emailing, texting, making phone calls, playing casual games and running Android apps.

The HTC Sense software is sleek and easy to use and you'll be satisfied with the battery life. We really enjoyed our time with the HTC Desire 610 and don't have any real qualms aside from the large bezels and slightly disappointing display.

We like the phone, but when you come to compare it with close rivals, it becomes more difficult to give it a hearty recommendation. If you're on a budget it's definitely worth investigating the Motorola Moto G, which only really falls down against the HTC Desire 610 when it comes to design and camera. For anyone with a bit of extra cash to spare, the Nexus 5 offers a better display, a faster processor and more and will only set you back an extra £60.

48. Motorola Moto E

Motorola set a new benchmark for the budget smartphone with the Moto G but has gone even lower on price with the Moto E. Although we're impressed with the Moto E which will make a great first or spare smartphone, it's worth paying the extra for the Moto G which is now £99 on PAYG.

47. EE Kestrel

We like the Kestrel, we really do. We don't like its design and build quality, and we hate its user interface, but in other respects the Kestrel has a lot going for it. Whereas network operators haven't yet been able to make 4G connectivity available UK-wide, at least the hardware on which to enjoy it is now available even to those on tight budgets. At £99, you get a pretty good screen, better performance than you should probably expect at this price, and the promise of 4G connectivity if it's available in your area.

46. ZTE Blade S6 Plus

The ZTE Blade S6 Plus is a nice phablet for £200, but it doesn't offer enough to make it worth an extra £50 on top of the standard model, which already has a large 5in screen. In comparison to that phone it's lost some of the features we liked, and despite having a larger battery runtime still isn't great. If you're looking for a 5.5in phablet at £200, our money would be on the Kingzone Z1. 

45. Prestigio Multiphone 5550 Duo

At this price it is hard to fail. The Prestigio Multiphone 5550 Duo is no-one's idea of a flagship phone, but it offers a great feature set, in a well-built shell. Performance is mediocre in places, but battery life is great. And if you need a dual-SIM phone, this is a great and inexpensive option. For a budget dual-SIM phone the Prestigio Multiphone 5550 Duo is a winner. Just make sure you buy an SD card.

44. Doogee F1 Turbo Mini

We're really very impressed by the Doogee F1 Turbo Mini. At £82 or £104 (depending on how you buy it) this is the cheapest 4G phone we've ever seen. It's better-looking and more powerful than any budget phone has any right to be.

43. Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

The Galaxy S4 mini is a great mid-range option, offering the same styling – which includes the same mediocre build quality – as its flagship counterpart, with a cheaper price tag. The cameras are good but the screen and storage are both under par. Consider the HTC One mini or the Nexus 4 as serious alternatives.

42. HTC one mini

The HTC One mini isn't as good as the HTC One. Its performance is decent but not spectacular, and the addition of a layer of plastic has removed some of the original's chic. But this is a very strong handset at a decent price. Well worth a look.

41. Huawei Ascend P6

The Huawei Ascend P6 is a fantastic and desirable smartphone, whether it's an iPhone copy or not. It provides real value for money even if it is lacking NFC and 4G support. We particularly like the cameras and the customisable user interface.

40. Samsung Galaxy S4

The Galaxy S4 is a great phone with outstanding hardware and performance, but it's not flawless. We're disappointed with the build quality considering the handset costs a fair bit more than its rivals and while the S4 is packed with features we find a lot of them to be gimmicky.

39. Motorola Moto G 4G 2015

If you're looking for a cheap 4G smartphone then the Moto E 4G is the best deal on the market right now. If you would rather have a cheap dual-SIM phone with 3G connectivity then the mark 3 Moto G is your best bet. But the new Moto G 4G for 2015 is not the best phone for either customer, and its larger, higher-resolution screen, marginally improved photography credentials and stereo sound are not enough for us to turn a blind eye to its £60 higher price, slower hardware and missing software features.

38. Sony Xperia Z

The Xperia Z is the first smartphone which Sony has really nailed. We love the stylish, desirable and rugged design. The combination of excellent performance, a stunning screen and great cameras make the Xperia Z a force to be reckoned with. There is very little to say about this phone that is negative.

37. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

We're not sure you need all the extra features that Samsung packs in, and we could live without the S Pen. And not everyone needs or wants a smartphone with a 6in display. Neither is the camera all that great. But be in no doubt about it, the Galaxy Note 3 is a high-quality portable device, offering the best performance we've ever seen, a stunning screen and nice build quality.

36. HTC One

The HTC One is up there with the very best smartphones on the market today. It has superb performance, and excellent build quality spoiled only slightly by running hot in use. You can't fault the feature set, and it matches the other high-end products in terms of price. In terms of audio and visual output it is unsurpassed. The interface might be an acquired taste for some, and we weren't overly impressed with the camera. It's not perfect, but alongside the Xperia Z and iPhone 5 this is about as good a phone as you can buy.

35. Moto G 4G

Motorola's Moto G is the best budget smartphone around. At £135 it's got great build quality, an excellent screen, decent cameras and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean soon to be upgrade to 4.4 KitKat.

34. Motorola Moto E 4G

The new Moto E 4G is a worthy upgrade over the original Moto E, with upgrades in every area. For an extra £20 it adds 4G LTE connectivity and a front-facing camera, plus performance and storage improvements. It might not be as fast as the grey-market Doogee F1 Turbo Mini, but this Moto E 4G is a much better deal than the EE Kestrel, making it the best budget 4G phone intended for UK sale we've seen.

33. Motorola Moto G 2014 (second generation)

With a bigger screen, much better speakers and improved cameras, the new Moto G is a great budget smartphone. The lack of support for 4G will be a deal-breaker for some, though. It isn't without its rivals, but if you're specifically looking for a budget dual-SIM Android phone, it's a good choice.

32. Samsung Galaxy S5

Things haven't changed much from the Galaxy S4 but Samsung, as usual, has packed the Galaxy S5 with features. However, a lot are somewhat unnecessary. The heart rate monitor is a prime example and while the fingerprint scanner is cool, it's difficult to use. There is some top end hardware here, particularly the screen, but nothing which stands out in a busy and competitive market. A key element is that the design of the Galaxy S5 falls short. It's plastic, looks like every other Samsung handset and doesn't feel premium. Galaxy S4 users needn't upgrade and anyone looking for a flagship smartphone can get better elsewhere.

31. Huawei Ascend P7

Huawei has produced a stunning smartphone in the Ascend P7 and this is couple with good value for money with that non-flagship price tag. There's some decent hardware on offer here, particularly the camera but the P7 is let down by software performance issues.

30. UMI Zero

We're impressed with the UMI Zero. Ultra-thin, light, good-looking and tough, it packs some impressive hardware for the price. If you're happy to buy a rooted Chinese smartphone then it's a great deal - especially at $203.

29. Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+

The Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ is one of the best dual-SIM phones we've reviewed and a good choice for the price. It has a nice design and good features like a Full HD display and 13 Mp camera but bear in mind that the Moto G 2014 and ZTE Blade S6 are both cheaper and dual-SIM. However, in the wider smartphone market there is tough competition and its lack of a microSD card slot and other hardware such as 4G LTE support mean it's outpaced by the Honor 6.

28. UMI Hammer

The UMI Hammer offers fantastic value at £93, with 4G connectivity, a decent HD display and a reassuringly tough build. The camera takes a a great shot with HDR turned on, and we particularly like the ease with which you can mess around with custom UIs and install new ROMs. Recommended.

27. Kingzone Z1

For a £200 phone the Kingzone Z1 is a very decent proposition. It has a nice build, some pleasing connectivity features, and we were astonished to find faster performance than phones that cost three times the price, although cutbacks have been made - notably in the screen and fingerprint sensor, although the latter has other uses beyond security.

26. Huawei P8

The Huawei P8 has excellent design and build for a price lower than other flagship rivals. On the whole hardware is decent too, particularly in the photography department. However, poor performance and buggy software taint the experience to frustrating level which make it very difficult to recommend.

25. ZTE Blade S6

At a touch over £150 the ZTE Blade S6 is a great-value Android Lollipop phone with strong general performance and an attractive iPhone 6-like build. Dual-SIM and 4G LTE connectivity, a selection of smart gestures and a capable Sony camera all add to this phone's appeal, but its battery life is no better than average and we're not so keen on the idea of having all our apps by default laid bare on the home screen.

24. Sony Xperia Z1

Sony has upgraded its fantastic Xperia Z. The Xperia Z1 feels nicer but is unfortunately bigger and heavier. It's a powerhouse with an all-round impressive specification. Easily one of the best Android handsets around but the high price tag taints this slightly.

23. Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

Like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the S5 mini is a very decent Android phone. Our key concerns lie in its pricing and performance: while most users will find it more than fast enough for day-to-day tasks, the price tag is a lot higher than we'd like to pay in terms of what we get in return. The new dust- and waterproof casing is a nice touch, but the S5 mini isn't as good-looking as the HTC One mini 2, while the heart-rate monitor and fingerprint scanner are welcome but not essential additions.

22. Samsung Galaxy A5

When put next to the Galaxy S5, it's hard to find reasons to buy the A5 instead. It's not a bad phone, but the S5 is simply better value now that it has dropped in price.

21. HTC One mini 2

The HTC One mini 2 is one of the better examples of a mid-ranged version of a flagship smartphone. It has the same premium feel as the M8 with only a few downgrades - namely a lower res screen and no Duo Camera or IR blaster. The camera is a little disappointing but good performance and software balance things out.

20. Google Nexus 6

There are some good things about the Nexus 6 including build quality and some top-end hardware such as the screen, processor and camera. However, it's simply too big, unwieldy and expensive to warrant awarding it anything higher than four stars and really get behind it (unless we wanted to hid from something). In the phablet market, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is simply better even if it is pricier and the excellent LG G3 at less than £300 is another thorn in the Nexus 6's side.

19. Moto X (2nd gen.)

The standard, non-customised Moto X is a desirable smartphone, but it's a little overpriced especially if you compare it with the Nexus 5. So Google's phone may lack the premium build quality and hi-res camera, but in most other respects it's a match for the Motorola at a significantly lower price. What makes the new Moto X really attractive is Moto Maker, as it's unlikely anyone else will choose your combination of customisations. (But it may also make it harder to resell when it's time to upgrade.) It's just a shame that Motorola decided not to add a microSD slot: there's no such thing as too much storage.

18. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

We love what Sony has done with the Xperia Z1 Compact. Finally consumers have the choice to buy a high-end smartphone without being forced to use a large screen. The fact it's cheaper than most flagship devices makes it one of the best smartphones around.

17. Sony Xperia Z2

Although not much has changed from the Xperia Z1, the Xperia Z2 is another solid effort from Sony. The smartphone is a good all-rounder with a great screen, camera, build quality and performance. We just wish it wasn't quite so bulky.

16. HTC Desire Eye

We are thoroughly impressed with the HTC Desire Eye: it's fast, it's great value (assuming it comes in around £350), it has a nice screen and it sounds great. Better still, it makes you look pretty.

15. Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

The Galaxy Note Edge is one of the most interesting smartphones around and while the edge screen is genuinely useful at times, it also remains a slight gimmick. Hardware is top notch and although we dislike the faux leather, build quality is good. The Note Edge is big and expensive so it might be worth waiting for the next generation before taking the plunge.

14. Samsung Galaxy Alpha

This really is the Samsung iPhone, and the South Korean firm has done a fantastic job of it. By putting build quality before specification it has produced a truly desirable, premium phone with a mid-range price. And still the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is still astonishingly fast.

13. OnePlus One

There are only two, possibly three, bad things to say about the OnePlus One, if you are happy to buy online direct from OnePlus. We wish there was expandable storage, and it's bigger than other smartphones with similarly sized displays. And if we are being really harsh, we would hope for a better camera. But at the price the OnePlus One is an amazing deal. It's a flagship smartphone for a mid-range price. Bargain. Get them while they are hot.

12. LG G2

LG trumped the competition with the G2. The phone offers a combination of value for money with high-end features which we haven't seen from rival flagship devices. A great specification combined with impressive design and handy software features mean there's very little to dislike about this handset - only really the lack of a microSD card slot. That fault is rectified in the new LG G3, and if you can afford that handset it will be worth the upgrade. But the LG G2 remains a great handset.

11. Google Nexus 5

Google and LG have done a fantastic job with the Nexus 5, producing a very desirable phone at an outrageously low price. It's the best value-for-money smartphone out there right now.

10. Sony Xperia Z3

The Sony Xperia Z3 is undoubtedly a decent and desirable smartphone but Z2 owners will have little reason to upgrade unless PS4 Remote Play or High-Res audio are must-haves. In terms of the wider market, the Z3 is up there with the best and a solid choice even if it doesn't have the amount of bells and whistles which others do.

9. Honor 6 (by Huawei)

We're seriously impressed by the Honor 6 which costs just £249 while providing specs you would normally pay a lot more for. It has a decent 5in Full HD screen, high quality cameras, good battery life, 4G support, good performance, expandable storage and wireless features like NFC and an IR blaster. The microSD cards slot is limited to 32 GB and Emotion UI isn't the best Android software but these don't stop the Honor 6 being the best value smartphone around.

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Galaxy Note 4 is a bit of a handful and is rather expensive but lovers of the Galaxy Note range will likely be enamoured with this edition. It is, on the whole, a great device with plenty of power and features. As long as you're aware that you're buying a huge phone and will get the most out of what it offers. Otherwise a smaller and cheaper handset is probably a better choice – the Galaxy S5 or one of its rivals.

7. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is a beautiful smartphone, one of the most attractive but the design has flaws such as sharp edges. While a non-removable battery is an inevitable outcome, we're surprised about the lack of waterproofing and a microSD card slot. Hardware is strong with a gorgeous screen, fast processor and great all-round camera. The key point here is that while dual edge display sounds like an amazing innovation it has very limited in functionality so simply isn't worth the extra money compared to the regular Galaxy S6.

6. HTC One (M8)

Like the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2, the new HTC One M8 isn't a big leap compared to the previous model. What HTC has done is taken a great phone and made it better. The M8 looks and feels gorgeous and with important upgrades including a microSD card slot and an innovative camera. This is one desirable smartphone. The HTC One M9 is now available but the M8 remains a good choice since the 2015 model is very similar.

5. HTC One M9

The HTC One M9 is a genuinely desirable smartphone with the best design and build available in Android land, even with Samsung upping the ante. It's good to see the powerful Snapdragon 810 and more memory, however, some key hardware remains the same meaning M8 users are unlikely to be tempted to upgrade – and the old model is now an attractive buy at around £350. The fact the Galaxy S6 is the same price with more impressive specs is also not a good thing for HTC.

4. LG G3

LG has impressed us with the G3 which comes in at under £500 but packs amazing features including that Quad HD and a camera with a laser auto focus. The device is surprisingly small considering the 5.5in display and we like the more premium design. It's another winner from LG.

3. LG G4

LG has gone down an unexpected route with leather models which we like apart from a couple of colours. The so called ceramic model will be cheaper but feels cheap and plasticky. On the whole, hardware is once again strong - particularly the camera - but not massively different from the G3 and has tough competition. We feel build quality could be better with a metal frame and dimensions going down, not the reverse. This is the flagship to go for if you want a removable battery and expandable storage but it's a shame to see features like wireless charging dropped. (Remember the G3 is now a steal at under £300 SIM-free)

2. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

The Xperia Z3 compact is great little smartphone offering pretty much everything available on the full-size Z3 (including PS4 Remote Play and High-Res audio) apart from a Full HD screen. The new design is thinner and lighter plus the display is bigger than previously. At £349, this is not only the best mini smartphone you can buy, it's one of the best smartphones around.

1. Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung's Galaxy S6 is the best Android phone of 2015 so far, although we've yet to see what's to come from the LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z4. It's fast, it's well built, it has a gorgeous screen and the software isn't overly intrusive. The fingerprint scanner is vastly improved, the heart-rate scanner a potential draw for some users, and the wireless- and fast charging welcome inclusions. We'd like to see the price come down (which we are sure it will) and it's a shame we've lost the removable battery, waterproofing and microSD support, but these are all things we can live with.

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