What is the best Android phone? Top 3
|Best phone||RRP||Key specifications|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 edge||£639||Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Exynos 8890, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 5.5in Quad-HD, 3600mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||£569||Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Exynos 8890, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 5.1in Quad-HD, 3000mAh|
|LG G5||£529||Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 5.3in Quad-HD, 2800mAh|
What’s the best Android phone 2016/2017? The simple answer is the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, but there are 19 other amazing phones on our list of the top Android phones of 2016/2017, which covers everything from the HTC 10 and Nexus 6P to the Google Pixel, LG G5, Sony Xperia Z5, Xiaomi Mi 5s and OnePlus 3T. Android phone buying advice and best Android phone reviews.
Also see: Best Phone Deals
We have removed the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from our smartphone chart due to the ongoing battery issues which, in some cases, are catching on fire. It has been discontinued so if you have one, stop using it and return it for a refund.
Android has the largest market share in the smartphone world, but whereas Apple’s share is divided between just a few iPhones with obvious differences between them there are hundreds of Android phones available to buy. And the choice gets even more confusing when you consider that each Android phone manufacturer has multiple Android phone product lines, each with its own features and benefits. Also see: Best smartphones 2016/2017 UK
In our best Android phones chart we focus primarily on flagship devices, with the exception of where a phone lower down the range stands out for its excellent value (see the OnePlus X and Moto G4), feature set or performance. The phones in this group are those most likely to be bought on a contract, however, and their initial cost will be largely irrelevant. If you are buying them SIM-free you should check out our best SIM-only deals, but if budget is a primary consideration for you, also see our round-up of the best budget phones.
What makes a best Android phone?
When we talk about flagship smartphones, we really just mean the top model in a company’s phone line-up. You’d usually expect to pay between £500- and £600 for it SIM-free, or around £40- to £50 a month on a contract. But cheaper phones can have flagship specs - and especially when you consider some of the surprisingly affordable Chinese phones we review.
In 2016/2017 a flagship Android phone specification will look something like this:
• Android 6.0 Marshmallow (Android Nougat will be available on new Android phones soon)
• Slim, lightweight metal frame
• 5-5.5in Quad-HD IPS display with Gorilla Glass 4
• Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/821 quad-core processor or comparable octa-core chip
• 4GB+ of RAM
• 32GB of storage, plus microSD support
• Fingerprint scanner
• 12Mp-plus primary camera with dual-tone flash, optical image stabilisation, laser autofocus and large apertures, plus support for 4K video recording
• 5Mp selfie camera
• 4G LTE Cat.9
• Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
• Bluetooth 4.2
• NFC, GPS, GLONASS, OTG
• Circa-3000mAh battery with fast charging
We’ve placed the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge at the top of our list because it is the fastest Android phone in our benchmarks, with the longest battery life, the best camera quality, and it has a load of extra features such as the dual-curved-edge screen, heart-rate scanner and new always-on display (also seen in the standard Galaxy S7 and LG G5). We love its premium metal-and-glass, waterproof build, and although there isn’t a huge amount new in this year’s model Samsung really didn’t need to make any huge improvements to retain its crown for best Android phone. Also see: Best kids' phones 2016/2017.
But that’s not to say the other phones in our list are not worth a second look, and especially now that we get closer to the point where it’s impossible for phone makers to differentiate their devices on traditional grounds such as performance (all are excellent). The LG G5, for example, has a cool new modular design that lets you bolt-on accessories to expand its functionality, and it’s one of few flagship phones to feature a removable battery. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a large screen with stylus support for enhanced productivity, while the HTC 10 supports Hi-Res audio, and the Sony Xperia Z5 ties into PS4 Remote Play. For the ultimate in screen quality, the Premium variant of the Xperia Z5 has a crazy-high-resolution 4K screen.
The Xiaomi Mi 5s is significantly cheaper than the competition here, but offers many of the same features. This is the International Edition, which ships with Google Play support and, as such, most users will quickly find themselves in its MIUI 8.0 UI.
For a pure Android experience there can be no better than Google’s own Nexus 6P, Pixel and Pixel XL, and as Google devices they will always be first to receive new operating system updates.
(Also see: What's the fastest smartphone 2016/2017 for comparison with more Android phones.)
Of course, with all the best Android phones on a similar level of awesomeness, your choice may come down purely to how it looks - and that’s something we can’t help you with, other than to point out the build quality information not visible from the PR shots and offer our own opinion on how they look. Click on any phone in our list of the best Android phones to read our full reviews.
Read on for our expert opinion of what our the 20 best Android phones money can buy. Also see: Best new phones coming in 2017.
- Reviewed on: 7 December 16
- RRP: £639 inc VAT
The Galaxy S7 edge is no longer the semi-gimmick it was before. Although some of the main features are things from the Galaxy S5 – Micro-SD and waterproofing – Samsung has given fans what they want. It's now a refined, sophisticated and highly desirable piece of technology. The battery isn't removable but the phone lasts longer than before and has seriously powerful specs under the hood. It has almost everything you could want from a phone even though the IR blaster is gone. We're also very impressed with the new camera and unless the screen is too big for you (despite some software features to help out) we think it's worth getting the S7 edge for the extra £70 with its gorgeous looks and extra functionality. Right now, this is the best smartphone money can buy.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review.
- Reviewed on: 17 October 16
- RRP: £569 inc VAT
The Samsung Galaxy S6 was the best phone of 2015 and, although it’s still early days, the Galaxy S7 is a serious contender for best phone of 2016. Samsung has taken into account what its fans want, addressing the three main areas of concern: removable storage, waterproofing and battery life. It’s also upgraded the core hardware and photography gear, added an always-on display and some useful software. Right now the Galaxy S7 is simply unbeatable.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S7 review.
3. LG G5
- Reviewed on: 5 May 16
- RRP: £529 inc VAT
The LG G5 is one of the most radical phones to come along in a while and we’re glad the firm has shaken things up with the modular design. The G5 is innovative and interesting with unique features but it’s a shame the design and build feels unfinished in areas. It’s a top-notch device which can hold its own with the best phones in performance and cameras, but it’s LG’s modular design which is the real selling point here. There is bags of potential but the future of this is unclear so it’s hard to be definite right now. The G5 is one of the best phones around but for completely different reasons to the Galaxy S7.
Read our LG G5 review.
4. OnePlus 3T
- Reviewed on: 2 December 16
- RRP: From £399
The OnePlus 3T will be unfairly compared, for now at least, to the phone that came before it. So let’s ignore it. On its own, the OnePlus 3T is everything a modern smartphone should be; slim, fast, and responsive, with above average battery life and cameras that produce stunning images. And then there’s the price. OnePlus may not like being known for it, but £399 remains an absolutely amazing price point for the phone on offer.
As long as you don’t want an iPhone, this Android handset stands side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S7 as the best example of a smartphone on the market today – once we’ve all got over that it came a little sooner than we had expected.
Read our OnePlus 3T review.
5. Xiaomi Mi5s
- Reviewed on: 29 November 16
- RRP: £282.75 inc. VAT
We cannot recommend the Xiaomi Mi5s enough. This is the smartphone every 2016 flagship wanted to be, and it comes with a price tag half that of theirs. Fantastic build quality, fantastic performance, fantastic storage, battery and connectivity options - the Xiaomi Mi5s gets a big thumbs-up from us.
Read our Xiaomi Mi5s review.
6. Google Pixel
- Reviewed on: 23 November 16
- RRP: £599 inc VAT
The Pixel has plenty going for it: it’s small, well built, speedy and has excellent cameras. It also supports Google’s Daydream VR headset and runs the plain version of Android 7 – complete with Google Assistant - and will get timely updates. But it isn’t waterproof, doesn’t have a microSD slot or stereo speakers and we’d have preferred a quad-HD screen for VR use at this price. If those downsides don’t bother you, and the OnePlus 3T is too large, then the Pixel is a fine choice and a great Android phone.
Read our Google Pixel review.
- Reviewed on: 28 April 16
- RRP: From £449 inc VAT
Originally, Nexus phones stood out for being excellent value at a price that was low, but not the lowest. They weren't an alternative to flagship phones, but they had the advantage of running stock Android and getting the next version more quickly. The 6P, though, is not only a flagship, but is arguably the best Android phone to buy at the moment. It won't suit everyone due to its size, nor those looking for a phone with dual-SIM slots or a removable battery. There's no support for wireless charging either. But the excellent screen, front-firing speakers, quick charging, great cameras, speedy performance and Android Marshmallow add up to make this a phone that's a pleasure to use. And yes, it's also cheaper than its rivals, so unless you think it's worth shelling out extra on the Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+ or iPhone 6S Plus, the Nexus 6P is the one to buy.
Read our Google Nexus 6P review.
8. HTC 10
- Reviewed on: 9 May 16
- RRP: £569 inc. VAT
There's a lot to like with the new HTC 10 including a number of hardware upgrades across screen, camera and audio, plus a Nexus-like stock Android experience. However, we're not totally sold on the design and it's tough at the top these days. While the HTC 10 is a solidly good phone and a respectible upgrade for M9 owners, it doesn't blow the competition out of the water. The features which appeal the most are more niche than mass market.
Read our HTC 10 review.
9. Huawei P9
- Reviewed on: 27 April 16
- RRP: £449
When comparing the P9 to other flagships, it’s important to remember the £449 price which makes it considerably cheaper than many of its rivals (but not the identically priced Nexus 6P that's also made by Huawei). Overall, we're impressed with the phone: it's well built, feels good and looks good. The cameras aren't the absolute best out there, it doesn't top the charts in game tests and the screen isn't Quad HD, but these minor quibbles are outweighed not only by the price but also because, unlike the Nexus, the P9 lets you stick in a microSD card to expand the storage. If you can afford it, the Galaxy S7 is a better phone overall, but this is a great choice if you can't.
Read our Huawei P9 review.
- Reviewed on: 15 October 15
- RRP: £484.99
So, what do we think of the Galaxy Note 5? We’re very fond of just about every aspect of the Galaxy Note 5, from its curved and sleek design to its vibrant display and high-resolution camera. It can handle almost anything you can throw at it thanks to its CPU, GPU and 4GB of RAM and we experienced no lag during our testing. The only bad point is that the Note 5 would sometimes falsely detect the S Pen detaching – and to point out such a minor fault says a lot about the quality of the handset. With this being said, we’re both surprised and sad that the Galaxy Note 5 won’t be heading to UK shores any time soon.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review.
11. Honor 8
- Reviewed on: 5 September 16
- RRP: £369.99 inc VAT
The Honor 8 is a fantastic smartphone, but the price has gone up from the Honor 7. In return for the additional expense you get a fantastic dual-camera, a sleek and stylish design, a faster fingerprint sensor and a beautiful display, which combined make the Honor 8 a worthy competitor to the OnePlus 3.
Read our Honor 8 review.
12. Sony Xperia XZ
- Reviewed on: 31 October 16
- RRP: £539 inc VAT
The Xperia XZ is an attractive phone in design if you can get on with the angular style and while it's cheaper than rivals such as the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, you can get better value with some older phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7. While the hardware is decent, we can't help but mention the very similar Xperia Z5 will save you a lot of money.
Read our Sony Xperia XZ review.
13. Google Pixel XL
- Reviewed on: 24 October 16
- RRP: £719 (32GB) £819 (128GB)
While the Pixel XL is an attractive phone (if you can get used to the glass section) with decent combination of hardware and software, we can't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's very similar to the much cheaper Nexus 6P and OnePlus 3. You can get plenty of other Android phones for less which have extra features like waterproofing and expandable storage. Sorry Google, but things have gone a bit wrong here.
Read our Google Pixel XL review.
14. Moto Z Play
- Reviewed on: 11 November 16
- RRP: £379.99 inc VAT
The Moto Mods accessories are the main reason to buy the Moto Z Play, but it's a decent mid-range phone regardless. For an affordable price Lenovo offers premium design, good specs and a well-rounded software experience. You only really need to splash out on the Moto Z for the Quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 and OIS camera should you feel the need for those features (but also bear in mind the more expensive version has no headphone jack and a smaller battery).
Read our Moto Z Play review.
15. Sony Xperia Z5
- Reviewed on: 29 April 16
- RRP: £549 inc VAT
There's no doubt that the Xperia Z5 is a solid flagship smartphone from Sony and an improvement on the Z3+. We certainly like the new frosted glass rear cover and the addition of a fingerprint scanner in that slim power button. The camera isn't great compared to the best phone cameras out there though, and you can get a better phone for similar money. The price has dropped, and it's now a decent-value waterproof flagship with a Micro-SD card slot. However, you can't use it underwater, and there are newer rivals which are better value, take better photos and have better performance.
Read our Sony Xperia Z5 review.
- Reviewed on: 18 November 16
- RRP: £169
Although the new Moto G4 is more expensive than the third-generation, Motorola is offering a Full HD screen, better processor, more storage and memory. Not everyone will enjoy the jump to 5.5in or the lack of full waterproofing but this is still a brilliant phone for under £200. Just bear in mind that the 3rd-gen Moto G is now a great buy at £149 and the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 offers similar specs for just £125 (albeit SIM-locked).
Read our Motorola Moto G4 (2016) review.
- Reviewed on: 22 October 15
- RRP: £429 inc VAT
The Xperia Z5 Compact is the best small phone around, but then there's not much competition in this area anymore and there are a number of phones offering decent specs for a lot less. Those looking for Z5 design and specs in a smaller frame will be pleased but it's a shame about the chunky design with the sharp edges. The fingerprint scanner is a great addition and the Snapdragon 810 with almost stock Android provides slick performance. However, the camera isn't as good as Sony makes it out to be.
Read our Sony Xperia Z5 Compact review.
18. Google Nexus 5X
- Reviewed on: 12 April 16
- RRP: £299 inc VAT
Those looking to upgrade from a Nexus 5 will be happy and sad in almost equal measure. The 5X is a fantastic phone overall, with excellent cameras, a good turn of speed and an excellent screen. But it's noticeably bigger than its predecessor despite the small increase in screen size, it has limited storage compared to the Nexus 6P and it lacks a couple of camera features due to the slower processor. The absence of wireless charging is another blow for some, but additions such as the fingerprint scanner will make it a great upgrade for others.
Read our Google Nexus 5X review.
- Reviewed on: 6 October 16
- RRP: £379
The Sony Xperia X Compact is an odd little smartphone. On the one hand its build quality, lack of waterproofing and lack of a standout feature make it harder to recommend compared to the older Xperia Z5 Compact. However, if you want a sub-5in Android smartphone with excellent battery life it’s the best current option out there. For all its flaws, we also kept coming back to the phone largely due to its sheer portability. Just don’t buy the blue one.
Read our Sony Xperia X Compact review.
- Reviewed on: 10 November 16
- RRP: £475
For the first time in a while, this is a BlackBerry we can recommend to the individual consumer. It is also a business device, but the flexibility of Android means it is versatile enough to be moulded to the needs of both. It marries the Android operating system with robust, easy to use security features and slick design, all for under £500.
It doesn’t have the brand clout of an iPhone or the curved edges of a Samsung Galaxy, but with its admittedly quite straight-faced take on the modern smartphone BlackBerry has just – just – turned a corner. This is an excellent smartphone.
Read our BlacKBerry DTEK60 review.