Reviews of the 20 best Android smartphones that are available to buy in the UK in 2015. Best Android phones. Best Androids reviews. See also: The 20 best smartphones: What's the best phone you can buy in 2015?
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 unless you want an iPhone. 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 at under £200 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?)
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 pedalling 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. We always tell you what the phones are like in terms of real world performance. 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. See also: Best phone camera 2015.
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. Some phones are waterproof too, allowing you to watch iPlayer in the bath without worry but it's typically Sony which offers this feature.
Smartphone material poll
Best Android phones 2015: How to choose a budget Android phone
There's a wide range of Android smartphones in this chart and you don't always need to spend through the roof to get decent specifications. Most of the devices in this list are premium flagship models but some cheaper mid-range handsets have proven themselves worthy.
If you really are tight on money then we've a separate chart for the best budget smartphone which are all under £150 to buy outright.
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.
Best Android phones 2015: 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 TouchWiz 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 sync from vanilla micro 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. Remember that the phone in the number one position isn't necessarily the right device for you. Click through to our full and in-depth review of each phone for more details before parting with your cash.
Android phones to look out for in 2015
New smartphones are arriving all the time and there are a few that are likely to make their way into this chart as and when they arrive. Touted for a possible 2015 launch is the Samsung Galaxy S7 but we're much more likely to get the Galaxy Note 5. The OnePlus 2 will launch in July and Google is rumoured to be bringing a new version of the Nexus 5 for 2015 to launch Android M.
Best Android phones 2015: best Android smartphone reviews
20. Google Nexus 6
- Reviewed on: 30 January 15
- RRP: £499 inc VAT (32GB); £549 inc VAT (64GB)
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.
Read our Google Nexus 6 review.
- Reviewed on: 25 June 15
- RRP: £230
The mid-range smartphone market is always tricky, especially with budget devices getting so good. If you are looking for something around this price, the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is a solid choice although the Honor 6 is worth a look for extra features. It offers flagship-like design, a great camera and a user-friendly Android Lollipop.
Read our Sony Xperia M4 Aqua review.
- Reviewed on: 13 October 14
- RRP: £420 inc VAT
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.
Read our Moto X (2nd gen.) review.
17. YotaPhone 2
- Reviewed on: 13 May 15
- RRP: £440 inc VAT
There are a lot of things to like about the YotaPhone 2 and we applaud the company for doing something different. The design is excellent and if you want a dual-screen smartphone this is the one for you (ie. don't buy the original). Although the concept works pretty well and there's potential for great battery life, there are a few downfalls. We're mainly disappointed by the slow nature of using the e-ink screen and the awful ghosting. The price is also a barrier (even at £440) and means it comes short of rivals in areas such as photography and storage.
Read our YotaPhone 2 review.
16. Sony Xperia Z2
- Reviewed on: 8 May 14
- RRP: £599 inc VAT
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.
Read our Sony Xperia Z2 review.
15. HTC Desire Eye
- Reviewed on: 5 November 14
- RRP: £399 inc VAT
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.
Read our HTC Desire Eye review.
- Reviewed on: 24 February 15
- RRP: £650 inc VAT
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.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review.
- Reviewed on: 28 January 15
- RRP: £342 inc. VAT
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.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Alpha review.
12. OnePlus One
- Reviewed on: 20 April 15
- RRP: From £229 inc VAT
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.
Read our OnePlus One review.
11. Google Nexus 5
- Reviewed on: 13 October 14
- RRP: £299 inc VAT
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.
Read our Google Nexus 5 review.
10. Sony Xperia Z3
- Reviewed on: 8 October 14
- RRP: £515 inc VAT
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.
Read our Sony Xperia Z3 review.
- Reviewed on: 6 November 14
- RRP: £249 inc VAT
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.
Read our Honor 6 (by Huawei) review.
- Reviewed on: 5 November 14
- RRP: £599 inc VAT
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.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review.
- Reviewed on: 23 April 15
- RRP: £760 inc VAT
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.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review.
6. HTC One (M8)
- Reviewed on: 8 April 15
- RRP: £550 inc VAT
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.
Read our HTC One (M8) review.
5. HTC One M9
- Reviewed on: 21 April 15
- RRP: £579 inc VAT
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.
Read our HTC One M9 review.
4. LG G3
- Reviewed on: 1 June 15
- RRP: £259 inc. VAT
When the LG G3 came in at under £500 we were impressed. A year on and a phone that packs amazing features including a Quad HD display and a camera with a laser auto focus is one of the bargains of the market. The LG G3 is surprisingly small considering the 5.5in display and we like the more premium design. It's another winner from LG, and well worth your consideration in 2015.
Read our LG G3 review.
3. LG G4
- Reviewed on: 20 May 15
- RRP: £500 inc VAT
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)
Read our LG G4 review.
- Reviewed on: 6 November 14
- RRP: £349 inc VAT
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.
Read our Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review.
- Reviewed on: 20 April 15
- RRP: £599 inc VAT (32GB), £660 inc VAT (64GB)
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.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S6 review.