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best android phonesBuying an Android phone is more complicated than buying an iPhone. If you’ve read our smartphone review and buying guide, then you probably already know that. There are literally thousands of choices, most of which are terrible (but also inexpensive). Homing in on the best requires time, research, consideration and careful balancing of pros and cons listed on hundreds of lengthy reviews.

Or you can read this article and find out everything you need to know in 10 minutes. Your choice!

HTC DNA

best android phones

Standout specs: 1080p display, quad-core processor, 2GB RAM.

Why it’s great: The DNA was the first phone to boast a 5-inch 1080p display – the same resolution used by most modern televisions. To power that crazy resolution, HTC had to pack in a beefy quad-core running at 1.5 GHz, so the phone is as fast as it is beautiful.

Given the specs, and the display size, you might think that DNA is a phablet. That’s not really the case. Though large, this device feels far smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note both in-hand and in-pocket. HTC also hasn’t designed the phone for use with a stylus, so you won’t find any of the special functionality phablets enable.

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Another extra worth note is Beats Audio with built-in amplifier. This is great for audiophiles. Most smartphones lack the grunt needed to properly drive sound through high-end headphones.

Don’t buy it if: You value endurance or expansion. The battery drains quickly when the 1080p display is in use and the DNA lacks both a user-replaceable battery and a SD card slot.

Samsung Galaxy Note II Samsung Galaxy Note II Review and Giveaway Samsung Galaxy Note II Review and Giveaway The Samsung Galaxy Note II is an Android Jelly Bean driven hybrid between a smartphone and a tablet. Its key features are a 5.5-inch large HD Super AMOLED display and an integrated active stylus, called... Read More

android phones

Standout specs: Gigantic 720p display, stylus, quad-core processor, 2GB RAM.

Why it’s great: This phablet proved that some users will happily buy a cross between a smartphone and tablet rather than two separate devices. The fact the Galaxy Note II has excellent hardware no doubt helped the case – inside you’ll find one of the strongest quad-core processors on the market, gobs of RAM, an SD card slot that can handle up to a 64GB card and a huge battery.

And then there’s the stylus. Samsung has found some innovative ways to make it an essential device for texts, document editing and web navigation.  There’s no other Android phone that can provide more value to consumers who productivity on-the-go.

Don’t buy it if: You don’t want to carry a tablet in your pocket. Owners often say it’s not that big – don’t believe them. This phone is huge.

Google Nexus 4 Google Nexus 4 Review and Giveaway Google Nexus 4 Review and Giveaway Even though I am an iPhone user and have been since the first generation iPhone was announced by the late Steve Jobs back in 2007, I've tried to keep an open mind about viable alternatives.... Read More

android phones

Standout specs: Quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, sold unlocked and off-contract.

Why it’s great: The Nexus 4 is the not the first Google phone, but it is the first sold only under Google’s brand rather than piggy-backing on another (Samsung). Unlike most phones, which are sold on contract, the Nexus 4 is sold direct to consumers. Yet at a base price of $300, this phone is only a bit more expensive than devices sold with a contract.

Though far from the only quad-core phone available, the Nexus 4 is available as a quad internationally, unlike some competitors (HTC’s One and Samsung’s S3 are dual-core in North America). The 4.7” display boasts 720p resolution and is powered by the same quad-core found in the HTC DNA. There’s plenty of RAM to go around, too.

Don’t buy it if: You care about download speeds. The Nexus 4 lacks 4G LTE support What Is 4G, And Is Your Mobile Really Getting 4G Speeds? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is 4G, And Is Your Mobile Really Getting 4G Speeds? [MakeUseOf Explains] This ads will tell you that 4G is awesome. Fast as lightening, or a motorbike, or a race car. But what does that mean in the real world? Is a 4G phone really going to... Read More , so it’s stuck on 3G/HSPA+ (which is often much slower). The Nexus 4 also lacks an SD card slot and user-serviceable battery.

Motorola Droid Razr M

android phones

Standout specs: Dual-core processor, 1GB RAM.

Why it’s great: The Razr M isn’t a monster on paper. It “only” has a dual-core processor and one gigabyte of RAM, which means it’s much slower than a quad-core on paper and a bit slower in real-world use.

Yet the Razr M stands out because of what it lacks more than what it has. This is one of the few remaining flagship-quality Android phones to offer a 4.3-inch display. And, because of its almost paper-thin display bezels, the Razr M is actually similar in size to an iPhone 5. If you want a good Android smartphone, but don’t want to go big, this is your best option.

And since you’re receiving less, you pay for less. This phone is often available for $50-$100 on contract and is $549 off-contract. The other phones here range from $649 to $799 off-contract.

Don’t buy it if: You care about specifications. There’s nothing in the Razr M that pushes the boundaries of what is possible in a smartphone.

Two More Phones To Watch

best android phones

You may notice the lack of two important phones on this list. They are the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X.

Both of these phones aren’t included because they’re about to be replaced with their successors, the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Though they come from different manufacturers the phones are similar in many respects. Both offer large displays with full 1080p resolution, quad-core processors (though the Galaxy S4 will have an octo-core in some markets), and 2GB of RAM.

Still, there are some differences. HTC will offer a Super LCD display that is brighter and more accurate than the AMOLED technology used by the S4. Yet Samsung keeps the upper hand in expandability as the Galaxy S4 will offer an SD card slot and user serviceable battery, features the HTC One will lack. And then there’s the price. The HTC One will hit at $199 on-contract while the S4 is expected to be $249. Off-contract pricing remains unclear.

You should wait until full reviews come in for these new phones before buying. This is true even if you want a Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One X. The older phones will be discounted once the new models are available.

  1. dreamkiller
    August 7, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Nokia Launched A new phablet with quad core processor and 1080pi hd display...check it out here windroidblog.blogspot.in/2013/08/nokia-quad-core-1080p-phablet-is-here.html?m=1

  2. MARlene
    May 14, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    HI
    here's the thing....
    I kind of..."love" nokia and I have a nokia 5800...but I'm buying a new cellphone sometime soon...
    But the actual thing is I REALLY wanted a nokia so i could use their pc/cellphone sistem to put everything exactly as it is in nokia 5800 in my new cell ...but that's not possible, is it?! and with this tipe of functions is basically these options for the best....

    Am I right or not??

  3. Mehul
    April 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Surprisingly, i cant see Mention of Sony Xperia Z or ZL in your list which are 5", Quad Core, Full HD Phones with 13MP Camera which is not available in any of the handsets you mentioned above.

    I Expect that at MUO we get best of all and you have missed handsets that are presently selling like hot cake.

  4. Vampie C.
    April 15, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Thank you for that info.
    I'm looking for a new phone soon :-)

  5. Sunil Joseph
    April 15, 2013 at 6:26 am

    After using Nexus device for such a long time and now being stuck with a non-Nexus device I am really itching to buy Nexus 4. But the fact that it doesn't have an SD Card slot is a real bummer...

  6. Faycal
    April 14, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Where is Xperia Z, poor Sony is boycoted

  7. RavenscarDkhope
    April 14, 2013 at 3:21 am

    I'm surprised that the big brother to the Motorola Droid Razr M was not mentioned. The Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD. With it's 32 hour play time and 15.5 day stand by you would think it would at least get an honorable mention. Granted the play time varies by your usage like watching four full length motion pictures on Netflix back to back will cut play time down considerably. I'd like to see you do that on any of the other phones mentioned on just one charge.

  8. null
    April 14, 2013 at 12:25 am

    LG OPTIMUS G is one of the best phones as of now!

  9. john gallie
    April 14, 2013 at 12:24 am

    LG optimus G - that is a good one also!

  10. Charles Rachor
    April 13, 2013 at 12:27 am

    I can definitely vouch for the Razr M. It's screen is the perfect (imo) size; big enough for two-handed use while not blocking too much of the screen, and small enough for easy one-handed use.
    Also, I consider myself to be mid-range on the "power-user" scale and this phone is more than adequate enough for my needs. Yea, if you've got 10 different apps open, then things might slow down slightly, but that's what the task manager is for.
    The only con I have so far in the 3 months of owning one so far? It only comes with 8GB (around 4.5 available to users) of built in storage and I cannot find a way to install larger apps onto an SD card.

  11. peter_lydon
    April 12, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I was expecting to see Samsung S4 and Sony Experia Z in that list. Hmmm!

  12. Rushinth John
    April 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I'd still prefer the Nexus 4 from all of these......

  13. Onaje Asheber
    April 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    LG makes some real nice phones!

  14. Muz RC
    April 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    too expensive to own one of this smartphone... hope to get it someday....

  15. Benke Eriksson
    April 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Imho The Xperia Z should absolutely be on this list, such a great phone!

  16. Tic Tac
    April 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Xperia Z is a MUST (:

    • Andy Pretzsch
      April 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

      100% true.
      I know because I got one. Better than HTC One because I can expand storage capacity.

    • Andy Pretzsch
      April 10, 2013 at 11:16 am

      100% true. I know because I got one. Better than HTC One because I can expand storage capacity.

  17. Vishal S
    April 10, 2013 at 8:04 am

    unbelievable android smartphones.xperia z is mising

  18. Nevzat A
    April 10, 2013 at 7:03 am

    These are all great smartphones but I think price is increasing each year. Fortunately the older models gets price cuts too. I'm now a happy Galaxy Note 1 (n7000) owner for a great price :) For people with low budgets, they should consider the older models for price cuts.

  19. Igor Rizvic
    April 10, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Too expensive for my taste

  20. Ben J
    April 10, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Good article. Most people will be able to make a good choice based on this.

  21. Tan Nhat
    April 9, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    HTC One is better than S4!

  22. null
    April 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Wow, you really believe that the Beats are audiophile quality? Even high-end?

    Other than that, great little article for those on the look for a new phone.

    • abdurrahman
      April 10, 2013 at 6:37 am

      you are totally right .. Beats Audio is just a crap !!!

    • Matt Smith
      April 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      As a hardware reviewer I've ran into Beats multiple times. The truth is that it's just a brand and it has almost nothing to do with the hardware inside a device. I've ran into Beats-branded products with awful sound, and those with great sound. None of this has ANYTHING to do with the Beats headphones, which are great for people clinically addicted to bass but not to my liking otherwise.

      What makes the HTC DNA's special is that it includes a small amp. This means it can drive large headphones properly, whereas other phones often can't, leading reduced sound quality. So it's not "Beats" itself that's interesting, but rather the amp inside the phone. They've just chosen to the "Beats" name since there are indeed people who buy stuff because OMGBEATS.

  23. Tom O'Neal
    April 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    It was a tough choice between the GS III and Nexus 4, but I just can't stand the idea of not being able to swap out the card and battery.

  24. Ricardo P
    April 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    You forgot Xperia Z

  25. Alam
    April 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    one more phone should be on the list..
    LG Optimus G Pro.. or Xperia Z

    • null
      April 10, 2013 at 1:15 am

      why HTC DNA is in the list? its only for Verizon (CDMA)..
      HTC Butterfly is much better than DNA.. almost same profile but thinner and an SD Slot.

  26. El Marko
    April 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    The unlocked HTC One Developer Edition (64GB) is presently out of stock but available for order ($650) directly from HTC at http://bit.ly/14UPGgF

  27. Manish Parmar
    April 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    awesome ...gud collection under one roof..!!

  28. Chris Marcoe
    April 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    "Homing in on the best requires time, research, consideration and careful balancing of pros and cons listed on hundreds of lengthy reviews."

    Or, you can wait for the great folks at MakeUseOf (folks like Matt Smith) to write an article telling you which way to go. Alleviating a ton of the research/time/considerations.

    thanks for a great article.

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