By mid-summer, nearly all of the biggest Android smartphones of 2017 have hit store shelves (outside of the Pixel 2, which will probably come out late this year). That means if its time for an upgrade to that old Galaxy S5 or HTC One, you’ve got a ton of great choices.
Want forward-thinking design? What about world-class software? How about insane performance? Regardless of what your needs are, you’re bound to find a fantastic Android phone that will last you for the next couple of years.
5. HTC U11
It’s been no secret that HTC has been struggling to sell phones lately—and because of that, HTC doesn’t have the same brand recognition it used to enjoy.
The HTC U11 isn’t a perfect phone and I’ve already gone through some of my issues with it (most notably, the downright silly “squeeze” feature). Outside of that, the HTC U11 is a really solid phone with its super-speedy performance, impressive QuadHD 5.5-inch display, or pretty unique look. Speaking of that unique look, it might not put HTC back on the map, but it really does feel like a bold new direction for HTC.—Luke Larsen
4. LG G6
Compared to last year’s G5, the G6 seems positively safe and tame in comparison, which was probably the point. There are a couple notable features—the wider aspect ratio and wide angle ability—to at least partially distinguish it from the competition. It’s got plenty of things going for it as a proper flagship smartphone in 2017—something LG hasn’t always been able to do in the past.
Still, with phones like the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel out there in the market, the G6 is likely to have trouble standing out.—Jason D’Aprile
3. OnePlus 5
I’ve gone to great lengths to attempt to dispel some of the outrage surrounding the release of the OnePlus 5. A lot of unfair shade has been thrown its way. In most of the ways that actually matter, the OnePlus 5 is another great phone in the company’s flagship series that continues to bite at the ankles of the big smartphone manufacturers out there.
If OnePlus continues to raise the price of its phones into the future, we may see a day when the OnePlus 7 or 8 is just another flagship phone. But as of now, the OnePlus 5 still aptly matches the title of “flagship killer.”—LL
2. Google Pixel
The Google Pixel is a remarkable first effort from Mountain View and although the company had been in the industry with its Nexus line for years, the fact that its first vertically integrated effort does so many things right, or perhaps more impressively, so few things wrong is a great achievement. If you love Android, there is no better phone to buy thanks to the top-notch software and performance of the handset and a camera that takes a backseat to no other on the market.
From a hardware perspective, even if it echoes the iPhone too much, it’s a well built machine that lives up to the standards set by other premium smartphones. On the software side, Google is showing real innovation with the Google Assistant which, while not perfect, is clearly the company’s idea of the future. If software and overall user experience is your game, the Google Pixel is the phone for you.—Eric Walters
1. Galaxy S8
Samsung needed a big win after the Note 7 disaster, and the Galaxy S8 is it. While not a pitch perfect phone, the latest flagship from the Korean giant is the best it’s ever made, and an easy frontrunner for phone of the year. It not only pushes the company’s portfolio forward, but the entire industry with its elegant and futuristic design that prioritizes the display without bloating the size.
It’s an impressive achievement of design and engineering, but the quality isn’t surface deep. The entire experience of using the S8 is a rich one, despite the continued frustrations on the software side and the undeveloped virtual assistant, Bixby. But the market has proven for years that consumers are willing to overlook these shortcomings, as Samsung continues to dominate the industry alongside Apple.
In the early days, it was easy for a tech critic to lament Samsung’s success. The company was putting out phones that prioritized specs over decent hardware and software. The first S handsets were marred by myriad issues, from plasticky materials to downright confusing and bloated versions of TouchWiz.
Now? Now there’s little to lament, Samsung has never been better.—EW