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Top 10 Best Android Smartphones Buyers Guide: April 2014 Edition

April 18, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

With the HTC One and Galaxy S5, the first major flagship releases of 2014, how has our Top 10 list changed? Well in more ways than you might imagine. Our April edition of the Top 10 best Android phones you can walk into a US carrier store (or simply order from Amazon) is ready and the King(s) of the Hill might surprise some of you…

10. Motorola Moto G

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Motorola might be under new ownership, but very little has changed in the way they operate and Lenovo his more of a company to keep things that are working just fine, the way they are. Regardless of who owns Motorola, their 2013 devices were some of the best that the manufacturer has ever produced and the Moto G is one of them. Sure, it’s not going to knock you out, blow you away or impress you all that much, but it’s excellent value for money. It feels well built, has a good display and runs Android 4.4 KitKat very well, indeed. The Snapdragon 400 doesn’t make this a powerhouse, but for an unlocked device at this price, the Moto G is arguably the best value for money out there. You can read our review right here.

The Moto G is available – unlocked of course – from Amazon.

09. Sony Xperia Z1S

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What felt like a delayed, but welcome arrival of a Sony smartphone on a US carrier, now feels like a poor substitute for the Xperia Z2 (which is still making its way to market internationally. The Xperia Z1S is not a bad phone, in fact when we reviewed it, we liked it a lot, especially the camera. It’s just not as good as the Xperia Z2, and considering how long Sony devices take to make their way to the US, the Z1S already feels like a device from last year. It’s a real shame that Sony felt the need to release the Xperia Z2 so soon after the Z1, but the Z1S is still a decent device. It’s only available on one carrier however, and something quite a bit better is going to be available very soon. Those two factors alone make this a hard device to recommend.

The Sony Xperia Z1S can be purchased from your local T-Mobile store.

08. Motorola Moto X

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The Editors of AH have been thinking that hardware is becoming less and less important, and that software is the bigger factor these days. The Moto X is what triggered those conversations last summer. Not because stock Android is “superior”, but because Motorola got the core things right, cut out the crap and left the drama to the other guys. However, the specs of the Moto X have faded quicker than the majority of us thought they would, and while being able to create your own device with Moto Maker is great and all, there’s always that niggling feeling that there’s something a lot more capable waiting out there. If specs really don’t interest you, and yet you still want a quality device that delivers an excellent software experience, the Moto X is an easy recommendation.

Motorola’s Moto X can be found on Amazon, and through Moto Maker.

07. Samsung Galaxy S4

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Now the Galaxy S5 is out, the Galaxy S4 is just, junk, right? Nope. In fact, Samsung is one of the better companies to support their devices and Samsung will continue to sell the Galaxy S4 for quite some time, and in fact for a lot of people it could present a very good deal on contract right about now. The display is similar to that of the Galaxy S5’s and while the performance won’t be the same, we imagine a lot of users won’t notice the difference. With a decent camera and up-to-date software, last year’s Galaxy S4 keeps on trucking on.

06. HTC One (M7)

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Last year’s HTC One was a stunning device, with an excellent camera (despite the low resolution) and an excellent build quality that put other devices to shame. Today, it’s showing its age a little, but if you’re not in the market for something as pricey as the M8 or Galaxy S5, the One (M7) is a better buy than a lot of other devices out there. HTC have changed their tune with updates, and the M7 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and will be getting some of the new features from the M8 in an update to Sense 6. A quality device that has only really aged on the inside, the M7 is still a great device, as I found out about a year ago now.

The HTC One can be found on Amazon.

05. LG G2

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Last year, LG change the way a lot of us think about buttons on a smartphone, by placing them at the rear of he G2. While awkward at first, we learned to love the placement in our review, and with the recent update to Android 4.4.2, the G2 continues to impress. However, for all its plusses, the questionable software support from LG and uninspiring build puts the G2 in a strange position. It’s an excellent smartphone, but LG’s software is a little all over the place (despite gems like the camera software) and the G3 is only a few months away which sounds like an amazing device just over the horizon.

The G2 is available from all major carriers as well as Amazon for just $30 on Verizon.

04. Google Nexus 5

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You’re probably wondering why the Nexus 5 is ahead of the G2, despite the beating heart they both share. Well, for one thing the Nexus 5 will live a longer life thanks to updates to keep it relevant and it’s much better value. The Snapdragon 800 keeps up with the 801 and with 2GB of RAM this $349 unlocked smartphone is excellent value. Surprisingly, some people do appreciate stock Android and the minimal approach to software, but even still the hardware here is better than most would think as I found out when reviewing it last Fall.

The Nexus 5 is available unlocked from the Play Store.

03. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

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Forget the device’s size, the Galaxy Note 3 has oodles to offer users. The S-Pen alone allows for some great device operation, creativity and more. 3GB of RAM really helps out with multi-tasking and while TouchWiz is still annoying for some, it has some excellent features on the Note 3. The size is just great for a lot of users and the thinner profile helps taking the Note 3 everywhere you go. At 5.7-inches, there’s enough space here to comfortably watch a film or just spend time on YouTube. Overall, this is one of the best devices Samsung has ever made and will continue to be a great option for buyers throughout 2014.

Joint-First: HTC One (M8) and Galaxy S5

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Now that the HTC One (M8) and Galaxy S5 are out and available on shelves for all to buy, you might be wondering which you should spend your money on. The answer is not easy, and it really comes down to which one you like best. The One has a much better build by far, and speakers you’ll actually want to listen to, but then the Galaxy S5 is waterproof and has a fingerprint sensor. The One has a nifty Duo Camera and “UltraPixels”, but the Galaxy S5 has much higher resolution images to boast. They both share similar beating hearts with 2GB of RAM a piece and a Snapdragon 801 running the show. The point is, one is better than the other in some areas, and vice-versa. No matter which one you choose though, you’ll be happy.