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Top 10 Best Android Smartphones Buyers Guide: July 2014 Edition

July 20, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

It’s that time of year again, in which we’re waiting for Motorola to release their next flagship device and the run up to what’s presumably going to be a device featuring a UV sensor. So while there’s not much happening in the US wireless market when it comes to new, high-end releases there’s a lot out there, a lot of great devices that won’t disappoint. Oh, and did we mention the G3 is available from pretty much everyone now? That happened too.

10. Motorola Moto G

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As this list focuses on the absolute best smartphones available in the US right now, it’s no surprise that there isn’t many budget options on this list. That’s also because doing a budget Android smartphone right is also more difficult than we think it is. Sure, the HTC One Mini and Galaxy S5 Mini are cool and all, but they’re not designed to be great Android smartphones first and foremost, which the Moto G. Sure, it’s pretty cheap, but there is a 4G version available now and overall the Moto G is the best budget option out there, especially if you care about software updates and a good Android experience above all else.

Available from Amazon, the Moto G is pretty affordable.

09. Motorola Moto X

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Last week, it was in the comments that putting the Moto X so low down in this list was akin to complaining about your significant other’s physical attributes. While I’m not quite sure I get the analogy, it’s obvious that specs aren’t everything, however the harsh truth is that specs are what create the experience. Sure, the 720p screen is okay and all, but the dual-core CPU (which is what drives Android on the Moto X regardless of the other cores) is going to age quicker than other devices. If you’re not concerned with the absolute fastest, then that’s not an issue. Still, the Moto X is a great phone to live with, it’s straightforward, infinitely customizable and stays up-to-date. However, living with a device that ages quicker than others isn’t all that fun, which is a shame as the Moto X is definitely a device to consider.

You can pick up the Moto X on Amazon, but the real fun is with the Moto Maker.

08. LG G Flex

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The G Flex is perhaps one of the most different devices available today. Sure, the Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) have different features and the G3 is a different beast together, but if you’re looking for something a little offbeat, then this is a device to take a good look at. It’s not perfect, as the 720p display here can suffer from some defects, but the Snapdragon 800 still plugs on and LG has shown a renewed approach to software, so the G Flex should continue to stay updated for some time to come. The 5-inch, curved display is the real star of the show here and if that intrigues you, then LG has just what you ordered.

Looking for a curvy device? Take a look on Amazon.

07. Sony Xperia Z2

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We recently reviewed the Xperia Z2 and while it’s Sony’s best effort yet, it still misses the mark in a few areas. The 3GB of RAM and Snapdragon 801 are great here and those looking for a speed demon won’t be disappointed, neither will mobile photogs with the 20.1-megapixel shooter still working wonders. However, the 5.2-inch display – which is now IPS and looks very nice indeed – is lost in bezels both at the top and bottom of the display, which leads to a device that’s awkward to hold at times and a little unwieldy. Of course, it’s all what you get used to and if the Xperia Z2 was actually available in the US like any other smartphone, we’re pretty sure Sony might be more of a name over here.

06. LG G2

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It might be aging a little bit, but LG’s 2013 flagship is still a great option, especially if you can pick one up on the cheap. It’s a shame that the plasticky back of the G2 now looks even worse with the arrival of the G3, but the innovative buttons around back and a 5.2-inch display that feels much smaller in your hand all add up to a great device. No slouch in the camera department, either the G2 and its Snapdragon 800 can still kick it with the big guys, but whether or not LG’s software updates hold up is something only time will tell.

Still thinking about a G2? Try Amazon.

05. OnePlus One

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Unquestionably a great device, as we found out in our recent review, the OnePlus One ticks so many boxes it seems too good to be true, and in some ways, it is. While the invite system is what it is, it’s been getting better over the last couple of weeks and I’m seeing buyers get a hold of their codes and receiving the device not much later. However, with a yellow tint issue which turned out to be a glue that needed to dry and some questionable practices from their customer service arm and their forums, things don’t look all that great for OnePlus right now. Hopefully though, this is all just a bump in the road, as the OnePlus One is excellent value with a Snapdragon 801, 5.5-inch 1080p display and a pretty groovy backpanel and there’s no denying it’s a great device, regardless.

04. Google Nexus 5

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The Nexus 5 still remains something of an unsung hero these days. Sure, it’s not the greatest smartphone out there – far from it – but it’s got a cool, understated design to it and it’s incredible value. The display is nice and sharp, the Snapdragon 800 and 2GB of RAM handle everything you throw at it and while the camera is a big lowpoint, it’s the best device out there if you genuinely prefer stock Android. With Android L coming up in the Fall, the Nexus 5 is going to get a big shot in the arm, while other devices will just have to wait. That’s not reason enough to buy a smartphone, but for a lot of people that’s important and the Nexus 5 has much more going for it than just speedy updates.

You can find the Nexus 5 in Google’s Play Store.

03. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

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Coming up to a year old this Fall, the Galaxy Note 3 is a shining example of how Samsung does big phones better than anyone else. The company practically created the market for this giants, and the Galaxy Note 3 continues the tradition of launching large devices with meaningful features. The S-Pen is better than ever here and the Snapdragon 800 and 3GB of RAM means it’s one of the fastest devices available. With a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display and a classier design than other models from Samsung, the Galaxy Note 3 is the big device to own

Available from Amazon, the Galaxy Note 3 is one for the powerusers.

02. HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5

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While fanboys will constantly go back and forth over what’s more important, features or build quality, camera or sound quality, there’s a much easier way to look at these two; they’re both great. They’ve been on the market for some time now and they both have the same innards, both run KitKat, both have great cameras and both have great feature sets. The thing about these two is that they’re just different. If you want something a little classier, then go for the M8, but if you want the best specs and a nice long feature list then take the Galaxy S5. Each does something better than the other and vice-versa, the decision is up to.

01. LG G3

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The G3 is a well-designed, good-looking spec monster with a stunning display. It’s not the mythical beast that some thought it might be, but it’s still one of the best devices out there today, with super-slim bezels, a swanky new software theme and some of the best specs in a device. The 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 display and excellent camera make this a great multimedia workhorse as well as an excellent all rounder, too. Why not read our review to see how good it really is? It’s also now available throughout all major US networks.

On Amazon, the G3 is available from Sprint, AT&T and Verizon.