Top 10: Best Android Smartphones Buyer’s Guide – January 2017

It's the start of a new year and for some, time to get a new smartphone. While 2017 will see a plethora of new smartphones coming though, at the moment, there are no 2017 major smartphones to speak of. Well, ASUS has announced their ASUS ZenFone AR, which will likely be a very interesting smartphone. Although, it is not expected to come through until the second quarter of this year. Likewise, next month at MWC 2017, there will likely be a much greater number of smartphones being announced. As it stands though, if you are looking for a new smartphone, then here are out top 10 smartphone picks for January 2017.

10. LeEco Le Pro3

For many reasons, the LeEco Le Pro3 is easily one of the best smartphones currently available. On paper, it certainly ticks all the right boxes and the price is also extremely competitive. Which does mean that if you are on a budget and do want a very good smartphone, then there are few better options right now than the LeEco Le Pro3. However, its user interface might not be to everyone’s taste and this is a smartphone that is still not widely available, unlike most of the other smartphones on this list. So depending on how you feel about aftercare and so on, might determine whether this is a viable option for you.

For a device which is available for $400 or lower, there is nothing wrong with the LeEco Le Pro3. On offer is 5.7-inch FHD display, along with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor. As well as a 16-megapixel camera, a 4,070 mAh battery, USB Type-C connectivity, and Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). So all in all, this is certainly a very capable smartphone. Although, if you are into your headphones, it is probably worth noting that there is no 3.5 mm port on offer here, as everything is USB Type-C oriented.

9. HTC 10

The HTC 10 is one of the smartphones on this list which has not had the uptake that it probably deserves and while this is another aging smartphone, it is one which offers a comparable spec list to what you will find on some of the most recently-released flagship devices. In fact, one of the big selling points with the HTC 10 is the actual build quality. This is one of those smartphones that feels good in the hand and its smaller (than the other flagships) size means it is ideal for those looking for a slightly smaller form factor.

With the HTC 10 you are getting a 5.2-inch QHD, 4GB of RAM and 32GB (or 64GB) internal storage. Along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, a 12-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 3,000 mAh battery. So while this is not a smartphone that will be on many people’s to-do list at the moment, it is one which is still worth considering. It is just not the best you can get for your money which right now means $500+.

8. Sony Xperia X Performance

Of course, if size does matter to you and you would prefer a premium spec smartphone in a compact form factor, then the Sony Xperia X Performance has to be one that is worth checking out. This one ticks many of the spec boxes, including a Sony Exmor RS 23-megapixel rear camera, a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, 32GB storage and comes in a tidy and neat 5-inch display size. There are some compromises, while there is a 4GB RAM model available, this one only comes with 3GB RAM, the display is only an FHD display and there is no fingerprint sensor for the US model.

Although, the biggest hurdle for the Sony Xperia X Performance right now is the price. As this one cost $499.99, there are other options out there which will give you more value per $. Which does mean that is not going to be the smartphone for many people. But if you do like Sony’s way of doing things, then you certainly could and can do worse than the Sony Xperia X Performance.

7. Google Nexus 6P

Being a Nexus smartphone, it is not that surprising that the Nexus 6P manages to cling on to a top 10 spot. However, there is no getting around this, this is one of the most dated smartphones on this list. Therefore you really are not getting the most current or leading specs with the Nexus 6P. What you are looking at, is 3GB RAM, a choice of 32/64/128GB storage variants and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (v2.1) processor. Along with a 13-megapixel rear cameras and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

However, what you are also looking at - is one of the most popular Nexus devices to come to market and one which will offer you a true Android experience. Unlike most of the rest of the devices on this list, this one runs stock Android-untouched. Which is always going to be a big selling point for many Android-dedicated buyers. Not forgetting of course, that with the Pixel(s) now here, this one also now includes nostalgic value. If you would like to own the last flagship Nexus smartphone, then here it is and it will currently cost you $449.99 to do so.

6. Lenovo Moto Z Force

Like the LG G5, the Moto Z Force (and Moto Z) make use of a modular design. However, unlike the G5, the Moto Z Force seems to have developed that modular approach a little bit more convincingly. In fact, now that a few months have rolled past since the release of the Moto Zs, the number of Mods for the Z range are starting to increase - this was always one of the fundamental issues with the G5’s approach. So this does mean that as far as modularity goes, the Moto Z range is the way to go. However, the Moto Z Force in particular just ticks a few more of the spec boxes when compared to the standard Moto Z, making the Force model the better option to go for.

On offer with the Moto Z Force is a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. In addition to a 21-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front facing camera, a 3,500 mAh battery, and more

5. LG V20

The LG V20 is an interesting one. In many ways, this is easily one of the best smartphones to currently go for. However, it is not exactly the most available smartphone on the market. Which in part, has led to less than stellar sales figures. Although, if you speak to anyone who does own the LG V20, they will likely tell you that it is one of, if not, the best smartphone, on the market. On paper it certainly comes with all the right numbers, including 4GB RAM, 32GB (or 64GB) storage, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and a 3,200 mAh battery.

Adding to its appeal is a fairly large 5.7-inch QHD display (with additional secondary display), 16 and 8-megapixel rear-facing cameras, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and the latest version of the Android operating system, Android 7.0 (Nougat). This is also a smartphone that seems to be highly tuned for better audio performance as well. So if you are into your music and photos, then this is a pretty good smartphone to opt for. Although, at its current $799.99 price tag, it might be a bit of a hard sale compared to the rest of this list.

4. Huawei Mate 9

In reality, the is not a brand-new smartphone. However, if you are based in the US, then it is certainly new enough as it has only this month become officially available to buy. Which is great news for US buyers as the Huawei Mate 9 is a great smartphone. Especially for those who are looking for a big smartphone and a great camera experience - as this is one of the largest smartphones on the list, thanks to its 5.9-inch FHD display and one which comes equipped with a rear dual camera setup.

In particular, the rear camera setup is one of the biggest selling points with the Huawei Mate 9 - on offer is a 12-megapixel RGB sensor and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. So you can expect both rich and detailed images to be taken. In terms of the rest of the specs, you are looking at a smartphone that comes packed with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor. In addition to an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, microSD card support, USB Type-C connectivity, a 4,000 mAh battery and Android 6.0 (Marshmallow).

3. OnePlus 3T

When it comes to straight up value for money, it is hard to argue against what is on offer with the OnePlus 3T. Yes, you could have essentially bought this smartphone a little cheaper (and six months earlier) without the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, but the OnePlus 3T is still an upgrade over the OnePlus 3. And with a price tag as low as $439, this is easily one of the best value smartphones on the market - which also easily makes the OnePlus 3T a smartphone worth considering.

For that price, you are looking at a 5.5-inch FHD display. Along with 6GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821. In addition to a 16-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, USB Type-C, a 3,400 mAh battery and Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). Of course, if you are willing to spend an extra $30 then you can also bump up the internal storage to 128GB. After all, who doesn't need more storage nowadays?

2. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge ticks all the boxes. Which is even more surprising considering this is another aging smartphone. So with this smartphone making the number 2 spot almost a year after its release, really does lend credence to how good of a smartphone the Galaxy S7 Edge was and still is. You are getting just about as good of a smartphone as you can here. One which comes with an excellent spec list, a unique design, a great display and a fantastic camera experience. In spite of being almost a year old, this is still one of the best smartphones you can buy.

In terms of the numbers, the Galaxy S7 Edge comes with a 5.5-inch QHD Super AMOLED display. Along with 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB internal storage. In the US, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 powers the show, while elsewhere you will find the Exynos 8890 running things. In addition, you will get a 16-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a 3,600 mAh battery, Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and of course, sloping Edges which also come with Edge-specific functionality. In terms of price, and while it is not as expensive as it used to be, it is still fairly expensive for a year-old smartphone - adding to the reasons as to why it is no longer the number one choice to go for.

1. Google Pixel / Pixel XL

The Google Pixel and the Pixel XL are largely the same phone. Which does generally make them somewhat indistinguishable. However, they do differ in some notable areas and this does mean that while one variant will be right for some, the other will be right for others. Although, if you were to draw between them, then few would argue with the Pixel XL being the better of the two smartphones. Either way and whichever you opt for, you are getting what is currently the best Android smartphone experience on the market.

Both variants come with 4GB RAM, 32GB or 128GB storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor. Both also come with a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, USB Type-C connectivity and a fingerprint sensor. Where you will notice the difference is that the Pixel comes with a 5-inch FHD AMOLED display and a 2,770 mAh battery, while the Pixel XL comes boasting a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED panel along with a 3,450 mAh battery. Either way, you are looking at the latest version of Android, 7.x (Nougat) and the best smartphone interface currently on the market.

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About the Author
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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]
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