AH Awards: Best Android Smartphone Of 2017

The Google Pixel 2 is no ordinary smartphone, it’s a smart smartphone and the best Android smartphone of 2017.

WINNER: Google Pixel 2

This might only be Google’s second attempt at bringing to market a self-branded smartphone, but for us, Google has managed to bring the market the best Android smartphone of the year. To be fair, this was a tight race between the Google Pixel 2 and this year’s runner-up selection, but when it came to the editing team's votes, the Google Pixel 2 just nudged its way into the lead. So congratulations Google on the Pixel 2 being our pick for best Android smartphone of 2017.

There is the issue, however, of which Google Pixel 2 phone. While there are two models available, which do differ, this award is being credited to the Google Pixel 2 line in general. As in spite of their differences, those differences are aimed at different buyers with the actual product on offer largely the same. For example, while the Pixel 2 XL is considered to be the better option - due to its more attractive and modern appearance (by today’s standards) - it will not be to everyone's liking and for some, it will be just that little bit too big. The standard Pixel 2 on the other hand, is smaller and a much better fit for consumers looking for a more compact smartphone experience without having to compromise on features or quality. Not to mention, the standard Pixel 2 also has value on its side as it is not only more pocket-friendly in terms of size, but also in terms of price. Making it the far more suitable option for those not looking to shell out close to $1,000 for the best Android smartphone. So in spite of many considering the Pixel 2 XL to be the better option, it is not, and this is where Google has made its first winning decision - by only differing the phones based on differences which have an impacting effect. For those the Pixel 2 is aimed at, it is the best Android smartphone of the year, and the same can be said for the Pixel 2 XL.

More importantly, these two phones do not actually differ that much where it matters. As both the Google Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are powerhouse smartphones, boasting a solid spec list across the board. In addition, Google has been extremely clever with this year's Pixel lineup as the company managed to tweak the software experience to make best use of the hardware on offer. While those simply looking at the Pixel 2 or 2 XL on paper might not be immediately blown away by what they read, when those same people use the phone, and on a daily basis, it will become clear just how well the software matches up to the hardware. The camera experience is a prime example as while every other major manufacturer has turned to dual rear cameras to improve on their 2016 models, the Pixel 2 launched with a single rear camera and yet it still manages to blow away the competition - and this is all thanks to the software tweaking and experience. Which can also be said for other areas of the phone as well, with Google turning to artificial intelligence to really bring together a smartphone which does more, without the need to include more at the hardware level. Therefore, the two Pixel 2 phones somewhat represent the future of smartphones. As while hardware stagnates and evolves at a slower rate compared to previous years, AI and machine learning will pick up the slack, offering the next level of improvement in both the short and long term. To sum up, the Pixel 2 is not your ordinary smartphone, it is a smart smartphone, and one worthy of the title of the best Android smartphone of 2017.

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was a very close second for best android smartphone of the year, and buyers of either the Note 8 or the Pixel 2 will be getting a top class product and user experience. So, in spite of the Galaxy Note 8 taking the runner-up position this year, it is still a winning smartphone in every respect. Especially considering this one came on the back of the Galaxy Note 7 which ended up the subject of a worldwide product recall. With the pressure that was exerted on this release it would have been easy for Samsung to miss a trick or bring to market more of a mediocre product with a view to firstly regaining consumer trust. Samsung’s approach, however, could not have been more different with the company bringing to market a smartphone boasting multiple new aspects compared to previous Samsung models. The most obvious of which was the inclusion of a dual rear camera setup on the back of the device - a first for Samsung’s flagship lines. Add to that, a wealth of other features including face and iris recognition, Samsung’s own AI assistant (Bixby), Samsung’s own payment solution (Samsung Pay), and this is already starting to become one of the most feature-rich smartphones on the market. This is without even discussing the build quality, the specs, or for that matter - the fact it comes with a stylus and some really neat (and again, new) stylus-related software tweaks. All of which culminates in one very easy to make statement... if you are in the market for a rich smartphone experience, look no further than the Galaxy Note 8.

Honorable Mention: LG V30

For a lot of Android users the status of best android smartphone of the year will probably come down to a choice between the Google Pixel 2 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. However, it is worth taking a moment to appreciate the LG V30 and all it offers. This is a smartphone that in general has not received the recognition it should have, as LG did bring to market a seriously good smartphone with the V30. One that offers a number of features you won't find on other smartphones, and in particular a good level of tweaking for those looking for more advanced audio and photography features. For those users, they are unlikely to find a better smartphone released in 2017, if ever, as the advanced camera controls on offer bring the V30 more in line with professional cameras, while the sound quality baked into the V30 is second to none. This is by far one of the best phones of the year, and one, you should consider buying.

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About the Author
2014/05/John.jpg

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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