You’ve weighed up the options: you don’t like the look of the new iPhone 7, while phones running Windows and BlackBerry’s own in-house OS no longer exist. So it’s Android for you, but which handset to get?
Have no fear, we’re here to walk you through the best Android handsets of 2017. Of course, 2017 is still young and there are plenty of exciting handsets around the corner. Head to our best upcoming smartphones page to see what we’re most excited about this year.
But if you want the best Android phone of 2017 here and now, here are our picks.
If you want to learn a little more about how we test smartphones, jump to page two, where you’ll find an in-depth guide to what we look for in a device.
14 best Android phones 2017
Price when reviewed: £689
To be perfectly clear, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is objectively the best phone out there. As of April 2017, nothing comes close to touching it, as we made clear in our review.
For a time, it was second in our list for one reason: price. When it launched it was £689 SIM-free, but now it’s not uncommon to see if going for under £600, making it both competitive and very tempting. The Galaxy S8 tops the charts in terms of performance and display quality and isn’t far off in terms of battery life and camera.
As of right now, Samsung sits top of the tree. In a year of great handsets, the S8 is still the one to beat.
2. OnePlus 5T
Price when reviewed: 64GB, £449 inc VAT
OnePlus retired the 5 after only a few months on sale but the phone that replaced it – the OnePlus 5T – is an even better handset. In fact, it’s the best handset the Chinese company has ever made.
While the innards remain largely the same – principally because the Snapdragon 835 powering the OnePlus 5 remains unbeaten – on the outside it’s all change. It gets a big 6in S8-style edge-to-edge display that occupies nearly the whole of the front of the phone and, despite that, it’s barely any larger than the phone it replaces. On top of this there are improvements to the software and camera; it’s a truly great phone that no other manufacturer can match for value and quality
Price when reviewed: £629
You might expect to find the Pixel 2 XL here along with its smaller sibling, but unfortunately, its display is hampered by an annoying blue-ish tint. As such, we’d struggle to recommend it to anyone. You can read Jon’s full review of the Pixel 2 XL here.
The Google Pixel 2, on the other hand, is an outstanding device. Its camera is capable of taking phenomenal snaps even in tricky light conditions and we love its simple stock Android interface – unlike many of its competitors, the Pixel 2 doesn’t come loaded with bloatware, and everything is easy to find. You’ll also get software updates and the latest versions of Android before anyone else. Just don’t be tempted to buy the larger XL version.
Probably the biggest surprise of 2017 was Huawei’s spectacular Mate 10 Pro, a phone that marked the point in time when Huawei finally cracked the big time. The Mate 10 Pro is not only a handsome handset, clad in glass at the front and rear and available in a range of eye-catching colours, it also takes spectacular photographs and the battery life is brilliant. This phone regularly delivers true two-day battery life without needing to be hooked up to the mains.
For a phone with a 6in display, the resolution of 1,080 x 2,160 looks a little on the low side, but that’s our only criticism – but most people won’t notice any pixelation and the OLED panel delivers excellent picture quality as well.
5. HTC U11
Price when reviewed: £649
Its been a while since a HTC phone has placed so highly in our list, but the U11 is an absolute belter. Not only is it just a gnat’s wing slower than the Samsung Galaxy S8, but its camera is actually better, and arguably even finer than our favourite the Pixel. It gets added IP68 water resistance, and as per usual with HTC the sound is top notch.
There’s a “but” here, but it’s relatively small in the greater scheme of things. The screen is a little weak for a flagship, and it has no 3.5mm headphone jack. Add to that a price that is just £30 lower than the Samsung Galaxy S8 and it can’t quite reach the summit of our list, but make no mistake: this is a five star phone and proof that there’s life in HTC yet.
Price when reviewed: £650 inc VAT
The headline feature on Sony’s new flagship handset is a 4K screen which is silly. Really silly. Don’t buy this phone because of its 4K screen – not only can the human eye not see the difference between 2K and 4K on a display this size, but the majority of the time it runs on an upscaled 1080p image to save battery. It’s silly.
However, at £650 it’s the same price as the LG G6 and HTC U11 – it’s better than the former, and similar to the latter. It’s not quite up there with the £680 Samsung Galaxy S8, but it’s a really great phone that won’t let you down. Too bad Sony didn’t put in a 2K screen and undercut its rivals, but maybe next time, eh?
Price when reviewed: £869 inc VAT
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is comfortably the best phone we’ve ever reviewed: it’s got a huge, brilliant screen, it looks the part and its camera is simply superb. Why, then, is it languishing all the way down in fifth place? Price.
£869 above wasn’t a typo. That’s really how much Samsung is charging. Of course the S8 started out at £689 and then came down rapidly, so there’s a chance that the Note 8 will follow suit. Then it will definitely be worth a look.
But, for now, is it nearly £300 better than the S8? Or the Xperia XZ Premium? Or the HTC U11? Unquestionably not. It may be the best, but you’d have to really view money as no object to pick the Note 8 ahead of any of them.
8. LG G6
Price when reviewed: £650 inc VAT
LG’s latest handset ditches the nod to modular elements seen in the LG G5, and it’s all the better for it. It’s got a great screen, a decent camera, and it’s reasonably speedy. Sadly the removable battery is a casualty, but you can’t win ’em all. That’s the price you pay for water resistance.
Like the S8, the LG G6 price has plummeted quickly, making it far easier to recommend than it was when it launched at £650. Right now if you shop around, you can buy LG’s latest for under £500. And at that price, despite not being as hot as the Samsung Galaxy S8, it’s well worth a look.
9. Xiaomi Mi6
Price when reviewed: £340, import only
While the OnePlus range has been gradually creeping up in price over the last few years, another Chinese manufacturer has kept the cost of entry relatively low. Xiaomi isn’t a big name in the West (despite being the third biggest smartphone maker on the planet), but they don’t sell directly over here.
For a £340 import, you’re looking at a phone that is every bit the technical match for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the OnePlus 5 at a fraction of the price. Sacrifices have been made – it’s only a 1080p screen and there’s no fast charging – but they’ve been made in sensible places. It’s a stylish phone with incredible performance and stamina. The dual camera is a nice touch, too, with a second lens and a 2X telephoto one.
The only fly in the ointment is the need to import it – which means you won’t have much recourse if things go wrong. But if you like to buy outright, and are turned off by the high prices, you could do worse than looking to Xiaomi.
Price when reviewed: 32GB, from £569-£639 inc VAT
The S7 is no longer Samsung’s top dog anymore, but as prices tumble this may be the ideal time to bite. It’s still a great looking phone in 2017, and a top performer. The camera module is the same, too, and although snaps look a little better in the S8, this is still one of the best picks for photographers around.
It represents a big upgrade from the S6, too – its camera and performance are both better; in some respects battery life is superior; and the return of storage expansion and disaster-proofing is a huge bonus.
Of course, if style is your primary concern, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a better-looking sibling. For an extra £90, you can get the Galaxy S7 Edge, which is the same phone, but a bit larger and with an additional pair of screens down the edges of the device. Is that worth the extra money? Probably not, but that’s for you to decide. In every other respect, it’s the same brilliant smartphone, with a slightly bigger screen.
11. Moto Z and Moto Z Play
Price when reviewed: £369 for Moto Z Play; £499 for Moto Z
Proving that modular phones aren’t a dead concept is the Moto Z series. This clever pair of handsets lets you upgrade your phone for the day ahead with special magnetic backs that improve the phone’s core features. There are currently five mods to buy (including a longer battery, a powerful speaker, a Hasselblad camera and a projector) with at least 12 more to follow in 2017. Oh, and the Moto Z Play has the best battery we’ve ever seem in a smartphone, managing almost a day of looped 720p video!
Price when reviewed: 32GB, around £400 inc VAT
If it’s a smaller phone you’re craving, the Xperia Z5 Compact may be your dream come true. Yes, it’s three generations old now, but if you don’t fancy an iPhone SE, then your options are pretty limited. Sony has released a new smaller phone, but bafflingly the Xperia X Compact is a step backwards, so if you can find one, this still gets the nod.
The 4.6in screen means that it’s far more pocketable than the current generation of 5in-and-larger phones, and the overall quality is unbeatable. The screen has far fewer pixels than some, but it’s bright and crisp nonetheless. The camera is stunning and battery life excellent, too. Factor in hard-knock build and water resistance, and the Z5 Compact has a lot going for it as it enters its third year.
Price when reviewed: 32GB, £250 inc VAT
In the past, the Moto G Plus has played second fiddle to the outstanding G range. This time, the G5 was a huge letdown, and the G5 Plus is the one to beat. At £250, it’s not the super cheap and cheerful handset that made the G range famous, but if you find a better camera on a phone in this price range, I’ll eat my hat.
That’s because the G5 Plus inherits the same sensor that Samsung uses in the Galaxy S7, and the results are suitably jaw dropping. On top of that, it’s a solid mid-range smartphone to boot. Well done Lenovo.
14. Motorola Moto G4
Price when reviewed: 16GB, £160 inc VAT
The original Moto G made us sit up and take notice, redefining what a budget smartphone could do. The G4 continues that fine form, even if the price tag and physical size have swollen since the original. If the 5.5in size doesn’t put you off, there simply isn’t a better smartphone you can get for an RRP of under £200. As Jon wrote in his review, “it’s one hell of a smartphone, and delivers more bang per buck than any smartphone to date”.
So why is this here and not the Moto G5? Simply because the Moto G5 performs around the same as the G4 in a slightly prettier case. Save your money and get a G4, which is now available at an even lower price than when it started life as a bargain in 2016.
15. Honor 6X
Price when reviewed: £225 inc VAT
For £225, the Honor 6X barely puts a foot wrong. In fact, it does a passable impression of a flagship twice the price some of the time. In Geekbench, it achieves scores which aren’t a million miles behind the likes of the Google Pixel (3,319 vs 4,101), and while it loses out in terms of graphical grunt, it will be a solid phone for most people – especially at its tempting price point.
It’s a real looker, it has a decent camera, solid battery life and feels quick. What more could you want for £225?
Jump to page two for advice on what to look for when buying an Android phone.