If you are searching for a new smartphone you will ultimately have to make a choice between an Android phone or an iPhone. Fortunately, there has probably never been a better time to join team Android.
There are only a handful of choices when buying from Apple, but devices running on Google’s Android operating system offer far more choice and variety and some of the best phones of recent years come from the likes of Samsung, Google and OnePlus.
Apple’s iPhones have long been among the most popular devices and the newly released iPhone X has created a buzz around the high-tech flagship handset. But there are a number of popular brands to choose from if you don’t want to go for an iPhone, and we can expect more Android Oreo releases in early 2018, such as the Samsung Galaxy S9.
The Telegraph has spent time with some of the best Android phones over the past year. Here is how they stack up:
Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S9 smartphone is its most advanced yet, with a powerful, dual aperture camera, a gorgeous infinity edge display and a powerful processor. The successor to the excellent S8, it upgrades the phone in all the right ways, with powerful camera features such as a 960 frames per second super slow motion mode.
It comes with facial unlocking, a rear fingerprint sensor and can be bought as the 5.8-inch S9 or the 6.2-inch S9+. It’s not cheaper, however, starting at £739, but it is now the best Android phone you can buy. You can find all the best deals on the Samsung Galaxy S9 here.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is a powerhouse of a phone with a premium price. It comes with a massive 6GB of RAM inside, enough to plug it in and use it like a mini-computer. It comes with a stylus pen for taking notes on the screen, and has the Bixby virtual assistant to take voice commands.
It has a 6.3-inch screen making it one of the largest Phablets (phone/tablets) out there. The Galaxy Note 8 was one of our favourite phones of 2017, but it comes with a premium price of £869.
The Google Pixel 2 XL is the tech giant’s latest smartphone and it brings with it some major steps forward. It has a larger screen that covers most of the front of the screen, a rear fingerprint sensor and upgrades its rear dual camera – easily one of the best smartphone camera’s out there with a 12.3MP lens.
It has a funky design and works with Google’s Assistant AI, which learns how you use your phone and can respond to voice commands. It can also be used to integrate with Google’s Daydream virtual reality platform. You can read Technology editor James Titcomb’s full review here.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a beautiful device. It has an all round Infinity Display, which means the phone screen slides seamlessly to the sides of the phone. It also has a headphone jack, unlike its main rivals from Apple. It is water and dust resistant and features 64GB of internal storage.
The S8 also has security features from the standard fingerprint scanner to iris and facial recognition, and has brought in the Bixby virtual assistant which now includes voice control. The voice control is a little limited compared to what you can get from Siri, however.
While it raised the bar on smartphones and is probably the best Android phone you can buy, you will have to be able to part with some serious money to enjoy it, and we can expect a new Samsung Galaxy launch next month.
Upstart Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has made a real impact with its brand of cut-price premium smartphones. Its latest phone, the OnePlus 5T, is one of our favourite Android smartphones, and certainly the best you can buy for under £500.
It still comes in at just £449 for the base model, a fair price for so much power with has 64GB of storage and a massive 6GB of RAM, making it lightning fast and able to run multiple tasks simultaneously. It also now features facial recognition and an edge-to-edge display, plenty of premium features for your money. It comes in Midnight Black. You can read my full review of the OnePlus 5T here.
Huawei has emerged as a big player in smartphones in the last two years, aiming to break the US market with high end products designed to compete with Apple and Samsung. This version of the company’s phone is, according to Huawei, the first phone putting AI at the heart of your mobile, with an AI optimised Kirin 970 chip.
It offers peak performance speeds when running intensive apps, although with so few AI apps available you won’t notice much. It does have exceptional battery life of two days or better, and comes in luxurious colours with a glass back. With a wide 6-inch screen and 12MP dual camera it is a premium phone choice, although it also drops the headphone jack in favour of a USB-C charger. The price has now come down to £529, which makes this a much more attractive offering compared to its original £699 asking price.
Google’s new Pixel 2 is its smaller version of its big brother Pixel 2 XL smartphone. It comes with the latest Android Oreo operating system and is built for use with AI inside. It has a 5-inch screen, so its slim enough for your pocket while also packing serious power and an excellent, 12.2MP camera.
Inside it comes with either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and has fast charging, which Google says will give you seven hours of use in just 15 minutes. It has smart AI features, from Google’s Assistant to Google Lens, which can be used to give details of objects you are looking at, such as facts about a landmark. It doesn’t have quite the camera of the larger Pixel 2 XL, and the style is a little dated for some. It comes in three colours, blue, white and black.
We praised the Nokia 8 smartphone for its battery life, clean Android operating system and unique camera. It is also the first smartphone which will allow you to take a “bothie”, a selfie and a normal photo at the same time.
It comes with an all-day battery life, 64GB of internal storage and the option to add a 256GB microSD card to bulk this out. It maintains a headphone jack, unlike some more expensive models, and has a stylish aluminium body. While we liked the Nokia 8, it sits firmly in the mid-range of Android smartphones and doesn’t quite compete with more expensive models from Samsung and Google, although it has had a price cut to under £400 from some sellers.
The Moto Z2 Play is fun, funky and unique, offering modular capabilities to let you change camera modules, gaming attachments or even add a speaker. It’s one of the only modular smartphones, which means extra features can be clipped to the back magnetically. These include a powerful Hasselblad camera and a gamepad.
In terms of the other stuff, it comes with a 12MP rear camera and a 5MP selfie camera, 64GB of internal storage plus up to 2TB more with a micro SD card. It has fast charging, meaning you get eight hours power in 15 minutes.
You shouldn’t have to splash out on an smartphone, there are plenty of cheap models you can pick up for under £250. Here are some of the top picks out there:
Lenovo’s series of Android smartphones are some of the best value buys out there. This model is an upgrade on the hugely popular Moto G5, bringing a slightly larger screen at 5.2 inches. It includes an upgraded 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage plus room for a dual SIM. Its front and rear mounted cameras are reasonable, with a 16MP rear facing camera.
It has a sleek, aluminium body and runs on Android 7.0, keeping its menu and systems simple and in line with the original design. Other features include a fingerprint scanner and NFC to use apps like Android Pay
Cheap and cheerful, the new Nokia 3 is a return for the brand with the phones now made by HMD. The new Nokia 3 looks great with a funky design in four colours and a 5-inch HD screen.
It has reasonable battery life at 20 hours but it is not the most powerful phone around. It has 8MP front and back cameras and comes with the latest Android operating system. Nokia’s entry level smartphone is one of the best budget smartphones this year and can be picked up for just over £100 from Amazon.
Although there are plenty of reasons to buy an iPhone Apple’s phones are not for everyone, and given that the new iPhone X costs up to £1,000 many people will be looking at other options.
Android is used by more phones and tablets, giving you greater choice when picking your phone and models such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 are market leaders in the technology they offer.
So if you want a bit more choice or a cheaper option, as well as the ability to share data easily across other Android phones and tablets and Google, this operating system might be the right one for you.
Key technical specs you should be looking for in your smartphone include basic choices such as screen size and battery life to performance indicators such as processing power and storage.
While you can simply break down phones in terms of handset price, many providers in the UK offer deals to pick up new phones for less than the main price.
Many smartphones are available for free if you agree to a two year contract. From there, you will be charged for the number of texts, minutes and the amount of data you use. However, it is almost always cheaper in the long run to buy a phone outright and then pick up a sim only deal.
Phones that are a year or two old may only set you back £15 a month over a two year period for basic levels of minutes and data. The latest flagship handsets, however, will probably cost more than £40 a month, and may also include an upfront cost for the phone as well.
The cheapest decent Android phones will cost from £100. These will phones running on Android can still be high quality, just with less power and storage.
Mid-range phones will cost between £250 to close to £500, phones from OnePlus, Nokia and Motorola tend to fall into this category. High-end phones will have the latest dual cameras, huge storage and powerful specs will push you to part with £500 or more.
After testing many of the top Android phone releases of 2017, the Samsung Galaxy S8 remains on top as arguably the best buy if you are after an iPhone alternative. Its price has actually come down significantly since its release and you can find plenty of great smartphone contracts and deals for under £30 per month.
We are expecting to see a new version in the Galaxy range from Samsung in January, potentially the Galaxy S9, so it may only be our top pick for the very near future. Our other favourite phone is the OnePlus 5T. It provides outstanding power and performance in a package that comes in at under £500, plus you get outstanding photos with its dual lens camera.
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