Update, May 2017: The Galaxy S8 takes the top of the list, while the rest of the group pushes down one spot. The new Moto G5 Plus has been added as an affordable option.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon
See at AT&T
See at T-Mobile
See at Sprint
See at Best Buy

The Galaxy S8 has slick redesigned hardware with tiny bezels that let it have a big screen in a small body, but inside it still offers everything you want: a high-end processor, lots of storage, an SD card slot, full waterproofing and a top-end camera.

Yes the fingerprint sensor is slightly awkward to use, but the GS8’s iris scanner is dramatically improved to make up for it. And it only takes one look at the industry-leading display to start to forgive Samsung’s decisions on the back.

Though its software can be a little overwhelming to novices, you can’t argue that Samsung continues to pack in hundreds of features to a single phone, making sure there’s something in here for everyone’s needs. Samsung continues to take this approach of offering more more more with just a few compromises — and it continues to work.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 gives you piles of features in a beautiful body, and is a great choice for a wide range of potential buyers.

One more thing: Of course, you can always pay a little extra and get the larger Galaxy S8+ for a bit more screen and battery life.

Advertisement

Why the Galaxy S8 is the best

Samsung’s Galaxy S brand carries considerable weight in the mobile world, and the Galaxy S8 continues to both leverage that brand while also offering a fantastic overall smartphone experience that today’s consumers want. Once again, Samsung took its core principles of great hardware, a top-end display, waterproofing, solid cameras and mounds of features and updated it all for 2017.

The result is a fresh design that shrinks down the display bezels and really smooths out all of the sharp edges to give you a sleek, thin phone with a really large display that doesn’t feel that large. The extra-tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio comes in at 5.8-inches across on the Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inches on the Galaxy S8+, and in both cases feels quite a bit smaller than the numbers would lead you to believe.

The sleek body still packs in top-end specs, of course, starting with that magnificent Super AMOLED display and backing it up with a Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895, 4GB of RAM, larger 64GB of storage (plus an SD card slot), a new USB-C port and locking it all down with waterproofing. The batteries are no bigger than last year’s models, but battery life hasn’t taken any hit. On the other side of the hardware, there’s one big downside: Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to an awkward position on the back next to the camera, leaving you with the less-consistent and less-convenient face scanning and iris scanning instead.

Samsung continues to make phones with all of the design and features people are clamoring for.

The camera experience has actually changed more on the front than the back with a new 8MP unit that packs auto focus. But the 12MP rear camera is still no slouch — Samsung has improved its processing to get even more out of this setup, and it remains a competitor for the best overall smartphone camera out there.

The ongoing point of contention when it comes to Samsung phones is the software, and that’s the same once again on the Galaxy S8. Samsung continues to put in a massive number of features without removing any from years prior, leaving you with lots of things to get in the way and confuse you when you’re trying to get the basics done. On the other hand, it’s hard to find someone who can’t get done what they need to get done right out of the box on this phone. It truly is aimed at being relevant to as diverse a set of consumers as possible, and it succeeds on that point.

By putting up with a few of the out-of-the-box quirks and taking some time to set it up how you like it, the Galaxy S8 can do anything you want and get it done at a fast pace while looking great as well.


 

Advertisement

Best clean experience

Google Pixel

Google Pixel

See at Google
See at Verizon

The Google Pixel does almost everything right. Its metal body is well-built and easy to grip — in either the 5-inch or 5.5-inch size — and its spec sheet is still capable, featuring a Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM powering its QHD display

But the Pixel really makes its case because Google owns both the hardware and the software. Even the best manufacturers can’t achieve what Google has with its first-party powerhouse. It’s fast, clean and lovely to use with Google’s apps and services. The downside is the Pixel can’t match the others in terms of raw features.

Then there’s the camera, which continues to be one of the best in the business, helped along by Google’s exemplary electronic stabilization that gives you silky smooth video recording.

Bottom line: Google doesn’t compete in the raw number of features, but offers a sleek, consistent and holistic experience that absolutely deserves praise.

One more thing: The Pixel is available unlocked through Google’s store in most countries, but if you’re in the U.S. we suggest considering buying through Google Fi.

Best for less

LG G6

LG G6

See at Verizon
See at AT&T
See at T-Mobile
See at Sprint
See at B&H

The LG G6 uses a tall 18:9 display and tiny bezels (hey, it even came out before the Galaxy S8) to give you a larger screen in a smaller body. The all-new metal-and-glass design may not be totally inspired, but it’s built amazingly well and incorporates lots of little features — like waterproofing — to help it hold up over time.

All of the internal specs you expect are here, even though the battery isn’t removable like its predecessors. The one downside here is regional differences: the higher-quality Quad DAC is exclusive to Asia, while wireless charging is only for the North American market.

LG’s dual camera setup has returned but with a refined emphasis on the wide-angle camera so it packs the same sensor as the standard camera. The main camera takes fantastic photos to go toe-to-toe with the best of them, and the wide-angle shooter adds in something that no other phone offers.

Bottom line: This is LG’s best flagship phone to date, and going a step further it’s one that comes in at a notably lower price than the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel XL.

One more thing: Shop around a bit before buying, as different retailers and carriers can have varying pricing schemes.

Best for basics

OnePlus 3T

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus
See at Amazon

OnePlus took an interesting approach at the end of 2016, choosing to bump the specs of its flagship OnePlus 3 and make a new model: the OnePlus 3T. The new version has a slightly faster Snapdragon 821 processor, optional 128GB of storage, a larger 3400mAh battery and new front-facing camera.

What it doesn’t offer are some fringe features — you won’t find waterproofing, fancy camera processing, an iris scanner or a bunch of software features that blow you away. It hits the basics, and hits them really well. That’s it.

The update keeps the OnePlus 3T relevant for that much longer, and it still stands as an excellent option that competes with the rest of the flagships at a much lower price — even though it is a tad more expensive than the original, at $439. The hardware, camera and software can all stand up to the competition that retails for $200 more.

Bottom-line: Though it doesn’t have some of the fringe features you’ll find elsewhere, the OnePlus 3T offers the best value in a high-end Android phone today.

One more thing: The OnePlus 3T’s Dash Charge fast charging solution isn’t compatible with any other quick charging standards, so you’ll need to invest in new chargers if you want to top up quickly.


Advertisement

Best inexpensive

Moto G5 Plus

Moto G5 Plus

See at Amazon

The Moto G line no longer really resembles its first couple of models, and now focuses on trying to offer a bit of a flagship experience at a much lower price point. The Moto G5 Plus, starting at just $229, aims to offer some high-end, interesting features in both hardware and software.

A Snapdragon 625 processor and 3000mAh battery give you fantastic battery life and performance, and you get up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage inside along with a couple other solid features like a fingerprint sensor and fast charging. The software is typical clean and useful Moto, though a couple of its features have started to reach toward the “gimmick” range.

Yes this is a phone launched in 2017 still using the older Micro-USB charging port, lacks NFC and isn’t exactly the most beautiful phone to look at. But what you’re getting here for a price of $229 or $299 is great.

Bottom-line: For a really good experience that isn’t going to cost you a bunch, it’s hard to beat the Moto G5 Plus.

One more thing: While you can get a lower-end model with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, we strongly recommend pitching in $70 more for the 4GB/64GB model.

Conclusion

For most people, the Galaxy S8 will serve as the best possible choice with its excellent design, top-end hardware, great camera and piles of software features. It’s hard to go wrong with this phone, whether you’re choosing the Galaxy S8 or the larger Galaxy S8+.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon
See at AT&T
See at T-Mobile
See at Sprint
See at Best Buy

The Galaxy S8 has slick redesigned hardware with tiny bezels that let it have a big screen in a small body, but inside it still offers everything you want: a high-end processor, lots of storage, an SD card slot, full waterproofing and a top-end camera.

Yes the fingerprint sensor is slightly awkward to use, but the GS8’s iris scanner is dramatically improved to make up for it. And it only takes one look at the industry-leading display to start to forgive Samsung’s decisions on the back.

Though its software can be a little overwhelming to novices, you can’t argue that Samsung continues to pack in hundreds of features to a single phone, making sure there’s something in here for everyone’s needs. Samsung continues to take this approach of offering more more more with just a few compromises — and it continues to work.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 gives you piles of features in a beautiful body, and is a great choice for a wide range of potential buyers.

One more thing: Of course, you can always pay a little extra and get the larger Galaxy S8+ for a bit more screen and battery life.

Advertisement



Source link