The great thing about Android is the wide variety of options consumers have. Android smartphones come in all kinds of sizes, materials, prices, and designs these days. Regardless of where you are on how much you want to spend, you should be able to find a fantastic Android smartphone that doesn’t feel like it’s from five years ago. The truth is that no matter how a good a smartphone was a year or two ago, it just might not hold up today—even fresh out of the box.
With a lot of the best Android phones from late 2015 and early 2016 on store shelves, here’s our ranking of the best smartphones you can buy right now.
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10. Nextbit Robin: Every year, the cheap flagship Android smartphone space gets tighter and tighter. The brand new manufacturer Nextbit just released its first phone, the Robin, with a very particular problem it was looking to solve: storage. Using its seamless cloud storage, you'll never have to worry about filling up your limited storage with photos, videos, and apps.
Aside from the great storage solution, the Robin also has a pretty unique look, as you can see in the photo. The $399 pricetag is also attractive, but you should know that the camera and display won't be competing with the Galaxy S7 or G5 anytime soon. Even with that in mind though, the Robin is a great cheap Android smartphone alternative that doesn't feel cheap at all and stands up pretty good against phones like the OnePlus X, Honor 5x, and Nexus 5X.—Luke Larsen
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9. Moto X Pure Edition: There's no phone that I carried with me more in 2015 than the Moto X Pure Edition. It's a really solid phone that gets a lot of things right—and still does.
Things like the camera are starting to feel a little outdated, but the recent Android updates it's been getting has kept it competitive on the software front. The thing that keeps this as a unique choice even today is the MotoMaker, which lets buyers customize their look and feel of their phones. We probably won't hear word of an updated Moto X until later this year, so the Pure Edition is still a great option.—LL
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8. LG V10: With the V10, LG has a problem on its hands. It must figure out how to innovate and differentiate future generations of the V series from its marquee G series, especially considering that the V10 debuted six months after the G4 and about the same amount of time before the G5. With the G5's always-on screen confirmed by LG, the V10's secondary display will seem less useful.
Yet, if you're a photographer or someone who lives in their phone, the V10 offers compelling features, like swappable batteries, a memory card for expansion and an excellent 16-megapixel f/1.8 camera with fast autofocus on top of a stunning 5.7-inch LCD display. These features alone make the V10 competitive with the best phones from Apple, HTC, Samsung and Sony.—Chuong Nguyen
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7. Nexus 5X: At just $349, you'd think the Nexus 5X would be as cheap as a good Android phone gets, but in this day and age, even competition for that price level is stiff. The Nexus 5X is a modest phone in pretty much every way, which makes it ideal for a lot of people. Especially if you are someone looking for a smaller device (this one's got a 5.2-inch display) that is also clean and fully functional, the Nexus 5X really is a good way to go.
For an even cheaper alternative, we'd point people to the OnePlus X, which goes for just $249 and has a 5.0-inch display. For most people looking for a cheap Android phone though, it's hard not to recommend something like the OnePlus 2, which is bigger and more powerful at the same pricetag. That doesn't take anything away from this great smartphone though, especially when you'll be getting software updates from Google before anyone else.—LL
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6. LG G5: For years, LG lagged behind its counterpart Samsung. But with last year's G4, the company really found away to pare down the design to a point that really separated it from the competition. With the new G5, LG took a big gamble by veering off course with its new accessory ecosystem. With the ability to swap out different modules like an extended battery or camera accessory, the G5 can be customized to the way you use your phone. This could be pretty cool down the line if LG really goes all-in on it and gets the pricing down, but for now it'll probably confuse more users than anything else.
While the upgrades are notable, the experimentation makes an otherwise top-tier phone come across as a bit imperfect. Yet still, if you're in the market for a current-generation smartphone, the LG G5 deserves a recommendation. The competition is stiff in Android with options like the Galaxy S7 and the Nexus 6P, but the G5 still holds up as a more refined version of what was already one of the best smartphone lines on the market.—Stephen Clark
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5. OnePlus 2: A premium phone in every way imaginable for just $349? That's always been OnePlus' motto as the "flagship killer," and it still holds true with the OnePlus 2. It's not a perfect device, but it hits almost every benchmark with flying colors—whether that is its beautiful display and impressive performance to its clean customizable software and excellent build quality. The OnePlus 2 also has amazing battery life, outdoing every other phone on this list. The best part? It's become available again after being sold out for much of 2015. It's quite simply the best cheap phone you can buy.—LL
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4. Galaxy Note 5 / S6 edge+: There's a lot of reasons why longtime Samsung fans have ditched the Note 5, most notably because of its lack of a removable battery, waterproof casing, and expandable storage. Now that Samsung has rectified some of those things in the new Galaxy S7, the Note 5 feels a little backward.
However, if those things don't bother you, the Note 5 has a lot to love about it. The design and build quality is spot on, the stylus is more useful than ever, and the camera is the best you'll find on an Android device. If it wasn't for the clunky Samsung software, this phone would have shot to the top of this list, but even as is, it's still a great option.—LL
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3. Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge: It's always nice to see a smartphone manufacturer really pay attention to the desires of its customers. After Samsung took away some key features in last year's Galaxy S6, fans flocked to other Android options in droves.
Fortunately, Samsung has reintroduced waterproofing and expandable storage, which should please many Android users. Most importantly, Samsung pulled in these features without having to compromise the great design and build quality that it introduced last year. Oh yeah—and then there's that incredible OLED display, which you have to see in person to truly appreciate. This one just came out on today, so if you can't find it now, you should be able to soon.—LL
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2. HTC 10: The newest hotness from HTC isn't exactly the most standout device. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the company in 2016, which means it might not be the savior of this smartphone manufacturer that it needs to be. But when you just look at the phone itself, it's hard to find much to complain about.
The device feels great in the hand and it's a design that has been iterated upon over the years quite well. It's a bit clunkier than what you'll get with a phone from Apple or Samsung, but there's also no questioning this thing's durability and some people are going to love the idea of going caseless with the HTC 10. What's more, the HTC 10 feels a step further than the Galaxy S7 or LG G5 on the software end of things, not overly relying on the company's proprietary Android skin much at all. Instead, you get a light, responsive, and clean interface that makes the new HTC 10 one of the very best options for Android smartphones out there right now.—LL
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1. Nexus 6P: Despite the fact that we've got fresh new phones from LG, Samsung, and HTC, our pick for best smartphone right now still has to go to the Nexus 6P. The stock Android phone from Huawei and Google from last year was our phone of the year and it's still our choice for the best Android smartphone you can buy right now.
The Nexus 6P edges out over the HTC 10 thanks to our love of stock Android software. The Galaxy S7 might have a nicer camera and the HTC 10 might be a little more durable, but the Nexus 6P is still the Android device that we want to use on a day-to-day basis. What's more, the Nexus 6P is cheaper off contract than those other flagship options as well.—LL