Your buying guide for the best Android phones in 2017
We've reviewed all the major flagship phones available at the moment but plenty more are on their way this year so the right handset for you might be just around the corner. Also see: Best Phone Deals
Android has the largest market share in the smartphone world, but whereas Apple’s share is divided between just a few iPhones with obvious differences between them there are hundreds of Android phones available to buy.
And the choice gets even more confusing when you consider that each Android phone manufacturer has multiple Android phone product lines, each with its own features and benefits. Also see: Best smartphones 2017 UK.
In our best Android phones chart we focus primarily on flagship devices, with the exception of where a phone lower down the range stands out for its excellent value (the Moto G5 for example), feature set or performance. The phones in this group are those most likely to be bought on a contract, however, and their initial cost will be largely irrelevant.
Specifications to look for in an Android phone
When we talk about flagship smartphones, we really just mean the top model in a company’s phone line-up. You’d usually expect to pay between £500- and £600 for it SIM-free, or around £40- to £50 a month on a contract.
But cheaper phones can have flagship specs - and especially when you consider some of the surprisingly affordable Chinese phones we review.
In 2017 a flagship Android phone specification will look something like this:
• Android 7.0 Marshmallow (Android Nougat will increasingly be available on new Android phones soon)
• Slim, lightweight metal/glass design
• 5-6in Quad-HD IPS display with Gorilla Glass 4
• Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/821/835 processor or comparable octa-core chip
• 4GB+ of RAM
• 32GB of storage, plus microSD support
• Fingerprint scanner
• 12Mp and higher primary camera with dual-tone flash, optical image stabilisation, laser autofocus and large apertures, plus support for 4K video recording
• 5Mp and higher selfie camera
• 4G LTE Cat.9
• Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
• Bluetooth 4.2
• NFC, GPS, GLONASS, OTG
• Circa-3000mAh battery with fast charging
- Reviewed on: 23 June 2017
- RRP: £689
Samsung has taken the best phone around and made it even better with an impressive screen and design. It ticks a shed load of boxes you'd want a flagship to do. It's the best phone of 2017 so far but it is expensive and the biometrics are a let down. We're keen to see what the likes of Apple, HTC and OnePlus can do to challenge.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S8 review.
2. LG G6
- Reviewed on: 2 June 2017
- RRP: £649, US$799
The LG G6 is no doubt a striking smartphone. Metal and glass shimmer while the huge 18:9 screen is impressively brought to life with the improved software and its rounded corner design. It is a more refined smartphone than both the G4 and G5, and should appeal to a broader audience – even if its features aren’t the same globally.
There’s a lot to cover with the G6, and it’s a complicated phone to assess. The differences in hardware and the tweaks in software mean that is a phone that reveals itself to you slowly than the immediacy of, say, a Samsung Galaxy S. The design looks uniform at first until you realise how well it all comes together.
LG has quietly managed to build a mature phone with next to no bezels and some genuinely unique tweaks to software, leaving it feeling fresher and more creative than any Android phone we’ve seen for a while.
The age-old question for LG though – will people buy it?
Read our LG G6 review.
- Reviewed on: 8 June 2017
- RRP: £649, Price TBC
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is a stunning smartphone, both in terms of design and performance. The mirror-like look isn’t for everyone due to the appearance of smudges, but it helps provide an elegant, high-end look. The 4K HDR display is one-of-a-kind, bright and vibrant, and shows off snaps taken by the impressive Motion Eye camera perfectly. The camera itself can handle almost anything you can throw at it, although performance does slip in low-lit conditions and the super slow-mo video mode takes some practice. If you’re looking for a gorgeous high-end smartphone with a huge focus on display and cameras with above average battery life, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is a solid option.
Read our Sony Xperia XZ Premium review.
4. OnePlus 5
- Reviewed on: 27 June 2017
- RRP: From £449, From US$479
The OnePlus 5 is a logical refinement of the young company’s back catalogue. It marries solid design with excellent software in a package under £500. But a year ago, it did this all for a sliver over £300.
The phone feels like the end of OnePlus phase one and a bridge to whatever the company does next. It might not be the obvious bargain price OnePlus is known for but it's still significantly cheaper, is incredibly fast and has improved cameras.
There are downsides with no waterproofing, Quad HD screen or wireless charging. We strongly recommend considering this phone if you’ve been tempted by the Galaxy S8 or LG G6 but can't stretch to them – the fact it’s in that conversation is testament to OnePlus’ continuing impressive achievements.
Read our OnePlus 5 review.
- Reviewed on: 11 May 2017
- RRP: £779, US$899
As with the regular Galaxy S8, we're really impressed by the Galaxy S8 Plus. Samsung has done a great job of making last year's phones even better. However, with both offering the infinity edge screen and the unwieldy size of the S8 Plus, there's little reason to spend the extra.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review.
6. HTC U11
- Reviewed on: 9 June 2017
- RRP: £649, US$649
There's a lot to like about the HTC U11 and while it certainly has flagship level specs, it's hard to differentiate in the market against the likes of Samsung and LG. The glossy and colourful design is fresh but won't be for everyone, even though we're glad it's finally waterproof. The key is wether you want the squeezable Edge Sense feature which is useful at times but not something we're blown away by.
Read our HTC U11 review.
7. Xiaomi Mi6
- Reviewed on: 26 May 2017
- RRP: £381.91 (64GB), £429.65 (128GB), US$479.99 (64GB), $539.99 (128GB)
This really is an amazing phone, and only the Chinese software puts us off recommending it for a UK audience. It is crazy fast, crazy beautiful and crazy priced. If you know your way around Android go and get one, and you won’t be disappointed.
Read our Xiaomi Mi6 review.
8. Google Pixel
- Reviewed on: 17 February 2017
- RRP: £599, US$649
The Pixel has plenty going for it: it’s small, well built, speedy and has excellent cameras. It also supports Google’s Daydream VR headset and runs the plain version of Android 7 – complete with Google Assistant - and will get timely updates. But it isn’t waterproof, doesn’t have a microSD slot or stereo speakers and we’d have preferred a quad-HD screen for VR use at this price. If those downsides don’t bother you, and the OnePlus 3T is too large, then the Pixel is a fine choice and a great Android phone.
Read our Google Pixel review.
9. Huawei P10
- Reviewed on: 3 April 2017
- RRP: £569
The Huawei P10 is an impressive beast – it’s gorgeous, powerful and the dual cameras are a huge improvement over the 2016 flagship, the P9. Portrait mode works better than expected, photos are crisp, vibrant and detailed and even the selfie camera has had a meaningful upgrade. Huawei’s EMUI, one of the most controversial Android overlays, is much better to use than with previous smartphones, and offers machine learning algorithms that should speed up your phone the more you use it. Even the price is competitive at £499.
The only downside? Despite being of a high capacity, the battery life of the P10 isn’t great, and some users may find that they have to plug it in to top it up once or twice a day, just to get through.
Read our Huawei P10 review.
10. Huawei P10 Plus
- Reviewed on: 5 April 2017
- RRP: £679
The P10 Plus is another solid smartphone from Huawei offering attractive design, high-end hardware and much improved software. However, it's missing a few features compared to rivals such as waterproofing and wireless charging. The phone is also pretty expensive so you're probably better-off getting the regular P10 or even cheaper options like the OnePlus 3T or Honor 8 Pro.
Read our Huawei P10 Plus review.
11. Huawei Mate 9
- Reviewed on: 12 January 2017
- RRP: £599.99, US$599.99
Huawei’s Mate 9 is, in our opinion, the best in the Huawei line-up, boasting an impressively large battery alongside powerful internals, an improved dual-camera setup and a sleek, gorgeous design. The benchmark results were some of the best we've seen, bringing excellent value for money. EMUI 5 makes a huge difference to the overall experience too, and we can’t wait to see whether Huawei’s new technology will actually improve the performance of the smartphone over time.
Read our Huawei Mate 9 review.
12. Xiaomi Mi Note 2
- Reviewed on: 13 March 2017
- RRP: £497.04, US$619.99
The Mi Note 2 was wrongly overshadowed at its launch. This is a gorgeous big-screen Android phone with very decent performance, a great camera and plenty of storage. We'd like to see a Quad-HD screen on Xiaomi's flagship phone, but this one should prove plenty sharp and clear. Google apps are not preinstalled, but there is a workaround if you are happy to do some tweaking.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review.
13. Honor 8 Pro
- Reviewed on: 5 April 2017
- RRP: £474.99
After a good stint with the Honor 8 Pro, it remains a promising device. It represents the brand moving even closer in look and price to big bro Huawei, but it is a decent option.
However without contract options in the UK at this time, you’ll have to plump for SIM free, and at just under £500 you might be tempted to look at the OnePlus 3T or even go for a more expensive, better phone on contract. And even though they cost more, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus hardware is better designed.
Read our Honor 8 Pro review.
- Reviewed on: 15 October 2015
- RRP: £484.99, US$585
So, what do we think of the Galaxy Note 5? We’re very fond of just about every aspect of the Galaxy Note 5, from its curved and sleek design to its vibrant display and high-resolution camera. It can handle almost anything you can throw at it thanks to its CPU, GPU and 4GB of RAM and we experienced no lag during our testing. The only bad point is that the Note 5 would sometimes falsely detect the S Pen detaching – and to point out such a minor fault says a lot about the quality of the handset. With this being said, we’re both surprised and sad that the Galaxy Note 5 won’t be heading to UK shores any time soon.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review.
15. Google Pixel XL
- Reviewed on: 17 February 2017
- RRP: £719 (32GB) £819 (128GB), US$769 (32GB) $869 (128GB)
While the Pixel XL is an attractive phone (if you can get used to the glass section) with decent combination of hardware and software, we can't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's very similar to the much cheaper Nexus 6P and OnePlus 3. You can get plenty of other Android phones for less which have extra features like waterproofing and expandable storage. Sorry Google, but things have gone a bit wrong here.
Read our Google Pixel XL review.
16. Moto G5 Plus
- Reviewed on: 6 April 2017
- RRP: £249, US$299
The Moto G5 Plus is an impressive phone for under £250. It's barely any bigger than the normal model which is odd but it might well be worth spending the extra to get more storage, a better processor and a significantly better camera.
Read our Moto G5 Plus review.
17. Motorola Moto Z
- Reviewed on: 23 November 2016
- RRP: £499.99, US$624
The Moto Z is a mixed bag, successful in some areas and not in others. As long as you can deal with the jettisoning of the headphone jack and carrying a Power Pack Mod, the modular nature of the Moto Z makes it a compelling alternative to other flagships. It’s also arguably a better choice than the LG G5. Battery life isn't great, though and the Moto Z Play is also compatible with Moto Mods, too.
Read our Motorola Moto Z review.
18. Moto G5
- Reviewed on: 1 June 2017
- RRP: £169, US$200
There’s plenty of competition in Android’s budget market, but the Moto G5 is the best around right now. The build quality alone feels like it belongs on a much more expensive phone, while the fingerprint gesture controls genuinely improve the Android experience. The benchmarks and battery hold it back, but they're not unreasonable given the price - and you won't find a much better looking phone at £169.
Read our Moto G5 review.
19. Moto Z Play
- Reviewed on: 11 November 2016
- RRP: £379.99, US$449.99
The Moto Mods accessories are the main reason to buy the Moto Z Play, but it's a decent mid-range phone regardless. For an affordable price Lenovo offers premium design, good specs and a well-rounded software experience. You only really need to splash out on the Moto Z for the Quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 and OIS camera should you feel the need for those features (but also bear in mind the more expensive version has no headphone jack and a smaller battery).
Read our Moto Z Play review.
- Reviewed on: 7 February 2017
- RRP: £399, US$419
The Galaxy A5 2017 is a fantastic mid-range phone, with the looks of a flagship and some decent performance and all-round specs. Our only real concern is that Samsung is pricing itself out the market, with just a small difference in price separating this and the Galaxy S7 - we like the new Galaxy A5, but we'd choose the higher-spec Galaxy S7 every time.
Read our Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 review.