Top Android smartphones (July 2014 edition)

Top Android smartphones (July 2014 edition)

Summary: Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (July 2014). Here are a handful of the best Android-powered handsets currently on offer, some new, some old, so whether you're after a handset for personal use, of one suited to BYOD, there bound to be one here for you.

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    Introduction

    See also12 ways to improve Android battery life

    Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (July 2014). There are a few new handsets, including a couple for all you pure Android fans. Carrying space limited? If so, you might want to check out the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact with its 4.3-inch display!

    Here are a handful of the best Android-powered handsets currently on offer, so whether you're after a handset for personal use, of one suited to BYOD, there bound to be one here for you.

    We have a few new kids on the block. Amazon's Fire Phone, the LG G3, and a new "Active" version of the Galaxy S5.

    If I had to choose one of these, I'd still more than likely go for Google's Nexus 5 because it is a powerful, fully-featured handset packed that offers the purest Android experience possible. It's the only handset that will guarantee that I see Android updates over the course of its lifespan.

    However, I have to admit that some of the features present on the Samsung Galaxy S5 make it a great choice for the BYOD crowd. Not only is it water- and dust-resistant – something Samsung doesn't talk much about – but it is also crammed with cool features and software. If you like to geek out over smartphones, this is the one to geek out over.

  • (Image: Amazon)

    Amazon Fire Phone

    As we'd expect from Amazon, we have a device built using quality  but widely used parts, but with the emphasis put on delivering a product that is itself unique, functional and tightly bound to the Amazon ecosystem.

    The screen is, and is always the case with Amazon products, the highlight. It is a 4.7-inch industry-leading ultra-bright display making the handset suited to use in bright sunshine. It features dynamic image contrast to keep the image clear – as opposed to just altering the brightness which is what most smartphones do) and also features a circular polarizer to reduce glare.

    The camera too is a big feature. The F2.0 lens gives it excellent low-light capability, beating what Apple and Samsung can go in tests carried out by Amazon.

    It's clear that Amazon has once again put the hardware focus on the bit that users see the most – the screen.

    • Quad-core 2.2GHz processor
    • Adremo 330 GPU
    • 2GB RAM
    • 4.7-inch IPS 1,280 x 720 retina display with 315 pixels-per-inch, dynamic contrast and circular polarizer for outdoor use (the rumored 3D display turns out to be a software-driven dynamic perspective effect as opposed to true 3D) 
    • Gorilla Glass 3 scratch-resistant screen with rubber frame
    • 13MP rear-facing camera with F2.0 five element lens (giving it good low-light capability) and optical stabilization, and can capture full HD video at 30FPS
    • Four 120-degree field-of-view front-facing cameras with IR illumination for head tracking for the dynamic perspective feature
    • Sensors include: Dynamic Perspective sensor system with invisible infrared illumination, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
    • Fire OS 3.5
    • Dual-stereo speakers
    • Tangle-free flat cabled headphones
    • 32/64GB internal storage
    • 2400mAh battery offering 22 hours of talk time, up to 285 hours of standby, up to 11 hours of video playback, and up to 65 hours of audio playback.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Hardware

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15 comments
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  • Please update this ancient Nexus 5 review...

    Please update this ancient Nexus 5 review...

    "I've always found Nexus-branded hardware to be solid and reliable, but I'd give this ***a few weeks*** for Google to shake out any potential bugs before recommending it to anyone other than hardcore Android enthusiasts."

    A few weeks? The Nexus 5 has been available for about 8 months.
    Spatha@...
    • Ditto on the Moto X Review

      While I appreciate it still being considered a top phone (And I agree as the proud owner of one) it is neither still owned by Google nor is it manufactured in the U.S. Some variants are ASSEMBLED in the U.S. but that's not the same as being manufactured in the U.S.
      d20dad
  • Top Android phones is a BlackBerry!

    The BlackBerry Z30 has specs near or superior to the flagship Android phones, including boring, but important things like industry best battery life. Oh, and BlackBerry supports all Android aps + over 100,000 native aps. With superior build quality. I prefer the keyboard and touch Q10 hybrid, but for touchscreen fans the Z30 is the best.
    HenselM
    • Great arguments yet sad arguments for buying a Blackberry

      All good arguments, all positives for this phone.
      And that says some really questionable things about Blackberry, unfortunately.

      More importantly-
      I also suspect that you can NOT access the Google Play app store - which means sure, it can support Android apps technically - if you want to jump through hoops to access apk's and know how to side-load them. That's not the kind of experience I want, for the kind of payments up front and monthly fees I pay for a phone.

      Now - if you can take this hardware, and actually somehow install an Android kernel/ROM onto the phone, then I'd be a supporter - provided there was information on XDA-Developers to prove the process. I'd still be nervous about the phone-specific quirks and potholes that exist in many apps, though.
      geolemon
    • Blackberry = Weekend At Bernie's

      Propping up a dead phone/company to make it look like it's still alive ?
      kirddes
  • So if I want to filter this list to only phones with removable batteries...

    ...I believe that still only leaves one.
    I have a Galaxy S3 right now, contract just ended, so I'm looking for a phone.

    I'll never buy one without a replaceable battery - I was on a work trip once, in a foreign city, and ran out of power without having an extra battery in my pocket - NEVER AGAIN. And I'm not carrying some expensive Rube-Goldberg dongle-on-a-tether extra battery with a cord when a tiny battery fits so easily in the pocket with the phone, and a twin pack of extra batteries with an external charger (perfect for travel) is $25 for most phones.

    Problem is, the S3 is already about as big as I think it needs to be. Being a man, it pushes the limits often for fitting in the front pocket while still being able to sit, ride a motorcycle, etc.
    The new S5 is about 1/4" longer, if you hold them face to face. It's my only real reluctance.

    But fundamentally - it also underscores that phone makers are trying to adopt Apple's despicable practices of cheapening manufacturing while charging more. I won't support that. And I'm somewhat disgusted that there aren't more choices out there.
    geolemon
  • Top Android Phone

    I say that the Motorola MAXX is the best! It is a top performers, updates the Android OS when an update comes out (at least on Verizon it does), and I have yet to run the battery all the way down! When friends are asking to use someone else's charger, mine is still going strong. It is s far cry from the Bionic I had - I kept 1 or two spare batteries in my posket.
    I like the MAXX so much I replaced my wife's phone with one!
    Garreth49
    • Sort of,

      Yes, the Droid MAXX is an excellent phone. I use it a LOT each day, both for voice and data, and only have to charge it every other day. Even using it as a hot spot doesn't seem to drain it in a day. I did find that when there isn't any signal it does tend to drain the battery more than anything else, but that's true with every phone.

      However, mine is also on Verizon and it does NOT keep up with the updates. My MAXX is currently running Android 4.4; the latest version in production at this time is Android 4.4.4. Android L (or Android 5) has already been released to developers at Google I/O.
      benched42
  • Loving my Maxx

    The Droid Maxx is an awesome phone! It had me at "Hello". My better half has a Moto X. It is an awesome phone but does not have wireless charging. We all know that Verizon is slow with the updates but Maxx it is running 4.4.....that's a far cry faster than previous Motorola/Verizon phones and the update waiting game! While others are looking for chargers and outlets, I'm still going. Have you ever forgot to plug your phone up before bed only to wake up and its dead? Get a Maxx ....problem solved!
    thatdroidguy
  • Loving my S3

    I made the jump to a phablet and I love it. Case recommendation: Spigen Slim Armor. With this on, it looks OEM, instead of that lame textured standard plastic. I have had Incipio Dual Pros before, and while those work, the impacts take their toll. The Spigen takes the impacts and doesnt look much different.
    Non-Euclidean
  • FYI for new phone owners

    Do not remove the OEM screen protector. You probably wont get a perfect fit with a replacement and it works fine. You can always replace it later, when you need to, or miss the occasional bubble.
    Non-Euclidean
  • Opinion

    Yes there are a lots of new smartphones that are going out in the market. And we are so confused of what's the best phone we need to buy but for me its all about the how the people would they used it, because we are in different fields. I'll stick to Samsung with their with its ever evolving features and specifications, you will loved it! And the now came with their newest version which is the Galaxy S5. The camera has evolved to give clearer, faster snaps. And its more durable and cheaper than any other phones, but I've heard that it has some minimal some flaws on its speaker.

    So whatever phones that you want to buy, its up to you as long as you feel comfortable and you will enjoy it!
    Ian Rockefeller
  • Cheap android alternatives to Brand name Phones

    These Android Smartphones are really cheap check out Cheap Android Smartphones
    available in the UK and/or worldwide with shipping, great value and great specifications!
    1973bear
  • Cheap android alternatives to Brand name Phones

    These Android Smartphones are really cheap check out http://www.cheapandroid.info available in the UK and worldwide shipping, great value and great specifications!
    1973bear
  • Long on hype, short on details...

    I have spent the last couple of weeks researching phones, phablets, and tablets as I am looking to begin selling them online.

    I think the hottest trend for phones will be smart-watches, those that include a built-in phone, if all you want is a phone.

    However the latest versions of Android (4.3 or better I believe) include advanced voice recognition, so a 'phone-mate' type of smart-watch or a set of ear-buds that connects to your phone via bluetooth would be a good for those who need/want a device with a larger display.

    You will need a high-res display to play HD video, advanced gaming, and being able to browse websites that aren't 'responsive' and able to adjust for smaller screen sizes.

    I would recommend 1280x720 or better, which eliminates better than half of the devices that are out there. Some units are overkill though, with super hi-res displays that don't make much sense on a relatively small display.

    I'm not finished with my research, but its a starting point and hopefully it will help guide you in selecting a device(s) that you'll be happy with. If all you need is a phone, almost anything will do. If you want something more, get something with the connectivity options and a display resolution that makes sense.
    Peopleunit