Top Android smartphones (June 2014 edition)

Top Android smartphones (June 2014 edition)

Summary: Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (June 2014). Here are ten 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.

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  • (Image: ZDNet)

    Introduction

    Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (June 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 ten 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.

    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: Motorola)

    Motorola Droid Maxx

    At 5.4 inches tall and 2.8 inches wide, Motorola's Droid Maxx is a pricey handset is a big handset, but if you want a slab of a handset clad in Kevlar, then this could very well be the handset you are looking for. On top of that you get a 48-hour charge, lots of power, wireless-free charging, and 65GB of Google Drive storage.

    • KitKat (Android 4.4)
    • 5.0-inch HD 720p (720x1280 pixels) display
    • Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System, which is comprised of a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4Pro family processor (1.7GHz Dual-Core Krait CPU, 400 MHz quad-core Adreno 320 GPU), a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor
    • 10MP rear camera
    • 2MP front camera
    • 16GB internal storage

Topics: Mobility, Android, Hardware, Smartphones

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25 comments
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  • Enough already

    I have a Motorola android phone and have had enough of the frequent reboots and hang-ups. None of these phones will be for me. My daughter has a windows phone and she has not had to reboot it in a whole year. Looking forward to embrace the much more stable windows platform.
    Icwhereurcomingfrom
    • I'm thinking the same

      only in reverse... I've a windows phone and lately, its been turning itself completely off all by itself. I don't know if it's the phone or the OS.
      I've had an android right before this phone and the apple phone before that one and every one of them I've had to reboot multiple times a week. And now I'm working with this inconvenience. I guess as long as all these phones will restart and "fix themselves" (for lack of a better word) the manufacturers will just say "nothing wrong here" ... connect me to the next case of industrial disease!
      Crashin Chris
      • I'm with Crashin Chris...

        about the Windows phone but have an entirely different perspective on the Android that replaced it. I had the Windows phone for more than a year and became super frustrated with it: locked down, few apps, an insatiable appetite for its battery, unresponsive keyboard, etc. I now (because of AT&T's super customer service) have a Samsung Note 3. Beautiful piece of functional, practical equipment... a joy to use.
        retiredIT
      • Try Firefox

        Maybe you would like to try a Firefox phone. If so, go to tmart dot com and do a search for their Firefox phone. It is actually a dual-OS phone with Android as a fall back, but you might just like it.

        Who knows?
        bart001fr
        • Or maybe try Cyanogen

          Or, less costly, you might want to simply download the Cyanogen mod and root your phone and use that OS instead.

          Do your research first, however, especially on how to do it. I do know that tmart has a Cyanogen phone with their OS built-in ready to use.

          It might interest you.
          bart001fr
    • Different experience here

      Very sorry to hear that. I know how frustrating that can be. One of my past handsets had been really reboot-prone. Not so, fortunately, with my Nexus 5 or my 2013-edition Nexus 7 tablet. I just don't ever have spontaneous reboots or crashes with either of these. I could count on one hand how many times that has happened for the two devices combined in the time I've had them -- which is to say since each was released. There are certain models that apparently have a hardware design or quality issue which creates this kind of problem, and some releases of Android which weren't adequately stable. With 4.4 on hardware that isn't inherently problematic, the experience is excellent. I can understand how, after you've lived with that for a while, you might be wanting to move on to something else. Can't blame you. Do try to understand, though, that this isn't a problem that afflicts all devices or Android releases.
      qaelith.2112
    • Free at Last from Motorola!

      Every Motorola phone I have ever used since the year 2000 has been awful. Motorola builds phones with great radios (they were a radio company since the 1928), but hideous, awful UIs. Even now during Android dominance.

      I never quite understood how they do it, but Motorola manages to ruin the UI of any phone they touch, even when the bulk of the UI decisions are now being made by the Android team at Google.
      mejohnsn
      • Re: Free at Last from Motorola!

        What are you talking about? MotoX is basically stock Android with a few minor tweaks. The UI is almost identical to a Nexus device.

        Are you saying you don't like Android?
        R4D4R
    • Re: Enough already

      Maybe she doesn't notice it rebooting (late at night, maybe?) but Windows 8 phones most certainly reboot frequent for no other reason than for updates.
      R4D4R
      • How do you define frequent?

        I have three Windows Phones now, will have two more when the contracts on the current Android and iPhone are up. It was the mysterious need to reboot on at least a weekly basis with other phones that so contrasted with the experience of Windows Phone 8 that caused me to change. The last reboot was to my own Nokia 822 when I chose to upgrade to WP8.1 with Cortana in order to 'play' with the newer OS. Assuming my phone reboots in the night when I am sleeping and that it 'knows' when I am pulling an all-nightie somehow; seems odd that in two years I have never caught it in the act. I have received updates and the phone rarely needs to reboot after one and ALWAYS asks permission if it does. Perhaps I am phenomenally lucky when it comes to hardware purchases, can't be the manufacturer as I have owned both Nokia and HTC brands of Windows Phones. Even my old BlackBerry wasn't this smooth and reliable. I still like Android phones, love the apps but don't miss them that much. A top of the line Android is as good as anything else on the market but at the lower end, where I prefer to shop, the Windows Phone is better hardware and software. I found equivalents for all my apps.
        The Heretic
      • Enough already

        Windows update, what's an update. My Windows phone hasn't updated in over two years. I do not have the problems some seem to have with reboots and my OS is extremely stable but the thing I cannot stand is the lack of apps for Windows phones. The one particular app that has made me decide to go Android is from my online bank. With Apple of Android phones account holders can take a picture of a check to make a deposit but not with a Windows phone...No...I have to send my checks by mail to deposit them.

        The Windows OS for smartphones is virtually unrecognized by the entire world; time to move on.
        MeanUncleBuck
  • Moto X Won't Be Made

    in the U.S.A much longer, per the article I read on this very site a couple of days ago... http://www.zdnet.com/motorolas-custom-moto-x-texas-facility-to-close-before-end-of-the-year-7000030053/
    which, is a shame... but from a business stand point, why have something made in the U.S.A for lot more overhead when the same can be manufactured for a whole lot less overhead overseas. Ah, yes, this global economy isn't good for us.
    Crashin Chris
    • Don't worry Crashin Chris

      My Granny always told me "the Worm always turns". She was always right. Once upon a time the US auto industry was dealt a blow by the Japanese and we suffered under years of imports. Now the cream of Japanese manufacturing moved to the US because their own success made domestic manufacture impractical so they began building their cars in the US. Don't for a minute think that this will happen with cell phones and etc. China's very success may be its own undoing in just the same manner. Right now they are starting to feel flush from manufacturing jobs and are buying like crazy. But they dearly love a made in USA label so much that the number one car in Red China is a Buick.
      The Heretic
  • Droid MAXX has amazing battery life

    I still can't leave this phone because it is the only phone that can get through a full day of use.
    Patfactorx
    • Droid Maxx

      I have the Droid Maxx 32MB version (last year's model) and just got my wife a Maxx 16MB (current offering) and just love these phones! The BIG reason is battery life, which is tremendous! I use my phone all day just about everyday and have yet to run it down. Far cry from the Bionic I had previously. I carried two spare batteries with me all the time for it.
      Garreth49
      • Droid-XXX battery life vs real world usability, features, and specs...

        I am curious how you base the relative worth of an Android phone with its battery capacity and longevity, so why is that? I've owned two Android phones so far, one per term with AT&T: the 1st=Samsung Galaxy Note 1, which had a 2600mAh user-replaceable battery, and I never had an issue with its battery as it would last 1.5 days routinely; the 2nd is my current Galaxy Note 3, with a *3200* mAh battery, and I have a 4200mAh storage/case addition when I need it for 4+day's battery life (a Power Case unit), which makes things incredibly long-lived in terms of the battery usage, ie 4++ days under any usage conditions before needing to recharge.

        Point being, my two Android phones were/are great with battery life, with minimalist to none battery-saver settings enabled, and very, very long-lived battery usage available with battery saver functions enabled.

        And what about the phablet/smartphone experience? Frankly you just cannot beat with 20 sticks any of the Samsung upper-grade phones with functionality, great software GUI and the software itself from OEM standards is also great, including the S-4, S-5 Galaxy models, and without saying it again, the Note series of phablet/phones are without peer, bar none, across the board.

        Specifically my Note 3 has 3GB SDRAM memory to handle any app load possible; it's the 32GB model also, so with a 64GB SDXC storage device in place, it's got 96GB storage, which is surely enough for any prudent smartphone user to load up several thousand songs and music videos, at least 10 full-feature-length movies/films, and all the apps your little heart might desire to carry around ready-to-play.

        Add to that the Snapdragon 2.4Ghz quad-Core CPU, an incredibly energy efficient device itself, and the package is overwhelmingly a class standard witihout even considering the benefits of the electro-dynamic stylus for notes, drawing, editing pics and copy, the true key feature of the device that other phones just plain do NOT have.

        Thus I don't think your love of the Droid XXX-whatever it is--smartphone based on good battery usage, which in your experience is I guess unusual to brilliantly versed, is NOT a great gauge of what a truly fantastic smartphone experience should be all about. I didn't even talk about the Note 3's great 13MP/2MP dual full HD movie-capable camera system and its live view, multi-user-selectable interface at all, did I?

        I rest my case for the Droid XXX being an exceptional smartphone based solely on good battery life, NOT! Your vbiew is sort of like rating a Yugo (if it in fact did this sort of thing) that gets 45MPG average EPA numbers a superior car to a Toyota Prius 4Dr with all the goodies that the EX model can be equipped with, plus the standard features, creature comforts, and safety favors that would blow a Yugo back to Yugoslavia a couple dozen times and then some, rendering it useless, basically, when gauged against other Prius-like automobiles.

        So, I just don't get it with your rating of the Droid XXX-whatever being a great phone vs a Samsung Note 3, S-5, or the HTC One X, and others, et al. I'm happy for your basis of ignorant comparative value that keeps your family full of those devices, but in the real world a Droid X-whatever is just a has-been smartphone that caters to the non-critical smartphone owner base, of which there are many it seems.

        But up against the really great smartphones like the Samsung lineup, HTC, Sony Experia group, and the rest on this 10-best list... your phone of preference is a semi-literate-smartphone imitator, with no real redeeming features other than your claim of getting great battery usage, conservation, and performance...go figure!
        tech727
        • Sounds like you have an axe to grind or something...

          Because dissing the Droid Maxx by comparing it to your Note 3 seems pointless. Some folks don't want a "phablet" in a pocket, pen or not.

          Because the point of the article is to talk about the best current phones - and the 3500 mAh Droid Maxx (with wireless charging baked in from the start) just happens to run fine on the specs that it has... and the simple fact that specs alone aren't selling phones like they used to - the fact that the recently introduced Galaxy S5 is now discounted on Verizon to the same price as the year-old Droid Maxx hints at this.

          Besides, Motorola's been particularly good about updating their phones lately - even the last-generation Razr HD/HD Maxx just got Android 4.4.2 - and that does matter to some people too. That, and the fact that they just might happen to like near-stock Android.
          traumadog1
  • We know?

    We know what the Galaxy S5 will bring? Why don't you update these pages to represent the current situation? You've reviewed the S5 elsewhere, yet the page here reads like we are still in February!
    wright_is
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    Yestu1954
  • full HD 1080p is top tier, nothing less

    Since end of 2012 with the Sony Xperia Z, all top tier Androids have had full HD 1080p displays. Yes, you can tell the difference between 720p and 1080p.

    The Moto X is a good mid-tier Android, but not top tier. The new 2014 version will have 1080p. Until then, I would take it off the list.
    ChazzMatt