Update: The May 2014 Android phone report is now available.
Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (April 2014). There are a few new handsets, including a couple for all you pure Android fans. Want something bigger than your average smartphone? If so, there's also a phablet for you to look at!
No matter whether you are looking for a consumer handset or something that will be suited to a BYOD role, you're bound to find something of interest here.
If I had to choose one of these, I'd still more than likely go for Google's Nexus 5 because it's a powerful, fully featured handset that offers the purest Android experience possible. It's the only handset that will guarantee that you'll 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's also crammed with cool features and software. If you like to geek out over smartphones, this is the one to geek out over.
Looking like the original HTC One, the One M8 features a unibody aluminum shell which gives it a firm feel, unlike the Samsung Galaxy S4 with its plastic shell.
Inside the shell is everything you'd expect from a modern Android smartphone — a large, high-pixel-density display, a powerful quad-core processor, plenty of storage, good cameras, and a microSD card for storage expansion which supports cards up to 128GB.
An excellent Android handset.
Samsung finally lifted the veil of secrecy that surrounded its new flagship handset at MWC 2014, and we now have official confirmation as to what the new Galaxy S5 will bring to the table.
While I have little doubt that Samsung was influenced by the iPhone 5S — the fingerprint reader and motion sensors kinda gives that away — there's also plenty of originality in the Galaxy S5 too.
Once this is released — slated for this month — this will undoubtedly be the flagship Android handset.
Another entry that was unveiled at this years MWC bash.
The water- and dust-resistant Xperia Z2 comes only six months after the previous Xperia Z1 flagship was released, but this update has everything you'd expect — larger display, faster processor, better camera, and support for the latest Android 4.4 KitKat release. Also in are stereo speakers and noise cancellation technology.
The Galaxy Note 3 is, as you can probably gather, a sequel to the Galaxy Note 2. It brings a whole raft of improvements to the table, and it also supports Samsung's new Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
Probably the biggest downside to this handset is that it feels plasticky and a little bit cheap in the hand, though this shouldn't put you off.
It might now have been superceded by the Galaxy S4, but there's still an awful lot to like about the Galaxy S4 — the powerful CPU, plenty of storage space, a user-replaceable battery, the microSD slot, and the fact that it can be used as a remote control for a DVR. It's very much like HTC's new One handset, except marginally better in almost every way (except, perhaps, for the plastic shell).
And, if you're lucky (or know how to shop around), you can pick one up cheaply now.
Another quality handset from the company that is now the king of the Android smartphones.
A newcomer to the list. Sony's Xperia Z Ultra packs a lot of cool features under the hood, sporting the sharpest LCD panel on the market, and a 13-megapixel camera capable of capturing HDR video.
This handset is also thin, coming in at a svelte 6.5-milimeters. But don't let the thinness fool you — the Xperia Z Ultra is tough, featuring tempered glass, and a dustproof and waterproof build, rated to IP58.
This is the smartphone you need if you want to be able to submerge it in a meter of water and still have a working handset.
I used to be pretty partial to Motorola handsets back before the iPhone. They were well built, and while they relied heavily on gimmicks, delivered decent performance and long-term reliability.
The Moto X is interesting, not because it is manufactured by Motorola — now owned by Google — but because it takes a new approach to computation power. Rather than one chip with multiple cores doing the work, the Moto X has a total of eight cores spread over four different chips, each doing a different thing. This is supposed to both speed up the handset and make the battery last longer.
Oh, and it's also built in the U.S.
In an attempt to differentiate its phablet from the competition, LG made the decision to place the hardware buttons on the back of the device. This, the company claims, reduces accidental button presses and also makes it easier for southpaw's to use.
Getting on a bit, but still a solid, well-rounded phablet.
Not only has it been put together using some of the best components currently available, it also offers the purest Android experience possible, and gives owners access to the latest Android 4.4 KitKat. Owners will also get their updates direct from Google and won't need to wait for hardware OEMs or carriers to release customized updates (or just never receive updates, as is still the case with many handsets).
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.