See also: 12 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.
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.
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, this shouldn't put you off.
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 the thinness fool you; the Xperia Z Ultra is tough, featuring tempered glass, and a dustproof and waterproof build, rated to with IP58.
This is the smartphone you need if you want to be able to submerge it in 1 meter of water and still have a working handset.
Note: A pure Android "Google Edition" version is also available.
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.
Building on the success of the G2, LG looks to take on Android smartphone giant Samsung with the G3. LG has taken the good points of the G2 and made changes such as adding a microSD card slot and removable battery, features which users had asked for.
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 also will 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, and this is no different now that the operating system has seen a few updates.
The flagship Galaxy handset sees an upgrade and the addition of new sensors.
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.
Another new 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.
Looking like the original HTC One, the One M8 features an 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.
At a time when smartphones are lowly being transformed into devices with the surface area of an aircraft carrier, it's good to come across a device with a more modest display.
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact packs the same quad-core processor, 4G LTE connectivity and 20-megapixel camera as the Sony top-end Xperia Z1 but in a device with only a 4.3-inch display.
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.
Like Samsung's Galaxy S5, but without the fingerprint reader and with the addition of a more durable shell.