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Best Android phones 2017: our pick of the top Android smartphones

It's Android's greatest hits album (2017 edition).
android operating system

With nigh-on identical ‘black-slab-style’ designs and what appear to be very similar high-grade cameras and screens, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the huge range of Android phones competing for your money.

That’s where we come in. Here we’ve picked out the handsets that we think really stand out from the crowd.

They might’ve made the cut for their eye-catching looks or top-of-the-range features. Or maybe just because we think it’s a fantastic phone for the money.

We’re confident what’s here is the best of the best. But if you don’t agree, let us know in the comments section. We’re all ears.

1) Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S8 screen

Samsung’s latest device, the Galaxy S8 Plus, is definitely the stand-out handset of 2017 so far.

The first thing that grabs you about the S8 is the stunning all-screen front. Samsung has managed to fit a huge 6.2-inch display onto the device without making the actual handset any bigger than its predecessors by embedding the home button into the screen and minimising the bezels (edges). And the effect looks pretty fantastic.

The screen extends around the side of the phone, with the edge of it doubling as a secondary ‘always-on’ display for notifications, news and social media updates.

Another main selling point of the S8 is Samsung’s brand-new Siri-style Bixby voice assistant. Bixby offers greater comprehension of human speech, and is more ‘context-aware’ than other voice assistants. That means it’s aware of your location and uses it to help work out what you’re asking it to do. It’s also conscious of what’s on your screen.

Samsung is also boldly aiming to make Bixby capable enough that you’ll be able to use your voice to do everything you can do with your touchscreen.

Elsewhere, the S8 is home to the iris-scanning and facial recognition security tech, thereby making it the most secure handset currently on the market.

The main 12-megapixel camera has been enhanced with the addition of a dual pixel lens and a larger F1.7 aperture that lets in more light for better performance in low light conditions.

It’s also got optical image stabilisation technology on board, which puts an end to ‘shaky-cam’ video recordings, as well as a nifty swipe to zoom feature and multi-frame image processing.

The upshot is that every time you take a shot, the camera takes three shots. It then uses a blurring technique to combine these and give you a better quality image.

The front-facing ‘selfie’ camera comes in at eight megapixels and has the same, large aperture for shooting self-portraits in low light conditions.

Another feature that has won curried favour with a lot of tech fans is the inclusion of the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. Unlike with the iPhone 7 and the HTC U Ultra, you’ll be able to use your regular headphones, meaning you don’t need to use an adaptor or invest in costly wireless headphones.

Find our best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals

2) Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Google pixel hockey table portrait full

For the first time ever, Google has exclusively designed the hardware and software for their new phone, resulting in one of the best handsets available.

The Google Pixel runs on Google's own operating system and combines the latest Android 7.1 Nougat software with the familiar design of an iPhone, making it a great phone for anyone looking to switch from Apple to Android.

It performs brilliantly, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM.

As the name might suggest, the Pixel's camera is excellent. The default HDR (High Dynamic Range) produces impressively sharp images, full of depth and detail. If you want your photos to look even more professional, simply switch on the the HDR+ mode, so you can take high quality shots, even in low light.

With all this, plus an impressive battery life and a sleek design, the Pixel is well placed to compete with the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy s7, with a price tag to match.

Find our best Google Pixel deals

3) Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with S pen stylus white background hero image

Billed as the phone that will let you "do bigger things", the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 definitely lives up to the hype.

Measuring a vast 6.3–inches, it comes with the same stunning edge-to-edge screen as the Galaxy S8.

But, unlike the S8, it has a dual-lens camera. It combines a wide angle and telephoto lens, each with an impressive 12 megapixels.

The result? Eye-wateringly sharp images, less graininess in poor lighting conditions and greater depth.

The phone also comes bundled with the S Pen stylus, which gives you loads of extra functionality. You can jot down quick notes without unlocking the screen, select copy, images or clips to easily share and and doodle to your heart's content.

The Note 8 comes with Samsung's new voice assistant, Bixby, which is said to be more context-aware than rivals Siri or Amazon Alexa.

Find our best Samsung Galaxy Note 8 deals.

4) HTC U 11

HTC U11 review hero image

HTC's 2017 top-end smartphone, the U11, is touted as introducing 'new way to interact with your phone' that lets you activate key features by actually squeezing the side of the phone.

Want to take a photo? You can fire up the camera by pinching your phone. Hold for a bit longer and you activate the Google Assistant.

It's an interesting feature and helps the U11 stand out. But whether you think it's a gimmick or genuinely handy, doesn't matter when there's so much else to recommend the phone.

For one thing, the high-sheen metallic finish means it's great to look at and it feels reassuringly weighty in the hand too.

The camera's very good indeed, particularly for selfies, and the 5.5-inch QuadHD screen is up there with the very best around.

What's more, the 3,000 mAh battery is durable, there are no unneccessary apps taking up space and the BoomSound speakers provide great high-resolution sound.

Find out best HTC U11 deals

5) OnePlus 5

OnePlus 5 camera in action bar hero size shot

Priced £449 for the entry-level model, the OnePlus 5 isn't as cheap as previous OnePlus smartphones.

But not only is it a better handset than the 3 and 3T, you're still getting an awful lot of phone for your money. And it's still considerably cheaper than top-end smartphones from Samsung and Apple.

The standout feature, by some distance, is the dual lens camera. Combining a 16-megapixel lens with a 20-megapixel telephoto lens, we loved the rich, crystal-clear images we captured.

And were particularly taken with the Portrait Mode that lets you bring the subject into super-sharp focus and blur-out the background and powerful zoom.

Other highlights are the massive 3,300 mAh battery, with fast-charging care of OnePlus' exclusive DashCharge tech, as well as the 5.5-inch screen that performs impressively in low-light conditions.

Find our best OnePlus 5 deals

6) Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

samsung galaxy s7 edge gold angled

Samsung’s radical-looking Galaxy S7 Edge was a firm favourite with the tech fans in the uSwitch office from launch. But with prices starting at a very steep £45 per month, it was only a cult hit initially.

That’s all changed now that you can pick one up free from a shade over £30 per month. The result is the Galaxy S7 Edge is now one of the biggest selling phones on the site.

It’s not hard to see why. Unlike standard smartphones which have flat screens that are surrounded by a border, the S7 Edge’s crisp 5.5-inch Quad HD screen curls around the side on the right hand side of phone too.

That alone is enough to make people stop and take notice. But the edged screen isn’t just there to look pretty.

The part of the display that curls down the side of the phone functions as a secondary screen too, and is where you’ll find notifications of new messages and emails and calls. You can also set up the secondary screen so it displays weather information and news at all times to keep you in the loop.

As a top-of-the-range phone, the S7 Edge unsurprisingly also features a spec sheet that really marks it out as the do-it-all smartphone.

The 12-megapixel camera is superb and has autofocus to help you out in challenging conditions. There’s also a handy, battery-saving always-on display option that shows the time of day at all times, so you don’t have to wake up your phone as regularly.

And it’s got a fast-charge mode, which can recharge your up to 50% in half an hour.

Find our best Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge deals

7) LG G6

LG G6 angled hero

If you like to use your phone to watch videos and play games, the LG G6 could well be the perfect phone for you.

The LG G6 has a sharp 5.7–inch screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Narrower and taller than other phones on the market, it's exactly twice as long as it is wide, making it idea for split-screen apps.

It also makes watching widescreen clips on Netflix better, and it's optimised for gaming. To get you started, LG is bundling the G6 with a free G6 Game Collection. This includes Temple Run 2, Spider-Man Unlimited, Crossy Road, SimCity BuildIt, Cookie Jam and Genies & Gems.

It also comes with a wide-angle 13-megapixel camera, decent battery life and a rear fingerprint scanner.

Find our best LG G6 deals

8) Huawei P10

P10 hero

Huawei phones are famous for their impressive cameras, and if you're a budding photographer or dedicated instagrammer, you'd be hard pushed to find a better handset than the P10.

The rear camera features dual 20 megapixel and 12 megapixel sensors, which work in tandem to create truly superb shots.

The set-up is particularly good when it comes to shooting portraits, blurring out the background and delivering crisp and clear detail of the subject.

The dedicated portrait mode makes this a breeze, while the wide aperture mode also helps when reeling off close–ups.

The neat eight-megapixel selfie camera has a clever feature which has a special slider to tell it how many people are in shot, while the video camera can shoot 4K clips at 30 frames per second.

Camera aside, the P10 is still a pretty great Android phone, offering a powerful battery, sharp screen and a generous 4GB of RAM to keep it running quickly and smoothly.

Find our best Huawei P10 deals

9) Sony Xperia XZ Premium

sony-xperia-xz-premium

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium was named Phone of the Year at Mobile World Congress 2017. And with stunning camera features, 4K video playback and a strong yet sleek design, the Xperia XZ Premium is certainly a worthy winner.

Given that sophisticated cameras are seen as a standard feature of the modern smartphone, phone makers are struggling to offer Instagrammers and YouTubers something different.

Sony claims that the Xperia XZ Premium is the first smartphone ever to offer super slow-mo video recording. This means it can at a staggering 960 frames per second, which allows it to capture details that would be lost on the human eye.

On top of this, the XZ Premium has a sharp 19-megapixel camera that’s capable of detailed shots in low-light conditions and the option of watching 4K Ultra-HD video playback.

The highly reflective handset is dust and waterproof and has a Gorilla Glass 5 display that can survive being dropped without cracking.

The XZ Premium also has an impressive battery life with some smart tech that tells you how much power you have left based on your average usage. It utilises adaptive charging too, so it will boost your battery without wearing it out over time.

10) Moto G5 Plus

Motorola Moto G5 hero

The Moto G Plus features 64GB of storage, a 12-megapixel camera with what Motorola describes as ‘dual autofocus pixels’ that mean you can focus faster.

It also has a five-megapixel front camera for selfies. The battery comes in at 3000 mAh and there’s expandable storage of up to 128GB via microSD.

As with most Motorola phones, the handset features a stripped-down, fuss-free version of Android, without customisations.

Best of all, you'll be able to pick one up for just £22 per month.

Find our best Moto G5 Plus deals

Not sure you want an Android phone? Head to our more general round-up of the best phones right now.

Category: Features
Tagged: android

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