With a user base comprising roughly two thirds of the world’s smartphone owners, Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system by a wide margin. One crucial difference between Android and iOS is that there are Android phones available at very affordable prices.
The fact that you can buy an Android phone on a tight budget, doesn’t mean that there aren’t also premium Android phones available. The best Android phones on the market are ready to stand toe-to-toe against the iPhone in terms of performance, build quality, and features. If you’d like to buy a premium Android phone today, this is what you need to consider.
Google Pixel 2
At the time of its release in 2016, the Google Pixel made waves for offering a pure and uncluttered Android experience in a market dominated by bloatware. The Pixel was the first handset over which Google had complete control, and Android fans responded very positively. The Google Pixel 2 improves upon its predecessor in every respect, tightly integrating the hardware with Google’s many services while offering a few features that you won’t find elsewhere.
If you like a phone built for one-handed operation, you’ll love the fingerprint sensor on the back of the Google Pixel 2. It doubles as a trackpad; swipe it to scroll through your notifications. The sides of the phone also offer an alternative control method. Squeeze the phone to open Google Assistant.
With its heavy reliance on Google services, the Pixel 2 can empower you with information like no other smartphone. If you use the Photos app to take a picture of a flower, for example, Google Lens will tell you what type of flower is in the photo. If you take a picture of a movie poster, Google Lens will tell you where and when you can see the film locally. The Google Pixel 2 also listens to its surroundings. If the Pixel 2 hears music nearby, for example, it’ll automatically tell you the artist and song name.
Samsung Galaxy S8
With its curved screen and nearly nonexistent bezel, it’s hard to argue that the Samsung Galaxy S8 isn’t the most beautiful smartphone on the market. With the release of the Galaxy S8, the curved screen is now a standard feature on all Galaxy phones – not just the ones bearing the Edge moniker. The curved screen isn’t just for looks; you can also use it for faster navigation through apps, contacts and notifications.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 includes Google Voice Search and Google Assistant. If you prefer, though, you can also use the Samsung-exclusive Bixby AI. Bixby can show you the weather forecast, display your upcoming appointments, and grab the latest news headlines for you. It can even count the number of steps that you take each day. If you take a picture of text, Bixby can read and translate the text. Samsung continues to forge partnerships with third-party data providers that can add new features to Bixby.
The Galaxy S8 includes a super-fast Qualcomm octa-core processor that’ll give you consistently snappy responses when you navigate through the phone’s features, launch apps, play games, and watch videos. Critics have also praised the quality of the Galaxy S8’s camera, which does an excellent job of simulating the depth-of-field effect that some other phone manufacturers – such as Apple – use dual rear cameras to achieve.
You can expect all-day battery life with the Galaxy S8. Samsung also claims that the battery’s capacity will decrease much less over time than the batteries that the company used in previous Galaxy phones. If Samsung’s claim holds up, you’ll still enjoy all-day battery life with the Galaxy S8 two or three years from now.
If you want an upgraded version of the S8, check out the specs for the Galaxy S9. Released earlier this year, it fixed problems users were having with previous iterations. The biggest fix came in the form of the new fingerprint sensor placement. Many people complained of the poor placement on the S8 and S8+, so Samsung went ahead and placed it in a much more convenient position – underneath the rear camera.
If you’re all about expressing yourself, you’ll love the addition of AR Emojis. Using a 3D scan of your face, you can customize the AR Emoji in a variety of ways, making sure the virtual version of you matches as close as possible. Creating the Emoji allows you to create 18 GIFs that you can use to express yourself in any conversation.
Finally, if you weren’t that amped about the speakers on the S8, the S9 might be a worthy upgrade. Instead of one bottom speaker, Samsung added a front speaker as well. Tuned by AKG and with the addition of Dolby Atmos, the Samsung S9 sounds like a home theater in your pocket.
If you long for an Android flagship phone but can’t stomach the high prices of the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S8, the LG G6 will prove an attractive alternative. Though the G6 uses a slightly older chipset – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 rather than the Snapdragon 835 used in the S8 and Pixel 2 – few notice a performance difference in practice. The G6 also ditches the unusual modular design of last year’s LG G5 in favor of a more traditional unibody design with a non-removable battery and an elongated screen. Though some may regret the fixed battery of the G6, its battery life is superior to that of the G5.
Like most current flagship phones, the LG G6 features dual rear-camera lenses. Unlike with some other phones, though, the purpose of the dual lenses isn’t to enable the G6 to capture portraits with blurred backgrounds. Instead, the lenses enable you to switch between standard and wide-angle shots. The G6 also includes a built-in app that enhances the process of capturing square photos for Instagram. Thanks to the dimensions of the G6’s display, you can view your most recent square photo on one half of the screen while viewing a live feed from the camera lens on the other half of the screen.
Though the LG G6 may lack the latest and greatest hardware – not to mention the eye-catching designs – of the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S8, it still manages to give you a true flagship phone experience at a significantly lower cost.
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