Best Android phone 2017: which should you buy?

The best Android smartphones in 2017 are way better than they were a year ago, with more advanced cameras, faster processors and fresh apps. Better yet, some of those phones are available at cheaper prices, too.

That has made deciding between the overwhelming number of Android handsets a seemingly impossible task. The good news is that we're on top of it. It's sort of our job to write brilliant phone reviews.

Our official best phones list and best unlocked phones list serve their purpose for wider audiences, including iPhone lovers, and our AT&T plans, Verizon plans, T-Mobile plans and Sprint plans give you the best rates on service.

But there are also plenty of Google-powered phones with Android 7.0 Nougat and Android Oreo that deserve extra focus. You demanded it and you deserve it.

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

1. Samsung Galaxy S8

The best smartphone – now with a 5.8-inch screen

Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 2,960 x 1,440 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Amazingly large 5.8-inch screen
The best display in a phone
Great value from a feature perspective
Fingerprint sensor in an awkward spot

The best Android phone in the US right now is an easy pick because it happens to also be the best phone in both the US, and the entire world, for that matter. It's the Samsung Galaxy S8: the more reasonably sized and slightly more reasonably priced version of the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus.

It has a stunning 5.8-inch display that fills almost the entire face of the device, ridding you of needless bezels and (for better or worse) the home button. We didn't like how the fingerprint sensor was relocated to the back and lies in an off-center location next to the camera lens, but it's not a deal-breaker for most.

Bixby might not be the best voice assistant out there, but there's so much else to love about the Samsung Galaxy S8, though. It's curved, nearly bezel-less display is the best-ever created for a phone, it has an improved camera over last year's S7 Edge (our previous favorite) and it debuted the new Snapdragon 835 chipset, the still-reigning champ of phone hardware. 

Several phones below have caught up with Samsung's big 2017 flagship in terms of performance and design, but it still leads in value thanks to its lower price point and fine balance of high-end and basic features, like waterproofing and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Full review: Samsung Galaxy S8

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

2. Google Pixel 2

Hands down, the best camera on a smartphone

Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm | OS: Android Oreo | Screen size: 5-inches | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 2,700mAh | Rear camera: 12.2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Best-in-class mobile photography
Dual front-facing speakers
First in line to get new Android software
Thicker bezels on the non-XL version
No 3.5mm headphone jack

The Google Pixel 2 might not seem like a reinvention of last year's model, but there are enough adjustments and refinements to deem it one of the very best Android phones today.

To give a few examples of where the phone stands out, we'd be remiss not to start with its camera. Its 12.2MP rear-facing camera reaches new heights in mobile photography in terms of low-light captures and gorgeous portraits. It's a cowboy's best friend thanks to its quick draw-friendly nature that captures sharp images without the need to remain still.

Camera aside, the Pixel 2's small form factor makes it easy to hold and the new water resistance finally puts it (mostly, in that it's not IP68 protected) on par with Samsung's S8. From a power perspective, you can't go wrong with the Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM, especially with sweet Android Oreo drizzled on the top.

A bit more expensive than our top option, it's certainly worth considering for those who enjoy stock Android and killer photography. If you're looking for a bigger screen and battery, check out the Google Pixel 2 XL.

Read the full review: Google Pixel 2

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

3. LG V30

A tempting, high-powered package

Weight: 158g | Dimensions: 151 x 75.4 x 7.3mm | OS: Android Nougat 7.1 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 2,880 x 1,440 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,300mAh | Rear camera: 16/13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Streamlined design - LG's best yet
Absolutely bursting with fun features
Quite expensive
Camera quality isn't industry-leading

The LG V30 flipped the flagship script when it released, injected with all of the expectedly awesome design and performance, but with features that many manufacturers have neglected.

You'll find a robust camera app here, waterproofing, an FM radio, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. Digging in on the last bullet point, LG has built-in a quad DAC, which elevates the listening experience, frankly, pretty far beyond what most phones can provide.

Of course, you'll reap all of the benefits of LG's FullVision display, which almost pushes bezels out of existence entirely. The V30 features LG's first OLED in a phone in some time and the results are fantastic, providing the tech that users need to watch 2K content in HDR, as well as the flexibility to pop it in a Google Daydream View headset.

The biggest hurdle for the V30 is its price, which at the time of writing sits around the $800 mark. But for what's on offer, it's one of the best values on the market, doubly so once the price dips down a bit.

Read our full review: LG V30

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

4. Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The best big display on a smartphone

Weight: 195g | Dimensions: 162.5 x 73.6 x 8.6 mm | OS: Android 7.1 Nougat | Screen size: 6.3-inch | Resolution: 2,960 x 1,440 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 6GB/8GB | Storage: 64GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,300mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Samsung's best camera x2
Lightning fast with 6GB of RAM
Very expensive
Somewhat limited battery capacity

To say that there was a lot of hype surrounding the Note 8's release is an understatement. Given the disastrous launch of the Note 7, Samsung had a lot to live up to, and it took that opportunity and knocked it out of the park.

Matt Swider's review summed it up best:

"The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the best big phone you can buy. For once, it’s more than just the size of the screen and the power of the S Pen that count. It also captures superior telephoto and bokeh-rich photos with its new dual-lens array, and it clocks in faster with 6GB of RAM.

There a price to pay, however. It’s a taller phone with a steeper price tag. It takes a lot of finger-stretching to reach the outer edges of the screen, and costs more money than any previous Note phone. You’re also only getting all-day battery life that’s lower than expected, probably thanks to last year’s recall. It’s less, shall we say, Note-worthy.

The Note 8 is Samsung’s big phone homecoming, its dual-lens camera debut and its 6GB of RAM premier wrapped into one. It makes quite an entrance. Let’s just hope it doesn’t make another quick exit."

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

5. OnePlus 5

A genuine flagship killer

Weight: 153g | Dimensions: 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm | OS: Android 7.1 Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 6GB/8GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3300mAh | Rear camera: 20MP + 16MP | Front camera: 16MP

Super-slick performance
Affordable price
Not water resistant
Still 'only' 1080p display

For some, the OnePlus 5 is the best Android phone around - and to be fair, they have a point. The Chinese firm has improved on 2016's OnePlus 3 and 3T to deliver a slicker design, dual-cameras round the back and a whole heap of power.

The AMOLED display is bright and vibrant, despite still 'only' being 1080p, and the fingerprint scanner is fast.

The lack of a microSD card, and a battery which doesn't last more than a day may put some off, but considering the price you're paying the OnePlus 5 is fantastic value for money.

Read the full review: OnePlus 5

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

6. Google Pixel XL

A super-sized pure Android experience

Weight: 168g | Dimensions: 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android Oreo | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440 | CPU: Snapdragon 821 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/128GB | Battery: 3,450mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Streamlined Android software
Still one of the best phone cameras around
Peculiar design choices
No stereo speakers or waterproofing

The Google Pixel XL offers up a pure Android experience on a bigger, higher resolution display than its brother, the Pixel.

The clean, slick interface is a joy to use, while the 12MP snapper round the back delivers some quality shots.

A fingerprint scanner not only keeps the Pixel XL secure, it also uses gestures to give you easier access to the notification bar - saving you from overstretching your thumb to the top of the screen.

The price is on the steep side, it doesn't have stereo speakers and isn't waterproof. But this is a premium flagship device that's powerful in every other way, including being VR-ready for the Google Daydream View VR headset.

Read our full review: Google Pixel XL

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

7. Moto Z2 Force

Motorola's modular phone, refined

Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 155.8 x 76 x 6.1 mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB w/ microSD | Battery: 2,730mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Thin, shatterproof design
Powerful and capable with mods
Weaker battery
Not waterproof

The Moto Z2 Force might seem like a relatively safe option if you're on the hunt for a flagship smartphone, but in many ways, it's a big step ahead of the competition. This is all thanks to its MotoMods, which broadly expand its capabilities...for a price.

Stocked with dual rear-facing cameras, the Snapdragon 835 and a crisp OLED display checks all of the boxes, but can be supplemented with Motorola's lineup of mods, giving this phone the ability to project TV shows and movies onto a wall, print out Poloroids, take stellar shots with a Hasselblad add-on and game with its GamePad, to name a few.

These innovative mods range in price and can add up to be quite an expensive endeavor, but there's really no other phone that can match the eloquence with which Moto has executed on its modular vision. However, the phone beneath this one is encroaching on Moto's territory...

Read the full review: Moto Z2 Force

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

8. Essential Phone

A refreshing, yet divisive debut smartphone

Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 141.5 x 71 x 7.8 mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,312 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,040mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Striking design
Impressive amount of tech packed within
Accessory port needs to prove itself
A total fingerprint magnet

The Essential Phone is a striking debut effort from one of the creators of Android. Bezel-free displays are all of the rage, and before the iPhone X took the feature mainstream, it was (and still is) the PH-1 on the Android side of things that comes the closest to eliminating bezels without compromising design.

Aside from its looks, which could be talked about at length, Essential's first phone packs in plenty of power for the price, which was recently reduced to a more palatable $499.

While it lacks the waterproofing, headphone jack and OLED display seen in other options on this list, it packs in enough unique qualities to set it apart. Case in point: its accessory port. Someday, this may catch up to the success that Moto has seen with its MotoMods, but it has yet to show its potential.

That said, it very well could. But even if mods aren't your main motivator, there's plenty of reasons to hop on the Essential train. Its titanium-infused chassis, stock Android software, impressive screen and 128GB default storage are huge selling points.

Read the full review: Essential Phone

9. HTC U11

A wildly impressive phone - in a sea of wildly impressive phones

Weight: 169g | Dimensions: 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 7.1 Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB/6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 16MP

Great camera
Excellent audio performance
Edge Sense is half-baked
Screen slightly dim

HTC squeezes itself into sixth place on our best Android phone list with the gorgeous HTC U11.

It has a 5.5-inch 2K display, which makes watching video gorgeous, strength under-the-hood with 4GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, and squeezable sides (yes, really!) allowing you to quick launch apps.

The camera technology is still a big focus for HTC though. A 12MP sensor may not sound like much, but it makes some gorgeous images on the back and there's a 16MP front-facing camera to capture your selfies too.

Read the full review: HTC U11

10. LG G6

An outdated, but nevertheless solid option

Weight: 163g | Dimensions: 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 7 Nougat | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 2,880 x 1,440 | CPU: Snapdragon 821 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3300mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great screen
Water-resistant body
Older chipset
Expensive for what is it

The LG G6 is a top Android smartphone, with an excellent premium design, lovely QHD display and clever dual camera setup round the back giving you plenty to play with and enjoy.

However, some odd choices to go with lower-spec performance and not upgrade the camera in a meaningful way while still charging a high price stops the LG G6 from appearing further up our best Android phone list.

That doesn't mean the G6 isn't innovative – the screen looks great and there's raw power, from the camera to the battery to the general snappiness of the handset, rippling through this phone.

Better yet, it's cheaper than ever in the US. You can pick it up for as little as $399 brand new.

Read the full review: LG G6

8. Essential Phone

A refreshing, yet divisive debut smartphone

Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 141.5 x 71 x 7.8 mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,312 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,040mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Striking design
Impressive amount of tech packed within
Accessory port needs to prove itself
A total fingerprint magnet

The Essential Phone is a striking debut effort from one of the creators of Android. Bezel-free displays are all of the rage, and before the iPhone X took the feature mainstream, it was (and still is) the PH-1 on the Android side of things that comes the closest to eliminating bezels without compromising design.

Aside from its looks, which could be talked about at length, Essential's first phone packs in plenty of power for the price, which was recently reduced to a more palatable $499.

While it lacks the waterproofing, headphone jack and OLED display seen in other options on this list, it packs in enough unique qualities to set it apart. Case in point: its accessory port. Someday, this may catch up to the success that Moto has seen with its MotoMods, but it has yet to show its potential.

That said, it very well could. But even if mods aren't your main motivator, there's plenty of reasons to hop on the Essential train. Its titanium-infused chassis, stock Android software, impressive screen and 128GB default storage are huge selling points.

Read the full review: Essential Phone