Must Read : Best Android smartphones of 2014

New entries: Samsung Galaxy Note 4, HTC Desire Eye and Honor 6 – see where they rank below.

The mobile phone industry has been turned on its head in the past seven years, with practically every phone now sold a ‘smart’ one with manifold mobile-computer possibilities. For most people the default choice is now thoroughly Android. The combined weight of Google with its Android software and all its hardware licensees, such as HTC, Sony and Samsung, has created a buoyant and incredibly competitive market among handset manufacturers.

How to choose a premium Android phone
The flagship Android smartphones of 2014 now all come with quad-core processors, huge 5in and larger touchscreen displays and 2GB or more of memory. They are also 4G-capable and ready to join the UK’s emerging LTE networks, and most now sport dual-band Wi-Fi with draft 11ac, so can take advantage of faster data links to the latest wireless routers.

The arms race for more processor cores and higher clock speeds was started by Android hardware makers, desperate to differentiate themselves with specifications against rival devices. We’re now at the point where few phones are not powerful enough to meet your needs. With Google pedaling hard to speed up its software, interface stickiness is now barely a problem on the best Android hardware. The main processor will be integrated as a system-on-a-chip with the graphics processor, and all the best Android phones can play action games fluidly.

Best Android phones: what to look for
As you’ll see from our reviews of the best Android smartphones (below) there is a wide variety of Android operating systems on the market. So do be aware that not all Androids are made equal. Each manufacturer puts on to Google’s OS its own stylings and features: Samsung’s TouchWizz interface is very different from HTC’s Sense, for instance. But it’s also worth pointing out that there are different iterations of Android included with brand new phones, and your phone is not likely to be upgraded when a new Android comes out. Also some Android phones – none here – don’t give you access to Google Play and all the apps and media contained therein. This is a big point: don’t get caught out.

Unlike Windows Phone and BlackBerry the Android world is full of great apps. Unlike Apple’s iOS you have a choice of music and movie stores. And almost all Android phones charge and synch from vanilla USB cables, and allow for the addition of SD cards for expanded storage.

The bottom line is that the best Android phones, those reviewed here, are the best phones you can buy. They certainly offer the best value. But be aware that there is wide variety in the Android world.

Best Android phones of 2014:

1. LG G3:
Reviewed on: 4 November 14
RRP: £479 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

LG has impressed us with the G3 which comes in at under £500 but packs amazing features including that Quad HD and a camera with a laser auto focus. The device is surprisingly small considering the 5.5in display and we like the more premium design. It’s another winner from LG. Read full review »

2. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact:
Reviewed on: 23 October 14
RRP: £349 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The Xperia Z3 compact is great little smartphone offering pretty much everything available on the full-size Z3 (including PS4 Remote Play and High-Res audio) apart from a Full HD screen. The new design is thinner and lighter plus the display is bigger than previously. At £349, this is not only the best mini smartphone you can buy, it’s one of the best smartphones around. Read full review »

3. LG G2:
Reviewed on: 27 May 14
RRP: £279 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

LG trumped the competition with the G2. The phone offers a combination of value for money with high-end features which we haven’t seen from rival flagship devices. A great specification combined with impressive design and handy software features mean there’s very little to dislike about this handset – only really the lack of a microSD card slot. That fault is rectified in the new LG G3, and if you can afford that handset it will be worth the upgrade. But the LG G2 remains a great handset. Read full review »

4. HTC One (M8):
Reviewed on: 22 May 14
RRP: £550 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Like the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2, the new HTC One M8 isn’t a big leap compared to the previous model. What HTC has done is taken a great phone and made it better. The M8 looks and feels gorgeous and with important upgrades including a microSD card slot and an innovative camera. This is one desirable smartphone. Read full review »

5. Samsung Galaxy Note 4:
Reviewed on: 5 November 14
RRP: £599 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note 4 is a bit of a handful and is rather expensive but lovers of the Galaxy Note range will likely be enamoured with this edition. It is, on the whole, a great device with plenty of power and features. As long as you’re aware that you’re buying a huge phone and will get the most out of what it offers. Otherwise a smaller and cheaper handset is probably a better choice – the Galaxy S5 or one of its rivals. Read full review »

6. Honor 6:
Reviewed on: 6 November 14
RRP: £249 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

We’re seriously impressed by the Honor 6 which costs just £249 while providing specs you would normally pay a lot more for. It has a decent 5in Full HD screen, high quality cameras, good battery life, 4G support, good performance, expandable storage and wireless features like NFC and an IR blaster. The microSD cards slot is limited to 32 GB and Emotion UI isn’t the best Android software but these don’t stop the Honor 6 being the best value smartphone around. Read full review »

7. Google Nexus 5:
Reviewed on: 13 October 14
RRP: £299 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Google Nexus 5
Google and LG have done a fantastic job with the Nexus 5, producing a very desirable phone at an outrageously low price. It’s the best value-for-money smartphone out there right now. Read full review »

8. Sony Xperia Z3:
Reviewed on: 8 October 14
RRP: £515 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 is undoubtedly a decent and desirable smartphone but Z2 owners will have little reason to upgrade unless PS4 Remote Play or High-Res audio are must-haves. In terms of the wider market, the Z3 is up there with the best and a solid choice even if it doesn’t have the amount of bells and whistles which others do. Read full review »

9. OnePlus One:
Reviewed on: 8 July 14
RRP: From £229 inc VAT
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

OnePlus One
There are only two, possibly three, bad things to say about the OnePlus One, if you are happy to buy online direct from OnePlus. We wish there was expandable storage, and it’s bigger than other smartphones with similarly sized displays. And if we are being really harsh, we would hope for a better camera. But at the price the OnePlus One is an amazing deal. It’s a flagship smartphone for a mid-range price. Bargain. Get them while they are hot. Read full review »

10. HTC Desire Eye:
Reviewed on: 5 November 14
RRP: Around £350
Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

HTC Desire Eye
We are thoroughly impressed with the HTC Desire Eye: it’s fast, it’s great value (assuming it comes in around £350), it has a nice screen and it sounds great. Better still, it makes you look pretty.
Next best Smartphones see here:

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