Best Android phones for 2014

Samsung Galaxy S III

Looking for an Android smartphone? We've picked our seven favourite devices

The Android smartphone market is huge and varied. Dozens of manufacturers have released devices ranging from budget smartphones that you can pick up for free with a mobile contract, to premium "phablet" devices with 5in screens.

Here we've picked a selection of our favourite Android handsets of varying sizes and abilities.

Motorola Moto G

Motorola Moto G

Motorola's latest smartphone is a low-cost marvel. You can pick one up from a very reasonable £120 SIM free, or free handset monthly contracts from around £15 per month, yet it has the specifications and performance of a phone costing much more.

The 4.5in 720 x 1,280 display is excellent and it has a Gorilla Glass front to prevent scratches. Battery life superb, and the whole thing is treated with a special coating that makes it water resistant. In short, the Motorola Moto G is a top notch budget smartphone, and it takes over from the Nokia Lumia 520 as our favourite budget model.

Read our full Motorola Moto G review

Nexus 5

Nexus 5

Google's Nexus 5 is the company's best smartphone to date. It's equipped with a big, Full HD 4.95in display, and the design now mimics that of the recent Nexus 7 tablet, with a grippy matte-black soft-touch plastic finish. It's a pleasant device to hold in the hand and use, and despite the screen size, not too heavy.

Core hardware is superb: it's equipped with a super-fast, 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU – the same as in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – and performance is lightning quick. In addition, there's the latest version of Android (KitKat) on board, and all the wireless connectivity you could possibly wish for. The only weaknesses are a slightly sluggish 8mp camera and battery life that's a touch below average.

The most enticing thing about the Nexus 5, though, is the price, which is a mere £300 SIM free (with free phone contracts start at around £22 per month). It's not hard to see why Nexus 5 replaces the HTC One as our A-List smartphone.

Read our full Nexus 5 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

With a huge 5.7in AMOLED display, you might think the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 would be too unwieldy to be practical, but that's far from the case. In fact, Samsung has managed to trim the fat to such a degree that, although it has a larger screen than its predecessor (the Galaxy Note 2), the chassis is more compact.

Incredibly, Samsung has still found room for a pressure sensitive stylus, which stows away in a slot in the phone's bottom right-hand corner. This adds accurate photo editing, note-taking, sketch scribbling and handwriting recognition to the Note 3's already impressive list of capabilities.

That's great, but it's nothing next to the Note 3's superb all-round performance and battery life. This is the fastest Android smartphone we've reviewed to date, and it retained 70% of its battery capacity after our usual 24-hour rundown test. Most modern smartphones only manage 60% or 50%.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 isn't the cheapeast smartphone around, but we absolutely love it. It's an outstanding handset.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

HTC One

HTC One

HTC has never made a more important phone than the HTC One, and it shows: the One’s aluminium construction looks stunning and its build quality is as strong as any other phone on the market. It has a 4.7in 1080p screen, and it’s a class-leading panel, with fantastic brightness and colour accuracy.

Its benchmark scores are still very good, despite being nearly a year old, and that means smooth operation throughout: the OS is silky, and graphically intensive games didn’t struggle. We like the new version of Sense, too: BlinkFeed is a slick way to browse news stories, there’s an app to control your TV, and the rest of the software is sensible and unobtrusive.

The camera captures sharp detail and bright colours, it’s got a good low-light mode. The speakers are surprisingly punchy, and the One even has decent battery life. It’s a phone with very few weaknesses.

Read our full HTC One review

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