Plenty of chatter, little to no action. That’s how we can sum up the Marshmallow facts thus far, with numerous device manufacturers signaling both officially and unofficially they’re ready to widely adopt the newest Android flavor, yet the early December distribution report showing 6.0 is barely more prevalent than version 2.2.
Still, we’ve managed to easily round up 15 phones ranging in price from under $200 to close to $650 unlocked that either run Android Marshmallow already stateside, or should get updated in a matter of a few months. Some, weeks, days even.
Besides a customary UI makeover, Google’s fresh software build aims to improve battery life without OEMs needing to use larger and larger cells, also giving mobile enthusiasts more control over app permissions, and adding Now on Tap contextual assistance in the mix.
Security is noticeably ameliorated, general performance too, while fingerprint scanners no longer require proprietary modifications. In a nutshell, M is better than L in every conceivable way, so here’s what to buy this Christmas if you want to quickly get with the program:
Huawei Nexus 6P – $500 from Google Store
The costliest ever gadget of its kind, the N6P is outright prohibitively priced on Amazon, suggesting sales are exceeding expectations for the time being. And why wouldn’t they, when the 5.7-incher is fashionable, robust, powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 GB RAM, capable of up to 24-hour continuous talk time, and full of fun new emoji, courtesy of a 6.0.1 update that many non-Nexus users can’t even dream of until summer?
HTC One A9 – $499 from HTC
Who copied who? Well, who cares? There’s plenty of room on the market for iPhones and HTC Ones, and though the A9 isn’t exactly a hardware beast, it’s at least completely up to date software-wise, in terms of maintenance fixes and major Android versions. Now how about a discount back to $400 off-contract? Amazon…?
Technically, as far as the US is concerned, the G4 remains on 5.1. But it can’t be long now, regardless of your carrier of choice. Marshmallows would really be the icing on this surprisingly affordable high-end cake, already glazed with premium leather, Quad HD screen resolution, 3 gigs of memory, microSD support, 3,000 mAh battery juice, and 8 MP selfie prowess.
The American spread of 6.0 goodies is happening as we speak on three operators, including two of the “big four”, with the other two no doubt following suit soon. Purists will be ecstatic to hear Lenovo is yet to fork the stock Android packages that have made Motos great, and the bang for buck factor here looks irresistible.
Four Benjamins for a 5.7-inch 2K panel, 21 MP photography champ, hexa-core Snapdragon 808 chip, 3 GB RAM, and water repellant nano-coating? Don’t mind if we do.
Stop overthinking things, and purchase last year’s Google flagship before it’s too late. The search giant doesn’t sell it directly anymore, and it’s a question of time until Amazon’s stocks run out also. It’s too big, you say? Perhaps, but it’s water-resistant, a multitasking juggernaut, and guaranteed for at least one more update beyond Marshmallow too.
Why are so few people interested in the long overdue follow-up to the classic N5? Is it because of tougher-than-ever competition? We’ll admit, the Nexus 6P is better, but not for everybody, and it’s also nearly 200 bucks pricier after the latest N5X trim, valid through Christmas.
Is it because plastic is out of fashion? If so, stop judging a decent book by its cheap cover, and take a gander inside, at the SD808 SoC, 2 GB RAM, 12 and 5 MP cams, fingerprint sensor, and reversible USB Type-C port.
Ironically, HTC began the Marshmallow promotion with carrier-free US variants of the M8, and Amazon charges $270 for an international model likely still running Lollipop. Once again, patience is advised, but also haste to score a handheld soon to get a threequel, yet somehow just as appealing as 21 months ago, thanks to an aluminum unibody construction, Quick Charge 2.0 technology, and sharp 5-inch Full HD display.
Are we seriously recommending a fall 2013 release as a sensible Christmas 2015 acquisition? Damn straight! Yes, the cameras are bad, no, endurance isn’t great, but at two Benjis, you can’t do much better than vanilla Marshmallow, 5 inches of 1,080p clarity, and Snapdragon 800 punch.
According to a roadmap leaked not long ago, this dual-curved beaut should leave Android 5.1 behind in January. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the wait, the answer is hells yeah. Even with a presumably large, edgy GS7 around the corner. The four month-old bad boy is simply too sexy to ignore, measuring 6.9 mm in thickness, and the Exynos 7420 chip and 4 GB RAM handle everything you throw at them, from hardcore gaming to multi-window web browsing to high-quality video processing.
Let’s admit it, 4K feels like a gimmick, especially when it’s restricted outside of certain set scenarios. Hence, why we’d rather have the standard Z5 than the Premium. Both will jump on the 6.0 bandwagon in early 2016, both come with exceptional shooters in tow, 3 GB RAM (each), microSD slots, and IP68 water protection. Can you guess which of the two is way more affordable?
Possibly feeling guilty it took ages to send and stabilize Lollipops for the 2014 S Pen hero, Sammy is reportedly “soak testing” Marshmallow on the Note 4 already in parts of Europe. That doesn’t necessarily mean the actual, wide-scale upgrade is nigh, but it could be if no major bugs are discovered in beta.
Remember, the GNote 4 is the last faux leather flagship, and while most people prefer glass, this controversial design choice has a certain appeal to it, not to mention it accommodates a user-removable battery and microSD expansion.
If everything goes according to plan, M9 users will celebrate New Year’s with a fine bottle of bubbly and fistful of s’mores. Wait, so the M8 got the update first? That’s so weird, but so fitting, since HTC treated the sequel to one of the best 2014 phones as an afterthought from day one. Oh, well, if Amazon lowers the ask under $400, the “new” guy might become the must-buy it never was.
Will this be Huawei’s Android 6.0 pioneer? Hardly. But as always, money talks. Or rather, what you get for the money. In this case, a massive 6-inch FHD screen, imminent Marshmallows, octa-core Kirin 925 power, 4G LTE connectivity, 2 GB RAM, almost limitless 4,100 mAh energy, and a looot of composing metal. If you like’ em big, solid and long-lasting, you’ll love the Mate 7, with or without a follow-up at hand.
The first non-Nexus device to score OTA Lollipop last year should receive Marshmallow at the perfect time: when it’s cheaper than ever before, while still pretty, slim-bezeled, respectably speedy and good for both crisp “normal” snapshots and self-portraits. Anyone up for an overpriced V10 that might be stuck on Android 5.1 longer than this 5.5-inch steal? No, thanks!
If Lenovo’s US-based subsidiary respects the principle of power and influence or perhaps seniority, the second-gen Moto X (2014 edition) shall be treated to an M makeover before the newer, lower-end 2015 G. In terms of sheer sales volumes however, the G family probably trumps the Xs, so we wouldn’t rule out an update in January or February for the budget-friendly 720p 5 incher.
Heck, even if you have until spring to play the waiting game, a purchase right now would be totally worth it, at less than a third of the X Pure Edition’s price.
- Huawei Nexus 6P – $500 from Google Store
- HTC One A9 – $499 from HTC
- LG G4 – $420
- Motorola Moto X Pure Edition – $390 unlocked with US warranty
- Motorola Nexus 6 – $350
- LG Nexus 5X – $330 and up
- HTC One M8 – starting at $269 unlocked
- LG Nexus 5 – $199
- Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ – $644
- Sony Xperia Z5 – $575
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $502
- HTC One M9 – $415 factory unlocked
- Huawei Ascend Mate 7 – $376
- LG G3 – $290
- Motorola Moto G (3rd generation) – $178