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Top 10 Android selfie phones with front-facing LED flash cameras

It’s only been a little over a year since the first time we surrendered to the selfie trend, rounding up the Android handhelds with the best secondary cameras in tow back then, and already, we bring you a top ten list revised twice.  That’s right, the June roster is also obsolete, as we approach narcissistic smartphone enthusiasts slightly differently, and decide to neglect a front-facing snapper’s megapixel count in favor of a much more relevant tidbit.

Update (July 2017): Samsung Galaxy S8 was announced on March 29, 2017.  Galaxy S8 can now considered as the next best selfie phone.  It now comes with autofocus and wide angle shots for their front camera, although it appears that it still lacks the front facing LED flash light.

Best Overall Phone 2017 - Galaxy S8

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S8422.98

Best Selfie Phone (March 2017) – Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)

Our second favorite for best selfie phone behind the Galaxy S8 is the Galaxy J7, which comes with front facing LED flash light.  Think about it, the undisputed top Android phone currently is the Samsung Galaxy S8, so let’s compare a few specs that’s important for a selfie phone.

  • S8 does not have a front facing led flash light, while the J7 does.
  • J7 actually has a slightly better 13 megapixel camera compared to the 12 megapixel for the S8
  • Slightly bigger battery for the J7, therefore longer battery life
  • J7 has a sufficient 2GB ram and expandable up to 128 GB of storage with MicroSD card
  • biggest selling point is the price.  The S8 runs in the $700 range while the J7 only runs in the $200 for the unlocked versions.
  • What else do you need in a selfie phone with front facing led flash light?

Best Selfie Phone 2017 - Galaxy J7

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
SamsungSamsung Galaxy J7 LTE (2016)371.5

Think about it, when do you typically capture the vast majority of your self-portraits? Definitely not in the morning, given your face often feels like a work in progress after waking up. At your place of business or school? Sure, sometimes, if you’re really bored… or a teacher isn’t looking.
group-selfie

But nine out of ten selfies, according to our unfounded suspicions, are produced at night, while out in town, at a party, or in the club. Needless to highlight the surrounding conditions don’t always seem ideal and flattering, which is why a front-firing LED flash is a must-have.

Selfie girls

What does that do exactly? Simple – it illuminates a dark scene by providing a “flash” of artificial light, and makes you glow even in a pitch dark room or outdoor space. Here are therefore ten of the very best Androids available today with this super-convenient feature onboard:

Best Selfie Phones

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
HuaweiHonor 7 Octa Core Dual Sim474
SonySony Xperia XA Ultra299.99
SamsungGalaxy J7 Dual Sim299.97
HTCDesire EYE 4G LTE GSM279.01
SamsungGalaxy J5 SM-J500 GSM189.99

Sony Xperia XA Ultra – $329.99

Released in July of 2016, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra is the latest and greatest of all selfie phones with front facing LED flash light.  The 16 megapixel front facing camera is the same camera as the primary camera on the Samsung Galaxy S6!  You know this is a phone made for selfies when Sony decided to feature the optical image stabilization function on the FRONT facing camera, that is almost unheard of.  Of course, how can you have a selfie camera without the LED flash light that comes with this phone.  Additionally, it has an above average 3GB of RAM to power your multitasking habits.  The 2700mAh battery should be more than enough to last you through the day.

Huawei Honor 7 – $483

Bet you weren’t expecting our priciest proposition to come from Huawei of all device manufacturers. Unfortunately, the Amazon tariff isn’t quite in line with Honor 7’s specs on the whole, though the two cameras look positively dreamy, with 20 megapixels and a dual-LED, dual-tone rear flash, as well as an 8 MP sensor and single LED flash around the front.

Huawei-Honor-7

Yes, we’d certainly love it if the Honor 7 were priced closer to 400 bucks, since it only accommodates 16 gigs of data internally, and sports a Full HD 5.2-inch display.

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition – $399.99

Now that’s what we like to call irresistible bang for buck! The stock Android-running 5.7-inch giant is the perfect sub-$400 phone, what with its Quad HD panel, stereo sound, hexa-core Snapdragon 808 chip, 3 GB RAM, microSD support, Lollipop software goodies, and 3,000 mAh battery with TurboPower charging.

Moto X Pure Edition

And how can we forget about the wholesome 21 MP dual-LED flash main photographic unit, or the respectable secondary 5 MP LED shooter?

HTC Desire Eye – $380

One of the few devices that manages to retain its place in the spotlight nearly one year after its debut and fend off the invasion of newcomers, this overall mid-range 5.2 incher was always a selfie flagship.

HTC Desire Eye

There’s absolutely no performance gap between the rear and front cams, with a total of four (!!!) LED endowments, speedy autofocus either way, and double HDR. And yet the Desire Eye has shaven a cool $35 off its June valuation. Not too shabby!

Sony Xperia C4 – $379

It’s kinda costly for what it brings to the table, and it has stubbornly stayed perfectly still at $379 for many months now. It runs a relatively old Android version too, 5.0 Lollipop, and the octa-core MT6752 SoC is hardly a Snapdragon 810 alternative.

Xperia C4

Nonetheless, it’s thin and large, stylish and robust, and above all, equipped with a 5 MP Exmor RS and LED flash-toting selfie cam.

Sony Xperia C5 Ultra – $375

Oh, the irony! As the name suggests, the slightly cheaper C5 Ultra is a jumbo-sized, evolved variant of the C4, bumped up to 6 inches, and a phenomenal pair of identical 13 megapixel cams, featuring everything from Exmor RS sensors to autofocus, wide-angle lenses, superior auto modes, HDR technique, and SteadyShot video optimizations.

Xperia C5 Ultra

As Sony inspiredly puts it, “the main camera is on the front… and the back”, and the former not only lights up your mug, but does so “naturally”, automatically adjusting to the “ideal settings for your lighting conditions.” Translation – “the light’s always perfect.”

Asus ZenFone Selfie – $295

asus-zenfone-selfie

Okay, so the name is tacky, the pink paint job a tad childish, and both the power button and volume rocker positioned awkwardly. But the ZenFone Selfie offers a lot for not that much money, including a 5.5-inch 1,080p screen, octa-core Snapdragon 615 CPU, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM, Android 5.0 Lollipop, and a duo of PixelMaster cameras with 13 MP and dual-LED flash in tow each.

That’s two flash installations on the back, and two on the face, just to be clear.

Samsung Galaxy J7 – $265

Samsung-Galaxy-J7

It’s odd, but in a Galaxy consisting of tens and tens of stars, the first two specifically targeted at selfie addicts only started shining a couple of months ago. And to be frank, they’re not shining very brightly. The 5 MP LED flash front cam is almost mundane compared to some of its opponents on this inventory, hiding no software tricks up its sleeve, wide angles, or proprietary enhancements of any sort.

It simply beams radiation in need, helping you snap better selfies than the average non-selfie-centric phone. It’s also decidedly meh as far as other specs go, with a 5.5-inch 720p Super AMOLED panel on deck, as well as 1.5 GB RAM, and a 3,000 mAh cell.

Sony Xperia C3 – $235

Xperia C3

The mid-2014-unveiled 5.5 incher is getting rather long in the tooth, albeit it’s inexpensive enough to stay in the public’s eye throughout the looming holiday season. It’s considerably cheaper than its C-series follow-ups, the design is clean and straightforward, Android 5.1 is close-by, and the 5 MP secondary cam furnished with a soft LED flash, smile detection, Superior Auto functions, and 25 mm wide-angle lens at 80 degrees.

Samsung Galaxy J5 – $219

Galaxy_J5

The J7’s smaller brother unsurprisingly feels even less remarkable, looks crappy on the outside, and lets you store a measly 8 GB data before you realize you absolutely have to get an external microSD card. On the bright side, the quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor under the hood is 64-bit-enabled, the pre-installed Android 5.1 OS likewise, and the 13 MP autofocus/LED flash rear shooter decent for the sub-$220 price.

The selfie camera? Well, you know, it’s one of those less-than-stellar 5 MP units with the same old LED flash as everyone else.

BLU Selfie – $177

BLU-Selfie

Our affordability champion doesn’t have a lot of cards to play in the high-stakes US mobile poker game, but the ace it’s not afraid to show off whenever it gets the chance should keep it in the tournament long enough to secure a reasonable paycheck.

We mean, of course, the astounding 13 MP LED flash front camera, even if the rear 13 MP dual-LED flash apparatus is itself pretty great. Oh, and you get octa-core power and 2 gigs of memory at the price of a refurb fourth-gen iPod Touch. Yes, we did go there.

Top 7 Android smartphones with physical QWERTY keyboards

Phones with QWERTY keyboards aren’t getting much love with the major manufacturers these days, but you can still find some high end phones with a physical keyboard.  In this June 2017 update, we’re recommending the Blackberry KEYone as the best QWERTY keyboard smartphone on the market right now.  

ProductBrandNamePrice
BlackBerryBlackBerry KEYone GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone (AT&T, T-Mobile) - 4G LTE – 32GBBuy on Amazon|$269.99(Price as of 02/16/2019 10:31 ET)

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If you can’t stand using the touch keyboard phones that’s dominating the market, give the KEYone a shot.  It’s highly unlike you will find another smartphone with physical keyboard that will beat the Blackberry KEYone, since most manufacturers simply do not make these type of phones anymore.  You can find the specs here for this Android phone with QWERTY keyboard.

Blackberry Priv

BlackBerry, a company that was once renowned for their business-oriented smartphones with physical keyboards, has to fight for significance in a world dominated by virtual keyboard typing experience. Just like Clark Kent dressed in casual clothes, the BlackBerry Priv looks deceptively ordinary, perhaps with the exception of the curved display. But it takes just a quick slide to reveal Priv’s 4-row QWERTY keyboard hiding underneath the display.

The keyboard also features an integrated trackpad and several programmable keys for launching apps and changing the position on the screen. You can swipe up across the keyboard to access a full-sized virtual keyboard with special characters and symbols. Clever stuff, indeed.

Also hiding under the 5.4” display with 540 ppi is the powerful Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808 chipset, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage space, and Adreno 418. With such high-end specifications, the Priv is a productivity beast with ample power to fuel any multitasking (or gaming—we won’t judge) frenzy.

While the Android operating system looks close to the pure Android experience that you get on Nexus devices, BlackBarry has made a lot of changes under the hood. Privacy and security have been given a special attention, for example, with the BlackBerry DETEK app, which can tell you how secure you are and what improvements you can make.
Pros

  • 4-row QWERTY keyboard
  • Beautiful curved display
  • Sharp, vivid camera
  • Good performance
  • Increased privacy

Cons

  • The smartphone is slightly top-heavy

Talk QWERTY to me
The age of the Q is over. There’s no point denying it, arguing it or sugarcoating it. Flagship physical QWERTY phones are long gone, and they’re not coming back. Sad? Damn straight, as we all remember how we used to be able to send like five texts a minute on a full-size keypad-boasting handheld.

Since phone manufacturers simply aren’t seeing too much demand for Android smartphone with keyboard, they just aren’t releasing too many new variants of these.  But if you really need that keyboard, a good work around is to get the latest and greatest smartphone you can find, and get a mini bluetooth keyboard that you can carry around with you and sync with your phone.  If that doesn’t work for you, then check out these smartphones with keyboard currently on the market.

Yes, they were bulky, clunky, even ugly, but they got the job done in a way no touchscreen-toting iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S will ever get close to. Whatever “highly intuitive” apps like Swiftkey or Swype evolve into.

It’s also odd though how each and every mobile player (save for BlackBerry, maybe) turned their backs on productivity-centric gadgets all of a sudden, especially when Samsung, LG and Sony are so vocal about the diversity of their product lineups. Cater to the needs of everyone, my arse. Where’s my Galaxy S5Q, my LG G2 Slider and my Xperia Z2 Chat?

QWERTY meme

Heck, right now, I’d probably settle for a Galaxy S3Q or LG Optimus G Slider. Any semblance of a decent, upper mid-range Android QWERTY phone would be nice. Instead, the seven best physical keyboard devices of March 2014 are these old geezers:

7. LG Mach

Still stuck on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the 15 month-old Mach basically makes the cut here because there are no half-decent alternatives. I mean, I wouldn’t touch this thing with a ten-foot pole nowadays.

Not only is it four software generations behind the times, it’s mostly unavailable stateside and restricted for use on Sprint and Boost Mobile. The latter sells it online for $180 with prepaid plans, whereas if you want Now Network’s version, you’ll need to reach out to some fairly obscure Amazon sellers and cough up $360 (!!!).

LG Mach

Yeah, right, like anyone would be so nuts as to drop that kind of money on a chunky little fellow tipping the scales at 168 grams and packing a 4-inch 800 x 480 pix res touchscreen, dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, as well as meager 1,700 mAh battery.

6. Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2

Despite its retro (read fugly) design, and overall underwhelming hardware, the Verizon-exclusive Stratosphere 2 is clearly not the worst QWERTY option around. Up for grabs via Amazon and Best Buy free of charge in a contract-tied flavor, the slider is on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, weighing 14 grams less than the Mach.

Galaxy Stratosphere 2

The juicer is a tad beefier, at 1,800 mAh, but sadly, the Super AMOLED panel is equally as mediocre. The dual-core 1.2 GHz SoC too. Bottom line, the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2 is obviously not an ideal choice for productivity fanatics.

5. Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G

Though its two months older than the second-gen Stratosphere, the S Relay 4G is superior to its Verizon counterpart primarily in the aesthetics department. Less pronounced curves equals more elegance, not to mention the Relay is slightly slimmer while retaining the 1,800 mAh ticker.

Galaxy S Relay 4G

Hardware-wise, the T-Mo-restricted S Relay resembles the Stratosphere 2 greatly, but ups the processing power ante with a 1.5 GHz CPU. On-board software? Android 4.1 Jelly Bean starting April 2013. Price? $205 outright on Amazon.

4. Motorola Droid 4

One of the last remaining Mohicans of a lost era, the Droid 4 has aged rather gracefully, but it has aged nevertheless. Almost harder to score than the LG Mach, Moto’s once mighty slider is $220 with Verizon branding but no pacts via Amazon. Oh, and it’s pre-owned.

Worth the dough? Refurb products are always a gamble, two year-olds especially, yet the Droid still has a few things going for it. Like a decent 4-inch 960 x 540 pixels resolution touchscreen, 16 GB built-in storage, 8 MP rear-facing camera with image stabilization, 1 GB RAM, microSD support and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Motorola Droid 4

Downsides? For one thing, the dual-core TI OMAP 4430 is ancient and laggy. Also, the 1,785 mAh battery is pretty tiny, plus non-removable. Finally, have you ever carried around a brick in your trouser pocket? You will if you buy the Droid 4, as it weighs a staggering 179 grams.

3. LG Optimus F3Q

The youngest of the bunch, released but a few weeks ago on T-Mobile, the F3Q looks like a violent blast from the past design-wise, with a funky turquoise blue physical keyboard and an even swankier textured rear cover.

I personally think the blue-black color combo is a bit too much, but hey, kids may dig it, and in the long haul, it could help QWERTY phones become hip again. Available for $0 upfront and $312 full retail price, the device is hardly a powerhouse, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 running the hardware show, aided by 1 GB RAM.

LG-Optimus-F3Q

The 4 GB on-board storage is cringe worthy, as is the 14 mm waist, yet software upgrades beyond 4.1 Jelly Bean could be on the horizon, and that should count for something. Also, it packs a gargantuan 2,460 mAh battery, capable of holding a single charge for up to 16 hours of talk time and 16 days (!!!) of standby time.

2. LG Enact

Yes, I realize the Enact and Optimus F3Q are in many ways virtually identical. From the design language to the CPU, RAM and battery life. Yet I like to think of Verizon’s Enact as F3Q’s classier brother. Sure, the Big Red fellow is chubby as hell (15.8 mm thickness, 170 grams weight), however it replaces the tacky blue keyboard with a black-and-silver one.

LG-Enact-Verizon

And the rear looks better too, in my humble opinion. Also on 4.1 Jelly Bean and likely to be upgraded before long, the Enact doubles down on storage, and costs a penny with contracts, as well as $400 without a service plan.

1. Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE

Not sure whether we should laugh or cry seeing a mid-2012 phone top a 2014 list. But that’s how behind the market is for QWERTY aficionados. And mind you, the Photon Q was hardly a high-ender when it first saw daylight, back in July 2012.

Up for grabs for free with 24-month Sprint agreements, the big guy weighs in at a massive 170 grams, however it offers the most generous screen real estate of all seven QWERTY world champion title candidates: 4.3 inches.

Motorola-Photon-Q-4G-LTE

The resolution is decent, 960 x 540, there’s scratch-resistant glass on top of it, a dual-core 1.5 GHz chip beneath the hood, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB storage, 8 MP primary camera with LED flash, 4G LTE and microSD support. Compared with, say, the Galaxy S5, it’s a featherweight, but like I said, it’s all we got.

At least until the Motorola Droid 5 goes official, if it’s ever to go official. Any thoughts? Maybe some other contenders we unintentionally snubbed? Anyone else out there rooting for a QWERTY revival? Sound off below.

ProductBrandNamePrice
BlackBerryBlackBerry KEYone GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone (AT&T, T-Mobile) - 4G LTE – 32GBBuy on Amazon|$269.99(Price as of 02/16/2019 10:31 ET)

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Best quick-charging Android smartphones money can buy

Charging your phone every single night after returning from work, school or a stroll around town in order to be able to start again the next morning without losing track of your Facebook friends, favorite Twitter feeds or Pinterests might well be the most annoying modern-day chore.

Android battery

It’s not only boring as heck, but you have to actually remember to do it, not to mention keeping all sorts of cables on hand and hugging walls for hours on end. Of course, some devices last longer than others, and you can always use power banks on the go whenever you need a quick, no-plug-in-necessary pick-me-up.

And let’s not forget about wireless charging, which is slowly taking off, although it’s not exactly wireless if the dock must be physically connected to an energy supply for the whole thing to function.

Quick Charge 2.0

Finally, while it doesn’t solve the underlying problem, i.e. the constant demand for more juice, fast-charging technology at least reduces the time wasted waiting. Like many mobile inventions, this is bound to become truly useful down the line, when you’ll be able to fill up the tank in mere minutes.

But there are already numerous Android phones endowed with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 capabilities or similar functionality, and we give you today the cream of that crop:

LG G4 – starting at $371 on Amazon

LG G4 battery

Will the G5 make this old-timer look its age at last in a little over a week, with a vastly refined design, considerably beefier processor under the hood, more RAM, a better camera, and smoother UI? You can bet the farm, the house, everything you own on that.

It’ll even invigorate its battery 38 percent faster than the G4, courtesy of Snapdragon 820’s Quick Charge 3.0 support. At the same time, it’ll probably cost twice as much, and you have to wonder if it’s worth the premium. After all, last year’s leather-clad bad boy can still lift its cell capacity from 0 to 60 percent in half an hour. And mind you, we’re talking a relatively large 3,000 mAh battery.

HTC One A9 – $386 and up

htc-one-a9

If you ever wondered how an Android-running iPhone from a legit OEM might look, this somewhat disappointing upper mid-ranger is your guy. It’s slightly overpriced, we won’t argue otherwise, but it’s compatible with both Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0 standards. The bad news? You need to pay extra for one of those super-fast charger accessories.

The worse news? The A9 packs a tiny 2,150 mAh battery, so no matter how quickly you can liven it up, it’ll still leave you hanging when you might need it most. Say, during a business meeting. So yeah, better not risk it and instead buy the…

ZTE Axon Pro – $400

zte-axon-pro

A costlier ZTE recommended over an affordable HTC? What exactly is the Axon Pro’s secret? Well, it’s got several strong suits, all made public and marketed quite aggressively on US shores of late. Number one, a beautiful 5.5-inch Quad HD display. 2, a somewhat gimmicky but proficient 13 + 2 MP dual rear-facing camera. 3, more RAM than you could ever need on a mobile device (4 gigs). 4, a respectable 3,000 mAh battery. Last but not least, standard fast-charging times: 30 minutes to go from 0 to 60. In a nutshell, plenty of bang for 400 bucks.

Nexus 6P – $450 through Google Store

Nexus 6P

This stock Android Marshmallow-based phablet is sure an odd duck. For one thing, it comes with a reversible USB Type-C port that isn’t however capable of 3.1 data transmission and charging speeds. Granted, a slew of other phones released in the latter stages of 2015 half-heartedly adopted the new USB technology like that, but only the N6P also lacks Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 support.

Fret not, as it’s gifted with a proprietary equivalent nonetheless, though Google and Huawei refuse to make any pompous claims regarding stamina-inducing times. Even if it takes, say, an hour to reach 50 percent volume, this is a must-buy for Android purists, what with a 3,450 mAh battery, Snapdragon 810 SoC, 3GB RAM, and 5.7-inch 2K screen on deck.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – $588 and up

Galaxy Note 5

Since Sammy was basically forced to fit a homebrewed processor inside its latest wave of high-enders, their rapid charging technology is different from Qualcomm’s too, promising a full tank in a measly 120 minutes, even wirelessly beefed up.

A full 3,000 mAh tank, that is, rated at up to 22 hours of continuous 3G talk time. Add an S Pen into the equation, all-time record low price, and we see no reason why you should hold off for the Galaxy S7. Well, aside from microSD storage expansion maybe.

Motorola Droid Turbo 2 – $624 full retail price at Verizon

Droid Turbo 2

As the name suggests, this turbo-charging beast uses its own personal implementation of standard QC technology, squeezing no less than 13 hours of average usage from a massive 3,760 mAh battery after only 15 minutes spent hugging a wall. Such a shame the “shatterproof” 5.4-incher isn’t available on America’s number two, three or four operators. Guess that’s one of the reasons Big Red preserves its market domination.

LG V10 – $620 and up

LG V10

50 percent in 40 minutes? That’s not so impressive. It’s definitely not record-breaking or trend-setting, but overall, the V10 is. Because it’s also military-approved for shock resistance, including contact with hard surfaces, equipped with a secondary notification display that can be both an energy and life saver, plus two front-facing cameras for… double the selfies?

Clearly, you’re dealing with a one-of-a-kind product, and even if it’s not a rapid-charging champion, it gets that job done too in addition to a bunch of other strenuous jobs.

BlackBerry Priv – $698

blackberry-priv

Would this particular writer ever consider buying the Priv? No chance. Not at $700, and possibly, not at a penny over $600 either. But that’s because I’m personally not obsessed with security, and my physical QWERTY keyboard love affair ended half a decade ago.

If you’re into those sorts of things though, you know how hard it is to find them elsewhere, especially combined with open-source Android, Google apps, a beautiful curved Quad HD AMOLED panel, and large 3,410 mAh battery capable of providing 60 percent juice after 30 minutes “wasted” hooked up to a power supply.

Best Android smartphones with a removable battery and microSD slot

Times are changing, tides are shifting, trends are passing and drifting and priorities are rearranging. The thing is the way device manufacturers set their priorities straight doesn’t always align with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of mobile consumers.

Android batteries

Take smartphone battery capacity. Literally everyone who’s ever owned a half-decent Android with web access, a semi-sharp display and the ability to run games and various juice-consuming apps knows autonomy is a pain.

Yet except for Motorola and maybe Lenovo, OEMs refuse to do the right and simple thing and increase cell size at the risk of also beefing up bulk. Recently, a separate but just as disturbing market direction has begun to dictate to gadget producers user-removable batteries and microSD card slots are out of style.

Taking a page from Apple’s ill-advised book, Samsung outed the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with sealed pacemakers and no external storage expansion possibility. Meanwhile, the HTC One M9 and Sony Xperia Z3 let you slip in a microSD card for extra hoarding room, but block entry to the old juicers.

Android microSD

Needless to stress why some find microSD support and replaceable cells greatly convenient, so without further ado, here are a few of the remaining Mohicans to offer both features:

LG G3 – starting at $369 factory unlocked; $0.01 with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint contracts

  • Up to 128 GB microSD capabilities; 3,000 mAh battery

Not only can you see, touch and substitute the out-the-box cell in need (and for a really small price), but this also delivers plenty of energy, sufficient in fact to comfortably last you through the typical work day. Then again, what’s not to like about the G3?

LG G3 battery

It’s almost as speedy as its successor, it’s over 75 percent screen with ultra-narrow bezels, a multitasking champion, runs on Lollipop sans a glitch and sports top-of-the-line Quad HD display resolution. Plus, it’s roughly twice as cheap as a Galaxy S6 and, presumably, a G4.

LG G3 S – $205 and up unlocked

  • Up to 64 GB microSD expansion; 2,540 mAh battery

Not digging the gargantuan footprint of the 5.5-inch G3 or perhaps feel $370 is too much to pay for a slab of silicon, no matter how cool of a discount Amazon pitches? The “diminutive” G3 S might be the answer to all your prayers, albeit it’s not as small or affordable as you’d probably expect.

LG G3 S battery

It’s 5 inches in diagonal, 137.7 mm in height, nearly 70 mm wide and it’s just $165 cheaper than the “full-sized” G3 with lower resolution, less processing power, an inferior RAM count, camera sensor, everything. Not to mention it barely accommodates 8 gigs of internal data, limiting your microSD inflation as well.

Samsung Galaxy S5 – $390 factory unlocked; $0.01 with AT&T pacts, $1 at Verizon, $30 for Sprint

  • Up to 128 GB microSD; 2,800 mAh battery

Last year’s “next big thing” is by no means better than LG’s 2014 spearhead, yet it’s still slightly steeper. What’s up with that, Sammy, Amazon and especially Sprint? Granted, you do get water resistance and fingerprint recognition here, only at the end of the day, the FHD Samsung is clearly no match for the QHD LG.

Galaxy S5 battery

Not in ppi, RAM muscle, build quality or overall design style. Perhaps in cell endurance, thanks to Galaxy S5’s more frugal screen.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $547 factory unlocked; $230 on-contract at Verizon, $300 and up with Sprint

  • 128 GB microSD; 3,220 mAh battery

Look, we get it, the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED 2K phablet is a powerhouse, with Snapdragon 805 inside, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB native storage space, up to 20-hour 3G continuous battery life, fast charging technology, heart rate monitoring, fingerprint authentication and S Pen support.

Galaxy Note 4 microSD

It’s handsome as well, with its premium metallic frame, soft-textured back cover and 8.5 mm wasp waist. But $300 with a 24-month carrier obligation?!? That sounds extreme. Even $230 is preposterous. For crying out loud, the newer, better-looking, more robust albeit smaller Galaxy S6 starts at $200.

Samsung Galaxy S4 – $291 factory unlocked; $0.01 with Verizon or Sprint pacts

  • 64 GB microSD; 2,600 mAh battery

It may feel hard to argue with a sub-$300 SIM-free valuation of a Lollipop-ready device packing quad-core Snapdragon 600 or octa Exynos 5 punch, plus 2 GB RAM. Yet if the LG G2 can go for $220 in a 32 GB configuration, so should the 16 GB GS4 model Amazon shamelessly charges almost three Benjamins for.

Galaxy S4 microSD

True, G2’s battery is bolted down. Otherwise though, the 2013 high-enders are matched in screen res and camera performance, and the G2 likely prevails as far as autonomy and processing speed are concerned.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 – $310 factory unlocked; $100 with AT&T contracts

  • 64 GB microSD; 2,800 mAh battery

Bet you forgot all about this unusually timid mid-end 6 incher. So did AT&T, we presume, or else they’d lack the gumption of asking 100 clams for such an unimpressive phablet on-contract.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 2

It’s really not worth it, since the battery is teeny-tiny, the display 720p, the cameras mediocre and, given the nonexistent marketing, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Mega 2 were stuck on KitKat for a long, long time.

HTC Desire 510 – $65 with Sprint prepaid plans; $66 at Boost Mobile; $70 on Virgin Mobile

  • 128 GB microSD; 2,100 mAh battery

HTC-Desire-510

Before you even think it, we had to include an ultra-low-cost no-contract trooper in our roundup of the rare removable battery/storage expansion birds. We just had to. And yes, we agree the Desire 510 looks pretty chintzy and its specs are, well, a full-on crapfest.

But it’s 65 lousy bucks, lets you add all the memory required to deposit half of Netflix’s library and, thanks to an FWVGA panel blessing in disguise, promises to last around 17 hours between charges.

Top 10 super-slim smartphones you can actually buy today – April 2015

Update:  Check out our updated article on the latest Android phones available that are considered the best slim phone 2017

The world’s thinnest smartphone title has become a thorny affair in recent years, as new contenders basically pop up out of nowhere once every few weeks. Most of the times, no-name Chinese manufacturers are behind these designs that defy gravity common sense, and the goal is to score free publicity for future products with better build quality.

BLU-Vivo-Air

Essentially, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with scouring the market for sub-7 or even sub-6 mm “supermodels”, there is such a thing as too slim. Too slim to handle daily use and abuse, too slim to offer decent hardware performance and, especially, too slim to last more than a few hours between battery charges.

At the same time, it’s important to distinguish the obvious vaporware from handhelds destined for a long, happy life on the catwalk. Here are ten ultra-slender gadgets available via the world’s largest e-commerce outlet that aren’t going anywhere in the coming months and aren’t too svelte for their own good:

ProductBrandNamePrice
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Alpha G850a 32GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Smartphone (Gold)Buy on Amazon|$94.95(Price as of 02/16/2019 10:31 ET)

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BLU Vivo Air – $190 in black; $200 in white gold

BLU Vivo Air

At 5.1 mm, aka approximately a fifth of an inch, the 4.8 incher promises up to 24 hours of continuous juice in talk time. Via 2G networks, that is, with 3G speeds draining the 2,100 mAh cell twice as fast. That’s far from impressive, but compared to other ridiculously thin phones, the Vivo Air is at least quite cheap and, according to folks who’ve touched it, not as frail as you’d expect.

It’s compatible with every US GSM carrier you can think of, caps off at HSPA+ in the connectivity department and tips the scales at, get this, 97 grams. Fashionistas, that’s probably your cue!

Huawei Ascend P6 – starting at $170 unlocked

Huawei Ascend P6

6.2 mm won’t break any records… anymore, yet it allows the P6 to come in at a 120 grams weight with 4.7-inch glass in tow and a robust all-metal chassis. Even less expensive than the Vivo Air, the P6 is old news, having seen daylight in June 2013, but rumor is it’ll nab over-the-air Lollipop treats eventually.

Samsung Galaxy A7 – $444

The mobile ruler’s newfound fondness of swanky, graceful gear has recently translated in not just the company’s handsomest flagship to date, but prettier-than-ever-before mid-rangers as well. Case in point, the aluminum framed A family, headlined by a fairly steep 5.5 incher with Full HD screen resolution, octa-core punch and 2 GB RAM.

Samsung Galaxy A7

The middle spectrum of the Android décor has sure come a long way. Alas, the A7 can’t possibly deliver respectable autonomy, given the 6.3 mm profile forces battery capacity to cap off at 2,600 mAh. With such a bright Super AMOLED panel, plus an Exynos Octa powerhouse in the equation, that’s a goner in a few casual gaming hours.

Huawei Ascend P7 – $324

Huawei Ascend P7

The follow-up to the critically acclaimed P6 is, as you’d presume, better-looking, more technically impressive and pricier. Also, slightly thicker, at 6.5 mm, which is a good thing, proving once again a little meat on the bones comes with its share of advantages. Most prominently here, a significantly larger 2,500 mAh ticker.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra – $288

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

This oldie but goldie gargantuan phablet measures 6.4 inches in diagonal, weighs in at 212 grams yet touts a 6.5 mm wasp waist. It’s almost a paradox, but one you’d be lucky to get at less than $300. Yes, you’ll bear your charger with you at all times (or maybe an external power bank), however the 1,080p Triluminos display, IP58 water resistance and 2 GB RAM will make the efforts and sacrifices all worth it.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha – $298 and up unlocked; starting at $0.01 with AT&T

Galaxy Alpha

Credited as the one that started Samsung’s metal revolution, the 6.7 mm Alpha preserves plastic remnants of an age past, standing out with amazing construction prowess in addition to style and slimness. Also, fingerprint recognition technology, Lollipop software (on Ma Bell at least), octa-core muscle, 2 GB RAM and generous 32 GB internal storage space.

Oh, but how tiny the 1,860 mAh cell sounds!

Samsung Galaxy A5 – $321

Samsung Galaxy A5

The middling member of the middling Galaxy A family looks a lot like the Alpha, measuring the same 6.7 mm in depth, only it’s bigger, at 5 inches, heftier (123 grams), and longer-lasting, presumably, courtesy of a 2,300 mAh battery.

Definitely longer-lasting, since a frugal quad-core 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor runs the performance show, paired with 2 gigs of random-access memory.

Samsung Galaxy S6 – $750 factory unlocked; $200 with AT&T, Sprint and Verizon pacts

You can’t have a “best of” list sans the as-yet uncrowned heavyweight champion of the world, the 6.8 mm/138-gram “next big thing.” Sure, it’s costly opposite every other mobile on our roundup, but it’s most likely a battery champ too, which is certainly no easy feat.

Galaxy S6

Okay, maybe not a champ per se, yet I think we can all agree 17 hours of “moderate usage” is a substantial number for an octa-core Quad HD beast with an eating disorder. What more can we say about the S6 we haven’t already said? It’s a must-buy. Period.

Samsung Galaxy A3 – $238

Samsung Galaxy A3

Practically tied with the S6 in physical narrowness, the SIM-free A3 is less than a third of the top dog’s price, and consequently, offers specs that are thrice as humble. A lackluster 4.5-inch 960 x 540 pix res screen, quad-core 1.2 GHz S410 CPU, 1.5 GB RAM, 1,900 mAh heart, etc., etc. On the plus side, the metal-clad budget trooper can probably keep the lights on from dawn to dusk if you take good care of it and don’t exert too much pressure on the average qHD display/64-bit processor combo.

Lenovo Vibe X – $127

Lenovo Vibe X

How is this “anorexic” 6.9 mm fellow so cheap? Well, it’s ancient for one thing, turning one and a half recently, and it’s also still on an archaic Android iteration – 4.2 Jelly Bean. Then again, the quad-core 1.5 GHz MediaTek MT6589T SoC is probably good for cell endurance, while the 5-inch FHD IPS display, 2 GB RAM, 13 MP and 5 MP cameras are really mind-bending features for Vibe X’s price range.

Forget Moto Es and Gs, this is the real low-cost MVP!

ProductBrandNamePrice
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Alpha G850a 32GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Smartphone (Gold)Buy on Amazon|$94.95(Price as of 02/16/2019 10:31 ET)

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Top Android smartphones with the highest screen-to-body ratio

Gadget display borders have made for a delicate, controversial, sometimes even uncomfortable topic basically since the inception of the so-called mobile tech industry. Okay, so maybe this wasn’t really a focal point back when the Nokia 1100 was selling in hundreds of millions of copies, but the prospect of a truly “bezel-less” smartphone captured the imagination of Android enthusiasts for many years now.

bezel less Android

Of course, as hardware manufacturers repeatedly highlighted, a completely bezel-free handheld would be as impractical as betting on a three-legged horse in the Kentucky Derby. There would be nothing to hold on to, not to mention the tricky software optimizations required to shun accidental touch interaction.

Also, be honest, a little bit of panel frontier often gives off an air of distinction and style compared to how an entirely stripped-down phone would probably look. The key is obviously to limit yourself to the absolute minimum necessary, coming as close as possible to a perfect screen-to-body ratio.

slim bezel display

What’s perfect? Considering the premium Galaxy S6 offers 70.7 percent of its surface as usable real estate, anything above that mark sounds great. The more screen, the merrier, as long as you don’t exceed 80 percent. All in all, 80 is likely the max sweet spot.

Sharp Aquos Crystal – $132 prepaid; 78.5 percent screen

Our first proposition and the overall compact form factor champion of the world falls short of the aforementioned magic number, but boy, does it come close to aesthetic perfection. Too bad Sharp couldn’t find a way to maybe split Crystal’s “chin” in slightly more harmonious slim strips of bezel all around the 5-inch 720p display.

Sharp Aquos Crystal

As things stand, this surprisingly affordable mid-end Android looks a little awkward, though the “sharp” edges are certainly a(nother) nice design touch. Beauty isn’t everything, of course, so you should be ecstatic to hear 130 bucks buy you Harman Kardon sound enhancements as well, plus quad-core Snapdragon 400 power and 1.5 GB RAM.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 – available at $449; 77.6 percent

Despite what the name suggests, the Mate 7 is “merely” a 6 incher with a robust, elegant metallic exterior, fingerprint recognition tech, octa-core Kirin 925 juice, 4,100 mAh battery capacity and almost no visible empty space to the sides of its Full HD panel.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

Above and underneath it, there’s enough room for a couple of sensors and subtle company logo, and unlike the Aquos Crystal, everything’s symmetric and mighty attractive here. Hands down the best use of the “edge-to-edge” concept to date.

LG G3 – $345 factory unlocked; 75.3%

You probably never realized just how thin G3’s “outskirts” were and how difficult it was for the OEM’s designers to make this a feasible build until the G4 dropped with a “modest” 72.5 percent screen quota. Now you understand why we’re urging you to buy this living legend before it vanishes into oblivion?

LG G3

Well, there’s that, plus a gorgeous 5.5-inch Quad HD piece of glass, Snapdragon 801 chip, Lollipop software, 13 MP laser autofocus camera and 3,000 mAh pacemaker.

BLU Studio 6.0 LTE – $207; 74.6%

How can such a massive beaut cost so little SIM-free, sans contractual obligations or strings attached of any sorts? Simple, BLU Products is still struggling to make a name for itself and pulling all the stops to become the US king of unlocked gear.

BLU Studio 6.0 LTE

Now, make no mistake, build quality is short of premium, with cheap plastic everywhere, and the specs are nothing to write home about. Nonetheless, for a low-cost trooper, the bang for buck factor is mind-blowing. Check it out and see for yourselves!

Huawei Honor X2 – $437; 74.5%

Known as MediaPad X2 in certain circles, this full-metal bad boy decidedly trudges on tablet turf, with a screen measuring, you guessed it, 7 inches in diagonal. But Huawei bills it a phone, and it can make and receive voice calls, so why not?

Huawei Honor X2

After all, it’s pretty light, at 239 grams, and impressively slender, at 7.2 mm. Phenomenally handsome too, with a near-microscopic black vertical layer on the screen’s right and left and perfectly tolerable horizontal dead spaces.

Motorola/Google Nexus 6 – $600 and up unlocked; 74.1%

Nexus 6

The prettiest Nexus family member was bound to be the most compact also in addition to gigantic, fast and furious. Such a shame it’s a bit overpriced, even following a recent trim, and tacky according to some, due to the polycarbonate body and much too rounded corners.

Meizu MX4 Pro – $410; 73.7%

Meizu MX4 Pro

It comes from a Chinese brand many of you may not entirely trust, it’s fairly hard to score stateside via conventional retail channels and runs an Android fork most Westerners don’t approve of. Yet the MX4 Pro makes up for all its flaws with first-rate design, a high-res screen, 3 whopping gigs of RAM and top-class 20.7 MP rear camera.

Last but not least, very low price relative to what’s brought to the table.

LG G Flex 2 – starting at $560 unlocked; 73.5%

Curved doesn’t have to mean bezel-y… or repulsively experimental anymore, and somehow, the arch makes the G Flex 2 seem shorter than 149 mm and more compact than “just” 73.5 percent functional display.

LG G Flex 2

It’s a victory of mindful design, if you will, especially compared to the first-gen “banana phone”, which looked crazy and not entirely in a good way. Let’s not forget the G Flex 2 saw its list price plummet already, and an on-contract Sprint version only costs $100. With Snapdragon 810 inside, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage and fast-charging 3,000 mAh battery.

Huawei Honor 6 Plus – $472; 73.2%

Wait, three Huaweis on such a competitive top ten list? Do you dare still call the Chinese device maker a mobile underdog? Sounds to us it’s more than ready for the big leagues, albeit the Honor 6 Plus will probably never leave the Asian continent… officially.

Huawei Honor 6 Plus

Unofficially, a few third-party Amazon sellers specialized in imports promise to ship the 7.5 mm thin 5.5 incher at a decent price if you’re willing to give them some time. Roughly a month, to be specific. Worth the wait? Consider this – while only 4 mm taller than HTC’s Desire 626, the Honor 6 Plus offers a whopping half an inch extra of Full HD IPS LCD glass.

Meizu M1 Note – $209; 72.9%

Almost unbelievably cheap, the non-stylus-capable iPhone clone homage boasts a fitting glossy plastic rear, but it’s by no means ugly. The razor-thin bezels emanate a distinguished vibe, the corners are just the right amount of circular and the signature home button somehow raises M1 Note’s elegant profile even more.

Meizu M1 Note

Under the hood, an adequately zippy octa-core 1.7 GHz MediaTek MT6752 processor runs the show, backed by 2 GB RAM and a hefty 3,140 mAh cell. Add in a 13 MP dual-LED camera, a secondary 5 MP shooter, 5.5-inch IGZO 1,080p panel and KitKat-based Flyme 4.0 OS, and you get one of the best sub-$250 propositions around, not only an extremely compact one.

Best cheap (sub-$200) unlocked Android smartphones available for Christmas

The beauty of Android-based hardware variety and manufacturer competition lies mainly in the numerous price points currently covered by phones, tablets and even wearables that can be described as respectable at the very least.

Android Santa

Sure, the absolute best handhelds of today will still set you back north of $600, $700, sometimes $800 free of carrier agreements and subsidies. But if you feel like a 4K 5.5-inch display is overkill (and it is), or you don’t need the world’s speediest octa-core processor, or can’t think of what might put 4 gigs of RAM to good use, chances are you’ll be more than happy with a sub-$200 purchase.

That’s right, two Benjamins is no longer dumb phone or ultra-low-end smartphone territory. And mind you, we mean two Benjamins outright, off-contract, and sans prepaid obligations too, where the network choice is all yours after you actually buy the device… as long as it’s not CDMA, aka Verizon or Sprint.

Android-Unlocked

Just in time for Christmas, we’ve rounded up the affordable Android troops, including a series of gadgets not typically sold under $200, and destined to go back over the magic number once the holidays wrap up. You should hurry therefore, and take Amazon up on its compelling time-limited unlocked special offers:

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 – $199.99

Wait a second, this isn’t the 4.7-inch variant normally sold for $200. That one’s $173 right now, while the $200 model measures a gargantuan 5.5 inches in screen diagonal, offering Full HD resolution, octa-core Snapdragon 615 power, 2 GB RAM, 13 MP photography muscle, 8 MP selfie prowess, and 2,910 mAh battery juice.

Alcatel Idol 3

Granted, the name Alcatel isn’t instantly associated with premium build quality stateside, and the TCL-owned, China-based brand is instead synonymous with compromises and corner-cutting. But those specs listed above are far from mediocre, and the 7.4 mm slender phablet doesn’t look shoddy by any standards. Quite on the contrary, as a better-known OEM would probably charge $400+ for a similar design.

HTC Desire Eye – $199.99

HTC Desire Eye

The 1,080p 5.2 incher is “watching” you at all times, promising stellar snapshot quality no matter which of its cameras you’ll use more. Both are 13 megapixel-capable, with dual-LED flash endowments on the front and back, Snapdragon 801 inside, expandable storage, multitasking-friendly memory, Quick Charge 2.0 technology, and Lollipop software goodies patched over the KitKats initially pre-installed.

Ideal for self-portrait addicts, the Desire Eye is coated in a swanky combination of white and red that also makes it a great gift for teenagers and young women.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua – $199.99

Xperia M4 Aqua

It may be bleak and cold outside now, but before long, you’ll be craving to hit the beach or the pool and, when the time comes, an aqua-protected phone will come in quite handy. Especially one covered by a standard 12-month warranty valid in the US, tipping the scales at only 136 grams while measuring 7.3 mm in thickness and 5 inches in display diagonal.

No wonder Sony used to charge 300 clams for the Snapdragon 615 mid-range powerhouse, classic and classy black paint job included.

Asus ZenFone 2 Laser – $199

ZenFone 2 Laser

Look, bragging rights are cool and all, but there’s literally nothing the $270 4GB RAM configuration is capable of and the 3 gig Laser can’t do. Besides, shutterbugs will get much faster focus from the lower-cost version, which works on AT&T and T-Mobile no problem, lasting for an eternity between charges courtesy of a pretty massive 3,000 mAh user-replaceable cell.

The 5.5-inch panel boasts Full HD resolution and resists scratches thanks to Gorilla Glass 4 technology, with a Snapdragon 615 SoC ensuring you never run out of power while browsing, gaming, or playing back high-res video content.

Huawei P8 lite – $196

Huawei P8 lite

Don’t let the “lite” suffix fool you. This isn’t some half-baked “diminutive” flagship. It’s got a robust metal frame, yet weighs in at 131 grams, and settles for 720p screen resolution because it’s better for battery endurance.

Amazon claims the inexpensive 5 incher “supports all GSM 4G LTE networks in the United States”, which is probably true, but to stay on the safe side of things, you’ll want to take a look at the full list of compatible bands before choosing to activate it on T-Mo, Ma Bell, MetroPCS, Cricket or some other smaller operator.

Samsung Galaxy J5 – $188

Samsung-Galaxy-J5

Are Samsung’s phones intrinsically better than the competition? Not really, particularly in the non-flagship market segment, where TouchWiz oftentimes burdens the UI rather than polish it, and the hardware specs very rarely match those of the company’s lesser respected rivals.

Still, some people will refuse to admit advertising doesn’t make a reliable product, and if you’re dead set on Samsung, at least get something with decent value for money. Like the plasticky but Lollipop-running J5, which sizes up at 7.9 mm in depth, featuring a 5-inch HD Super AMOLED display, quad-core SD410 chip, 1.5 GB RAM, 13 and 5 MP cams, and 2,600 mAh battery.

Motorola Moto G (3rd generation) – $172

Moto-G-2015

Has the Moto G family lost its magic touch with a third version resistant to water, slated to receive Marshmallow updates soon enough, and capable of producing 13 and 5 MP photos and selfies? Not in the slightest, though it clearly faces much tougher competition than its predecessors.

Basically, software support is what recommends the G3 first and foremost, along with a surprisingly hearty 24-hour juicer.

BLU Life One X – $150

BLU Life One X

The Miami-based smartphone producer says it’s reached the number one spot in unlocked US sales in an impressively narrow window of time, and while we can’t verify that bold claim, we wouldn’t be surprised if BLU merchandise was near the top of your Christmas 2015 wish lists.

The refreshed Life One X literally just went on sale, and for a few days longer, it’s available at 50 bucks less than its MSRP, with upper mid-end specs in tow like a 5.2-inch FHD IPS LCD screen, 2 GB RAM, 13 MP LED flash rear camera, 2,900 mAh battery, LTE connectivity, and Lollipop treats, soon to be replaced by Marshmallows.

Motorola Moto G (2nd generation) – $145

Moto G 2014

The price tag feels a little steep compared to the vastly upgraded third-gen, but like its successor, the G2 is reportedly up for an Android M makeover in the next few months. It’s also theoretically optimized to keep the lights on all day long, capable of stereo sound, quad-core speed, and 1 GB RAM.

While writing that, this writer realized the 2014 Moto G is in desperate need of an additional discount. Contemporary, near-stock software is simply not enough to warrant close to $150. Make it $120, tops, Moto!

BLU Life One 4G LTE – $100

BLU Life One 4G LTE

What can a paltry Benji hook you up with? Believe it or not, 4G LTE support, 5.1 Lollipops, a 5-inch 720p display, 13 and 5 MP photography artists, quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, microSD card slot, featherweight 125-gram construction, and Gorilla Glass 3 screen protection.

The perfect present for a first-time smartphone user, kid, elder, or even fashion-concerned individual not obsessed with cream of the crop specifications? You bet, with both black and gold color options priced at $99.99 for a limited time.

Top ten Android smartphones with the best battery life – December 2015

Power banks, aka portable battery chargers, energy packs capable of doubling as protective cases, phones that juice up from 0 to 60 percent capacity or even more in under an hour, wireless charging pads, they’re all imperfect solutions or workarounds for possibly the greatest weakness of most modern-day high-end phones.

Android-Battery

What good are breathtaking 4K screens, monumentally speedy octa or deca-core processors, and respectable PC-matching RAM counts when you can only enjoy the amazing resulting ensembles for 8, 10, 12 hours before hugging a wall or needing one of those magical power banks?

Well, if you’re smart, and choose your next Android handheld wisely, autonomy doesn’t have to be so rudimentary, and you can go 16, 20, 24, sometimes even 36 or 48 hours without requiring an extra energy supply. None of the below is quite as enduring as we dreamed several years back, and they’re all still easily eclipsed by “dumb” phones, but they’re the best money can buy stateside right now in terms of battery size:

Lenovo Vibe P1 – available for $398 unlocked on Amazon

Lenovo Vibe P1

The biggest batteries don’t always equal the best battery life, but in P1’s case, there’s little to prevent the massive 5,000 mAh cell from keeping the lights on for what may feel like an eternity. Namely, up to 49 hours, Lenovo claims, in continuous 2G talk time, or over 600 (!!!) hours in stand-by.

The 5.5-incher is hardly the world’s sharpest or most powerful gadget, with a Full HD display and Snapdragon 615 processor in tow, alongside 2 GB RAM, 13 and 5 MP cameras, and pre-loaded 5.1 Lollipop on the software side of things. Still, it’s a fantastic investment if you’re constantly on the run, and need something to keep up with your busy life.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 – $390 unlocked

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

This is likely no longer the answer to the question on many people’s minds – “what smartphone has the best battery life?” But it could well be the second best, courtesy of a non-removable 4,100 mAh juicer rated at a “minimum” standby stamina of 608 hours.

Of course, no one spends four Benjamins to leave the object of desire untouched in a drawer somewhere, which is why we’re guessing the Mate 7 will crack in under two days of heavy use due to measuring 6 inches in screen diagonal and packing a power-hungry Kirin 925 silicon.

Huawei Ascend Mate 2 – $200 factory unlocked

Huawei Ascend Mate 2

How is this 4,050 mAh battery beast so cheap? First of all, it’s ancient, having seen daylight way back in January 2014. As such, its software support is probably halted after a surprising 4.4 KitKat-skipping 5.1 Lollipop update.

Secondly, it’s got a modest quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip behind the hood. Thirdly, it tips the scales at an off-putting 202 grams. But the frugal SoC can be viewed as an advantage through the eyes of an independence-seeking traveler, and the least you could hope for is 24 hours of autonomy under constant pressure.

Huawei Enjoy 5 – $234

huawei_enjoy_5

Where did this mid-range 5-incher come from all of a sudden? China, obviously, via unofficial channels, meaning a valid US warranty is hard to procure at the moment. If that sounds like a risk worth taking, it’s because the Enjoy 5 hauls a 4,000 mAh battery, which is absolutely huge relative to a 143.1 x 71.8 x 9.7 mm footprint.

In comparison, the standard Samsung Galaxy S6 measures 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm, shaving a vital 1,500 mAh or so off the cell size just to flaunt a catwalk-destined waist. Forget it, we’d rather have an all-day (and all-night) reliable phone… for a fraction of the price.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium – $695

Xperia Z5 Premium

Also imported using frowned-upon means, this time from Japan, the Ultra HD pioneer stands out with water protection, fingerprint recognition and big battery too, though it goes without saying the 3,840 x 2,140 panel can do major damage on the 3,430 mAh juicer at full potential.

Good thing then Sony limits the display’s energy consumption at the risk of pissing off specs junkies, so hopefully, the Snapdragon 810/3 GB RAM/5.5-inch monster can chug along for a whole day’s work. If it doesn’t, Quick Charge 2.0 technology lets you go from 0 to 60 percent in a measly 30 minutes.

Google Nexus 6 – $340

Nexus 6

Yes, it’s old, yes, there’s a new version in town, and yes, that one’s better in essentially every way, including as far as battery capacity and endurance go. But the N6P is also much costlier, especially through Amazon, while Motorola’s OG “pure Google” phablet retains a certain je ne sais quoi.

Not to mention a 3,220 mAh power container. And wireless charging functions. And a cucumber cool quad-core Snapdragon 805 chip. And 3 GB RAM, and 32 GB ROM, and a water-resistant body, and 6-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $502 factory unlocked

Galaxy Note 4 battery

Did you know last year’s S Pen-supporting giant towers above its heir to the productivity throne in terms of battery size, with 3,220 to 3,000 mAh? Too bad the Note 4 remains so extravagantly priced. On the plus side, it may for some reason jump on the Marshmallow bandwagon before the Galaxy Note 5 does. The update gods seem to be working in decidedly mysterious ways.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ – $650

galaxy-s6-edge-plus

Why this and not its stylus-wielding, non-edgy cousin? Because it looks so sweet, so curvaceous and slim, yet it still manages to accommodate a 3,000 mAh battery, reportedly good for more than 30 hours uninterrupted talk time activity, 10+ hours of web browsing, or close to 14 of endless video playback.

More affordable than ever, albeit far from a bargain, the S6 Edge Plus sports a 5.7-inch 2K screen, Exynos 7420 SoC, 4 GB RAM, 16 MP LED flash rear camera, and 5 MP front shooter, with wireless charging capabilities, and the absolute best in fast charging enhancements.

Moto X Pure Edition – $400 and up with US warranty

Moto-X-Pure-Edition

No love for the Droid Turbo? It’s too old, too tough to find someplace else than at Verizon, and besides, the X Pure Edition, aka X Style, squeezes a 3,000 mAh cell into an 11.1 mm thick frame. Clearly, this won’t win any beauty contests, but it’s very robustly built, the bang for buck is quite compelling, and the battery scored an impressive 63 hours endurance rating from GSM Arena.

Also, in just 15 minutes of plug-in action, you should get the battery mark up to a third of its full capacity. Not even Samsung can do that…

LG G4 – $425 and up factory unlocked

LG G4 battery

Is it the longest-lasting Android around? Hardly. Is it one of the absolute best phones in its price bracket? Definitely. Consider this – it’s got a 3,000 mAh juicer, rated at roughly 20 hours of talk time, hexa-core Snapdragon 808 CPU, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage, microSD support, 5.5-inch QHD display, Marshmallow goodies around the corner, and swanky leather exterior. It’s a very tough act to follow, which is why the V10 strayed so far from the beaten design path, also going with an entirely different moniker.

Top 10 Android smartphones capable of fingerprint recognition

Fingerprint scanners. Can’t have a flagship smartphone without one in this day and age, but the Android handhelds that do support the futuristic method of biometric authentication are often accused of shoddy, gimmicky execution.

Fingerprint scanner

Even when done properly, the technology continues to stir up controversies, although Apple fans were very quick (and proud) to adopt so-called Touch ID recognition on the iPhone 5s, then the 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus models, as well as the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro.

Many will argue Cupertino managed to deeply integrate the feature into iOS straight off the bat, letting its customers not only unlock devices via fingerprint, but also seamlessly authorize online payments, and logins in various proprietary apps.

Then again, as Samsung Pay gears up to roll out to a bunch of Galaxy stars, including some that don’t shine as bright as the S6 Edge+, and Android Pay looms large on the horizon, as part of Marshmallow’s basic set of native goodies, it’s time we took fingerprint-capable gadgets more seriously than ever.

Android Pay

To that end, we’ve gathered a handy list of ten Android smartphones available on Amazon today which support fingerprint magic. Before long, this will noticeably grow, as the Xperia Z5 trio, 2015 Nexus duo, and others join the party, but once again, let’s focus on the now:

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus – $710 factory unlocked international

First and foremost, let us stress we’ve tried to make today’s top ten as diverse as possible, so as not to be accused of Samsung fanboyism. Otherwise, we risked the Android manufacturer kings taking over nearly the entire ranks, having introduced mobile fingerprint compatibility back in early 2014, with the now ancient GS5.

Galaxy S6 Edge+

That said, the S6 Edge+ predictably headlines the roster, despite its extravagant price tag, with silky smooth touch-based fingerprint functionality, Samsung Pay around the corner stateside, and an entire slew of unrelated ultra-high-end features, like a dual-edge 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen, Exynos 7420 SoC, 4 GB RAM, and 16/5 MP cameras.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – $698 and up

Galaxy Note 5 fingerprint

No flashy curves, no European availability… just yet, a bundled S Pen accessory that you should be extra-careful with, and as for everything else, it’s the same as above. The fingerprint sensor is integrated into the home button, and unless a super-skilled, super-vicious hacker makes you his target, authentication and payments are nice and secure.

HTC One M9 Plus – $509

htc-one-m9-plus

Technically unreleased in the US, the MediaTek Helio X10 powerhouse is up for grabs on Amazon via import specialists sans an American-valid warranty. The home key-incorporated fingerprint scanner is actionable by touch here too, and it allows you to set up to five different profiles for sharing the device, and its state-of-the-art data protection, with family and friends.

Why haven’t you heard more chatter about the M9+? Well, the cameras aren’t great, battery life is somewhat underwhelming, and HTC’s marketing moolah was wasted on Iron Man.

Lenovo Vibe P1 – $459

Hello there, battery monster that literally just got unveiled at IFA 2015! It’s excellent to see you commercially available, even if likely in very limited, imported inventory. It’s even nicer to hear Lenovo hasn’t skimped on fingerprint recognition quality, promising half a second unlock times.

Lenovo Vibe P1

The overall quality-price ratio is what makes the Vibe P1 stand out from the crowd, with octa-core processing power in tow, 2 gigs of memory, a 13 MP dual-LED flash rear cam, 5.5-inch Full HD display, 32 GB internal storage space, microSD support and, above all, a gigantic 5,000 mAh ticker.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 – $419 factory unlocked

Speaking of giants, the Mate 7 is no, not 7 full inches in diagonal, but pretty close, at 6. Much like the P1, its key strength is endurance, courtesy of a slightly smaller 4,100 mAh cell. The IPS LCD panel is 1,080p-capable, the 16 GB ROM microSD-expandable, and the Kirin 925 SoC octa-core-packing.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

Too bad the rectangular fingerprint rig is a little harder to operate around the phablet’s back, and Android Pay capabilities baked into 6.0 Marshmallow are a sweet but unrealistic dream, as Lollipop hasn’t even replaced KitKat yet.

Meizu MX5 – $387

Stop being skittish about Chinese brands who haven’t officially penetrated the American market. Meizu’s time, for instance, will come, mark our words, either when the MX5 spreads worldwide, or when the just-announced Pro 5 takes off.

Meizu MX5

What makes the MX5 special? Take your pick – an always reliable touch-manipulated fingerprint ID apparatus, 5.5-inch FHD AMOLED display, octa-core Helio X10 CPU, 3 GB RAM, 20.7 MP photography virtuoso, 3,150 mAh battery, etc., etc.

Meizu MX4 Pro – $365

Meizu MX4 Pro

Don’t let the first part of the name fool you. The MX4 Pro is as high-end as smartphones came in late 2014, touting 2,560 x 1,536 pixels resolution on a 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen (resulting in 546 ppi), Exynos 5430 octa punch, 3,350 mAh juice, and 20.7 and 5 megapixel camera excellence.

Lenovo ZUK Z1 – $379

This brand and this device essentially came out of nowhere last month, with so-called 360 degree U-Touch tech among the primary selling points, plus Cyanogen OS support, a clean, minimalistic design, USB Type-C connectivity, and massive 4,100 mAh battery endowed with fast charging functions.

ZUK Z1

Expected out “internationally” in the near future, the Z1 should be in line for a Marshmallow update in a few months, which means Android Pay is coming to seal the already tempting deal including 3 GB RAM, 64 GB ROM, a 5.5-inch 1,080p screen, quad-core Snapdragon 801 chip, and 13/8 MP cams.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha – $284 AT&T unlocked

When’s the last time you thought of the venerable metal-framed 4.7 incher, the upper mid-ranger that started the high-end aluminum construction trend, and also registers and remembers your fingerprint… once you swipe it across the home button repeatedly.

Galaxy Alpha

Okay, so the implementation is seriously flawed here, the margin of error way too large, and the real-life utility of the biometric authentication mechanism almost nonexistent. But if you’re looking for bragging rights over owners of phones caught behind the times, and don’t want to spend a fortune in the process, this is still an option.

Besides, it’s supermodel skinny (6.7 mm), lightweight yet fairly robust, compact and Lollipop-running, thanks to a recent software makeover.

HTC One Max – $333

HTC One Max

Aged 2 going on 3, the cumbersome 5.9 incher belongs in a museum rather than a user’s (humongous) trouser pocket. But it’s affordable… at last, welcomes all your content on a 32 GB ROM and microSD card slot, Full HD-sporting, 2 GB RAM-packing, and LTE-enabled on GSM networks. The actual fingerprint scanner is pretty glitchy, we’ll be honest with you, and almost impossible to reach, as it’s situated on the rear of an 164.5 x 82.5 mm slab tipping the scales at 217 grams.

Top 10 Android smartphones better than Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

They say the new iPhones could easily break the mind-blowing sales records posted by their forerunners, both for the first week-end of pre-orders and as far as total shipment numbers go, though of course that latter tally is much harder to forecast.

Android-VS-Apple

And why shouldn’t they? Because they look identical to last year’s 6 and 6 Plus models? Pfft, Apple could have repackaged the original 3.5-inch 2007 iPhone, and their clueless iFans would still be swept away by the “higher-res-than-ever” display.

Any other reasons you can think of possibly blocking the 6s and 6s Plus ascent to 100 million unit sales? Well, here’s a very obvious one. The two aren’t the best of the best in stores this year. Not even close, as we had relatively little difficulty selecting ten, count’ em, ten Androids that are just better, and you can either already buy, or that should roll out before the holidays.

Disclaimer – the selection is extremely subjective and totally biased, but if you can’t find at least one device that’s objectively superior to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus on the following list, you’re probably an ideal candidate for a Jimmy Kimmel interview.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus – available for $728 unlocked on Amazon

Why it’s better: To sum up our recent 1,000+ words comparison in a phrase, it’s nice to see Apple recover some lost ground in departments like photography or memory, but after years of stagnation, a radical revolution is needed to ensure a fair fight.

iPhone 6s Plus vs S6 Edge Plus

You know, a bit like how Sammy completely started from scratch when designing the S6 and S6 Edge, further polishing the looks of the already handsomest, swankiest, curviest gadget around. More to the point, the S6 Edge+ offers better specs, customizable software and an extra razzle-dazzle exterior at the price of a boring 16 GB iPhone 6s Plus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – $726

Galaxy Note 5

Why it’s better: First of all, it bundles for free a stylus accessory Apple charges a ridiculous $100 for when paired with the iPad Pro. Number two, it targets those who may feel the S6 Edge+ design is a little tacky, eclipsing the iPhone 6s style thanks to a winning combination of metal and glass, as well as super-slim screen bezels, and aristocratic sharp corners.

Last but not least, it’s a powerhouse, exactly like its edgy cousin, and it’s sensibly priced, all things considered.

Samsung Galaxy S6 – starting at $540 factory unlocked

You’d have probably expected to see the S6 Edge, not the standard S6 make the cut here. But we wanted to also pick something genuinely affordable… for a flagship, free of distracting curves, S Pens, or other gimmicks.

iPhone-6s-Samsung-Galaxy-S6

It’s great the GS6 perfectly slots between the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in terms of display diagonal too, illustrating the triumph of the Korean company’s engineering efforts, as it’s essentially just as tall, wide and thick as the rival 4.7 incher despite sporting a 5.1-inch Quad HD panel, and stellar battery endurance figures.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Xperia Z5 Premium

It may not be as impervious to water damage as you had hoped, it’s not up for grabs yet, and most content is shown in 1,080p quality instead of 4K to save juice. Nonetheless, when it finally rolls out, the Z5 Premium shall humiliate Apple’s newfound 4K video capturing capabilities by also playing the clips back.

Oh, yeah, and Sony has the greatest smartphone cameras in the world, with nearly twice the pitifully upgraded megapixel count of iPhone shooters.

LG G4 – $432 and up SIM-free

LG G4 vs iPhone 6s

Why it’s better: It’s leather-clad and elegant in a retro, evergreen way, it’s decidedly inexpensive, and yet, can still hold its own in a direct specification battle against the GS6 Edge+. Maybe not win the war, but survive it enough to give iPhones a healthy run for their money, courtesy of a vivid 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS LCD screen, agile hexa-core Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3 GB RAM, 16 and 8 MP cams, and 3,000 mAh battery.

Motorola Moto X Style (Pure Edition) – $399.99

Moto X Style

Why it’s better: Largely because it’s cheap. For crying out loud, it’s less than half the no-contract tariff of a 64 GB iPhone 6s Plus, and though it only accommodates 16 gigs of data internally, it’s got a microSD card slot for 128 more.

Not to forget the massive, high-res 2K 5.7-inch display, water-repellent coating protection (no immersion, just spills, splashes, and rain), 21 megapixel dual-LED flash rear snapper, TurboPower charging functions, stock Lollipop software, guaranteed Marshmallow support and beyond, as well as the generous 3 GB memory.

Google Nexus 6 – $350 with 32 GB storage; $400 in 64 GB configuration

Nexus 6

There’s no way to know how long Amazon intends to sell the one year-old “pure Google” giant at the heavily discounted tag, or if the arrival of a Huawei-made sequel might wipe out the OG altogether.

What we’re certain of is this is the current top bargain for power users who don’t mind “settling” for a quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, 13 MP dual-LED flash main photographic unit, 2 MP selfie camera, and 3,220 mAh battery.

Wait, 3,220 mAh is quite a lot, and the 6-inch Quad HD screen is also remarkable by any standards, not to mention the vanilla Android Lollipop experience, stereo speakers, and wireless charging support.

ZTE Axon Pro – $450 factory unlocked

ZTE Axon Pro

We’re entering dark horse territory, where you’re advised to tread carefully, and remember Chinese brands aren’t awfully popular stateside for good reasons. Some of them, given the Axon Pro is manufactured in America, for an American audience, designed as robustly as you’d expect from tier 1 OEMs, and fitted with pretty much all the best 2015 technologies at a hard to beat price.

You have your 4 gigs of memory, which Apple will probably match in 2020, Hi-Fi audio playback and recording, free bundled JBL headphones, Quad HD 5.5-inch screen, dual-camera 13 + 2 MP lens, 8 megapixel selfie prowess, 4K video shooting abilities, large 3,000 mAh battery with fast charging functions, and octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus 2

Hard to come by without an invite, the “2016 flagship killer” is almost worth the $475 charged by a resourceful third-party Amazon seller. Almost, as it “kills” the memory count and juicer capacity of the iPhone 6s Plus, tying its Full HD 5.5-inch glass, fingerprint recognition skill, photography muscle, and autonomy numbers.

How embarrassing it must be for Apple to admit defeat against a Chinese startup! Of course, they’ll never do that, spending billions of dollars on TV commercials, newspaper ads and billboards revolving around the “perfect blend” of homebrewed software and hardware.

Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S

If you absolutely, positively need to own a device with a pressure-sensitive display, why not be original and purchase the Mate S… when it commercially launches? The top-of-the-line Force Touch-enabled model will cost you an arm and a leg, make no mistake about it, but at least you’ll get 128GB internal storage plus microSD space, 3 GB RAM, 13 and 8 MP cameras (both equipped with flash systems), and octa-core punch.

Best Android smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches unveiled at IFA 2015

Technically, this year’s glamorous-as-always IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin wraps up today, just as Apple puts the finishing touches to the San Francisco stage where the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will break cover in a matter of hours.

IFA 2015

But back to IFA 2015, all the high-profile product announcements really took place last week, with the vast majority preceding the expo’s formal opener on Friday. Why did it take us so long then to round up the Android protagonists that made the tech world rumble before rehashed iPhones can seize their unjustified spotlight?

Well, we wanted to digest the profuse device introductions and re-introductions, and filter the handhelds, tablets and wearables that objectively show decent promise from the gimmicky duds and prime vaporware suspects.

After careful consideration, we’ve chosen a number of 20 new Androids we believe you’ll hear more about in the coming months:

Best smartphones of IFA 2015

 

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, Z5, and Z5 Compact

Xperia Z5 Premium 4K

Why: Because they’re outstanding, different enough from their predecessors to stand out for a change, and cater to all classes of power users, no matter their hands and trouser pocket sizes. All three come with minuscule fingerprint sensors, neatly disguised as lateral power buttons, and they’re all handsomely engraved with Xperia logos to their sides.

The Z5 Compact is obviously the smallest and lowest-end model of the bunch, with a 720p 4.6-inch display and 2 GB RAM in tow. Then you have the 1,080p 5.2-inch Z5, loaded with 3 gigs of memory, and finally, the road-opening 4K 5.5-inch Z5 Premium.

When: By October as far as the Z5 and Z5 Compact are concerned, and sometime in November the Z5 Premium. In Europe, Asia, and Canada, that is, with official US availability details notably missing from the puzzle.

How much: Roughly €550, €700, and €800 respectively on the old continent.

Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S

Why: It brings Force Touch-similar technology before the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Also, it’s a definite head-turner, and it recognizes fingerprints.

When: Alas, there’s no way Huawei will dispatch the Mate S in advance of next-gen iPhones. Pre-orders begin September 15, shipping should be underway by the end of the month… in certain global markets.

How much: €800 or so with Force Touch and 128 GB internal storage, €649 in a standard, 32 gig configuration. Ouch!

ZTE Axon Elite

ZTE Axon Elite

The European-bound counterpart of the Chinese Axon and American Axon Pro, this is only Full HD-capable, but offers fingerprint and eye-scanning features, as well as microSD storage expansion beyond the base 32 GB.

Priced at €420 in most EU territories, this has the brawn of a flagship, but not the prohibitive demands to match it. Nicely done!

Lenovo Phab and Phab Plus

Lenovo-Phab-Plus

We don’t like filing gigantic 7 and 6.8 inchers under handhelds, yet Lenovo leaves us little choice, marketing the upper mid-range duo as everything but tablets. They’re phones, phablets, phabs, crossover devices, just don’t call them tabs.

Good thing they’re super-affordable, at $179 and $229 respectively, with 720p and 1,080p screens, Snapdragon 410 and 615 chips, 1 and 2 GB RAM, plastic and metal bodies, 13 MP cameras and Lollipop across the board.

Lenovo Vibe P1 and Vibe S1

lenovo_vibe_p1

It’s perhaps not fair to tackle these radically distinct products together, but we can’t give Lenovo three spots on our smartphone recap. Besides, the P1 and S1 do have one thing in common, namely they each focus on one key selling point.

The former targets people who are always on the move with a massive 5,000 mAh battery, while the latter aims to win the hearts of selfie addicts, courtesy of a quirky 8 + 2 MP dual front cam arrangement.

 

IFA 2015 – tablet roundup

 

Acer Predator 8

Acer Predator 8

We can’t say we were shocked to see merely a handful of Android slates previewed at IFA, since sales in the segment have steeply plunged of late, but the Predator 8 was certainly a nice surprise, not to mention a welcome change of pace from the tens of budget-friendly models that all look the same.

This gaming-oriented beast is clearly special, in more than one way, what with its four snazzy red front-facing stereo speakers, tactile feedback support, Intel Atom x7 power, and high-res 8-inch panel.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro, Tab 3 8 and 10

Yoga-Tab-3-Pro

Boy, was Lenovo busy leading up to IFA! This trio of new “multimode” tabs consists of two low-cost configs, capable of lasting a while between charges, and a “professional” variant with a built-in pico projector, 2,560 x 1,600 pix res screen, thin aluminum construction, and an even huger battery.

Prices? From the totem pole top to bottom, $500, $199, and $169 respectively. Not too shabby!

Alcatel Xess

Alcatel Xess

This choice is going to be a little harder to explain, but bear with us for a second. First of all, yes, 17 inchers are crazy uncomfortable to carry around. Also, the manufacturer itself emphasizes in marketing material this is a “genre-busting” smart device “so different we can’t call it a tablet.”

However you therefore elect to call it, you might be surprised to find it’s an effective and compelling home entertainment product, at least on paper. It comes with a convenient kickstand, it’s sharp, long-lasting, decently speedy and, above all, big.

 

Best smartwatches of IFA 2015

 

Samsung Gear S2

Samsung Gear S2

It doesn’t run Android Wear, and was teased so many times ahead of last week it feels like old news. But it’s compatible with a large number of Android phones, not just Samsungs, and it’s still fresh and unavailable to buy.

Starting at around €350 in Europe and $350 stateside, the circular Tizen timepiece should globally go on sale within a few weeks, including in a 3G-enabled flavor. Elegant, robust, durable, health-friendly, and water-resistant, the Gear S2 is no doubt a worthy LG Watch Urbane and second-gen Moto 360 contender.

Moto 360 2015 and Moto 360 Sport

Moto 360 2015

Speaking of revamped 360s, these offer far more customization options than before, with models specifically designed for men, ladies, and fitness nuts of both sexes. Also priced dangerously close to the Apple Watch, at $300 and up, the 360 2 essentially confirmed all recent speculation, delivering superior raw system performance, autonomy, and… iPhone support.

Huawei Watch

First unveiled six full months ago, the luxury Android-running timepiece has gone through a lot to reach stores, with pre-orders at long last open, but the MSRP set a little high, at $350 with a leather strap, or $450 in a version tied together by a stainless steel link band.

Huawei Watch

This is arguably a handsomer accessory than the 2015 Moto 360, Gear S2 and Watch Urbane, but ultimately, it’s still useless without a paired Android handheld or iPhone. Make it $250, Huawei, $300 tops, and we have a deal!

Asus ZenWatch 2

Asus ZenWatch 2

Another previously announced product that got further detailed at IFA, the ZenWatch 2 is nowhere near as premium-looking as the aforementioned smartwatches, but at least it comes in two sizes. With sharp AMOLED panels, IP67 water protection, decent battery, a host of useful sensors, and a starting tariff of only €150 in Europe, which suggests $150 in the US.

Alcatel Go Watch

Alcatel Go Watch

It’s clearly tricky for low-key French OEM Alcatel to shine in such a competitive and crowded space, yet the Go Watch is inexpensive enough, at $150, to make you overlook its terribly unattractive design. It’s also waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof, rated at 2 to 5 days of endurance on a single charge, compatible with both Androids and iPhones, plus capable of monitoring your heart rate, and offering advice accordingly.

Best back-to-school Android smartphones for 2015

We realize you probably don’t want to think about this yet, but the start of the school year is nigh. There’s still time to have some fun, lie under the scorching sun all day and party all night, but sooner or later, you’ll need to deal with the reality of the sweet dream coming to a bitter end.

Smartphone in school

Luckily, we know just the perfect pick-you-up. Nothing like shiny new Android gear to get you through the pains of math classes and perhaps help with homework. As you can imagine, the list of smartphone must-buys this back to school season looks radically different from last year’s index of distractions/work tools.

There’s something for everyone in our collection of student-centric handhelds, as we want to cater to all budgets, needs and preferences:

Motorola Moto E (2nd generation) – $89.99 GSM unlocked; $99.99 with 4G LTE

Our cheapest proposition is obviously the least technically gifted as well, but that’s not to say it’s a pushover. Besides, some of you more understanding youngsters may want to give old mom and dad a break from excessive spending. After all, they also have clothes, various taxes and other expenses to take care of.

Moto-E_2nd-Gen

That said, the 2015 Moto E, particularly the LTE-capable version, offers a lot for very little money. A compact and respectably sharp 4.5-inch qHD IPS panel, quad-core Snapdragon 410 power, 1 GB RAM, 2,390 mAh battery juice and 5 MP autofocus rear camera, among others.

HTC Desire 816 – $150 with prepaid Virgin Mobile plans

It’s not entirely fair to compare this robust phablet’s prepaid tariff with unlocked tags of rival devices, but at the end of the day, contractual obligations don’t enter any of the equations and Virgin Mobile’s arrangements are extremely convenient in the long run.

HTC Desire 816

As far as the actual Desire 816 goes, this definitely targets lovers of jumbo-sized phones, as well as fashionistas and shutterbugs. It tips the scales at 165 grams, measures 7.9 mm thick, 5.5 inches in screen diagonal and features a 13 megapixel main photographic unit.

Motorola Moto G (3rd generation) – $179.99

Though not that different from its predecessor on the outside, the 2015 G adds water resistance in the mix, cranks up the autonomy to around 24 hours and vastly improves both cameras, upping the sensors to 13 and 5 MP.

Moto G 2015

The pre-installed stock Android 5.1 Lollipop makes this the perfect choice for purists too, also guaranteeing extended and steady software support.

BLU Selfie – $193 GSM unlocked

We have a strict “no judging” policy here at The Droid Guy, so if selfies are your thing, even during school hours, we think it best you don’t deny your heart what it wants. You only live once, and these early formation years are some of the most precious ones.

BLU Selfie

Have fun while you still can, and take all the selfies… teachers will let you, courtesy of BLU Selfie’s unbeatable 13 MP LED flash front-facing camera.

Asus ZenFone 2 – $199 in 16 GB configuration; $299 with 64 GB ROM/4 GB RAM

The “entry-level” model isn’t half bad, with Intel inside, 2 gigs of random access memory, a 5.5-inch Full HD display and 13 MP/5 MP cams. But by all means, try to amass an extra hundred bucks and go for the 4 gig RAM champ.

Asus ZenFone 2

Juggling with various tools, apps, social media websites and games is an integral part of teenage life nowadays, so why skimp when you can score a multitasking beast for a short of prohibitive price?

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 – $449.99

Oh, noes, your phone expired again halfway through that exhausting classical Chinese poetry seminar. Why you took that course in the first place is beside the point, as you expected to have your Instagram keep you company while your parents thought you were getting a solid education.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

Anyhoo, the fact of the matter is you need a ridiculously long-lasting gadget. Enter the 4,100 mAh cell-packing Mate 7. With a 1,080p 6-inch screen in tow, octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 925 SoC and 2 GB RAM, so not exactly energy-draining hardware. All-day battery has never been so easy to achieve.

LG G4 – starting at $469 factory unlocked; $100 with Verizon or Sprint pacts

A mainstream, universally acclaimed flagship, the G4 should nicely tickle the fancy of scholars, what with its stylish leather exterior, 5.5-inch Quad HD LCD panel, 3 GB RAM, 16 MP OIS rear camera, 8 MP selfie pro and 3,000 mAh ticker.

LG G4

It’s great for everything from watching videos on the go to playing graphically-demanding games, snapping crisp photos and surfing the web with ease, all while being perfectly capable of keeping the lights on for hours on end.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $544 factory unlocked

Soon to be refreshed, nay, replaced and made obsolete, the GNote 4 remains the go-to productivity powerhouse of today, thanks to S Pen support, an octa-core Exynos 5433 chip, fingerprint recognition, 5.7-inch 2K display, 32 GB internal storage space, 3 GB RAM and 3,220 mAh endurance.

Galaxy Note 4

Sure, the Note 5 will upgrade the 16 and 3.7 MP cams, not to mention it’ll swap plastic and faux leather for a premium metal-and-glass combo. But the “next big thing” is also set to ditch microSD capabilities, seal the likely smaller battery, and raise the price bar through the roof. Bottom line, don’t disregard the OG altogether.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – $662 unlocked; $250 on-contract at Sprint, $300 with Verizon

Arguably the coolest-looking Android in the world, the S6 Edge is a lot more than just a phone. It’s a fashion statement, it’s a way of expressing your unique style and persona, and ultimately, showing the other kids you can be original and afford such an extravagant buy.

Galaxy S6 Edge

Is it tacky to purchase a gizmo because you can? Not if you truly appreciate the razzle-dazzle design, and if you’ve worked for your dough. Have you taken at least a part-time gig this summer? Then you probably deserve to spoil yourself a little.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active – $695 outright for AT&T

Galaxy S6 Active

Wait, when did the Active become costlier than the Edge? That’s ludicrous, as the waterproof 5.1 incher looks terrible at a first glance. Then again, it’s virtually indestructible, handles drops, shocks, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation and the works, plus lasts a while between charges on a 3,500 mAh juicer.

A microSD card slot, and outdoorsy individuals in the market for a back-to-school slab would have had all their prayers answered.

Best premium metal Android smartphones available today

You can defend plastic handheld construction all you want, but like it or not, “polycarbonate” is a word mobile enthusiasts will soon forget. And thank God for that, since this writer became tired of being fed the most ridiculous excuses from lazy, profit-driven manufacturers years back.

Metal Android

Admit it, everybody, metal is better, and the only reason Samsung & co. opposed design evolution for so long was indolence. Yes, it’s trickier and costlier to build gadgets out of robust materials like aluminum or steel, but you have to spend money to make money.

Besides, a “premium” smartphone doesn’t need to be all about the metal. In theory, that would be ideal, yet in reality, some of the world’s handsomest, sturdiest devices are merely metal-framed, with hard as nails glass used to finish the first-class assembly.

htc-one-m9-rear

They say aesthetic judgment is subjective. So, you may not entirely agree with our following selection of the best metallic Android smartphones around, ordered by price, from the extravagant to the cost-conscious. Still, we dare you to question the prime build quality and overall attractive nature of these bad boys. If not the very finest, they’re among the best-looking:

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – $700 unlocked; $300 with Verizon and Sprint contracts

Galaxy S6 Edge

Granted, the alloy employed to enclose the Gorilla Glass 4 rear of the dual-edged Samsung flagship isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking “man, is that phone sexy.” But it definitely helps send a top-drawer vibe, and unless you’re the YouTube destroyer type, shields the GS6 Edge from catastrophic damage on moderate impact with hard surfaces.

Given a “Plus” version is probably around the corner, Amazon has finally started to ask a reasonable price for the Quad HD 7 mm slim 5.1 incher. Not quite affordable yet, but reasonable nonetheless.

HTC One M9 – $585 factory unlocked; $200 with Sprint or Verizon pacts

HTC One M9

They say you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, and despite public outrage murmurs of disapproval, the struggling Taiwanese OEM basically came out early this year with the same high-end blueprint as in 2014.

If you choose to ignore this nagging little detail though, you’ll find yourselves mesmerized… again by an award-winning execution of a rather sensitive concept. The M9 is the hallmark of unibody mobile designs, with five-star aluminum everywhere, “sophisticated curves” and a breathtaking gemstoney finish.

Sony Xperia Z3 – $465

Sony Xperia Z3

Another company that refused to change its ways for the sake of change, yielding indifference more than indignation. The problem is the Xperia head of the family looks nowhere near as impressive as the last two HTC One installments, with a combination of metal and glass that Samsung effortlessly managed to surpass in wow factor.

Affordability and water resistance thus become Z3’s only real shots at a saving grace. And the former is meh, considering we have six more contenders to the title of heavyweight metal champ to go through.

ZTE Axon – $450 on pre-order

ZTE Axon

Wait a minute, where exactly did this flamboyant 5.5 incher come from? And how come it’s so cheap, with Quad HD screen resolution in tow, octa-core Snapdragon 810 power, 4 GB RAM (!!!), a dual lens rear camera arrangement, Hi-Fi audio and “clean” Android 5.1 Lollipop experience?

Right, it’s because the ZTE name doesn’t inspire trust, let alone excellence stateside. And the exterior perhaps needed further refinement work. It’s a decent blend of metal and glass, don’t get us wrong, but it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Some razzle-dazzle, if you will.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 – $440

Huawei Mate 7

It’s big, probably too big for many, and tries too hard to replicate Apple and HTC’s visual magic to retain an identity of its own. At the end of the day though, it’s both stylish and muscular, measures 7.9 mm thick, can scan and recognize your unique fingerprint and sports a record-setting 83 percent screen-to-body ratio, according to its designers.

Other sources say 78 percent or so, which is still mouth-watering. So long, bezels, hello to you, borderless aluminum skeleton.

HTC One M8 – $420 unlocked; $70 on-contract at Verizon

HTC One M8

We already pretty much covered what makes the M8 stand out by summarizing its successor’s key appearance selling points. Wondering about the aging 5 incher’s insides and their capacity to keep up with the times?

Well, the quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor is adequate for the price range, and the same goes for the 2 GB RAM or Full HD LCD panel. Alas, the dual 4 Ultrapixel main photographic unit is a disaster, no matter how you look at it.

Samsung Galaxy A7 – $399.90

Samsung Galaxy A7

Will the improved, larger, fingerprint-IDing A8 make the 5.5-inch A7 obsolete? Not a chance, given the latter’s outstanding all-metal build, skinny 6.3 mm waist and 72 percent+ screen-to-body ratio. No bezels + economical MSRP + 64 bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 SoC + 2 GB RAM + 13 MP LED flash cam = must-buy.

Lenovo Vibe Z2 – $245

Lenovo Vibe Z2

We bet prior to this charming 5.5-inch 720p hunk, you thought it was impossible for a household name in the industry to charge a penny under $400 for a matte-finished, metal-covered phablet. Entirely enveloped in vigorous aluminum, mind you, with minimal screen bezel and a triumphant business demeanor.

Of course, the hardware isn’t exactly premium, and on the software side of things, you’re stuck on 4.4 KitKat. But we can all agree a quad-core S400 chip, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage, 13 and 8 MP shooters and 3,000 mAh battery are competent enough tools, all things considered.

BLU Vivo Air – $179

BLU Vivo Air

Mark our words, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, HTC and whoever else feels cash-strapped buyers don’t deserve superior build quality. This is the low-cost future! The 5.1 mm gaunt, 91 grams light Vivo Air, made of an aluminum magnesium alloy and glass, with sharp edges, a clean, polished guise, octa-core processing power, 16 GB ROM, 1 GB RAM, 8 MP LED flash rear camera, 5 MP selfie snapper and 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution AMOLED display.

Do we need to get nasty and point the obvious? If you’d slap a Samsung logo on the Vivo Air, Amazon would likely sell it at close to $300. Time to rethink pricing strategies for big brands!

Best contemporary HD (720p) Android smartphones

Quad HD handheld display resolution is overkill, and everybody knows that. Including the device manufacturers trying so hard to sell the “feature” as something that’s not – useful and groundbreaking.

Quad HD TV

Well, yeah, sure, it’s innovative and all on paper, but the end consumer needs a magnifying glass to tell the difference between 1,920 x 1,080 and 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. And even then, it’s marginal. Don’t get us started on 2K content, still fairly hard to come by for living room TVs, let alone portable miniature gadgets.

Meanwhile, you can’t argue with the sharpness advantage of Full HD smartphones over their 720p ancestors. Yet we’re certain there are mobile enthusiasts around who’d be happy “settling” for HD, aka 1,280 x 720 panels.

1080p 720p

Besides, the ppi makes the stills and clips pop first and foremost, so if the display is small enough (but doesn’t require constant squinting), HD res can produce excellent pixel per inch tallies. Lastly, it’s good to take into account the affordability factor in a time when $700+ “powerhouses” no longer feel thrice as impressive as sub-$250 “low-end” affairs.

Without further ado, and in order to please the most Android aficionados, we give you one candidate for the title of best 2015 720p smartphone from ten different household names in the industry:

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact – $379 and up

Xperia Z3 Compact

They say this muscular but diminutive 4.6-inch Lollipop soldier will soon be replaced by a slightly larger 1,080p soldier. Replaced? Never! It’s perfect the way it is, with a remarkable 319 ppi count in tow, quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor inside, 2 GB RAM, 20.7 MP photography beast, 2,600 mAh battery and (relatively) reasonable price point.

The only good that can come out of a Full HD, 4.8-inch or so upgrade is a discount to, say, $300 bucks. Boy, would the Z3 Compact look irresistible then!

HTC Desire 820U – $308

HTC Desire 820

A lot bigger than the 4.6-inch contender above, at 5.5 inches, the plasticky, playfully colored Desire provides a sub-par 267 ppi pixel density. It’s also in dire need of a software renovation, as it runs 4.4 KitKat, and the 2,600 mAh cell feels a little on the light side given the footprint and juice-demanding octa-core Snapdragon 615 CPU.

But the 13 MP and 8 MP cameras, as well as the 2 GB RAM make the compromises all worth it. Let’s hope Lollipop is nigh, though.

Samsung Galaxy A5 – starting at $276 GSM unlocked

Samsung Galaxy A5

A premium full-metal chassis, excellent 71 percent screen-to-body ratio, bright and vivid 5-inch Super AMOLED glass, 2 gigs of memory, 13 and 5 megapixel cams, microSD capabilities and super-slender 6.7 mm profile.

All for the low, low tariff of 276 US bucks in black, or $282 in white. The only thing missing is Android 5.0, which should make its way over-the-air soon. Perhaps more than 2,300 mAh battery capacity too, but alas, a software update can’t bring extra autonomy to the table.

LG G3 Beat – $185

LG G3 Beat

Also known as G3 S, this inexpensive 5 incher offers 294 ppi and a similar albeit obviously inferior construction compared to the standard, stylish G3. You got your rear physical buttons, slim resulting bezels, surprisingly robust plastic build and overall lackluster specs: Snapdragon 400 chip, 8 MP LED flash main shooter, 8 GB internal storage, microSD card slot, 2,540 mAh battery.

Pre-installed KitKat as well, though Lollipop will “import” Material Design goodies before long, according to official manufacturer statements.

Huawei SnapTo – $178

Huawei SnapTo

This is by no means a flagship, or even unexpectedly solid budget challenger to Moto G2’s throne. But unlike all the phones listed so far, it’s sold directly by Amazon, with Huawei’s express permission and thus no concerns as to US network support, lengthy shipping or faulty packaging.

Not exactly a looker, the SnapTo rocks a decent 5-inch IPS LCD panel with 294 ppi, quad-core 1.2 GHz S400 SoC, 1 GB RAM, 5 MP/2 MP cams, non-removable 2,200 mAh battery, 8 GB ROM, microSD external expansion and Android 4.4. Yawn!

Motorola Moto G second-generation – $172 global GSM unlocked

Moto G second-gen

Speaking of the devil, i.e. the world featherweight low-cost champion, it’s still available extremely close to its MSRP almost a full year after its commercial release. But the third-gen is on the way, and soon enough, you should be charged $150 tops for the OG Snapdragon 400 5 incher running close-to-stock Lollipop backed by a 2,070 mAh juicer.

Asus Zenfone 5 – $139

Asus Zenfone 5

The name is no doubt misleading. Obviously, the Zenfone 5 doesn’t outdo the ridiculously cheap, high-end Zenfone 2. It’s actually a 5-inch forerunner of the 4 GB RAM monster, with a quarter of the random-access memory, 294 ppi screen, Intel Atom inside, 8 and 2 MP cameras.

Essentially, standard features for the sub-$150 segment, so it’s up to you and maybe your aesthetic sense to embrace or pass on the 10.3 mm thin matte plastic phone.

Sharp Aquos Crystal – $129 with Boost Mobile; $132 for Sprint prepaid

Sharp Aquos Crystal

It’s not fair to compare prepaid and completely unlocked prices, since the former arrangements come with strings attached, but the Aquos Crystal is a steal, no matter how you look at it. Of course, the 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution isn’t the display highlight here, but instead the no-border artful conception.

Art is really the best way to describe the 78.5 percent screen chin-tastic Crystal. If only the Now Network would finish “optimizing” Lollipop already, helping the 1.5 GB RAM/S400 hardware config perform at its finest.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S – $127

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

It’s always risky to throw your hard-earned money at “Generic” (literally), obscure importers, but Xiaomi’s one-year-old may well be worth it. Despite sticking to Jelly Beans when Lollipops are flavor du jour.

It’s simply too good cheap to be true refused, at 4.7 inches, 312 ppi, quad-core 1.6 GHz Snapdragon 400 velocity, 1 GB RAM, 8 MP LED flash photo skill and 9.9 mm waist.

BLU Life One 4G LTE – $99

BLU Life One 4G LTE

Technically not yet released and squarely up for pre-orders ahead of a July 17 bow, the LTE-enabled, Lollipop-upgradeable 5 incher is the ultimate bargain. At least at the moment, because next week, it should leap to its “normal” SIM-free tariff of $149.

You can activate it on AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS and any other GSM carrier you can find operating stateside, and everything from design to cameras to battery screams $200+ value.

Somehow, BLU managed to pull off both a 7.5 mm supermodel figure and respectably spacious 2,420 mAh cell, plus 13 MP LED flash rear camera, 5 megapixel selfie pro, 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor, 1 GB RAM and microSD support. Cue slow clap!