Google's Android 7.0 Nougat Is Now Available ... If You Have The Right Device

Big, small, stock, or skinned, if you're in the market for a new smartphone, chances are there's an Android option to fit your fancy. And unlike Apple's rigid release cycle, Google's hardware partners unleash a seemingly endless stream of new devices year-round. But therein lies the problem: With so many options out there, how do you settle on the right one? Lucky for you, we test and review nearly every smartphone available on all the major US carriers.

Keep in mind that while the reviews above may not show your carrier of choice, most of the phones here are available for, or compatible with, multiple US carriers. Read on for what to look for when buying, as well as our top picks for Android phones.

Big or Small

There's been a dramatic shift in Android phone shapes and sizes over the last year. LG and Samsung have both started to make their phones taller and narrower, resulting in one-hand-friendly models with improbably large screen sizes. We go into more detail on the new form factors in This Is How We Need to Measure Phone Screens Now. The phones in our list range from genuinely small, like the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, to a hulking phablet, the ZTE Blade Z Max.

You can find Android phones with stated screen sizes from 4.6 up to 6-plus inches. With the new form factors, though, it's very important to look at the width of the phone as well as the width of the screen. That's how the biggest screen in our list, the 6.3-inch panel on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, doesn't overwhelm.

Moto G5 Plus>

Software Versions

Not all Android is created equal. Device manufacturers like HTC and Samsung have been applying their own visions to Android for some time now. If you want a pure Google experience, then you want to go for a Pixel device; they're the developer models where Google makes sure to deploy upgrades first.

Android 8.0 Oreo is the latest shipping version, and it's on Samsung's Galaxy S9 series, Google's Pixel phones, and the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact. It should also be coming to the Motorola phones, Honor 7X, and LG V30+ soon.

Related Story>See How We Test Cell Phones

For most Android phones, the current version is 7.0 Nougat. You'll find phones, especially on prepaid carriers, sold with older versions. You shouldn't settle for those, especially because releases earlier than 6.0 have some serious security flaws.

Carrier-Approved or Unlocked

The US market is still dominated by carrier-sold phones, but a new breed of high-quality unlocked options are starting to flood the market. We've seen phones drop below the $100 mark, but you'll typically want to spend more for a higher quality device. The good news is that you don't have to break the bank to get a good Android experience.

Some high-quality Android phones are available completely unlocked for around $250, no strings attached. Every phone on the list above other than the ZTE Blade Z Max can be bought direct, with no carrier involvement. But most people still buy their phones through carriers, which offer a single point for service and support, as well as monthly payment plans that dramatically lower the upfront prices of phones.

Of the bunch shown above, the Pixels, Galaxies, Motorolas, and the LG V30 work on all four major US carriers. The other unlocked phones only work on AT&T, T-Mobile, or virtual carriers on those networks.

Choosing Android as your mobile operating system is only half the battle. If you're still on the fence, check out our list of The 10 Best Smartphones, regardless of OS. For help choosing a carrier, see our test results for the Fastest Mobile Networks and The Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans You've Never Heard Of.

Featured Android Phone Reviews:

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    Source :

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