The best Android smartphones of 2015, priced from high to low

Choosing an Android phone can be difficult. Here are the best Android phones for any price.

Best Android smartphones 2015 reviews

An Android shopper's guide

Deciding on which Android phone to buy can be difficult. On top of a record 1.1 billion Android phones shipped in 2015, there were 24,000 unique Android devices in the wild this year, according to Open Signal. Android smartphones vary widely, and range in price from less than $100 to over $700.

Buying a bad Android phone has become uncommon, as Android has reached parity with Apple's iOS and is optimized to run fast even on low-cost hardware. Competition between component makers has simultaneously improved quality and reduced prices.

Ordered high to low based on list price, these 10 best-in-class phones demonstrate the diversity of consumer choice.

 samsung galaxy s6 galaxy s6 edge reviews

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge continue to shine

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge remain relevant despite the introduction of a new iPhone and several competitive Android phones since their release in April.

Both devices are built with the same sized screen, same 16-megapixel camera, same octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, and feature the same upmarket metal and glass. These devices also introduced the Android fingerprint unlock sensor. The bright, 800-nit screen can be read in bright daylight. The camera quality sets a benchmark that few match.

The Edge’s Gorilla Glass 4 screen wraps around the sides to display low-power notifications and provide access to frequently used apps.

Price: S6 Edge $799, S6 $629

sony xperia z5 reviews

The waterproof Sony Xperia Z5 Premium with a 4K HD screen

The phablet-sized Sony Xperia Z5 Premium tops the Z5 family. It is an elegant, metal-and-glass flagship device powered by a fast 2GHz Snapdragon 810 processor and 32GB of storage. The microSD slot offers up to 200GB of additional storage. Sony ergonomically integrated the fingerprint unlock sensor with the power button.

The Z5 Premium, with its 806ppi screen, can play 4K video, and it is also IP58 certified water resistant, able to survive immersion under 1.5 meters of fresh water for 30 minutes.

The camera produces good quality images and video, but seems to need a software revision to take full advantage of the 23-megapixel sensor.

Price: $749

lg v10 reviews

The LG V10: A durable flagship with removable battery and microSD

The LG V10 shares the top-tier LG G4’s camera, which bows to no other smartphone camera. It’s powered with a Snapdragon 808 processor with 64GB of internal storage. Android enthusiasts will be delighted by its micro SD card slot that is expandable up to 2TB, as well as its removable 3,000-mAh battery. LG also integrated a fingerprint sensor into its rear-mounted power button.

The stainless steel side rails protect vulnerable fracture points, and attractive silicon material on the back and ends provide shock resistance.

LG engineered changes to the user interface: a split screen runs apps sid-by-side, and a second screen at the top serves to launch apps and present notifications, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

Price: $649

droid turbo 2 reviews

The rugged flagship Motorola Droid Turbo 2 is a practical choice

The Droid Turbo 2, produced exclusively for Verizon, looks and feels like it was derived from the acclaimed Moto X Pure Edition, with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and Motorola’s power-efficient active display notifications that alert the user without lighting or unlocking the screen. The Droid Turbo 2 is powered by the faster octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor. A microSD card slots supports up to 200GB of storage.

Most notably, it is guaranteed to be shatterproof. Yes, that’s right – break it and Motorola will replace it.

The 21-megapixel camera performs well, though low-light performance can disappoint. The oversized 3760-mAh battery, premium components, and rugged construction make the Droid Turbo 2 a very practical choice.

Price: $524

htc one a9 reviews

The HTC One A9 stacks up with the iPhone 6s

The HTC One A9 radiates premium build quality and includes fingerprint unlock. It will please those looking for the most stylish and elegant Android phone available.

It’s not an iPhone knockoff. Twenty months before the iPhone 6 arrived, the HTC One M7 debuted, with an aerospace-grade brushed aluminum unibody, rounded corners, and highlighter antenna bands.

Other, less attractive devices are slightly faster or have a slightly better camera. And at $500, the A9 is not the cheapest in its category. But no other phone matches the A9’s style. 

Also, shatter the screen in the first year, and HTC will replace it, no questions asked.

Price: $499

nexus 6p reviews

Google's Nexus 6P: The platform for Android Marshmallow's debut

With the introduction of the Nexus 6P, Google declared that top-tier phones equipped with great cameras can cost $500 or less. Almost flawless, the 6P is a vessel for the debut of Marshmallow, the newest and most polished version of Android.

The good-enough camera quality of mid-priced Android phones has left serious smartphone photographers wanting more. This all new 12-megapixel camera with large 1.55µm pixels captures more light, to produce beautiful images and videos that match the highest Samsung S6 camera quality standards.

The phablet-sized device is machined from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum, giving a powerful but sturdy look and feel. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 810 processor.

Price: $449

moto x pure edition reviews

The Moto X Pure Edition sets the standard for mid-priced phones

The third-generation Moto X relies on Motorola’s expertise in making design decisions to create an optimized flagship user experience at a little more than half the price of Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus.

Pure Edition means that it is unlocked and will support every carrier’s networks. Using the Moto Maker website, you can customize the Moto X into 120 combinations of case cover, accent, and bezel colors, and receive it in a few days. Storage can be extended to 128GB with a microSD card. 

 With just a few exceptions, such as Active Display, the Moto X runs a nearly stock version of Android.

Price: $399

oneplus 2 reviews

Value-priced OnePlus 2 delivers more than the bare essentials

The OnePlus 2 isn’t a flagship, nor is it budget-priced. It has impressive specifications and a low price, but a few component tradeoffs had to be made to make it this affordable. Build quality stands out. The aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass 4 screen leaves an expensive impression. Like many top-tier phones, it is powered by a Snapdragon 810 with 64GB of storage.  

The laser-focus camera is adequate, but won’t compete with that of the Samsung S6. Images captured with the 13-megapixel camera sensor could be improved with a software update. The lackluster 5.5-inch HD LCD screen, instead of a brighter QHD AMOLED, was a value tradeoff. It runs a custom Android 5.1 fork called Oxygen.

Price: $389

samsung galaxy s4 reviews

Samsung Galaxy S4: Tried and true and still available

Though the Samsung Galaxy S4 is actually a few years old, it’s worth including because it’s available at a very reasonable price and it’s still comparable to some new Android phones.

There aren’t many tradeoffs with the S4. It has a bright, 5-inch AMOLED 441ppi HD screen. The design is an earlier and smaller plastic version of the S6, giving it a light but substantive feel. It is due for an update to Android Marshmallow, although it’s not clear if Samsung and carriers will continue to produce updates for this older model after that. It has a very respectable 4-core Snapdragon 600 processor.

Price: $299

moto g reviews

Motorola Moto G: The best budget Android phone available

Designing a great budget phone requires smart tradeoffs. Motorola’s engineers made the right decisions again with the third-generation Moto G, making it the best budget phone available.

The Moto G performs with surprising fluidity with a Snapdragon 410 processor. The base model has 8GB of memory and optional 16GB. The Moto G supports a 32GB microSD card. The 720p HD 294 ppi screen, protected with Gorilla Glass 3, is adequate, but not stunning. The camera, the same one used in the Nexus 6, is likewise adequate. The 2470 mAh battery will last the day. IPX7 water resistance protects it for 30 minutes in one meter of water.

Price: $179

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.