Best Android smartphones

19 May, 2016

We look at the best devices for a pure Android experience

Android is an absolutely fantastic operating system and has inspired die-hard fans around the world. It's slightly baffling, then, when companies decide to combine it with their own custom overlays.

These are often clunky and needlessly complicated, and can be a pain to navigate. With this in mind, we've put together a list of the best devices for those who just want to use their Android phones as Google intended.

Obviously, Google's first-party Nexus devices come first on this list. Produced by Google and selected OEM partners, the Nexus range is designed to show off all the best features of the Android OS and ecosystem. They're also the first ones in line for updates when a new version of the Android OS rolls out.

However, there are other options for those users who want a bare-bones Android experience. Read on to find the best devices running the stock Android operating system - or as close as possible.

Nexus 5X

The Nexus devices are routinely best-in-class, and the Nexus 5X, made by LG, is no exception. Alongside all the latest Android features - such as built-in fingerprint support, granular app permissions and improved power management features - it's also got a host of other things to recommend it.

Among them are an excellent camera, a blazingly bright screen, and lengthy battery life. There are a few niggles on display (such as the camera housing, which protrudes to an irritating degree), but on balance, the Nexus 5X is an absolutely splendid device.

Read our full review: Nexus 5X

Price: £249 exc. VAT 

Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P is every bit the equal of its smaller stablemate, the 5X. The Huawei-made phone does have some advantages over the 5X, however, such as its larger screen. The QHD panel tops out at 5.7in, and has excellent clarity and contrast.

It's also among the first devices to use the new USB Type-C charging port, which means faster charging and fully reversible cables. On the other hand, it will mean you need to buy all-new adapters and leads.

Read our full review: Nexus 6P

Price: £374 exc. VAT

Moto X Play

Aside from the company's line of Nexus products, the Lenovo-owned Moto range is some of the only devices that run an unaltered stock version of the Android OS, and the Moto X Play is one of the best offerings of the lot.

It's not particularly shiny or impressive, but where the Moto X Play really comes into its own is in no-frills value. It's a solid, dependable device that boasts a robust feature-set wrapped in an attractive package, and all for under £250.

Read our full review: Moto X Play

Price: £207 exc. VAT 

HTC 10

HTC used to be one of the worst offenders for obnoxious UI overlays, but it's thankfully scaled back its Sense UI for the HTC 10. Users now have the option to keep their experience much, much closer to the standard Android OS.

The HTC 10's QHD display is sharp and vibrant, and performance and battery life were more than enough to keep up with the current crop of Android flagships. It's also stepped away from HTC's signature curved unibody design, which gives it a distinctive flair.

Read our full review: HTC 10

Price: £475 exc. VAT