Looking for a new top-tier Android phone? These are Paul's picks of 2017
Rich just published his article outlining his favourite smartphones of 2017 - well, his favourite Android smartphones of the year, to be precise. The reason it's all Android?
Well, as he explains, the iPhone X might be an impressive bit of kit, but in spite of the extra bells and whistles it doesn't feel like it's worth the £1000+ starting price Apple is asking for it. Meanwhile, the iPhone 8 is very much a damp squib, costing more than last year's iPhone 7 while not offering a lot extra in the way of specs and features.
An iPhone wouldn't make my pick of favourite phones for 2017 anyway, as I'm not a fan of Apple's products; don't get me wrong, I think they're good products and not hard to recommend (usually), they're just not my bag personally. But my personal preferences aside for a second I still have to agree with what Rich said (and also echoed by our iPhone X review writer, Damien). Thus, if you are in the running for an iPhone in 2017, oddly enough your best bet is last year's iPhone 7, which a lot of people seem to have clocked on to considering it's out-selling the iPhone 8 right now.
After you've eliminated the iPhone X and iPhone 8 from the runnings, for actual current devices launched this year it's really all Android from that point onwards.
My list is a little different from Rich's; he chose the LG V30, the OnePlus 5T, and Google's Pixel 2 XL. The LG V30 I can concede as being well worth a look, but I was not exactly bowled over by OnePlus' latest offering, and although the Pixel and Pixel 2 phones seem decent, I find them distinctly "meh" in many ways.
My first choice is definitely the Samsung Galaxy S8 series, including the larger Samsung Galaxy S8+. In fact I kind of recommend the Galaxy S8+ over the regular model, partly because it's the only one I've used (but they both have largely the same specs apart from their physical size and display size), but more specifically it actually doesn't feel like a very large phone to operate and use as a daily driver.
Having used it, I can't help but think the regular Galaxy S8 might feel a bit weedy by comparison, plus there is a difference in battery size, with the Galaxy S8+ cell being larger.
However, with all that said I think I would still be very happy using the Galaxy S8 and it's still very easy to recommend for those who do enjoy a more compact phone.
For both devices, the design is gorgeous, the display is absolutely stunning, and performance is incredibly quick and silky smooth.
It also has, in my opinion, one of the best phone cameras I have ever used - I know Rich says the Pixel 2 and OnePlus 5T cameras are better, but I simply don't agree. The Galaxy S8 series imaging is where it's at in my view (the HTC U11 was as good, actually, but that phone was lacking in other areas).
And then there's the battery life. I have since tested a few phones which have offered as impressive battery life as the Galaxy S8+, but it's not many, and none of them exceeded it. For me it still offers the best battery life on the market, and it does so with all the other feature boxes ticked as well; some of the phones I've seen which are as good battery life was have compromised in other areas.
The Galaxy S8+ does not.
I would also add into the mix the Galaxy Note 8, as it's essentially the same device with a slightly different shape, an enhanced dual-sensor camera, and a Stylus for productivity with built-in additional multitasking features. At this point in the game I barely see them as two seperate device ranges.
Next up is the Nokia 8. I mean, who doesn't love Nokia? The company always made the bestphones back in the day. Then the whole Windows Phone/Microsoft thing happened.
Even then, I maintain Nokia was making some of the best devices in terms of materials, design, build, and overall hardware spec - I loved the Nokia Lumia 900, Lumia 930, and Lumia 1020, for example - it was just that Windows Phone was crap and impossible to recommend even the most stunning device running it.
So with Nokia now being free of Windows and delving into the Android space, we've got all that loveliness harnessing Google's content-rich OS instead. Marvelous.
The Nokia 8 is the flagship device and it's as highly specced out as you might expect, with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, options for 6GB or 4GB of RAM, tons of storage space, and a gorgeous QHD display.
It gets better though. The design is superb, it just looks amazing, plus it has revived the old Nokia-Carl Zeiss partnership with a Carl Zeiss-branded dual-13MP-sensor primary camera for some excellent imaging capabilities. AND it runs Android 7.1 Nougat stock out the box, with an update to Android Oreo being pushed right now.
My last choice is a bit of a curveball. I'm yet to publish my full review for the BlackBerry Motion - look out for it later this week - but here's a spoiler for what the vertict's going to be like; I love this phone.
Similar to the situation with Nokia above, BlackBerry always made superb phones in terms of specs, design, and features but was left behind in the smartphone race, tried to make things work with the BB10 OS, but has ultimately settled on Android and is in a much better place as a result - BlackBerry's design, hardware, security and productivity expertise now shines through once again.
The BlackBerry Motion might not be the biggest powerhouse, but that's actually because BlackBerry is taking a much more iPhone-like approach to software and hardware optimisation with this handset, oddly enough. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it was using the flagship SD835 chip given how smoothly this thing runs.
And the implementation of Android is just fantastic. I mean it's virtually stock, so all the good stuff is there, but then you have the BlackBerry Hub which is a wonderful little way of seeing all your important notifications at a glance. It runs super slick as well.
Then there's the battery life, which is just phenomenal. This is easily as good as the Samsung Galaxy S8+, and by my usual standard for smartphone reviews I have been running this phone HARD. It has not left me stranded once. Not once. I think the lowest it has been when putting it on charge was about 30-odd%.
I didn't like the back panel at first, but all the other aspects of the design and build are complete showstoppers. And it's waterproof, just like Samsung's top dogs. The one downside, other than the back panel, is the camera, which is quite lacklustre. But I don't care!