Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge
The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge have an Apple-like level of premium craftsmanship, along with cutting-edge specs across the board. Their razor-sharp displays are the best we've seen, performance is unusually snappy and their cameras fire up incredibly fast.
There are phones with bigger screens (some much bigger), but if you're shopping for an Android phone in the 5-inch range, these are by far your best bets.
Google/Motorola Nexus 6
Android is a versatile operating system that OEMs can shape to their liking, but Nexus devices are where you get Google's purest version. The Nexus 6 gives you an enormous 5.96-in display, sharp Quad HD resolution and stock Lollipop with no manufacturer skins in sight.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Though the Note 4 is nearly nine months old, it's still one of the best all-around handsets you can buy, with its big (but not absurdly big) 5.7-in screen – along with Samsung's S Pen to give it more of a PDA feel.
Moto X (2nd-generation)
If you want a stock Android experience with a more middle-of-the-road screen size, then the 5.2-in Moto X is a great choice. Motorola's customizations to Lollipop are minimal (and generally useful), and you can order the phone in a variety of colors and build materials – including natural leather and wood finishes.
Moto G (2nd-generation)
The Moto G is less about being "the best" and more about being a terrific value. For US$180 full retail, you get a (nearly) stock Android phone with decent enough specs to provide a rock-solid user experience.
The LG G3 is about to be replaced by the improved G4, but since that model isn't yet available in the US, we found room on our list for last year's model. The G3 was the first major flagship with a Quad HD display (which still looks outstanding by today's standards) and has a great camera with laser-based autofocusing.
The best part is that, due to its age, you can now buy the LG G3 unlocked and off-contract on Amazon for $340. Considering some of the phones on this list will cost nearly twice that, this is an aging phone that's still worth considering.
HTC One M9
In years past, HTC's flagships would have been near the top of this list, but the company disappointed us with its latest minor update, the One M9. While it's a beautiful phone with the most aggressive smartphone warranty we've seen, it stood pat in too many areas to keep up with its more aggressive competitors.
LG G Flex 2
We weren't enamored with the G Flex 2's banana-shaped curve, but it's still a solid all-around phone that feels comfortable in hand. Its somewhat cheap-feeling plastic build and last-gen pixel density hold it back a bit, but if you're looking for something different, it can make for a solid purchase.
If you want to break down the features specs of many of these phones (and add a few more to the mix) you can check out Gizmag's latest Smartphone Comparison Guide.
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