Monday, November 16, 2015

Our top 5 Android phones!

Our last post was inspired by iOS users that wanted to see Google applications integrate into Apple's mobile platform. Although there are many iOS users that use Google services, we also see a lot of Android users in our customer base. The iPhone is a popular smartphone in North America, but Android is steadily growing and owns over 80% of the global market share.


Android users typically already use a Google application such as Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts etc., which makes sense since Android is an open-source operating system from Google built for mobile phones and tablets. Androids are known for their customization, usability, and come in many flavours. Companies such as Huawei, LG, Motorola, and Sony are among a few that offer Android phones in a variety of builds, specs, and sizes. What sets a great Android experience apart is user-friendliness and a well-rounded seamless mobile Google experience.

Our top five picks are based on two main components of any smartphone; hardware and software. The phones listed below offer a beautiful build and most of them are paired with a buttery smooth OS - Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Note some devices, like the Nexus', receive OS updates before others. Nexus phones are our first picks since our team members find them simpler and more reliable than non-Nexus phones.

Here is our list of the top five Android phones:
Nexus phones are pure Android, which basically means they were designed under Google's requirements and specific guidelines. Essentially, Nexus phones are how Google intends Android to be - slick and easy to use - and are available unlocked to any carrier if purchased directly from Google. A huge advantage Nexus devices have over other Androids is frequent and timely firmware updates, so you're always first to run the latest version of the OS. After having used both Nexus and non-Nexus Androids, one of our biggest gripes with non-Nexus devices is bloatware (factory installed apps you can't remove and don't need). Nexus devices don't come pre-installed with bloatware or a skinned version of Android such as Samsung's TouchWiz. This is one of the primary reasons our boss switched from his Asus ZenFone 2 to Huawei's Nexus 6P. Even though the ZenFone 2 has good hardware for the price, the software end user experience between the two devices is night and day. Manufacturers such as Asus and Samsung make great quality hardware, but it's a shame the user experience falls short of great due to bloatware and software add-ons.
Nexus 5X (left) & Nexus 6P (right)
To illustrate the difference between Nexus and non-Nexus Android phones, say for example, you go to buy a new car. It's a great car and you can tell the designer put a lot of thought into every detail. It's very refined and elegant.  Now the dealership you are buying the car from has given it a few 'upgrades' including things like racing stripes, a fuzzy dice, steering wheel cover, extra cup holders, and several bumper stickers. This all comes pre-installed as a package. Maybe you don't really want or need all that, but it's all or nothing. Oh, and the radio presets are already installed for you and cannot be removed. After you purchase your new car the manufacturer releases a safety recall, but you can't get the safety issue resolved for 8 months because it's not compatible with those cup holders yet. Of course, this is an exaggerated example but hopefully this analogy emphasizes the difference.

All in all we do have non-Nexus Androids listed on our top five which should indicate that not all of them come pre-installed with heavy bloatware and get well-delayed firmware updates. At the end, it really depends on user preference as some user's find the Nexus Android experience too bland and prefer a skinned version of Android such as Sony's Xperia Home. There are other factors that can steer your decision when purchasing an Android device; like price, display, battery life, and even the camera. Checkout GSM Arena for detailed specs on the latest and greatest smartphones.

This is by no means a conclusive ranking of all Android phones - it's simply a list of what we consider the best five out there for businesses. Be sure to contact our InterlockIT team for all your mobile support for Google apps!