Want to ensure you're wielding the best around for your budget? Google's Pixel is the best phone under $700, when you factor in performance, size, camera quality, and battery life.

Best Overall

Google Pixel

google pixel

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I have good news for those of you ruing the day that the first phablet was ever announced. Google's Pixel smartphone is a mere 5 inches, so those of you with smaller hands and diminutive pockets can rest easy knowing that there is flagship-level, feature-packed Android phone out there that doesn't take up so much room.

The Pixel is impressive on the inside, too. It's got the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. You can purchase it with up to 128GB of storage, though if you decide to stick to the alternative 32GB option, Google will still offer unlimited Photo uploads for your pictures. The Pixel also boasts impressive camera performance that nearly bests the Samsung Galaxy S7's and its 2770mah battery is capable of lasting you through an entire day.

Bottom line: If you're looking for the smartphone that best represents Google's Android, go Pixel.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

It's everything Google could want in a smartphone.

The Pixel is unlike any smartphone that Google's collaborated on before. Lest you forget, the company doesn't actually manufacture its own smartphones. For this particular launch, Google enlisted the help of HTC, a company that's produced many a major Android hit though its financial health is still a bit weary. Regardless, there is nothing remotely HTC-y about the Pixel, unless you count its curved chassis and iPhone-like looks as a nod to the mid-range One A9.

Our Daniel Bader summed it up succinctly in his review of the smaller Pixel:

This is a well-made phone that performs its function as a mobile computer better than any Android phone currently available, and potentially better than any phone, period.

The Pixel isn't entirely defined by its chassis or its specifications, anyway. Google's more focused on advertising the fact that this device will grant you access to its all-powerful, all-knowing Assistant. If you like Google Now or were interested in the AI abilities of Allo, your ears might perk up at the mention of this particular feature. It still feels a bit "beta" in its implementation, but over time the feature is likely to get better as Google pumps more resources into it. And hey, it already has IFTTT integration.

The end of the Nexus era is a bittersweet one for many of us, but if you're aching to use Android just as Google meant it to be used, the Pixel is the way to go.

Best Second-choice

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

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The Galaxy S7 is the best version of Samsung's flagship yet. It's equipped with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery pack. Its 12-megapixel rear-facing Dual Pixel camera is particularly impressive, and you'll appreciate its performance in low light.

Of course, as is the case with most versions of Android that aren't directly developed by Google, Samsung's version of Android is polarizing. The newly dubbed Grace UI offers some helpful features, but the extra software that comes bundled is redundant. At the very least, you can disable and hide any apps you don't care for.

Bottom line: If you're buying a flagship from anyone but Google, get the one that's the best around. That's the Samsung Galaxy S7.

One more thing: If the GS7's 5.1-inch display is too small for your liking, consider the Galaxy S7 Edge for its bigger screen and curved edges. The S7 Active is also a viable choice if you're a rugged outdoor person and an AT&T subscriber. And of course, Samsung offers an unlocked model that also works overseas.

Best "It's not Samsung"

HTC 10

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Give HTC a chance, won't you? The fashionable HTC 10 features an aluminum unibody chassis and a 5.2-inch Quad HD display. It's equipped with a high performing Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear-facing UltraPixel 2 camera, as well as a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with OIS. The HTC 10 also offers BoomSound Hi-Fi, which the company worked on in conjunction with Dolby, and there's an amp built in to the headphone jack. You might even like HTC's modern take on stock Android.

Bottom line: The HTC 10 is a great flagship alternative for anyone looking for stylish performance from a longtime Android player.

One more thing: The HTC 10 does not have water resistance like Samsung's devices, but HTC does offer Uh Oh Protection, which covers broken screens, water damage, and even switching carriers.

Best for customizing

Moto Z

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It's always fun with a manufacturer tries something different. Motorola's trying out the modular smartphone thing with its Moto Z flagship. This svelte smartphone is an absolute sight to see: It's one of the prettiest phones on the market and is incredibly thin. Inside, it boasts a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 2600mAh battery. It also has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera.

If you're aching for features like more battery life or true-to-form optical zoom, you can invest in any of the Moto Z's modular accessories. For instance, there's a variety of power packs you can purchase for extra battery life, or you can buy the Hasselblad True Zoom for better smartphone photography.

Bottom line: The Moto Z is a worthy considering for anyone who wants a razor thin smartphone—or who believes modularity is the future of mobile devices.

One more thing: You can choose between the Moto Z Force if you're a Verizon subscriber and you're looking for a better camera sensor and a bigger battery, or the mid-range Moto Z Play if you're looking for something a little cheaper and a bit more basic. Both phones are compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories.

Conclusion

We don't where Google's Pixel will rank six months from now, but we know that right now it is the best. It's not crowded with redundant applications like a Samsung device, nor does it come with extra gags you'll have to ignore. The Pixel is the smartphone that Google made and it's fit for both Android enthustiasts and newcomers.

Best Overall

Google Pixel

google pixel

See at Verizon See at Google Store

I have good news for those of you ruing the day that the first phablet was ever announced. Google's Pixel smartphone is a mere 5-inches, so those of you with smaller hands and small pockets can rest easy knowing that there is flagship-level, feature-packed Android phone out there that doesn't take up so much room.

The Pixel is impressive on the inside, too. It's got the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. You can purchase it with up to 128GB of storage, though if you decide to stick to the alternative 32GB option, Google will still offer unlimited Photo uploads for your pictures. The Pixel also boasts impressive camera performance that nearly rivals the Samsung Galaxy S7's and its 2770mah battery is capable of lasting you through an entire day.

Bottom line: If you're looking for the smartphone that best represents Google's Android, go Pixel.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.