Getting the best sometimes costs a lot. If you're looking for the most premium phone out there, go Google. The new Pixel XL is a fantastic daily driver.

Best Overall

Google Pixel XL

Pixel XL

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It's here. It's finally here. Google's vision for Android has been embodied in two forms and the Pixel XL is the larger of the two. This 5.5-inch device features a vibrant Quad HD display and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera that gives even Samsung's devices a run for their money. The Pixel XL also boasts an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM, too, and its 3450mAh battery will get you through the day, especially with Android 7.1 Nougat's revamped Doze mode. The Pixel XL is available with 32GB or 128GB of onboard storage, though Google is offering unlimited uploads to Photos for every picture you snap with your new Pixel device.

Bottom line: The Pixel XL is the best smartphone under $900, especially if you're a die-hard Android user and you want nothing to do with third-party manufacturers.

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

Why the Pixel XL is the best

This is Google in an Android phone.

The Pixel XL is unlike its previous Nexus brethren. This is Google's first premium flagship device that's truly worthy of competing alongside the rest of the competition, particularly with its camera hardware. Here's how Executive Editor, Alex Dobie, describes the camera performance in his review of the device:

For the first time, Google has a camera that can stand proudly alongside the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7. I was skeptical about the lack of OIS, but between the upgraded sensor, the beefier CPU and ISP (image signal processor) and some welcome software tweaks, Google has a highly impressive camera setup. Captures are quick, there's plenty of fine detail in a wide variety of lighting conditions, and Google's Auto-HDR+ trickery produces photos with excellent dynamic range in situations where many rivals stumble. Colors are punchy, but not excessively saturated. And even in challenging lighting conditions, such as dark restaurants at night, a good amount of fine detail and color detail is preserved.

Google's Pixel phone is more than just fancy hardware, however. It's also the first Android phone to come with Google Assistant, which may sound familiar if you've dabbled with Allo. Assistant is ostensibly the Pixel's resident AI and it does more than read your email and tell you when your next flight is. You can actually interact with it as you need for an almost fully hands-free smartphone experience. Google's positioning its Assistant as one of the Pixel's major selling points.

Google recognized that in order to compete in the global smartphone wars, it had to push out a premium device that was worthy of a premium price. The Pixel XL is certainly it. It's bigger than most of the flagships on the market, and it's even better in some cases. Not only does it run Android 7.1, but Google has guaranteed two years of software updates, as well as additional security updates until October 2019.

Best Samsung phone

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Galaxy S7 edge

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With the cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7, the Galaxy S7 edge rises back to the top as the best smartphone in the sub-$900 category. Inside, it's running the same outstanding specs as the rest of the 2016 Galaxy family, but on the outside it sports a dual-edge curved metal-and-glass chassis and a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display that's big and bright. It also offers a larger battery than the Galaxy S7, so you'll get more usage from it throughout your day.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 edge is the best choice now that the Note 7 is off the market.

One more thing: The AT&T exclusive Galaxy S7 Active is another worthy consideration if you're in the market for something more durable.

Best feature-packed

LG V20

LG V20

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With its impressive specifications, the LG V20 could have been the South Korean company's flagship of the year, but alas. This particular device is typically marketed towards content creators and followers of the Joseph Gordon Levitt Movement — whatever that is — but anyone can consider it, especially if you're crazy about cameras.

The LG V20 is packed to the brim with camera features, including dual 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel rear-facing cameras, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with a beauty mode that smooths out your face. Additionally, it sports a 5.7-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, a microSD expansion slot, and Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box. Also, while the V20's 3200mAh battery may seem small compared to the competition, it can manage an entire day of sporadic emailing, Tweeting, syncing, and listening to music.

Bottom line: The LG V20 is a worthy buy, especially if you're looking for a feature-filled Android smartphone with brag-worthy specifications.

One more thing: The V20 is one of the few smartphones available with a removable battery pack.

Conclusion

It's nearing the end of the year, but it'll be a defining one for Google and its revamped line of smartphones. The Pixel XL is one of the best smartphones you can buy right now, especially if you're attracted to the idea of having a very powerful personal assistant in your pocket.

Best Overall

Google Pixel XL

Pixel XL

See at Verizon See at Google Store

It's here. It's finally here. Google's vision for Android has been embodied in two forms and the Pixel XL is the larger of the two. This 5.5-inch device features a vibrant Quad HD display and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera that gives even Samsung's devices a run for their money. The Pixel XL also boasts an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM, too, and its 3450mAh battery will get you through the day, especially with Android 7.1 Nougat's revamped Doze mode. The Pixel XL is available with 32GB or 128GB of onboard storage, though Google is offering unlimited uploads to Photos for every picture you snap with your new Pixel device.

Bottom line: The Pixel XL is the best smartphone under $900, especially if you're a die-hard Android user and you want nothing to do with third-party manufacturers.

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