Android dialers, ranked

Wait, Jerry. What are you doing? Nobody calls anyone on the phone in these modern times. Get with it!

Easy fam. A lot of us still make calls — try getting hold of a bondsman at 2 a.m. without a phone. And anyway, the people making Android phones include all this stuff, so the least we can do is look at it. Right? Be quiet, you know I'm right. Let me do this without you cracking wise for once.

Anyhoo ... back to dialers. They are more than just a way to enter some digits on a modern smartphone. Sure, you can call up Domino's so you don't have to shut the PlayStation off and make some food, but your people — the ones in your contacts because one day you might want to talk to them — are usually just a tap away because of the way Android dialers tie into your contacts. There are also some settings to make things more (or less) useful, and everyone wants a call log so they can keep track of who they called and who called them. Be quiet, yes you do.

Now that I've convinced you all that the dialer is one of the most important parts of your Android, let's have a look at how the big five do it.

Android dialers, ranked

HTC

HTC Dialer

I haven't used an HTC phone full-time since the HTC One M7, but I've had the A9 in my hands enough to know that it does the dialer the best.

The looks fit in perfectly with the rest of HTC Sense, which means a mix of Material Design and HTC's own take on the flat UI. You've got proper Material tabs across the top to choose from manually entering a number or picking from a list of your contacts, groups and favorites. HTC's smart dialer also let's you punch in the first few digits of a number or the first few letters of a name and pick from a list it finds from your contacts app. It all works even if you choose to use a different contacts application.

The settings let you fine tune much of what you see and how you use it all, and in the end it looks fabulous and works perfectly. This is all we can ask from a dialer, and HTC has it nailed.

Samsung

Samsung dialer

Samsung's dialer (as seen in its latest phones like the Note 5) is also pretty good. When you customize every part of the OS, you can do a little more in the basic apps, like the phone dialer.

The "main" screen while on a call is easy to use, and all the features — like switching to a Bluetooth headset or initiating a conference call — are right up front where you would need them to be. Samsung also does fixed numbers (speed dialing) really well, and some of us still use this feature in lieu of smart dialing.

That's a good thing because its smart dialing isn't always very smart. Every once in awhile it just won't find a contact even after entering the complete number. The call connects, but you just don't get a choice of people to pick from like you should. I'm sure there is a logical reason, I just can't figure it out. Maybe I'll call someone and ask them.

Anyhoo, the Samsung dialer is almost number one. You'll probably not have too many difficulties using it, and there's no reason not to use it. Go forth and dial things.

Android's dialer

Nexus 6P dialer

I have nothing to complain about when using the "stock" Android dialer on Marshmallow.

I also have nothing exceptional to talk about when using the stock Android dialer on Marshmallow.

You can enter numbers. You can enter part of a number or a few letters of someone's name and a smart dial window pops up. Everything works as it should, and (of course) it has a Material look and ties in well with the rest of the software.

It's functionally perfect, but there's nothing to make it stand out. Number three for you, Android dialer.

Motorola

Motorola dialer

Take the stock Android dialer, do nothing to it, slap it into a Motorola phone and you get to be number four on our list.

Nothing wrong here, the dialer is functional and looks fine. I flipped a coin to decide whether "stock" or Moto got the number three spot. Moto lost. Just like Moto E users did ...

LG

LG dialer

Someone had to be last. I'll be honest, ranking dialer apps isn't easy. That's because they all work, all have the same basic functions and none of us use them very often.

LG's dialer on the V10 works just fine. Smart dialing works just fine. You can see all the functions you need to see on the in-call screen just fine. There's even a nifty little button to switch to your messaging app once you pick a contact if you change your mind, which is — you guessed it — just fine.

It's just kinda ugly. LG's goofy round tabs fit with the rest of the interface, but that doesn't excuse the fact that they are ugly. I almost want to see more gaudy orangish brownish blue colors in the dialer, and have the thing be outlandish like the rest of LG's UI. But instead, I'm left with a sparse minimalistic look with ugly round tabs.

Yes, I'm being petty. Someone has to be.

Bonus round: Hangouts Dialer

Hangouts dialer

Not really a bonus, because the Hangouts dialer sucks.

Phil is in my address book like 12 times. I also have two different conversations going on with him in Hangouts. The Hangouts dialer says he does not exist. It's the same no matter who I try to find from my contacts. There's no way I can remember all the phone numbers of all the people I would ever want to call, so this is useless. Fix it Google. Stop messing with Google+ and fix this instead. Please?

Your favorite dialer?

Here is where you get to tell me I'm wrong and should shut up and never write another word on the Internet again. But relax, we're mostly having fun here. Any of these dialers will connect you to the person you want to call, have the same basic features and work just dandy.

Now tell me the phone you're using now has the best dialer ever in the comments. Or just say Samsung like everyone else will.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

154 Comments
  • Jerry first off every self respecting jail has a bail bondsman at their beck and call. A friend told me... I wouldn't know myself. Next, does Phil know your calling his wife and if not delete this comment and throw another picture up there STAT. Just kidding of course, have a good weekend! __________________________________________________________________________________-_________________________-____________________
  • Paybacks-a-bitch eh Phil? Lol! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can you search for businesses in the other dialers? If not, Nexus dialer is the best. Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can you make video calls from that dialer? If not then Samsung's is the best since it can. ;) one more reason not to downgrade to a nexus.... lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Amen...... I keep telling my girlfriend that the extra 10 lbs on my azz is a feature and will not slow me down. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How's Marshmallow treating you? Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • About as good as you being able to use Android pay at businesses that only have mst readers... Samsung 2015 models will eventually get marshmallow but you'll never get the ability to pay at mst readers which the majority of busoness use with your device. But hey stock android is best thing Eva lol. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You really think Google is not capable of adding that into stock Android? Also you forget Google and Samsung have a 10 year cross licensing agreement... Posted via the Android Central App
  • No they can't add it to stock android. It's hardware.
  • His current device does not have the hardware to do it. Only 2015 Samsung models have the hardware to do it. ;) that's why I don't understand these people that like these plain Jane nexus phones. They have no frills. No extra features that make the phone interesting. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I prefer my "plain Jane" Nexus 5X to the S5 it replaced. It had no "frills" that the 5X doesn't have that I actually used (heart rate monitor, pedometer, multi window, etc.). There's a big difference between useful features and largely unused gimmicks. My Nexus does everything I need a phone to do. And I don't understand the ranting and raving over things like Android and Samsung Pay. How is having to pull your phone out of your front pocket any more convenient than pulling your wallet out of your back?
  • I did use the old Google Wallet pay service all the time, but until these two pay services accept small banks and credit unions I have no use anyways. I still prefer using cash, it is accepted everywhere. Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • Amen and just say no to big brother tracking everywhere you go and everything you buy! Cash is king... although they'd like you to use your digital pay everywhere to build a great portfolio on everything you do and everywhere you go! No pay service from Samsung could ever get me to put up with touchwiz again no thanks!
  • Usually the phone is already in my hand. The wallet is not. It's not just convenience, it's about security (tokenization and all that jazz). Plus it's a great second way to pay. I forgot my wallet once, but had my phone and was still able to purchase things without my wallet on me. It also beats carrying 5 credit cards in my wallet. Ever watch that Seinfeld episode with George's over-filled wallet? I now carry all credit cards on my phone and carry 1 physical card as backup. Once they add loyalty cards into Samsung Pay, that'll be even less cards to carry in my wallet. And what may be a gimmick to you is a useful feature to others, like multi-window, the pedometer, and heart rate monitor which I do use. I have both Nexus and near stock phones and I still prefer and use my Note 5 as my daily driver.
  • That's where Apple wins. FaceTime ftw Posted via the Android Central App
  • You can do video calls using the Samsung (Touchwiz) dialer.
  • Can you Facetime with Android or Windows Phone users? Didn't think so.....
  • Same here Posted via the Android Central App
  • I can on my Note 4. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "ok google.... call "insert business name here" Why type anything into a dialer when you have the google app??? Google Now FTW
  • I like your avatar...lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Biggest thing I use it for is to categorize spam numbers as such and set them to go straight to voicemail. Oddly they still ring through once in a while. Posted from the ghost of my HTC Aria via Android Central App
  • Nexus dialer with Google caller ID is impossible to beat.
  • cyanogen with true caller isn't bad either. just needs some design tweaks.
  • My favorite one is HTC dialer, I have used a lot of phones and I have found HTC dialer to be best, it's is really a dialer everytime you click dialer icon it open dialer not contacts list or recent, second it looks great with sense 7, third searching is way way easy. Also HTC works great with USSD code where I've to type and on all other phones I've to click on input box to show up keyboard then type but on HTC it comes up itself. Worst dialer I've used is of iPhone. Note 5 dialer I like better when swipe gesture is turned off. nexus 6p dialer is also good actually after HTC dialer my favorite is stock Android dialer
  • My thoughts exactly
  • And guess what you can use the HTC dialer on a nexus if you want... there's new ROM in xda devoted to all of the HTC pieces for the nexus 6P and Nexus 5x!!!
  • I doubt that, but dialer alone is not enough, need full package. after dialing control goes to stock dialer which have hang up or hold etc buttons... one more thing great about HTC dialer is when you dial a number you don't have to stare phone if contact pick up phone. your phone vibrates when someone pick call and that is really handy too.. which I have not seen in other dialers. also if you have any link for HTC dialer for Nexus 6p do share, I've nexus 6p so would love to have that...
  • I promise I'm not trying to be "that guy", but what's the point of this article? AFAIK, you can't change dialers, and dialers are an important purchasing decision of No One Ever, so comparing dialers is about as relevant as comparing battery colors. It was interesting to 'see how the other half lives' though, so I may have just answered my own question. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You can use alternative dialers just like launchers __________________________________________________________________________________-_________________________-____________________
  • Yes you can and this article would have be much better if instead of comparing OEM stock dialers it was about 3rd party dialers that anyone can download from Play. This article is crap and pointless. Jerry, a tip, rewrite this article but instead compare the following: Truedialer, Simpler Dialer, Dialer + ExDialer and ZERO dialer. These are just the first few hits on Play. Now instead of having to BUY A DIFFERENT PHONE we can all take advantage of a different dialer.
  • Agreed Posted via the Android Central App
  • Agreed, please compare 3rd party dialers.
  • I guess you missed it. It is best dialers not best third party dialers __________________________________________________________________________________-_________________________-____________________
  • I was expecting to find an article about 3rd party dialers when I came to this article. No one is going to switch phones because of a stock dialer, so this article is just fill material for the website. I hate LG's dialer and have tried several 3rd party. Simple Dialer is a good example, but everyone I try takes too long to load. I it is like the phone has to think about it everytime and I see flashes of the stock dialer while the others load. Then when you try to block someone or see certain other features, stock pops up, so it is like a bad mix of stock and 3rd party. I just ended going back to stock.
  • Agreed, With all due respect, no idea what the point of this article was considering no one buys a phone based on the dialer. I was hoping for a comparison of 3rd party dialers which you can actually select.
  • Piece of cake to change anything when your bootloader isn't locked as well... just say NO to locked bootloaders and locked up phones!
  • I agree, most of these dialers are phone brand specific, I don't choose a phone based upon its dialer. I've use exDialer on all my phones in the past and currently. Smart, themes, and highly customizable. Nexus 6P
  • Yes exDialer is fantastic. This is what I use as well. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Via the Moto X Classic
  • It might influence me if I am buying a new phone in the near future, so I bet it's useful to some!
  • What are you talking about? You don't factor in the dialer (which was horrible on the Note 4 imo)? It made the whole phone for me less exciting..and I liked my Note 4. Dialers can make a difference.
    But yeah I would like a ranking of third party dialers. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is there any way to download the default Android Dialer? ASUS ZenFone 2 (4GB RAM)
  • @artlu629 This I want to know too.
  • Google it. You can probably flash a custom ROM with the stock dialer...just a guess. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree that HTC has a great dialer, but the one part that drove me nuts about theirs was that if you were in the call log and tapped on a name, it would instantly call them instead of bringing up the contact profile to send either call or send a text. I know you can do that with a long press, but there were numerous times I'd be trying to scroll through the list and would accidentally call someone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ugh stock android dialer also does this and it gets me every single time. I want to view the contact, damn't, not immediately call their default #.
  • Um stock Android dialer does let you view/edit contact without calling back.. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes, I didn't say it doesn't.
    I'm saying there's a screen where it feels natural to tap the call log to open it up, but it doesn't open it up, it immediately calls the contact instead. It does this in the contact list too.
    The design is intended for the user to tap the small circle avatar of the contact instead. However, just naturally for me, I forget this and tap anywhere else in the contact/in the call log to try to open up either the contact's info or the call log info. Posted via Android Central App
  • Try pressing the contact picture. That worked on my M7. Thought it has been sometime since I switched phones so it my not work or I might not remember correctly. HTC has some niffty features that are hidden in plain sight which are obvious when you figure them out. Problem is that they are hidden and you have to accidentally find them.
  • Correct and i have found it annoying on Samsung dialer app that it don't dials BTW recents makes sense we call them at least to me also what else great about Htc dialer is when you quick search from dialer and click contact it dials instead showing up full number. Which again annoying on Samsung dialer probably on LG dialer is same but I've forgot my experience with LG
  • Haha...then you hang up super fast once you realize you just called them on accident, but about 20 seconds later they call you back! Ugh! So you reject the call and just text them back..."sorry, called on accident". Lol
  • Prefer the Moto/Nexus dialer myself, haven't used a recent Samsung or LG phone so don't know about theirs, hate the HTC dialer but I hate Sense period so that's probably why Posted via my Moto G 3rd Gen 2015 with only 1GB of RAM
  • The stock Android dialer is definitely the slickest available IMO. I love the animations
  • Oh shoot jerry said fam Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • That's a UK gangsta thing innit Posted via the Android Central App