Best overall

Google Pixel 2

See at Verizon See at Best Buy See at Google Store

The smaller of Google's new Pixel phones is also its best, thanks to a no-nonsense design and plenty of features to get enthusiasts excited. For a starting price of $649, it mirrors last year's 5-inch flagship, but has a laundry list of upgrades, including a faster processor, more default storage, a better-calibrated OLED display, and, of course, a stupendous 12MP camera that beats everything else on the market. Plus, the latest version of Android first — and for three years.

Bottom line: There's nothing quite like the Pixel, which marries hardware and software into an exceptional Android experience.

One more thing: The Pixel 2 XL has a bigger display and battery but may not be worth the extra $200.



Why the Pixel 2 is the best

If you weren't a fan of the first Pixel's looks but enjoyed everything else about it, the Pixel 2 is for you. Available in three awesome colors with a soft-touch metal finish that's perfect to hold without a case, the Pixel 2 is easy to use in one hand, extremely performant and reliable, and easily has the best camera on the Android market today.

Add to that the fact Google will first give its Pixel phones updates to the latest version of Android, but it's also promising three years of updates, which is unprecedented in the Android space. Google has done a lot to improve the reliability of the Pixel 2 (despite some early software issues) and battery life has also improved considerably over the first version.

Best for looks

HTC U11

See at Amazon See at HTC See at Sprint

This may come as a shock to you, but HTC is back, baby! In fact, the company never left, but its criminally underappreciated 2016 flagship, the HTC 10, has been replaced by a phone so good and so striking that it would be impossible not to consider it in 2017. That phone is the HTC U11.

It may lack the Stretch Armstrong screen dimensions of the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, but it makes up for it in admirable practicality. The phone is fast — like, crazy fast — and the rear camera is probably the best you'll find on the market today. And despite the fingerprint magnetic glass back, when it's clean it's stunning, like a work of art.

Bottom line: The HTC U11 is an amazing phone that you should absolutely consider if you're in the market for an under-$700 device.

One more thing: The phone is only available to purchase at Sprint in the U.S., so consider financing it from HTC directly if you want to use it elsewhere.



Best for single hands

LG G6+

LG G6

See at Amazon

The LG G6+ is a great alternative for a sub-$700 smartphone, particularly if you aren't too interested in buying one of last year's Samsung devices as this year's daily driver.

Sure, LG was known to be chasing gimmicks with its flagship releases the last few years, but it's since changed its tune with the G6+. This hand-friendly smartphone features an attractive design, great build quality, and a stunning, nearly bezel-less 5.7-inch display. It also features Qi wireless charging (in North America), water resistance, a rear-facing fingerprint sensor that doubles as a power button, and a bevy of fun, wide-angle camera features.

The G6+ is a special edition of the G6, exclusive to Amazon Prime in the U.S., which features a high-quality 64-bit Quad DAC, and double the storage to 64GB — and it's very good value at $500.

Bottom line: LG is back to making really solid smartphones and the G6+ is a worthy buy if camera hardware is especially important to you.

One more thing: If you want to save some money, you can grab the G6 — still a great phone, just sans Quad DAC and 64GB storage — for $400.



Best for updates

Google Pixel XL

google pixel

See at Verizon See at Google Store

If you don't need the latest and greatest from Google but still value everything else that's great about the Pixel lineup, the Pixel XL is the way to go. It's the larger of Google's 2016 Pixels, and now discounted to $669, it's even better value.

It may not have the OIS of the Pixel 2 XL, but the original Pixel XL still has one of the best cameras on the market, and the OLED display is considerably better than its successor's.

Bottom line: The Pixel XL is a fantastic phone that's guaranteed to get Android P in 2018, as well as security updates well into 2019.

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.

Conclusion

The Pixel 2 is the best phone you can buy right now, period — and it happens to be under $700. But if you want some visual alternatives, the LG G6+, HTC U11, and Pixel XL are great options, too.

Best overall

Google Pixel 2

See at Verizon See at Best Buy See at Google Store

The smaller of Google's new Pixel phones is also its best, thanks to a no-nonsense design and plenty of features to get enthusiasts excited. For a starting price of $649, it mirrors last year's 5-inch flagship, but has a laundry list of upgrades, including a faster processor, more default storage, a better-calibrated OLED display, and, of course, a stupendous 12MP camera that beats everything else on the market. Plus, the latest version of Android first — and for three years.

Bottom line: There's nothing quite like the Pixel, which marries hardware and software into an exceptional Android experience.

One more thing: The Pixel 2 XL has a bigger display and battery but may not be worth the extra $200.

Updated November 2017: The Google Pixel 2 is our latest pick, and the HTC U11 has been moved to our best-looking phone.