Best Overall: Google Pixel 2 XL

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Google's Pixel 2 XL offers sleek and solid hardware, all of the requisite specs inside and software that's simple and intuitive at a breakneck pace. With a 6-inch 18:9 display and stereo speaker, its size is useful without being too big.

The software features and Google's apps aren't numerous, but they're delightfully useful without being bothersome. And with three years of guaranteed updates, you don't have to worry about the future — Google's phones are well-known for holding onto their performance longer than most.

Google has once again set the standard for Android cameras, with great hardware buoyed by the "HDR+" processing that can create amazing images. Photos are accurate with an extra punch of color, and can manage tough scenes with little issue. And with Android 8.1, the Pixel Visual Core enables dramatically better photos in third-party apps.

Bottom line: The best big Android phone experience comes straight from Google with the Pixel 2 XL. Great hardware and amazing software support a top-notch camera anyone can enjoy.

One more thing: Verizon will tout the Pixel 2 XL is "exclusive" to the carrier, but you can buy the phone unlocked from a variety of sources and use it on your carrier of choice.

Why the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL are the best Android phones

If you want the best possible Android experience, you go straight to the source: Google. And if you need a big screen, the Pixel 2 XL's 6-inch screen does the job. The company has gotten serious about user experience and interface design, and it really shows with Android Oreo on the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. Everything is blazing fast, smooth, consistent and intuitive throughout the interface, and ulti-window and picture-in-picture modes make the most of the screen real estate.

Google has gotten really good at user experience and interface design.

And it's not just software customization that makes it happen — Google has included a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM and 64GB (optionally, 128GB) of storage to make sure your phone has plenty of room to run. The big 3520mAh battery gets you through a full day as you'd expect.

The Pixel 2 XL's 6-inch OLED display has seen its fair share of criticism, and is the one true weak point of the phone, but that's just something you give up to get this hardware and software experience — even though that's a tougher pill to swallow at $849.

They don't focus on the number of features, but on the impact of each one.

If there's one knock on the Pixel 2 XL, it's that it doesn't have the sheer volume of features in its hardware or software that some of the competition does. It doesn't have a headphone jack, wireless charging or an SD card slot; and if you're used to having a bunch of specialized software features on your Samsung, LG or Huawei phone you won't find them here.

But for most people, those are relatively small prices to pay to get a daily experience of using a phone that's fast, intuitive, smart and filled with a core set of features that can actually wow you. And with years of guaranteed software updates, you won't be left out in the cold. That's what you get from the Pixel 2 XL.



Best for features: Samsung Galaxy S9+

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The Galaxy S9+ isn't much different from its predecessor, but seeing as that was Samsung's best-ever-selling phone that's not a bad thing. This phone is all about giving you the most features in the most beautiful package with a big display. You get top-end specs across the board, plus all of the hardware features you expect: waterproofing, wireless charging, an SD card slot, a headphone jack and more. The 6.2-inch AMOLED display is really big, and it's the best screen out there in terms of brightness and overall quality.

The camera is all-new this year, with a sensor that does fantastic processing to remove noise and sharpen fine detail. It's aided by a dual-aperture lens to get the best combination of light and detail in different shots, and is paired with a secondary telephoto lens for zoom and portrait mode shooting.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S9+ doesn't require much thought — it can do everything, and look great doing it, with very minor downsides.

One more thing: The regular Galaxy S9 may be cheaper, but it also has a notably smaller screen, smaller battery, and only one rear camera. It's not entirely the same experience.

Best for battery life: Huawei Mate 10 Pro

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Unlike its predecessor the Mate 9, Huawei's Mate 10 Pro is an absolute looker — and it clearly positions itself right next to the flagship competition. Metal and glass are finely crafted and filled with top-notch specs, and its Leica-tuned dual cameras are capable of some wonderful shots with the help of the Kirin processor inside.

Alongside all of that, the Mate 10 Pro hits it out of the park with battery life. The combination of a 4000mAh battery, efficient processor, somewhat-restrictive software and a 1080p display make this a true two-day flagship for many people, and that's rare today.

The only downside, as ever, is Huawei's EMUI software. Though it has gotten better with Oreo, it still has many areas that are rough on the eyes, not very functional or inexplicably broken when it comes to integrating with third-party apps.

Bottom line: It's a true flagship with all of the best specs, and incredible battery life. You just have to give a little in terms of software experience.

One more thing: When searching for a Mate 10 Pro, make sure you're getting the U.S. unlocked model so that you have proper network bands and warranty support.

Best with a stylus: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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Just 6 months after launching, the Galaxy Note 8 was almost entirely supplanted by the new Galaxy S9+. The Note 8 is a fantastic phone, but with the addition of features and specs, the Galaxy S9+ is the same or better across the board with a larger battery, newer camera, faster processor and slightly more compact body.

The only trump card the Note 8 can play is that it has a stylus, which is obviously a big deal for a small number of faithful Note owners. But in order to get the stylus you give up some of the newer features you could get from the Galaxy S9+ — and you'll probably be paying more to get it.

Bottom line: If you have to have a stylus, there's no substitute for the Galaxy Note 8.

One more thing: As it has aged, there are some (small) deals to be had on the Note 8 if you shop around.


Conclusion

The best Android phone with a big screen is the Pixel 2 XL thanks to its fast, simple and powerful software experience. The Galaxy S9+ is a close second place with its extra features and beautiful display, and the Mate 10 Pro is still here for all of those who need a ton of battery life. The Note 8 is also worth considering if you need a stylus.

Best Overall: Google Pixel 2 XL

See at Best Buy

Google's Pixel 2 XL offers sleek and solid hardware, all of the requisite specs inside and software that's simple and intuitive at a breakneck pace. With a 6-inch 18:9 display and stereo speaker, its size is useful without being too big.

The software features and Google's apps aren't numerous, but they're delightfully useful without being bothersome. And with three years of guaranteed updates, you don't have to worry about the future — Google's phones are well-known for holding onto their performance longer than most.

Google has once again set the standard for Android cameras, with great hardware buoyed by the "HDR+" processing that can create amazing images. Photos are accurate with an extra punch of color, and can manage tough scenes with little issue. And with Android 8.1, the Pixel Visual Core enables dramatically better photos in third-party apps.

Bottom line: The best big Android phone experience comes straight from Google with the Pixel 2 XL. Great hardware and amazing software support a top-notch camera anyone can enjoy.

One more thing: Verizon will tout the Pixel 2 XL is "exclusive" to the carrier, but you can buy the phone unlocked from a variety of sources and use it on your carrier of choice.

Updated April 2018: The Pixel 2 XL takes our top spot, reflecting its continued strength in the Android world. The Galaxy S9+ steps in as the top Samsung phone, while the Note 8 remains as an option for stylus lovers and the Mate 10 Pro sticks around for its great battery life.