- Best overall
- Best for productivity
- Best modular phone
- Best for video
Google Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL
The Google Pixel 2 isn't just a great phone; it's a duo of phones in different sizes that both pack some serious power. Available as the 5-inch Pixel 2 and the 6-inch Pixel 2 XL, Google's strategy is clear: simplicity and speed. And it delivers.
The designs may not be particularly inspiring, but the Pixel 2 has some very solid specifications, including a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. In addition, the 12.2MP f/1.8 camera arguably leads the industry as the best camera on any smartphone.
Bottom line: The Pixel 2 offers the best Android experience around, and promises timely updates for at least two years.
One more thing: The Pixel 2 XL has had various display issues, but most of them have been fixed with software updates.
Why the Pixel 2 is the best
The Pixel 2 is simply as Android as Android gets.
There's simply no better way to experience Google's vision for Android than with one of the new Pixels. Both phones feature identical specifications, offering the same unbeatable performance no matter your preferred size — though you'll find significantly smaller bezels on the Pixel 2 XL. From the moment you turn it on, the Pixel 2 is speedier than any other Android phone on the market, and lighter, too; you won't find a lick of bloatware on the Pixel 2.
A clean app list isn't the only advantage of owning a Pixel 2, though. Google is always looking to make its various services more easily accessible, and the Pixel 2 achieves this with Active Edge, which launches Google Assistant whenever you squeeze the sides of the phone. There's also the Now Playing feature, which automatically identifies songs playing around you — even if you're offline.
It's also hard to beat the Pixel 2's camera. Though many modern phones have adopted a dual lens system for features like portrait mode photography, Google is betting that its machine learning technology can achieve better results with a single camera — turns out they're right. The Pixel 2 takes absolutely stunning photos, and its users receive unlimited storage in Google Photos to back up their shots without any loss in quality.
Best for productivity
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
If you don't care one way or the other about stock Android, the Galaxy Note 8 is worth looking into. Its 6.3-inch 18.5:9 display is as massive as it is gorgeous, and it provides plenty of room for split-screen multitasking. When you need to get truly precise, the S Pen stylus provides a level of precision unique to the Galaxy Note line.
The Note 8 also offers every hardware ammenity under the sun, from water resistance to wireless charging. Its dual camera module is no slouch either, taking extremely impressive photos using two optically stabilized lenses.
Bottom line: The massive screen and S Pen make the Galaxy Note 8 a terrific productivity device.
One more thing: If you find the Note 8 too big or expensive, the Galaxy S8 or S8+ might be a better fit.
Best modular phone
Moto Z2 Force
The Moto Z2 Force wears many hats; it's Motorola's current flagship, it's one of the most durable phones on the market thanks to its ShatterShield display, and it's by far the most modular phone around.
No other manufacturer offers the level of customization that Motorola provides through its Moto Mod ecosystem of accessories, turning the Moto Z2 Force into a Swiss Army Knife that can act as a projector, a loudspeaker, and more — the possibilities are seemingly endless.
Bottom line: The Moto Z2 Force is an incredibly versatile phone that's just as durable as it is modular.
One more thing: While it's unlikely to crack, the Moto Z2 Force's ShatterShield display is very prone to scratches.
Best for video
If you're passionate about videography, look no further than the LG V30. Its dual camera module takes stunning photos with options for wide angle or telephoto shots, and the camera app features an incredibly powerful array of video tools, including manual controls and even LOG video with LUTs.
The V30 looks just equally great on paper. The Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM ensure top-notch performance, and it's even capable of microSD expandability.
Bottom line: The V30 is a great tool for video professionals as well as an excellent and well-rounded phone.
One more thing: LG's included quad DAC provides incredible audio quality when using headphones with the V30.
Update, February 2018: The Pixel 2 is our new top choice, and the Moto Z2 Force has been added as the top modular phone.