Well, not everyone buys phones for the same reasons. For many folks, smartphones today are what cars were 20 years ago, an opportunity to express their own sense of style through their most used possession. Essential is on this list for all the people who bought iPhones because of their iconic minimalist design.
If you’re not excited for the next iPhone, well, you’re not alone. For some people, while the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are less expensive, they’re also less exciting, with basically the same industrial design iPhones have had for the past three years. So, if you’ve been toying with the idea of jumping to Android, this is a good year to do it. But the world of Android is so vast, it can be tough to tell what’s actually worth your time, so here are our top picks for the iPhone alternatives.
Let get one thing out of the way up top, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 are great, but they might not really fit on this list. Samsung is the most popular Android brand, and that’s true for a reason. But they’re only good for people who are so bored of the iPhone that what they want is an anti-iPhone. There are other options out there besides the Galaxy phones to fit on this list.
The most obvious of these is the Google Pixel. At press time, the Pixel is about a month away from its first birthday, meaning its two replacements are weeks away from hitting shelves. But if the Pixel 2 follows the template of the existing ones, it’s definitely gonna stay on this list. That template includes software directly supported by Google, with Android updates guaranteed until October of 2018, and security updates through October 2019. More importantly, it means an interface totally devoid of manufacturer muck and carrier cruft. The Pixel launcher contains only a few enhancement compared to stock Android, and those make the experience better, instead of getting in the way.
If you’re coming from an iPhone, those curved corners and that minimal adornment will probably suit you. As a bonus, you’ll be getting one of the best cameras you can find on an Android phone, with video stabilization that’s almost too good. The Pixel is still listed at $649 on the Google Store, but expect that price to come down with the launch of the sequel.
The next pick is bound to ruffle some feathers, with a ceramic backplate and titanium gunnels, this phone is likely more drop and scratch resistant than Apple’s latest. And the distinctive widow’s peak at the top of the display is smaller and less obtrusive than the iPhone X’s big notch.
On top of that, you’ve got a similarly simplistic stock Android experience with little, if any, bloatware. Honestly, it’s almost too stark. If you take a lot of pictures, this is not for you, despite the several updates that have landed since release. But if your main priority is fit and finish, and money is no object, this is a much classier choice than, say, a Vertu would have been. If you walk the line between physical refinement and tastefully tweaked software, the OnePlus 5 is for you. This is the latest in a long line of excellent Android phones that few in the mainly because they’re not sold by carriers. But there are two main reasons OnePlus is worth your time. Software and price. The former is called Oxygen OS, and it’s very close to stock Android. The modifications OnePlus has made give you more control over the look and feel, while still avoiding the trap of gunking up the works and slowing everything down. The dual camera system doesn’t live up to the big promises OnePlus made, but it’s still more than fine for everyday photographers. And while the chassis is on the generic side, it’s certainly not ugly, and it feels good in the hand. And you’ll learn to live with that when you’re saving hundreds of dollars.
The OnePlus 5 is the most affordable smartphone on this list, with a starting price of $479. Of course, you can find cheaper Android phones out there, much cheaper ones. But with maybe one or two exceptions, the OnePlus 5 is as low as you can get without starting to make the kind of performance and capability sacrifices that would turn off an iPhone switcher.
The last one is a Sony’s series. The company’s design language hasn’t changed since 2012, so why would you wanna go of importing one of these? Well, we’re back aesthetic territory here. As stale as that design might be, it is iconic, and it does turn heads. On top of that, it’s waterproof, which none of the other phones on this list are. So, iPhone users accustomed to boat or bathtub phoning won’t have to adapt. And while the camera doesn’t reach Pixel or Galaxy levels in terms of quality, the latest generation does pack a feature you can’t find anywhere else – Ultra slow motion video.
But once you’ve shot video at nearly a thousand frames a second, with a device you can totally leave on the table at a fancy restaurant, you kind of get why Sony fans are so attached to their Xperias.