NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google's (GOOG) Android operating system has made significant improvements over the years, leading to some incredibly beautiful phones, with some rivaling and surpassing the iPhone in both ease of use and aesthetics.
TheStreet has compiled a list of five of the best Android-based smartphones to buy for the holidays. In some cases, they're big and expensive, but if you're in the market for a smartphone, these 5 best devices are capable of providing a user with the best hardware and Android software combination to date.
5 - LG G3
This is LG's latest flagship smartphone and as such you would expect a terrific performing device. You won't be disappointed.
This big Android phone has a Qualcomm (QCOM) 801 processor mated to 2GB of RAM for the 16GB model or 3GB for the 32 GB model, a high-resolution, 5.5-inch HD touchscreen, and a great 13MP camera inside with optical image stabilization and "phase detection/laser autofocusing." The G3 is capable of delivering 4160 by 3120 pixels videos.
Lightweight, fast and beautiful (LG boasts about the phone's minimal bezel which takes almost nothing away from the amazing-looking screen) the LG G3 is one of the best Android devices you can choose this holiday season.
The G3 is available from the top U.S. carriers. Currently, prices range from $199.99 at AT&T (T) and $149.99 from Verizon (VZ) to zero down and approximately $25 per month at T-Mobile (TMUS) . Sprint's (S) version is available to select retailers nationwide.
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4 - OnePlus One
OnePlus is an offshoot of China's Oppo Electronics best known in this country for making great home video equipment, but they're also making great smartphones.
The OnePlus One phone has been in short supply since its release because it offers an amazing price and performance bargain. Basically, it's big competition for the other phones discussed here but at a much lower price. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 3 GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch HD touchscreen, a 13 megapixel camera on the back, a big 3100 mAh battery. Spec wise, it's a good match for the other top-five Androids.
One of the phone's big selling point is that it runs a paired-down, super-fast version of the Android operating system called Cyanogen. In months of testing we found the system to be nearly flawless. The One is a GSM phone which means it will work on AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.But, the best feature is the One's price. The white model with 16GB of storage sells for $299 and the black phone with 64 GB of storage is $349. Those are the full, retail prices.
Demand for the OnePlus One has been through the roof and OnePlus is working overtime to make more handsets. If you're interested, check the company's Website for the latest information.
3 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note 4 is Samsung's (SSNLF) fourth-generation Android phablet, which comes with a huge screen - 5.7-inches in this case - along with a 2.7 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, 3 GB of RAM inside plus a 16MP camera capable of 2160p video at 30 fps.
This 2014 model offers a new level of class and sophistication. Many of Samsung's branded apps are still inside, but this time around they seem to be better integrated into the system rather than dominate it. The new Galaxy Note also comes with a stylus which adds another dimension to what you can do with a large, modern smartphone.
The Galaxy Note 4 is one of the pricier phones on this list, with AT&T and Verizon charging $299.99 for the Galaxy Note 4 on contract. Sprint and T-Mobile charge no money down and approximately $30 per month for two years.
You can read our full review here.
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2 - Moto X (2014 Edition)/Verizon Droid Turbo
Motorola has had a busy 2014, introducing several new phones, and the Moto X Droid Turbo Edition is one of the best Android phones out there.
The new X is a huge improvement over the original X, as the HD screen now measures 5.2-inches, it comes with a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, mated to 2GB of RAM and either 16 or 32GB of internal storage. The camera on the back is 13MP similar to the one on the Nexus 6 but without optical stabilization feature.
The Verizon Droid version ups the ante with a faster Snapdragon processor, 3 GB of RAM and double the storage plus a 21 MP back shooter.
These are terrific smartphones and, along with the new Nexus, support the notion that Motorola is in the top echelon of Android manufacturers.
You can create your own Moto X on the Motomaker https://www.motorola.com/us/motomaker Website ($99.99 and up with contract) or buy from local retailers. Verizon's Droid Turbo starts for $199.99 also with a service contract. Both models are expected to receive the Android 5.0 upgrade in the very near future.
Read our full review of the 2104 Moto X here.
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1 - Nexus 6
The Google Nexus 6 is the just released, top-of-the-line Android phablet from Google and Motorola, and it's already in short supply.
The 6 is the first smartphone to run Android 5.0 Lollipop, which offers all new, updated options to explore. The Nexus 6 has a nearly 6-inch screen (5.95 inches to be exact) but weighs less than 6-and-a-half ounces. It comes with a super-fast (2.6 GHz), quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, 3 GB of RAM and a nifty 13 megapixel rear camera with optical stabilizers. Android 5.0 is also the first version of the OS to feature 64-bit architecture which means it can handle more memory and perform more complex feats.
WIth the Nexus 6 one model fits all. Out of the box, it can operate on all major U.S. cellular carriers. It retails for $649 (with 32GB of storage) or $699 for the 64GB model.
The 6 is currently the best Android smartphone you can buy. You should read our full review here.
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-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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