Android Smartphone

Smart tech choices for festive gifts: 8 Android phones to consider

Check out these smartphones and their special features

Relax, don't be lost in the sea of Android offerings.
Relax, don't be lost in the sea of Android offerings.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

If you have no idea what to buy your techie friend this upcoming holiday season, look no further.

The Straits Times has compiled a list of top flagship Android phones, from the Leica-lensed Huawei Mate 9 to Google's own Pixel and Pixel XL.

Many of these phones come with unique features, such as the Moto Z's modular add-ons and the LG V20's hi-fi audio playback.

So if you are lost among the sea of Android offerings and want to pick the best stocking-stuffer for your needs, read on.

Focusing is a snap with the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe

The phone has powerful specs but has the same issue as many other Asus products - bloatware. PHOTO: ASUS

The Asus Zenfone 3 was released in three configurations - regular, Ultra and Deluxe - with the Deluxe edition the most specced out.

In Singapore, you can select from either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor or the more affordable 820.


Sony Xperia XZ's camera performs well

The colour balance of the pictures taken with the phone's camera is true to life. PHOTO: SONY

The Sony Xperia XZ is Sony's crack at making a high-end flagship phone, but it does not quite hit the mark.

While it has a feature-packed rear camera and some snazzy features like waterproofing and a camera quick launch button, it also falls short in some key areas, such as battery life and screen resolution.


LG'S V20 has dream specs for the power user

The LG V20 is a premium phone for hardcore users. PHOTO: LG

The specs of LG's V20 flagship read like a dream for power users: Snapdragon 820 processor, two rear cameras, dual Sim card slots, hi-fi audio playback and a removable battery - among other features.

This sets the V20 up as a premium phone for hardcore users, and it certaily delivers. Its 5.7-inch screen allows it to fill, quite dominantly, the phablet space left empty by the Samsung Note 7. It is packed with features that cover the range of multimedia entertainement. I enjoyed the four hi-fi digital-to-analog converters in the V20, which boosts audio quality of music playback. The phone also supports lossless music formats like FLAC and DSD.


'Leica look' images with Huawei Mate 9

The Huawei Mate 9 has a generous 4,000 mAh battery. PHOTO: HUAWEI

The Huawei Mate 9 is a likeable phone with a fantastic dual-lens camera, but it is unfortunately let down by a couple of software quirks that will hopefully be cleared up in future updates.

Out of the box, the Mate 9 comes with a screen protector and a thin plastic case, which is a nice touch as protection for less popular phones can sometimes be difficult to find.


Lenovo Moto Z - small but efficient

The real fun of the Moto Z begins when you mess around with the Moto Mods available for it. PHOTO: LENOVO

Lenovo's Moto Z is by far the most promising start to the elusive modular smartphone currently in the market, and sets the stage for what such smartphones should be like in the future.

By itself, the Moto Z is a respectable flagship. But when you improve its functions by snapping on various add-ons - or Moto Mods - to it, the real potential of modular phones becomes apparent.


Mi Note 2 keeps to Xiaomi tradition

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is officially sold only in China. PHOTO: XIAOMI

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is the Chinese company's latest flagship phone and, in true Xiaomi tradition, it delivers top-notch specs at bargain prices.

During our hands-on experience at the phone's launch last month, we liked the phone's dual curved edges, and it sharp rear camera.


Galaxy S7, S7 edge - old is gold

The S7 phones are waterproof and dustproof. PHOTO: SAMSUNG

The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are oldies but goodies. They were both released in February this year, which make them dinosaurs in tech terms, as new phones are constantly rolling out.

Still, both the S7 and S7 edge have one of the best cameras out on the market right now. When The Straits Times reviewed the phones in March this year, we noted that the 12-megapixel rear shooter delivers excellent low-light performance. Even now, it can give the cameras on the Pixel and the iPhone 7 a run for their money.


Google's Pixel, Pixel XL don't come cheap

Third-party retailers are selling the phones at a premium. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Google's Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are probably at the top of any techie's wish list this Christmas.

However, be prepared to fork out a pretty penny for a unit. As the phones are not officially available in Singapore, third-party retailers have been selling the phones at a premium.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Smart tech choices for festive gifts'. Subscribe