What Android Phone Should I Get?

We are heading back to NYC tomorrow and, among other things, that means I can end my 6 months on iOS. I force myself to spend six months of the year on iPhone to make sure I’ve got my head wrapped around that platform and how it is changing and evolving. But I feel like it costs me a pretty significant productivity hit and I am eager to get back on Android.

So I need to decide which phone I am going to get. I am thinking of buying a Nexus 6P directly from the Google Play Store. But I am open to other ideas and would welcome them.

Here are my needs/desires:

  1. Phablet form factor/size
  2. Stock Android (no bloatware from carrier issued phones)
  3. Unlocked device that can run on any carrier
  4. Lots of memory (at least 64GB)

So with those needs/desires, what phone should I get?


Comments (Archived):

  1. Steve Hallock

    I can’t imagine using any phone other than Nexus at this point. I’ve been on the 6P since the day it came out, and it is fantastic. Currently running the Android N beta, and it’s been rock solid for me. Don’t over think this one. Stick with Nexus

    1. kenberger

      Hmm, of course I went to N on my 6p. Proved unstable in certain situations when it really counts, as of today.I travel heavily in Europe with the American version though.

  2. Geoff Arnold

    I just bought a 6P. I needed it urgently (before a long business trip), so I picked it up at my local Best Buy, which turned out to be cheaper than the Google Play store, and took it next door to T-Mobile to activate it. So far, I love it – the fingerprint sensor is perfect, the speakers are REALLY LOUD, the screen is gorgeous, and it’s really fast. The biggest flaw is that the Volume Down button is almost exactly at the mid-point of the right side, so when I pick it up I almost always press it. Meh….

  3. bogorad

    Why not try the BB Priv (you didn’t mention rooting as a pre-requistie)? It’s got 32 GiB and a slot for 200 GiB more.http://www.gsmarena.com/bla

  4. Jeff

    I think the Note 5 is worth considering here, less the Samsung bloatware it’s a great phone with a surprisingly functional stylus.

  5. William Mougayar

    I still like my Xiaomi, and would consider their latest badassest model.If you keep sticking to the Nexuses, then you’re not diversifying your experience much, no?

    1. kenberger

      But xiaomi still is stuck on Lollipop (the deep sleep battery stretching elements of M are a big deal- yes you and I discussed this here 3 weeks ago).And I’d still recommend the 6p now over the current xiaomi’s.

      1. William Mougayar

        I know we had that “speeds and feeds” and splitting hairs discussion. I have lower expections than you, perhaps. I don’t need to be at the bleeding edge. Leading edge is good enough for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. spideri

      I love vanilla Android BUT if you really want to broaden your understanding of Android and the top Chinese manufacturer then then it’s a good and inexpensive investment. The Xiaomi Mi 5 is Marshmallow based, is as fast as a Samsung S7 and about half the price:http://www.theverge.com/201…Also, you should experience what it’s like to run a rooted device.Plus if it all ends in disaster then you haven’t wasted that much money.

  6. LIAD

    Happily rock the 6P.Save for it having teleporting capabilities not sure what more it could offer.Have been overserved by smartphones for a few years already.Incremental marginal upgrades.Wake me when the cool stuff starts happening again.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i think you are mostly right about that

  7. obarthelemy

    Obviously, you need an unlocked phone. I’m assuming money isn’t an issue.At the high end, the two default choices are a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge (size difference mostly, though the curved screen is… well another difference, you might like it or not, internals are the same), and the Nexus 6P. The Nexus 6P will get you OS updates, faster, and for longer, if security is a concern. Everything else about it quite good, but the GS7 is better in every way (camera, speed, screen, design, battery) except updates, which will take more time and might get cut off sooner. Also, the GS7 has an SD slot (cards go up to 200GB these days), the 6P doesn’t so buy the larger-storage model.Reviews from Ars Technica (text) and PocketNow (very good videos)- 6P: http://arstechnica.com/gadg… , http://pocketnow.com/2015/1…- GS7E: http://arstechnica.com/gadg… , http://pocketnow.com/2016/0…There are reasons to stray from these 2 models, though not the LG G5 which is mostly deemed inferior in all ways to the GS7. I personally like bigger screens, so I usually end up with a Huawei, either the 6″ Mate or the 7″ Mediapad X. Those haven’t been refreshed this year yet, so maybe wait, as I’m doing. Apart from the screen size, everything else is a wee bit not-as-good, except battery life wich is even better.Other reasons are mostly budget-related, but I won’t recommend my usual LG G4 or Honor 5X which are my go-to midrangers; or Samsung’s A line if you’re more focused on design than price.

    1. fredwilson

      wow. thanks. that’s a really great summary.

      1. obarthelemy

        You’re welcome. Another reason to maybe go with the 6P in your case: Google Fi for cheap international calls and data.

      2. Perry Ismangil

        I vote for 6P. I’m writing this on one. I’ve been on Nexus all of my Android life with a brief (regrettable) Moto X diversion. Get the 128GB version!

        1. Rahul Deodhar

          Absolutely spot on! All phones including moto get updates later and that sucks. The only reason to prefer s7 to 6P is if camera is the main draw and rest of the mobile is light use. Reverse it and 6P is the best choice.

      3. Simone Brunozzi

        I would suggest you go for a 6P, so you can also try Google Fi and get a sense of how good/bad it is. You cannot use Google Fi with a Samsung phone.

        1. Hรฉlรจnka Guillaume

          Thanks for all you advise, just bought a 6P, switching from Samsung, I’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

      4. Antonio D'souza

        After spending a few months using a Nexus 6P I ended up switching to the Nexus 5X instead and am much happier because it’s far easier to use with one hand.

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      The Galaxy series camera is far better than any other phone on the market. Period. I do a lot of live social media work for my clients and you cannot beat the Galaxy for gorgeous photos, even at night. (I’m on Galaxy Note4. I only upgrade every two years.)

    3. kenberger

      Agreed on all points.6P is awesome but still feels a bit cumbersome and just not as… feng shui or whatever as the S7’s. Plus the S7 Edge has crazy great battery life (battery is huge, plus it too has marshmallow) and noticeably better camera with an instantaneous shutter– that’s a big deal.I carry both now.

  8. rossgarlick

    LG G5 – the modularity is huge. I’m currently using the G4 and it has the best camera of any point and shoot. Can’t wait to upgrade to the G5 this summer.

    1. obarthelemy

      I really liked the G4 and was recommending it last year (and still am this year as a midranger). This year’s G5 has a weak battery again (like the G3), so… meh.

      1. rossgarlick

        I usually carry a couple of spare batteries around with me, so I figured that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but appreciate the feedback. The removable battery is pretty much the most important hardware feature for me at this point, given the comparability of performance for other features for my day-to-day needs.

  9. Collin

    This is something I’m interested in as well. I was a day 1 iPhone adopter, went to android for years, and just went back to iOS with the iPhone 6, and I hate it. I want to go back to android.

    1. LE

      What do you hate about it?

      1. Collin

        Well, the safari reading list is basically useless as it is completely random what stories it saves to read offline and which ones it doesn’t. The signal is generally pretty poor, especially in buildings. It has 1-2 bars where my Samsung Galaxy regularly had full strength. It also seems incredibly slow to reconnect to the network. In NYC, it’s infuriating to wait 45-60 seconds when coming out from underground for the phone to find the network again.

        1. LE

          Has that been with every iphone you have owned? Same behavior (network issues).?

          1. Collin

            Well I only owned the very first one which I bought the first day it came out. After problems with that phone that were more related to AT&T than the phone, I switched to android and was on android for years before finally going back to the 6 which is my current phone. I had been happy on android, but I wanted to give iPhone another shot.

          2. LE

            I’ve owned every iphone since the first (on the first day I got someone to wait in line for me). I personally have had nothing but good results. And I just got an iphone 6s and still have my iphone 6 which I use as a spare. To me it’s awesome and does everything I need.

          3. LE

            Well the good news is if you are not happy with it there is an active market where you can sell it for a good % of what you paid for it. I would imagine that doesn’t happen with Android devices. So the phone has residual value and the actual cost is the net cost. Ditto for Mac computers, active market, easy to sell. Even old ones have value to someone.

          4. Collin

            Android phones are easy to sell as well, though they don’t hold value as strongly as iPhones I don’t think. With that said, I’d probably hang onto as it is always good to have a backup.

          5. LE

            though they don’t hold value as strongly as iPhones I don’t thinkThey don’t. Not only that look at the reason for this post. “Which one should I buy?”. With an iphone that is so much less of an issue. It’s always clear what the latest model is with Apple and it’s also clear how the other models fall in the pecking order as well. That branding is key to resale value as only one factor.I just checked and as one example a broken Galaxy S6 Edge has a $20 value if broken whereas an iphone 6 has a $100 value if broken. (Non scientific but highly expected..)https://www.gazelle.com/sel…Note: I know nothing about the Samsung device other than it’s current and priced similar to iphone.

      2. Richard

        What does that “I hate it” even mean when it comes to a iPhone? Ok. There is the answer. Sounds like a carrier issue or a bad phone.

  10. gorbachev

    If stock Android is that high on the list, your best choice is Nexus 6P.If not, then the new phones just coming out from Samsung (S7, S7 Edge), HTC (HTC 10) or LG (LG G5) will do the trick.

  11. Slater

    I use both a Nexus 6P and iPhone 6plus. And I only use productivity apps that sync across both platforms. Would be interesting to get your take as to why you lose productivity on iPhone. As for the Android device – for sure the Nexus 6P. The stock android experience is the best as you know. The Samsung S7 beats it in specs but the headache of bloatware and not receiving the regular updates from Google diminishes the experience. Also find that Android performance falls off a cliff sometime between 8-14 months on Samsung, LG etc that are not on Stock. I am also on ProjectFi (TMobile with the iPhone) and there are so many instances where the efficiency on Fi for switching between Sprint/Tmobile has been so useful. The speakers on 6P are great for when I want to listen to podcasts. The form factor is beautiful and the fingerprint scanner location is good. In summary – stock Android, Google Fi, no bloatware, great design, speakers, good battery and a much better camera than predecessor Nexus’ make the 6P the way to go!

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      I have run into similar performance issues at about 18 months on Samsung. Usually I just ask my son to wipe all the extra files off the phone which vastly improves performance (I’m just too busy to do it myself). The beauty of the Droid is that you then just log into Google and it remembers your key apps and automatically installs them for you.

    1. fredwilson

      i give my old phones away

      1. JimHirshfield

        My 14 year old daughter needs an upgrade. Whataya got? ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. Russell

          haha #first

  12. Jonathon Fishman

    While the timing isn’t right, I would consider a phone from OnePlus (https://oneplus.net/) at some point. The OnePlus 2, the second in their series, lacked a few critical components,thus I can’t recommend the phone. There is something very interesting about purchasing an electronic device direct from the manufacturer. There an inherent price incentives in this distribution model as there isn’t another vendor offering that high quality of a phone at that price point. Their variant of Android is very clean as nearly as close to stock as one can get. I have the OnePlusOne and will buy the OnePlus3 when it comes to market later this summer.

  13. Crocodile Bungee

    I have to say that I think that the price of Android phones is only there so that users can feel better about their hipster status wrt iPhone users. (No offence intended, Sir!) There is no excuse really for spending ยฃ4-500 on a mobile device. Not in this day and age. You’re only encouraging them.

  14. Stephanie Kaiser

    One Plus 2 or One Plus X

  15. jedc

    I LOVE my Nexus 6P, & it 100% fits your requirements above. I got it with Google’s Project Fi, which is such a fantastic billing and user experience when compared to any other carrier I’ve used.

    1. Murtaugh

      How is your coverage and wifi calling? My experience has not been great. Takes a well for a wifi call to get provisioned and then drops some time. Also sound quality is nothing like when on a Verizon-to-Verizon call.

  16. felixc

    Great idea to spend time with a different platform. I actually do the same thing in the opposite direction e.g. I’m more comfortable with iOS and spend time with Android.I like One Plus if Cyanogen could be considered close enough to “stock” Android.

  17. LIAD

    Here’s an idea…-> future growth of mobile etc is hinged on the developing world.–> Rationale for swappjng OS/handset every 6months is to dogfood and stay current.—> screw the high-end. Let’s buy the $4 android handsets and live that world.Prob result in better foresight and acuity to predict true future of mobile.”The avc $4 handset 3 month challenge”

    1. fredwilson

      not sure i can do that

      1. jason wright

        sure you can. get down with the masses. Airbnb time again?

      2. XyXyXy

        Don’t make your personal phone issue a national problem..Check the Panama papers and make sure you are not listed

        1. fredwilson

          I doubt it. I am not a tax avoider and dont hold money in secret offshore bank accounts

          1. XyXyXy


          2. jason wright

            you’re not a prime minister. therefore i believe you.

          3. Lawrence Brass

            To sleep well, nothing better than good ethics.

    2. Bruce Warila

      “future growth of mobile etc is hinged on the developing world” Related post on how Facebook is building for this market: https://code.facebook.com/p

    3. scottythebody

      Maybe not the low end, but maybe the mid-range. Something to be said for mass market “dogfooding” perhaps. I’d be worried about security, though, so it would have to be something that had some sort of reputation / review.

    4. Russell

      I’d try that with you

    5. PhilipSugar

      Growth =???If I don’t have $5 to spend I don’t have $5.We can wax enthusiastic about lots of stuff. But your daily spend in London and Fred’s in LA and NYC, just aren’t going to be supported by people that can’t pay for it.

  18. andrewparker

    I’d go with the Nexus 6P based on those requirements. But I’d also put it on Project Fi. I’ve met one New Yorker on Fi who says the coverage and experience is terrific. https://fi.google.com/

    1. fredwilson

      i tried Fi when it was in beta and post launchit wasn’t good for mei should give it another try

      1. Slater

        Definitely Fi is excellent in NY, SF and LA and unlimited on low speed international data when overseas

    2. kenberger

      And it also has the best int’l roaming plan I know of, especially if you hit lots of different countries frequently (like me).

  19. Charles Dicks

    I made the Aplle 5c to Nexus 6p jump, using the Google Fi network, back in December, and I couldn’t be happier. Size, responsiveness, hand-feel…it’s just perfect. And what I originally thought was a goofy placement of the fingerprint sensor (on the back), I now consider genius. I’d have a hard time switching to a phone without it. Solid 9 out of 10 (point docked for inability to extend memory).

  20. jason wright

    i read a tear down review of the 6P. there are structurally weak plastic dovetail joints inside.i’ve recently tyre kicked my way through most everything out there. i still like Motorola for stock and build quality.

  21. K_Berger

    Moto X Pure. The Moto Display notifications and the ‘always listening’ features are excellent. I recently switched to an S7 after breaking my original Moto X and I miss those features on a daily basis. I don’t want a phablet, otherwise I would have stayed with Motorola.

    1. jason wright

      i have a question. was the Pure the next iteration after the Moto X 2nd generation?

      1. Cam MacRae


  22. kenberger

    I posted the following to your “Over the Top” post 3 weeks ago:I’ve had a Nexus 6P since november. It ticks most of the boxes (except Image stabilization) and even now has Android *N* (so, even beyond M) on it. See my other comment re improved battery life, which is a big deal.But now that I’m carrying a new S7 Edge (which is awesome and also has M), I’m sort of over the 6P– it’s just a bit too bulky and I don’t care about Google Fi. I admit this with slight chagrin because I really wanted the Chinese “underdogs” to have won by now.

  23. jason wright

    what would be the recommended minimum GB of ram for today, 2 or 3?

  24. Rudiger J. Ellis (Rudy)

    Big fan of the 6P. Great battery life and form factor. Love the width of the phone way better than the 6.

  25. Tom Labus

    Villanova all the way tonight.

  26. Peter Liu

    Fred – just switch from 6S+ to 6P and am loving it. I thought about the S7 for it’s latest specs, but at this point we’re hitting diminishing returns on specs and UX is more important. Which is why i’m going with Stock Android – the bloatware/touchwiz is really annoying (despite the hardware).

  27. Cam MacRae

    Moto X Pure Edition. Ticks all the boxes*.Build one with the wood back. Mine is white front, silver frame, bamboo back. Looks a treat!Exceptional value for $500.*Oh, except by phablet you mean monstrous and impractical, not 5.7″ ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. ErikSchwartz

    OnePlus 2https://oneplus.net/2Dual sims are really useful.

  29. John Wall

    What are the biggest productivity hits you take from being on iOS?

    1. Russell

      Great ???

  30. kenberger

    The bloatware issue, at least with a new Samsung and assuming T-Mobile USA, is not really a big deal like it used to be, pre-kitkat, IMO.Even without rooting, lots of that can be disabled once and for all.Plus, the stock Android layout/menus on the 6p is OK but hardly gorgeous.

    1. Peter Liu

      Ken are you seeing the same memory management issues that have plagued previous Galaxy lineup?

      1. kenberger

        Not on this S7 Edge– albeit I have the European version with an insane octocore chip (which can have a side effect on RAM).And re “previous Galaxy lineup[s]”, installing Advanced Task Killer always did the trick.

      2. kenberger

        Thought I answered this, but I don’t currently see that detailed reply here now.Short answer is “no” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. Michal Wlodarski

    Why is iOS causing a productivity hit?

  32. Stefano Vettorazzi

    The Nexus 6P or Nexus 5X are a great choice because you will have access to the latest security updates sooner than with other brands.

  33. Tom Sullivan

    what is bloatware?

    1. Paras Doshi

      Software apps that vendors decide to pre-load your mobile device with. For a power user, they are mostly useless but they do take up space/memory = “bloat”-ware. HTH.

      1. Tom Sullivan

        I won’t ask what a power user is. What’s the opposite of a power user?

        1. mikenolan99

          If you have to ask, … ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. jason wright


  34. Nick

    Why go with a phone that requires both hands to use?The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact can be used with one hand, has two day battery life, an SD card slot, is on Marshmallow with minimal Sony bloatware, and has one of the best cameras available. Build quality is superior to the 6P too.Around $399 on Amazon currently.

    1. obarthelemy

      I think there’s a misunderstanding about how gravity works.You don’t need to grip a phone like you do a fork. just rest it on your fingertips a bit past the middle of its back, and prevent it from tipping over with the fleshy part at the base of your thumb. I use a 7″ phablet mostly one-handed, have dropped it once in 2 yrs, ditto the 6″ before.”But, I won’t be able to wrap my fingers around it !””Indeed, but you don’t have to”.

      1. Nick

        More about being able to reach fingers from one hand across the phone while holding it in said hand.Usage you refer to above still requires two hands, no?Your point on gravity isn’t clear.

        1. obarthelemy

          that’s the thing: you don’t hold large phones, you rest them on your fingertips. I can reach the other side of the screen fine, the only problem is the top left corner, which does require 2 hands, or at least resting the phone somewhere (my belly, a ramp, my forearm…).I rarely compose symphonies with my left hand while messing on my phone with my right hand anyway, so the occasional two-handedness isn’t much of an issue

  35. Milan Mody

    By far the best phone out there is the Nexus 6p ..

  36. Semil Shah

    Maybe either try Xiaomi (to also get a peek into what Chinese consumers are using) and/or try something using an interesting fork (like Cyanogen).

    1. florencadren

      ,,,,,,,,,,,,Hello I am Florence Adrien from Lyon France. I will like to establish mutual friendship with you, Write to my email ([email protected]) to enable me introduce myself better and send you my pictures,Florence Adrien

  37. Rich Mullen

    I carry the Nexus 6P. Some other posters have hit on the plus and benefits and, as they said, it hits all the marks that you have here (as do some other phones). Personally, I don’t like the skins that Samsung and the other manufacturers lay over top of Android and I very much prefer the aesthetics and functions of the stock build. I think the camera is great and my fiance (who carrys the Iphone and used to hate on my Nexus 5’s camera) likes my camera better than hers.Bonus on the 6P, it has survived 5 or 6 big drops on concrete and hardwood floors, but maybe I’m very lucky (knocking on wood over here).

  38. pointsnfigures

    https://weather.com/weather… I’d stay in LA for at least 14 more days. I was in Austin, TX for 3 weeks and I am wondering if cowboy boots are good in the snow since we are getting some in Chicago today

    1. Tom Labus

      Opening Day at Yankee Stadium rained/snowed out

  39. Scott Reyes

    I love my 6p. It has great battery life, rapid charging, it’s super fast, and the screen is great. I just switched from an iPhone 6s, and I don’t regret it at all.

  40. Dorian Benkoil

    I’m thinking of switching off my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (which I don’t find worth the price and don’t recommend) for what I thought would be productivity gains by getting ability to sync iPhone, iPad and Mac for documents, Keynotes and such. But now you’re making me think twice.

  41. Bruce Krulwich

    OnePlus Two. Look at the comparison to other top phones, it wins. I love mine.But it’s missing NFC.

  42. mikenolan99

    Why not just wait for the Microsoft phone? :)http://www.businessinsider….

  43. ShanaC

    while you may be phabulous, why a phablet?

    1. obarthelemy

      I don’t know about your colleague, but I’ve been drifting to ever larger phones: 4.3″ HTC HD2 -> 5.1″ Galaxy Note (v1) -> 6″ Huawei Ascend Mate (v1) -> 7″ Huawei Mediapad X1. Each time, that extra size makes using the phone noticeably better. 6″ makes reading ebooks/longform nice, 7″ makes watching videos pleasurable and Office work doable in a pinch.Each time, I try to adapt to social norms and go smaller, but when I test-drive the puny things in the shop.. you want me to spend 2+ hrs a day squinting at that ? It helps that I’m past the age for skinny jeans and peer pressure… At lunch times, I notice a lot of people around me break out a tablet, because a small phone is not pleasant to use. I’m fine with my phabulous monster ;-p

  44. Rob DeMillo

    Hi Fred.Bummer about the phablet requirement, otherwise I’d recommend the Moto X Pure, it meets the other requirements, and it’s a tremendous device.Best of luck, welcome back from iOS land. (I have an iOS device that I keep around for the same reason – to check the tech – but I find it constricting to use as my daily driver.Be well.

  45. Mark Essel

    You could grab a galaxy s7, and compare phone VR to desktop systems (Occulus & Vive)Hmm, I do like getting regular updates on iOS so I’d probably buy the Nexus 6P

  46. jason wright

    the Moto X Force ticks all of your boxes, and it won’t break when you have a brat rage moment.

  47. mylesbyrne

    I’ve found the Note4 a keeper because of the good stylus. Note taking by keyboard, voice-to-text, or handwriting-to-text is too slow. So I write freehand into S-note notebooks, and retrieve the notes in evernote on my laptop. The voice recorder app is also very good for car notes.

  48. ttasterisco

    I have the moto x pure, satisfies all your needsmy only negative is the battery life (well I was used to an iphone 4…).

  49. Alec Foster

    Googler here. Buy a Nexus 6P.

  50. Stephen Konig

    6P sounds right for what you’re looking for. Maybe a One Plus.

  51. Germain

    I currently use the OnePlus X – good value and dual SIM but not enough storage and too small for you, the OnePlus 2 may fix that. Looking at Moto X Pure or Huawei P9 (which looks like quite the beast)

  52. FSK

    GPD XD 64gb Red

  53. ngardideh

    You should try asking Suto (https://asksuto.com)It does a pretty decent job at making product recommendations ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. Andrew Ghobrial

    I agree with the many posts recommending the 6P or S7 Edge. Other than those two, I would say a great 3rd option is the Xperia Z5 Premium. Xperia’s are known to be very power efficient, and this one comes with a large 3430mAh battery. On top of that, has a 5.5″ 4K display, 3GB ram, microSD slot, and a top notch camera. I wouldn’t call it “stock android”, but it’s definitely closer to stock than Samsung phones are.

  55. treeder

    The Nexus 6P is your only option really. It’s the only “phablet” that has stock android.

  56. Ric

    I’ve been using the Nexus 6P (purchased direct from Google Play) for a few months now โ€ฆ while I’m still unsure about the size, the rest of the experience has been excellent. Like you, I place value in using stock Android and having an unlocked phone, and I like being on the Google update channel so that updates get to me quickly.I HAD planned to go back to an iPhone (I swap too, just not as often ๐Ÿ™‚ ), but the 6P was an attractive proposition โ€ฆ maybe the iPhone 7S will get a look-in!