Holiday shopping starts this month, and if you want to buy someone a smartphone, there are a ton of great devices to choose from.
Here’s our monthly list of the best smartphones you can buy.
We update this list approximately once a month. Our rankings are based on a variety of factors including design, software and hardware features, content selection, carrier availability, and price. We only consider phones that are available in the U.S. at the time of publication. We list approximate prices for what phones cost without a contract. Prices vary from carrier to carrier and retailer to retailer. You can see October’s smartphone rankings here.
BlackBerry's newest smartphone is the square-shaped BlackBerry Passport. It's fat and wide compared to all other smartphones, a design BlackBerry hopes will help it stand out. It also has a physical keyboard, a rare thing these days.
Unfortunately, early reviews for the Passport were pretty negative.
Price: $US600 unlocked from BlackBerry
Amazon's first smartphone, the Fire phone, generated a lot of hype before it launched in July. But just about every critic bashed it. It's an interesting device thanks to its screen's 3D effects, but it doesn't have the same vibrant app ecosystem as the iPhone or Android phones.
The Lumia 1520 is the first Windows Phone phablet ever made. It has a huge 6-inch screen, which gives you extra room for more apps and Live Tiles on your home screen. If you like Windows Phones and want a giant screen, this is your best option.
Price: Around $US585, only on AT&T
The HTC One M8 For Windows is the best phone you can buy running the Windows Phone operating system. It has a gorgeous metal body and the new version of Windows Phone, 8.1, which includes the excellent digital assistant Cortana.
It's only available on Verizon for now, but will come to AT&T and T-Mobile later this year.
Price: Around $US600, only on Verizon
Apple's iPhone 5S may be over a year old, but it's still a really good phone, especially if you don't want a bigger screen. If you want a great iPhone experience at a discount, get the iPhone 5S. However, if you want the best experience, you're better off spending the extra $US100 on an iPhone 6.
Price: Starts at $US549
LG's current flagship, the G3, has one of the sharpest displays ever put on a smartphone. It's also massive thanks to its 5.5-inch display. That makes the G3 more like a phablet than a standard smartphone.
It's a good Android phone, but LG put the power and volume keys on the back of the device, which is pretty awkward.
Price: Around $US599
Even though Google just announced its newest flagship phone, the Nexus 6, last year's model is still a good phone.
Like all of Google's Nexus devices, the Nexus 5 runs a pure version of Android, meaning you won't find any modifications to the software. It also gets software updates much faster than other Android phones. But perhaps the best part is the value. You can get the Nexus 5 unlocked for about half the price as other top-tier smartphones.
The only downside: the camera isn't that great.
Price: $US349 unlocked from Google. Works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and several other international carriers.
Sony's flagship Z3 phone is one of the best Android phones to come out this year. It has a sharp 5.2-inch screen, incredible camera, and is resistant to water.
Price: About $US630
Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5, is a nice improvement over last year's phone. Instead of weighing the device down with a bunch of unnecessary features, Samsung focused on improving the stuff people care about the most. The Galaxy S5 has the best screen ever made for a smartphone. The camera is really good, too.
But if you don't like phones made out of plastic, you should probably look for something else.
Price: Around $US610
What if you could get a smartphone with a huge 5.5-inch screen, great software, and zippy internal specs that rival the best smartphones?
That's what Chinese startup OnePlus did with its new flagship phone, the One. The OnePlus One only costs $US300 unlocked, which is much cheaper than other premium phones like the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5, which can cost $US650 or more.
The downside? Supplies are extremely limited and you need an invitation from a current OnePlus One owner to buy the phone.
$US300 unlocked. Works on T-Mobile or AT&T.
Motorola's new Moto X, which just launched in September, is a strong contender for best Android phone. Similar to Google's Nexus 5, the Moto X runs a nearly clean version of Android, meaning you get software updates a lot faster. The phone also looks really nice and has a 5.2-inch display.
Price: Around $US500
HTC's flagship phone, the HTC One (M8), is the best Android phone you can buy.
Like the original, the new HTC One, which is also called the M8, has a gorgeous design and high-quality metal construction. It also has an extra rear camera that acts as a depth sensor so you can edit photos later and change the focus.
Price: Around $US540
Samsung's new Galaxy Note 4 is the best phone the company has ever made.
It has an incredibly crisp 5.7-inch screen, the best display ever used on a smartphone. It also has a metal frame around the edges, which makes the phone feel a lot sturdier than previous versions. If you want a phablet-sized phone, the Galaxy Note 4 is one of the top devices you should consider.
Price: About $US750
If you want a phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus is the best phone you can buy. Unlike other phablets that can be thick, chunky, and plasticky, the iPhone 6 Plus is thin, gorgeous, and made of metal. It doesn't feel like you're lugging around a giant phone.
Price: Starts at $US749
The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone. Unless you really like using Android or Windows Phones, the iPhone 6 should be your first choice.
Why? It's the perfect mix of design, hardware specs, and app selection. Apple also finally caught up to its competitors by adding a larger screen to the iPhone 6. It's 4.7 inches, up from the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5S.
Price: Starts at $US649
Google's newest flagship phone, the Nexus 6, will go on sale in a few weeks. It has a massive 5.9-inch display and is the first phone to run the redesigned version of Android called Lollipop.
Price: Starts at $US649
The Note Edge is similar to the Galaxy Note 4, but it has a secondary screen on the side that changes depending on what app you're using. The 'edge' screen can also display information like news updates and other notifications when the rest of the screen is switched off.
Samsung hasn't said when the Note Edge will launch, but it will likely be a limited release soon.
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