Best overall: Google Pixel 2

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The smaller of Google's Pixel phones is fantastic, thanks to a no-nonsense design and plenty of features to get enthusiasts and average users alike excited. For a starting price of $649, the Google Pixel 2 mirrors the last 5-inch flagship with a manageable size and sleek hardware.

But it has a laundry list of upgrades, including a faster processor, more default storage, a better-calibrated OLED display, and, of course, a stupendous 12MP camera that beats just about everything else on the market. Plus, the latest version of Android first — and for three years.

The battery life can be a little weak compared to larger phones, but considering it's $200 less than the Pixel 2 XL it's easy to say the standard Pixel 2 is a better overall value.

Bottom line: There's nothing quite like the Pixel, which marries hardware and software into an exceptional Android experience.

One more thing: Verizon touts the Pixel 2 as an "exclusive" device, but you can buy it unlocked to use on whatever carrier you wish.

Why the Google Pixel 2 is best

If you weren't a fan of the first Pixel's looks but enjoyed everything else about it, the Pixel 2 is for you. Available in three awesome colors with a soft-touch metal finish that's perfect to hold without a case, the Pixel 2 is easy to use in one hand, extremely performant and reliable, and easily has one of the best cameras on the Android market today.

Not only does Google give its Pixel phones first dibs on updates to the latest version of Android, but it's also promising three years of updates, which is unprecedented in the Android space. Google has done a lot to improve the reliability of the Pixel 2 (despite some early software issues) and battery life has also improved considerably over the first version.



Best for battery life: Moto Z3 Play

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From the beginning, Motorola's Z Play lineup has been all about battery life, and the latest Moto Z3 Play is no exception. With a sealed 3000mAh battery and a power-efficient Snapdragon 636 processor, the Z3 Play is able to last though the day with ease as-is — but once you attach the included 2220mAh Moto Power Pack Mod, its battery life stretches even further, reaching as far as eight hours of screen-on time.

The Z3 Play isn't a one trick pony, either; when you don't need the extra battery life, you can attach other Mods to the phone that add better speakers, pico projectors, Polaroid printers, and more. If you don't mind carrying a few Mods around, the Moto Z3 Play is an incredibly versatile device that can morph to fit your needs.

Maybe best of all, Motorola's software experience is clean and simple, with a near-stock build of Android 8.1 that gains a few useful shortcuts thanks to the Moto Actions suite. Just don't get your hopes up for Android P any time soon, since Motorola's track record for software updates is a bit shaky.

Bottom line: The Moto Z3 Play doesn't have the most powerful processor, but the included battery Mod makes it the longest-lasting phone on the list.

One more thing: You can grab the Z3 Play for less than $500 through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program.

Best for less: OnePlus 6

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There's no better value for the spec-obsessed than the latest OnePlus phone. Even as prices gradually rise year over year, the OnePlus 6 is an incredible deal at just $529 — for that money, you get a Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. For just $50 more, you can bump up the RAM to 8GB and double the storage.

OnePlus's OxygenOS software is a blazingly fast and customizable take on Android 8.1, and lag is basically nonexistent thanks to the phone's top-of-the-line specs. Add to that great front and rear cameras, a huge and vibrant display, and a sleek glass design available in a myriad of finishes, and the OnePlus 6 is pretty tough to beat at its price point.

Bottom line: The OnePlus 6 offers flagship-tier specs and performance for hundreds of dollars less.

One more thing: It doesn't work on CDMA carriers, so Sprint and Verizon customers will have to look elsewhere.

Best in compact size: Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

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Sony's new Xperia XZ2 comes in a "Compact" size, and that also brings with it a smaller price — just $649 retail. The 5-inch 18:9 display and rounded body make this feel like a more modern phone than previous Sony models, albeit at the cost of some of that distinctive Sony design language. On the other hand we get water resistance, a rear fingerprint sensor and stereo speakers — making this a phone with very few compromises.

Internally, the XZ2 Compact has top-notch specs despite its smaller size. A Snapdragon 845 processor runs the show, and all of the supporting cast is here to offer up a flagship-level experience — and a 2870mAh battery should be enough for most people. The 19MP rear camera is a good improvement over the last generation as well, even though it still lacks OIS.

Bottom line: For a lower price, you get a little less phone — but this is absolutely a flagship in every way but screen real estate, and some may even prefer its manageable size.

One more thing: The Xperia XZ2 Compact is only available unlocked in the U.S., and won't be fully available until mid-May.

Conclusion

The Pixel 2 is a fantastic phone with so much going for it, and it happens to be under $700 as well. For a larger size and longer battery life you can pick up a Huawei Mate 10 Pro for about the same price, and for something smaller you can go with the Xperia XZ2 Compact.

Best overall: Google Pixel 2

See at Best Buy

The smaller of Google's Pixel phones is fantastic, thanks to a no-nonsense design and plenty of features to get enthusiasts and average users alike excited. For a starting price of $649, the Google Pixel 2 mirrors the last 5-inch flagship with a manageable size and sleek hardware.

But it has a laundry list of upgrades, including a faster processor, more default storage, a better-calibrated OLED display, and, of course, a stupendous 12MP camera that beats just about everything else on the market. Plus, the latest version of Android first — and for three years.

The battery life can be a little weak compared to larger phones, but considering it's $200 less than the Pixel 2 XL it's easy to say the standard Pixel 2 is a better overall value.

Bottom line: There's nothing quite like the Pixel, which marries hardware and software into an exceptional Android experience.

One more thing: Verizon touts the Pixel 2 as an "exclusive" device, but you can buy it unlocked to use on whatever carrier you wish.

Update July 2018: The Google Pixel 2 is still our top choice in the sub-$700 segment, but we've replaced the Huawei Mate 10 Pro with the Moto Z3 Play as a good choice for a larger size and longer battery life. The OnePlus 6 also joins the list as a great choice for even less money.