The Android phone marketplace has suddenly become a three ring circus with the HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the Nexus 5 serving as the stars of the show. If you’d asked us two months ago which Android phone was most recommendable, the answer would have been “Nexus 5” and it wouldn’t even have been a contest. But that was at least partially because HTC and Samsung were still both selling last year’s models. That’s all changed now, and it’s time to review the three top Android phones in our revised showdown.
The top three features of the Nexus 5 continue to be compatibility, compatibility, and compatibility. Because it’s an official Google device, it’s guaranteed to receive Android software updates the day they’re released. In a market where updates come frequently and deliver everything from new features to critical security updates, the Nexus 5 is the safe play. It’s a respectable piece of hardware from LG, whose specs are more or less on par with that of the new HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5 despite being half a year old. But it’s no longer the only viable 2014 Android phone option.
The HTC One M8 picks up where the original HTC One left off, and manages to deliver the most well designed piece of hardware of the bunch. As with its predecessor, the M8 looks and feels like it’s built to last. That’s in sharp contrast to the Galaxy S5, which despite its strong specs, continues to have the look and feel of a cheap plastic phone straight out of the reject bin. We have no idea why Samsung keeps sabotaging its Galaxy S phones with such weak build quality, but it’s enough of a reason to make the S5 recommendable only to those users who want to take advantage of the tie-ins that it has to Samsung’s other products including its Smart TV lineup.
That disqualifies the Galaxy S5 from being broadly recommendable, and so our review showdown comes down to the Nexus 5 and the HTC One M8. The verdict: if hardware is most important, consider going with the One M8. But if software and compatibility are paramount, the Nexus 5 is the safe bet.