Robot love: Best value Android smartphones

This season’s hot new smartphones are all Android. Here’s the best of the bots.

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From the Summer 2014 issue of the magazine.

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smartphoneBest value!

HTC One (M8)

$179-$199 | on a two-year ter

HTC’s flagship smartphone gets the basics right, starting with that all-important “hand feel.” With a metal body and slightly curved back, it’s weighty and feels solidly built, like it can withstand being dropped repeatedly (not that you’d want to try). Almost as important, HTC’s “Sense” interface—a slightly modified version of Google’s stock Android software—doesn’t add much bloat. There’s the BlinkFeed social media hub, accessed by swiping to the far left of the home screen, but that’s about it. Otherwise, the One has an incredibly sharp five-inch screen and stereo speakers above and below it, which makes for a great multimedia experience. Its one drawback is a camera that lags some of its competitors, although it’s still good enough for online sharing.

Best for fitness buffs

Samsung Galaxy S5

$229-$249 | on a two-year ter

Samsung continues to pack new sensors into its devices, with the S5 featuring both a step counter and heart-rate monitor. The counter isn’t as accurate as those found in many wrist-worn devices, but the two features together do somewhat obviate the need for additional fitness gizmos. The S5 also has a crisp five-inch display and one of the better Android cameras out there, making it a well-rounded package.

Best camera

Sony Xperia Z2

$179 | on a two-year term,exclusively through Bell

With Sony being one of the biggest pushers of ultra high-definition or 4K television, it’s no surprise that its newest phone shoots quality videos in that sharper resolution. Moreover, the phone is waterproof so photos and videos can be shot underwater. Taking the form of a solid, flat rectangle, the Z2 sports a unique look among the current crop of smartphones.

Best for individualists

LG Flex

$199 | on a two-year term,exclusively through Rogers

The LG Flex may very well be the phone of the future with its attention-grabbing curved screen and resilient frame that can actually be straightened if pushed on. The downside is that resolution suffers, although that means better battery life. While it may not serve any real practical purpose, the screen is definitely a conversation starter.

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