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Apple’s (AAPL) much-hyped 10th anniversary iPhone is nearly upon us, and we’re as excited as the next person to see what the Cupertino, California-based company has cooked up this time around. Will the 8 match up with all of the rumors we’ve read over the past few months? Will it be the greatest iPhone yet? Will it give you the power of heart like that one kid from “Captain Planet?” God, I hope not.
If you’re an Android user, though, you probably don’t care about any of that. In fact, you’re probably wondering what the best alternatives to Apple’s upcoming handset are. Well lucky you, because that’s exactly what we’re serving up.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is the follow-up to the company’s Galaxy Note 7, which was not only a great smartphone, but also doubled as a hand grenade thanks to its exploding batteries.
The Note 8 more than makes up for the 7’s issues and builds on the features the brand is known for: big screens and a slick stylus. But the standout feature of the Note 8 is its dual-lens camera. Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the Note 8 has one wide-angle lens and a second telephoto lens.
But Samsung ups that ante by adding optical image stabilization (OIS) to both of those lenses. Apple, on the other hand, only offers (OIS) on its wide-angle lens. That’s a problem because when you zoom in on a subject, every slight movement of your hand becomes drastically exaggerated. By adding OIS to the Note 8’s telephoto lens, Samsung ensures that zoomed images will come out nice and clear.
The Galaxy S8 was one of the first of the new breed of phones to sport a gorgeous edge-to-edge display. It also doesn’t hurt that the S8 is just flat-out beautiful, either. From its exceptional 5.8-inch wraparound Infinite Display to its excellent camera that rivals the iPhone 7’s own shooter, the S8 is easily one of the best phones on the market.
What’s more, the S8 offers many of the same features as the Note 8, with the exception of the dual-lens camera and stylus, for a far lower price. So not only is it a great iPhone alternative, but it’s also the perfect Note 8 alternative.
Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Pixel is the company’s first piece of hardware designed in-house and it’s one heck of a freshman effort. I used the Pixel XL, the larger 5.5-inch version of the 5-inch handset, for months and loved every minute of it. The Pixel’s display is vibrant, the camera is surprisingly impressive given the poor quality of older Google phones’ camera and, best of all, there is no carrier bloatware.
Yes, the Pixel is free of any of that nonsense your carrier throws on your phone, not to mention what other other phone makers add to your phone — I’m looking at you, Samsung and LG. And with your choice of 32 GB or 64 GB of storage and unlimited cloud storage for your photos, the Pixel is one wonderful smartphone.
If Google’s Pixel is just too mainstream for you, then you’ll want to opt for the new Essential phone. Created by the father of Google’s own Android operating system, Andy Rubin, the Essential is designed to be a third option in the smartphone wars outside of Apple and Samsung.
The Essential is unique because it’s made of ceramic and titanium, which the company says makes it sturdier and more durable than your average smartphone. Oh, and it’s got a full-length display. There’s basically no bezel on this thing, and it looks absolutely fantastic.
There’s just one negative: The Essential’s camera isn’t all that good. Don’t get me wrong — you’ll be able to take photos, but they will never look as good as those taken with the Pixel or Samsung’s handsets. So basically, if you’re interested in a slick phone and the camera isn’t all that important to you, the Essential is a solid pick.
Lenovo’s Motorola Droid Z2 Force, my god that’s a bad name, is the rare smartphone that you can feel safe carrying without having to cover it in 12 layers of bubble wrap. That’s because the handset sports an impressive “shatterproof” display that won’t crack when you drop it. I’ve literally thrown this phone across the room and nothing happened.
It’s definitely worth noting that the Force’s screen will get scratched, which is a bummer, but hey, at least it won’t break.
Outside of that, the Z2 Force takes advantage of Motorola’s Moto Mods, which allow you to add things like projectors, speakers and battery packs to your phone. Here’s the thing, though. Some of those mods are expensive, like the $300 360-degree camera attachment.
Of course, if none of the above leap out at you, you can always just try Apple’s iPhone.
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Email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.