Samsung led 2016’s Q1 smartphone shipments with a 24.5% market share, according to Statista. Of course, Apple was second with 15.3%. These smartphone giants seem to be unbeatable, but it’s also true there is a plethora of other options out there, especially in the Android universe.
Competition is insanely fierce in the mobile market, especially now that specs are not the be-all and end-all in the race to the top. Each manufacturer tries to differentiate itself in special ways. Some have found their niche markets, while others may not be doing as well.
See also: Best Android phones (May 2016): our picks, plus a giveaway
Which OEM deserves your respect? And most importantly, we all have to wonder which one deserves our hard-earned cash. Do you have a favorite manufacturer? Let’s go through them and see which one fits your style better.
While Samsung is the king of mobile devices, no ruler is completely immune to competition. Things were looking bad for the manufacturer after years of sticking to cheap materials and an intrusive TouchWiz experience. Both issues have been improved by now, which could be the reason why the company is back on the rise (according to Q1 2016 earnings reports).
The Samsung flagship handsets, like the Galaxy S7, are now made with premium materials like metal and glass. It is truly a beauty to hold and look at. Camera technology continues to be among the best and performance is as outstanding as always.
Things are only looking up for Samsung fans. Seriously, if there was ever a good time to side with Sammy, it is now. The Galaxy S7 series is going strong, and things will only get better as the Samsung Galaxy Note 6 approaches its announcement.
I will be honest and say that LG happens to be my personal favorite. This is because they have always been good at separating themselves from the competition. Their designs tend to be completely different. Not to mention specs and prices are among the best when seen next to the big guys. Oh, and they never let go of removable batteries and expandable storage!
LG’s attempt to move up the ladder is not stopping this year. The all-new LG G5 is not only powerful and beautiful, it is very unique. It also has a replaceable battery and microSD support included, and sports a modular design none of its direct competitors can achieve.
The bottom of the phone can be replaced with modules (which LG calls “Friends”). These can improve your camera, boost your audio and more.
Then there’s also the nearly indestructible LG V10 and its secondary ticker display. LG is definitely paving the way to a good year. They just need to make sure more people actually buy their phones. But we know they have their loyal followers.
HTC used to be the most highly-praised Android manufacturers around. They were also among the first to really push for premium build quality, both in metal and non-metal smartphones.
The Taiwanese manufacturer has been struggling to keep up with the competition lately, though. Despite its free Uh-Oh protection plan, which grants a phone replacement in case of damage, it seems HTC devices have failed to impress us. Their Q1 2016 earnings report shows a 64.31% decrease over the same quarter in 2015.
The truth is there is still a lot to love about HTC phones. While other phone makers have improved their build quality game, very few can catch up with HTC.
In our review of the HTC 10 we mention it is “the comeback we’ve been waiting for”. Whether it really is or not is yet to bee seen, but we can’t deny these folks make some awesome handsets and we know many of you still love what the company is doing.
Motorola has been passed around like a church collection basket. The company’s mobile department was purchased by Google, only to then be resold to Lenovo. This hasn’t stopped the company from making some killer phones lately, though.
Motorola’s success turned around with devices like the Moto G and Moto E. In fact, Motorola has said the Moto G is the company’s most successful smartphone. For some time it was the go-to phone for those looking to get a decent phone for a low price. This is due to its fair specs and low $179 price point (for the 1st-gen iteration, when it was first launched).
Moto has since become a first-choice manufacturer for many, thanks to their super clean software (nearly stock), timely updates and customization options. Moto Maker allows you to make the Moto X line truly yours by offering a bevy of colors, materials and ample options.
The company has also become a key player in the smart watch market. The Moto 360 line is still a favorite among users, and we happen to have listed it first in our ‘Best Android Wear watches‘ featured post.
There is no doubt Motorola is going places, and its fans will follow.
To Americans, Huawei was mostly known for making affordable handsets sold by prepaid carriers, but the Chinese manufacturer is more than capable of making a good smartphone. It just so happens that in the USA they mostly sold the lower end ones.
The company’s abilities became much more apparent when a deal with Google to make the Nexus 6P was scored. This phone’s top-notch specs, design and (of course) software easily place the device in our ‘Best Android phones‘ list. The Huawei Mate 8 is not to be forgotten, as it offers some great qualities for a good price. And of course, they are still killing it in the mid-range market.
See also: Young guns: 10 up and coming phone brands out of China
It must be kept in mind that while it wasn’t huge in America, Huawei was (and continues to be) a main player in the industry. According to IDC, it was the #3 biggest smartphone vendor as of August, 2015. It was only beaten by Samsung and Apple. It is also currently #1 in China. Needless to say Huawei will have a good follower base.
Outside of laptops and some of its tablets, Lenovo isn’t very well known in North America, and its presence in the Europe isn’t that much better. That said, the company is one of the biggest sellers of smartphones in China and continues to grow rapidly throughout Asia. Additionally Lenovo received quite a bit of attention after Google announced its plans to sell Motorola to the Chinese company.
For now, Lenovo remains a sleeping giant for most of the world, though this may eventually change. Lenovo has expressed its desire to spread its brand to new parts of the globe many times in the past and it is very likely that Motorola will play a role in this strategy going forward.
Sony might not be the most popular player in the Android game, but they still have a lot going for them, including stellar build quality, water/dust proofing, ever-improving displays, great cameras and so much more. Equally important, Sony has been very cooperative when it comes to supporting the Android developer community.
Unfortunately, Sony’s presence hasn’t been the strongest in North America, but they are doing well in Europe and Asia. Devices like the Xperia Z5 Premium, Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact are great, but not officially available in the USA. We have to get the unlocked, international version imported.
Sony does have a very strong following, though, and we know many of you are still rooting for them.
OnePlus is one of the newest phone makers and is still considered a startup. Based out of China, it has managed to take advantage of internet hype and become an important presence in the tech industry, mostly thanks to its devices’ amazing high-end specs and super low prices.
That being said, they’ve only released a few devices and some accessories, and what these devices offer provide some great specs for the money. The OnePlus 2 is the latest flagship from the company. It starts at only $349 and comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3/4 GB of RAM, 16/64 GB of internal storage, a 5.5-inch 1080 display, a 13 MP main camera, a 5 MP front shooter and a 3,300 mAh battery.
Not bad for the price, right? The only issue is that these phones can be a bit hard to get. When OnePlus releases its smartphones originally, the OEM makes users wait in line for an invitation to buy the phone. It’s pretty frustrating, but we understand why OnePlus uses this method.
BlackBerry has been around for a pretty long time. The company was actually once the king of smartphones, but everything started changing after iOS and Android entered the game. Suddenly BlackBerry’s numbers fell to the ground, and BB10 wasn’t helping. It was time for a change, and BlackBerry finally gave in.
After years of BlackBerry fans begging and praying for an Android phone rocking that gorgeous keyboard only this phone maker knows how to do, the BlackBerry Priv finally came to be.
And that doesn’t seem to be the only Android phone coming. Rumors of at least one more Android phone coming this year have been going around. Another rumor also says there are 2 BlackBerry mid-range handsets coming.
ZTE is another brand that tends to be connected to affordable handsets in the prepaid section of the store, but this doesn’t mean they can’t make some great handsets. The ZTE Axon and Axon Mini are stunning smartphones.
They are also good at diversifying their portfolio. In fact, on of our favorite ZTE products is the SPRO 2, an Android-powered projector that needs no source, as it has a full mobile OS and a screen on board.
This is one of the few Chinese smartphone manufacturers to have a significant presence in America (and the rest of the world, really). ZTE is definitely here to stay, and the last few years they have done wonders to their design and build quality. In fact, they have their eyes set on the #3 spot in the USA. That is an ambitious goal – will they reach it?
Huawei and Xiaomi keep fighting for the top spot in China, which is saying a lot for a newer company like Xiaomi. If you keep up with our feed (or any other tech website’s), you have probably heard of Xiaomi. This company is often referred to as “the Chinese Apple”, thanks to its quick rise to the top, but also a certain inclination towards Apple’s design language.
Xiaomi is taking an approach most of the market is not familiar with. They save millions in marketing by resorting to mostly promoting their devices via social media and word of mouth. Another way Xiaomi saves money is by making sure demand is always higher than supply. They have no extra inventory laying around, making their losses much smaller in the long run.
The Chinese manufacturer then transfers the savings to you, the customer. This translates to amazingly affordable devices that offer quite the bang for your buck. Their prices are nearly impossible to beat. The issue is most Western consumers have no clue about these phones, as these can’t really be found at any regular store, here in the States.
Google recently announced there were over 600 Android devices released in the past year. You can bet there are plenty of other great smartphone manufacturers out there, among them are ASUS, OPPO, Pantech, Kyocera and others. Maybe you happen to be a fan of one of these smaller players? I am pretty fond of ASUS, myself.
Which Android manufacturer is your favorite?
Time for the moment of truth. Which is your personal favorite manufacturer? Cast your vote below and hit the comments to tell us why you chose your specific manufacturer.