It’s not been a great year for Apple fans. The iPhone 7, while a solid upgrade, didn’t exactly shake the world like previous models did. The Apple Watch series 2 is alright, and the waterproofing is a good idea, but it looks basically the same as the launch model. And then there’s the new MacBook Pro which, while impressive, costs the earth. It’s all feeling a bit blah. Where’s that Apple magic gone?
If you have an Apple fan in your life that’s expressed some of these feelings, maybe you could consider freeing them from Tim Cook’s clutches. Android is often ridiculed by iPhone fans as a fragmented mess, but those days are long gone. There are some serious handset makers out there offering a high level of integration on alternative hardware. Here are three flagship Android phones that your Apple lover is going to adore.
Apple fans will argue that the company excels because it controls so much of the smartphone experience. The iPhone operating system is designed to run on iPhone hardware only: any flashy new features like 3D Touch and optical image stabilization are tested to perfection with the only software designed to run on the device. Who would want to give that up?
Google, it seems, agrees, and it’s released possibly the best alternative to the iPhone. The Pixel is the first time Google has fully designed a phone itself and, as it’s already the company behind Android, it’s able to ensure the experience works exactly as expected. No bizarre third-party skins, useless extra tools or waiting months for device makers to package special versions of Android updates for your phone model. It’s all Android, it works as you’d expect, no funny business.
The Pixel comes in two sizes. The larger XL version is a good choice for those shifting from the plus-sized iPhone, packing 1,440 by 2,560 pixels into a 5.5-inch AMOLED screen, the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus. The regular Pixel packs 1,080 by 1,920 pixels into a 5.0-inch AMOLED screen, a bit larger than the 4.7-inch iPhone 7.
Inside, Google has provided the sort of features you’ve come to expect from a high-end device. the 12.3-megapixel rear camera is designed to pair with Google’s free unlimited cloud photo storage. The 4GB RAM enables fast app switching, while the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 tears through intensive gaming sessions.
The Google Pixel XL is priced at $769 for the 32GB version and $869 for the 128GB version. The smaller Google Pixel is available for $649 for the 32GB model and $749 for the 128GB model.
Since its first phone hit stores just two years ago, OnePlus has gone from strength to strength. Every one of its five phones has oozed the attention to detail you’d expect from the likes of Apple. Take the bundled USB cable as an example: it has an ingenious flat design with gold connectors on both sides, so it plugs in either way. Oh, and the little cable tie is handy too:
The 3T is a minor alteration to the OnePlus 3 that came out just five months prior. The battery is bigger at 3,400 mAh, the processor is faster, and the front-facing camera is better. OnePlus 3 owners need not worry about the phone going obsolete.
Inside is the standard fare you’ve likely come to expect from a seamlessly designed device. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 runs at 2.35GHz, 6GB of RAM keeps background apps ticking over, and the 16-megapixel cameras on the front and rear stand up with the best of them on the quality front. The 5.5-inch AMOLED screen packs 1,080 by 1,920 pixels for viewing those shots. Sadly, OnePlus ditched the unique “sandstone” rugged backing present on the OnePlus 2, but the 3T’s gunmetal aluminum gives the phone the sort of look you expect from a premium flagship.
Where the 3T really stands out from the crowd is price. OnePlus’ flagship phone is available for $439 for 64GB or $479 for 128GB. That’s excellent value, particularly for the specs, and the Apple fan in your life will probably never know the difference.
Okay, so there’s a long-standing rivalry between Samsung and Apple. And yes, Samsung’s not exactly had a great run in the press recently, what with their ambitious Note 7 handsets setting alight at unfortunate moments. But the S7, and in particular its larger S7 Edge variant, is a strong contender for the ideal iPhone replacement that shouldn’t be ignored.
Both phones have a solid amount of features. Waterproofing protects against accidental spillages, the microSD slot allows for an optional 256GB of extra storage on top of the included 32GB, and the rear 12-megapixel camera features dual pixel technology for ultrafast autofocus.
The Edge, in particular, is a standout device. Curved screens, once dismissed as a curious novelty, now make a lot more sense. Samsung has packed a 5.5-inch display into a phone that feels way smaller in your hand — the designers have somehow managed to answer the call for both bigger screens and smaller phones without compromising on either. Well, unless you really don’t like curved screens.
The 5.1-inch S7 is still a solid phone, though, and at $669.99 unlocked, it comes in at around the same price as the Pixel. The S7 Edge will set you back $769.99, around the same price as the Pixel XL.