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Phone holiday gift guide

Choose the smartest smartphone

It’s a great time of year to pick up a new phone. Almost every major manufacturer is parading around a top-notch device worthy of your attention, and even lower-end phones perform shockingly well.

In short, you can’t go wrong. But you can nail it with a little effort.

Whether you’re upgrading a loved one this holiday season, or treating yourself, we’ve compiled some of our favorite Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone devices here.

There are also plenty of great phones we haven’t mentioned, so if you have a question about one of them, leave it in the comments and we’ll tell ya how we feel about that model (if we’ve used it). Good luck!

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LG G3

The most comfortable giant phone

The LG G3 is a fantastic choice of phone, no matter your carrier. It’s as big as any phablet, but is more holdable than most big phones thanks to the clever way LG placed the power and volume buttons on the back of the device. The camera’s fast laser focus and 1440p screen also impressed us. If you want the best Android phone you can buy, the G3 is a great choice.

Available at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile

Full review

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Samsung Galaxy S5

A great beginner Android, and it’s waterproof 

The Galaxy S5 is the safest option if you’re hunting for an Android phone. It’s completely waterproof, packs as much power as you’d need on a phone, and is both large, but also holdable with one hand. Samsung’s camera is also top notch this year, with far better low-light chops than any other Samsung phone. The Galaxy S5 is a great Android phone for someone new to smartphones.

Available at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile

Full review

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iPhone 6 Plus

For the Apple fan who doesn’t want an iPad

Apple fans have criticized big phones for years, but now that there’s a big iPhone, a lot of people are changing their tune. The iPhone 6 Plus is just as unwieldy as other phablets, but thanks to a clever Reachability feature and modified apps that include some tablet functions, it’s one of the best big phones on the market, going toe-to-toe with Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 4. The 1.5-day battery life is nice, too. We highly recommend you spend the extra $100 to get a 64GB version. The 16GB version will fill up fast.

Available at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile

Full review

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iPhone 6

For the conservative Apple fan

If you were OK with previous iPhones, or just want to use your phone with one hand, Apple’s standard iPhone 6 is still one of the best devices around. The battery life isn’t fabulous, but it’s a small step above the iPhone 5S. Luckily, the extra screen real estate makes up for it. You may think the new iPhone is too big, but to us, it’s just the right size. Like we said with the iPhone 6 Plus, we highly recommend you spend the extra $100 to get a 64GB version unless you want to be constantly deleting apps and photos.

Available at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile

Full review

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Galaxy Note 4

For those who want to get things done

Apple may be pushing phablets this year, but Samsung pretty much invented them. The Galaxy Note 4 is a refined, perfected phablet that comes with something no others do: a built-in stylus. There are a lot of fun things you can do with the stylus, and it makes the Android phone’s extra large screen far more useful. Aside from the size and stylus, all other things you’d hope for in a top phone are here, including a great processor, 1440p screen, and near two-day battery life.

Available at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile

Full review

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OnePlus One

For geeks on a budget

We had a lot of problems with our OnePlus One … a lot. Luckily, most of them were software-based issues and are already being addressed in bug patches and updates. Regardless of the annoyance, the OnePlus One is still a top-notch phone at half the normal price. It’s interface is a little geeky for some, so we don’t recommend giving it to your Aunt Martha, but if you’re looking for the most power for the best price, this is it.

Full review

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HTC One M8 with Windows Phone

For the best Windows Phone experience around

We continually catch flak from Windows Phone fans (all 1.5 percent of you) for not recommending the platform as much as we do Android and iOS. That’s because it still lags behind these major competitors on apps, but if you’re OK with the more limited selection, it still makes a fine OS. And this is the best Windows Phone around. HTC went all out on it. This is the same One M8 that is available for Android (also a great phone), making it the first phone to give people a true choice of operating systems, and our favorite Windows Phone to date.

Available at Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile

Full review

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Asus PadFone X

For AT&T users who want it all

AT&T subscribers, the PadFone X is a great deal. It’s a powerful phone with a high-end Snapdragon 801 processor (the processor we’ve recommended most this year), but also comes with a 9-inch tablet attachment, essentially giving you two devices for the price of one. Sadly, AT&T has already taken this great phone off its shelves in favor of an inferior PadFone X Mini device, but you can still buy it on Amazon. If you want a tablet on the cheap, this is a good way to get one.

Available at AT&T

Full review

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Moto G LTE

For those who want the most affordable good phone

The Moto G is the best phone you can buy for $220. And no, that’s not the price you pay with a two-year contract. That’s the full price of the Moto G. If someone just broke their phone, or doesn’t want to spend too much on a new one, this is a fantastic option. As geeky as I am, I used the Moto G for months. The only annoying part about the phone is its limited 8GB of space, but a MicroSD slot lets you add more when it feels cramped. 

Available at AT&T and Sprint