Powerful, pure Android handsets (roundup)

Whether they're Google Play Edition versions of your favorite smartphones, or running stock Android on their own, we roundup pure Android handsets that you can get right now.


Editors' note:This roundup was originally posted on January 2, 2014, and is updated continuously.

Although having a smartphone overlaid with a manufacturer's user interface has its benefits, not everyone is a fan of them. Indeed, Samsung's TouchWiz, HTC's Sense, and Sony's Xperia Home can be confusing, bury essential features, and take up precious internal storage.

So for those who prefer Android in its most unsullied form, there are a number of phones that run Google's stock OS. In addition to having a simple software aesthetic, these devices also receive timely system updates the moment they're available from Google. Check out our list of these pure Android phones below, which includes the company's latest flagship.

The Nexus 6 is currently the most powerful pure Android phone. Josh Miller/CNET

Google Nexus 6

For its latest marquee handset, Google goes big -- real big. With its 5.96-inch touchscreen, the Nexus 6 is the largest Nexus ever, and it's equipped with dual front-facing speakers, a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 805 processor and a brilliant 1,440p display resolution. It also runs the latest Android OS, 5.0 Lollipop, which comes with new features like notifications on the lock screen, guest mode and Material Design. Read the full review.

Delivering pure Android at an ultra-low price. Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola Moto G (Google Play Edition)

For purists who demand pristine Android software but don't want to pay a lot for the privilege, the Moto G (GPE) is just what the doctor ordered. Though the device is relatively "older" than the others, it has an unbeatably low starting price. It also flaunts a 4.5-inch display, a Snapdragon 400 processor and a 5-megapixel camera. Read the full review.

The One M8 (GPE) merges premium style with Google's stock mobile OS. Sarah Tew/CNET

HTC One M8 (Google Play Edition)

Combining the handset's stylish and premium aesthetic with stock Android, the One M8 is definitely one of the sleekest phones on the list. And while some may miss HTC's Sense interface that the company typically layers over Google's OS, you'll be glad to find the same powerful hardware specs here with an expansive 5-inch IPS LCD display. Read the full review.

One other goodie about the Moto X is that users can customize its design. Josh Miller/CNET

Motorola Moto X (2014)

Yes we know, Motorola's latest flagship phone doesn't technically run a completely "pure" version of Android (considering its handful of voice and gesture actions thrown in from the manufacturer), but it comes pretty darn close. Like its predecessor, the second-gen Moto X is forged from the union of Motorola and Google. As such, it will benefit from prompt Android upgrades. Read the full review.

The neon red Nexus 5 is a chic head-turner. Josh Miller/CNET

Google Nexus 5

The 5 runs Android 4.4 KitKat, is driven by a muscular Snapdragon 800 processor, and has a great-looking 4.95-inch IPS LCD screen. Available in white, black and flaming-hot neon red, the Nexus is also very affordable, with an unlocked price starting at $350 (£300, AU$400). Read the full review.

The Moto G (2014) is also splash-resistant. Josh Miller/CNET

Motorola Moto G (2014)

Like the second-gen Moto X, the G doesn't feature stock Android proper. But it's interface is nearly identical, and unlike the previous Moto G mentioned above, it's equipped with better specs, including a larger 5-inch display, dual front-facing speakers, and a splash-resistant design. It's also a great budget handset as well, starting at $180 (£150, AU$270). Read the full review.

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