Today’s leading phone manufacturers are innovating and evolving quicker than ever, with features such as foldable screens, 5G connectivity and super AMOLED displays. Samsung’s Galaxy line dominates the Android category and that probably won’t stop any time soon. But other companies are gunning for the honor of being the best Android phone — and you, the potential customer, benefit from all this competition.
There are now a number of fantastic Android phones available at a variety of prices, ranging from high-end flagship phones to budget devices. We took a look at the best Android options and rounded up our favorites, which we keep up to date. These phones have great battery lives, screens, cameras or all of the above. We also took into consideration features such as a fingerprint sensor, wireless charging and expandable storage. Read on to see our top picks for the best Android phone choices and check out our tips on how to buy a new phone, too.
Read more: Best phones of 2021
What to look for when buying a phone
As Samsung’s flagship phone for 2020, the Galaxy S20 features a brilliant 6.2-inch AMOLED display with an ultra-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, reverse wireless charging, a water-resistant design and three rear cameras (in addition to its pretty good front camera). This is a fantastic daily driver for an Android user and if you have more to spend, there’s also the Galaxy S20 Plus and Ultra.
Pixel phones have a loyal following and with good reason. Without considering its price, Google’s Pixel 4A has top-notch camera performance that takes brilliant photos. But this Android device is an even better deal as the budget smartphone costs $349 (£349, AU$599). The 5.81-inch handset also features a headphone jack, 128GB of storage out of the box and better battery life than last year’s Pixel 4.
The Note 20 Ultra, along with its smaller counterpart the Note 20, is a pricey, ultrapremium Android phone with an expansive screen, an embedded S Pen stylus and 5G. The Note 20 Ultra also has a triple-rear camera array, the high-powered Snapdragon 865 Plus processor and reverse wireless charging. It comes with either 128GB or 512GB of internal storage.
While OnePlus isn’t as well-known as Apple or Samsung, the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro smartphone offers a premium experience at a relatively more affordable budget phone price than its rivals. As the more advanced Android smartphone, the OnePlus 8 Pro has a 120Hz display and a telephoto camera. But the OnePlus 8 is more affordable and still has 5G, a fast 90Hz display and the same top-of-the-line processor.
The Motorola Edge Plus has pretty much everything you’d hope for in a premium 5G phone: A Snapdragon 865 chipset, a giant battery, an OLED display screen with a high refresh rate, and multiple rear cameras with heavy-duty specs. Motorola took features found on other top-of-the-line Android phones, put its own Moto spin on them and built them all into one of our favorite Android phones of the year.
In addition to its main Galaxy S flagship phones, Samsung has a more cost-conscious A-series line of phones. This year it launched the Galaxy A51 for $399 (£329, AU$599) — though there is also a 5G variant that costs $499. This Android mobile phone has four cameras, an in-screen fingerprint reader and expandable storage.
Discover the latest news and best reviews in smartphones and carriers from CNET’s mobile experts.
More phone and Android recommendations
- The 50 geekiest Samsung phone cases we’ve ever seen
- Best Android tablet for 2021
- Here are all the MagSafe accessories Apple announced for the iPhone 12
- Best portable chargers and power banks to buy for Android in 2021
- Best gaming phone: Razer Phone 2, Asus ROG, Xiaomi Black Shark and Nubia Red Magic Mars compared
- Get a preview of the next version of Android
- Best phones under $500
- Best prepaid phones for 2021
- Phones under $200: Top picks and new budget phones
- Best phones to gift to your grad in 2021
- iPhone 12 trade-in and switcher deals: Free phone at AT&T, save up to $800 at Verizon and more