Unlike the iOS ecosystem, where Apple is the only game in town, one of the best things about the Android phone market is the wide range of devices and manufacturers to choose from. That said, when it comes time to upgrade, this multitude of options can make it a bit more difficult to decide which handset is right for you. If you’re looking for a new phone and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered with a selection of the best Android phones for every budget.
What to Look for in a New Android Phone
When it comes to choosing our favorite Android phones, the main things we look for are pretty simple: good performance (both compute and AI), nice screen, solid design, sharp cameras, long battery life and a strong commitment to ongoing software support. . For performance, not only do we look at benchmarks and other metrics, but we also rate phones on how responsive they are. Whether you’re reading, browsing social media, or playing a game, no one wants a device that feels slow.
When it comes to screens, we generally prefer OLED panels which can produce rich, saturated colors with at least 600 nits of brightness, although many of our premium and high-end phones can hit 1,000 nits or more. . And more recently, many of our favorite devices also support displays with fast 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates, which adds an extra level of smoothness and fluidity.
Now, we’ll admit there’s a bit of subjectivity when choosing the best looking phones, but there are other design aspects like dust and water resistance or screen durability that can make a big difference to long-term survival. It’s also important to consider things like wireless charging support, power sharing (i.e. reverse wireless charging), and UWB connectivity, which may have impact how your phone interacts with your other devices.
Obviously, for photos, we’re looking for crisp, colorful shots in both bright and low-light conditions. And we want video clips with high dynamic range, rich sound, and smooth image stabilization. Additional cameras for ultra-wide and zoom lenses are a plus. It’s also important to consider features like dedicated night modes, support for various video recording resolutions, and additional photo modes like timelapse, slow motion, and more.
Battery and software
Finally, in terms of battery life, we’re looking for all-day longevity on devices that also performed extremely well in our local video test (at least 16 hours on a charge, but more is obviously better). Wireless charging capabilities have become nearly ubiquitous over the past few years, and most of our top picks have that added benefit. Finally, with people keeping their phones longer than ever, we like to see companies committing to at least three years of software support, upgrades, and regular security updates.
The best Android phones
Best Android phone overall: Google Pixel 7 Pro
The Pixel 7 Pro and standard Pixel 7 might not be the fastest phones around, but what they lack in pure performance they make up for in well-thought-out software. Thanks to Google’s Tensor G2 chip, the Pixel 7 series has powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that support things like on-device language recognition and real-time translation. You also get stunning OLED displays and the best overall camera quality of any smartphone available today. And with the standard Pixel 7 starting at just $600, Google’s latest flagship is also incredible value. The main differences between the two are that the Pixel 7 Pro has a larger 6.7-inch screen and has a third rear camera with 5x optical zoom. But whether you prefer a smaller or larger device, you can’t really go wrong with the Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro.
Read our full Google Pixel 7 Pro review
Best Mid-Range Android Phone: OnePlus 11
For those who want a phone with a big screen, great cameras and great performance, but for less than a traditional flagship, the OnePlus 11 strikes a good balance between budget phones and more premium devices. In many ways, the OnePlus 11 looks like a more affordable Galaxy S23+. Not only do you get a similar 6.7-inch 120Hz display, but it also has a fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and a big 5,000mAh battery. Meanwhile, thanks to OnePlus’ blazing 100-watt wired charging, it charges faster than any phone from Google or Samsung. And on the camera side, the company’s ongoing partnership with Hasselblad has resulted in noticeable improvements in image quality.
The main shortcomings of the OP11 are that its IP64 rating for dust and water resistance is lower than what you get from competing devices, and the camera’s 2x optical zoom lens seems a bit short. But with OnePlus adding wider carrier compatibility and committing four years of OS upgrades and five years of security patches, the OP11 is a well-equipped option that costs significantly less than its rivals.
Read our full OnePlus11 review
Best budget Android phone: Google Pixel 7a
The $500 Pixel 7a offers everything we’re looking for in a great affordable Android phone. New features include a faster Tensor G2 chip, a smoother 90Hz display, and for the first time on any of Google’s A-series phones: wireless charging support. And with a refreshed design with IP67 water resistance, it looks and feels like the standard Pixel 7 but for $100 less. You also get great support with five years of security updates and at least three OS upgrades. The phone’s only flaws are on the small side, and include the lack of a dedicated zoom lens and the lack of mmWave 5G support (unless you buy a slightly more expensive $550 model from Verizon).
Read our full Google Pixel 7a review
Best premium Android phone: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Starting at $1,200, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is very expensive, but it has pretty much everything you could want or need in a smartphone. It has a huge 6.8-inch OLED display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, a total of five cameras (main, ultra-wide, 3x zoom, 10x zoom, and a selfie shooter), and a built-in S Pen for drawing. and note-take. It also has a massive 5,000mAh battery that offers one of the longest battery lives we’ve seen on any phone. And with Samsung’s renewed commitment to software support, you can expect a minimum of four major operating system upgrades and five years of regular security patches.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review
Best Foldable Android Phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
While the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is arguably the sleekest and most compact phone on the market, the larger and more expensive Z Fold 4 is like three devices in one, making it a unicorn among mobile devices. . When you just need to reply to a text or find an address quickly, its 6.2-inch outdoor cover screen makes it a breeze. But when you want to sit down to watch a movie or play a game, you can open the Fold to reveal a stunning flexible 7.8-inch screen. As a foldable phone, it’s compact when you need it, while providing an immersive viewing experience when you don’t. And with support for pen input, you can even use one of Samsung’s specially designed S Pens for the Fold to quickly draw or jot down a note. On top of all that, its OLED screen makes the Z Fold 4 ideal for reading books and comics. And unlike virtually every other non-Samsung foldable, the Fold also has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. In many ways, this thing is the Swiss army knife of phones. Sure, it’s a little bulky, and at $1,800, it’s not what anyone would call affordable. But its ability to double as a phone, tablet, e-reader and more depending on the situation puts the Z Fold 4 in a league of its own.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review