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The best Android phones in the UK 2021

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone resting against a plant in a pot. The S21 Ultra tops our list of the best android phones in the UK
(Image credit: Future)

Selecting any of the best Android phones from the selections below will ensure you get a capable new smartphone. Although these devices vary when it comes to price and feature sets, all of them are at the top of their respective classes.

The most expensive Android phones cost upwards of £1,000, but for that price you’ll experience the latest and most powerful hardware. Meanwhile, the cheapest phones, which cost between £200 and £400, have fewer bells and whistles but can still take on flagships with one or two premium features.

Whether your priority is a phone with the best camera, best display, the most powerful chipset or the longest battery life — or something else entirely — these are the best Android phones in the U.K. you need to shortlist.

What are the best Android phones in the UK?

Just like on the other side of the Atlantic, the best Android phone in the U.K. right now is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Although Samsung’s flagship phone doesn’t have as powerful a chipset as its U.S. counterpart, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s great screen, strong photography and handy stylus support are all intact.

If you fancy something premium but slightly more affordable, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is aggressively priced with all the premium features you could ask for. This model even overshadows the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (also among the best Android phones in the U.K.) since it's such good value.

At the budget end of things, picking between the OnePlus Nord 2, the Google Pixel 4a or the Redmi Note 10 Pro should satisfy whatever your priorities are. The Pixel 4a has excellent photography skills, which the Nord 2 also offers along with a brilliant display and strong performance. Meanwhile, Redmi’s Note 10 Pro gives you a fab screen and decent photos for a remarkably small sum

The best Android phones in the U.K. you can buy today

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best android phone in the uk

(Image credit: Future)

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The best Android phone in the U.K. overall

Specifications
Display: 6.8-inch QHD OLED (3200x1400; 10 to 120Hz)
Chipset: Exynos 1200
RAM: 12GB/16GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Rear cameras: 108MP main (ƒ/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, ƒ/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, ƒ/4.9), laser AF sensor
Front camera: 40MP (ƒ/2.2)
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with OneUI 3
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic photo system with dual telephoto cameras+Top-quality display+S Pen compatibility
Reasons to avoid
-Charger not included-Exynos chipset

If you want the best Android phone in the U.K. right now, you should first look at the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung's feature-stuffed flagship has everything, including a brilliant 120Hz AMOLED display and a quad-camera array on the back with versatile sensors. The phone even works with an S Pen, although that’s an option accessory that requires you to spend a little extra.

However for the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s price, there’s no charger included, in the name of avoiding electronic waste. Performance enthusiasts will also be annoyed by Samsung's use of an Exynos 1200 chipset, which is slightly less powerful than the Snapdragon 888 version of the phone available in the U.S. However as an all-round great phone, you can't do better than the S21 Ultra, which offers all the best features of an Android experience.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review.

Xiaomi Mi 11 is one of the best Android phones in the UK

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Xiaomi Mi 11

The best basic flagship Android phone in the U.K.

Specifications
Display: 6.81-inch QHD AMOLED (3200 x 1440; 30, 60,90, 120Hz)
Chipset: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 108MP main (f1.8), 13MP ultrawide (f2.4), 5MP telemacro (f2.4)
Front camera: 20MP (f2.2)
Battery: 4,600 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with MIUI 12
Reasons to buy
+Strong specs for price+Uniquely good macro camera+Top-class performance
Reasons to avoid
-Undersized battery-No IP rating

Xiaomi has covered almost all your needs with the Xiaomi Mi 11. It costs a little less than its rivals while offering a larger and more detailed display, and it has the power of the Snapdragon 888 chipset to let you put that screen to the test. While macro photography isn't a common kind of photo-taking, the fact that the telemacro lens on the Mi 11 works so well is a big point in the phone’s favor

The other cameras on the Xiaomi M11 don't quite stack up however. What's more, the Mi 11 uses an oddly small battery for the size of its frame, a frame that incidentally isn't officially rated for water/dust resistance. Given the low asking price, though, I think it's easy to forgive these limitations since the rest of the Mi 11 experience is top-notch.

Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 review.

OnePlus Nord 2 is one of the best android phones in the uk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. OnePlus Nord 2

The best Android phone in the U.K. for mid-range budgets

Specifications
Display: 6.43-inch FHD AMOLED (1080 x 2400, 60,90Hz)
Chipset: Dimensity 1200-AI
RAM: 8GB/12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 50MP main (f/1.88), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.25), 2MP mono (f/2.5)
Front camera: 32MP selfie (f2.45)
Battery: 4,500 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with OxygenOS 11.3
Reasons to buy
+Great cameras for asking price+65W wired charging+Generous specs
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed refresh rates

If you've got only £400 to spend on a phone, the best place to spend them as far as we're concerned is into the Nord 2. OnePlus' second attempt at a mid-range phone has ironed out the kinks in the original to make a phone so well rounded the only complaint we have is that it doesn't offer adaptive refresh rates for the display.

The highlights of the OnePlus Nord 2 are its mighty Dimensity 1200-AI chipset, the versatile cameras and 65W charging that outruns any other device in this category. It's a great phone to go for if your budget is limited or you don't see the appeal of the advanced features found on more expensive phones.

Read our full OnePlus Nord 2 review.

Oppo Find X3 Pro is one of the best Android phones in the UK

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4. Oppo Find X3 Pro

The best Galaxy S21 Ultra alternative in the U.K.

Specifications
Display: 6.7-inch OLED (3216 x 1440, 5 to 120Hz)
Chipset: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB
Rear cameras: 50MP main (f/1.8); 50MP ultra wide (f/2.2); 13MP telephoto (f/2.4); 3MP microlens (f/3.0)
Front camera: 32MP (f/3.0)
Battery: 4,500 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with ColorOS 11.2
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful screen quality+Versatile camera array+Plenty of computing power
Reasons to avoid
-Fingerprint-prone finish-Microscope camera isn't very useful

Oppo's latest flagship phone does a decent job of beating Samsung at its own game. It uses almost identical display technology, the same CPU and an identical amount of RAM. However Oppo shakes things up with the camera array, offering a more balanced selection of lenses.

That doesn't include the microscope camera though, which while a neat idea, doesn't work well in practice. It's also difficult trying to keep the Find X3 Pro clean due to its shiny unibody design. Aside from these two blemishes, this Oppo phone is one you need to check out if you're after a flagship Android phone.

Read our full Oppo Find X3 Pro review.

OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the best android phones in the UK

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5. OnePlus 9 Pro

The best premium flagship phone OnePlus has made

Specifications
Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED QHD+ (3,168 x 1,440; 1Hz to 120Hz)
Chipset: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB/12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 48MP wide, 50MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto (3.3x optical), 2MP monochrome
Front camera: 16MP
Battery: 4,500 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with OxygenOS 11
Reasons to buy
+Rapid wired and wireless charging+Class-topping display+Much improved photography
Reasons to avoid
-Poor low-light images-Disappointing battery life

OnePlus has imbued the 9 Pro with the company's typical standout features — a detailed 120Hz display, and 65W wired and wireless charging for super-fast battery top-ups. With help from Hasselblad, OnePlus has finally got its flagship phone to take pictures worthy of its price, too.

That said, OnePlus' low-light photography remains behind its rivals. Also the inclusion of a dedicated monochrome sensor seems like an unusual inclusion in a world with easy access to filters. It's also frustrating that the rapidly charging battery is also fast to discharge. But that said, this is still the best OnePlus phone yet, and an alternative flagship option with some unique features that might convince you to buy it.

Read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is one of the best android phones in the UK

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

The most 'Ultra' Android phone you can buy in the U.K.

Specifications
Display: 6.81-inch QHD AMOLED (3200 x 1440; 30, 60, 90, 120Hz); 1.1-inch AMOLED (126 x 294)
Chipset: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB
Rear cameras: 50MP main (f/1.95), 48MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 48MP telephoto (5x optical zoom, 120x max zoom, f/4.1)
Front camera: 20MP (f/2.2)
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with MIUI 12
Reasons to buy
+Unique rear secondary display+Fast wired and wireless charging+Powerful selection of cameras
Reasons to avoid
-Needs charging often-Expensive

Most Ultra phones are happy just stuffing their backs with cameras, but Xiaomi went a step further and added a secondary display to the camera block, letting you take selfies with any of the three 50MP sensors, which includes top quality main and ultrawide sensors, plus a 5x telephoto camera for extreme close-ups. The phone can also charge at 67W wired or wireless, but that's by the by — the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has two screens!

This phone costs even more than the already expensive Galaxy S21 Ultra though. Plus with two screens needing power, the battery life is understandably poor. If you don't mind these impracticalities, this is a phone that feels really special to use and own, and will catch the eye of basically everyone who sees you use it.

Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review.

Samsung Galaxy S21 is one of the best android phones in the UK

(Image credit: Future)

7. Samsung Galaxy S21

The best Samsung phone for the money

Specifications
Display: 6.2 inches (2400 x 1080; 48 to 120Hz)
Chipset: Exynos 1200
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 12MP wide (f/1.8), 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2), 64MP telephoto (f/2.0) with 3x hybrid zoom/30x digital
Front camera: 10MP (f2.2)
Battery: 4,000 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with One UI 3
Reasons to buy
+Well-sized 6.2-inch frame+Good display
Reasons to avoid
-No included charger-Exynos chipset powers UK version

Samsung is the most reliable of all the Android brands, and if you want plenty of premium features without breaking the bank, the Galaxy S21 will satisfy your needs. At a svelte 6.2 inches, the phone is easy to tote about and use with one hand. While the display is a little less detailed than its Ultra sibling, it's still more than good enough for anything you want to use your phone to look at. 

As you'll be buying the European version of the Galaxy S21 in the U.K., it means you miss out on the slightly more powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset the Americans get for the Exynos 1200. However, everyone misses out on a charger — Samsung just doesn't include them anymore. Happily, Samsung sells the S21 at a competitive price, and with the quality of parts that are included, it's hard to turn down this offer.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 review.

Redmi Note 10 Pro is one of the best Android phones in the UK

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

8. Redmi Note 10 Pro

The best cheap Android phone in the U.K.

Specifications
Display: 6.67-inch AMOLED FHD (2400 x 1080, 60, 120Hz)
Chipset: Snapdragon 732G
RAM: 6GB/8GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB (microSD slot available)
Rear cameras: 108MP main (f/1.9), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP telemacro (f/2.4), 2MP depth (f/2.4)
Front camera: 16MP (f/2.45)
Battery: 5,020 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 with MIUI 12
Reasons to buy
+Excellent display for a phone in this price range+108MP photography+Above-average charging speed
Reasons to avoid
-Sluggish performance-Paltry default storage

For users with smaller amounts to spend on a phone, the Redmi Note 10 Pro offers a taste of the premium device life without much compromise. It's equipped with a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate similar to phones way higher up on this list of the best U.K. Android phones. It's the same story with its 108MP main camera, which does a good job of taking photos, as does its 5MP telemacro camera for close-ups. The 33W charging is a nice bonus too.

Where the cheapness of the phone is revealed is in the performance department. Its chipset noticeably lacks power, and by default, the Note 10 Pro only has 64GB storage, rather than the more common 128GB. If you don't plan to use a large number of intensive games or apps on your phone, the Redmi should still serve you well.

Read our full Redmi Note 10 Pro review.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is one of the best android phones in the uk

(Image credit: Future)

9. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

The best foldable phone in the U.K.

Specifications
Display: 6.2 inches external (2268 x 832; 120Hz), 7.6 inches internal (2208 x 1768; 120Hz)
Chipset: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB/16GB
Storage: 128GB/512GB
Rear cameras: 12MP wide (f/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (f.2.2, 123-degree FOV); 12MP telephoto (f/2.4, 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom)
Front cameras: 10MP cover (f/2.2), 4MP internal (f/1.8)
Battery: 4,400 mAh
Operating System: Android 11 wut One UI 3.1
Reasons to buy
+Enhanced water-resistant design+Amazing multitasking potential+S Pen support
Reasons to avoid
-S Pen costs extra-Very expensive

Do you have £1,600 and want to spend all of it on a phone? Why not throw caution to the wind and buy the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the most advanced phone currently on sale in the U.K. 

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is flexible — both literally, with its folding inner/outer display design, and metaphorically thanks to modified software and the introduction of S Pen compatibility for even more options. Plus, the Galaxy Z fold 3 now offers IPX8 water resistance, making it less likely to suffer catastrophic damage.

The main limitation here is the Z Fold 3’s price — both the astronomical cost of the phone and the fact that the S Pen doesn't come as standard (although some retailers do offer it as a welcome package, so shop around). This is such a cool phone though, and one that's genuinely useful in ways few others are. So perhaps all that money is worth it after all.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.

Google Pixel 4a is one of the best android phones in the UK

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

10. Google Pixel 4a

The best low-cost Android phone for software and photography

Specifications
Display: 5.81-inch OLED (2340x1080; 60Hz)
Chipset: Snapdragon 730G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Rear camera: 12.2MP (ƒ/1.7)
Front camera: 8MP (ƒ/2.0)
Battery: 3,140 mAh
Operating System: Android 10 (updated to Android 11)
Reasons to buy
+Direct OS support from Google+Class-leading photos
Reasons to avoid
-Underpowered chipset-Short battery life-Last-gen hardware

If you want the best Android software experience from your Android phone, where better to go than straight to the source? While there's nothing wrong with Google's other phones, the Pixel 4a offers the best value to U.K. buyers, featuring well-supported and easy-to-use stock Android and amazing photo processing that turns images from the rear camera into some of the best you'll ever see.

Sadly there are quite a few limitations. The slow chipset and small battery have always been problems, but the bigger issue is that for the time being, Google's not bringing the Pixel 5a to U.K. shores. The Pixel 4a deserves its spot on this list for now, but as one of the oldest phones here it may not be around for long.

Read our full Google Pixel 4a review

How to choose the best Android phone for you

To start off on making your Android phone shortlist, have a budget in mind. The price of a mid-range phone is around £400, with cheaper phones costing less than that, and the most expensive phones clearing £1,000 or more. Figure out what you can afford and stick to it.

Next, decide which features you want to prioritise. Even on phones that in theory do it all, there are some big differences in how well they handle things like photography, charging speed or performance. Whichever phones do these better should be your first port of call when looking for more information or prices.

The final bit of advice we'll give is to keep in mind how large the phones are. If you don't mind using your phone with two hands, then this won’t matter so much. But if you like to be able to swipe around, type messages and browse through your apps with one hand, then you might be better off going for a more compact device.

How we test smartphones

Every smartphone Tom’s Guide evaluates is tested for several days in real-world use cases and benchmarked with a gamut of performance-measuring apps. In terms of performance, we used Geekbench 5 to measure overall speed and 3DMark to measure graphics performance.

We also use our own video editing test in the Adobe Premiere Rush app to see how long it takes to transcode a clip, which we run on both Android phones and iPhone to compare performance.

We use a light meter to ascertain display quality data, like brightness and color accuracy, and our proprietary battery test determines longevity on a charge by continuously loading live web pages over a 4G or 5G network. We set each phone to 150 nits of screen brightness and try to use T-Mobile's network each time in order to achieve comparable results across phones.

Lastly, we explore the software, test gaming performance and conduct live camera comparisons with rival handsets — and each of these factors play a part in our comprehensive verdict.

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.

  • Drewtiger13
    admin said:
    Whether it’s a long-lasting battery you need or a headphone jack, there’s bound to be an Android phone that will satisfy your needs. Here are our favorites.

    The 10 Best Android Phones : Read more
    i'll say they should satisfy! has anyone else noticed that most of these phones have significantly more RAM than your average computer !?!?
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    Drewtiger13 said:
    significantly
    not that I see. one at 16, some at 12, 8. well you are looking at the "best" phone, not budget

    unless you getting cheap computer. 8 is min for daily stuff, 16 min for gaming
    Reply
  • Markyballer
    Hi, the Pixel 4a and the Pixel 4a 5G have different chipset . For this reason I would choose the 5g version and put it on 2nd place.
    Reply