If you’re in the market for a new Android phone, the breadth of options can be overwhelming. But choice is probably the greatest thing about Google’s mobile OS. Android guarantees a similar user experience across many makes and models of phones, while letting you prioritize the features you want. Whether it’s a long-lasting battery you need or a headphone jack, there’s bound to be at least one Android phone out there that will satisfy your needs.
We’ve tested all of the best phones in all shapes, sizes and prices here at Tom’s Guide, and the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is our current leader, thanks to its cutting edge design, superfast performance and wealth of features. But it’s hardly the only Android device that’s worthy of your consideration.
Google’s Pixel 3 follows a close second with its cutting-edge software and class-leading camera — two features that have arrived in a new, lower-cost version, called the Pixel 3a, for the low price of $399. And those hoping to save even more cash would be well advised to look into OnePlus’ fast and smooth 6T, as well as the newer OnePlus 7 Pro. Top budget phones include Nokia’s Android One-backed 7.1 and the Moto G7 Power.
But more premium flagships are on the way. Samsung stumbled out of the gate with the Galaxy Fold, delaying the April 26 launch while it investigates reports of damaged review units, but the 5G version of the Galaxy S10 has finally arrived on Verizon — blisteringly-quick data speeds and all.
Here are the best Android phones to buy now.
The best Android phone overall
The Galaxy S10 Plus muscles its way to the head of the Android class with both expected improvements and impressive innovations. Samsung's phone is one of the first to run on a Snapdragon 855 processor, so it's the best performing Android device we've tested while also going a long way to closing the performance gap with Apple's A12 Bionic chip. A triple lens setup on the back of the S10 Plus coupled with AI improvements bolsters the phone's image capture abilities. And a 4,100 mAh battery means you can expect all-day battery life from one of the longest-lasting phones we've tested in recent years.
But the S10 Plus offers other features that help it stand out from the Android crowd. The new Infinity-O display uses circular cutouts to house the phone's two-front cameras rather than a notch. There's an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor underneath the display that quickly unlocks your phone. And Wireless PowerShare means you can place other devices that support wireless charging on top of the S10 Plus' back and top off their batteries.
Read our full Galaxy S10 Plus review.
The leader in photography and AI
The Pixel 3 is among our favorite Android handsets because it offers the latest, greatest and most secure Android software, the best cameras we’ve ever used in a phone and a gorgeous OLED display all in a well-built and attractive package. Google has delivered some truly novel features with its latest generation flagship, like Call Screen, which will ensure you never get duped by another telemarketer or robo caller again, and Night Sight, which single-handedly rescues low-light shots other phones struggle to capture.
The relatively small 5.5-inch Pixel 3 might be off-putting to those accustomed to bigger phones; to those customers, we recommend the Pixel 3 XL (so long as you can ignore its big honking notch). Additionally, Google jacked up prices on both models from the Pixel 2, without making any gains in battery life to show for it. In all other respects, however, they’re the absolute best Android phones on the market today.
The flagship phone value of the year
OnePlus' move upmarket with the new OnePlus 7 Pro definitely surprised us. However, all skepticism was dismissed once we saw the device's gorgeous 120Hz, 6.67-inch OLED display, nearly bezel-free design, capable triple-lens rear camera and clever pop-out selfie shooter. The OnePlus 7 Pro packs most of what we love about the current stable of flagship handsets in a device that starts at just $669.
For that, you get a state-of-the-art Snapdragon 855 processor, a massive 4,000-mAh battery (with OnePlus' trademark Warp Charging, of course), smooth and useful software courtesy of Oxygen OS, and a 48-megapixel main shooter at the rear that can capture phenomenal images in low light, thanks to OnePlus' Nightscape technology. The OnePlus 7 Pro is pretty much all the phone you'd ever need at a price firmly in the three-digit range — and that's becoming a rarer and rarer thing these days.
Read our full OnePlus 7 Pro review.
The best small Android phone
So you like the Galaxy S10's Infinity-O full-screen design, powerful Snapdragon 855 performance and capable cameras, but you'd like it even more if it were cheaper. Enter the $749 Galaxy S10e. This is a smaller version of Samsung's 2019 flagship handset that incorporates the same processor, Dynamic AMOLED display technology and many of the same features you'd find in the larger variants, like Wireless PowerShare to charge other devices over Qi induction.
The difference is you're paying at least $150 less for the S10e than the pricier S10 and S10 Plus, and you're missing out on their triple-lens rear cameras and ultrasonic fingerprint sensors. However, given the money you're saving, those may be omissions you're willing to live with. If you prefer smaller phones but don't want to skimp on flagship-caliber specs, the S10e is absolutely unrivaled in the market right now.
Read our full Galaxy S10e review.
The bargain among premium phones
OnePlus has mastered the art of building affordable phones that still manage to outperform their most expensive counterparts in the Android space, and the OnePlus 6T is further proof of that. The base model now starts with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage after OnePlus boosted the memory of this phone following the OnePlus 7 Pro launch. But the 6T still costs hundreds of dollars less than comparable phones from Samsung, LG and others. Buyers also get a Snapdragon 845 chip, a stunning AMOLED display and in-screen fingerprint sensing. That last one is something you can’t even find on iPhones or Pixels yet.
OnePlus did receive some flak for nixing the headphone jack — and deservedly so — after repeatedly assuring us they wouldn’t. Some luxuries, like wireless charging and water resistance, are missing here as on all OnePlus handsets that preceded the 6T. But for what you’re paying, those omissions are more than reasonable.
Read our full OnePlus 6T review.
Still a great buy, now at a better price
We love the Galaxy S9 because even a year after release, Samsung’s phone can still do it all. It’s one of a rapidly shrinking group of phones with wireless charging, water resistance, a headphone jack and microSD slot for expandable memory. Besides Samsung, only LG’s devices include all of those features, but the Galaxy S9 also offers one of the best OLED panels you’re likely to find in any handset, a timeless design with its iconic Infinity curves and a camera that can capture phenomenal photos in low light, thanks to clever image processing and Samsung’s dual-aperture technology.
Both the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus have fallen considerably in price since being released relatively early in 2018, and for that reason we recommend the 6.2-inch S9+, which doubles up the rear lenses and adds 2GB of RAM on top of the stock 4GB in the 5.8-inch model for better overall performance.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ review.
The Pixel 3's best feature for less
The Pixel 3a strikes a winning blow against the rising cost of smartphones by delivering the most critical features of the Pixel 3 — a terrific camera and a great Android experience — in a device that costs hundreds of dollars less. The Pixel 3a uses the same single 12-megapixel camera found on the more expensive Pixel 3, but more importantly, it taps into the same AI-powered computational photography features. That means the pictures you snap with your Pixel 3a will be every bit good as what the Pixel 3 delivers.
You will have to make some compromises for the Pixel 3a's lower price tag. This phone is made out of polycarbonate, not glass and metal, and the processor isn't as powerful as the Snapdragon 855 powering the leading Android phones. But the Pixel 3a offers solid performance and a long-lasting battery, as it held out for nearly 12 hours on our battery test. Other phones are fancier and may boast more features, but the value delivered by the Pixel 3a is undeniable.
Read our full Pixel 3a review.
The king of big phones
Samsung kickstarted the phablet trend with the original Galaxy Note in 2011. In the years since, big phones have become the norm, so the Note 9’s 6.4-inch panel doesn’t seem quite so unique anymore. However, the latest Note is still every bit the uncompromising workhorse its predecessors were, thanks to refinements to the S Pen, new AI algorithms to improve images from the camera and DeX Mode optimizations that allow you to use your Note 9 as a desktop PC without the need for an expensive dock.
That said, at a starting price of $949 for the 128GB version, the Note 9 is definitely expensive. And Bixby continues to be upstaged by Google Assistant and Alexa, despite Samsung’s insistence on making it a prominent factor of its smartphones. Nevertheless, if you want handset that will help you get things done, the Note 9 is unrivaled, though a new version — the Galaxy Note 10 — is expected to debut in a few months.
Read our full Samsung Note 9 review.
An excellent Pixel 3a alternative for less
The Galaxy A50 marks a big step forward for Samsung's non-flagship phones. Despite being less than half the price of the Galaxy S10e, the A50 still has a triple-lens camera system, massive 6.4-inch AMOLED display, a near bezel-free design with tiny notch for the selfie cam and good enough performance from Samsung's Exynos 9610 silicon.
The A50 isn't available unlocked yet — you'll have to be either a Verizon or Sprint customer to use one — though it is a great alternative to the Pixel 3a for $50 less than Google's phone, so long as you can stand losing that handset's remarkable flagship-caliber camera, longer battery life and better software support. Still, the latest cheap Galaxy is a steal, and has us very excited for the future of Samsung's budget offerings.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A50 review.
The longest-lasting budget phone
The Moto G7 Power isn't the flashiest smartphone in the world, but when you last 15-and-a-half hours on a single charge in our battery test, well — some users would rightfully argue that's important than a killer design. Indeed, the G7 Power is an excellent budget handset with good enough performance from a serviceable Snapdragon 632 chipset, along with easy-to-use, pure-Android software with a few Motorola enhancements thrown in for good measure, like a really intuitive gesture navigation system.
We actually prefer the $249 G7 Power to the slightly more premium $299 Moto G7, because of the cheaper variant's beefier battery and lower price. And despite the fact that the G7 Power features a bit less RAM, it doesn't feel any slower than the pricier model. A more consistent camera and higher-resolution display would have been nice, but where it counts, the G7 Power is an endurance workhorse on a shoestring budget.
Read our full Moto G7 Power review.
How We Test Smartphones
Every smartphone Tom’s Guide evaluates is tested for days in real-world use cases and benchmarked with a gamut of performance-measuring apps. 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 endlessly streaming webpages over an LTE network.
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.
What Smartphones Cost
Smartphones today range from double to even quadruple digits in terms of price, though most phones below $200 typically make more sacrifices than they’re worth. Phones under $600 tend to lack the fastest processors, quality cameras and high-end features like wireless charging, in-display fingerprint sensing, edge-to-edge displays, water resistance and secure facial recognition. The more you spend, unsurprisingly, the more of these features you get. And while many “flagship” smartphones fall in the $800 to $900 range, some range-topping, more luxurious models like the Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S10 Plus and Huawei Mate 20 Pro extend well above the $1,000 mark. If you're low on funds, be sure to check out our Best Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus deals.
Credit: Tom's Guide