The best Android phones offer you the best choices. Regardless of your budget, you can find a handset to fit your needs, all the way from $1,800 to under $500. You get to pick what features matter the most to you. Don't need a high refresh rate display or telephoto lens? Save some cash.
And now that 2022 is here, get ready for a slew of new devices. We're talking the Galaxy S22, OnePlus 10, and more. We expect to see several phones powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, or Google's second-generation Tensor chip later this year.
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Premium Android flagship phones start at $799, offering the sharpest and brightest displays, the most advanced photography, and cutting edge features like reverse wireless charging and 120Hz screens. 5G has also come to more affordable options, like the Pixel 5a, so it's nice to see more Android phones able to take advantage of faster download speeds.
And keep an eye out for other interesting Android phones launching this year, including this colour-changing Vivo phone.
Read on to find the best Android phone for your needs and budget. And whichever you buy, be sure to also look at our list of the 25 best apps for your new Android Phone.
What are the best Android phones?
We’ve tested all of the most popular Android phones in all shapes, sizes and prices here at Tom’s Guide, and our current top pick is the Galaxy S21 Ultra from Samsung. It offers an incredible display, crazy powerful cameras, and a huge battery to power it all. Plus, it's the first Galaxy S phone to support the S Pen (sold separately). For a more affordable Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S21 FE delivers many of the same features found in other S21 models, but at a lower price.
The new Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro offer some of the best Android camera experiences you can possibly get. But if you want the best camera for the lowest cost, look no further than Google's Pixel 5a. Its cameras, display and quality design make it a steal for $449. It also has the added 5G benefit, too.
Bargain hunters striving to spend the absolute least can find a very good option in the latest version of the Moto G Power, which lasts the whole day on a charge, but starts at just $199. On the other end of the price spectrum, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best foldable phone Samsung has built yet, even if its $1,799 price makes it one of the priciest phones on this list.
The best Android phones you can buy today
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the Android phone to get, if you don’t mind spending more than $1,000 on your next handset. Even with its lofty price, though, the S21 Ultra still debuts for $200 less than last year’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, so you’re getting a lot of value. With the S21 Ultra, Samsung has packed an incredible amount of premium features into its newest flagship.
The 6.8-inch display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a dynamic refresh rate that automatically scales between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on if the task you’re performing benefits from a faster refresh rate. You get two telephoto lenses that help you capture an amazing amount of detail when you zoom in, and other software-driven photo features help the S21 Ultra capture some great shots. And this is the first Galaxy S phone to offer S Pen support, making this a productivity booster.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers other attractive features, including a best-in-class Snapdragon 888 processor. The Pixel 5a may be a better bargain, but the S21 Ultra leaves no premium feature unexplored (except the microSD card slot, RIP).
While we think the Galaxy S21 Ultra remains a top phone, Samsung is working on its Galaxy S22 release, which is expected in a month or two. That lineup will likely include a Galaxy S22 Ultra, which could take its cues from the Galaxy Note series.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review.
Google’s latest round of phones have easily earned their places on this list. The Pixel 6 is a wholly new device this time around with a fresh design, significant camera upgrades, and the first-generation Tensor chip. All of that comes together in a svelte body that is sure to turn heads.
This is the everyman’s Pixel this year, coming in at an extremely affordable $599 starting price. While it lacks the telephoto camera and the 120Hz display you’ll find on the Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 6 does basically everything you could want an Android phone to do.
If we had to lodge one complaint with the Pixel 6, it’d be the disappointing battery life. In our testing, the phone fared far worse than other phones on this list. Part of that could have something to do with the older 5G modem, since we saw significantly improved results when we were on LTE versus 5G.
Even so, the Pixel 6 sports all kinds of new smarts thanks to the Tensor chip. And at that price, it’s one of the best values on this list (bested perhaps by the Pixel 5a).
Read our full Pixel 6 review.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is big, it’s beautiful, and it’s very powerful. It completely wowed us, from its gorgeous display to its battery life and charging. The OxygenOS software experience is top-notch, complete with plenty of tweaks and features to help you make the phone truly yours.
It also excels as a camera phone thanks to the new partnership with Hasselblad. The 48MP main shooter captures wonderful photos with natural color tones and excellent dynamic range. The 50MP ultrawide sensor is huge and captures just as much detail. It even has a freeform lens over top, helping to practically eliminate edge distortion in ultrawide shots. The 8MP telephoto lens has 3.3x optical zoom, 30x digital zoom, and OIS. Video is also a highlight, with support for up to 8K 30 FPS, 4K 120 FPS, DOL-HDR, and Nightscape for low-light footage.
You’ll want for nothing with the OnePlus 9 Pro (unless it's 5G on AT&T), even if it is the most expensive OnePlus phone to date at over $1,000. Rest assured that you’re getting a huge bang for your buck, especially when compared to the competition.
The OnePlus 10 Pro is now available in China. It could be a little bit before the new phone reaches the U.S. and other parts of the world, but be aware that there's a new model coming.
Read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review.
If you want the best Android experience possible right now, then look no further than the Pixel 6 Pro. It’s the big boy this year from Google with an expansive 6.7-inch QHD+ display with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate. It also sports the new Tensor system-on-chip, Google’s own homegrown silicon. Built for AI and machine learning, it has some impressive features.
But that’s not all. The Pixel 6 Pro sports the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a Pixel, including a telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom. The big 5,000 mAh battery, while impressive on paper, didn’t come out to truly remarkable battery life results in our testing. However, in our anecdotal usage, the Pixel 6 Pro is more than adequate enough to last a day. And with 30W charging (charging brick sold separately), you can top off quickly.
This is the Android phone for photography enthusiasts, as well as those who want the latest and greatest when it comes to the Android OS itself. Android 12 absolutely shines on this phone. And starting at $899, this is one of the most affordable flagship phones you can find right now.
Read our full Pixel 6 Pro review.
The Google Pixel 5a is one of the best Android phones because of its price, its cameras, and its software experience. Google really nailed it with the 5a, offering the biggest battery ever in a Pixel. The 5a is also quite larger than its predecessor, with a big and bright 6.43-inch OLED display.
While the $100 price hike over the Pixel 4a might sting a little, the Pixel 5a is nonetheless a solid phone for the money, coming in at $50 cheaper than last year’s Pixel 4a 5G. The Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 5a is the same processor you’ll find in the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G and it helps the 5a power through any task you can throw at it. The 765G is, however, old at this point — it’s possible that Qualcomm either gave Google a good deal, or only had 765G chips to spare due to the chip shortage.
The Pixel 4a last year was a great phone, but the 5a is even better. With stronger battery life, more horsepower, and a second ultrawide camera, the 5a is definitely the best Android phone under $500.
We'll soon review the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google's flagship phones which sport a new Tensor processor that promises more software-powered camera features and better voice-powered capabilities. We'll find out where those phones rank on this list very shortly.
Read our full Google Pixel 5a review.
Though not quite as fancy as its Pro brother, the OnePlus 9 is still a fantastic phone, especially for the money. You get a flat 6.65-inch FHD+ 120 Hz display that looks amazing, the same 48MP wide and 50MP ultrawide cameras as the OnePlus 9 Pro, and the best processor you can get with an Android device, the Snapdragon 888.
Battery life is another major plus, with the OnePlus 9 lasting for 10 hours and 51 minutes in the Tom’s Guide battery test with the 120 Hz mode enabled. The cameras are much improved over the OnePlus 8T and other OnePlus phones, too, meaning that you can capture vivid scenes with more accurate colors and dynamic range. The lack of a telephoto lens is a bummer, though.
Best of all, the OnePlus 9 starts at $729 for the 8GB/128GB model. That’s a lot of phone for the money and it offers a real challenge to Samsung’s Android crown. With the OnePlus 9T officially canceled, the OnePlus 9 is your best bet for an affordable OnePlus flagship, even after the OnePlus 10 Pro arrives.
Read our full OnePlus 9 review.
In recent years, there’s been one phone to turn to when you want the absolute best battery life for an Android phone — the Moto G Power. The 2021 edition of this phone doesn’t make many changes from its predecessor, sticking with the 5,000mAh battery that sets the pace for other phones. The Moto G Power (2021) lasted more than 14 hours on our battery test, roughly 4 hours longer than the average smartphone.
Motorola has made one crucial change with the Moto G Power — its price. While you can still get a version of the phone with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage for an attractive $249, if you can live with less RAM and storage, the price drops to $199. That’s an incredible price for a device that lasts all day and then some on a single charge.
The Moto G Power (2021) won a Tom's Guide award for the best phone battery life.
Read our full Moto G Power (2021) review.
In a case of better late than never, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has arrived, and like it predecessor, offers you a lower-cost phone with flagship features. In the case of the S21 FE, that means a Snapdragon 888 processor, triple camera array and bright, fast-refreshing screen (even if you must set the 120Hz refresh rate yourself). All that comes for $100 less than the standard Galaxy S21.
We're particularly impressed with the Galaxy S21 FE's cameras, which produce shots worthy of a more expensive phone. And the later-than-expected launch — the Galaxy S21 FE was anticipated to ship in 2021 — means that it features Android 12 already in place. Our biggest complaint is with the phone's subpar battery life.
With the Galaxy S22 launch looming, it may be worth holding off to see what that phone delivers before buying the Galaxy S21 FE. But this is a good way of getting Galaxy S21 features for less right now.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review.
Phones that work with 5G networks no longer require four-figure outlays. Prices have dropped dramatically in the past year, and the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is proof of that. For $279, you'll get a 5G-capable phone that's less expensive than even Google's affordable Pixel 5a.
You'll make some compromises for that lower price — the MediaTek Dimensity 720 that powers the phone isn't the most powerful chipset we've come across — but not as many sacrifices as you might think. For starters, the Galaxy A32 5G screen has a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling. And its battery lasts a very long time, even when you have the faster rate enabled.
Samsung also promises four years of security patches so you can wring every last penny out of the Galaxy A32. That makes this Android phone an even better value.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best foldable phone Samsung has ever built, improving upon the Galaxy Z Fold 2 that came before it. Both displays on this new model now refresh at 120Hz for smoother scrolling, and Samsung has made the phone more durable overall. S Pen support brings added functionality, though the S Pen is an optional accessory that you'll have to pay extra to add.
Samsung's latest foldable takes a step back in terms of battery life, possibly because of that faster refresh rate, and the cameras haven't changed from last year's model. But there's a faster processor and better app support for the foldable screen. The debut price is $200 lower, too, at $1,799, though for a cheaper foldable phone, try Samsung's $999 Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.
How to choose the best Android phone for you
The first place to start when shopping for the best Android phone for you is your budget. And there are essentially a few tiers. The cheapest Android phones cost under $200 and offer mostly the basics for using apps, taking pictures and staying connected.
As you move up to under $450, you'll find more compelling handsets, touting better processors, higher-grade materials and more camera lenses. Progress into the $700-and-up range, and the best phones offer flagship-caliber performance along with cutting-edge computational photography and special features.
The most premium Android phones offer foldable designs. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the most fully-featured of these phones, but the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and its sub-$1,000 price make it the more appealing option.
As you might imagine, new Android phone releases are always lurking around the corner. In early 2022, we expect to see new Samsung and OnePlus flagships, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 likely to power the Samsung Galaxy S22. (We already know it's featured in the OnePlus 10.)
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 webpages 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.