The 6 Best Android Phones You Can Buy in 2021
From ultra-flagships to mid-range phones with killer specs and great price tags, there are the best Android phones you can buy right now…
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra||VIEW LATEST DEALS|
|OnePlus 9 Pro||VIEW LATEST DEALS|
|Google Pixel 5||VIEW LATEST DEALS|
|Xiaomi Mi 11||VIEW LATEST DEALS|
|Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2||VIEW LATEST DEALS|
|VIVO X60 Pro||VIEW LATEST DEALS|
What Is The Best Android Phone on The Market Right Now?
Before we get to the list, I want to offer my 2¢ on the best Android phone.
The OnePlus 9 has great design, one of the best OLED displays in the business, a stunning camera, and the best looking Android software available inside the Android space – save for inside Google’s Pixel phones.
I like Samsung phones too. But I just think the OnePlus 9 Pro is just more special, has more about it. I prefer its design, I think OnePlus’ software is better-looking and more intuitive, and I think the camera and battery life, while not quite as good, is still very impressive.
Plus, it costs about $400/£400 less than the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Or, if you want something cheaper, go with the Pixel 4a – it is utterly fantastic. I’ve been using mine for several months now and it hasn’t missed a beat. The new design is great, the camera is better than ever, and the battery life is incredible. For me, it’s all the phone I need!
Best Android Phone 2021
#1) Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
If you want the best of the best with respect to design, specs, performance, and camera performance, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is just about as good as it gets in the Android space right now.
Like Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max, this is Samsung’s true-flagship release for 2021. It has the best specs, the most advanced camera and display tech, and it has the most iconic design language we’ve seen to date from Samsung.
It is mightily expensive. But it is also impressively good too – in all areas. It doesn’t really have any weak elements. It is solid across the board, and exceptional in nearly every setting – from performance to battery life and imaging.
Plus, with the Galaxy S21 Ultra you will get three years’ of Android updates – just like you do with a Pixel phone. This makes any of Samsung’s recent Galaxy phones a great buy. Add in the Ultra’s additional USPs and you’re looking at the best Android phone ever created.
#2) OnePlus 9 Pro
If you cannot stretch to Galaxy S21 Ultra money, your next best option is the OnePlus 9 Pro. This phone is an absolute stunner, and it outperformed our wildest expectations when we tested it earlier on this year.
OnePlus has nailed the industrial design, creating a phone that is both smart-looking, modern, and immensely attractive. Inside, you have some of the best specs and hardware money can buy, including Qualcomm’s latest SD888 CPU.
The camera, as you’d expect from OnePlus, is a tour de force. It will snap beautiful pictures in all environments and it’ll capture 8K video at 30fps and 4K at 120fps. If you’re after a killer camera, the OnePlus 9 Pro delivers big time.
The OLED panel is stunning to watch and consume media on, thanks to its insane 1300nits of brightness, native support for HDR10+ and its 120Hz refresh rate.
We didn’t put the OnePlus 9 in the #1 spot because the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a slightly more accomplished phone on paper and in practice. But this is the phone I would get. And the reason? It is cheaper and, in my opinion, just as good as the S21 Ultra.
#3) Google Pixel 5
Compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Pixel 5 comes across a bit pedestrian. It isn’t flashy nor is it specced-out to the hilt with the latest and greatest specs and hardware.
It has 5G, but it runs on Qualcomm’s SD765G, not the 888 platform. I used this phone for six months straight and it didn’t miss a beat.
The camera is brilliant and will effortlessly capture pitch-perfect images in any type of lighting.
Performance, while not as good as the S21 Ultra or OnePlus 9 Pro, is more than enough for what most people do with their phone – web browsing, social media, apps, and texting.
If all you want is a reliable, solid phone that has brilliant battery life, a great camera, and a gorgeous OLED display (that isn’t too big), the Pixel 5 comes highly recommended.
#4) Xiaomi Mi 11
Xiaomi makes killer phones that possess the same specs as iPhones and top of the range Samsung phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It makes these and then it sells them for quite a bit less. And the Xiaomi Mi 11 is no exception.
Price-wise, the Xiaomi Mi 11 costs around the same as Samsung’s Galaxy S21 but, unlike that phone, it runs specs and hardware that are more akin to what you’ll find inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra model.
You have a 108MP sensor on the rear, and that sensor is packed up by three others. It runs Android 11 out the box and will get Android 12. You have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, full 5G support, and 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as standard.
The software isn’t as polished or as easy to use as it is on a OnePlus or Samsung phone, but if you want ultra-flagship specs for a lot less than usual, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is well worth a look.
#5) Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Foldable phones are still niche as heck, but if you fancy jumping on the band wagon with the other early adopters, the best foldable phone you can buy right now is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Whichever way you slice it, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a killer phone. It’ll run as a normal Android phone, but flip it up and you got yourself a tablet. Samsung’s design is outstanding on this model too; it is near-perfect in its construction and execution.
With specs, they’re great too: it runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 5G+, 12GB of RAM, and it comes with 256GB of storage as standard. You don’t get any SD-support, however, but it does have a decent sized battery and a stunning OLED screen.
The Galaxy Z Fold also has a pretty decent camera made up of a trio of 12MP sensors with support for wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lens. Add in 32-bit/384kHz audio tuned by AKG and solid stereo speakers and it is easy to see why, when people buy foldable phones, it tends to be this one.
#6) VIVO X60 Pro
You might not have heard of VIVO, but it is the fourth biggest phone brand on the planet as of Q1 2021. Its growth is largely down to its cheaper phones. Like Xiaomi, it competes aggressively on price at all levels of the market.
But when VIVO makes a flagship, it is always very impressive. And the VIVO X60 Pro is testament to this fact. The phone runs a gorgeous 6.56in Super AMOLED display with HDR10+ and a 120Hz refresh rate.
Inside, you have a Snapdragon 888 5G chipset, a choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and 128GB or storage as standard. Although you can get the phone with 256GB as well. VIVO also included 55W fast charging as well.
The star of the show, however, is the VIVO X60 Pro’s camera which is made up of four sensors: a 50MP wide, an 8MP periscope telephoto, a 32MP telephoto, and a 48MP ultrawide. The camera module benefits from Zeiss optics and features gimbal stabilisation.
And if that wasn’t enough to get you pumped, VIVO’s software looks more or less identical to stock Android, so it just looks like a big, sexy Pixel phone when you’re using it – only here you’ve got WAY more spec and hardware at your disposal.
#1) Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Pros (Why You’d Buy It)
Samsung has three S20 models for your consideration – the Galaxy S20, the Galaxy S20 Plus, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra. The Ultra is the most expensive model, with the Galaxy S20 Plus sitting between it and the base model Galaxy S20. Our #1 pick from the range, however, would have to be the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus. And this is why…
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is a premium phone to be sure. It packs in a ton of bleeding-edge specs and hardware but, importantly, it is about $200/£200 cheaper than the S20 Ultra model. You get the same quad-lens camera on the rear, the same rapid-CPU, the same amount of RAM and storage, and it looks and feels just as premium.
If you can live without the S20 Ultra’s Ultra Space Zoom feature, as we can, then the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is the one to go for. From a performance and usability perspective, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is essentially the same as the Ultra – only it costs less. And that, for us, makes it a better value option.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus’ display, a 6.7in 120Hz OLED panel, is positively stunning to behold. You get support for 5G too, thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 chipset, as well as a 4500mAh battery that’ll provide all-day performance, even with heavy use. For me, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is the perfect Android phone. And while it is pricey, you do get A LOT of phone for your money.
And because you can get 5G with it, you’re essentially future-proofed for the next several years. The potent specs – basically overkill at this point – will provide solid performance for years to come, so if you do splurge out on this phone, you can rest assured that you will be able to use it for years to come.
Where To Get It:
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Pros
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is more or less the pinnacle of Samsung’s mobile output year-after-year. Launching a few months after the Galaxy S release, its Galaxy Note range has gone on to become the company’s unofficial flagship phone. And with good reason too.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is, perhaps, the best overall Android phone on the market right now – from design to overall performance and specs. Nothing else can really match Samsung’s Note 10 range. It’s a stunning looking phone with a great camera and one of the best OLED panels in the business.
On top of this, you have excellent software, a super-useful stylus in the form of the ever-evolving S-Pen, and bleeding-edge specs that drive the performance of the phone off into the stratosphere. I like the Galaxy S10, it’s a great phone, but the Galaxy Note 10 is like an RS version (if you know your cars, specifically Audi ones). And that, for me, makes this phone very special.
If you want the absolute best of the best, and you don’t mind paying for it, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 is just about as good as it gets right now in the Android kingdom.
Where To Get It:
OnePlus 7T Pros
OnePlus makes very good phones. And it sells them for about 40-50% less than the cost of an iPhone. This is the #1 reason why millions of users (iPhone ones included) have switched over to OnePlus in recent years.
The OnePlus 7T is an utter monster of a phone. It has a huge 6.5in OLED display, 8GB of RAM, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 CPU, and a triple 48MP camera on the rear that is one of the best in the business.
Chuck in blazingly fast performance, killer good looks, and it is easy to see why the OnePlus 7T almost tops our list of the best Android phones money can buy right now. If you like value for money, performance, good looks, and beautiful software, as well as a truly EPIC camera, this is the one to go for.
Where To Get It:
#4) Pixel 3a – Insane Value For Money
Pixel 3a Pros
A slightly cheaper version of Google’s Pixel 3 handset, the Pixel 3a has a plastic body and weaker internal tech, but retains the amazing camera talents of the original.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best camera phones money can buy right now; not only does it snap superlative shots in all conditions, it has one of the most impressive low-light shooting modes we’ve seen on any smartphone – and it costs less than half the price of most Android flagships.
If you want premium features but don’t want to break the bank, then this is a solid choice – the lack of water resistance and wireless charging are the only real downsides.
Where To Get It:
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Pros
Samsung’s phones are always at the front of the pack each year and 2019 is no exception; the Galaxy S10 is a true world-leader when it comes to smartphone tech and design. The screen uses a ‘hole-punch’ design which means there’s no massive bezel, and the phone is capable of charging other devices, like phones and wireless headphones.
The four-camera setup on the back of the S10 Plus offers astonishingly decent photos, while the cutting-edge Snapdragon 855 chipset keeps things ticking over nicely. All of this is wrapped up in a gorgeous design that combines glass with metal to nice effect. The only downside is that the Galaxy S10 Plus is really quite expensive.
Where To Get It:
#6) Huawei P30 Pro
Huawei P30 Pro Pros
The Huawei P30 Pro is fast becoming one of the most popular phones in 2019. And the reason? It packs in one of the best cameras we’ve ever seen packed inside a phone. It’s a triple-lens setup that features a 40MP main camera alongside an ultra-wide-angle 20MP unit and an 8MP telephoto lens that can handle lossless zoom over hundreds of yards.
Combined, they produce market-leading performance. The Huawei P30 Pro’s camera is better than the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s. It’s better than the Google Pixel 4’s too, so if you’re after a phone that is a market leader with respect to imaging, the Huawei P30 Pro is the one you should be looking at…
But it’s not just a brilliant camera phone. The Huawei P30 Pro also packs in some of the best performance you’re likely to see from an Android phone in 2019/20. It runs Huawei’s immensely powerful Kirin CPU, features 8GB of RAM, and comes with 128GB of storage as standard. This level of spec makes short work of everything – from web browsing to editing images and video.
Bottom line? The Huawei P30 Pro is easily one of the best Android phones money can buy right now – for imaging, for design, for performance. For everything, basically. Oh, and it’s A LOT cheaper than the iPhone 11 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
Where To Get It:
In a world of $1000+ phones, finding a top Android phone for less than $500 might seem like a challenge. But right now, you actually have a lot of really good options…
Best Android Phones Under $500 (Our #1 Picks)
If you want the best possible Android experience, consistent and timely updates, and a fantastic camera, then the Google Pixel 3 XL is very hard to beat right now. Retailing for just $529, the Google Pixel 3 XL is the cheapest “flagship” Pixel phone you can buy right now. And in my opinion, it is a better option than the overpriced Pixel 4 XL.
I’ve been using the Pixel 3 XL ever since it first launched, earlier in 2018. I love the size of it, I love the software, and, for the asking price and specs inside, I think it is just about the best value Android phone money can buy right now.
Where To Get It:
If you want a Samsung phone, but you don’t want to pay Galaxy S10/Galaxy Note 10 money, then the Samsung Galaxy A70 is worth a look. The Galaxy A70 features a triple-lens camera on the rear, a beautiful, expansive AMOLED panel, and packs in some of the best battery life of any phone on this list.
Inside you have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 675 CPU backed up by 6GB of RAM and this combination will make short work of everything from GPU-intensive games to image and video editing. In fact, it is one of the best performing mid-range Android phones around right now.
But the best thing about the Samsung Galaxy A70 is its price; you can pick one up for less than $400 right now. And that, combined with its good looks, excellent performance, and totally BADASS camera make it one of the #1 Android phones you can buy right now for under $500…
Where To Get It:
#4) Xiaomi Mi 9
Xiaomi cut its teeth in China making high-end, flagship-grade Android phones and then selling them for next to nothing online and in its stores. It grew rapidly during the past several years and the company has now ventured outside its native China into the US and UK markets. And its latest, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is one hell of an Android phone…
The Xiaomi Mi 9 looks like a flagship phone, it has flagship-grade specs and hardware. The imaging performance is brilliant. And if that wasn’t enough it packs in a stunning 6.39in QHD AMOLED panel, 6GB of RAM, and comes with either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage as standard.
There are many things to love about the Xiaomi Mi 9; its price, its triple-lens camera, it’s face-melting performance. But the key thing to remember is this: in terms of specs, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is more than equal to the Galaxy S10 or Galaxy Note 10, only with this phone, you’ll be paying less than $500 to acquire it…
Where To Get It:
Best For Camera?
All the above options have great cameras, but, for me, I think it is the OnePlus 7T that serves up the best overall imaging performance. You have a 48MP sensor backed up by a 5MP sensor that takes care of depth (AKA that bokeh effect everybody loves).
The result? Stunningly realistic images. The OnePlus 6T was impressive in this context, but the OnePlus 7T takes things several steps further, adding in support for things like advanced depth-sensing via its secondary 5MP sensor. The resulting images look more life-like and engaging.
Best For Battery Life?
All the phones listed above have great battery life, but the best of the best is the Samsung Galaxy A70. And the reason is simple: it packs in a massive 4500mAh battery that’ll provide a solid 1.5 days’ worth of usage before requiring a top-up. If battery life is your chief concern, the Galaxy A70 is KING in this price bracket.
Best For Android Updates?
The best option for reliable, timely Android updates is, of course, the Google Pixel 3a – it’s cheap, it runs the purest version of Android of any phone on this list, and it will get Android 10 and beyond as soon as they’re released by Google.
Things To Keep In Mind…
The phones listed above are solid options. But they all do certain things differently, which you should keep in mind before buying one. The OnePlus 7T, for me, is probably the best overall option for specs and performance, but it isn’t as good as the Pixel 3a for things like timely Android updates.
Conversely, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is brilliant for looks, camera technology, and battery life. But it isn’t quite as powerful as the OnePlus 7 or Xiaomi Mi 9, when it comes to processing performance, as it uses a less powerful CPU. And these are things you need to keep in mind.
Recap of The Best Android Phones You Can Buy Right Now:
- Google Pixel 3a – Incredible value for money; instant Android updates as soon as they’re ready; solid performance; great camera; simple UX; no bloatware; a headphone jack; perfect phone for anyone that wants something simple and powerful that runs Android.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10 – This is probably the best Android phone on the planet right now for overall performance, looks, and general awesomeness. It’s pricey, but the attention to detail that has gone into designing and creating this phone, as well as its specs, performance, and camera, make its lofty price tag understandable. It wipes the floor with everything, including Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max.
- OnePlus 7T – Probably the best value “flagship” phone on the planet; blisteringly fast performance; great design; an advanced camera that captures amazing pictures; great battery life; iPhone 11 Pro-grade performance for half the price.
- Samsung Galaxy A70 – Good-looking design; insane battery life.
- Xiaomi Mi 9 – Beautiful design; expansive AMOLED display; big battery life; excellent performance; high-end processing performance; tons of internal storage.
Damien McFerran has been covering phones and mobile technology for well over a decade. An Android specialist, as well as an expert reviewer of phones, Damien is one of the best technology journalists working today. He is also editorial director over at the excellent Nintendo Life.