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What's the best Android phone? We tested hundreds, here are our top 8
Choosing the best Android phone can seem overwhelming with so many choices, but ultimately it comes down to a few simple questions:
- How far can you stretch your budget?
- How important are cameras to you?
- Will you play games or run demanding mobile apps?
- What’s your preference when it comes to size and form factor? Smaller? Larger? Folding?
Once you know what’s important to you, the list narrows down considerably. If you’re not too familiar with smartphone tech, check out our detailed buyer’s guide for more info. If you’re feeling comfortable and confident, check out our top picks below. We’ve tested and reviewed hundreds of devices and picked out the best Android phones you can buy in 2023, starting with a device we think everyone will love.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus is the best Android phone for most people
We’re still working on our full Galaxy S23 Plus review, but judging by our early impressions, it’s a clear successor to our previous top recommendation, the Galaxy S22 Plus. It’s not as flashy (or expensive) as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it gets nearly all the way there for significantly less money.
As expected from a Samsung flagship, the performance is absolutely stellar. There’s no Exynos model this time around, with Samsung teaming up with Qualcomm to create a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 “for Galaxy” chipset variant for each of the three phones. We’re still benchmarking this new chip versus its standardized counterpart, but our early testing was impressive. In fact, we stated that at this point, “everyday performance is a solved issue.”
Battery life is another area we’re still actively testing, but again, early results are promising. For reference, we got about seven hours of battery life from last year’s Galaxy S22 Plus, and the new version has a slightly larger battery at 4,700mAh. It has the same 45W charging as the previous model, which charged from 0 to 100% in about 50 minutes.
If you want a premium smartphone that can do it all, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the one to get.
Although the Galaxy S23 Plus isn’t the very best camera phone you can buy, it’s certainly a capable shooter. It has the same sensors as the previous model, which we found to produce spectacular photos. In other phones, we’ve often found that the secondary lenses don’t match the main sensor when it comes to white balance or exposure, but that wasn’t the case in our testing. All three lenses were useful, making this one of the best all-around camera phones you can buy (with most alternatives costing much more).
Apart from cameras and the chipset, the Galaxy S23 Plus is a complete, premium package. These are the first phones to have Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection, and the “Armour Aluminum” build looks and feels great. The physical design of the phone is also stellar and leaves nothing to be desired from the Galaxy S23 Ultra (except for the S Pen). This is a very premium phone, and it even comes in a wide variety of colorways to suit your style.
In terms of software, Samsung’s One UI is one of the most fully-featured Android skins you can get. It has everything and the kitchen sink — almost to its detriment. We found far too many preinstalled apps during our testing, and although most can be uninstalled, many cannot. Despite this slight feature creep, there’s a lot you can do to make your phone look and work exactly as you want it to. It also has exceptional synergy with Samsung’s wearables like the Galaxy Watch 5, with some features being exclusive to Samsung phones.
Another big selling point is Samsung’s unbeatable software support, which now offers a full five years of security updates and four years of Android version updates. No Android brand can match that, not even Google itself. If you’re looking for a premium smartphone that can do it all without pushing past $1,000 MSRP, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the one to get.
What makes it stand out
- Versatile cameras: All three of the S23 Plus’ cameras are high performers, capable of snapping great pictures in a huge variety of situations.
- Premium design: Samsung is the king of the Android world, and the S23 Plus pulls out (almost) all the stops.
- Flawless performance: Expect no stutters or slowdown no matter what you throw at this phone.
- Gorgeous display: This is one of the brightest and most vivid displays we’ve ever tested, and it’s fully usable outside on the brightest of days.
- Software support: Samsung’s unparalleled commitment to updates ensures four years of software updates and five years of security updates.
The best of the rest
While we think the Galaxy S23 Plus is the best Android phone for most people, there are plenty of other great options out there. If you’re looking for something a bit more niche, here are our picks for the best of the rest:
- Google Pixel 7: For a great Android phone on a tighter budget, the Pixel 7 is an incredible value. Instead of specs, it focuses on what makes smartphones great: cameras and fantastic software features.
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: The true successor to the Note 20 Ultra, the S23 Ultra is the most feature-packed and premium smartphone you can buy outside of foldable.
- Asus ROG Phone 6: For mobile gamers, the ROG Phone 6 offers everything you could possibly need and then some, including hardware triggers and a robust ecosystem of accessories.
- Google Pixel 7 Pro: The Pixel 7 Pro is larger and has better cameras than the Pixel 7, while still remaining more affordable than the vast majority of flagship Android phones out there.
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4: As far as foldables go, the Z Flip 4 is the easiest to recommend. Its pocketable size and attractive design make it a great pick for most people, and after a few iterations of polish, there are now very few tradeoffs for the Flip’s clamshell-style foldable form factor.
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: If you have money to burn, the Z Fold 4 is the most premium device you can buy. It folds out into a tablet and supports an S Pen, making it a unique experience in the Android phone world.
- Google Pixel 6a: Not everyone can afford to spend more than $500 on a phone, which is where this budget option comes in. It’s slightly cheaper than the Pixel 7, but still offers nearly the same experience.
The Google Pixel 7 is the best value Android phone
It should come as no surprise to see Google make the list of the best Android phones, but the Google Pixel 7 is in a really unique spot. It’s not quite as premium as the Galaxy S22 Plus above, but it hits all the key points while maintaining a price and value that’s unmatched by any other device. You won’t find a better phone for this price without dipping into Apple’s devices, and even then there are some major tradeoffs. It took second place in our Editor’s Choice awards for 2022, only trailing its larger sibling the Pixel 7 Pro.
The Pixel 7 launched with the second iteration of Google’s in-house Tensor chip, which we’re happy to report is another winner for the company. It’s focused on machine learning and image processing rather than raw power, but in our testing we found it to perform just fine in daily tasks. We experienced no hiccups while scrolling or playing demanding games, but it did heat up quickly. That means that sustained performance and battery life take a hit.
Speaking of battery life, the Pixel 7 fared very well, and depending on your use you might be able to hit two full days on a single charge. However, charging is painfully slow, taking an hour and 41 minutes to top off in our testing. We also noticed that the battery drains quickly while shooting pictures and video, especially using the new Cinematic mode. There’s also no charger in the box, which is unfortunately par for the course for new releases. Software is once again a huge plus, with tons of Pixel-exclusive features on offer. That list will only grow as time goes on.
Like all Pixel phones, the Pixel 7 places a special focus on photography while keeping things as simple as possible. After extensive testing, we’re convinced this is one of the best camera phones of all time. Exposure, colors, and detail were all excellent in a wide range of scenarios, although very low-light photos were a bit grainy. There’s also no telephoto lens — you’ll need the Pixel 7 Pro for that.
Ultimately, the Pixel 7 isn’t a big change from the Pixel 6, but in this case that’s a good thing. There are minor improvements and fixes throughout (the fingerprint sensor being a big one), and it retains the very attractive $599 price point. That makes it one of the cheapest options on our list of the best Android phones, and you’re not sacrificing a thing.
What makes it stand out
- Value: Google priced the Pixel 7 very competitively, and the only phones than compete on price are other Pixel phones.
- Excellent photos: The Pixel 7 is a great point-and-shoot camera, mostly thanks to the continued focus on image processing.
- Software smarts: Clever Pixel features like Magic Eraser and AI call screening continue to grow and improve over time.
The best premium Android phone is the Galaxy S23 Ultra
The Pixel 7 might offer the best value, but if you want all the bells and whistles, we recommend the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It combines the best of the Galaxy S series with the best of the now-defunct Note series into the ultimate power user’s phone, though you certainly have to pay for it.
Starting with the physical aspects of the phone, the landmark feature here is the S Pen. It’s a big part of what made the Note series a power user’s dream, and it tucks away inside the body of the device for easy storage. We were also happy to discover that the S Pen has a grippy texture, making it easy to hold while navigating, writing, or doing anything else the stylus can do.
Make no mistake about it, this is a very large device. The dynamic AMOLED display is a whopping 6.8 inches, which for us was simply too large to use with one hand. If you’re coming from a smaller phone, the waterfall edges and sharp corners at the top and bottom of the device will take some getting used to. The screen itself, though, is gorgeous. It’s one of the brightest and sharpest screens we’ve ever tested, and changing the resolution or refresh rate is an easy way to eke out more battery life in a pinch.
As far as performance goes, you can expect the Galaxy S23 Ultra to perform absolutely flawlessly in everyday use. As mentioned above, the custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset used in the S23 lineup is the best that’s currently out there, and when paired with the 12GB of RAM on the top-end model, this thing is a beast. It also sports an impressive connectivity suite, with support for all of the latest and greatest standards like Wi-Fi 6E, mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, and ultra-wideband for things like Bluetooth trackers (such as Samsung’s own Galaxy SmartTags).
While aesthetically the Galaxy S23 Ultra is nearly identical to the Galaxy S22 Ultra (aside from an adjustment to the camera housing), the new model features a 200MP main sensor that uses Samsung’s Isocell HP2 sensor. Naturally, final images are pixel binned down to 12.5MP, but it should improve low-light performance. We’re still working on our full camera review, but our initial impression is that it isn’t a massive step up. It’s certainly better, but it uses the same 1/1.3-inch sensor as the previous generation, so improvements are just incremental. Still, considering the Galaxy S22 Ultra was our pick for the best camera phone of last year, it should still land head and shoulders above the competition.
Ultimately, whether or not this phone is for you will likely depend on your budget. It starts at $1200, but what you’re getting is one of the absolute best Android phones on the market. Thankfully, this year the base model features 256GB of storage, so you won’t need to shell out more unless you really want 12GB of RAM.
What makes it stand out
- Impressive design: The S23 Ultra is one of the most feature-packed, premium devices on the market.
- Perfect performance: This phone pulls out all the stops now that the base model has been upgraded to 256GB.
- The best camera in the biz: A versatile four-camera setup provides the best shooting experience you’ll find in the mobile world.
The ROG Phone 6 is the best Android phone for gaming
Phones marketed at gamers have always had some glaring omissions or unusual design choices, but the ROG Phone 6 is a welcome exception. Not only is it the best gaming phone you can buy, but it also does away with most of the typical pitfalls of niche gaming devices.
Starting with the gaming features, the big thing here is the inclusion of hardware shoulder buttons called Airtriggers. These reside where your pointer fingers rest while holding the device in landscape, providing a similar experience to using triggers on a console controller. We didn’t find them quite as satisfying to use as real triggers though, because they don’t click down. Instead, they use an ultrasonic sensor with no moving parts. Thankfully, the phone does provide some haptic feedback. We were also impressed by the software support for this feature with nine mappable gestures, press and lift settings, and ten different motion control gestures.
As a gaming device, you’d also expect power, and the ROG Phone 6 delivers. It has the same suped-up Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 as many other late 2022 flagships, but still edged ahead of the competition in our head-to-head benchmark tests. In fact, both the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro topped the charts, beating out far more expensive devices like the S22 Ultra. This is due to improved heat dissipation, which has been the biggest weakness of modern processors. For even better performance, Asus sells an Aero Cooler 6 accessory to lower those temps. With the cooler equipped and Asus’ X-Mode performance toggle activated, the ROG Phone 6 managed to achieve a stable 60fps in the most demanding games like Genshin Impact and Apex Legends Mobile during our testing.
How does the phone fare apart from gaming performance? Quite well. It has a bright, bespoke 165Hz AMOLED display with much faster touch sampling than we’ve seen anywhere else (720Hz) for maximum response times. The build quality isn’t quite as premium as other phones in this price bracket, but we thought it still felt great in the hand, if a bit heavy. Aesthetics are decidedly “gamer,” but if your home PC is already RGB’d up, you’ll probably be into it.
Camera performance is just fine, but no one is buying this phone for the camera. Battery life, on the other hand, is stellar. We found that the beefy 6,000mAh cell could hit two days of regular use, or, since we know you’re wondering, anywhere from three to six hours of gaming at max settings. Oh, and it also includes a powerful 65W charger in the box, which topped off the phone in just 36 minutes in our tests.
As mentioned above, there are two versions of this phone: the ROG Phone 6 and the ROG Phone 6 Pro. Between the two, we recommend getting the cheaper ROG Phone 6. The Pro model adds a few bells and whistles (like a neat, but not very useful screen on the back), but you’re better off saving the money to buy more accessories. Performance is identical on both phones, and in this case, that’s what really matters. There’s also the ROG Phone 6D series which trades out Qualcomm’s silicon for Meditatek’s flagship processors. While it offers some novel tweaks, such as an air vent for the included Aero Cooler on the 6D Ultimate model, we found that the regular ROG Phone 6 family outscored its D-branded counterparts in the GPU stakes.
What makes it stand out
- One for the gamers: With tip-top performance and built-in hardware triggers, this is the best gaming phone you can buy.
- Stellar battery life: A massive battery cell will keep this phone chugging for days (or several hours of intense gaming).
- Useful accessories: Asus created an entire ecosystem of accessories for this phone, from controllers to coolers and more.
The best affordable Android flagship is the Pixel 7 Pro
We’ve already extolled the virtues of the standard Google Pixel 7 above, but now it’s time for the Pixel 7 Pro to get its time in the limelight. It doesn’t offer quite as much value as its smaller sibling, but it has a host of features that you won’t find on any other flagship in this price range. If you want a premium phone and don’t want a Samsung, we think the Pixel 7 Pro is the perfect alternative. In fact, it was voted by our readers as the hottest phone of 2022.
The main thing that makes the Pixel 7 Pro unique, apart from its sizable and gorgeous 6.7-inch display that nearly matches the Galaxy S23 Ultra, is the camera setup. The Pixel 7 Pro bested all of the other options in our 2022 blind camera test, earning the top spot from both readers and Android Authority staff. All of the advantages listed for the regular Pixel 7 still apply here — great detail, excellent color accuracy, and software features like Magic Eraser to further enhance photos in post.
However, the Pixel 7 Pro takes things to the next level with an upgraded ultrawide lens with autofocus and macro focus, plus an additional telephoto lens. This gives the Pixel 7 Pro even more versatility than its smaller cousin, and again results are phenomenal. If we had to nitpick, the only thing we didn’t like was the lack of manual controls, although those are pretty niche on smartphones, anyway.
The Pixel 7 Pro has the same Tensor G2 processor as the Pixel 7, and again it delivers. It won’t win any speed tests, but it more than gets the job done. Battery life is also great, easily lasting a day and a half in our testing. Charging speeds are again lacking, taking more than an hour and a half to reach full charge. Thankfully, Google’s Adaptive Charging mode lets you charge slowly overnight without damaging your battery. This worked well in our testing, and should help preserve battery health in the long run.
At the end of the day, the Pixel 7 Pro is easily capable of standing toe-to-toe with the best from Apple and Samsung. The idiot-proof camera performs exactly as you’d want it to, and with a starting price of $899, it undercuts flagship devices from the competition. The best alternative is the vanilla Pixel 7, which is almost as good and much less expensive.
What makes it stand out
- Versatile cameras: Google finally achieves a great camera trifecta, with improved resolutions and a telephoto lens to boot.
- Gorgeous screen: Pixel smartphones have favored smaller screens in recent years, but this one goes big. It’s speedy, bright, pixel-rich, and easily competes with the S23 Ultra.
- Software smarts: No other smartphone can boast the breadth of software features found on Pixel smartphones, and the gap will only grow with time.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the best foldable Android phone for most people
A few years ago, foldable devices were a very small niche, with far too many caveats to recommend to anyone but ambitious early adopters. Now, this budding category has matured, and for most people, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a killer Android phone to buy.
Granted, the latest model isn’t a huge change over what the company has put out in the past. It’s more of a refinement of what worked from the previous generation. Considering the Z Flip 3 was previously the best and most popular foldable on the market, that’s not a bad thing. It addressed all of the pain points we had with its predecessor, chief among them battery life. The Z Flip 4 averaged four to five hours of battery life in our testing, which is still less than a traditional flagship, but enough to get through a typical day. It took about 75 minutes to top back off with a wired charger or 90 minutes with a wireless charger in testing, although unfortunately neither are included in the box.
But the real unique selling points here are the form factor and software. The 6.7-inch foldable AMOLED screen was speedy and bright in our testing, and it’s a bit less wide than traditional displays, which makes it easier to use with one hand. The crease is as visible as ever, but your eyes get used to it quickly, trust us. We also found the Cover Screen on the front to be handy for checking the time or notifications without opening the device, which helps save battery life and avoid distractions. The tiny screen can also serve as a viewfinder when using the external cameras for selfies, and the resulting photos were much more impressive than the internal cameras in our testing.
The phone works pretty much like a normal phone when fully open, but when half open, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. The “Flex mode” panel enables unique features for certain apps like Chrome or Calendar. Our favorite integration is with the camera, which places the shutter button on the bottom half and the viewfinder on the top half. While holding it half open this turns the phone into a kind of camcorder, or on a table it turns the phone into a fun way to take group selfies. Apart from these special features, Samsung’s One UI software is among the best in the business, and its software updates truly are the best in the Android world, as mentioned above.
As you’d expect from a flagship Samsung phone, performance is stellar. The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor was as capable as ever in our benchmark tests, despite the smaller form factor. We experienced no hiccups whatsoever, although it did heat up a bit with extended use. Camera performance is also great and a welcome upgrade over its predecessor, although it still isn’t on the same level as the same chipset in Samsung’s traditional flagships in the Galaxy S22 lineup.
At the end of the day, if you’ve ever considered trying a folding device, now is the time to try the Z Flip 4. It’s stylish, performs great, and the clamshell design is just plain cool. There’s simply nothing like it. It’s also relatively affordable, although if you want to save a little money you can also opt for last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 3, which is remarkably similar, but with notably worse battery life.
What makes it stand out
- It flips: As the name suggests, the clamshell design saves a lot of space in your bag or pocket and enables unique features.
- Useful cover display: The main screen is speedy and bright, but the front screen is also useful, serving as a viewfinder and more.
- Improved battery life: It’s still not as good as a traditional flagship, but it has the best battery life we’ve ever seen on a small foldable.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the best Android phone for power users
While we still think the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the best foldable for most consumers, there is a strong case to be made for the Z Fold 4. It’s not quite as convenient (or affordable) as its smaller sibling, but for power users, there’s a lot to like about Samsung’s book-style foldable. Much like the Z Flip 4, it refines a product that was already at the top of its field, providing an even better (and still unparalleled) experience.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the powerhouse of traditional phones, but the Z Fold 4 takes things up a notch by unfolding into a bright and sharp 7.6-inch screen. This tablet-like form factor adds a level of productivity you won’t find anywhere else, and combined with an S Pen (which unfortunately isn’t included in the box) and some new features unique to Android 12L, this thing is a beast. If you’ve never heard of it, Android 12L is a special version of Android intended for devices with larger screens, and we found it to be perfect for the Z Fold 4. It essentially adds a taskbar like you’d find on a computer, putting all of your most used apps a single tap away.
Camera performance is also top-notch, and finally competes with the best of the best, albeit not the absolute elite. It shares two of the same lenses as the Galaxy S22 Plus, which we already know is a great performer with consistently good white balance and exposure. It pairs these with a third 12MP ultrawide camera, which we found to have a slightly different color profile than the other lenses. However, photos were generally good, and it managed to keep distortion to a minimum at 0.6x. It’s worth noting that the interior screen has an under-display selfie camera, which leaves you with more screen real estate, but like others we’ve tested it’s pretty awful in real-world use. Thankfully, the more traditional Cover Screen you’ll use when the Fold 4 is closed has its own superior selfie camera.
Apart from that, it’s flagship performance across the board. We found that even with the larger screen, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 gives the device all the power it needs. It faired a bit better in sustained performance than the Z Flip 4, winning the title of the most powerful foldable you can buy. Battery life is ok, averaging five and a half hours of screen time in our testing and taking roughly 85 minutes to top off. It’s worth noting that these results were with the fastest 120Hz display speeds turned on. You may get longer battery life by lowering the speeds or relying more heavily on the Cover Screen instead of the larger folding screen.
And now the bad part: this thing starts at $1,800. That price also doesn’t include an S Pen, which is an additional $49 for the Fold edition and $99 for the Pro edition with advanced Bluetooth controls. There’s also nowhere to stow the S Pen, so you’ll need a case for that too. Clearly, this is not the device for anyone on a budget, although you can save a bit by opting for the older Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is often on sale for half the price. Camera performance will be much worse, but the software and productivity features are nearly identical.
What makes it stand out
- It folds: The unique design folds out into a be a bright, sharp 7.6-inch tablet panel with a near-square aspect ratio.
- Excellent cameras: The Z Fold 4 finally has cameras to match its flagship price, competing with the best of the best.
- Marvelous multitasking: Thanks to unique Android 12L features and S Pen support, the Z Fold 4 is a multitasker’s dream device.
The Pixel 6a is the best affordable Android phone
The mid-range Android phone market is a crowded space, but our favorite among them is the Google Pixel 6a. It shares many of the same benefits as the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, but at a slightly more affordable price. It’s also significantly smaller. At 6.1 inches, it’s the smallest option on our list of the best Android phones, and we think it’s the perfect size for one-handed use.
Another big benefit is the Tensor chip, which is closer to flagship performance than most mid-rangers can muster. As such, it has all of the same exclusive software features as its pricier siblings. However, it once again heated up quickly in our testing, which really hurt the overall battery life. That was the real Achilles’ heel in our testing, struggling to make it through a full day. Results were better with battery-saver mode on, although you’ll still need to top off at least once a day. With the fastest-supported 18W wired charger (not included in the box), it took about an hour and 45 minutes to charge, which is slower than most rivals. There’s also no wireless charging, which isn’t surprising in this price range.
What the Pixel 6a does do right is the camera. Using the primary shooter, we got some really excellent shots, with accurate colors and an impressive natural bokeh effect. However, it’s still just a 12.2MP sensor, so zooming in revealed its limitations in terms of detail capture, especially when compared to the 50MP sensors on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. There’s also an ultrawide camera, which produced great colors and little distortion. Both cameras also have Night Sight for low-light photos, which cheaper devices from Samsung and iPhone can’t match.
Although we recommend the Pixel 6a for most users, it’s worth noting that there are some strong alternatives. Most notably, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is a very well-rounded phone that covers a lot of the Pixel 6a’s weaknesses. Cameras and software performance are slightly worse, but it can easily achieve two days of battery life. The other big alternative here is the standard Pixel 7, which is our value pick above. Get that one if you can afford it.
What makes it stand out
- Affordability: It isn’t quite a budget device, but for the price, you won’t find anything better.
- Camera performance: As expected from a Pixel device, this is the best camera phone in its price bracket.
- Software smarts: Google’s software magic trickles down to its cheaper devices as well, offering a unique perk.
While we’ve listed the best Android phones we’ve tested above, there are a few more options out there that might better suit your needs. Some are Europe-only, and others are just a bit too niche to earn a top spot on the list. Here are our honorable mentions:
- Asus Zenfone 9: Want a more traditional small flagship? The Asus Zenfone 9 brings the power of a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 into an adorable 5.9-inch device.
- Galaxy S23: The standard S23 gets outclassed by its bigger siblings, but if you want a smaller Android phone it’s still a great pick. It’s nearly as capable as the S23 Plus, but the big tradeoffs are battery life, charging speeds, and base storage.
- Oppo Find X5 Pro: This is probably the most striking smartphone design we’ve ever seen, and it’s not just a pretty face. It’s got great cameras and battery life, but it’s not available in the US.
- Samsung Galaxy A53 5G: The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is an all-around excellent mid-range device. It’s overshadowed by Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy S series phones, but it’s a great pick for anyone on a budget.
- Nothing Phone 1: Nothing’s freshman smartphone is a great first effort, and the Glyph on the back is a unique selling point. However, the budget device isn’t available in the US.
- Vivo X80 Pro: The Vivo X80 Pro is another non-US pick, and it’s clearly the best phone Vivo has ever made (if you can put up with a bit of software bloat).
- Sony Xperia 1 III: If you want hardware that spares no expense, the Xperia 1 III is it. We really liked the device in our review, but it’s just too expensive to take one of the top spots. The Xperia 1 IV is a newer version, but the 1 III is still a better value considering the fourth-generation phone starts at a whopping $1,600.
What we look for in the best Android phones
Here at Android Authority, we’ve reviewed hundreds of Android phones over the years, but you may have different criteria when selecting the device for you. Here’s a short list of things we consider during our time with each device so you can decide which ones are a priority.
Price and value
Smartphones are now regularly pushing $1,000 or more, but spending more won’t always get you a better device. We look at price in relation to what a phone and its competitors offer, both from a hardware and software perspective. Obviously, in this particular list, we’re looking at the cream of the Android crop so you’ll find mostly flagship devices, but we’ve got a separate list for the best budget Android devices, too.
When we talk about performance, we’re mostly talking about a phone’s processor or system on a chip (SoC). At this point, even mid-range devices are capable of great everyday performance, but the latest Qualcomm powerhouses are necessary for smooth scrolling on speedy, high-resolution screens or getting the best framerates in demanding games. Other options, like Google’s Tensor, focus on machine learning to unlock things like better photo processing and real-time translation. Another thing we consider is RAM. We recommend at least 6GB of RAM for the best experience, with gains falling off after 12GB.
For the best Android phones, we expect more than a single lens to provide more versatility in mobile photography. Megapixel counts play some role here in providing good detail, but nowadays the biggest determining factor is software. Google has traditionally been the king of photo processing, but others like Samsung, Sony, and Oppo are also top performers. Check out our camera shootout for samples of the best of the best.
5G isn’t quite as ubiquitous as we’d like in 2023, but if you’re buying a new phone, we recommend devices with 5G to futureproof it as much as possible. It’s worth mentioning that there are a few flavors of 5G available: the speedy but short-range mmWave and the slightly-less-speedy sub-6GHz. Not all phones support mmWave, but unless you live in a major city in the US, odds are you don’t need it.
Most premium Android phones are made of some combination of glass and metal, but they vary in how much protection they provide. Gorilla Glass Victus is significantly more resistant than Gorilla Glass 5, for example, although you’ll probably want to slap a case on it regardless. You should also keep in mind that foldable devices are particularly prone to damage, especially in the vulnerable hinge mechanism.
What about iPhones?
You’ve just finished reading about the best Android phones, so we have an idea of where you stand in the iOS vs Android debate. However, nothing is ever set in stone. If you have an iPad or maybe a MacBook, you might decide that it’s best to stick with Apple’s ecosystem. On the other hand, you might be ready to break free and tap into more customization options. You’ll face different app selections on both platforms, but it’s all about your comfort level.
You’re in luck because we have a handy guide to help here too. There are some specific options for seniors with simplified menus, or we recommend a Samsung device for its Easy Mode feature. You can also load up a launcher like Big Launcher or Simple Launcher to make menus and dialers more approachable.
We talk an awful lot about RAM every time we mention a smartphone, but how much is enough? Luckily, we have yet another in-depth guide to help you out. If you’re only covering the bare basics, you might be able to get away with 4GB, but 8GB is more appropriate if you have eyes on multitasking. Some heavy-duty gamers might even want 12GB or 16GB just to keep up with anything and everything.
Yes! Well, some of them. Most recent flagships are worth buying, even up to a year or two after release. You can usually save a good amount of money at this point and still get good performance. At this point, we don’t recommend buying a 4G flagship, but most 5G flagships are still good to go.
This is a tricky one. If you’re eyeing a flagship device, you’ve probably seen the likes of the Snapdragon Plus 8 Gen 1, Dimensity 9000, and Exynos 2200 thrown around. Each comes with its own list of devices, but we’ve put them through the wringer for you. You can check out our comparison results and know that we put every phone through a series of tests to measure its performance under stress.