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Here are the best smartphones offering a near-stock Android experience

Keep it clean and simple with stock Android.
By

Published onApril 21, 2024

Google Pixel 8 Pro
MSRP: $999.99
Check price
Positives
Excellent cameras
Improved wired charging
Premium build
Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations
Industry-leading update promise
Negatives
Tensor G3 still benchmarks behind the best
Gimmicky temperature sensor
Some features not available at launch
Google Pixel 8
MSRP: $699.00
Check price
Positives
Solid cameras
Faster wired charging
Industry-leading update promise
Unique AI features
Compact size
Negatives
Tensor G3 lags behind in benchmarks
Missing features reserved for the Pixel 8 Pro
No telephoto camera
Google Pixel 7a
MSRP: $499.00
Check price
Positives
The best sub-$500 camera phone
Solid performance and plenty of RAM
Neat size and design
Smooth, feature-rich software
Improved 90Hz display
Great upgrade commitment
Negatives
Slow wired charging, even slower wireless charging
Mediocre battery life
Tensor G2 runs hot
Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a are better value
Google Pixel Fold
MSRP: $1,799.00
Check price
Positives
Excellent cameras
Polished design
Comfortable displays
Smooth, well-supported software
Pixel-exclusive features
Solid RAM and storage options
Negatives
Lack of optimized apps
Mediocre battery life
Tensor G2 continues to run hot
Quite heavy
Expensive
ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro
MSRP: $1,199.00
Check price
Positives
Sleek design
Powerful processor
Ultra-Portable
Gaming controls
AI utilities
AniMe vision display
Negatives
Smaller battery
Short update timeline
ASUS ROG Phone 8
MSRP: $1,099.00
Check price
Positives
Zenfone-like design
IP68 rated, finally
Wireless charging support
Super-stable video
Fast charging and excellent battery life
Solid camera hardware for a gaming phone
Negatives
Expensive
Over-sharpened photos
Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra
MSRP: $899.99
Check price
Positives
Nicely built
Universal fast charging
Good AI features
Video stabilization and bokeh
Sleek, stock-like software
Handy back-tap gestures
Negatives
Inconsistent cameras
No 4K recording on all lenses
So-so update policy
Sony Xperia 1 V
MSRP: $1,399.99
Check price
Positives
Excellent battery life
Great build
Improved cameras
Solid performance
Price cut over previous gen
Negatives
No update commitment
Older display tech
Mediocre charging
Still expensive
Motorola Edge Plus (2023)
MSRP: $799.00
Check price
Positives
Excellent wired charging
Powerful performance
Premium construction
Snappy refresh rate display
Good value
Solid camera trio
Negatives
Video stabilization is lacking
Limited camera zoom
Edge display is prone to accidental presses
Some customized bloatware
No always-on display option
Nothing Phone 2
MSRP: $599.00
Check price
Positives
Expertly crafted, effortlessly cool design
Brighter, beautiful OLED display
Solid main camera
Flagship-tier performance
Great battery life and fast, versatile charging options
Excellent value
Negatives
Mediocre ultrawide camera
Only IP54
Outdated Gorilla Glass
Tinny speakers
Selfie video capped at 1080p/30fps
Quick to throttle under GPU load

Most phone makers add a custom UI on top of Android — such as OnePlus’ OxygenOS or Samsung’s One UI — with extra features and a different design. However, these so-called “skins” often come with pre-installed apps and extra flare, which impacts the overall user experience. That’s why there’s a demand for phones with stock Android, which a manufacturer hasn’t modified.

If you’re in the market for a phone running stock Android, you might be sad to hear true stock Android is pretty hard to find these days. Even Pixel handsets come with the Pixel UI launcher. Save for Android One handsets, which are affordable and meant for emerging markets, pretty much all devices have some modifications. This is why we’ll mainly focus on phones with a “near-stock Android” experience.

The best phones with near-stock Android

Editor’s note: We will regularly update this list of the best near-stock Android phones as new devices launch.


Google Pixel 8 series

google pixel 8 pro vs pixel 8 cameras hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Of course, the latest and greatest from Google will obviously be among the best phones with near-stock Android. These are the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Both come with a refined design, improved upon the one we saw in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6 series.

These feature high-end performance, even if the Tensor G3 chipset can get a bit too hot. As expected, the cameras are among the best the industry has to offer. Overall, these phones are meant to compete only against the best.

Because they are Google phones, the search giant is promising a pretty healthy update promise, too. These will get a whopping seven years of OS upgrades! And while these are very close to stock Android, Google always manages to add some great, non-intrusive, Pixel-only features to its devices.

Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Pixel 8 Pro
AA Editor's Choice
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Excellent cameras • Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations • Industry-leading update promise
MSRP: $999.99
Powerful Google phone with powerful camera features
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is packed with unique camera features and AI-assisted software that puts the smart into smartphone.
Google Pixel 8
Google Pixel 8
AA Recommended
Google Pixel 8
Bright display • Upgraded face-unlock • Improved camera
MSRP: $699.00
A bright display from Google's 2023 flagship phone
The Google Pixel 8 introduces the new Actua display, a 6.2-inch panel that's 42% brighter than the Pixel 7. Backed by the fully updated Tensor G3 chipset, and a new 50MP camera, this promises to be one of the more exciting Pixel phones.

Google Pixel 8 specs:

  • Display: 6.2-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Google Tensor G3
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 50 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 10.5MP
  • Battery: 4,575mAh
  • Software: Android 14

Pixel 8 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, 1,344 x 2,992
  • SoC: Google Tensor G3
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512/1,024GB
  • Cameras: 50, 48, and 48MP
  • Front camera: 10.5MP
  • Battery: 5,050mAh
  • Software: Android 14

Google Pixel 7a

google pixel 7a packaging box - Phones with stock Android
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Those looking for a Google smartphone that will keep their wallet healthy should look at the Pixel 7a. It has enough power to keep most casual users happy, supports 5G, and is one of the best phones with a near-stock Android experience. It’s also one of the best budget phones overall.

You get a fairly-sized 4,385mAh battery, which we managed to use through an entire day of casual usage during our tests with it. The battery was still at 20% by the end of day, so at the very least, you can use it for an entire workday on a single charge. It also comes with stereo speakers and an IP67 rating. Like all other Pixels, it also features a camera that is way too good for this price range and challenges even high-end phones. Especially since the newer Pixel 7a now has a 64MP primary sensor, a significant upgrade over the 12.2 camera on its predecessor.

Of course, Google had to make some sacrifices somewhere. The design isn’t as premium, and the phone is mainly made of plastic. That said, this time around, Google decided to add wireless charging, even if it’s pretty slow at 7.5W. The only bad news is that, while the phone is the most premium Pixel A handset Google has created, it also costs more at $500, though you can often find it discounted these days.

The Pixel 7a still features a powerful Google Tensor G2 chipset, and a pretty modest 6GB of RAM. These performed very well in our tests, and we didn’t experience any hiccups. The processor can get pretty hot with heavier loads, though.

Google Pixel 7a
Google Pixel 7a
AA Editor's Choice
Google Pixel 7a
The best sub-$500 camera phone • Solid performance and plenty of RAM • Improved 90Hz display
MSRP: $499.00
The essential Pixel experience
The Pixel 7a delivers more premium features than ever for under $500, such as wireless charging support, a 90Hz refresh rate display, and a 64MP camera.

Pixel 7a specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Google Tensor G2
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Camera: 64 and 13MP
  • Front camera: 13MP
  • Battery: 4,385mAh
  • Software: Android 13

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold opened up in garden
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold signals the company’s entry into the world of foldable phones. Being a Google phone, it has a bloat-free and clean UI, making it one of the best phones with stock Android. At the very least, it represents what foldable phones with stock Android should be like, according to Google.

While mighty expensive at $1,800, it’s also a very capable device with all the bells and whistles you’ll find in a 2023 flagship. The Google Tensor G2 and 12GB of RAM keep the device snappy. Regardless, performance was never an issue. This processor tends to get a bit too hot for our liking, but it performs.

The external display measures 5.8 inches but has a wider 4:9 ratio, making it more functional and easier to navigate. The internal, bigger screen measures 7.6 inches. Both have a 120Hz refresh rate, so everything will look silky smooth. The cameras also performed excellently during our tests.

All that said, we actually weren’t fans of the battery life, and the device is obviously heavy. Not many apps are optimized for these display proportions, either.

Google Pixel Fold
Google Pixel Fold
AA Recommended
Google Pixel Fold
Excellent cameras • Comfortable displays • Pixel-exclusive features
MSRP: $1,799.00
Google enters the fold
Google is hitting the foldables market in style with the Google Pixel Fold. The pricey book-style phone brings Google's elite photography smarts to the folding form factor, plus the Tensor G2 chip, an IPX8 rating for water resistance, and a huge 7.6-inch AMOLED 120Hz internal display.

Pixel Fold specs:

  • Display: External 5.8-inch 2,092 x 1,080, internal 7.6-inch 2,208 x 1,840
  • SoC: Google Tensor G2
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Camera: 48, 10.8, and 10.8MP
  • Front camera: External 9.5MP, internal 8MP
  • Battery: 4,821mAh
  • Software: Android 13

ASUS ROG Phone 8 series

ASUS ROG Phone 8 homescreen in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The ASUS ROG Phone 8 series consists of two phones. First, there’s the standard ASUS ROG Phone 8, which is still an amazingly powerful device. Specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, 12-16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a large 6.78-inch display with a 165Hz refresh rate, and a 5,500mAh battery.

The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro is a more capable version of the standard iteration. The Pro edition gets upgraded with 16GB to 24GB of RAM and 512GB to 1TB of storage. The main visual difference here is that the ROG Phone 8 has an illuminated logo on the back. The Pro model comes with a mini LED matrix section that can be customized.

Both are great devices, even for the most demanding users, and ASUS is known for offering a very clean UI. There will be some gaming enhancements in software, such as the Armoury Crate app, but those can be hidden out of the way most of the time. There are also a lot of noise effects that sound very gamer-inspired, but those can also be customized.

We praised the ROG Phone 8 for its impressive performance, fantastic battery life (when not gaming), super fast charging, and a great selection of accessories. And this time around, the camera is actually pretty good (albeit not amazing). We were also pleasantly surprised by the fact it actually has an IP68 rating, which is rare in gaming devices.

ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro
ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro
ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro
Sleek design • Powerful processor • Ultra-Portable
MSRP: $1,199.00
ASUS ROG Phone 8
ASUS ROG Phone 8
AA Editor's Choice
ASUS ROG Phone 8
Zenfone-like design • IP68 rated, finally • Fast charging and excellent battery life
MSRP: $1,099.00
New look, same gaming greatness.
With a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, AI-centric gaming features, a sleeker aesthetic, and additions like IP68 water resistance and wireless charging, the ASUS ROG Phone 8 is a mighty leap for the gaming phone king.

ROG Phone 8 specs:

  • Display: 6.78-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
  • RAM: 12/16GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Cameras: 50, 32, and 13MP
  • Front camera: 32MP
  • Battery: 5,500mAh
  • Software: Android 14

ROG Phone 8 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.78-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
  • RAM: 16/24GB
  • Storage: 512/1,024GB
  • Cameras: 50, 32, and 13MP
  • Front camera: 32MP
  • Battery: 5,500mAh
  • Software: Android 14

ASUS ZenFone 11 Ultra

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra homescreen in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra marks the beginning of a new era for the Zenfone line. These devices were usually known for offering good value on smaller yet powerful phones. The ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra is large, powerful, and comes with a price tag that is more similar to other high-end devices. Additionally, it is one of the best near-stock Android phones.

We had very few things to complain about in our ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra review. Mainly, its cameras aren’t great and the update promise only covers two OS upgrades. If you can look past these downsides, the device is very nicely built and designed. You get fast 65W charging speeds, nice AI features, a gorgeous screen with a 144Hz refresh rate, and overall great specs. We also loved that the UI is so clean, offering a stock-like experience.

All these goodies will cost you, though. The device costs $900. This is still cheaper than other devices with such specs, but it’s no longer considered affordable.

Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra
Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra
AA Recommended
Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra
Nicely built • Universal fast charging • Good AI features
MSRP: $899.99
Bigger and better than ever.
The ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra is the successor to the compact Zenfone 10, but it's built in a completely different guise. With a much larger 6.78-inch form factor, triple camera array, and premium aesthetic, the phone brings Zenfone series favorites and new additions to a larger display.
See price at Amazon
Zenfone 11 Ultra

ZenFone 11 Ultra specs:

  • Display: 6.78-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
  • RAM: 12/16GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 50, 32, and 13MP
  • Front camera: 32MP
  • Battery: 5,500mAh
  • Software: Android 14

Sony Xperia 1 V

Sony Xperia 1 V homescreen in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Sony’s UI is super clean and keeps things as simple as they get. This makes the Sony Xperia 1 V one of the best phones with near-stock Android.

Its most significant drawback is its price, as it carries a hefty $1,400 starting price tag. The phone is quite the beast if money is no issue. Battery life is excellent; we managed to get two days out of a single charge, with light use. And it was able to easily reach a full day under pressure.

The phone is a beast, and competes only with the best out there. The 4K display is gorgeous, performance is nothing to scoff at, and the cameras are pretty awesome. Especially if you like taking video. Sony has brought its experience from the camera market, offering insane focusing speeds, as well as great features such as eye autofocus and professional controls.

If you think the Sony Xperia 1 V is a bit too much, you can also opt for the Sony Xperia 5 V ($799.94 at Amazon). It isn’t exactly cheap, but it costs less.

Sony Xperia 1 V
Sony Xperia 1 V
AA Recommended
Sony Xperia 1 V
Excellent battery life • Great build • Improved cameras
MSRP: $1,399.99
A classic, refined.
Sony continues to deliver powerful portable cameras that also happen to be smartphones. The Xperia 1 V rocks top hardware, powerful cameras, and the ability to connect to Sony DSLR cameras to enhance your shooting experience.

Xperia 1 V specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, 4K
  • SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 48, 12, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 13

Motorola Edge Plus (2023)

motorola edge plus 2023 hero laying down left side
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Motorola is known for not messing too much with software, and letting Android be. Those looking for a capable and good-looking high-end device that doesn’t cost over a grand, should consider the Motorola Edge Plus (2023). It’s undoubtedly one of the best devices with a near-stock Android experience, as you can see in the image above.

The device is quite impressive for its $800 price point, offering high-end performance, a premium construction, and a pretty nice camera system.

Additionally, the charging speeds reach 68W, and can juice up the device entirely in about 50 minutes. The battery life is also great, and we were able to make the device last for two days on a single charge. The display is pretty outstanding, too. Primarily because of its OLED panel with a 165Hz refresh rate.

Motorola Edge Plus (2023)
Motorola Edge Plus (2023)
AA Editor's Choice
Motorola Edge Plus (2023)
Excellent wired charging • Powerful performance • Premium construction
MSRP: $799.00
Finally cutting edge
The Motorola Edge Plus (2023) combines premium performance, excellent wired charging, and a refined construction, and does so while lowering the asking price to its most competitive point in a long time.

Edge Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.67-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 512GB
  • Cameras: 50, 50, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 60MP
  • Battery: 5,100mAh
  • Software: Android 13

Nothing Phone 2

Nothing Phone 2 home screen
Damien Wilde / Android Authority

The Nothing Phone 2 is the second handset released by the company founded by Carl Pei — co-founder of OnePlus. As flashy as it looks, it is actually a very simple device, as its name entails. It is one of the best near-stock Android devices. Not to mention the price, which is very enticing at $600.

You actually get a pretty good phone for your money here. The design is gorgeous, for starters. It also has a very nice LTPO OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. We also liked its primary camera. While it doesn’t have the latest and greatest processor, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is a stunning performer, too.

If you care for good battery life, this phone has it. We were able to make it last for a day and a half and were left with 10% leftover with casual usage. The 45W charging also helps it juice up in under an hour.

Now, if you want to save more money for a near-stock Android experience from Nothing, there is also the Nothing Phone 2a (£319.99 at Amazon).

Nothing Phone 2
Nothing Phone 2
AA Recommended
Nothing Phone 2
Expertly crafted, effortlessly cool design • Flagship-tier performance • Excellent value
MSRP: $599.00
The Nothing Phone gets a power boost.
Building on the success of Nothing's debut Android handset, the Nothing Phone 2 features the same unique transparent look and Glyph lighting but adds more processing power, a larger screen and battery, and makes some subtle design tweaks. You can also buy this one in the US!

Nothing Phone 2 specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 50 and 50MP
  • Front camera: 32MP
  • Battery: 4,700mAh
  • Software: Android 13

FAQs

Stock Android, also known as vanilla Android, refers to an unaltered version of the Android mobile operating system. It should ideally have no modifications or additions by manufacturers or carriers.

Nearly all phones out there have some form of software modification. This is why we have decided to recommend near-stock Android devices instead. Even Pixel phones have slight modifications. Currently, only Android One devices have stock Android.

While manufacturer and carrier additions can help, sometimes they can go a bit overboard. A clean UI will guarantee a much less convoluted experience. Not to mention the fact that having too much stored in a phone can affect memory usage, as well as performance.

The only way to do this is through flashing a custom ROM, but that requires obtaining root access and tinkering heavily with a phone, which can void your warranty and harm your device. The safer alternative is to use a launcher.

You can’t really get stock Android on Samsung devices. The easiest way to emulate it is to use a launcher and keep the UI as clean as possible. If you are a bit more adventurous, you could root your phone and try a custom ROM that is closer to stock Android.

This is a bit of a different subject, but if you have a custom ROM and you are trying to get back to your phones stock Android software, it’s possible. We can’t give you step-by-step instructions, as the methods may differ depending on your device, software, etc. However, you can get an idea of the process in our guide for unrooting Android devices.

If you’re unhappy with any of these phones, maybe it’s time to consider going another route. The great thing about Android is you can customize it to your liking. Check out our list of the best Android launchers available.

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