What is the best way to find the most suitable android phone for your needs when there are so many options available? It’s easy to be seduced by a visually appealing phone design or competitive pricing. In addition, carriers may try to entice you with a discount or a payment plan that lasts for 24 months. But, before you make a hasty decision, do some research. Out of the seemingly limitless pool of smartphone options, we’ve selected our favorites for you, including our top selection, the Google Pixel 5A. But, of course, all of the phones we’ve chosen here have their own set of benefits, which we’ve spelled out as honestly as we possibly can based on our exhaustive research and evaluation.
In this article, we suggest that you use unlocked phones. In the case of a phone that is offered as “unlocked,” it indicates that it may be used with various cellular service providers and networks. When you purchase a phone straight from your cellular carrier, often on a payment plan, the phone is frequently restricted to that particular network’s network. When you seek an unlock for your phone so that you may move networks, carriers are legally compelled to comply, but it is a major inconvenience. Please make an effort to pay the full amount for your phone, or ensure that it clearly states that it is unlocked. You should go for a more affordable model if you believe the current model is too pricey to purchase entirely. When buying a phone, either buy it straight from the manufacturer or check with your carrier about unlocking restrictions if you purchased it via a payment plan that requires you to use their network.
Tips from Verizon: Purchasing an unlocked phone is a wise move, but even if you do the right thing, networks such as Verizon will have you jump through hoops to use your phone. After inserting your SIM card, you should contact customer support if you cannot receive text messages or other communications. They should be instructed to activate “CDMA-Less roaming.” This Motorola user guide may be of use. The procedure should be the same for any other phone.
Reasons why we aren’t interested in 5G: You’ll notice many advertisements enticing you to switch to a 5G plan and purchase a 5G phone. While it is true that you will need a new phone that supports 5G to make use of a 5G network (we have a guide that explains everything), 5G coverage is still limited at present. If it is available in your location, odds are it will not be much quicker than 4G LTE in terms of download speed (yet). Most new phones, even low-cost models, can support some 5G, as are most cell contracts, but this is not a compelling incentive to upgrade at this time.
A good phone does not have to cost more than $500 to be considered good. The Pixel 5A (9/10, WIRED Recommends) from Google is an excellent example of this. It works smoothly, and it handles the majority of games with ease. It also boasts a vibrant and crisp OLED 6.3-inch screen, which is much superior to the LCD screens seen on most phones at this price, as well as a camera system that outperforms its competitors. In addition, it has a battery that can last almost two full days, and it has features like sub-6 5G connection, IP67 water resistance, and a headphone port for listening to music on the go.
The cameras are the same as those seen in the Pixel 5 from 2020; there is a primary 12-megapixel sensor and an ultrawide sensor. You can record detailed and vivid photographs in low-light conditions using Google’s Night Sight mode. If you mount your phone on a tripod and direct it towards the sky, you can even snap images of the constellations. The software is the most impressive aspect of Pixels. Many of the features, such as Call Screen, are useful, and they prevent you from answering a robocall and angrily hanging up as often as you would otherwise. All of the best features of owning a Pixel are listed here, including three years of free operating system and security updates from Google. Downsides? There is no high-refresh-rate screen, MicroSD card slot, or wireless charging on this device.
It is compatible with all three main US networks.
A more compact alternative: Because the Pixel 5A is only available in one enormous size this year, those who prefer the smaller Pixel 4A ($350) from 2020 are in luck. It’s still available on Amazon, albeit the amount of stock available is quite restricted.
It’s difficult not to be impressed with Google’s new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro (9/10, WIRED Recommends). These two phones, available for $599 and $899, respectively, are among the finest discounts on flagship phones available. They provide excellent performance, more than a full day of battery life, and attractive OLED panels with respective refresh rates of 90 and 120 Hz. Among the numerous high-end features are wireless charging, strong 5G connectivity, and water resistance up to IP68. The main difference between the two is that the Pixel 6 Pro has a larger screen with curved edges than the standard Pixel 6, measuring 6.7 inches instead of 6.4 inches on the standard Pixel 6. We go into more detail about the differences between the two here, but the most significant is that the Pixel 6 Pro has a larger screen with curved edges than the standard Pixel 6. In addition, the 50-megapixel primary and 12-megapixel ultrawide cameras also sport an extra telephoto camera to round out their features.
The camera system outperforms every other Android phone by a wide margin. Thanks to Google’s new Tensor chip, you can shoot detailed daytime photographs as well as crisp low-light situations, and video performance has been much enhanced. This CPU also allows a slew of useful smart capabilities, such as vastly enhanced voice typing and the ability to instantly translate messages that come in a foreign language, among others. Best of all, these Pixels will get 5 years of security updates (3 years of operating system upgrades), allowing you to keep them for a longer period. So what are some of the things we don’t care for? The fingerprint sensor isn’t very precise, and the screen may be a little dull when used outside in bright sunlight.
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a terrific budget option that offers near-flawless performance, a sleek 120-Hz screen refresh rate, and a slew of extras like wireless charging video capture capability superbly, and a competent triple-camera system. However, because the rear is made of matte plastic (which does not feel cheap), you have to worry about one side of the phone if it is dropped. Furthermore, its 6.2-inch screen size is neither too little nor too large.
Even though Google has beaten Samsung on the latter front with its current Pixel 6 series, Samsung continues to outperform it on the former. Samsung is offering four years of Android version upgrades and security patches. In exchange for the lack of standard features on predecessors, such as a MicroSD card slot for expanding on the 128 gigabytes of built-in storage and a power adapter and headphones included in the box as with the newest iPhones. The battery life is also adequate, lasting around one day.
Looking for the longest possible battery life at the lowest possible price? Look no further. Motorola’s Moto G Power is a good choice (the 2021 model). The battery inside has a capacity of 5,000 mAh, which allows it to operate for almost three full days between charges. The remainder of the phone isn’t a significant upgrade over the 2020 model, although the cameras now perform significantly better in low light owing to a new Night option in the camera app, which was previously unavailable. The screen has a reduced resolution and is less visible in bright sunlight, but it is still enough for viewing movies and television programs. Furthermore, it is powerful enough to run most applications and games without difficulty. A headphone port and a MicroSD card slot, which allows you to expand the storage capacity beyond the standard 64 gigabytes, complete the feature set.
All of the problems from its predecessor are still there, including the absence of NFC for contactless payments and the guarantee of just one Android 11 update (though it will still get two years of security updates). There is also no support for 5G. If those factors exceed your need for a low-cost, long-lasting phone, you won’t be able to find anything better. So now and again, it slips below $200.
It’s difficult to find fault with Samsung’s Galaxy A32 5G, which costs less than $300 and receives an 8/10 rating from WIRED. The MediaTek processor inside provides dependable performance and sub-6 5G compatibility, the primary camera is surprisingly good, and the battery lasts for up to two days on a single full charge. Unfortunately, the screen is the weak link in the chain. With a 90-Hz refresh rate, it is not the sharpest device, and it is not an OLED display like the Pixel 5A or Pixel 4A, so you will not get inky blacks or an always-on display like you would with an OLED device. When the sun shines, though, the room is still quite light.
There’s a MicroSD card slot for expanding the storage beyond the standard 64 gigabytes, NFC for contactless payments, a fingerprint sensor on the side, and a headphone port. Not to mention that, unlike most other low-cost phones, Samsung guarantees two Android sharing OS upgrades and four years of security updates. That is what I refer to as “raising the bar.” It’s also commonly available for less than $250 on clearance. Yippee! More economical options may be found in our Best Cheap Phones list.
Please keep in mind that a version of the A32 may support two SIM cards. It does not support 5G, and even though it claims to be compatible with LTE in the United States, it will not function correctly on all carriers. Make sure you choose the model that reads “A32 5G Unlocked” on the packaging.
If you spend much time on your phone playing mobile games, then utilizing Asus’ newest gaming phone (7/10, WIRED Recommends) could be a good choice for you. To avoid taping the screen and blocking it with your fingers, it contains two touch-sensitive buttons on the borders that you may use to map to whatever game you like. To assign physical buttons to all of your games, you can also use Asus’ Kunai 3 Gamepad—or an Xbox, PlayStation, or Stadia controller—instead of a keyboard. It results in a far more comfortable mobile gaming experience.
The above is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s one of the most powerful Android phones on the market, particularly when you enable X Mode, which boosts performance. With superb speakers, not to mention a Quad DAC for the audio port, you may listen to high-quality music with your favorite corded headphones when you use this device. Asus’ Aeroactive Cooler 5 performs an excellent job of draining heat and keeping the phone cold, allowing you to play for even longer periods without feeling uncomfortable. Furthermore, the phone’s 6,000mAh battery helps it to keep up.
It features the typical drawbacks of a gaming phone, such as a camera system that isn’t going to blow your socks off. It also lacks wireless charging, is big and heavy, and is incompatible with Verizon’s wireless network. In the case of T-Mobile and AT&T, you’ll only receive LTE and sub-6 5G speeds. Additionally, it is often out of stock. In contrast, if you’re a serious mobile gamer who wishes that more phones had headphone jacks, the Asus ROG Phone 5 is the phone for you.
A folding phone isn’t necessary for anyone. However, they are entertaining! The Galaxy Z Flip3 and Galaxy Z Fold3 (7/10, WIRED Recommends), two of Samsung’s most recent foldable smartphones, are the first gadgets I feel comfortable suggesting to those who have the means to purchase them. You may take a dip in the pool with them since they’re more robust than before and have IPX8 water resistance. However, it would be best to use a case still to secure these expensive electronics.
The Flip3 offers a more typical smartphone experience than most other smartphones. Consider the phone you have in your hand right now, but imagine being able to fold it perfectly in half. You’ll be given a large-screen phone that feels more like a stack of Post-It notes in your pocket than anything else. How can you possibly dislike something like that? It won’t take up much space on the nightstand, which is another plus.
The Fold3 is all about being able to multitask. The 7.3-inch screen is revealed when the device is opened up like a book, allowing you to conveniently run many programs simultaneously without having to switch between them. It has significantly enhanced how I use my phone, but it is too expensive.
We put a large number of Android phones through their paces. Of course, you’ll be better off with one of the solutions listed above, but we recommend the ones listed below. If you haven’t already, look at our Best Cheap Phones article for additional information.
With its $659 price tag, as well as its $969 price tag, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are the most expensive OnePlus phones to date (8/10, WIRED Recommends), but they finally improve on a component that has long plagued previous OnePlus phones: the camera. Both phones’ hardware is outstanding in general, but none offers a feature that distinguishes it from the other. In addition, OnePlus guarantees just three Android OS upgrades and four years of security patches in the future.
The Sony Xperia 1 III is available for $1,298. Sony’s newest Xperia is an excellent choice for anybody who enjoys fiddling with the camera app’s settings or who wants to capture images and movies in manual mode. Unfortunately, although the camera experience is enjoyable, the outcomes are not as good as those obtained by some of our top selections listed before. Nevertheless, performance is top-notch, and the device has a stunning 4K OLED 120-Hz screen, strong stereo speakers, wireless charging, and a headphone port. It’s only that it’s too pricey. The 5G here is just sub-6, which should not be the case on a $1,300 phone (5G is also not available on AT&T at this time).
In the market for the smallest and most powerful Android phone available, look no further than the Asus Zenfone 8. It’s available for $630. The 5.9-inch screen is small compared to other flagship phones—and this is a flagship phone due to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor housed inside. In addition, you’ll receive a 120-Hz AMOLED screen, a headphone port, and a battery life of up to a whole day. However, it does not function on Verizon, and the camera system is adequate. More information may be found in our review.
For $400, you can get a Samsung Galaxy A52 5G. The A52 5G (7/10, WIRED Recommends) isn’t the most interesting phone on the market, but it’s dependable. It works well, has a solid camera system, and has a 120-Hz AMOLED screen. It is also reasonably priced. It will also get three operating system upgrades and four years of security patches. There are periodic sales where you can get it for roughly $400.
The $330 for the Motorola One 5G Ace: Motorola phones have among the finest battery life on the market, and the Ace is no exception. In addition to having a two-day battery life, it has decent performance, a 5G connection, NFC for contactless payments (which is uncommon on a cheap Moto), and a huge 1080p display. Surprisingly, the cameras struggle in low-light conditions. Alternatively, the Moto G Pen 5G is an equally excellent choice if you want a stylus but don’t need NFC functionality.
Price: $1,180 at Amazon ($1,200 at Samsung) for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: In addition to being the largest Android phone available because of its massive 6.9-inch screen, it’s also the only high-end phone that comes with a Bluetooth pen, earning it a score of 8/10 from WIRED. Pull the pen out of the bottom, and you’ll be able to use it to take notes, sketch, and even remotely shoot photographs, among other things. It also includes a stunning AMOLED screen with a fast 120-Hz refresh rate, strong performance, battery life of more than a full day, and three excellent back cameras, among other features. Unfortunately, in 2021, Samsung did not produce a new version. So try to avoid paying the whole amount.
Several phones that we have previously suggested are on the verge of breaking the mold. They’re either becoming old (they’ve been around for more than two years), or their internals is too feeble. We are concerned that they will no longer be supported by software after this year or that the next Android upgrade will make them unusable due to their sluggishness. We’ve also included several newer phones on our list that, after extensive testing, we’re unable to recommend. LG phones should be avoided. It has announced the closure of its mobile business (RIP), and although it pledges to maintain its old phones for a few years, purchasing one is a hazardous proposition when better alternatives are available.
Along with the Pixel 4, Nokia 7.2, Samsung Galaxy S10, and Moto G, we no longer recommend any devices (2020). Even though they’re all workable, you’re better off with one of the smartphones mentioned above or in our Best Cheap Phones guide. Other phones we’ve examined and found unsatisfactory include the Nokia 8.3, Samsung Galaxy A51, and OnePlus Nord N200, among others.
My name is Mukesh Jakhar and I am a Web Application Developer and Software Developer, currently living in Jaipur, India. I have a Master of Computer Application in Computer Science from JNU Jaipur University. I loves to write on technology and programming topics. Apart from this, I love to travel and enjoy the beauty of nature.