Best Android phones to buy for 2021
Phone technology is evolving quickly and today’s leading phone manufacturers are innovating faster than ever before. Features like super fast 5G connectivity and Super AMOLED displays are now commonplace, with more futuristic tech such as foldable displays available for those who want a cutting-edge cell phone (and who have the deep pockets to pay for one). Samsung’s Galaxy line dominates the Android category and that’s probably not going to end anytime soon. But other companies are gunning for the honor of being the best Android phone — and you, the customer, benefit from all this competition.
Tons of great Android smartphone options are available at a variety of prices, ranging from budget Android phones to high-end flagship phones. We took a look at them all and rounded up our favorites. These phones all have generally great cameras, battery life, screens or all of the above. We also took into consideration features such as wireless charging, fingerprint sensor and expandable storage. Read on to see our top picks for the best Android phones and check out our tips on how to buy a new phone, too. We’ll update this list periodically as we review new products.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
As Samsung’s elite flagship phone for 2021, the Galaxy S21 Ultra features a brilliant 6.8-inch AMOLED display with an ultrasmooth 120Hz refresh rate that also supports Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, an awesome rear camera with incredible zoom skills and 5G connectivity for super speedy data. This is the best in mobile technology that Samsung has to offer, and it’s the Android phone to go for if you’re keen to put cutting-edge tech in your pocket.
Best Android phone for affordable 5G
Google Pixel 4A 5G
If you want a 5G phone that doesn’t cost too much, the Pixel 4A 5G is one of our top Android mobile phone picks. This Pixel phone has a solid battery life, fantastic dual rear cameras and robust software support from Google. There’s also the Pixel 5, which has a great 90Hz display, but it costs more at $699 (£599, AU$999).
Best camera for its price
Google Pixel 4A
Pixel phones have a loyal following and with good reason. Without considering its price, Google’s Pixel 4A Android phone has top-notch camera performance that takes brilliant photos. But this Android device is an even better deal as the budget smartphone costs $349 (£349, AU$599). The 5.81-inch handset also features a headphone jack, 128GB of storage out of the box and better battery life than the previous year’s Pixel 4.
Flagship with a great value
OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro
While OnePlus isn’t as well-known as Apple or Samsung, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro offer a premium experience at a relatively more affordable budget phone price than rivals. Both phones are 5G-enabled, run the most powerful Qualcomm processor and have multilens cameras. The OnePlus 9 is our favorite of the two, with all of the features we love from the series but at the more affordable price and with better battery life. It’s a solid option if the lofty prices of the Galaxy S21 Ultra are out of your reach.
Solid Samsung at a lower price
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE packs much of what we’ve come to expect from its premium S range of phones, including multiple rear cameras, great performance and 5G connectivity, but wrapped it in cheaper materials and brought the price down to a more affordable phone. This Android phone won a coveted CNET Editors’ Choice award, and it’s the phone to go for if you want a great Samsung phone but don’t want to empty your bank account to get it.
The best folding phone
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Foldable phones have yet to hit the mainstream, remaining instead only in the reach of those willing to spend top dollar on the latest in mobile innovation. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best folding phone around, offering top-notch performance, a great camera setup and a variety of tweaks to its folding technology that make this Android handset more durable than its predecessor.
Motorola goes premium
Motorola Edge Plus
The Motorola Edge Plus has pretty much everything you’d hope for in a premium 5G phone: A Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, a giant battery, an OLED screen with a high refresh rate, and multiple rear cameras with heavy-duty specs. Motorola took features found on other top-of-the-line Android phones, put its own Moto spin on them and built them all into one of our favorite Android phones of the year.
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