HUNTING FOR THE best Android phone to meet your needs is hard. It’s easy to get swayed by a pretty handset or a convincing price. Carriers will tempt you with a discount or a 24-month payment plan, but before you make an impulse buy, read up. From the bottomless pit of phone choices, these are our favorites, including the Google Pixel 5A, our top pick. All the phones we’ve selected here have their own advantages, and we’ve laid them out as honestly as we can based on our extensive testing.
Here are recommended Android Phones for you
Google Pixel 5A
Good phones don’t need to cost more than $500. Google’s Pixel 5A (9/10, Techy advise) is a prime example. It runs really smoothly, handling most games just fine; it has a colorful and sharp OLED 6.3-inch screen—better than the LCDs you’ll find on most phones this price; and it has a camera system that trounces its peers. Its battery can last nearly two full days, and you get perks like sub-6 5G connectivity, IP67 water resistance to protect it from drops in the pool, and a headphone jack.
The cameras are the same as on the Pixel 5 from 2020; there’s a main 12-megapixel sensor and an ultrawide. With Google’s Night Sight mode, you can get detailed and bright low-light images, and if you put the phone on a tripod and point it at the sky, it can even capture the stars. The best thing about a Pixel is the software. There are tons of genuinely helpful features, like Call Screen, which will screen calls from unknown numbers so you don’t have to answer a robocall and angrily hang up quite so often. We’ve rounded up all the top perks of owning a Pixel here, which includes three years of OS and security upgrades. Downsides? There’s no high screen-refresh rate, MicroSD card slot, or wireless charging.
2. Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
It’s hard not to like Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro (9/10, Techy advise). At $599 and $899, respectively, the pair are among the best deals on flagship phones, delivering great performance, more than a full day of battery life, and pretty OLED screens with respective 90- and 120-Hz refresh rates. They include many top-end features, like wireless charging, robust 5G, and IP68 water resistance. I break down the differences between the two here, but the main one is that the Pixel 6 Pro is larger, with a 6.7-inch screen with curved edges instead of 6.4 inches on the standard Pixel 6. It also has an additional 4X optical zoom camera, adding to the 50-megapixel main and 12-megapixel ultrawide. Those perks aren’t really worth the $300 upcharge, which is why we like the base Pixel 6 the most.
The camera system bests nearly every other Android phone. You can capture detailed daytime photos and sharp low-light scenes, and video performance has greatly improved thanks to Google’s new Tensor chip. This processor enables a host of helpful smart features too, such as dramatically improved voice typing and automatically translating messages that arrive in another language. These Pixels will receive 5 years of security updates, and three OS upgrades, so you can hold onto them for longer. Some things I don’t like? The fingerprint sensor isn’t too accurate, and the screen can be dim on sunny days outdoors. I also ran into a few connectivity issues and other bugs last fall, but they’ve since been resolved.
3. Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+, S22 Ultra
The $599 Pixel 6 will more than satisfy most people, but if you want every single facet of your smartphone to be the best it can be, well, that’s where Samsung’s Galaxy S22 range comes in (9/10, Techy advise). There’s the S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra. All of ’em have 120-Hz screens that get tremendously bright, stereo speakers that sound wonderful, and enough horsepower to run demanding games just fine. Each model gets bigger than the last, so if you want a Big Phone, go for the 6.8-inch Ultra. Stick with the 6.1-inch S22 for the smallest. The 6.6-inch S22+ might be a happy medium though—you get a pretty large screen and more than a day of battery life (with average use). The S22 and its smaller battery capacity managed just about a full day for me, but you might need to top it up if you spend a lot of time on your phone.
These have all the features you’d want in a phone, including a very reliable triple-camera system, but the S22 Ultra goes two steps further by including a 10X optical zoom camera—one of the only phones in the US with that capability—and a built-in S Pen stylus, just like Galaxy Notes of yesteryear. If you doodle a lot or sign dozens of documents a day (why not both?), that might be enticing. All S22 phones will get four Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates, besting Google Pixel phones in software support. If you’re having trouble choosing a model, our Galaxy S22 guide breaks them all down even further. And don’t forget to check our Best Galaxy S22 Cases and Accessories guide to protect your expensive gadget.