Android phone cheat sheet
Our quick-hit recommendations:
Choosing the best Android phone for you is a big decision. The Android universe is teeming with options, from super-expensive flagship phones to more affordable models that make a few calculated compromises, to models expressly designed for, say, great photography.
Chances are that whichever phone you buy, you’ll keep it for at least two years. So we’ve made picks for the best Android phone in key categories. Check out our summary Cheat Sheet, or keep reading for details on each pick and the runners-up. At the bottom of this article, we link to all our recent Android phone reviews—in case you have your eye on a model that didn’t make our cut.
We also have a rundown of how our favorite Android phones stack up against the iPhone 11, for the iOS curious.
Latest Android phone news
Here are the latest stories:
- Qualcomm has unveiled its flagship mobile processor for 2020: the Snapdragon 865, which brings the usual speed, graphics, battery, and AI improvements. But far more interesting is the Snapdragon 765, which delivers an integrated 5G modem on a midrange chip and could bring some awesome midrange phones next year.
- The Motorola RAZR is back—in folding form. In early 2020, Motorola will start selling a new RAZR phone that folds, runs Android, and costs $1,500. At that price, we’re doubtful it will be as popular as the pre-iPhone RAZR, but it’s certain to be one of the most intriguing entries of 2020.
Best Android phone overall
Well, how about that. For years OnePlus owned the best bang-for-the-buck category with no real competitor, until Google’s Pixel 3a came along. So OnePlus went ahead and made the best phone of the year. Without costing hundreds of dollars more, the flagship OnePlus 7T manages to be a worthy competitor to the Galaxies and Pixels, with a fantastic design, excellent screen, killer performance, and a solid camera. Are there things that more-expensive phones do better? Absolutely. But as a whole package, the 7T has the best combination of specs, features, and good looks, all for a ridiculously low $599. Read our full review.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the Galaxy S10+. Yes, it’s big and expensive, but the Galaxy S10+ is simply the best Android phone you can buy right now. It’s not just that it has the fastest processor, a ton of storage, a great camera, and a surprisingly excellent Android skin in OneUI. What truly puts the S10+ above its competitors is the display. Samsung’s new Dynamic OLED is simply stunning, rivaling even the excellent iPhone screens. So, since it looks like you won’t be able to buy a folding phone for a while, the Galaxy S10+ is the best that Samsung and Android have to offer. Read our full review.
Best Android phone for photographers
Yes, the Pixel 4 is the newest Google phone, but we have enough issues with it to recommend its predecessor for serious smartphone photographers. It might not have the dual camera that’s on the Pixel 4, but we can safely say you won’t miss it. Portraits and zoomed photos look just as good on the Pixel 3 as they do on the Pixel 4, and the experience is basically the same. Plus the Pixel 3 is a cheaper and you’ll get three years of free unlimited storage in Google Photos in original quality, a benefit Google took away with the Pixel 4. Add in Android 10, Live Caption, the Recorder app, and the new compact Assistant interface and you’ve got the best parts of the Pixel 4 without the headaches. Read our full review.
Best Android phone for productivity
No matter what handset you’re upgrading from, the Note 10+ will be an improvement, likely a significant one. It’s not just the speed (though it’s basically the fastest phone ever made) or the display (which is pretty much flawless). From the bezels to the battery life, the Note 10+ is at the very top of its game, capping off Samsung’s strongest year in recent memory. Read our full review.
Best bang-for-the-buck Android phone
When we first heard a cheaper Pixel was on the way, we didn’t really know what to make of it. But once it arrived, it made perfect sense: The Pixel 3a isn’t a cut-rate Pixel 3, it’s just a cheaper version of the same great phone. Android 10? Check. OLED display? Check. Great camera? That’s a big check. For $399 or $479, the Pixel 3a delivers simply stellar photography, not to mention the best experience you’re going to find in an Android phone this side of the Pixel 4. Read our full review.
There’s really no other competition in the value category than OnePlus. While the price of its phones have steadily ticked up along with its far-higher-priced peers, OnePlus has consistently delivered good-looking handsets with premium specs for hundreds of dollars less than the iPhones and Galaxies of the world. The 6T has one more thing going for it: T-Mobile support. It’s still missing wireless charging and IP-rated water resistance, and the camera lags behind those of top-tier handsets, but for the price, you simply can’t buy a better Android phone. Read our full review.