Best Android Phones of 2021
If you’re in the market for a new Android phone, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our picks for the best Android phones currently available and for those with more specific needs for their smartphone check out one of our lists below.
While we typically like to stick to just a single device for each place, the Galaxy S20 and the S20+ are just too close to really differentiate between the two. The main question is whether you prefer a slightly smaller device. And yes the Galaxy S20 Ultra is worth considering as well, but ouch that price.
The Galaxy S20 and S20+ deliver most of the same benefits with the Snapdragon 865, 120Hz displays (6.2 or 6.7-inches respectively), 12GB of RAM and wide-angle, telephoto and ultra-wide camera sensors. The Galaxy S20+ adds a time-of-flight sensor for superior portrait mode photos.
This is the pinnacle of Android hardware right now and while Samsung isn’t perfect on the software side, its diminished focus on Bixby and minimal One UI 2.0 overlay don’t detract from the experience anymore.
- Unbeatable power
- Phenomenal cameras
- Excellent battery life
Samsung really blew it out with the Galaxy S line this year with three different options and the top end Galaxy S10+ is the classic Samsung kitchen sink approach with every spec thrown into it. The 6.4-inch QHD+ HDR 10+ certified screen is one of the best we’ve ever seen and thankfully Samsung paired with with a massive 4,000 mAh battery to keep the phone going all day. There’s just nothing that this phone won’t handle and given the internals it should have no trouble keeping you happy with your purchase until you are ready to upgrade again.
- Amazing Display
- Fantastic Battery Life
- Unmatched Performance
OnePlus arguably broke its mold with the OnePlus 7 Pro last year as it had always been the affordable flagship killer. And while it’s easy to see why longtime fans feel that way, the reality is the goalposts for affordable changed with flagship devices from Samsung and Apple going well beyond the $1,000 mark. The OnePlus 7 Pro absolutely competes with those devices on specs with its 90Hz QHD+ display with HDR10+ support. The 8GB or 12GB models compare favorably to the Galaxy S10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ for hundreds less and OnePlus has a considerably better update track record than Samsung of late. If you are looking for 5G support the newer OnePlus 7T Pro Mclaren Edition will get you there along with a couple of additional upgrades, but for most users the OnePlus 7 Pro remains the better option.
- Phenomenal screen
- Reliable updates
- Blazing fast performance
The latest Pixel has typically managed to claim the top spot for us and while we are still big fans of this device, it simply has a couple too many issues at its full retail price to warrant ranking it as the best Android phone today. The Pixel 4 ups the camera game yet again, it has claimed the top spot in that category for us, but the weak battery life and high price are problems and Google also took away unlimited full quality photo storage, a big selling point in our minds for previous Pixels. All of this leaves us wanting to recommend at least waiting until you can find the Pixel 4 on sale or taking a serious look at some of our other recommendations if any of the Pixel’s downfalls are a major buying factor for you. Check out our full review of the Pixel 4 for all of our thoughts on Google’s latest.
- Face Unlock
- Unmatched photo performance
- 90Hz refresh rate
The Note line may not be for everyone, after all there are plenty of other big-screen phones on the market now, but for Note fans there is nothing that can possibly replace it. Others have tried and failed to duplicate the stylus experience of the Note and at this point it is hard to imagine anyone unseating it. Samsung did split the Note line this year so for those that always wanted to give the S Pen a shot, but didn’t necessarily want the massive smartphone to go with it, the standard Note 10 is another option. While it isn’t quite the spec overload that we’ve seen in years past with the Note line, the Note 10+ offers 12GB of RAM, a camera array that matches the S10+ and a unique set of video and of course S Pen related software that always makes the Note line stand out.
- Unique S Pen
- Fantastic Performance
- Excellent Battery Life
Sure, using the word “budget” when referring to a roughly $1,250 phone would have seemed like pure madness a couple of years ago (even now I’m not exactly comfortable with it), but here we are and the Oppo Find X2 Pro delivers specs comparable to a phone that costs hundreds more.
From the 120Hz 6.7-inch QHD+ AMOLED display with HDR10+ certification to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor and 12GB of RAM this phone can go toe-to-toe with the $1,599 variant of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. The triple camera array may not offer the (largely useless) 100x Space Zoom of the S20 Ultra, but it can deliver very comparable images up to 20x zoom with its 13MP telephoto lens and has a superior 48MP ultra-wide-angle lens. The primary lens is the new Sony IMX689 48MP which is the largest sensor at that size.
While it’s not groundbreaking by any means, the phone is beautifully designed. The battery is solid at 4,260 mAh and the SuperVOOC charging can take it from empty to full in just 45 minutes.
- Top end performance
- Excellent cameras
- Superfast charging
Despite continuing to put out solid hardware, LG has had a tough time moving the needle with sales in recent years, but it’s possible that the LG V60 ThinQ 5G could be the device to turn things around. Starting at just $799 the LG V60 is the least expensive Snapdragon 865 device that we’ve seen so far and while some will see the dual-screen accessory as a gimmick, others will appreciate having some of the cool factor of a folding phone without the durability issues.
The V60 offers a solid 64MB primary camera with an ultra-wide secondary and a time-of-flight lens to assist with portrait mode photos. It does lack the telephoto of many other flagships, but that high megapixel primary allows for extensive digital zoom.
The 5,000 mAh battery is another huge plus for the LG V60 ThinQ, making this easily a two-day phone if you opt to go without the secondary screen. And of course, the audio experience is unsurpassed with a 3.5mm headphone jack, four microphones for audio capture and noise-cancellation, and the 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC.
- Unbelievably Good Camera
- Pure Android Experience
- Unlimited Quality Photo/Video Storage
While the future for Huawei remains a little murky, it doesn’t change the fact that the company has been putting out some of the best devices on the market. The Huawei P30 Pro is an absolute standout this year with its insane focal range from super-wide-angle (16mm equivalent) all the way to a 5x optical zoom (125mm equivalent). This is the smartphone that can truly finally take the place of a dedicated camera without sacrifices. And for those that value battery life the Huawei P30 Pro is among the very best, easily lasting into a second day even with heavy use.
- Unmatched low-light photos
- Fantastic performance
- Powerful telephoto lens
If you’ve spent the last few years thinking you really wanted to pick up one of the Pixels from Google, but just couldn’t stomach the price, the answer finally arrived this summer in the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. For less than $400 you can buy into the consistent updates and stock goodness that the Pixel has always promised. What’s more impressive is that Google has managed to deliver virtually the same camera experience in this much more affordable device. With the top-end smartphones commanding higher and higher prices, it’s good to see such a strong option in the mid-tier.
- Outstanding Camera
- Affordably Priced
- Reliable Updates
Another one of Samsung’s Galaxy S devices makes an appearance on our list and while it is technically the bottom device on the 2019 Galaxy S totem pole, the Galaxy S10e actually is our favorite of the three in some ways.
The side-mounted fingerprint reader and flat display may not be as futuristic-looking, but from a usability standpoint, they are awesome. And of course the price, you can frequently find the Galaxy S10e just below $600.
- Solid Performance
- Headphone Jack
- Affordably Priced
We are definitely in uncertain times when it comes to phone launches, but based on what we know right now here are some of the smartphones we expect to see over the next several months.
Google Pixel 4a/4a XL
The second generation of Google’s budget smartphone line has to be the most hotly anticipated cheaper device of the year with no shortage of leaks surrounding the Pixel 4a. With the Pixel 3a we saw that Google could deliver an amazing amount of the higher-end Pixel experience in a sub-$400 smartphone and if they can do the same with the Pixel 4a it will be an easy recommendation for many more budget-conscious smartphone shoppers in 2020.
The OnePlus 7 Pro was and is one of our favorite devices of the last year, so no surprise we are highly interested in what the company will deliver with the OnePlus 8. Rumors have suggested wireless charging and an official IP rating may finally be on the way this year and of course OnePlus always manages to deliver a solid value, so if you’ve avoided some of the pricey early Snapdragon 865 devices you may be rewarded for that patience with the OnePlus 8.
Microsoft Surface Duo
While Microsoft doesn’t want you to think of the Surface Duo as a smartphone, it’s. a pocketable device that makes phone calls so we’re going to go ahead and call their bluff. The Surface Duo offers a folding dual-screen experience like the LG V60 ThinQ, but in a much sleeker package. We’re incredibly interested to see more of this device and eventually get our hands on it.
Samsung Galaxy Fold 2
While the Samsung Galaxy Fold captured everyone’s attention and still has its ardent fans, the extreme durability concerns combined with the nearly $2,000 starting price made it a tough sell. The hope is that the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 can deliver improved durability while bringing down the price for the second generation and if they manage that this could be a big high-end hit for Samsung in 2020.