Android smartphones are a diverse bunch and span the whole mobile market from sub-£100 up to almost £2000 (and beyond for some silly luxury versions).
This diversity means it can be a huge task to choose between them all. Thankfully, we’ve compiled this list of the best Android phones so you can choose your next upgrade with ease.
We’ve included a few of our favourites from Samsung’s Galaxy line in this list, but you may want to hold off on an upgrade if any of them have caught your eye. Samsung launched its Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra this week and we’ll be sharing our verdict on the 2021 range very soon.
Apple fan? You should check out our breakdown of the best iPhones which includes reviews of the recent iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. If Google’s OS is your choice then the following best Android phones guide has you covered. Finally, if budget is an issue then check out our curated picks of the best cheap phones.
While this list contains condensed versions of our reviews, you can follow the links out to our full in-depth rundowns of each phone.
1. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
A phone with all the specs and features you could want at a great price
- 120Hz screen
- Fun colours
- Fast internals
- Plastic back
- Need to pay more for faster charger
Samsung released so many phones in 2020 that it was hard to keep up. We think you should take the Galaxy S20 FE seriously though as thanks to a great combination of power and affordability, this is one of the most tempting Samsung phones to date.
From the Snapdragon 865 chipset, 5G support and fluid 120Hz OLED display, the S20 FE feels like a real flagship killer. It might even be a better buy than Samsung’s own flagships, as the Snapdragon internals provide far better battery life and improved performance over the Exynos competition.
Samsung has also decided against ditching features commonly missed at this price. The plastic and metal body is IP68 rated, has Qi wireless charging and you can expand the 128GB of onboard storage. The main 12MP is good too, taking sharp snaps with that trademark hit of Samsung colour.
As we noted in the intro, Samsung announced its Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra this week. If you’re looking for a new Galaxy handset, you may want to keep an eye on this list to see if our top choices change.
2. Oppo Find X2 Pro
Oppo’s best phone yet
- Super smooth AMOLED screen
- Masses of storage
- Class-leading fast charging
- No wireless charging
Oppo Find X2 Pro is Oppo’s best phone to date and it can comfortably compete with the best Android phones around, even months after release.
The 120Hz display keeps that fast refresh rate even when the resolution has been maxed out, the Snapdragon 865 leads to some seriously nippy performance and you won’t find a phone that charges faster.
The Find X2 Pro beats both the S20 Plus and the iPhone 11 Pro when it comes to zoom. It also outguns them with its resolution, with the phone’s primary camera featuring Sony’s new 12-bit IMX689 sensor with a large 1/1.4” size and 1.12-micron pixels. We found the X2 Pro performed better in battery tests too when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra – even though it has a smaller battery.
3. OnePlus 8T
Loads of specs for a low price
- Lovely 120Hz screen
- Really fast charging
- Nice design
- No IP rating
- No Qi charging
- Better cameras elsewhere
With the OnePlus 8T, OnePlus has continued to offer top specs and features for a lower price.
There’s lots to get excited about here, from the 120Hz 6.5-inch flat display to the very useful 65w charging that can fully charge a depleted device to 100% in 40 minutes.
Even though pricing starts at £549, you’ve still got a top-end Snapdragon 865 chipset paired with 8/12GB RAM and 128/256GB storage. This is a seriously snappy phone, whether you’re gaming at 90fps or just scrolling through Twitter.
There are four cameras on the back, though only really two of them are any good. The main 48MP camera takes nice snaps, while the ultra wide camera is suitably wide for nice landscape shots.
4. Google Pixel 5
- Great camera
- Improved video
- Nice screen
- Bland design
- No huge camera advancements
Pixel 5 is a simple flagship from Google. If you’re after a small phone (the screen here is only 6-inches, smaller than most on this list) that doesn’t compromise on camera performance or battery life then the latest Pixel should be high on your list.
For the £599 price, you’re getting a great camera (12MP and 16MP ultra wide), all-day battery with wireless charging, an IP68 body and tough metal body. There’s a fast fingerprint scanner on the back, along with 5G connectivity for faster data speeds.
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
A fantastic big phone that’s packed with great features
- Lovely big 120Hz screen
- S Pen is useful
- Versatile cameras
As the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a larger, more feature-packed take on the standard Note 20, complete with a far better 120Hz OLED display. This is a great phone and one of the finest all-round Android devices we have reviewed. It’s powerful, has just about every feature going and doesn’t skimp at all. In terms of negatives, it’s big and expensive.
This brute of a phone has a lovely display with a 120Hz refresh rate, plenty of grunt, huge battery, Qi charging and water-resistance. There isn’t a whole lot new when compared to the S10, but this still stands as the true high-end Samsung phone right now.
The S Pen is the headline feature of the Note series, which is pretty much the only flagship around that lets you draw and take notes with a pen on the display. It’s a pleasure to write and doodle with, thanks to fantastic responsiveness and excellent palm-rejection.
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 range launched this week and, like the Note 20 Ultra, the S21 Ultra features a 120Hz display and S-Pen support. If these features appeal to you, it may be worth waiting for our S21 Ultra review to drop before making your purchase.
6. Realme X50 5G
Best value 5G
- Very good battery life
- Low price for a 5G phone
- Well-specced 120Hz screen
- Strong general and gaming performance
- Glass back
- Two of the rear cameras are filler
- No headphone jack
Realme has played a blinder with this sub-£300 Android wonder. The Realme X50 5G manages to squeeze a ton of modern flagship features into a remarkable price, achieving this feat better than anyone else on the market.
Along with 5G at an affordable price, the Realme X50 5G has a glass design that you’d be forgiven for thinking belonged to a flagship as well as a cutting-edge 120Hz display, the cost-effective and capable Snapdragon 765G processor and a decent camera to boot.
Realme has strong competitors in this space, including the OnePlus Nord, but the X50 5G manages to beat out key cheap phone rivals on cost and camera quality.
7. Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
A great Android phone, but with a successor on the way
- Nice design
- Great screen
- Strong performance
- Good battery
- Ugly UI
- 8K video recording is pointless
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus remains an excellent Android phone, however with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus this month it could be made redundant in no time.
To start with, it’s got a great 6.7-inch screen that’s immersive and offers a blistering high 120Hz refresh rate – the colour and detail offered by this display is practically unrivalled.
The rear camera set-up has a total of four rear sensors, which provides a great level of versatility for your choice of shots, and this time round we welcome Samsung opting for more realistic-looking images rather than pouring on the post-processing to its pictures.
Battery life is good, easily lasting the day unless you keep that 120Hz refresh rate stuck on all the time, under which circumstances it will take a nose-dive.
One of the few reservations we had about this phone, and this could be particularly pertinent for Android fans, is that its interface isn’t exactly the best around, giving a heavy top layer to the standard Android software that isn’t usually as pleasant as a clean Android install would have been.
You might be surprised that we don’t rate the top-spec Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in this list. The reason is that it’s a lot more expensive, so big to the point it’s difficult to handle and offers few qualitative advantages over the middle sibling of the S20 family.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this entry, the Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra are now available to pre-order. Neither phone has earned a spot on this list just yet, but keep an eye on this space when our reviews are live to see whether the 2021 model is worth an upgrade.
8. Google Pixel 4a
Stunning value for a great camera
- Great camera
- Refreshingly small size for an Android phone
- The promise of fast updates
- Nice, sharp OLED screen
- You’ll find competition with far larger spec sheets and feature lists
- Some mild performance and touch latency hiccups
- As well as being a Pro, the small screen might put some off
Unsurprisingly, Pixel 4a continues to offer one of the best (and most stripped back) Android experiences on the market. The follow-up to the Pixel 3a may not have the sheer horsepower of some rivals but it does come with the easy-to-use Pixel Launcher and a three-year guarantee of swift software updates.
Elsewhere, the phone sports a stunning camera that is great in low-light and does a ton of image-processing heavy lifting to create a final product with just one sensor that many quad-cameras setups struggle to achieve.
These remarkable features are only made all the more remarkable by its super cheap price tag of just £349. £349 gives you a phone with a decent build quality that sits in your hand far more neatly than the edging-on-phablet phones of modern times.
9. Moto G8
A no-nonsense budget mobile at a great price
- Excellent value
- Good quality, sharp-enough screen
- Strong performance and battery life
Once again Motorola has one of the best budget phones around. The Moto G8 is a good all-rounder that stands as a great pick if you want an Android phone that packs a lot of features but doesn’t break the bank.
Features here include a healthy 4000mAh battery, 3.5mm headphone jack and a Snapdragon 665 chipset running the show. The screen, probably the phone’s weakest element, measures 6.4-inches and the 4GB RAM keeps everything moving.
• Read our Motorola Moto G8 review
10. OnePlus Nord
Gaming and 5G at a wallet-friendly price
- Great quality OLED panel
- Very quick charging
- Lovely version of Android
- Nice, ergonomic design
- 5G and great performance
- Screen seems to mark very easily
- Secondary cameras are pretty much useless
The OnePlus Nord truly sees the brand return to its roots, even if isn’t quite as remarkably cheap as the OG sub-£200 OnePlus One.
OnePlus Nord packs in a superior processor to Google’s budget offering and a ton of more modern features that Apple’s reinvigorated take on the iPhone 8. In particular, OnePlus has managed to include an impressive OLED display into this sub-£400 as well as 5G compatibility. The Nord also comes with OnePlus’s signature quick charging and sleek yet cleverly enhanced version of Android – Oxygen OS.
While it may not exactly match the premium design heights of many flagships, it isn’t far off – coming very close to looking and feeling like a flagship for a much lower price.
• Read our OnePlus Nord review
How we decided on the best Android phones
All of the above phones have been rigorously tested according to the criteria that follows. Before giving any Android handset a final rating, one of our expert reviewers will spend at least a week using the phone as their primary smartphone. This gives us an opportunity to see how the phone handles in terms of everyday use, including battery performance and camera quality. We also run the smartphones through a series of synthetic benchmarking and battery-burn tests.
These tests give us a good indication of how a phone performs during normal use, as well as allowing us to test manufacturers’ claims.
All of these tests are repeatable, so we can accurately compare like-for-like between devices. You’ll see links to every full phone review below each entry, so check them out for a comprehensive picture. Read more about how we test phones.