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.
Samsung has recently released its trio of early 2021 flagships and we have now reviewed each of these models and each has found it into our list below. We’re also expecting a lot of new Android phones in the coming months, including the OnePlus 9, Xiaomi Mi 11 (the full UK release anyway, the phone is already available in some markets) and Oppo Find X3.
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 S21 Ultra
The best Android phone
- Best screen around
- An excellent, versatile camera
- Lovely design
- No charger
- No microSD slot
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the most advanced phone in the S21 range and our top choice for any Android user seeking an upgrade in 2021.
The S21 Ultra is a fantastic all-rounder and offers up plenty of improvements over its predecessor. Standout features include the WQHD+ 120Hz display and versatile quad-camera, but these are packed up by Samsung’s sizable RAM and storage offerings and the capable Exynos 2100 processor.
One of the biggest upgrades found on the S21 Ultra is the adaptive refresh rate. While this feature was also available on the S20 Ultra, you couldn’t enable 120Hz while also running the display at its max WQHD+ resolutions. This time around, there are no compromises to be made with both features able to run at the same time.
The quad-camera has also been dramatically improved with the addition of dual 10MP zoom lenses. We also experienced fewer issues focussing the camera and found it produced a beautiful bokeh effect when shooting with the 108MP f/1.8 lens – check out our review for some adorable puppy pics.
If you can stomach paying over £1000 for your phone and don’t mind the extra weight, the S21 Ultra is one of the best Android phones available.
2. 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.
In many ways, this is a better (and cheaper) buy than the Galaxy S21 which you’ll find further down this list.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus
A cheaper alternative to the S21 Ultra in two sizes
- Much more affordable
- Still a great screen (and it’s flat)
- Snappy performance
- Lack of microSD and WQHD+ resolution make it feel like an S20 downgrade
- Doesn’t feel as good as previous S series phones
- Minimal camera upgrades
Both are these S series phones are powered by the same Exynos 2100 processor and pack the same future-proof 5G support as its Ultra sibling – all at a much more tempting price.
The S21 includes a 6.2-inch FHD+ display with an adaptive 48/120Hz refresh rate to conserve energy while offering smooth, responsive scrolling. While the 1080p resolution is technically a downgrade from last year’s S20, the screen remains suitably bright and sharp and the introduction of an adaptive refresh rate is a welcome one. You’ll find all the same specs on the S21 Plus, just with a bigger 6.7-inch display.
These phones also pack a very reliable camera housed in a newly revamped module on the back. The triple setup includes a 12MP wide sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor and a 64MP zoom sensor. There’s a 10MP selfie camera on the front and up to 8K video capabilities. The colours produced by this camera are vivid and the ultra-wide lens is one of the best we’ve tried, with detail and little blurring.
Unlike previous years, there are very few differences between the S21 and S21 Plus – hence us combining them into one entry. You do get a glass back, as opposed to plastic, on the Plus model and as it’s bigger you’ll find a bigger battery inside.
7. 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.
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.