The wide range of Android phones on the market is one of the platform’s greatest strengths – there’s something for everyone. However, with all the choices available, trying to find the best smartphone an be like looking for a needle in a haystack. To help you out, we’ve compiled a short list of the best Android phones you can buy, from low-end budget devices to premium flagships.or even
OnePlus 7 Pro
The OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the best smartphones you can buy right now. It’s incredibly fast, the build quality is very good, the camera is good enough for most people, and the 90Hz screen makes the entire phone feel smooth. The $670 starting price is almost too good to be true, considering that the OP7 Pro is trading blows with $1,000+ phones from Samsung and Google.
The specifications include a Snapdragon 855, 6/8/12GB of RAM (depending on the model), 128 or 256GB of internal storage (depending on model), a massive 6.67-inch 90Hz 1440p AMOLED screen, a 4,000mAh battery, a 12MP main rear camera, and a 16MP pop-up front camera.
In our review, Ryne wrote, “Sure, I wish it had a headphone jack like the S10+ or better camera processing like the Pixel 3 XL, but those are phones that cost $900-$1000 unlocked. What OnePlus delivers here for $670 is insane. The brute strength of the Snapdragon 855, Oxygen OS’ generally great software, the camera improvements, and the smoothness of the 90Hz screen all provide an incredible phone experience. Going back to the Pixel 3 XL or Galaxy S10+ for brief moments during this review was downright unpleasant. The OnePlus 7 Pro spoils other phones for you.”
The OnePlus 7 Pro works on GSM carriers (ATT, T-Mobile, Cricket, etc.) as well as Verizon. The model sold by T-Mobile has a few limitations compared to the unlocked model, like a lack of dual-SIM support and a more difficult process for unlocking the bootloader.
Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL
For the first time in years, Google is selling a budget Android smartphone — or rather, two of them. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are a return to Nexus-era pricing, with the smaller model costing $399 and the larger version set at $479. It doesn’t have flagship-level hardware, but it’s close enough to the Pixel 3 that most people wouldn’t notice a difference (apart from the design).
Both phones have a Snapdragon 670 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a headphone jack (can’t take that for granted these days), NFC for Google Pay, a rear fingerprint scanner, a 12.2MP rear camera, and an 8MP front camera. The smaller model has a 5.6-inch screen and a 3,000mAh battery, while the XL has a 6-inch screen with a 3,700mAh battery.
In our review, David wrote, “While the photos you’ll take with the Pixel 3a will have you impressed from day one, I think getting those three years of OS updates – and just as fast as every other Pixel phone – will leave you feeling like you made the right call. Google gets a lot of flack for bugs on its smartphones – and not unjustifiably, at times – but while every Android phone has bugs and glitches, basically none of them are going to see the level of software support this one will – even proper “flagships.” It’s hard to put a dollar value on that, but Google has: half the price of our other phones. I think that makes the Pixel 3a and 3a XL a pretty good deal, and pretty much without compare in the sub-$500 price bracket.”
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL work on pretty much every carrier, including ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Both models are available in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and ‘Purple-ish’.
If you don’t have enough money for a Pixel 3a, the Nokia 6.1 is probably the next-best option. It’s a bit old at this point, and stock is starting to run out at certain retailers, but it still has the latest version of Android and it’s a great all-around device at ~$230.
The Nokia 6.1 has a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS screen, a Snapdragon 630 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, and a headphone jack. Again, you can’t take headphone jacks for granted these days.
The main competition in this segment is the Moto G7, which has slightly better specifications and support for more carriers. However, the G7 also has a slippery glass design, it’s more expensive, and it will undoubtedly receive system updates (including security patches) at a slower rate. The Nokia 6.1 shipped with Android 8.1 Oreo, and it received Android 9 Pie in October of last year.
In our review, Jordan wrote, “The Nokia 6.1 gets a lot of things right. Not only are its specifications top-notch for the price point, but it’s also an Android One device, which really helps to mitigate the update anxiety present in most budget phones (even Motorola’s, sadly). It’s well-built and gorgeous, too, sporting a very attractive industrial design with just the right amount of flair to make it unique.”
The only major downside to the Nokia 6.1, at least in the United States, is the carrier support. It only works on GSM networks like ATT and T-Mobile, so CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint are out of the question.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Samsung took a page out of Apple’s book this year, and introduced a cheaper flagship phone — the Galaxy S10e. It has most of the same functionality as Samsung’s $900+ phones, including a Snapdragon 855 processor, a 12MP wide-angle camera, a 16MP ultra wide angle camera, IP68 water resistance, a headphone jack, and Samsung Pay.
There are some downgrades compared to the base Galaxy S10, but most people either won’t notice them or won’t care. The S10e uses a lower-resolution 2280×1080 screen, but it’s still a gorgeous AMOLED panel with HDR support. There’s also not a telephoto lens, and the S10e is physically smaller (with a 5.7-inch screen). A side fingerprint sensor is present, instead of the in-screen sensors on the S10/S10+, but it’s much faster than the sensors on those phones.
In our review, David wrote, “The Galaxy S10e is probably the best Android phone for most people right now, and may well hold that title for the whole of 2019 at this rate. Given discounts are eventually likely, I’d say this phone will become a no-brainer the moment it drops to $650 or lower – I just can’t see anyone matching the price to experience ratio on this phone, unless a big screen and huge battery are very important to you.”
The Galaxy S10e will work on all major carriers worldwide. It’s available in five colors: Canary Yellow (pictured above), Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, Prism Blue. The models linked below are carrier-unlocked.
If your budget is extremely tight, and buying a used device is out of the question, the Nokia 3.1 might be for you. It’s one of the least-expensive phones that Nokia produces, at just $160, but it still has all the hallmarks of the company’s phones – good build quality, stock Android, and up-to-date software.
The Nokia 3.1 has average specifications for a budget phone, including a MediaTek 6750 processor with 2GB RAM, a 5.2-inch 720p screen, 16GB of internal storage (with a microSD card slot), and a 2,990mAh battery. There’s a model with 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage, but it’s not available in the United States.
Since this is a lower-end device, Nokia had to cut corners somewhere. There’s no fingerprint sensor, the camera is mediocre, and it won’t work on CDMA networks (like Verizon and Sprint). Still, if you’re on a compatible carrier, the Nokia 3.1 is a solid phone for the price. You can see our full review here.