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There are a lot of Android phones out there. The wide variety of devices and manufacturers bringing new ideas to the platform is a huge selling point for die-hard fans but also a barrier to entry for people who just want a new phone that works well. You can find good Android devices for as little as $200 or as much as $2,000. Some are better for photography. Others are mobile gaming powerhouses. Android itself even changes from manufacturer to manufacturer. It can be overwhelming to newcomers and long-term Android fans alike. Luckily, our guide for the best Android phones has all the info you need to sort through the crowded marketplace to find your next device.
- Best overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- Best for small hands: ASUS ZenFone 10
- Best budget: Google Pixel 7a
How we chose the best Android phones
We selected our picks for the best Android phones based on our experience with many of these phones, as well as trusted sources and professional reviewers. Since there are so many Android devices on the market, each with its own hardware and features, we made sure to select a variety of devices at various price points and unique use cases that we’re confident will match your specific needs in a smartphone.
The best Android phones: Reviews & Recommendations
Even if you know what you want from your next smartphone, it’s hard to assess a phone’s quality based on spec lists alone and even harder to parse the differences between models with seemingly identical components. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best Android phones currently available.
We used the criteria outlined above to find the best Android phones overall, plus the best options for specific uses like photography and gaming, the best folding phone, and the best 5G phone at an affordable price point to give a range of devices we think are worth your time. Or, at the very least, give you a good place to start your search.
Best overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- Display: 6.8-inch AMOLED (3,088 x 1,440 px resolution; 1 to 120 Hz variable refresh rate)
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
- RAM options: 8GB, 12GB
- Storage options: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
- Battery: 5,000 mAh
- Charging: 45W wired
- Cameras: Front: 12MP (f/2.2); Rear: 200MP main (ƒ/1.7); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom, ƒ/2.4), 10MP periscope telephoto (10x optical zoom, ƒ/4.9).
- Size: 6.4 x 3.1 x 0.35 inches; 8.2 ounces
- Android OS version: Android 13 (One UI 5.1)
- Big AMOLED display with dynamic refresh rate
- Powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU
- Good battery life on a single charge
- Multi-lens rear camera with two telephoto lenses
- Wall charger and other important accessories sold separately
- No MicroSD card support
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is the company’s strongest flagship yet and our pick for best Android phone overall. It’s an incredibly expensive phone, starting at $1,200, but its features and performance are worth that sky-high price.
Videos, apps, and games look great on the S23 Ultra’s 6.8-inch AMOLED screen, and an optional dynamic refresh rate setting shifts from the standard 60Hz mode up to as high as 120Hz or as low as 1Hz, depending on what’s on the display.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra also features a sharp, versatile camera. The primary, wide-angle camera provides a whopping 200 megapixels for highly detailed images. There are also two separate 10-megapixel telephoto lenses (one with 3x optical zoom and the other 10x) and a 12-megapixel ultrawide. Additionally, it offers helpful shooting modes to get the perfect shot. Qualcomm’s current-best chipset, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, powers these features and is strong enough to handle demanding apps, games, and general multitasking.
Battery life, another smartphone pillar, also shines. You can expect about a day’s worth of use on a single charge, and it juices up quickly over wired or wireless charging. Performance will fluctuate depending on how often the screen uses the higher refresh rate modes, but only slightly, and you can lock the screen to 60Hz if it’s an issue. Charging does present a small issue, though: The Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with a USB 3.0 cable, but you need to buy a wall charger separately (unless you own a compatible one from a previous Android device).
Speaking of extra accessories, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with the S Pen stylus. But you will need a specific case if you want to store the stylus on the phone itself. Unlike many previous Galaxy devices, the S23 Ultra does not have a MicroSD slot for expandable storage, so you’re locked into the onboard space for the model you buy.
Even with minor quibbles like the lack of a MicroSD card slot and having to buy one or two necessary accessories, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the most well-rounded flagship Android phone, making it the best choice for most people.
Best small phone: ASUS ZenFone 10
- Display: 5.9-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080 px resolution; 144 Hz refresh rate)
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
- RAM: 8GB, 16GB
- Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
- Battery: 4300mAh
- Charging: 30W wired, 15W wireless
- Cameras: Front: 32MP Rear: 50 MP (f/1.9) main, 13MP ultrawide
- Size: 5.8 x 2.7 x 0.4 inches; 6 ounces
- Android OS version: Android 13 (confirmed to get Android 14, in beta as of publication)
- The size
- 144 Hz refresh rate on compatible games, 120 Hz otherwise
- All-day battery life
- Bluetooth 5.3 with support for all the codecs
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Wireless charging + a power adapter
- Not the brightest screen
- No MicroSD card slot
- Cameras struggle with contrast/saturation
The ASUS Zenfone 10 goes big on features without going big on body, a welcome change from the increasing dimensions of so many smartphones. Being more pocketable and a one-hand-friendly flagship doesn’t make this compact package less powerful, however. Inside the IP68 body is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset smoothly running Android 13 (with two years of OS updates promised).
ASUS knows a thing or two about portable gaming (check out the ROG phone line, as well as the ROG Ally handheld console), and that performance trickles down to this handset, even if the overall experience is naturally far more cramped. The action, even at the highest settings, is impeccably smooth, even if icons, etc., are compressed on the 5.9-inch screen. Speaking of visuals, the cameras, which use the Sony IMX766 sensor, have seen a bump to 50 MP (f/1.9) main, 13MP ultrawide, with a 32MP selfie shooter. And they’re absolutely satisfactory, with clarity and color, though far from a marquee feature.
Our primary use for the Zenfone 10 is as a digital audio player, aka a DAP, aka a fancy iPod. ASUS loves to pack its top-tier handsets with all the latest codecs, which in the Zenfone 10 include standard SBC, Apple’s favored AAC, Sony’s higher-resolution LDAC protocol, as well as aptX/HD/Adaptive and the far more rare and exotic aptX Lossless. Thanks to the Bluetooth 5.3 standard and Snapdragon chipset, the Zenfone 10 is compatible with and futureproofed for all manner of wireless headphones and ANC earbuds—including some pairs, like the Denon PerL Pro (which we view very positively), that approach CD-like streaming quality. Still prefer wired headphones? Not a problem. This is one of the remaining smartphones with a 3.5mm headphone jack—one that uses the Qualcomm WCD9380 DAC to deliver 24-bit/192 kHz output. If you pay for a hi-rez streaming service, the ASUS Zenfone 10 will allow you to take full advantage of it in a way that several other 2023 smartphones (sadly looking at you, iPhone 15) won’t without a USB-C dongle or other external hardware. The Zenfone 10 has been packed in many a backpack as we tested the noise cancellation of various gear while traveling.
Despite all these features, the Zenfone 10 battery lasts all day. Our recommendation to get the most out of this pint-sized powerhouse: Get the largest storage and save albums/playlists while on WiFi for offline listening to avoid cellular dead spots and sucking down your battery while you suck up all your data plan; really live that upgraded iPod lifestyle.
For $699 – $799, the ASUS Zenfone 10 offers you a lot of phone—or a little, depending on how you look at the form factor.
Best budget: Google Pixel 7a
- Display: 6.1-inch OLED (2400 x 1080 px resolution, 90Hz)
- Processor: Google Tensor G2 Titan M2
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB
- Battery: 4385 mAh
- Charging: 18W fast charging, wireless charging
- Cameras: Front: 12MP (ƒ/2.2) Rear: 64MP (ƒ/1.89), 13MP (ƒ/2.2) ultrawide
- Size: 6 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches; 6.8 ounces
- Android OS version: Android 13
- Superb photo quality
- Wireless charging compatible
- Bright, responsive touchscreen
- Purest Android OS experience
- Not as powerful as flagship phones
- Battery life is only okay
The Pixel 7a is a worthy pick for the best budget Android phone and anyone trying to upgrade to a 5G phone without spending a thousand bucks or more. At just $500, the Pixel 7a offers respectable mid-range specs, 5G network support, and advanced camera technology. It comes 13 right out of the box, and Google supports older devices for years after launch. It routinely adds new features and fixes bugs, meaning this phone has several years of updates ahead of it.
The Pixel 7a offers the smallest screen of the Pixel lineup, but it’s the ideal size for most people. The Tensor G2 chip is the same one found in Google’s more expensive phones, which allows for snappy performance for just about anything. The touchscreen is bright, colorful, and responsive, and the adaptive brightness quickly adjusts to the current light conditions.
The camera of the 7a is where this phone really shines. We found it to be the best camera available on a cheap Android phone. It offers a 64MP main camera with optical image stabilization, a 13MP ultra-wide camera, and a 12MP selfie camera. The photos aren’t overly processed or sharpened, looking natural but polished. There are plenty of camera modes for different situations, including nighttime images, and you’ll have access to Google’s AI-based editing tools.
Of course, as a budget-friendly option, there are some sacrifices. It’s not as powerful as more expensive phones. And you miss out on a dedicated telephoto camera, which is a bummer. Plus, the battery life is so-so. It won’t last all day if you use your phone a lot, so you’ll want a power bank if you’re going to be away from a power source for a bit. But the Pixel 7a punches above its weight in most regards, and given how new it is, you’ll get update support for years to come, saving you even more money down the line.
To read more about the Google Pixel 7a, check out our full review.
Here are even more Android phones to consider:
- Best value: OnePlus 11
- Best for photography: Google Pixel 8 Pro
- Best folding: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
- Best for gaming: Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate
Q: Which Android phone sold the most?
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is still the all-time highest-selling Android phone, at 80 million units worldwide. Samsung’s Galaxy phones are routinely among the best-selling phones, and the Galaxy A51, A21S, A01, and A11 were among the best-selling Android phones in 2020.
Q: Which smartphone will last the longest?
Of the current Android phone crop, the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate battery will last the longest on a single charge—often several hours longer than the most powerful flagship phones. It’s also the best phone for gamers and good for audiophiles who want to test Bluetooth codecs.
If you’re looking for a phone with excellent longevity, Google has said that its Pixel 8 and 8 Pro see updates for at least seven years. That means you could go much longer using the same phone, which is good for the planet and your wallet.
Q: Which Android phone is better than the iPhone?
Deciding if an Android phone is better than the iPhone is ultimately a matter of preference. The Android and iOS experiences differ quite a bit. Android is the more open and flexible option, while iOS is more restrictive but more secure and better curated. Both operating systems have unique software features the other does not.
That said, each year’s Android flagship phones find ways to outperform Apple’s latest phones in specific ways. When the iPhone 15 Pro Max launched in September of this year, it arguably lagged behind the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in terms of screen quality and camera specs.
Q: Is it better to buy an Android phone unlocked or through a carrier?
Buying an unlocked phone has lots of advantages. For starters, you can switch carriers whenever you like (as long as you don’t have a contract) without needing to buy a new phone each time. That also means you can use it internationally as long as you purchase a SIM card where you are traveling. Additionally, you won’t be stuck with all the carrier-specific pre-loaded apps that clog up room on your phone. Finally, you can frequently sell unlocked phones for more money than locked phones.
There are downsides to unlocked phones, however. Carries typically won’t offer support for unlocked phones, so it’s up to you if something goes wrong. You also may not be able to get a payment plan for an unlocked phone, which could be an issue for some.
Q: Can you use eSIM on an Android phone?
Most Android phones support eSIM technology. That includes the Samsung S23, S22, and S21 series, the Galaxy Note20 series, Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Fold 5, and Pixel phones starting with the Pixel 4.
Final thoughts on the best Android phones
- Best overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- Best for small hands: ASUS ZenFone 10
- Best budget: Google Pixel 7a
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best smartphone you can right now. It’s expensive, sure, but it excels in every single category. Of course, there are always tradeoffs for picking one device over another. We can confidently say that all of these phones have qualities that make them one of the best Android phones. All are worthy of your consideration, at least until someone comes along and makes something better.
Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.