Best Android phones 2021: superb Android smartphones for every budget

These are the best Android phones you should buy in 2021, from premium flagships to budget bargains

Best Android phones 2021
(Image credit: OnePlus)

When you look for the best Android phones in 2021, you're looking at a who's who of tech's big hitters: the best Android phones are also the best Google phones, the best Samsung phones, the best Nokia phones, the best Huawei, LG, Sony and many more. Android is all about variety, and that means there are almost endless options for phone sizes, features and styles from all kinds of innovative brands.

The downside of that is that, well, there are almost endless options for phone sizes, features and styles from all kinds of innovative brands. How do you chose the best Android phone when there are so many options? That's why we're here. No matter what features matter most to you, we can help you find the perfect Android phone that delivers them. Whether you're a photography fan, a movie buff or just have big ideas and a smaller budget, we've got you covered. 

The best Android phone for you isn’t necessarily going to be the most expensive or advanced phone, although of course you’ll find lots of big-name flagship phones such as the best Samsung phones in our list. While flagships are great choices for many buyers we’ve also taken great care to include phones for every kind of Android user, and for every budget.

The Android market gets ever more competitive, and that’s brilliant news for buyers: Android is the OS for many of the best cheap phones you can buy, many of the best compact phones and almost all of the best gaming phones too. 

Android phones also completely dominate the best foldable phones market: right now interesting new models from Samsung, Huawei, Motorola and more are currently competing for the folding phone crown, unchallenged by Apple. 

Let's face it. Many, perhaps even most, of the best phones overall in 2021 are Android ones that deliver hardware and features as good as or better than any iPhone. So let's discover which of the best Android phones in 2021 is the best phone for you.

The best Android phones you can buy today

Samsung Galaxy S21 best Android phonesT3 Award

The best Android phone for most people is the Samsung Galaxy S21.

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

The best Android phone for most people

Specifications
Dimensions: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm
Weight: 169 g
Screen: Dynamic AMOLED HDR10+ FHD+ (2400x1080)
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Brightness: 1300 nits (peak)
CPU: Exynos 2100 | Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Rear cameras: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Battery: 4,000mAh
OS: Android 11
Reasons to buy
+Great camera system+Powerful internal hardware+120Hz screen+5G connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-No microSD card slot-S21 Plus and S21 Ultra exist

The Samsung Galaxy S21 isn't the largest or most flagship S21 device, but it is the cheapest and it delivers 90 per cent of what its bigger brother phones, the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra, do in a great all-round package.

First off, you get 5G connectivity – so you are 100 per cent sorted in terms of future-proofing. If you live in a 5G area and have a 5G data SIM card then you can tap into lighting fast network speeds with the Galaxy S21.

Next up it has a really strong dynamic AMOLED HDR10+ FHD+ 2400x1080 resolution screen that has a pixel density of 421ppi. Simply put, it's a brilliant screen for general phone usage, browsing the internet and social media, streaming films and TV shows, playing games, viewing and editing images and more besides.

This screen is then partnered with a rapid processor, which is either the Exynos 2100 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 depending on where you are in the world, 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256Gb of storage space depending on what model you plump for. That's a really strong core spec that crushes any mobile game and delivers buttery smooth navigation in the phone's OS.

And, talking of OS, you get the very latest version of Android on the Samsung Galaxy S21, Android 11.

Throw in a really powerful and versatile camera system, which has triple lenses on the rear and a single selfie lens on the front, a good 4,000mAh battery and IP68 water and dust proofing, and it's easy to see just how great the all-round package is.

The price is also very approachable and, all that considered, that is why we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S21 as the best Android phone for most people.

best Android phones OnePlus 9 Pro reviewT3 Award

The best premium Android phone on the market is the OnePlus 9 Pro.

(Image credit: OnePlus)

2. OnePlus 9 Pro

The best premium Android phone

Specifications
Weight: 197g
Dimensions: 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.7 inches
Resolution: 3216 x 1400
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 450mAh
Rear camera: 48MP + 8MP + 50MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP
Reasons to buy
+Best camera on a OnePlus phone+Stylish, premium design+Powerful hardware+Superb charging tech
Reasons to avoid
-Very much an evolution of the OnePlus 8 Pro-Battery life is good but not best in class-OnePlus 9 offers better value for money 

As T3 noted in its full OnePlus 9 Pro review, this is the handset where Chinese maker OnePlus has finally got a flagship camera system right, with its clever partnering with photo taking masters Hasselblad elevating it to the top table.

Last year's flagship had been a superb all-round phone, and one that won plenty of plaudits, but the one area where it couldn't compete was in terms of camera system, with rivals outgunning it. The OnePlus 9 Pro, though, fixes that, and while its camera system isn't the best on the market, it is comparable.

Alongside the new Hasselblad Camera for Mobile camera system, the OnePlus 9 Pro delivers what OnePlus is now renowned for – lighting fast performance, buckets of power, and a stunning screen.

Indeed, the QHD (3216x1400) 120Hz AMOLED is absolutely gorgeous, while a the top-spec variant of this handset comes with a app and games-crushing 12GB of RAM. Paired with the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, Adreno 660 GPU and up to 256GB of storage space, and you've got a seriously capable phone.

Maybe the most impressive thing about the OnePlus 9 Pro, though, is its charging capabilities. Not only does this phone offer 65-watt Warp Charge over wired connection, which can fill a phone from 0-100 per cent charge in just 29 minutes, but it also supports 50-watt wireless charging, too, which can do the same in just under 45 minutes. That's incredible, and basically guarantees that you're never going to left short on time to charge you handset.

Overall, then, the OnePlus 9 Pro easily makes it claim of the best premium Android phone crown, and providing you don't want to go ultra-premium with a handset like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (see below), then it is a no-brainer purchase.

To see how this phone's predecessor fares against the latest from Samsung, then check out our Samsung Galaxy S21 vs OnePlus 8 Pro comparison feature.

OnePlus Nord 2 best Android phones 2021T3 Award

A cheap Android phone that performs well across the board. 

(Image credit: OnePlus)

3. OnePlus Nord 2

The best mid-range Android phone

Specifications
Weight: 189 g
Dimensions: 158.9 x 73.2 x 8.25mm
OS: OxygenOS / Android 11
Screen size: 6.43 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels
CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4500 mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 32MP
Reasons to buy
+Excellent screen and build quality+Clean, powerful OxygenOS+Impressive performance
Reasons to avoid
-Loads of strong alternatives-Not completely waterproof

OnePlus knows their stuff when it comes to making mid-range smartphones, and the OnePlus Nord 2 is a prime example of that. 

Following on from the massively successful OnePlus Nord, the second generation shakes up the camera system, improves on battery life and speeds up the performance. What was already a fantastic phone is now even better. 

The OnePlus Nord 2 does lack some features like there’s no official waterproofing nor is there wireless charging. You do get fast internet though thanks to Wi-Fi 6 and 5G support. 

The camera is decent, photos won’t always come out perfectly yet you will be able to take some social media-worthy shots, play around with plenty of different camera modes and shoot video in resolutions up to 4K. 

So why is it so cheap? Well, everything about this phone is good rather than great. You can’t expect it to smash any of the records set by the most expensive flagships but what you will get is a solid, reliable handset that is excellent value for money.

Google Pixel 4a Best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The Google Pixel 4a is the best budget Android phone in the world.

(Image credit: Google)

4. Google Pixel 4a

The best budget Android phone

Specifications
Weight: 143 grams
Dimensions: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.81 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 3140mAh
Rear camera: 12.2 MP, f/1.7, 28mm (wide)
Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide)
Reasons to buy
+Great camera+Pure software+Very well priced
Reasons to avoid
-No 5G-Relatively small screen-No telephoto zoom

The Google Pixel 4a was delayed several times before it saw the light of day, but we're glad that it's here now – it follows on from the template set down by the Pixel 3a, in that it combines a great camera with a decent design and pure Android software. Perhaps the best part is the price though: just $349/£349.

That makes it a very attractive proposition: it's capable of taking some fantastic photos, especially in low light, and with enough performance to handle the majority of smartphone tasks, what else do you need? It's not quite as polished or as powerful as the flagships of course, but it costs an awful lot less.

Google is adding an increasing number of exclusives to the Pixel too: the Night Sight mode for the camera for example, and the Recorder app that can convert speech into text in real time. You don't get 5G though – you'll have to wait for the Pixel 4a with 5G later in the year for that. If you're wondering how it stacks up against the higher-end Pixel 5, here's our Pixel 4a vs Pixel 5 guide.

And to see how this phone stacks up against a powerful rival, take a look at our Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G vs Google Pixel 4A comparison feature.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G best Android phones 2021T3 Award


(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

A strong all-round Android phone from a premium maker

Specifications
Weight: 190g
Dimensions: 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.5 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,400
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 12MP wide + 8MP telephoto + 12MP ultrawide
Front camera: 32MP wide
Reasons to buy
+Incredible 120Hz screen+Excellent specs list+Bixby button has been removed
Reasons to avoid
-Premium price-Battery life not best in class

Every phone in the Galaxy S20 series has its plus points, but for our best Android phone pick we have to go for the FE or Fan Edition that launched several months after the first batch of S20 handsets. It packs in a premium set of features, and while the price is maybe a little too high, you won't be disappointed with what you get in return for your money.

The superb display on the Galaxy S20 FE absolutely steals the show – it's one of the best we've seen to date – and you can add to that top-tier specs and a camera that produces some excellent results (the camera is actually almost identical to the one in the standard Galaxy S20 handset).

The battery life holds up well too – something that continues to be a concern for smartphone buyers everywhere. If you're put off by the extravagant features and price points of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, this might be the perfect buy for you – you can see how they compare in our Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE breakdown.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra boasts hyper-premium performance and features.

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The best hyper-premium Android phone

Specifications
Weight: 229 g
Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm (6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 in)
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.8 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 3200 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100
RAM: 12GB/16GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB
Battery: 5000mAh
Rear cameras: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 40MP
Reasons to buy
+Beautifully smooth 120Hz display+Very, very powerful hardware+Impressive camera system+S Pen digital stylus support
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive, despite a price drop-Doesn't come with S Pen Digital Stylus

Samsung's latest top of the range flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, is an absolute beast of handset and successfully bludgeons Android rivals into submission with a hyper-powerful hardware and software armoury of tech weapons.

First off the phone delivers 5G connectivity, and that's all 5G standards too, including sub-6, mmWave and NSA. Rapid mobile data connections are guaranteed. Next the phone comes with a simply stunning 6.8-inch 120Hz display, which is as buttery smooth as it is big and immersive.

From there the S21 Ultra wields a rapid Snapdragon 888 CPU and Adreno 660 GPU, and in its max-spec form, drops a gigantic 16GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage space. Its battery is equally as impressive, too, with a huge 5,000 mAh stack ensuring the phone has plenty of juice.

And that is saying nothing of the phone's MP-packed camera system, which delivers four powerful lenses (including a 108MP main!), as well as large 40MP front-facing selfie camera.

The S21 Ultra also has a very unique new feature that is only shared by Samsung's Note series of phones – it supports digital stylus usage. That means users can use Samsung' S-Pen digital stylus on the S21 Ultra. Unlike the Note series of phones, though, the S21 Ultra does not come with a stylus, and cannot store the stylus in its body, either.

Throw in the wonderfully refined Android 11 OS, as well as Samsung's own best-in-class One UI skin, and it is easy to see why the S21 Ultra has been so well received.

To see how this handset compares to the standard S21, be sure to check out T3's Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra comparison feature.

best Android phones 2021 Xiaomi Mi 11 UltraT3 Award

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is a premium Android smartphone with two screens and impressive performance.

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

7. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

The best premium Android phone for photography

Specifications
Weight: 234g
Dimensions: 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.38mm
OS: MIUI 12 based on Android 11
Screen size: 6.8 inches
Resolution: 3200x1440
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Front camera: 20MP
Rear camera: 50MP, 48MP, 48MP
Reasons to buy
+Two displays+Impressive camera+Powerful performance
Reasons to avoid
-Very big and heavy to hold-The massive camera module is an eye-sore-Second display isn't very responsive

Straight off the bat, it's worth knowing that the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra isn't for everybody. This is a hyper-premium smartphone and its price tag is eye-watering. 

So who is it for? It's for photography enthusiasts, social media influencers and mobile gamers. It has a triple-lens camera system that takes superb shots, and you can use it to take selfies too. The miniature display on the back of the phone means you'll rarely need to use the front camera because you can now see a preview of your shots on the back. In use, photos came out looking incredibly detailed and balanced. 

Using the high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra doesn't skimp on performance either. In fact, it's one of the most powerful handsets on this list. It'll easily handle any task you throw at it. 

There are a few downsides though, the first being the sheer size of it. If you have small hands then steer clear. Another is the camera notch because it packs in so much tech, it's a major eye-sore on the back of the phone. If you can look past that and you're not on a budget, then it'll be a great choice. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The best Android phone with included digital stylus? That's the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G.

(Image credit: Samsung)

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G

The best Android phone with digital stylus functionality

Specifications
Weight: 208 g
Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.9 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 3088 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus / Exynos 990
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Battery: 4500mAh
Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8 wide+ 12MP f/3.0 (periscope telephoto) + 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 10MP f/2.2 wide
Reasons to buy
+The best S Pen yet+Huge, bright screen+Plenty of power
Reasons to avoid
-Costs a lot of money-Huge camera bump

There's a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, and if you can manage the cost, it's undoubtedly one of the best Android experiences you're going to get this year. It features a brilliant design, a more than capable camera, and internal specs that mean it will outpace almost every phone on the market.

The biggest reason for buying the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, though, is of course that S Pen – scribble on the lock screen, control the camera remotely, unleash your creative side, and more. If you need a phone with a stylus for serious work on the go, this phone has you covered.

5G is on board, as the name of the phone suggests, which means you're covered for years when it comes to next-gen connectivity – and considering you've got the Exynos 990 or Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset (depending on region) running everything, this isn't a phone that'll be slowing down anytime soon.

As we've said, the price is a little on the eye-watering side, but for something you're going to use every day for years to come, you might consider it worthwhile. The triple-lens rear camera with 5x optical zoom deserves a mention too, as it's capable of capturing some fantastic snaps in any kind of lighting.

To see how this phone compares to our number one Android phone choice, be sure to check out T3's Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G comparison feature.

Oppo Find X3 Neo 5G best Android phones 2021T3 Approved badge

The Oppo Find X3 Neo has a great camera, display, and performance. 

(Image credit: Oppo)

9. Oppo Find X3 Neo 5G

One of the best Android phones for all-round performance

Specifications
Weight: 184g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 72.5 x 7.99mm
OS: ColorOS 11 based on Android 11
Screen size: 6.55 inches
Resolution: 2400 x 1080
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear cameras: 50MP, 16MP, 13MP, 2MP
Front camera: 32MP
Reasons to buy
+High-quality display+Fast performance+Excellent camera
Reasons to avoid
-Average battery life -No wireless charging-It’s not waterproof

The Oppo Find X3 Neo 5G is an impressive phone across the board, it could have had us fooled for a much more expensive handset. 

The quality of the 6.55in display is stunning, and the high 90Hz refresh rate makes for ultra-smooth scrolling and swiping. Anyone big on photography, or snapping shots of friends and family will love the point-and-shoot capabilities from the camera system. It's not quite the same level as this phone's flagship sibling, the Oppo Find X3 Pro, but it's not that far off either. 

All of that is paired with really speedy performance, so this phone has loads going for it. The only area that it doesn't excel in is the battery life, but even that is still going to be good enough for most people.  For this sort of price, you won't get many phones that are better. 

Huawei Mate 40 Pro best Android phones 2021T3 Award

For top-rate hardware the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is a great Android phone choice.

(Image credit: Huawei)

10. Huawei Mate 40 Pro

An Android phone with great hardware and superb camera system

Specifications
Weight: 212 g
Dimensions: 162.9 mm x 75.5 mm x 8.2 mm
OS: EMUI 11 / Android 10
Screen size: 6.76 inches
Resolution: 1344 x 2772 pixels
CPU: Kirin 9000 5G
RAM: 8G
Storage: 256GB / 512GB
Battery: 4400 mAh
Rear camera: 50MP f/1.9 wide + 12MP f/3.4 5x telephoto + 20MP f/1.8 ultrawide
Front camera: 13MP f/2.4 wide + 13MP f/2.4 wide
Reasons to buy
+Impressive camera array+Plenty of battery life+Excellent performance
Reasons to avoid
-No Google Play store or Google apps-Expensive-Large selfie camera notch

It's worth saying right from the outset that the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is a fantastic phone from a purely hardware point of view: with a large 6.76-inch OLED screen that curves around the edges of the phone, and some fantastic colour finishes, this is a handset that looks and feels premium. It's also packed with one of the fastest processors on the market at the moment.

The rear camera represents another stunning effort from Huawei, almost guaranteeing you great shots no matter what kind of lighting you're up against – from bright daylight to the darkest night. You get full waterproofing, wireless charging and enough battery life to make it well beyond a day too.

The big problem, as with every Huawei phone recently, is that it can't run regular Android apps from the Play Store, and Google's own apps are missing too. Sideloading can ease some of this pain, but make sure you're fully aware of the software situation before parting with your money on this – we think for some users the hardware quality will outweigh the app annoyances.

OnePlus 9 best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The OnePlus 9 is an impressive flagship with a slightly more accessible price.

(Image credit: OnePlus)

11. OnePlus 9

A speedy and stylish Android

Specifications
Weight: 192g
Dimensions: 160x74.2x8.7mm
OS: Android 11 /Oxygen OS 11
Screen size: 6.55 inches
Resolution: 2400 x 1080
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB/12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 48MP, 50MP, 2MP
Front camera: 16MP
Reasons to buy
+Super fast charging+Fluid, smooth 120Hz display+Fast performance
Reasons to avoid
-No MicroSD card slot-The glass back is prone to marks-Could have a better battery life

The OnePlus 9 runs on Oxygen OS 11, a light Android skin that feels very familiar. It offers tons of fantastic functionality as well as a stunning 6.55 inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. 

With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, the OnePlus 9 has made massive leaps in performance, with every swipe, tap and click giving you immediate results. Then, there’s the battery. You can take it from empty to fully charged in only 29 minutes, which certainly makes up for the relatively average battery life. 

If you need a good camera, the OnePlus 9 ticks that box too. They’ve partnered up with Hasselblad to create a reliable, high-quality system with impressive detail and vivid colours. It’s hard not to recommend the OnePlus 9. 

Not sure if you’d be happy with the OnePlus 9, or whether you would benefit from spending the extra cash on the OnePlus 9 Pro. Take a look at T3’s OnePlus 9 vs OnePlus 9 Pro: the differences explained.

Oppo Find X2 Pro best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The Oppo Find X2 Pro is one of the best-value ultra-premium Android handsets in 2021.

(Image credit: Oppo)

12. Oppo Find X2 Pro

A premium sleeper hit of an Android phone

Specifications
Weight: 200g
Dimensions: 165.2 x 74.4 x 9.5mm
OS: ColorOS 7.0 based on Android 10
Screen Size: 6.7"
Resolutions: 1440x3200 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 512GB
Rear camera: 48MP, 48MP, 13MP
Front camera: 32MP
Reasons to buy
+Excellent display+Hyper-premium flagship specs+Great quality camera
Reasons to avoid
-No wireless charging-On the expensive side-Software could be better

Oppo's ultra-premium offering contains one of the best screens we’ve ever seen on one of the fastest Android handsets we’ve ever used. The Oppo Find X2 Pro doesn’t always outstrip its competitors in the performance or camera stakes, but it’s an eye catching, high-spec, wonderful handset. 

The bright, clear 6.7" QHD+ screen, houses its “True Billion Colour Display” technology, said to be able to create depth and detail within colour like never before. It is a sumptuous screen, and the buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate is as good as advertised. The rear camera array consists of a 48MP wide-angle lens, a 48MP ultra-wide angle and a periscope 13MP telephoto lens with up to 60x digital zoom. It doesn’t quite have the enormous power of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s frankly brobdingnagian 100x “space zoom” functionality, but at mid-range, the camera shines.

It’s obviously not the cheapest smartphone on the market (at well over £1,000), but it's worth the money if you’re already considering a premium Android bit of kit and don't want to splurge the better part of £1500 on a phone like the S20 Ultra or the Huawei P40 Pro Plus.

OnePlus 8T best Android phones 2021T3 Award

(Image credit: OnePlus)

13. OnePlus 8T

Another excellent Android handset from OnePlus

Specifications
Weight: 188g
Dimensions: 160.7 x 74.1 x 8.4 mm
OS: OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11
Screen Size: 6.55 inches
Resolutions: 1080 x 2400 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Rear camera: 48MP wide + 16MP ultrawide + 5MP macro + 2MP depth
Front camera: 16MP
Reasons to buy
+Sharp 120Hz display+65W fast charging+Attractive price
Reasons to avoid
-Better cameras out there-No wireless charging-Not a massive jump from the OnePlus 8

Every phone that OnePlus has launched over the past year has been a hit in our eyes, and the OnePlus 8T is in some ways a combination of everything that came before this year: a mix of the OnePlus 8, the OnePlus 8 Pro, and the OnePlus Nord. It combines some excellent features with a very reasonable price in the mid-range section of the market.

The headline features are perhaps the 120Hz refresh rate on the 6.55-inch AMOLED screen, and the 65W fast charging. You can juice up the phone from zero to full in the space of just half an hour or so, and that means you might not need to put your phone on charge overnight ever again.

There are plenty more specs to like as well, including the top-tier Snapdragon 865 processor and plenty of RAM and storage. You do miss out on some flagship-level extras, like IP68 waterproofing and wireless charging, but everything considered (including the price) this is one of the best Android phones around.

Google Pixel 5 best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The Google Pixel 5 delivers the best pure Android phone experience.

(Image credit: Google)

14. Google Pixel 5

The best pure Android phone experience in the world

Specifications
Weight: 151g
Dimensions: 144.7 mm x 70.4 mm x 8 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4080mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP f/1.7 wide + 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 8MP f/2.0 wide
Reasons to buy
+Camera is still great+Clean, pure Android+90hz refresh rate screen
Reasons to avoid
-No optical zoom-Not much better than the Pixel 4a 5G-Relatively small screen

The latest Google flagship phone is more of a premium mid-ranger than an actual flagship – the Pixel 5 settles for a Snapdragon 765G chip rather than the faster Snapdragon 865 processors, and it ditches some of the advanced features of the Pixel 4 (including Face Unlock, which we very much liked).

None of this really matters too much though, because it allows the Pixel 5 to hit a lower price point: and when you take the £599/$699 asking price into consideration, this is very much one of the best phones on the market at the moment. It's especially attractive if you like the clean, stock version of Android.

There are some neat features here, including a 90Hz refresh rate for the screen, IP68 waterproofing, and wireless charging. As usual for the Pixel series, it's the camera that helps the Pixel 5 stand out from the pack: while the physical hardware of the rear camera hasn't changed all that much from last year, the on-board image processing continues to impress, and it's difficult to beat in terms of photo-taking.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus best Android phones 2021T3 Award


(Image credit: Samsung)

15. Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

A fantastic Android phone with large screen

Specifications
Dimensions: 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm
Weight: 200g
Screen: 6.7 inches AMOLED (120Hz, HDR10+)
CPU: Exynos 2100 /Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
GPU: Mali-G78
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 12 MP, 12MP, 64MP
Front cameras: 10MP
Battery: 4,8000 mAh
OS: Android 11
5G: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Huge, great looking screen+Battery runs and runs+Great photo taking capabilities
Reasons to avoid
-No MicroSD card slot-There's no charger included in the box-Lower screen resolution than its predecessor

There's buckets to like about the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, but foremost among them is its large, 6.7-inch, HDR10+, 120Hz AMOLED display. It's an absolute star and makes using the phone in any capacity a joy, be that streaming movies from Disney Plus or playing the very latest mobile games.

Away from the screen, though, the S21 Plus delivers big. The phone comes equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100 processor depending on which region it's sold in, which is super fast, as well as 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage space, too. Combined these mean the phone runs like a dream, with super fast navigation, loading and installing.

The camera system is also good, too, with a triple lens rear array joining a single lens selfie camera to provide comprehensive image and video taking capabilities. Director Mode even allows the S21 Plus to record video from the front and back lenses simultaneously, which is ideal for capturing reactions to live events.

Naturally for a Samsung phone, it also comes loaded with the very latest Android 11 OS, too.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is one of the best Android phones on the market today.

Nokia 8.3 5G best Android phones 2021T3 Award

Nokia's 8.3 5G is an impressive mid-price Android phone.

(Image credit: Nokia)

16. Nokia 8.3 5G

Another fine mid-range Android phone from Nokia

Specifications
Weight: 227g
Dimensions: 171.9 x 78.5 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.81 inches
Resolution: 2220x1080
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 64/2/12/2MP rear, 24MP front
Reasons to buy
+Large screen+5G modem+Stylish design
Reasons to avoid
-Camera system beaten elsewhere-Only 64GB of internal storage

Nokia flies under most people's radar these days, but it's been quietly improving its smartphone range to offer more than just low-priced budget phones. The Nokia 8.3 delivers an impressive specification for a good price, and the Zeiss cameras are particularly impressive: there are four rear cameras with resolutions ranging from 2MP to 64MP and the front camera is 24MP.

Performance is pretty good thanks to a Snapdragon 765G and 5G connectivity, backed with 6GB RAM and Android 10 (the Nokia is Android 11 ready). The large screen is powered by a sturdy 4,500mAh battery and you can add up to 512GB of external storage. And because it's a Nokia, it has its own FM radio too.

Nokia may not be the force it used to be but it's making some pretty impressive devices right now. The Nokia 8.3 is definitely worth considering if you're looking for a serious snapper that won't break the bank.

Oppo Reno 4 Pro 5G best Android phonesT3 Award

The Oppo Reno 4 Pro 5G hits the Android phone sweet spot.

(Image credit: Oppo)

17. Oppo Reno 4 Pro 5G

An excellent premium mid-ranger from the Oppo stable

Specifications
Weight: 172g
Dimensions: 159.6 x 72.5 x 7.6 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.55 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,000 mAh
Rear camera: 48MP wide + 13MP telephoto + 12MP ultrawide
Front camera: 32MP wide
Reasons to buy
+Really nice display+Very solid build quality+65W fast charging
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively pricey-No wireless charging-ColorOS not the best

We do like most of what the Oppo Reno 4 Pro 5G has to offer – including of course that 5G connectivity. The phone also boasts 65W super-fast charging, which means you can get the battery from zero to full in the space of just 30 minutes or so. It's a real game-changer, and you might never have to charge this phone overnight.

At this mid-range price point, the phone has pretty much the specs and the camera performance that you'd expect, but the display was definitely a pleasant surprise – thin bezels, bright colours, strong contrast and a 90Hz refresh rate that makes everything scroll by really, really smoothly.

The triple-lens 48MP+13MP+12MP rear camera does its job really well too, especially in low light and night time conditions, with strong HDR processing and colour reproduction. There are a lot of really good Android phones around this price point, but we reckon the Oppo Reno 4 Pro 5G is one of the best.

TCL 20 Pro 5G best Android phones 2021T3 Award

(Image credit: TCL)

18. TCL 20 Pro 5G

A mid-ranger with a stunning display

Specifications
Weight: 190g
Dimensions: 164.2 x 73 x 8.77mm
Screen size: 6.67 inches
Resolution: FHD+ 1080 x 2400 pixel
OS: Android 11, TCL UI
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear cameras: 48MP, 16MP, 5MP, 2MP
Front camera: 32MP
Reasons to buy
+Stunning 6.67-inch curved display+Long-lasting battery+Effective selfie camera
Reasons to avoid
-Average camera-Slow charging-No waterproofing

The TCL 20 Pro 5G is an Android phone for the screen-obsessed. 

Its curved edges make it look like a much more premium handset than it is, with the FHD+ resolution paired with AI visual enhancement making it truly lovely for watching videos or browsing the web. It wasn't just the screen that impressed, the 4,500mAh battery provides you with a full day of charge and it supports wireless charging too. 

In terms of performance, you get what you pay for. This won't be a good choice for those on the hunt for a powerful Android phone. Nor for aspiring photographers, as the camera was just fine as opposed to anything mind-blowing. 

On the whole, though, this is a fantastic-looking phone with a very convincing price tag. 

Moto G8 Power best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The Moto G8 Power packs in plenty of... erm... power, with a battery that just runs and runs.

(Image credit: Motorola)

19. Moto G8 Power

One of the best budget Android phones for long-lasting battery

Specifications
Weight: 197g
Dimensions: 156 x 75.8 x 9.6 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.4 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,300 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 665
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 16MP f/1.7 wide + 8MP f/2.2 telephoto + 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide + 2MP f/2.2 macro
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Straightforward, clean design+Brimming with value for money+Check out that battery size
Reasons to avoid
-Where's the telephoto lens?-Only 64GB of internal storage

Hats off to Motorola (now owned by Lenovo), because it keeps on producing some really rather good Android handsets for not very much money at all – and the Moto G8 Power is one of the latest examples of that. The big selling point here, hence the "Power", is that 5,000mAh battery.

As you can see from the other specs, this isn't a flagship phone, but it's capable enough to get through just about everything that you're going to throw at it (and the quad-lens rear camera isn't bad either). Considering the low, low price you can get this phone at, the specification is an impressive one.

Add in a clean, bloat-free version of Android 10, and we reckon this is well worth a place on our best Android phones of 2021 list – worth checking out if you want a phone that isn't going to let you down but which won't break the bank either.

OnePlus Nord best cheap phones 2021T3 Award

The OnePlus Nord gives you plenty of bang for your buck, and is a great budget Android phone choice.

(Image credit: OnePlus)

20. OnePlus Nord

The best mid-range Android phone

Specifications
Weight: 184 g
Dimensions: 158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
OS: OxygenOS / Android 10
Screen size: 6.44 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4115 mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP f/2.3 ultrawide + 5MP f/2.4 depth + 2MP f/2.4 macro
Front camera: 32MP f/2.5 wide + 8MP f/2.5 ultrawide
Reasons to buy
+Excellent screen and build quality+Clean, powerful OxygenOS+Packs in some high-end specs
Reasons to avoid
-No waterproofing-No wireless charging-No Wi-Fi 6 support

OnePlus first made its name by offering very good phone specs at very good prices, so it's fitting that it's now back in that groove with the OnePlus Nord. While OnePlus phones have slowly got more expensive over the years, the Nord goes the other way and is a fantastic mid-ranger.

Starting at just £379 in the UK, you get a powerful Snapdragon 765G processor, at least 8GB of RAM, at least 128GB of storage, and 5G thrown in as well. That's not to mention the sharp, bright 6.44-inch display which zips along thanks to its 90Hz refresh rate – everything on this screen looks stunning. Now that there's been a new refreshed version of the handset, you're likely to find some great deals on the OnePlus Nord. 

Some compromises have been made to get the phone to this price: there's no wireless charging and no waterproofing, and the camera and battery life are good rather than great. All in all though, this is an amazing package that OnePlus has put together for the price.

Samsung Galaxy A90 5G best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The Galaxy A90 5G is Samsung's cheapest phone with 5G on board.

(Image credit: Samsung)

21. Samsung Galaxy A90 5G

Get a 5G Android phone for a lower price

Specifications
Weight: 206g
Dimensions: 164.8 mm x 76.4 mm x 8.4 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.7 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,880 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB/8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 48 MP f/2.0 + 8 MP f/2.2 + 5 MP f/2.2
Front camera: 32 MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Bright, vivid, large 6.7-inch display+Get the fastest 5G speeds
Reasons to avoid
-Camera is well beaten by other phones

Are you in the market for a 5G phone that doesn't blast a huge hole in your savings account? Of course you are, and the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G will definitely appeal in this department: it brings with it some top-quality specs, a design that's very pleasing on the eye, and that all-important 5G connectivity for less money than you might think.

With a Snapdragon 855 processor and at least 6GB of RAM, the Galaxy A90 5G is going to hold up well against the very best flagships on the market, and take note of the 48 MP camera around the back of the phone too – again one of the best specs you're going to come across this year.

Samsung always does well with its screens, and the 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display here is no exception – from Netflix to your web browser, everything is going to look bright and punchy. Throw in a very hefty 4,500mAh battery pack, wireless charging, and full IP68 waterproofing, and the question is – why would you pay any more?

Sony Xperia 5 II best Android phones 2021T3 Award

The Sony Xperia 5 II's screen is great for watching movies on the go.

(Image credit: Sony)

22. Sony Xperia 5 II

A screen that just goes on and on

Specifications
Weight: 163g
Dimensions: 158 x 68 x 8mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2520 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 865
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.7 wide, 12MP f/2.4 telephoto, 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide
Front camera: 8MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Another excellent Sony screen+Camera offers real quality+120Hz refresh rate
Reasons to avoid
-Steep asking price-Display is tall and narrow-Awkward fingerprint sensor

Last year’s Xperia 5 had a well deserved spot in our best Android phones round-up, and its successor, the Sony Xperia 5 II, is one of the best Android phones in 2021. It doesn’t look much different from its premium predecessor but it’s an improvement in several key areas.

The first improvement is in the extremely wide 21:9 display. As before it’s a 6.1-inch OLED running 2520 x 1080, but this time it has a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling, gaming and video. It ships with Android 10, not 9, and the processor is a Snapdragon 865 with Adreno 650 graphics; the previous Xperia was powered by an 855 and 640 respectively.

The superb cameras are largely unchanged but the main camera has better low light performance, and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth now support the latest versions. The battery’s bigger and charges more quickly than before, and overall performance is notably better than last year’s model. It’s hardly revolutionary but it’s an excellent evolution of an already superb smartphone.

best Android phones Vivo Y70T3 Award


(Image credit: Vivo)

23. Vivo Y70

An inexpensive Android phone with large, vibrant screen

Specifications
Dimensions: 161 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm
Weight: 171 g
Screen: 6.44-inch AMOLED 1080 x 2400 pixels
5G: No
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
GPU: Adreno 610
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Rear cameras: 48MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16 MP
Battery: 4100 mAh
OS: Android 10
Reasons to buy
+Quality AMOLED screen+Affordable price point+Battery charges fast

If you're shopping for an Android phone on a budget then the Vivo Y70 is definitely a handset to consider thanks to its large, vivid AMOLED screen and solid all-round hardware spec and performance.

The screen, a 6.44-inch AMOLED 1080 x 2400 panel is the star of the show, and displays content vividly. However, a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and Adreno GPU, along with 8GB of RAM, mean you've still got plenty of power under the hood as well. This phone is not slow by any means.

And that's great, as the Y70 retails for an affordable price point, making its shortcoming like its lack of 5G modem, easy to swallow.

You get a well-rounded experience after all, with a triple rear camera system, in-screen fingerprint reader and teardrop selfie camera on offer. The operating system out of the box is Android 10, while the screen's refresh rate is 60Hz.

So, not the most powerful Android phone in this list, but a very capable one nonetheless that will suit many people thanks to its affordable price point.

Oppo Find X3 Pro best Android phones 2021T3 Award

(Image credit: Oppo)

24. Oppo Find X3 Pro

A stunning flagship for 2021 from Oppo

Specifications
Dimensions: 163.6 mm x 74 mm x 8.3 mm
Weight: 193 g
Screen: 6.7-inch AMOLED, 1440 x 3216 pixel, 120Hz, HDR10+
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
GPU: Adreno 660
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 256GB
Rear camera: 50MP wide + 13MP telephoto (2x optical zoom) + 50MP ultrawide + 3MP macro
Front camera: 32MP wide
Battery: 4500 mAh
OS: Android 11 + ColorOS 11.2
Reasons to buy
+Top-tier specs+Fantastic 6.7-inch screen+Microscopic camera
Reasons to avoid
-Large camera block-Software could be better-It's going to cost you

If you're in the market for one of the best Android phones you can buy, then we'd like to draw your attention to the Oppo Find X3 Pro: it'll cost you a significant chunk of cash, but it'll also give you excellent levels of performance, 5G download and upload speeds, and plenty more besides. You'll struggle to find a more premium smartphone this year.

Everything is powered by the latest Snapdragon 888 processor and up to 12GB of RAM, and the phone impresses just as much on the outside – the curved lines, the lightweight feel, the gorgeous 6.7-inch AMOLED display and so on. It's the sort of phone you're going to want to show off to friends and family.

Then there's the quad-lens rear camera, which not only takes great shots in any and all lighting conditions, but which also has a special 60x microscopic mode that lets you get ultra-close to fabrics, surfaces, skin, and anything else you want to put it up against. It's a bit gimmicky but it's a lot of fun to use.

How to choose the best Android phone for you

When it comes to choosing the best Android phone, budget will probably be the single biggest factor that guides your hand. Will you go for the cutting-edge ultra-premium model? Or the second highest tier of still being premium, but without the most ridiculous features? Or are looking for a great bang-for-buck mid-range set? Or do you have a strict lower budget in mind? That will narrow things down dramatically – you can see in a guide like our OnePlus 8 Pro vs Google Pixel 4a breakdown how a flagship phone and a great budget phone match up.

Then, two of the biggest factors are size and the cameras. Phones are still creeping up and up in size, and some people want the biggest they can get, while some want to find a more one-handed phone, or a middle ground. And with the cameras, we all want something that can take excellent shots, right? But do you need fancy zoom lenses, or are you happy with a simpler array as long as it takes great shots?

And don't forget battery life! We'll make sure to note which phones impress and which don't.

How we test the best Android phones

T3 is one of the world's foremost experts in terms of reviewing and rating phones, and when it comes round to testing the best Android phones we've got a very detailed, multi-step process to sort the pretenders from the champs.

The first step we undertake is reviewing the phone from a design and build quality point of view. Here we want to discover exactly what the phone offers physically, aesthetically and in terms of connectivity. We're looking at general things like fit and finish here, too.

Next we're specifically looking at the Android phone's screen. We break the screen out as its own section as a phone's screen is absolutely critical to its usage experience. We want to know what its size, resolution, panel type, coating, brightness and features are. If a handset delivers HDR10+, for example, we'll find out.

Following on from the screen we evaluate what the Android mobile offers in term of core internal hardware. So we're talking about its CPU, GPU, RAM and storage specs. If an Android phone comes loaded with a flagship Snapdragon processor we'll find out, as too if a handset comes with an underpowered graphics chip or pitiful amount of RAM. That's because we use benchmarking software such as GeekBench 5 to accurately measure each device's capabilities. Crucially, though, as we understand that specs and benchmark scores on paper can only take you so far in any judgement, we actually use the phone thoroughly in a variety of applications and games to see just what the hardware is capable of in a day-to-day usage case.

Camera system is next, and once again this gets a lot of weight in T3's testing as a person's Android handset is also their primary camera in most circumstances. We're looking at not just the quality and size of the phone's camera lenses, but also the types delivered (wide-angle, telephoto, macro, black and white etc etc) as well as what advanced sensors are on board, such as Time of Flight (ToF). In terms of camera we're also looking at just how useable and versatile the camera system's shooting software is, as too what shooting modes and options it delivers. Finally, we're obviously judging a camera system's quality by the images it takes, with us looking out for key scoring areas such as accuracy of color reproduction.

We then move on to testing the phone's battery life. T3 does this purely based on real world testing, using a phone continuously for a series of days and then reporting in on just how long it lasts.

Lastly we then evaluate any notable features like biometric security and fingerprint sensors, before then judging the device as a single, complete package. We also compare the phone to other Android mobiles that offer the same sort of package or retail for the same sort of money. Only then do we bestow a star score on the phone and, if it is high, we then consider it for inclusion in our best Android phones buying guide.