The best Android phones of 2021 come from some of the biggest names in tech: Google, Samsung, Huawei, Nokia, LG, Sony and many more produce top-notch phone worth considering. They come in all flavours for every kind of user, but the one thing they all have in common is the flexibility and customisability of Android. So how do you decide which will work for you? With our guide, which is the end result of us testing them all extensively, and distilling it all down to a nice easy read.
The best Android phone isn’t necessarily the most expensive or advanced phone, although of course you’ll find lots of flagship phones such as the best Samsung phones in our list. We’ve taken great care to include phones for every kind of Android user, and for every budget.
The Android market is incredibly competitive right now, and that’s brilliant for buyers: Android powers many of the best cheap phones you can buy, many of the best compact phones and almost all of the best gaming phones too.
In fact, many of the best phones in 2021 are Android ones, delivering features as good as or better than any iPhone. Let’s discover which of the best Android phones in 2021 is the best phone for you.
The best Android phones 2021
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 S20 and Galaxy Note 20 phones, then this might just be the perfect device for you.
The OnePlus 8 Pro complete's the Chinese maker's ascension to the very top table of smartphone makers, with this handset blowing the competition away with a complete package of top hardware, superb software, and an attractive and premium design.
Star of the show, though, is the OnePlus 8 Pro's best-screen-ever-seen-on-a-smartphone 120Hz, QHD+, HDR10+ display, which manages to outpunch even the best panels from Samsung, Sony and Huawei. Where other phones have manged to deliver one or two of that holy trinity of screen technologies, here the 8 Pro does them all at once and, remarkably, does so while also delivering a good battery life.
Internally the mixture of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 CPU, Adreno 650 GPU, 12GB RAM and 256GB of UFS3.0 storage means the OnePlus 8 Pro absolutely smokes any game or application you throw at it, with even the most graphically intensive titles running as if they were on steroids.
The OnePlus 8 Pro doesn't skimp on high-end features, either, with the best camera system OnePlus has ever made partnered with IP68 dust and waterproofing and both wireless and reverse wireless charging.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is a truly brilliant smartphone and is easily recommended as the best Android phone on the market today for those shopping with a premium budget.
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.
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.
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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.
Some compromises have been made to get the OnePlus Nord 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.
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.
Samsung's latest top of the range flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S20 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 6.9-inch 120Hz display, which is as buttery smooth as it is big and immersive.
From there the S20 Ultra wields a rapid Snapdragon 985 CPU and Adreno 650 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 three powerful lenses (including a 108MP main!) on the rear along with a Time of Flight sensor for great depth, as well as large 40MP front-facing selfie camera.
Throw in the wonderfully refined Android 10 OS, as well as Samsung's own best-in-class One UI 2.0 skin, and it is easy to see why the S20 Ultra has been so well received.
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.
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.
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.
When shopping for an Android phone in 2021 you absolutely shouldn't forget about the Galaxy S10 phones, which are still on sale from Samsung. The Galaxy S10 Plus offers a staggeringly good 6.4-inch AMOLED screen, with gorgeous colours and cavernous blacks, and very little in the way of bezels.
Even in a world where the Galaxy S20 phones exist, the S10 Plus is still a mouthwatering prospect – excellent performance, sparkling software, and a triple-lens rear camera that really does the business in any sort of lighting conditions. It's a phone that's hard to fault.
Considering it's now more than a year old, you'll be able to get some very decent prices on the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, and on the other S10 phones Samsung launched. Very worthy of your consideration of the best Android phones of 2021.
If you're looking for a great budget Android phone on the market at the moment. and don't fancy the Google Pixel 3a, then we make a very strong case for the Nokia 7.2. That's because it combines strong performance with clean software, a good camera, and a design that makes the phone appear much more expensive.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise though, as Nokia (now owned by HMD Global) has an excellent track record in recent years of producing top-notch handsets at rock bottom prices. Every year the majority of phones in the Nokia range gets a well-judged update, and this phone is no different.
The 6.3-inch screen sported by the Nokia 7.2 is a definite highlight, but really it's the quality of the all-round package that makes this phone stand out. You don't get useful extras such as waterproofing or wireless charging, but you do get plenty of bang for your buck.
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.
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.
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?
Last year’s Xperia 5 had a well deserved spot in our best Android phones round-up, and its successor 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.
The 5G-ready LG Velvet is something of a departure for the South Korean electronics giant, marking a change in direction for its design language and a bid to find success in the mid-range market rather than with a top-end flagship – the Snapdragon 756G processor is evidence of that.
That's not to say the LG Velvet is a sub-standard phone, just because it does have the very fastest CPU on the market. It comes packed with plenty of power, a decent camera and battery life, and nice bonuses such as wireless charging and an IP68 rating. It even has a headphone jack and, like several LG phones before it, works with the nifty Dual Screen accessory for twice as much screen room.
The only downside that we can see about this phone at the moment is that we don't have an official UK price for it yet – it's gone on sale in Europe but we're still waiting for it to hit these shores. If LG gets the price right, this could be a mid-range hit.
This handset is all about the camera, but this wallet-friendly phone looks and feels top-end, offering a mid-range alternative to the excellent Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro. It's very reasonably priced, but the real star of the show is the "penta camera" system with 108MP sensor, the first ever phone to break the 100-million pixel mark.
It's good in most lighting conditions, but it's in daylight that the Mi Note 10's massive sensor really shines, being capable of picking out incredible detail. A 20MP wide angle, two telephoto lenses – at 5MP and 12MP – and a 2MP Macro lens rounds out the rear camera setup. The front display notch is back, as Xiaomi has squeezed 32MP into the selfie camera alone.
Away from its photography capabilities, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 offers good mid-range specs. A 6.47-inch display and an under-screen fingerprint lock provides a large, vibrant canvas to show off your shots, while the gorilla-glass back gives it a premium feel. Combined with an amazing camera at a very appealing price, it's a solid entry from Xiaomi.
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.
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.