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.
That means it's a great idea to look for the best Black Friday Deals, because top manufacturers such as Samsung often end up with hefty discounts over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period – so if you're thinking about upgrading your Android phone, this could be the perfect time to do it.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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Bigger isn’t always better, and the Sony Xperia 5 III seeks to prove that. It’s a small phone that manages to pack in loads of high-end hardware including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset and a truly excellent camera system. And you can use it completely one-handed.
When it comes to performance, it’s just as efficient as any of the phones towards the top of this list, you'll get plenty of speed. The only thing it doesn’t do so well at is battery life, which is just okay.
The screen isn’t quite big enough to spend too much time watching video on it, but the narrow 21:9 aspect ratio is the perfect shape for it, so it'll still be good for watching TV and movies on your commute.
Sony is famously good at making cameras and they’ve managed to combine those skills with their smartphones. The Sony Xperia 5 III does exactly that, producing impressive shots through the in-depth Photography Pro camera app. All in all, this is an impressive, compact handset.
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'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.
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.
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.
The Xiaomi 11T Pro is a smartphone out to impress when it comes to its specs and performance. Powered by the high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, it offers fast speeds similar to some of the top entries on this list as well as a seriously long-lasting battery and ultra-fast charging.
While that's all great to have, there’s nothing that makes this really stand out against the crowd. Everything has been done before from the 120Hz refresh rate display to the triple-lens camera system. And it’s not a looker either. In fact, the chunky design is sure to be off-putting for some. It also makes it very hard to use the phone one-handed.
Despite that, this is still a good phone. It’ll be ideal for streaming TV shows and movies on the large FHD+ screen while the side-mounted fingerprint sensor is quick and effective. When it comes to performance, it’s impressive across the board.
While the Motorola Edge 20 Pro isn’t the most impressive smartphone on this list, it does deserve its spot here. With a 144Hz refresh rate and high-end chipset, it will be good if you dabble in mobile gaming, but it’ll also be great for those who need their phone to do a bit of work on or to watch TV shows on their commute.
Another great feature worth knowing about is the fact that it is compatible with Motorola’s Ready For. That means you’ll be able to project the display onto a bigger screen as and when you need it, which alongside the 6.7inch screen it already has, makes this phone very well-suited to productivity.
It’s not all good though, this phone does lack some bells and whistles like wireless charging and it’s not waterproof either. And if you have small hands then steer clear because you won't be able to use it one-handed. On the flip side though, if you think bigger is better then this will be a great choice and it won't cost you as much as more premium flagships.
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.
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.
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.