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The Best Android Phones, According to Experts

Photo: HBO

If you’re an iPhone user, it’s a little easier to find the right phone when you’re looking to buy a new one. There are about five to choose from. (Phone cases, however, are a different story.) But Android fans have a much more daunting list of options, with phones in all shapes, sizes, and price tags on offer from manufacturers including Samsung, Sony, Google, LG, Lenovo, Motorola, and OnePlus.

To help you narrow down the options — and find the phone that’s right for you — we consulted seven different Android experts and aficionados. They shared their favorite phones, accounting for both price and ability. If you’re looking for a phone that takes great video or great pictures, or a phone that has a beautiful, smooth-scrolling screen (or one that does all three), we’ll help you find it. Here are the experts’ picks for the top Android phones available right now.

The best Android phone for most people

The OnePlus 9 Pro “is genuinely competitive with the best Android phones on the market — at least from a features and quality perspective,” says Dieter Bohn, our colleague and the executive editor at the Verge. It has a 6.7-inch screen “that goes from edge to edge in a body that’s narrow enough to make it just barely usable for me in one hand.” The battery is large enough to get through a full day and a half of “moderately heavy usage,” Bohn says, and when it’s time to recharge, thanks to OnePlus’s proprietary charging technology, it can go from dead to fully charged in 45 minutes. “The camera system is good, but it can’t quite match the quality you get from an iPhone 12 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra — both of which cost more than the OnePlus 9 Pro,” Bohn says.

The best (less-expensive) Android phone for most people

Will Verduzco, content marketing specialist for Swappa, prefers this older option from Samsung. “Although it’s a generation old, the S10 is nearly indistinguishable from the latest flagships thanks to its sleek, all-screen front face, versatile triple-rear camera with 2x optical zoom, and premium metal-and-glass build,” he says. You don’t get the 120Hz display (for smoother scrolling) or the Snapdragon 865 processor (for faster speeds) that you find on the latest Samsung Galaxy phones, but Verduzco doesn’t think you’ll miss them: “The 6.1-inch OLED on the S10 is still one of the sharpest and most vibrant screens you can find on any phone, and the 8-core Snapdragon 855 processor will muscle through even the most demanding games and apps for years to come.”

Note: Unless otherwise noted, the prices in this story are for unlocked phones, which can be brought to any carrier.

Best budget Android phone

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

If you’re looking for flagship performance at a lower price, Wesley Thurston, business development manager at Swappa, a site that buys and sells used phones, suggests the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. “My favorite feature about the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is the fluid 120Hz display. Once you’ve used a phone with the buttery smooth transitions and scrolling of a high refresh-rate display, it’s nearly impossible to go back. I use it as a do-it-all workhorse for daily conference calls, emails, web browsing, photos, and gaming.”

The best Android phone for taking pictures

From $700

Until the Pixel 6 launches this fall, the 5 is still the top option for photos. The Pixel 5 is a flagship 5G smartphone that challenges phones at twice the price, according to Geoff Quattromani, host of the Technology Uncorked podcast. From a capability perspective, the Pixel 5 has rear cameras that capture vibrant images, and the night mode can see in the dark better than the human eye, Quattromani explains. “The large display is perfect for watching videos, gaming performance is excellent, the tight integration to Google services is seamless, and the battery life easily makes it through the day.” And it has 5G, in case you happen to live in one of the few places in the country with 5G service.

Note: Buying the Pixel 5 at Best Buy requires activation with either AT&T or Verizon.

The best (less-expensive) Android phone for taking pictures