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
It’s not the newest option from OnePlus — that would be the 8T and the 8 Pro — but C. Scott Brown, a writer for Android Authority, says it’s still the best. He calls the OnePlus 7 Pro is his “favorite Android phone ever.” While it doesn’t have quite the camera quality of the iPhone or Pixel, for most people’s everyday photos, he doesn’t consider it much of a step down. Plus, the Pro 7 has an ingenious pop-up selfie camera that not only protects the lens when not in use, it lets the front of the phone be 100 percent screen, with no annoying camera notch. The battery is big enough to last most days, and when it doesn’t, he appreciates the ultrafast 30-watt wired charging, a speed that tops most competitors. “Simply put, I haven’t used a phone over the past 17 months that’s offered everything the 7 Pro offers and improved on it — and that includes OnePlus’s 2020 lineup.” Our colleague at The Verge, Dan Seifert, is an even bigger fan of the 7 Pro’s smaller, less expensive cousin, the 7T (The Verge named it 2019’s best Android phone), which, he writes, shares many of the more expensive phone’s features. Both are among “the fastest Android phones you can buy, with no lag or stuttering anywhere to be found,” he says.
The best Andoid phone display (at a decent price)
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 most capable Android phone (at a decent price)
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: The prices in this story are for unlocked phones, which can be brought to any carrier. If you activate this phone with a carrier when you purchase at Best Buy, the price drops to $500 (Sprint) or $550 (Verizon and AT&T).
The best Android phone for taking pictures
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: If you activate your phone with a carrier at purchase, the price at Best Buy drops to $650.
The best (less-expensive) Android phone for taking pictures
Dieter Bohn at The Verge writes that the 4A’s camera “can go head-to-head with smartphones that cost $1,500 or more,” thanks to Google’s image-processing software. The rest of the phone’s specs, he says, are passable: “It has a 5.8-inch screen, just enough RAM to keep apps from closing in the background, and a headphone jack. There’s no wireless charging, no fancy face unlock, and the body is made out of plastic instead of something more premium like glass.” But if you don’t need those things and are looking for a deal, the Pixel 4A is one of the best you’ll find.
Note: If you activate your phone with a carrier at purchase, the price at Best Buy drops to $300.
The best Android phone for video
Sony’s Xperia 1 II is the top choice for Dennis Bell, an IT professional who also runs Byblos Coffee. “I love taking photos and videos, and this phone does that very well,” he says. The phone comes with Sony’s excellent Cinema Pro app for video editing, along with adjustable features and settings that other phones don’t offer. “I can shoot 4K HDR videos, and there’s also optical and electronic image stabilization, allowing me to keep all of the frames as smooth as possible,” Bell says. “The 6.5-inch screen makes viewing images and videos amazing. It’s one of the most cinematic displays available in the market.”
Note: If you activate your phone with a carrier at purchase, the price at Best Buy drops to $1,050.
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