This article was last updated by Digital Trends’ Senior Editor Matthew S. Smith on 5/7/2020.
If you’re shopping for a new Android phone, then we have you covered. We test all kinds of Android smartphones at Digital Trends to find out exactly what they’re capable of and we love to compare them. We divided this list into six categories based on different budgets. For each one, we offer our top pick and any alternatives we think are worth mentioning.
New Android smartphones are being released all the time, and the choice can be overwhelming, so we’ve added in some alternatives to each category, or new models to look out for in the near future.
Best Android smartphones at a glance
- Best Android flagship: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
- Best Android phone for $900: OnePlus 8 Pro
- Best Android phone for $600: Samsung Galaxy S10e
- Best Android phone for $500: Asus Zenfone 6
- Best Android phone for $400: Google Pixel 3a
- Best Android phone for $300: Moto G7
Why you should buy this: It’s the best of all worlds, providing a beautiful large screen, good software, masses of features, and a strong camera.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to own a single, good-looking phone for productivity, gaming, video, and more niche features like digital art. The Note 10 Plus has you covered.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus:
Slick and seductive, Samsung’s $1,100 Note 10 Plus is still our top choice, even though the new Galaxy S20 range has been released. It’s extremely fast, it has the best display around — an amazing 6.8-inch Super AMOLED — a versatile camera suite, and it boasts a seemingly bottomless bag of tricks. All the basics are taken care of, with solid battery life, accessible and easy-to-use software that also offers plenty of customization options and a gorgeously refined design.
Samsung’s kitchen-sink approach also makes room features like a MicroSD card slot, Bixby, and reverse wireless charging. The S Pen, which acts as a stylus and a remote control for the phone, is the unique extra in the Note series. There’s also a triple-lens main camera with a time-of-flight sensor, a 10-megapixel front-facing camera, and a feature-packed camera app designed to make it easy to squeeze best results from the hardware.
It edges out the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra by costing less and coming in the stunning aura glow color, which is considerably more exciting than the black or grey S20 Ultra. There’s a 5G version available if you want it too. Alternatives? The Galaxy S20 Ultra is excellent, but it’s very big and expensive. The Google Pixel 4 offers the best camera performance in an Android phone and the latest groundbreaking A.I. features from Google, and there’s the Pixel 4 XL if you prefer a bigger screen and slightly longer battery life, though both have serious issues with stamina. You may also want to look at the $1,300 Oppo Find X2 Pro, or the Huawei P40 Pro if Google doesn’t rule your mobile life.
Our full Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Why you should buy this: The most complete, no-nonsense smartphone package available, at a still reasonable price.
Who it’s for: If you want the best current tech in your phone, but don’t want to spend more than $1,000.
Why we picked the OnePlus 8 Pro:
Yes, the OnePlus 8 Pro is more expensive than the OnePlus 7T Pro, and all OnePlus phones before it. There is a good reason for this — it has all the latest tech inside, and some features missing from past models. For example, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the first OnePlus phone to have an IP68 water resistance rating, and wireless charging too. OnePlus has also added 5G connectivity to both its new phones, which will keep them fresher for longer.
Outside these new features, the OnePlus 8 Pro excels with its screen. It has a 120Hz refresh rate for super smooth scrolling and gameplay, plus stunning colors, crisp whites, and superb contrast from the 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED panel. There’s masses of power from the Snapdragon 865 processor and up to 12GB of RAM, and rapid charging, too. The battery is an excellent performer, and two days is possible with moderate use before it needs plugging in.
The camera is unusual. The main 64-megapixel sensor is excellent. It comes with a wide-angle and a telephoto lens, plus an odd Color Filter lens. This strips away color from your photos for a very different look. Ignore this, and you are left with a highly capable camera, which we’d say is the best yet on a OnePlus phone. There are two versions available, and we’d recommend paying $1,000 for the 12GB/256GB model if you can, because it will last longer with the additional storage; but the $900 8GB/128GB model is otherwise identical.
One thing to remember is that OnePlus refreshes its phones every six months, or around that time, so if this model isn’t the upgrade you wanted, it may be worth waiting until the end of the year to see what the next generation brings.
Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review
Why you should buy this: It’s still great a year down the line, and following Samsung’s price cut, it’s a little bargain.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a compact phone with plenty of power from a big-name brand
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S10e:
Wait, you’re thinking, isn’t that an old phone? Yes, it’s one of the top phones from Samsung released in 2019, and it’s still a solid pick.
It’s still for sale through Samsung’s own website and other online stores, and due to the recent release of the Galaxy S20 range, the price has been cut. The phone can now be purchased for just $600, that’s $150 less than its release price.
We selected it for two reasons. First, it’s really good, and second, Samsung has not made an equivalent version for 2020.
When we reviewed the S10e, we singled it out as the model to buy over the standard Galaxy S10 if you couldn’t stretch to the Galaxy S10 Plus, and that still stands today. The gorgeous AMOLED screen is perfectly sized at 5.8-inches, and although the resolution is 2280 x 1080 rather than a higher resolution common flagships, it still has HDR10 and looks fabulous. Inside is the Snapdragon 855 processor, one of the top chipsets from 2019.
The camera on the back has the same 12-megapixel sensor found on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, along with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide sensor too. It does not have a telephoto lens, but still takes solid photos, and 4K HDR video recording. The battery life isn’t the best, but should last a day with moderate use, and the phone does have wireless charging.
Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S10e
Why you should buy this: Come for the crazy flip dual-lens camera, and stay for the big screen, long battery life, and great software.
Who it’s for: If you want to choose something different without compromising on specs, performance, or ability.
Why we picked the Asus Zenfone 6:
It’s our top choice of cheap Android phone, even after revisiting it at the beginning of 2020. It sets its own trend by ticking the boxes of what many people want from a phone: long battery life, a good camera, and great software. The design is attractive without being flashy, and although it doesn’t have an in-display fingerprint sensor, the rear sensor is just as fast and arguably easier to locate with your finger.
The motorized camera is fun and capable, taking good shots with the 48-megapixel main lens and 13-megapixel wide-angle lens. There are even a few fun features, such as being able to take panorama shots automatically without physically moving the phone at all. The 6.4-inch screen is an LCD not an OLED, but you do get a 3.5mm headphone jack and a massive 5,000mAh battery for a couple of days moderate use before a recharge.
Finally, we like the new software Asus introduced on the Zenfone 6. It’s closer to what you’d find on the Google Pixel, certainly in terms of clean design and simplicity of use. Asus has been good at keeping it updated so far too.
Read our full Asus Zenfone 6 review
Why you should buy this: A fantastic camera and excellent software all wrapped up in a low-cost package.
Who it’s for: Someone who wants a Pixel 4, but doesn’t want to pay Pixel 4 prices.
Why we picked the Google Pixel 3a:
With the same excellent camera as the Pixel 3, the affordable Pixel 3a is a fantastic buy at $400. Google has cut corners in all the right places, with a slightly slower processor, thicker bezels, and a plastic body, allowing it to pack in the same camera hardware and slick software, complete with guaranteed speedy updates. It also has a decent battery life and a good OLED screen. If your budget will stretch by another $80, the Pixel 3a XL will give you a bigger screen.
There aren’t many worthy competitors at this price, but if you want to save another $50, then the Nokia 7.2 could be worth looking at. In Europe, the Realme X2 Pro is a great purchase at 450 euros or about $450 It’s a solid phone with a decent design, a capable camera, and a nice display, but it can’t match the Pixel 3a. However, the Pixel 3a is getting old, and there’s a good chance Google will replace it with the Pixel 4a in the next few months. If you aren’t after a replacement immediately and fancy the Pixel 3a, it may be worth waiting to see what Google has next.
Read our full Pixel 3a review
Why you should buy this: It’s a solid choice if you don’t have much money to spend on a new phone.
Who it’s for: The budget-conscious buyer who still wants decent quality
Why we picked the Motorola Moto G7:
We continue to recommend the Moto G7 to those with $300 to spend on an Android phone, but suggest proceeding with caution. Motorola has updated the G range with a bewildering number of phones in 2020, all of which are in its G8 range. The G8 Power and G8 Stylus look good in our hands-on reviews, but we will wait to recommend them until our full reviews have been completed.
The 2019 Moto G7 has a stylish curved glass design, a large 6.2-inch display, and solid performance. There’s a camera that’s reasonably good in ideal conditions, with an impressive portrait mode, though it inevitably struggles in low light. The Moto G7 also boasts a fingerprint sensor on the back, a USB-C charging port, and a good battery life.
If you can stretch to $350 then the Samsung Galaxy A50 has a better screen, good performance, and Samsung’s well-designed (but slow to update) software. If you’re set on a Motorola phone, then it may be wise to see how the new G8 phones score before diving in.
Read our full Moto G7 review
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