The best Android phones offer you the best choices. Regardless of your budget, you can find a handset to fit your needs, all the way from $1,800 to under $500. You get to pick what features matter the most to you. Don’t need a high refresh rate display or telephoto lens? Save some cash.
And now that 2022 is here, a slew of new devices are becoming available. We’re talking the Galaxy S22, OnePlus 10, and more. We’re already seeing several phones powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, with Google’s second-generation Tensor chip expected to land in new handsets later this year.
Premium Android flagship phones start at $599, offering the sharpest and brightest displays, the most advanced photography, and cutting edge features like reverse wireless charging and screens that can refresh at 120Hz. 5G has also come to more affordable options, like the Pixel 5a, so it’s nice to see more Android phones able to take advantage of faster download speeds.
And keep an eye out for other interesting Android phones launching this year, including this colour-changing Vivo phone.
Read on to find the best Android phone for your needs and budget. And whichever you buy, be sure to also look at our list of the 25 best apps for your new Android Phone.
What are the best Android phones?
We’ve tested all of the most popular Android phones in all shapes, sizes and prices here at Tom’s Guide. And we now have a new top pick as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has established itself as the best Android phone. We think an included S Pen is a great addition, and Samsung has made some welcome enhancement to already impressive cameras.
For a more affordable Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S22 Plus delivers many greater features for $200 less than the Ultra. And the Galaxy S21 FE is even more affordable.
The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro offer the best Android camera experiences you can possibly get. But if you want the best camera for the lowest cost, look no further than Google’s Pixel 5a. Its cameras, display and quality design make it a steal for $449. It also has the added 5G benefit, too.
Bargain hunters striving to spend the absolute least can find a very good option in the latest version of the Moto G Power, which lasts the whole day on a charge, but starts at just $199. On the other end of the price spectrum, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best foldable phone Samsung has built yet, even if its $1,799 price makes it one of the priciest phones on this list.
The best Android phones you can buy today
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the new king of Android phones. It’s got almost anything you could ever want in a phone, including a built-in S Pen stylus. It’s got powerful cameras, the top-tier Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, plenty of storage options, and a jaw-droppingly gorgeous display.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra still stumbles in the battery life department, more so than its predecessor. While the phone went for 10 hours and 18 minutes in the Tom’s Guide battery life test, that result was in the 60Hz refresh rate mode. In the 120Hz adaptive mode, the Galaxy S22 Ultra only lasted for 8 hours and 50 minutes, well below some competitors like the iPhone 13 Pro Max (which also features an 120Hz adaptive refresh rate).
But if you’re firmly in the Android camp, there’s no better phone than the Galaxy S22 Ultra right now. You’ll just have to pay $1,199 for the privilege.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.
Google’s latest round of phones have easily earned their places on this list. The Pixel 6 is a wholly new device this time around with a fresh design, significant camera upgrades, and the first-generation Tensor chip. All of that comes together in a svelte body that is sure to turn heads.
This is the everyman’s Pixel this year, coming in at an extremely affordable $599 starting price. While it lacks the telephoto camera and the 120Hz display you’ll find on the Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 6 does basically everything you could want an Android phone to do.
If we had to lodge one complaint with the Pixel 6, it’d be the disappointing battery life. In our testing, the phone fared far worse than other phones on this list. Part of that could have something to do with the older 5G modem, since we saw significantly improved results when we were on LTE versus 5G.
Even so, the Pixel 6 sports all kinds of new smarts thanks to the Tensor chip. And at that price, it’s one of the best values on this list (bested perhaps by the Pixel 5a).
Read our full Pixel 6 review.
If you want the best Android experience possible right now, then look no further than the Pixel 6 Pro. It’s the new big boy from Google with an expansive 6.7-inch QHD+ display with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate. It also sports the new Tensor system-on-chip, Google’s own homegrown silicon. Built for AI and machine learning, it has some impressive features.
But that’s not all. The Pixel 6 Pro sports the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a Pixel, including a telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom. The big 5,000 mAh battery, while impressive on paper, didn’t come out to truly remarkable battery life results in our testing. However, in our anecdotal usage, the Pixel 6 Pro is more than adequate enough to last a day. And with 30W charging (charging brick sold separately), you can top off quickly.
This is the Android phone for photography enthusiasts, as well as those who want the latest and greatest when it comes to the Android OS itself. Android 12 absolutely shines on this phone. And starting at $899, this is one of the most affordable flagship phones you can find right now.
Read our full Pixel 6 Pro review.
The Google Pixel 5a is one of the best Android phones because of its price, its cameras, and its software experience. Google really nailed it with the 5a, offering a large battery. The 5a is also quite a bit bigger than its predecessor, with an expansive and bright 6.43-inch OLED display.
While the $100 price hike over the Pixel 4a might sting a little, the Pixel 5a is nonetheless a solid phone for the money, coming in at $50 cheaper than 2020’s Pixel 4a 5G. The Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 5a is the same processor you’ll find in the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G and it helps the 5a power through any task you can throw at it. The 765G is, however, old at this point — it’s possible that Qualcomm either gave Google a good deal, or only had 765G chips to spare due to the chip shortage.
The Pixel 4a was a great phone, but the 5a is even better. With stronger battery life, more horsepower, and a second ultrawide camera, the 5a is definitely the best Android phone under $500.
Read our full Google Pixel 5a review.
Although we think it’s the epitome of an iterative upgrade, the Galaxy S22 Plus is nonetheless a great Android phone. From the beautiful and bright display to the beefy performance and improved cameras, the middle child of the Galaxy S22 family is a beast.
If you liked the design of the Galaxy S21 last year, then you’ll find a lot to love with the Galaxy S22 Plus. It’s a refinement of Samsung’s new design language. But this phone didn’t wow us with its results in our battery life test. In fact, the Galaxy S22 Plus barely outperforms its predecessor.
For $999, the Galaxy S22 Plus faces stiff competition, but if you want the big screen Galaxy experience and don’t want to spring for the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Plus is the next best option.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is big, it’s beautiful, and it’s very powerful. It completely wowed us, from its gorgeous display to its battery life and charging. The OxygenOS software experience is top-notch, complete with plenty of tweaks and features to help you make the phone truly yours.
It also excels as a camera phone thanks to the new partnership with Hasselblad. The 48MP main shooter captures wonderful photos with natural color tones and excellent dynamic range. The 50MP ultrawide sensor is huge and captures just as much detail. It even has a freeform lens over top, helping to practically eliminate edge distortion in ultrawide shots. The 8MP telephoto lens has 3.3x optical zoom, 30x digital zoom, and OIS. Video is also a highlight, with support for up to 8K 30 FPS, 4K 120 FPS, DOL-HDR, and Nightscape for low-light footage.
You’ll want for nothing with the OnePlus 9 Pro (unless it’s 5G on AT&T), even if it is the most expensive OnePlus phone to date at over $1,000. Rest assured that you’re getting a huge bang for your buck, especially when compared to the competition.
The OnePlus 10 Pro is now available in China. It could be a little bit before the new phone reaches the U.S. and other parts of the world, but be aware that there’s a new model coming.
Read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review.
In recent years, there’s been one phone to turn to when you want the absolute best battery life for an Android phone — the Moto G Power. The 2021 edition of this phone doesn’t make many changes from its predecessor, sticking with the 5,000mAh battery that sets the pace for other phones. The Moto G Power (2021) lasted more than 14 hours on our battery test, roughly 4 hours longer than the average smartphone.
Motorola has made one crucial change with the Moto G Power — its price. While you can still get a version of the phone with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage for an attractive $249, if you can live with less RAM and storage, the price drops to $199. That’s an incredible price for a device that lasts all day and then some on a single charge.
The Moto G Power (2021) won a Tom’s Guide award for the best phone battery life.
Read our full Moto G Power (2021) review.
In a case of better late than never, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has arrived, and like its predecessor, and it offers you a lower-cost phone with flagship features. In the case of the S21 FE, that means a Snapdragon 888 processor, triple camera array and bright, fast-refreshing screen (even if you must set the 120Hz refresh rate yourself). All that comes for $100 less than the standard Galaxy S21.
We’re particularly impressed with the Galaxy S21 FE’s cameras, which produce shots worthy of a more expensive phone. And the later-than-expected launch — the Galaxy S21 FE was anticipated to ship in 2021 — means that it features Android 12 already in place. Our biggest complaint is with the phone’s subpar battery life.
With the Galaxy S22 launch looming, it may be worth holding off to see what that phone delivers before buying the Galaxy S21 FE. But this is a good way of getting Galaxy S21 features for less right now.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review.
Phones that work with 5G networks no longer require four-figure outlays. Prices have dropped dramatically in the past year, and the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is proof of that. For $279, you’ll get a 5G-capable phone that’s less expensive than even Google’s affordable Pixel 5a.
You’ll make some compromises for that lower price — the MediaTek Dimensity 720 that powers the phone isn’t the most powerful chipset we’ve come across — but not as many sacrifices as you might think. For starters, the Galaxy A32 5G screen has a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling. And its battery lasts a very long time, even when you have the faster rate enabled.
Samsung also promises four years of security patches so you can wring every last penny out of the Galaxy A32. That makes this Android phone an even better value.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best foldable phone Samsung has ever built, improving upon the Galaxy Z Fold 2 that came before it. Both displays on this new model now refresh at 120Hz for smoother scrolling, and Samsung has made the phone more durable overall. S Pen support brings added functionality, though the S Pen is an optional accessory that you’ll have to pay extra to add.
Samsung’s latest foldable takes a step back in terms of battery life, possibly because of that faster refresh rate, and the cameras haven’t changed from last year’s model. But there’s a faster processor and better app support for the foldable screen. The debut price is $200 lower, too, at $1,799, though for a cheaper foldable phone, try Samsung’s $999 Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.
How to choose the best Android phone for you
The first place to start when shopping for the best Android phone for you is your budget. And there are essentially a few tiers. The cheapest Android phones cost under $200 and offer mostly the basics for using apps, taking pictures and staying connected.
As you move up to under $450, you’ll find more compelling handsets, touting better processors, higher-grade materials and more camera lenses. Progress into the $700-and-up range, and the best phones offer flagship-caliber performance along with cutting-edge computational photography and special features.
The most premium Android phones offer foldable designs. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the most fully-featured of these phones, but the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and its sub-$1,000 price make it the more appealing option.
As you might imagine, new Android phone releases are always lurking around the corner. The OnePlus 10 Pro is expected to debut in other countries outside China sometime in the spring, and the Pixel 6a is rumored to be appearing in May this year. Samsung’s likely to follow up with more foldable phones in the second half of the year.
How we test smartphones
Every smartphone Tom’s Guide evaluates is tested for several days in real-world use cases and benchmarked with a gamut of performance-measuring apps. In terms of performance, we used Geekbench 5 to measure overall speed and 3DMark to measure graphics performance.
We also use our own video editing test in the Adobe Premiere Rush app to see how long it takes to transcode a clip, which we run on both Android phones and iPhone to compare performance.
We use a light meter to ascertain display quality data, like brightness and color accuracy, and our proprietary battery test determines longevity on a charge by continuously loading live webpages over a 4G or 5G network. We set each phone to 150 nits of screen brightness and try to use T-Mobile’s network each time in order to achieve comparable results across phones.
Lastly, we explore the software, test gaming performance and conduct live camera comparisons with rival handsets — and each of these factors play a part in our comprehensive verdict.