Karlston Posted April 24, 2020 Share Posted April 24, 2020 The Best Android Phones Shopping for a new phone can be an ordeal. Let us take some of the pain out of it with these picks and tips. Hunting down the best Android phone for your needs is hard work. It's easy to get swayed by a pretty handset design or a convincing salesperson at a retail store. Carriers might tempt you with an affordable 24-month payment plan. But before you make an ill-informed impulse buy, read up. From the bottomless pit of phone choices, we bring you our favorites—including our top picks, the Pixel 3A and OnePlus 7T. All the phones we've selected here have their own advantages, and we've laid them out as honestly as we can. Be sure to check our list of Best iPhones and Best Cheap Phones for more recommendations. You can find all of our latest buying guides here. Updated for April 2020: We've made some substantial changes to this guide, like adding the OnePlus 8 Pro and the LG V60 ThinQ. If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. Learn more. Photograph: Samsung Take Our Advice Buy Your Phone Unlocked (and Ignore 5G!) We recommend unlocked phones in this guide. When a phone is sold as "unlocked," it means the phone can be used on multiple wireless carriers/networks. When you buy a phone directly from your wireless carrier, usually on a payment plan, it often comes locked to that network. Carriers are legally required to unlock a phone upon request so you can switch networks, but it's a big hassle. Try to pay full price for your phone, or make sure it specifically says it's unlocked. If that's too expensive, opt for a cheaper model, buy it from the manufacturer directly, or investigate your carrier's policies for unlocking phones. Verizon and Sprint Tips: Buying an unlocked phone is smart (it is!), but even if you do the smart thing, networks like Verizon and Sprint will put up hoops for you to jump through. To find out if your phone works on Sprint, use this page. Verizon users, if you put in your SIM card but still have trouble receiving text messages or something else, contact customer service and have them enable "CDMA-Less roaming." This OnePlus 6T guide may help. The steps should be similar for other phones. You'll also see lots of ads encouraging you to upgrade to a 5G plan and buy a 5G phone. Yes, you do need a new phone that supports 5G to make use of the new network (we have a guide that explains it all), but at the moment 5G is still sparse, only available in certain areas of a handful of cities in the US. Our advice? Think about 5G for the phone you buy next in two years (or more), not for the one you're upgrading to now. Photograph: Google Best Overall Google Pixel 3A and 3A XL The Pixel 3A (9/10, WIRED Recommends) may cost less than $400, but it feels better than many high-end $800 phones, including the standard Pixel 4 (which is also an amazing phone). It has cameras that match almost any device out there, and they take advantage of Google's Night Sight mode, which makes it possible to take night shots and selfies that actually look great. It also has a classy polycarbonate body, which is cheaper but more durable than glass. And it comes with a headphone jack. The interface is speedy because it runs on a great midrange Snapdragon processor, and it gets monthly security and regular feature updates directly from Google (most phones don't). The only downsides: It's splash-proof, not waterproof; the screen isn't as nice (though it is notch-less); and it has no wireless charging. The phone is already a very good deal, but we've seen it dip in price under $350 on several occasions, so you should wait for a sale. Alternatively, you could hold out for its successor, the Pixel 4A, which is expected to launch sometime in May. Works on all four major networks $385 at Amazon $400 at Best Buy Photograph: OnePlus Runner-Up OnePlus 7T The OnePlus 7T (9/10, WIRED Recommends) offers a lot of luxury features we'd expect from a top-tier phone. These include triple rear cameras—2X zoom, 48-megapixel standard, wide-angle—a beautiful dual-tone glass design, a Snapdragon 855+ processor, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, and super-fast charging. It also has an excellent 90 Hz AMOLED screen that runs noticeably smoother than almost any other device. Its in-display fingerprint sensor is incredibly speedy, and the phone comes bundled with a case. All for hundreds less than competing phones. The other big benefit is OnePlus' dedication to bimonthly security updates and quick platform updates that add new features. The 7T will likely get the next version of Android much sooner than other, more expensive phones. OnePlus has announced a successor, the OnePlus 8, but it doesn't offer anything dramatically new and isn't as good a value (read on for our thoughts on the OnePlus 8 Pro). Works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon $599 $499 at OnePlus $542 at Amazon Photograph: Google Best Camera Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL If you're a shutterbug, then you most likely have heard of Google's Pixel line, regarded as the phones with some of the best cameras on the market (though the iPhone 11 Pro gives it a run for its money). Pixel 4 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is Google's newest flagship, and its dual-camera system is excellent. Portrait Mode lets you effectively blur out the background of a subject, the 2X zoom telephoto lens is handy for close-ups, and Night Sight mode lights up the darkest scenes—you can even use it to capture starry skies. It packs great performance with a smooth 90-Hz screen similar to the OnePlus 7T, and like Apple's Face ID, you can also use Face Unlock as authentication (Google finally issued an update so it doesn't unlock when your eyes are closed). That's without mentioning all the software smarts that put it a rung above the rest. For example, Call Screen will monitor robocalls for you so you don't have to answer them, and Now Playing uses on-device machine learning to show you songs playing in your surroundings, so you don't need to try and look it up. The biggest downside is battery life, which can barely last a full day if you're a heavy user. If you're going to buy one, opt for the bigger Pixel 4 XL since it has a beefier battery and turn off the interactive wallpapers. Works on all four major networks $900 $599 at Amazon $900 $599 at B&H Photo Video Photograph: OnePlus Best Luxury Phone OnePlus 8 Pro OnePlus' newest phone goes against the company's original ethos of selling high-end phones at an affordable price point. The 8 Pro (8/10 WIRED Recommends) is a flagship phone with a flagship price tag, but it's excellent and still undercuts Samsung's Galaxy S20 by $100. It has a brilliantly sharp and colorful display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, making it one of the smoothest screens to stare at for hours on end. You also finally get proper water resistance and wireless charging (it recharges super-fast if you use OnePlus' wireless charger, too). And OnePlus is quicker than most at software updates, not to mention its user interface is limitless with customization options. The triple-camera system (normal, wide-angle, zoom) can snap some great photos, though it still sits a rung below the Pixel 4 especially in low light and with portrait mode. Battery life will get you through a day (make sure to leave your screen resolution at 2376 x 1080 to conserve power), but it doesn't last quite as long as the S20. And the screen can be a bit finicky because it curves into the edges, making it difficult for it to register my taps when holding the phone one-handed. Still, this is one of the best Android experiences you can get if you don't mind the price. A case comes included in the box. Works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon $899 at OnePlus Photograph: Motorola Best for $300 or Less Motorola Moto G Stylus Motorola's newest G-series phone, the Moto G Stylus, is a good cheap phone without many flourishes. You get two-day battery life, decent performance, a solid 6.4-inch screen, and an uncluttered Android experience. It also comes with the perks of having a plastic back (it's more durable), a headphone jack, and a MicroSD card slot if you want more than the included 128 GB of storage. The triple-camera system (main, wide-angle, macro) can snap some nice photos with good lighting, too. But it's only $100 less than the Google Pixel 3A and the iPhone SE, two phones that offer so much more. They have cameras that can capture excellent images in low light, superior performance, NFC for contactless payments, and far longer software support. (Motorola is only promising one Android version upgrade for this phone.) And even though this phone does come with a stylus stowed on its underside, it's not easy to write comfortably with as there's no built-in palm-rejection technology. If your budget stops at $300 this Moto will serve you well, but we recommend saving up a little more for another one of our Best Cheap Phones. Works on all four major US networks $300 at Best Buy Photograph: Motorola Multiday Battery Life for Cheap Motorola Moto G Power If you want a reliable phone that you don't need to plug in every day, get the Moto G Power. Its 5,000-mAh battery is bigger than the one in its sibling above, the Moto G Stylus, and it lasts three full days before you'll need to juice it back up. It has the same Snapdragon 665 processor for satisfactory performance and shares other basics like a headphone jack and MicroSD card slot. You get 64 GB of built-in file storage. The cameras aren't the same, and this is where the G Power falters. Like the Moto G Stylus, it can snap some good photos during the day, but unlike the Stylus, it doesn't have a Night mode, which uses a long exposure technique for better low-light images. Its missing presence means the photos it takes at night look pretty poor. This Moto phone will also only get one Android version upgrade, which is a stark contrast to some similarly-priced budget phones from Nokia. Works on all four major US networks $250 at Best Buy Photograph: Nokia Pure Android for Cheap Nokia 7.2 As mentioned above, Motorola offers very limited software support—usually, you get one Android version upgrade, and then your phone is left to languish. HMD, the maker of Nokia phones, is different. Most of its phones are part of the Android One program, meaning the company makes a commitment not only to have no bloatware on the phone but also to deliver two years of Android version and security updates. The Nokia 7.2 is no exception; it has been updated to Android 10. You also get a great 6.3-inch LCD screen (with HDR support, rare in a phone of this price), 128 GB of storage, a decent midrange processor, day-long battery life, and it has the benefit of not looking like a budget phone. The triple-camera experience is solid, too, though it can't match the Pixel 3A's quality. The downsides are that the back is made of glass, so a case is a good idea, and it's only slightly water-resistant, so be careful around the toilet! Works on AT&T and T-Mobile $350 $300 at Amazon $350 $300 at Best Buy Photograph: LG Best for Audiophiles LG V60 ThinQ LG's V60 ThinQ isn't the flashiest phone, but it gets the job done. It has the same Snapdragon 865 processor as some of our high-end picks, so you get great performance, the 5,000 mAh battery can hit two days on a single charge, and there's a huge 6.8-inch screen, which is actually a little too big, but the OLED's quality is excellent and bright. This is also one of the few flagship phones with a headphone jack, and it's paired with a digital-to-analog converter so music going to your corded headphones sounds fantastic. The improved dual-camera system (main, wide-angle) can snap some reliably good photos, though it still can't quite match the likes of the Pixel 4 or the Galaxy S20. The software experience has some quirks, and LG also doesn't have a great track record at consistently delivering updates. There's 5G support, but you can only buy this phone from a carrier—no unlocked version is available. With your purchase, you'll get LG's dual-screen case accessory, which is unique and lets you use two screens at the same time, but the setup is bulky, cumbersome, and not as regularly useful as you'd think. Works on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile $900 at Best Buy (AT&T) Buy at LG Photograph: Samsung Another Great Phone Samsung Galaxy S20 If money is no object, the Galaxy S20 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) has everything you want in a phone and then some. There's wireless charging, a MicroSD card slot, water resistance, long battery life, booming speakers, a nice screen size that fits your palm, and beautifully-made hardware. Not to mention it's powerful with the Snapdragon 865 inside, and the triple-camera setup is fantastic too, allowing you to snap great photos at a variety of zoom levels. Other perks include a bright 120-Hz OLED screen that's bested only by the OnePlus 8 Pro. Samsung does go overboard offering 8K video recording and 5G, which can't really be utilized to their fullest potential at the moment, so don't let those additional features influence your buying decision. Sadly, there's no headphone jack, but you do get decent USB-C earbuds in the box. Why We Chose This S20: There are three flagship Samsung phones this year: the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra. The Plus is $200 pricier but isn't worth the extra cash, and the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is an excellent phone with even better cameras and a much bigger screen—if you want to pay a huge premium for it. Works on all four major US networks. Verizon won't sell the S20 until mid-year. $1,000 at Samsung $999 at Amazon Photograph: Lauren Joseph/WIRED The Phone With a Stylus Samsung Galaxy Note 10 The Galaxy Note 10 is a ginormous Android phone (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It's bigger than big. If that's your thing, you'll also like the included S Pen's new Bluetooth functionality, which lets you use it to do things like open apps and remotely snap pics. This beefy, brawny phone can handle your most demanding tasks with all the latest specs. I recommend picking up a Galaxy S20 instead unless the S Pen is on your mind. Works on all four major US networks $950 at Amazon $950 at Best Buy Photograph: Samsung Honorable Mentions Other Phenomenal Phones There are a lot of Android phones out there, and most of them are not on this list. Here are a few good standouts to also consider. The Samsung Galaxy S10 range is still available, now at a reduced price. They're excellent and powerful phones, with the S10e ($550) especially offering some great value for the money. They all have headphone jacks. The Sony Xperia 5 ($798) is perfect for people who binge-watch movies on their phone because its 21:9 aspect ratio is ideal for cinema. But it is pricey, and its triple-camera system falls short of competitors. There's no wireless charging, either. You can check out our Xperia 1 review for more details. The Xperia 1 is almost exactly the same as the 5, just bigger and more expensive. The LG G8X ThinQ Dual Screen ($650) comes bundled with a case that adds a second screen, and the LG G8 ThinQ ($600) is a year old but it's still powerful and has a high-quality headphone jack like the LG V60. Both don't have as good cameras, though. The Teracube Phone ($300) is not the best phone by any measure and has a poor camera, but it's dead cheap to repair and has a four-year warranty. Photograph: LG Almost Too Cheap (or Old) Half-Hearted Endorsements There are many phones we've previously recommended that are right on the edge. They're either getting old (two-plus years) or getting too weak. We worry they won't have software support beyond this year or may feel too sluggish after the next Android update. You can take the risk to get the savings if you like. The LG G7 ($300), Nokia 7.1 ($209), Samsung Galaxy S9, and Moto G7 are all usable. We just think you're better off with the devices listed here or in our Best Cheap Phones guide. Source: The Best Android Phones (Wired) prasetyoit, wiz4rd, cosy and 1 other 3 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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