Want a great Android smartphone? These are the only phones worth considering
You’re here because you’re looking for the best Android phone money can buy. You’re probably a bit of an Android fan, and you’re not alone: after all, Android is the world’s most popular smartphone platform. If you’re not shackled to an iPhone, it’s the obvious (and only) choice.
The range of Android phones out there is enormous. That means you’re sure to find something to suit you perfectly – as long as you know what you’re looking for.
Here’s our guide to buying an Android phone, with advice about choosing the perfect handset for you and our pick of the best Android smartphones the market has to offer.
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How to choose the best Android phone for you
When it comes to picking a new smartphone, there’s a multitude of features to consider. While aesthetics are important, you should certainly pay attention to features and performance. Most flagship phones (which tend to cost upwards of £700) will be more than satisfactory in all areas, but cheaper devices may come with compromises. You can boil the key considerations down to five key questions…
What’s the best smartphone display for me?
A high-resolution display is nice, but on a device this size you probably won’t notice any difference between a 1,080p or a 1,440p screen – and 4K is completely pointless. What’s much more important is contrast and colour reproduction.
AMOLED displays always look fantastic, with perfect contrast and excellent sRGB coverage. Budget phones tend to opt for standard IPS LCD screens, usually at around 1080p or 720p, but that’s still fine if you don’t plan to do a lot of photo editing or movie watching on your device.
How much storage do I need?
You will need space to store your apps, and you might want to keep photos and music on the device. That’s less of an issue than it used to be, though, as apps such as Google Photos and Google Music mean your personal media can live in the cloud. Internal storage sizes tend to start at the 128GB mark on flagships and around 64GB on budget devices. Many handsets let you use a microSD card to cheaply expand this.
What’s the best version of Android?
These phones are all Android devices, but they can look and feel quite different. Certain manufacturers – notably Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei and Xiaomi – put their own customised “skin” on top of the OS, while the likes of Google and OnePlus use stock Android (or near-stock) to deliver a clean and crisp experience for their users. Aside from Huawei, they’ll all run the same apps, though, so it’s mostly a case of personal preference.
What’s the best smartphone camera?
A decent camera is a great feature: it means you can always capture a moment without having to carry around a dedicated camera, and share your snaps in a few taps. Most flagships have excellent built-in cameras, but this certainly isn’t something you can take for granted in a mid-range or budget phone. If photo quality matters to you, make sure you investigate the camera before investing.
What’s the best smartphone for battery life?
Smartphone battery life has improved over the years, but we’re still living in a world where a charge may only just get you through the day. Bigger phones tend to have better longevity as they can pack in bigger batteries, and some budget phones also have impressive stamina for their size and price. Do your research and, as a general rule, go for the highest-capacity battery you can find.
How we test Android phones
The first thing we do when testing a new Android phone is download the Geekbench and GFXBench applications from the Google Play store. These apps are used to test the CPU and GPU processing capabilities, giving us a set of scores that we can then compare to other handsets in a similar price range.
The phone’s screen is assessed using the DisplayCal software and a display colorimeter, which gives us readings of how accurately the display reproduces colour, as well as figures for maximum brightness and contrast. When testing battery life, we engage flight mode and lock the brightness to 170cd/m2 for consistency across all devices, and run our standard looping video. When we boot the phone back up, we record the timestamp on the video for a precise measurement of the overall battery life.
For cameras, we put all lenses to use in a variety of settings, judging the quality of landscape, low-light and interior shots, as well as the efficacy of the stabilisation when rapidly panning in video mode. Finally, as these phones are Android-specific, we look at how accessible and unencumbered the OS is, noting how many software and security updates the phone is scheduled to receive and whether or not there are any notable bugs in the launcher.
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The best Android phones you can buy in 2023
1. Google Pixel 7: Best Android smartphone
Price when reviewed: £444 | Check price at Amazon
It’s no surprise that the best Android smartphone is the one made by Google. A great showcase for the platform, the Pixel 7 (and 7 Pro) is on a par with most other companies’ flagships, but at a vastly reduced price. Not only is the Pixel 7’s stripped-back Android 13 experience as refined and effortlessly simple as ever, but what really sets the Pixel 7 apart this year are its dual cameras, which are simply in a class of their own.
No matter what you’re taking pictures of, and no matter the lighting conditions, the Pixel 7’s images and video are absolutely top-notch, and easily the best you can buy right now. Battery life is also a serious step above last year’s Pixel 6, courtesy of improvements to Google’s second-gen Tensor G2 chipset. And with that cut-throat price being yet another part of the Pixel 7’s appeal, there’s little reason to spend more.
Read our full Google Pixel 7 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 2.85GHz Google Tensor G2; Screen: 6.3in, 2,400 x 1,080; Cameras: 50MP, 12MP (wide); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 13
2. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11: Best budget Android phone
Price when reviewed: £156 | Check price at Amazon The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is astonishing value for money. Achieving similar levels of performance as phones costing twice the price, the Redmi Note 11 doesn’t scrimp on features. More formidable than most, the Redmi Note 11 comes into its own in terms of photography with its 50MP camera, and the 90Hz Full HD display is a massive bonus as well.
If money is tight and you’re looking for a competent smartphone that punches well above its weight, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is the smart choice.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 680; Screen: 6.43in, 2,400 x 1,080; Cameras: 50MP, 8MP (wide) 2MP (macro) and 2MP (depth); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 11
3. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Best flagship Android phone
Price when reviewed: From £1,249 | Check price at Amazon
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra certainly lives up to its hyperbolic name, with its stylus-friendly features, crisp 6.8in display with a refresh rate of 120Hz, robust design and astonishing performance and stamina improvements courtesy of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. The bundled S Pen stylus is ideal for jotting down notes and stows neatly away in the bottom of the handset.
As you’d expect from a shiny new Samsung, the cameras are impressive. The module has been redesigned somewhat and now features a main 200MP camera alongside a 12MP ultrawide and a pair of telephoto units (10x and 3.5x) on the rear, as well as a 12MP selfie camera on the front. The results were stunning in our photography tests, even in low-light conditions.
The price is high, but you’re getting a vast amount for your money with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. If your pockets are suitably deep, it’s the very best flagship Android around.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3.36GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy; Screen: 6.8in, 3,088 x 1,440; Cameras: 200MP, 10MP (10x zoom), 10MP (3x zoom), 12MP (ultrawide); Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB; Operating system: Android 13
Also consider: Samsung Galaxy S23
Not all of us have Ultra-sized sums to splurge on the latest flagship, but the good news is that Samsung has cooked up a more affordable alternative in the form of the regular Galaxy S23.
A smaller phone than the Ultra (6.1in vs 6.8in), the S23 is just as formidable, with the same monstrous gen-on-gen performance boost courtesy of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and a top-notch set of cameras. Its battery life is the weakest of the three, but this is a decent trade-off considering it costs a good £400 less than the Ultra.
4. Nokia C21 Plus: Best Android phone under £100
Price when reviewed: £83 l Check price at Amazon If your buying budget can’t stretch past £100, or you’re simply hoping to dip your toes into the world of smartphones but don’t want to spend much, then the Nokia C21 Plus is a fine choice. Costing well below three figures, the Nokia C21 Plus is excellent value and, while it doesn’t come with the usual lineup of high-end flagship features, what’s on offer here is still quite exceptional for the price.
For starters, it has a large 6.52in screen (which we found to be very bright and vibrant in our tests), it has a strong build and it’s been updated to Android 11 Go. Sure, it isn’t the fastest phone on the market and it lacks NFC, but for just £100 you really can’t do any better.
Read our full Nokia C21 Plus review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 1.6GHz Unisoc SC9863A; Screen: 6.52in, 1,600 x 720; Cameras: 13MP, 2MP (depth); Storage: 32GB; Operating system: Android 11 Go
5. Xiaomi 13: Best compact Android smartphone
Price when reviewed: £849 l Check price at Amazon With flagship smartphones ballooning in size with every new release, the compact Xiaomi 13 is a breath of fresh air. If you’re a fan of high-end flagships but prefer your phones to actually fit in your jeans pocket, then the Xiaomi 13 is an excellent choice. It comes equipped with all the latest bells and whistles you’d expect from any modern flagship release, including a super-fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and a wonderful set of cameras.
What really sets it apart, of course, is its size. At just 153 x 72 x 7.98mm, the Xiaomi 13 is one of the smallest flagships we’ve reviewed in a number of years. The small(ish) 6.36in AMOLED display might be a bit small for some people, but if you aren’t fussed about consuming your content on the biggest screen possible, the Xiaomi 13 is the compact flagship to buy.
Read our full Xiaomi 13 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 3.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2; Screen: 6.36in, 2,400 x 1,080; Cameras: 50MP, 10MP (telephoto), 12MP (wide); Storage: 256GB; Operating system: Android 13
6. Oppo Find X5 Pro: A simply stunning flagship
Price when reviewed: £760 l Check price at Amazon If you’re hoping to take a step off the well-trodden path and you’ve got plenty of cash burning a hole in your pocket, then the Oppo Find X5 Pro should be your next flagship smartphone. It’s not cheap, that much is clear, but if you’ve got the funds you will be rewarded with one of the best-looking smartphones on the market, with the usual array of high-spec features.
The Oppo Find X5 Pro’s mirrored design is truly stunning, and its large 6.7in 1,440p screen is one of the most colour-accurate displays we’ve ever tested. The triple-camera offering is also top-notch, and the fact that it lasted over 24 hours in our battery test is a huge bonus as well. Oppo’s Find X5 Pro is a sublime choice if you’re craving the latest and greatest tech, but don’t fancy a Samsung or an iPhone.
Read our full Oppo Find X5 Pro review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1; Screen: 6.7in, 3,216 x 1,440; Cameras: 50MP, 50MP (wide), 13MP (zoom); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 12
7. Nothing Phone (1): A unique, well-priced handset
Price when reviewed: £380 l Check price at Amazon The Nothing Phone (1) is something of a design statement. If you’re looking for a phone that turns heads, then this is undoubtedly what you should be buying. Featuring a unique see-through rear and a series of LED lights, there’s nothing else on the market that looks as swish as this. And the lights have a purpose, too – they flash when you receive calls, texts and alarms. Handy.
But it’s not all about the looks, and thankfully the Nothing Phone (1) is a competent mid-priced handset in all other regards. Performance is solid, courtesy of a Snapdragon 778G Plus chipset, battery life is great – lasting over 20 hours in our test – and it comes with a near-stock Android interface, too. A phone for tech geeks, or for those that simply want to show off, the Nothing Phone (1) is a solid pick.
Read our full Nothing Phone (1) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus; Screen: 6.55in, 2,400 x 1,080; Cameras: 50MP and 50MP (wide); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 12
8. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Best folding phone
Price when reviewed: £1,049 l Check price at Amazon
The Galaxy Z Flip is back and it’s yet again the best folding phone you can buy. With IPX8-rated waterproofing, upgraded performance and a gigantic new cover display, the Z Flip 5 is well worth buying, especially if you’re growing bored of conventional handsets. The 120Hz display is quite special, with top-notch colour accuracy in our tests, and the overall design has been improved, too.
For the price of a bog-standard flagship smartphone, the Z Flip 5 is as unique as it gets, and you don’t have to pay extra for the privilege.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2; Screen: 6.7in, 2,640 x 1,080 (cover: 3.4in, 748 x 720); Cameras: 12MP and 12MP (wide); Storage: 256GB, 512GB; Operating system: Android 13
9. OnePlus 11: The best-value flagship
Price when reviewed: £729 | Check price at OnePlus
Flagship Android phones don’t always need to run over £1,000, as evidenced by the OnePlus 11. While there aren’t any attention-grabbing features such as 100x zoom, OnePlus’ latest handset nails all of the elements you could want from a flagship. Powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, performance is terrific across the board, keeping pace with the best in the game, and battery life is among the best we’ve seen on any phone to date, too.
The standout here is the Hasselblad-branded camera suite, with the new portrait module (essentially just a 2x telephoto lens) being a particular delight. Autofocus isn’t the best, so portraits may need a couple of tries, but when you get the shot, images are terrific, with realistic skin tones and crisp outlines around the subject. As long as you aren’t too fussed about having a longer telephoto lens, the OnePlus 11 offers unbeatable value for a flagship.
Read our full OnePlus 11 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3.2GHz Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2; Screen: 6.7in, 3,216 x 1,440; Cameras: 50MP, 48MP (ultrawide), 32MP (portrait); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 13
10. Samsung Galaxy A54 5G: Samsung’s best-value phone yet
Price when reviewed: £449 | Check price at Amazon Despite what Samsung’s slick adverts would have you believe, your smartphone buying options aren’t limited to £1,000+ flagships. Yes, some expensive Samsung phones make this list, but if you’re after something with a softer impact on your wallet, then the Galaxy A54 5G is just the ticket.
The Galaxy A54 5G is a 6.4in handset with swish looks and features that are more befitting of handsets that cost twice the price. It’s powered by a reasonably powerful Exynos 1380 processor, and it also has a 50MP camera with a 12MP ultrawide and a 5MP macro sensor. Big, powerful, and good-looking, Samsung’s Galaxy A54 5G is a no-brainer for the budget-conscious buyer.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A54 5G review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 2.4GHz Samsung Exynos 1380; Screen: 6.4in, 2,340 x 1,080; Cameras: 50MP, 12MP (wide), 5MP (macro); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 13