Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best Android phones

The first Android device was released to the public in 2008, and it didn’t take long before most major mobile device manufacturers had at least one Android-powered machine in their lineup.

While the constant improvement of Google’s operating system is a good thing, there are hundreds of combinations of hardware and Android software out there to choose from. How do you even begin to compare models? Researching each Android phone’s software version, battery life, and other features is just the beginning.

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Most versions of the Android operating system are named after desserts, starting with Cupcake in 2009. These sweet Android codenames include Froyo, KitKat, Nougat, and Pie. Normally however, users refer to the versions by numbers.

Key considerations

Battery life

It’s only natural to want an Android phone that will easily handle all of your daily tasks from the time you get up to the time you place it back on the charger before bed. The good news is that Android manufacturers are increasingly using larger batteries in their phones. To learn more about a particular phone’s battery life, look for the device’s “mAh” in the specs. (This is a unit used to measure electrical power over time.) For instance, an Android battery labeled as 3,000mAh or better should hold a charge for 25 to 30+ hours.

Camera quality

It’s hard to imagine an Android phone without at least one built-in camera, but it’s up to you to determine if that camera is good enough for your needs. Generally speaking, the greater the camera’s resolution (often measured in MP or megapixels), the more detail and clarity you’ll be able to capture in your photos.

Although aperture, autofocus, and optical image stabilization are all factors in determining an Android phone’s image quality, a 12MP camera will take sharper pictures than an 8MP camera.

Expert Tip
Newer premium Android phones make taking brilliant photos easy. If you need a phone that’s serious about photography, consider a OnePlus or Samsung phone.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Performance

Having to deal with a lagging or unresponsive smartphone when you need instant results is insufferable. How do you know whether an Android phone performs well under pressure? Look for information about its processor on the phone’s specs sheet. Processors are usually represented in gigahertz (GHz), and modern Android phones often include multiple-core processors, allowing the device to smoothly handle even more tasks at once.

Comparing the potential performance of Android phones is fairly simple: if an Android phone includes a 2.8GHz octa-core processor, you will multiply 2.8 times the number of cores (8) to get a total number of GHz. The higher the GHz, the better performance the phone should have.

Android Version

Many of us like to have the latest and greatest version, so paying attention to which version of Android a phone uses is important. When Google does a major OS update, they usually roll out major new features and functionality. When these updates happen, Google rolls them out to Google brand phones, but each individual manufacturer decides when and if they will implement the updated version of Android.

So, if you want the latest version of Android, make sure that's what comes with the phone before you buy.

Other important Android phone features

You might be surprised to learn how the features of individual Android phones differ from one model and manufacturer to the next. It’s well worth your time to research the unique bells and whistles that each device has to offer. Here are a few of the most common bonus features that people tend to look for in an Android phone.

Fingerprint scanner

Unlocking your phone with a PIN number is old-school, and anyone who learns your secret code could potentially access your Android phone. On the other hand, we can’t think of a more secure “password” than scanning your unique thumbprint to unlock a phone.

Expert Tip
If you’re upgrading from one Android phone to another, you can use Google’s built-in migration assistant to automatically transfer your apps and settings to your new phone.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Stylus

Some Android phones include a thin stylus. Using the stylus is a great way to keep your phone smudge-free. It allows for precision-perfect taps and opens the door to creative handwriting and drawing apps.

Curved screen

A curved screen may seem strange to newcomers, but these displays are far less likely to shatter under pressure than traditional Android phone screens.

Headphone jack

Guess what your Android phone has that modern iPhones don’t? A headphone jack for listening to music with your favorite wired headphones. Most Androids will offer this option, however many are starting to embrace wireless headphones and ditching wired headphones. 

Hardware design

Android phones are available in a wide range of vibrant colors and materials, including elegant glass, polished metal, and durable plastic.

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Expert TIp
If you don’t like Google Assistant as your voice-activated digital assistant of choice, you can download Amazon’s Alexa app and use that instead.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Android phone prices

Saying that the price of Android phones varies is an understatement.

The wide variety of prices reflects the wide variety of phone quality and features available. Also, phone carriers often offer substantial discounts on Android phones if you’re eligible to sign a service agreement with them. If you buy an unlocked phone outright, it will cost more, but you can take it to any carrier and pay lower monthly bills since you are only paying for service and not subsidizing your phone.

Budget

Generally speaking, these phones will range from $250-$400. “The sum of its parts” is the best way to describe the average price of an Android phone. For instance, while you may be able to score a deal on an Android phone for less, you should expect its camera, operating system, and features to be all-around basic.

Mid-range

Android phones that will last 2-3 years and work for most people are in the $400-$600 range.

Expensive

Premium Android phones can go anywhere from $700-$1300. You can expect a pricier Android phone to sport additional features, a superior camera, a higher resolution display, the current version of Android, and other enjoyable perks.

Tips

  • Accessing the flashlight on your Android phone is as easy as swiping down, opening Quick Settings, and tapping the flashlight icon on the bottom left of your screen.

  • There’s no need to type out text messages if you own an Android phone. Once you’ve activated “Ok Google” detection on your device, audible texting is as simple as saying, “Ok Google, tell [one of your contacts] I am ready to get some pizza!”

  • Turning down the brightness on your Android phone will help conserve battery power when you need it the most.

  • Be careful when downloading apps from the Play Store. Read through a few of the reviews left by other users before downloading to avoid malicious and fraudulent apps.

  • You can charge your phone much faster by activating your Android phone’s Rapid Charging feature. Find it by plugging in your phone’s charger, navigating to Settings, Battery Settings, and checking the Rapid Charging box.

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Google has hidden some delightfully weird easter eggs within the numerous versions of Android. If you repeatedly tap the “Android version” under the “About Phone” tab, you’ll see one for yourself.

FAQ

Q. How do I know if my Android phone is running the most recent version, and how do I get it onto my device?

A. Since the latest version of Android will incorporate plenty of helpful features, including essential changes to existing software, user interface tweaks, and behind-the-scenes improvements, you’ll definitely want your Android phone to run the latest version.

The good news is that your mobile carrier will automatically send the next big update to your Android phone when it becomes available, and all you need to do is to accept the download to begin upgrading your device.

You can check if your Android phone is running the latest version by navigating to Settings, About Phone, and Android Version.

Q. How do I rearrange the apps on the Home screen of my Android phone?

A. You can easily move apps around the Home screen by tapping, holding, and dragging an individual app icon. Once you’ve found a spot, you’re happy with, release the app icon to place it. If your current Home screen is full, drag the app to the right side of the screen to drop it on the next one.

If you want to take an app off of your home screen, simply drag it upward to the Remove option at the top of your screen and drop it. Note that removing the app from your Home screen won’t delete the app from your Android phone.

Q. How do I uninstall apps from my Android Phone?

A. The ability to customize your phone with whatever combination of apps makes you happy is one of the most alluring things about Android. There are two methods for deleting unwanted apps from your phone:

  • Find the app in the Play Store, and press the Uninstall button to delete it.

  • Alternatively, navigate to Settings and Apps. Select the app, and press the Uninstall button to remove it from your Android phone.

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