It can be difficult to locate an Android phone that meets all individual preferences. It is likely that there is a smartphone available that fits your needs.
Out of the numerous Android handsets available, the Google Pixel 6A stands out as our favorite and is our recommended choice. We have compiled a list of phones which feature advantageous capabilities, and have conducted comprehensive tests to make the selection easier for you.
Google Pixel 6A
Google’s Pixel A-series phones have been our favorites for a few years now, and that hasn’t changed with the Pixel 6A (8/10, WIRED Recommends), though its lead is narrowing. It’s powered by Google’s Tensor chip, which means you’re getting some of the best performance for the money, and it supports all the same great (and helpful) software smarts as the flagship Pixel 6 series.
I love its size; at 6.1 inches, the screen is comfortable to manage with one hand. Speaking of, the OLED panel gets plenty bright, making it easy to see on sunny days. (Sadly, it’s stuck at a 60-Hz screen refresh rate.)
Unlike its predecessors, the Pixel 6A doesn’t have the same dual-camera system as its flagship counterpart, instead relying on the sensors we’ve seen since the Pixel 3. It still snaps excellent photos that beat out nearly every other phone at this price, but you’ll notice that low-light images can be grainy and lacking in detail.
It would’ve been nice if Google had kept the Pixel tradition of having a flagship camera in a midrange phone. This phone will get five years of security updates, which is great, but only three OS upgrades, which is less than what Samsung offers for its phones—odd considering Google maintains Android. It has an IP67 rating for water resistance and a reliable fingerprint sensor, but you might be miffed that there’s no wireless charging, no headphone jack, and no charging brick in the box.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and stylus
If you want a no-compromises best-of-the-best kind of smartphone, then look no further than Samsung’s latest Galaxy S23 range (9/10, WIRED Recommends). Whether you opt for the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23, the 6.6-inch S23+, or the massive 6.8-inch S23 Ultra, these phones are chock-full of high-end features, from the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that keeps even the most demanding games running beautifully to the wonderfully fluid and bright 120-Hz AMOLED displays. Battery life has improved across the board, with the S23 comfortably lasting more than a day and the S23 Ultra hitting nearly two full days with average use.
The triple camera systems are the highlight, delivering remarkable results whether it’s day or night, and there are plenty of modes and controls to get the look you want. They also offer some of the most stable video footage you can capture on Android phones, particularly with the Ultra. Speaking of, the S23 Ultra technically has four cameras—retaining the extra 10X optical zoom camera from its predecessor—providing versatility whether you want to photograph an ant up close or a faraway kid on a soccer pitch. It’s the only phone in the trio with the embedded S Pen stylus, in case you like to doodle. (I like using it as a Bluetooth remote for the camera.) Best of all, the lineup will receive four Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates, which is still the best you’ll find in Android land.
Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro
Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends) are the most refined Pixels yet, and they remain the best values you can get in Android. For just $599, the Pixel 7 gives you practically everything you’d want, from wireless charging to a 90-Hz screen refresh rate. It’s a bit smaller this year, with a 6.3-inch screen that’s 25 percent brighter. The Pixel 7 Pro retains a 120-Hz refresh rate on its larger 6.7-inch AMOLED screen. Both feature Face Unlock, but this isn’t as secure as a fingerprint, so you can only use it to unlock the phone. In typical fashion, there are several smart software features powered by the new Tensor G2 chip, like audio message transcriptions in Android Messages, and Photo Unblur, which deblurs old photos in Google Photos, even if they were captured on an old point-and-shoot.
Cameras are a big part of Pixels, and the Pixel 7 Pro outshines its sibling with an upgraded ultrawide with autofocus, enabling a new Macro Focus mode for close-ups. Its telephoto camera has also improved, with excellent 5X optical zoom. Updated Super Res Zoom image-processing algorithms also mean you get sharper photos whether you’re shooting at 2X or 30X zoom. They’re hard to beat at these prices, and it helps that they’re regularly on sale too (try not to pay full price). These Pixels will receive five years of security updates, which is great, but only three OS upgrades, which is not as good as what Samsung offers.
Asus Zenfone 9
Itching to go back to a time when phones were … small? Or when they had headphone jacks? Fear not! Asus is here to save the day with the Zenfone 9 (7/10, WIRED Recommends). It’s one of the tinier Android phones I’ve seen in recent memory with its 5.9-inch AMOLED screen. It has a wonderfully textured back that makes it a joy to hold too. And it’s powerful—inside is the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset from 2022, meaning the Zenfone can tackle any game with ease. The display supports a 120-Hz screen, and in my testing, the 4,300-mAh battery comfortably lasted well into a second day on a single charge. Dual stereo speakers round it out with—yep—a headphone jack. It’s a shame there’s no MicroSD card slot, but hey, you can’t have everything.
The dual-camera system is reliable, and Asus’ special gimbal system helps deliver smooth stabilization for videos that comes close to matching the iPhone 14. As for photos, it’s no Pixel, but I was generally happy with the results it usually captured. Sacrifices? There are a few. There’s no wireless charging, which you can probably live without, but carrier compatibility is the big one. It’ll work on T-Mobile and AT&T just fine, but it won’t work on Verizon. Asus also has a lackluster software update policy—it’s only committing to two years of OS upgrades and security updates, which is one of the worst around for a phone this price.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Samsung also has a great A-series phone: the Galaxy A53 5G (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It’s an awesome alternative to the Pixel 6A. The 6.5-inch AMOLED screen gets bright and operates more smoothly thanks to the 120-Hz refresh rate, plus it has longer software support (four OS upgrades and five years of security updates). The reason why it’s not our top pick? Performance is good, but things can get a little stuttery when you try to juggle many apps at once; the Pixel 6A just offers a more consistent experience. The battery can last more than a day, sometimes close to two depending on usage, and the camera system holds its own, though the Pixel 6A has an edge.
There’s no headphone jack on the phone, no wireless charging, nor is there a charging brick in the box, but you do get a MicroSD card slot if you want to expand the 128 GB of included storage. It frequently dips to $350, so try to buy it on sale.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G on orange and red backdrop
Looking to save as much as possible? You’ll be surprised at what you get with Samsung’s $200 Galaxy A14 5G (9/10, WIRED Recommends). There’s surprisingly good performance—enough to run most apps without any annoying stutters—two-day battery life, and a camera that can capture decent photos. Unlike most sub-$200 phones in the US, this one has 64 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot to expand space if you need it, a headphone jack, and even an NFC sensor, so you can use it to make contactless payments at retail shops. It’s remarkable! The cherry on top? Samsung is promising two Android OS upgrades and four years of security updates, which is almost unheard of on a phone this cheap.
OnePlus 11 5G
The OnePlus 11 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) might be a speed demon, but it isn’t my first choice, nor is it my second. It feels tremendously fluid and responsive, thanks to the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset inside (and all the other optimizations), and it recharges so quickly with the included adapter and cable—you can go from 0 to 100 in roughly 20 minutes. Wowza. It’s got a stunning 120-Hz 6.7-inch AMOLED screen, nice stereo speakers, and a reliable battery that easily lasts more than a full day. Even the Hasselblad-tuned cameras produce some nice results, and OnePlus is now matching Samsung with a promise of four years of Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates (though these are bimonthly instead of monthly).
The flagship lacks some features that one might expect. This phone does not support wireless charging, millimeter-wave 5G, or has an IP67 rating for water resistance which is typically the industry standard in this price range. I’m not a huge fan of the software interface – there must be something better! Hey, it may not be perfect but it’s undeniably beautiful!
Asus ROG Phone 6
The Asus ROG Phone 6 provides an enhanced gaming experience compared to other phones, making it particularly suitable for mobile gaming. This phone has a 6.78-inch AMOLED screen, a 165-Hz refresh rate, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, and 12 gigabytes of RAM, making it extremely powerful and providing smooth gaming performance. Everyday tasks and multitasking are handled easily with these top-tier specs. The screen produces a noticeable popping sound, the haptic vibrations are sensed strongly, and the speakers reach a high volume.
Pairing Asus’ ROG Kunai 3 controller with your phone is recommended, as it allows you to experience a Nintendo Switch-like experience, or to be used as a regular controller. With Asus’ in-game software, you can assign physical keys to virtual buttons, significantly enhancing the performance of your mobile gaming. The 6,000-mAh battery provides two full days of use on average, though usage may vary with more intensive activities. A headphone jack is provided if Bluetooth connection is not preferred. Although there are some challenges, overall the situation is positive. Verizon is not supported, wireless charging is not included, the IPX4 water-resistance rating is not satisfactory for the price point and camera performance is average. Asus provides updates for this phone for two years after its launch, which is shorter than what other phone makers typically provide.
The Fairphone 4 is an impressive device. The Android phone that has a focus on environmental consciousness achieved a score of 10 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability assessment. The device is composed of post-consumer recycled materials, including a 100 percent recycled plastic back cover. Furthermore, the battery, camera, speaker, earpiece, USB-C port, screen and more are all removable and replaceable. You can use a screwdriver to perform the replacement of these parts, and these parts will remain available until 2027. Discover something truly unique – the first ever Fairtrade Gold certified smartphone that ensures conflict-free mining and play it fair for workers with eco-friendly extraction of metals and guaranteed rights and wages. Fairphone totally offsets the environmental impact of their phones – they recycle an equivalent amount of e-waste, for every one sold! We’re committing to two Android OS updates, with the potential for more! Enjoy the extra peace of mind with our five-year warranty!
My experience with the Fairphone 4 has been satisfactory. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G provided a smooth and responsive performance with minimal instances of stuttering. The battery life of this device allows it to run for up to two days on one charge. What are the issues? The camera is functional. This camera is capable of taking decent photos, but it does not match the quality of its competitors at this price. This phone is not available in the US. Importation is possible, however, full network compatibility may not be guaranteed. On AT&T, I was able to access sub-6 5G and send and recieve texts, but phone calls did not function. It would be beneficial for more manufacturers to emulate Fairphone’s practices.
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