The world of Android phones is vast, with a variety of manufacturers trying to tempt you with top features such as 5G, fast charging and potent multicamera systems. Samsung remains one of the biggest powerhouses in the mobile industry, offering cutting-edge tech at high prices — even innovative folding phones such as the . Google’s own series uses custom processors, stock Android 12 and has a solid camera system on the back.
But all that choice can also make the shopping experience overwhelming and confusing, which is why I’ve rounded up my favorite picks. These all have generally great cameras, screens, battery life or all of the above. I also considered features such as 5G and wireless charging. Read on to see my top picks for the best Android phones and check out the best tips on , too. CNET’s team updates this list periodically as we review new products.
• S Pen is included with the phone and there’s a slot for storing it
• Great low-light photography
• Closer zoom than most competing phones
• Distinct design
• Cameras are mostly the same as on the Galaxy S21 Ultra
• Battery life isn’t as long as the S21 Ultra
The $1,200 Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the most expensive Android phones out there, but for good reason. It has a giant 6.8-inch display, an S Pen stylus you can store inside the phone (just like the Galaxy Note), and a four-lens camera with a zoom range that’s hard to beat. Samsung also improved the way all of its new Galaxy phones take photos in low light, which is especially important on a photography-oriented phone like the Ultra.
The only downsides? The S22 Ultra’s sky-high price and relatively short battery life. Still, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best phone for people who want the biggest screen and one of the best cameras available in a smartphone. You just have to be willing to pay a higher price for those perks.
Read our Galaxy S22 Ultra review.
• Bright screen
• Good balance of screen size and comfort
• Better camera with improved color and contrast
• Attractive design
• $1,000 is still expensive for a phone
• Battery life isn’t as long as the iPhone 13 Pro’s
• No new built-in camera modes
• Fast charging requires a special $50 adapter
The $1,000 Galaxy S22 Plus has the right balance of size, performance and camera performance for most people. The 6.6-inch screen provides plenty of space for those who prefer larger-sized phones but feel like the Ultra might be too overwhelming (and expensive). The upgrade to a 50-megapixel camera also makes a huge difference compared to last year’s Galaxy S21 lineup, especially when it comes to color and contrast in photos.
My biggest complaint is that the battery life was just mediocre, although it did outlast the regular Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Ultra during CNET’s battery test. It also would have been nice to see new features that take advantage of the S22’s improved camera, especially since the S22 Plus is more expensive than several phones on this list. Still, the Galaxy S22 Plus has everything most people need in a new phone.
Read our Galaxy S22 Plus review.
• Excellent cameras
• Solid all-round performance
• Neat Android 12 interface
• Attractive design
• Battery is good, but not great
• Fast charge isn’t all that fast
• No face unlock
Google stayed out of the flagship segment for a couple of years and spent the time making its own chip that specialized in machine learning and artificial intelligence. The Pixel 6 Pro packs all of it with a photography prowess that’s hard to beat.
Google’s $899 higher-end phone still undercuts rivals on price while including so much value. It is a big phone, with a 6.7-inch screen, which is pin-sharp thanks to its 3,120×1,440-pixel resolution. It has an adaptive refresh rate that can go up to 120Hz when you’re playing fast-paced games, but also slows down to only 10Hz when the phone is basically sitting idle. The 5,003-mAh battery should be good for a full day of mixed usage.
• Two-tone design
• Value for the price
• The main camera is Google’s best
• Under-display fingerprint reader can be frustrating
• Battery life is good, but hard to get more than a day
• The ultrawide camera is decent but not on the same level as the main camera
Google’s Pixel 6 is the smartphone to get if you want a big screen, flagship performance, some of the best cameras on the market and a look that distinguishes it from the competition. Google extended its three years of OS and security updates to five, so it’ll last. In the US, the Pixel 6 is available both through Google and all major carriers.
The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch, 1080p screen. It can be set to automatically switch from 60Hz to 90Hz depending on the content onscreen. However, the fingerprint sensor is on the slower side. It comes with two rear cameras: the main camera with a wide-angle lens and a second camera with an ultrawide-angle lens.
If you have $599 and are looking for a new phone, the Pixel 6 is our recommendation.
• Improved camera with better low-light photography
• Elegant design
• Great size for people who prefer smaller phones
• Battery life could be better
Finding a smaller-sized Android phone is no easy task these days. Most phones come with screens that are at least 6.4 inches or larger, leaving people who prefer petite phones with few options. The $800 Galaxy S22 checks that box. It has everything we loved about the Galaxy S22 Plus — an eye-catching design, an excellent camera system with a 50-megapixel main lens and a sharp screen — but in a more pocket-friendly size.
Still, the Galaxy S22 falls short in the same area as its pricier siblings: battery life. I was able to get through a full day with the S22’s refresh rate set to adaptive, which cranks it up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling, but only barely. That said, the S22’s battery life might be enough for some people, especially those who spend most of their day at home or in the office with a charger nearby. The Galaxy S22 is otherwise a solid choice for any Android user, but especially those looking for a smaller-sized phone.
Read our Galaxy S22 review.
• Nice screen
• Speedy performance
• IP67 water-resistant
• Affordable price
• No wireless charging
• 5G support in the US is unclear
While the next-gen Pixel 6 is available now, if you want 5G on the cheap the Pixel 5A 5G is still a solid choice. This Pixel phone has good battery life and great rear cameras, and at $449 it’s one of the best, cheapest ways of getting 5G.
Read our Google Pixel 5A review.
• Classy design
• Powerful performance
• All-day battery life
• Vibrant screen
• Disappointing camera
• Waterproof rating restricted to T-Mobile-exclusive models
• Lacks 80-watt fast charging in the US
The OnePlus 10 Pro earned a good score in our review thanks to its slick design, its powerful performance and its price tag, which undercuts its main rivals. It needs a few improvements — most notably to the camera, which is good, but not great — but this flagship offers a great overall experience. If you’re after a top-end 5G phone that’s a bit different to your friends’ iPhones and Galaxy phones then it’s a solid option to consider.
At a whopping price of $2,500, the Sony Xperia Pro isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a photographer or videographer looking for professional-level camera phone features, you can’t go wrong. The Xperia Pro is essentially four products in one: a phone, a camera monitor, a speedy photo file transfer device and a 5G machine suitable for broadcasting and livestreaming.
Read our Sony Xperia Pro review.
• 120Hz cover screen
• Water resistance
• Wonderful tablet experience
• S Pen is a blast to use
• Software improvements for multitasking and Flex Mode
• Battery life lasts about a day
• Weird, heavy phone when closed
• $1,800 is still expensive
Foldable phones haven’t really hit the mainstream, remaining instead only in the reach of those willing to spend top dollar on the latest in mobile innovation. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best folding phone around, offering top-notch performance, a great camera setup and a variety of tweaks to its folding technology that make this Android smartphone more desirable than its predecessor.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.
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