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The wide range of Android phones on the market is one of the platform's greatest strengths - there's something for everyone. However, with all the choices available, trying to find the best smartphone can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. To help you out, we've compiled a short list of the best Android phones you can buy, from bang-for-your-buck options to high-end flagships.
OnePlus' product lineup is a bit confusing at the moment, with some models only being sold in some countries, but the phone most people should care about is the $600 OnePlus 7T. Even though prices for OnePlus phones continue to rise a little bit every year, the 7T still manages to be hundreds of dollars cheaper than its main competition from Samsung and Google.
The OnePlus 7T is powered by a Snapdragon 855+ processor, 8GB RAM, and 128 or 256GB of internal storage. The screen is a large 6.55-inch 1080p AMOLED display (with an in-screen fingerprint sensor), and there are three cameras on the back — a 48MP regular, a 12MP telephoto, and a 16MP wide-angle. The 3,800mAh battery should easily get most people through an entire day of heavy use, and the 'Warp Charge' feature quickly tops up the phone.
In our review, Ryne wrote, "If you aren't super picky when it comes to the screen (and most people aren't), the 7T is a good value and a great phone at $600. For half what some other phones cost, you get the best performance, pleasant software, frequent updates, and a smooth, bright display. I can't say it's the best phone you can get today, and it isn't my personal favorite, but it's one of the better choices you can make."
The OnePlus 7T is available in Frosted Silver and Glacier Blue. An unlocked variant is available from OnePlus' website that works with most major carriers (Sprint being the main exception). T-Mobile also sells the phone, but that version can't have an unlocked bootloader.
Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL
For the first time in years, Google is selling a budget Android smartphone — or rather, two of them. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are a return to Nexus-era pricing, with the smaller model costing $399 and the larger version set at $479. It doesn't have flagship-level hardware, but it's close enough to the Pixel 3 that most people wouldn't notice a difference (apart from the design).
Both phones have a Snapdragon 670 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a headphone jack (can't take that for granted these days), NFC for Google Pay, a rear fingerprint scanner, a 12.2MP rear camera, and an 8MP front camera. The smaller model has a 5.6-inch screen and a 3,000mAh battery, while the XL has a 6-inch screen with a 3,700mAh battery.
In our review, David wrote, "While the photos you’ll take with the Pixel 3a will have you impressed from day one, I think getting those three years of OS updates - and just as fast as every other Pixel phone - will leave you feeling like you made the right call. Google gets a lot of flack for bugs on its smartphones - and not unjustifiably, at times - but while every Android phone has bugs and glitches, basically none of them are going to see the level of software support this one will - even proper “flagships.” It’s hard to put a dollar value on that, but Google has: half the price of our other phones. I think that makes the Pixel 3a and 3a XL a pretty good deal, and pretty much without compare in the sub-$500 price bracket."
The Pixel 3a and 3a XL work on pretty much every carrier, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Both models are available in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and 'Purple-ish'.
Samsung Galaxy Note10
Samsung's Note series isn't quite as unique as it once was, now that the only major difference between it and the S-series phones is the stylus, but that doesn't mean the latest model is bad. In fact, the Galaxy Note10 has nearly every feature you could want in a phone. Good camera? Check. Waterproof? Check. Fast processor with a big battery? Check and check. There's no headphone jack, though.
This year, Samsung has split the Note10 into a few different variants. There's a new smaller version, simply called the 'Note10,' which is close in size to the Galaxy S10. Then there's the larger Note10+, which increases the screen resolution to 1440p, bumps up the battery capacity, and adds a microSD card slot. Finally, there's the Note10+ 5G, which you probably shouldn't buy since 5G infrastructure isn't widespread yet (and the 5G version is very expensive).
In our review, David wrote, "If you find yourself still reaching for an S Pen in 2019, the Note10+ won't disappoint, in that the S Pen is still there. And that's a perfectly valid reason to buy the Note, but it's also the only real compelling reason that can stand on its own. If you don't find the stylus a major part of Samsung's value proposition, the Note10+ doesn't get a strong recommendation from me. Unless price is absolutely no object, there are better ways to spend your money."
The Note10 and Note10+ are available from just about every carrier in existence, but you can also buy them carrier-unlocked. Both phones will function on all carriers just fine, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.
ASUS ROG Phone 2
If the Note10 isn't quite what you're looking for, but you still want a phone with all the bells and whistles possible, the $900 ROG Phone 2 from Asus is another compelling option. It has top-of-the-line internal hardware, with a heavier focus on gaming than other devices (though you can easily ignore the gaming features if you don't care).
The ROG Phone 2 is powered by a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, a whopping 12GB of RAM, up to 512GB of internal storage, and a huge 6,000mAh battery with 30W fast charging. The screen is a big 6.59-inch 1080p+ AMOLED display, with support for the 120Hz high refresh rate (for sily-smooth animations and gaming).
The ROG Phone 2 is the only phone available right now with both an AMOLED screen and 120Hz support. However, the phone is lacking some features that most other devices in this price range have, like water resistance and wireless charging.
Our review reads, "If you want the best smartphone gaming experience possible, or if you really want the liquid-smooth 120Hz screen, the ROG Phone II might be a great option for you. The ROG Phone II is also a compelling option if you've become frustrated with recent trends in smartphone design. There's no notch/camera cutout, Asus has kept the headphone jack, the battery is huge, and the dual front-facing speakers are great when compared to the bottom-firing speakers found on most other modern flagships."
The ROG Phone II is available unlocked for $899 in the United States. Sadly, it only works with GSM-based carriers (like AT&T and T-Mobile), and not CDMA networks (like Verizon and Sprint). It's also missing T-Mobile's Band 71 (though Band 12 is present), so LTE connectivity on T-Mobile might be spotty depending on where you live.
Asus Zenfone 6
Perhaps the most surprising success story of this year was the Asus Zenfone 6. It's a direct competitor to OnePlus devices, offering flagship hardware at a price several hundred dollars below most flagship phones — just $499.
The exact hardware includes a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6-8GB of RAM, 64-256GB of storage (with microSD support), a 5,000mAh battery, a headphone jack (yay!), and an edge-to-edge 6.4" 1080p IPS screen. There's no cutout for the front-facing camera — instead, the rear camera flips around when needed.
In our review, Jordan wrote, "This all-screen beauty represents the greatest that 2019 has to offer, even sporting the absolute best version of ZenUI yet, a back-to-basics, "stock+" Android experience with Asus's own tweaks and modifications. All in all, this device blew me away and in my opinion, it gives OnePlus some much needed competition."
The only catch is that Asus is still struggling to keep the Zenfone 6 in stock in the United States. If you can snag it, the Zenfone 6 is a heck of a deal, though it won't work on CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint — only GSM carriers, like AT&T and T-Mobile.
Motorola One Action
Nokia is generally regarded as the best maker of budget Android phones — not counting Xiaomi, Oppo, and all the others that don't sell phones in the United States. However, the company doesn't have any worthwhile options around the $200-300 price range. The $189 Nokia 4.2 would have been our top pick, but that phone suffers from performance issues and poor battery life.
As such, the Motorola One Action is probably the best option for anyone on a tighter budget. While the price is technically $350, it's marked down to $300 at most retail stores. It has an Exynos 9609 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, a headphone jack (yay!), and a 6.3-inch 2520x1080 IPS display with a camera hole in the corner. The camera setup is impressive for a mid-range phone, with a 12MP main sensor, a 5MP depth sensor, and a 16MP ultra-wide camera. It runs Android 9 Pie though — no Android 10 quite yet.
In our review, Scott wrote, "It’s pretty rare to get so much RAM and storage at this price, and you won’t find many other phones with triple rear cameras on this budget either. If you take a lot of videos, the Action Cam is nice to have, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s worth buying the phone for that feature alone."
The major catch is that the Motorola One Action is only an Android One device in the UK and Europe, but in the US it runs Motorola's usual software stack, so updates will be slower and less frequent in 'Murica. On the bright side, the One Action works on all major carriers, including Verizon and Sprint.