EletiofeThese Are the 10 Best Android Phones

These Are the 10 Best Android Phones

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Finding the absolute best Android phone to meet your needs is hard work. It’s easy to get swayed by a pretty handset design or a convincing price. Carriers might tempt you with a discount, or a 24-month payment plan. But before you make a rash impulse buy, read up. From the bottomless pit of phone choices, we bring you our favorites—including our top pick, the Pixel 4A.

All the phones we’ve selected here have their own advantages, and we’ve laid them out as honestly as we can based on our own extensive testing. Be sure to check our Best iPhones and Best Cheap Phones guides for more mobile recommendations.

Updated November 2020: We’ve added the Pixel 5, Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, and more.

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  • new samsung galaxy s20 phones

    Photograph: Samsung

    First, Some Advice

    Buy Your Phone Unlocked (and Ignore 5G!)

    We recommend unlocked phones in this guide. When a phone is sold as “unlocked,” it means the phone can be used on multiple wireless carriers/networks. When you buy a phone directly from your wireless carrier, usually on a payment plan, it often comes locked to that network. Carriers are legally required to unlock a phone upon request so you can switch networks, but it’s a big hassle. Try to pay full price for your phone, or make sure it specifically says it’s unlocked. If you feel it’s too expensive to buy outright, that’s a good sign you should find a cheaper model, buy it from the manufacturer directly, or investigate your carrier’s policies for unlocking phones if they’re bought on a payment plan that requires you to use their network.

    Verizon tips: Buying an unlocked phone is smart (it is!), but even if you do the smart thing, networks like Verizon will put up hoops for you to jump through. If you insert your SIM card but still have trouble receiving text messages or something else, contact customer service and have them enable “CDMA-Less roaming.” This OnePlus 6T guide may help. The steps should be similar for other phones.

    Why we don’t care about 5G: You’ll see lots of ads encouraging you to upgrade to a 5G plan and buy a 5G phone. Yes, you do need a new phone that supports 5G to make use of a 5G network (we have a guide that explains it all), but at the moment 5G coverage is still sparse. If it is available in your area, chances are it’s not dramatically faster than 4G LTE (yet). Our advice? Think about 5G for the phone you buy next time, in two years (or more). For now, it’s not a reason to upgrade.

  • Photograph: Google

    Best Overall 

    Google Pixel 4A and Pixel 4A 5G

    The Pixel 4A (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is many things: It’s the best cheap phone, the best small phone, the best budget camera phone, and the best Android phone, period.

    What does all of that cost you? Only $350. Yep. The successor to our previous favorite Android phone is now $50 cheaper and better in every way. It has the same great main camera from the flagship Pixel 4, so you can snap excellent photos even at night with Google’s Night Sight mode. It runs very smoothly, the battery lasts a full day, and the 5.8-inch OLED screen looks fantastic—especially since Google shaved off the bezels around it. It feels pretty compact too, given the size of the screen.

    The Pixel 4A 5G for $500 is another great choice, but only if you want a bigger phone. It’s a small step up in performance and has an additional ultrawide camera, plus support for sub-6 5G (the more accessible type). The polycarbonate bodies make these two more durable than all-glass phones. Plus, they have headphone jacks! They’ll get monthly security updates and Android version upgrades directly from Google for three years (most phones don’t). The only downsides: There’s no water resistance, no wireless charging, and no storage expansion, so you’ll have to make do with the rather generous 128 gigabytes of internal storage.

    Works on all three major US networks

  • Photograph: Samsung

    Runner-Up

    Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

    The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is different from the flagship Galaxy S20 Samsung debuted earlier in 2020, but it’s the better phone because it’s $300 cheaper. You lose extras like 8K video recording and 12 gigabytes of RAM, but those features are overkill anyway. And while the Fan Edition (FE) doesn’t have the more premium-feeling glass back, a plastic body makes it the more durable phone.

    You still get the same great performance, wireless charging, water resistance, a 120-Hz screen, and day-long battery life. The screen is bigger at 6.5 inches with larger bezels, and it doesn’t get as bright or offer as many colors as the panel on the S20. It’s still excellent. The cameras aren’t exactly the same either, but the photos coming out of this phone are so similar, you won’t miss much. This is Samsung’s best phone of 2020 because it’s a great blend of top-end features at a much more stomachable price. My main gripe? The fingerprint sensor isn’t all that reliable.

    Works on all three major US networks

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