The best Android phones for 2023

Unlike the iOS ecosystem, where Apple is the only game in town, one of the best things about the Android phone market is the wide range of different devices and manufacturers to choose from. That said, when it actually comes time to upgrade, that wealth of options can make it a bit more difficult to choose the right handset for you. If you’re looking for a new phone and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered with a selection of the best Android phones for every budget.

What to look for in a new Android phone

Performance

When it comes to picking our favorite Android phones, the main things we look for are pretty straightforward: good performance (both compute and AI), a nice display, solid design, sharp cameras, long battery life and a significant commitment to ongoing software support. For performance, not only do we look at benchmarks and other metrics, but we also evaluate phones based on responsiveness. Regardless of whether you’re reading, scrolling through social media or playing a game, no one wants a device that feels sluggish.

Display

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

When it comes to displays, we generally prefer OLED panels that can produce rich, saturated colors with at least 600 nits of brightness, though many of our top mid-range and high-end phones can hit 1,000 nits or more. And more recently, most of our favorite devices also support screens with fast refresh rates of 90Hz or 120Hz, which adds an extra level of smoothness and fluidity.

Design

Now we will admit there is a bit of subjectivity when deciding which phones look the best, but there are other design aspects like dust and water resistance or screen durability that can make a big difference to long-term survival. It’s also important to consider things like support for wireless charging, power sharing (aka reverse wireless charging) and UWB connectivity, which can have an impact on how your phone interacts with your other devices.

Cameras

Obviously, for photos we’re looking for sharp, colorful shots in both bright and low-light conditions. And we want video clips with high dynamic range, rich audio and smooth image stabilization. Extra cameras for ultra-wide and telephoto lenses are a plus. It’s also important to consider features like dedicated night modes, support for various video recording resolutions, and additional photo modes like timelapse, slow motion and more.

Battery and software

Finally, in terms of battery life, we’re looking for all-day longevity on devices that also delivered great results on our local video rundown test (at least 16 hours on a charge, but more is obviously better). Wireless charging capabilities have become almost ubiquitous over the past few years, and most of our top picks have this extra perk. Finally, with people holding onto their phones longer than ever, we like to see companies commit to at least three years of software support, upgrades and regular security updates.

The Best Android Phones

Best Android phone overall: Google Pixel 7 Pro

Best Android phone overall
Google Pixel 7 Pro

Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Google Pixel 7 Pro

The Pixel 7 Pro and the standard Pixel 7 might not be the absolute fastest phones on the market, but what they lack in pure performance they make up for with thoughtful software.

The Pixel 7 Pro and the standard Pixel 7 might not be the absolute fastest phones on the market, but what they lack in pure performance they make up for with thoughtful software. Thanks to Google’s Tensor G2 chip, the Pixel 7 series features powerful AI and machine learning capabilities that support things like on-device language recognition and real-time translation. You also get gorgeous OLED displays and the best overall camera quality of any smartphone available today. And with the price tag of the standard Pixel 7 starting at just $600, Google’s latest flagship is an incredible value too. The main differences between the two are that the Pixel 7 Pro has a larger 6.7-inch screen and features a third rear camera with a 5x optical zoom. But regardless of whether you prefer a smaller or larger device, you can’t really go wrong with either the Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro.

Read our Full Review of the Google Pixel 7 Pro

Best mid-range Android phone: OnePlus 11

Best mid-range Android phone
OnePlus 11

Photo by Mat Smith / Engadget

OnePlus 11

For those who want a phone with a big screen, solid cameras and great performance, but for less than a traditional flagship, the OnePlus 11 strikes a good balance between budget phones and more premium devices.

For those who want a phone with a big screen, excellent cameras and great performance, but for less than a traditional flagship, the OnePlus 11 strikes a good balance between budget phones and more premium devices. In a lot of ways, the OnePlus 11 is like a more affordable Galaxy S23+. Not only do you get a similar 6.7-inch 120Hz display, it also features a speedy Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and a big 5,000 mAh battery. Meanwhile, thanks to OnePlus’ blazing 100-watt wired charging, it juices up faster than any phone from Google or Samsung. And on the camera side, the company’s ongoing partnership with Hasselblad has resulted in notable improvements in image quality.

The main shortcomings of the OP11 are that its IP64 rating for dust and water resistance falls short of what you get from competing devices, and the camera’s 2x optical zoom lens feels a bit on the short side. But with OnePlus adding wider carrier compatibility and committing four years of OS upgrades and five years of security patches, the OP11 is a well-equipped option that costs significantly less than its rivals.

Read our Full Review of OnePlus11

Best budget Android phone: Google Pixel 7a

Best budget Android phone
Google Pixel 7a

Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Google Pixel 7a

If you just want a simple phone for a good price, Google’s Pixel 7a can’t be beat.

The $500 Pixel 7a delivers everything we look for in a great, affordable Android phone. New features include a faster Tensor G2 chip, a smoother 90Hz display and for the first time on one of Google’s A-series phones: support for wireless charging. And with a refreshed design with IP67 water resistance, it looks and feels like the standard Pixel 7 but for $100 less. You also get great support thanks to five years of security updates and at least three years of software updates. The Pixel 7a’s only shortcomings are rather small and include a lack of a dedicated zoom lens and no support for mmWave 5G (unless you purchase a slightly more expensive $550 model from Verizon).

Read our Full Review of the Google Pixel 7a

Best premium Android phone: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best premium Android phone
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Galaxy S23 Ultra may be very expensive, but it has practically everything you could ever want or need in a smartphone.

With a starting price of $1,200, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is very expensive, but it has excellent performance and practically everything you could ever want or need in a smartphone. It has a huge 6.8-inch OLED display with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, a total of five cameras (main, ultra-wide, 3x zoom, 10x zoom and a selfie shooter) and a built-in S Pen for drawing and note-taking. It also features a huge 5,000 mAh battery that delivers some of the longest runtime we’ve seen on any phone. And with Samsung’s renewed commitment to software support, you can expect a minimum of four major OS upgrades and five years of regular security patches.

Read our Full Review of Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best foldable Android phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Best foldable Android phone
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung’s Z fold 4 is like having three devices in one, which makes it a unicorn among mobile devices.

While the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is arguably the most stylish and compact phone on the market, the bigger and more expensive Z Fold 4 is like three devices in one, which makes it a unicorn among mobile devices. When you just need to respond to a text or look up an address quickly, its 6.2-inch exterior cover screen makes that a cinch. But when you want to sit down to watch a movie or play a game, you can open up the Fold to reveal a stunning 7.8-inch flexible display. As a foldable phone, it’s compact when you need it to be, while providing an immersive viewing experience on a large screen when you don’t. And thanks to support for stylus input, you even can use one of Samsung’s S Pens designed specifically for the Fold to quickly draw or jot down a note. On top of all that, its OLED display makes the Z Fold 4 great for reading books and comics. And unlike practically any other non-Samsung foldable, the Fold also has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. In a lot of ways, this thing is the Swiss Army knife of phones. Sure, it’s a bit bulky, and at $1,800 it’s not what anyone would call affordable. But this Samsung phone’s ability to serve as a phone, a tablet, an e-reader and more depending on the situation puts the Z Fold 4 in a category of its own.

Read our Full Review of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

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