It’s all about choice in the Android ecosystem. iPhone owners have less choice in terms of the number of new Android devices they can choose from when it comes time to upgrade. However, there are a lot of new Android phones released every year. Some even fold in half. Do you want a stylus with built-in? You want a flagship processor that costs less? Perhaps even a unapologetically pink phone and matching earbuds? Android offers many options.
All that choice can lead to difficult decisions. Here’s where you can help: I have tested many Android phones and found some great options. It all depends on what you are looking for, how much you can afford, and what size phone you consider reasonable. ( Personally, I own my.
Unfortunately, if you are a US resident, I have bad news. We don’t have as many options here as we do in Asia or Europe, because of complicated reasons such as “capitalism”, and “geopolitics”. Brands like Huawei, Xiaomi and Honor are not available here. This guide is limited to devices that I have personally tested and recommended. It is therefore primarily US-centric.
It’s important to remember that the majority of Americans get their phones free from their wireless carriers. Unlocked phones are best if you have the budget. This will allow you to move carriers around more easily. To make payments easier, phone manufacturers offer trade-in and financing options. If you are happy with your current carrier and feel that the phone you want is the right one for you, you can take the phone. Make sure to read the terms and conditions, especially if your plans change to take advantage of the deal.
No matter how you do it, there are many great options available for you next Android phone purchase.
The S23 Plus Android smartphone is a crowd pleaser. It has a large 6.6-inch screen, excellent battery life, a fast Snapdragon processor and a capable camera system.
The Galaxy S series smartphones by Samsung have been the most popular high-end Android phones in America for the past few decades. There’s good reason: they are excellent devices. Although the Galaxy S23 Plus is an update to this winning formula, it’s still a great phone. The Galaxy S23 Plus checks all the boxes for 2023 essential flagship features. It has a large, beautiful 6.6-inch screen, a powerful camera system with a Telephoto lens, great battery life, and robust weather resistance. It’s not the most expensive flagship phone, but at $999 it’s not too expensive.
The S23 Plus comes with Qualcomm’s latest chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. What is surprising about this phone is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. Previously, only certain regions could get an Exynos chip made by Samsung. This is great news, as the Snapdragon 8 Gen2 is amazing and makes the S23 Plus shine. The day-to-day performance and battery endurance are excellent. The Plus has a 4,700mAh larger battery cell, while the 8 Gen 2 is well-tuned to conserve energy.
Although the S23 Plus’ 50-megapixel main camera, ultrawide and 3x Telephoto cameras make up its imaging system, they are more than sufficient for most situations. The S23 Plus can sometimes take stunning photos, especially in the telephoto portrait mode. It can also be prone to heavy-handed HDR processing.
Samsung’s software is not our favorite. You can remove or hide most of the Samsung proprietary apps and services with a little effort upfront. However, it would be nice to not have to dance with Bixby. Samsung has one of the best software support policies of any Android device maker, offering four years of OS updates, and five years worth of security updates. Although the initial setup can be a bit complicated, you won’t need to repeat it again for several years.
Best affordable flagship
Google Pixel 7 is an upgrade to the Pixel standard model with Google’s second-gen Tensor processor and an upgraded ultrawide camera.
The Google Pixel 7 is a mid-range smartphone that can be used as a flagship phone or a budget phone. It’s slightly cheaper than Samsung’s S series phones, but a little more expensive than midrangers like the Galaxy A54 at $599. The specs are similar: You get the high-quality build quality and conveniences that come with a high-end phone, such as wireless charging and IP68 rating, but you lose some nice extras such as a telephoto lens and a 120Hz display. The Pixel 7 is a great deal if you don’t care about these things.
Google’s latest custom chipset, Tensor G2, is used in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. It’s a flagship-level processor, but it’s also part the Pixel series’ exclusive sauce of Google-exclusive features. These are generally smart, but they’re not very useful.
Clear Calling is a feature that is only available to Pixel 7 series. It is similar to noise cancellation for phone call. This makes it easier to hear the person you are talking to even if they are in a noisy environment. Some features that are supposed to make customer service calls and navigation easier don’t always work. They aren’t bad and Google has shown that it is committed to providing support for its devices with updates throughout their lives.
The strength of the Pixel 7 is its software. The Pixel 7 runs an unmodified version of Android that is free from duplicate apps (looking at Samsung), and it will continue to be supported for five years with OS updates and security patches. You’ll have to accept a few concessions Google made in order to keep the price low. Although the 6.3-inch screen works well, its 90Hz refresh rate is slower than that of 120Hz phones at this price.
Although the Pixel 7 does not have a telephoto rear-camera, the 2x crop mode of the 50-megapixel main sensor gives the impression of an optical telephoto lens. The Pixel 7 Pro’s ultrawide camera is also an upgrade. The Pixel 7 Pro is a better choice than the Pixel 7. However, the Pixel 7 has a few disadvantages. You can still enjoy a lot with the Pixel 7 and the 7 Pro.
Best phone with everything but the kitchen sink
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch screen and features an S Pen stylus, 2telephoto cameras, as well as a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. Although it is expensive, there aren’t many other phones that can match its specs.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is not for the faint-hearted. The price tag starts at $1,199 and the 6.8-inch screen makes it expensive. This phone is also the most powerful Android phone available in the US, featuring a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipet, S Pen stylus and storage silo. There are two — count ’em — telephoto camera panels on the rear panel. It is hard to imagine what Samsung could add to this phone.
This spec monster’s screen is 6.8 inch OLED. It has a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz and a resolution of 1440p. It looks great, and it is also more efficient than the last model. The new chipset and this feature allow the S23 Ultra to withstand a full day’s heavy usage with little less effort than its predecessor.
You should consider the S23 Ultra’s excellent camera system as a reason to spend more money on this model than the S23 Plus. It’s hard to find a flagship phone with such a camera system: the S23 Ultra has a 3x, 10x, and 200-megapixel main camera, as well as an ultrawide and, yes, 200-megapixel telephoto cameras.
Although the 200-megapixel trick is partially fake, most times you will get a 12-megapixel file. However, the system seems to be able to produce some amazing images due the additional data it receives from all those pixels. Although it can sometimes make some strange judgments and turn the HDR up to 11, it is often very good. Sometimes, it even produces stunning “I cannot believe it’s not real” camera photos.
Unfortunately, our complaints about Samsung’s software are valid. The faults of the Samsung software are more obvious on a high-end phone. Why all the clickbait links in weather apps? Who on earth would want push notifications from the Samsung Galaxy Store? This kind of thing is not available on a Pixel phone. The S23 Ultra has enough great features that it is worth the minor software issues.
The OnePlus 11 is missing a few key features like wireless charging and robust water resistance. The OnePlus 11’s 6.7-inch screen, great performance and quick wired charging make it a very attractive device for its low price.
Samsung and Google dominate the US Android market (well, almost entirely Samsung). There are a few options, however. The OnePlus 11 5G is a great choice for those who want a powerful device at a lower price. The OnePlus 11 5G uses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipet and is $300 less than the S23 Ultra.
There are a few other features to the OnePlus 11, including a stunning 6.7-inch 1440p display and a top 120Hz refresh speed. The included fast charger can also be used to wire charge the OnePlus 11. It will charge the 5,000mAh battery in just 30 minutes. You can even charge your phone overnight with this charger.
There are some things that you won’t find on other phones this price, but the down side is that there aren’t many of them. Wireless charging is the first, and this could be a problem if you already have a wireless charger. The OnePlus 11’s IP rating is not IP68, as with most flagships. It’s water-resistant, but not waterproof enough to withstand immersion in water for extended periods of time.
These two features are what make the OnePlus 11 less appealing. The OnePlus 11 5G is an excellent choice if you don’t mind dropping your phone in a pool, toilet, sink, or bath, and you want to charge it quickly rather than using a wireless charger pad.
Best foldable phone
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
The Fold 4 can be used as a tablet or daily driver smartphone. The Fold 4 is a gadget lover’s gadget, with a high price tag.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the best-selling smartphone on the American market. Samsung’s tablet-style folding phone, the Z Fold 4, has a 6.2 inch screen on the exterior, and a 7.6-inch on the interior. This phone is more versatile than any other slab-style smartphone. The MSRP is a staggering $1,799
The Z Fold 4 is durable and as versatile as any foldable available right now. It is IPX8-rated so it can withstand full immersion in water. However, the “X” indicates that there is no guarantee against dust infiltration. Despite Samsung’s best efforts, long-term durability remains a question mark. This is probably a leap most people will not be able take in exchange for a $1800 phone.
Another limitation of the Z Fold 4 is the Android tablet app ecosystem. The big inner screen is not always used by apps. They are often simply scaled up phone apps and leave a lot of blank space. Samsung’s UI makes it easy to organize multiple windows and multitask. Although it can be tedious, you can make the most of the large canvas by showing multiple apps simultaneously.
The Z Fold 4 is a gadget for gadget people. There’s no guarantee it will last long, and there’s a lot of work involved. This phone is a shining example of hardware innovation. You can do things that only slab-style phones can dream of. You’ll be well-rewarded if you have the financial resources to do so.
Best small Android phone
It is not hard to imagine a phone that is small. We consider small what we call it now. But, right now, any phone with a screen less than 6.1 inches falls within this category. This is especially true in the Android ecosystem where large screens are the norm. The Asus Zenfone 9 costs $699 and has a 5.9-inch screen. This is a far smaller device than the S23 Ultra. The Zenfone 9 is a charming little device, with great build quality and thoughtful design. This is your best choice for an Android phone that’s small, but there are some important disclaimers.
It doesn’t work with Verizon’s network, not on 4G and 5G. This puts it out immediately of contention for many people in the US. Asus promises only two years of software updates. We’re already almost a year into the product’s life span since its July 2022 release. Wireless charging is also not available, which is a shame.
The Zenfone 9 has an IP68 rating, which means it can withstand splashes and dunks. The Zenfone 9 is powered by the highly-capable Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset. Its main 50-megapixel rear-facing camera uses gimbal like stabilization to produce extremely smooth video. The Zenfone 9 also features a rare headphone jack, which is a thoughtful addition by Asus.
Although there are many negative aspects to the Zenfone 9 that we cannot recommend, it is an excellent choice for small-phone enthusiasts who are on the right network.
Other Android phones worth considering
There are many other great Android phones that we didn’t cover, and some are worth mentioning that didn’t make it to the recommendation list. If you are looking for a slightly smaller Android smartphone, the Galaxy S23 Plus is a great option. Although its 6.1-inch screen does not place it in the “small phone” category, it is much more portable than the S23 models. The battery life of the S23 has also been improved, which was a weakness for the S22.
Also, is the Galaxy Z Flip 4. This is Samsung’s clamshell-style folding device. The screen folds down to a 6.7 inch inner screen. A small, 1.9-inch screen covers the exterior for notifications and heads-up information. It looks almost like a regular phone, but with a smartwatch attached to the front. Although it’s not as versatile and flexible as the Z Fold 4, it is much cheaper at $999. The Z Fold 4 has the same concerns as mine about durability, and the cover screen could have been more useful. It’s still a lot fun to use and folds down small enough that it can fit into your front pocket.
If you are a big fan of Google’s ecosystem, then The Pixel 7 Pro can be a great (and quite obvious) upgrade. Although it doesn’t have any major upgrades to the Pixel 7, it does include a 5x telephoto lens. It’s larger than the Pixel 6.3 at 6.7 inches, and has a higher refresh rate of 120Hz. The Pixel 7 is so affordable that it’s almost impossible to recommend. Most people will find all they need in the basic model.
The Google Pixel 6A is another Pixel phone you should consider. It will likely be replaced soon. This solidly midrange phone has less weatherproofing, a older-gen camera and a poor display. It’s still a great deal for a mid-tier Android phone at $449.