Choosing the best Android phone for you is a big decision. The Android universe teems with options, from superexpensive flagship phones to more affordable models that make a few calculated compromises, to models expressly designed for, say, great photography.
Chances are that whichever phone you buy, you’ll keep it for at least two years. So we’ve made picks for the best Android phone in categories spanning a variety of needs. Check out our summary list below, or keep reading for the details on each one. At the bottom of this article, we also list all our recent Android phone reviews—in case you have your eye on a model that didn’t make our cut.
Here are the latest stories:
Okay, wow: On October 2 Microsoft revealed the Surface Duo, a dual-display phone running a special version of Android. It’s already intriguing for avoiding the folding challenges of rival Samsung, yet seeming very flexible in how images move from one screen to the other. It won’t be out for another year, so we have plenty of Surface Duo questions to consider in the meantime. You have to see it, so here’s a photo.
Huawei has taken the wraps off the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro and it has everything you could possibly want in a late-2019 handset: all-screen industrial design, giant displays, huge batteries, and 5G. Thanks to the United States’ blacklisting of Huawei, however, these phones are missing one important thing: Google.
Android 10 is on its way, and we already have handy how-to’s for the best new features and the most important things to do first.
How we test Android phones
First and foremost, we spend at least several days with the phone under review, treating it as if it were our one and only. No number of lab tests or benchmarks will tell you as much about a phone as living with it for awhile. We’re concerned with real-world performance, stability, interface usability, camera quality, and whether proprietary features are useful or cumbersome. We use social media, check email, play games, take photos and videos in a variety of conditions, navigate around town, and do all the things most people do with their phones.
Of course, we also run extensive benchmarks: 3DMark (both Ice Storm Unlimited and Sling Shot), PCMark, GFXBench, AnTuTu, Geekbench, and Vellamo. We run all our tests with the phone set up the way it would be out of the box, without disabling any pre-installed apps or services. We do, however, make efforts to ensure benchmarks are not interrupted by notifications, and that background downloads aren’t taking place. We may not report results from all of these tests (real-world everyday performance is far more important than benchmarks), but we do share the most interesting results.
Before running each benchmark, we make sure the phone is charged to 100 percent, plugged in, and left to cool off. Phones can sometimes run slower as their batteries get low, and charging the phone can make it hot and cause the SoC to slow down. So we do our best to make sure every test starts with the phone topped off and at room temperature.
When we run battery benchmarks (PCMark and Geekbench), we calibrate the display to 200 nits and disable all auto-brightness and screen-dimming features. Display brightness plays a major role in draining your battery, and we want to create a level playing field. Of course, we also keep a close eye on how long the battery lasts in our everyday use, including screen-on time, standby time, and even how fast the battery charges with the included charger.
Android phone reviews
Is there a phone you’re interested in, but don’t see it recommended as one of our top picks? That’s fine—different users have different needs and preferences. Maybe another model is the best one for you. Take a look at our latest top reviews to see what else is out there.
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