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The best Android phones (June 2021)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra screen straight on close 2

David Imel / Android Authority

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

One of the great things about the Android market is the diversity of features, prices, and even software. There are a ton of Android phones out there, but which are the best available in 2021?

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Spec sheets and feature lists aren’t always enough to get an idea of how good a phone really is. In this roundup, we’re looking at the absolute best — the Android phones of 2020 and 2021 you can’t go wrong with. We picked based on a combination of internal testing and subjective reviewing. Without further delay, here are the best Android phones!

Best Android phones:

Editor’s note: We will update this list of the best Android phones regularly as new devices launch.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series

What makes it “the best”

  • All three Galaxy S21 phones offer great performance and fantastic designs.
  • The S21 Ultra is a total powerhouse thanks to a compelling blend of features, performance, and that crazy camera system.
  • The phones are cheaper than their predecessors.

The Galaxy S21 series consists of three phones: the S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra. All three are aimed at demanding users, offering great performance and plenty of extra bells and whistles.

The S21 and S21 Plus are more or less identical. The only major differences between them are that the Plus model has a larger display (6.7-inch vs 6.2-inch), a bigger battery (4,800mAh vs 4,000mAh), and a glass back instead of a plastic one — which Samsung calls glasstic.

In terms of specs and features, both pack the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipset under the hood along with 8GB of RAM and 128/256GB of storage. They both also feature three rear cameras, wireless charging, and an IP68 rating. Neither of them has a headphone jack or a microSD card slot, though.

Read next: The Samsung Galaxy S21 might convince me to ditch OnePlus

The Ultra model offers more than its smaller brothers, sporting a 6.8-inch display with QHD resolution instead of Full HD . It has a different — better — camera system with four rear sensors. The phone also comes with a 5,000mAh battery and works with the S-Pen, which you have to buy separately.

If you want to get your hands on one of the best phones on the market, the S21 Ultra is for you. However, most demanding users will be more than happy with either the regular or the Plus model of the Galaxy S21, as they offer all the power you need and solid cameras.

Why you should buy

  • Peak performance
  • Every possible feature

Why you should pass

  • The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus “only” have Full HD screens
  • The S21 has a glasstic back

What makes it “the best”

  • The Note 20 Ultra is one of the best Android phones overall thanks to a great mix of features and performance.

Although the Galaxy S family is the most popular line of Samsung devices, the Galaxy Note line takes the power and versatility of the S line a few steps further. This is especially true with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

While both the Galaxy Note 20 and 20 Ultra are both aimed at demanding users, the Ultra model offers more. It has a larger display with a higher resolution, more RAM, a larger battery, and a big 108MP main camera sensor. It also supports expandable storage. The display on the Ultra is also the first one that’s protected with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus.

Featuring the Snapdragon 865 Plus (or the Exynos 990, depending on market), 12GB of RAM, and a 6.9-inch AMOLED panel with the Infinity-O punch hole, this is a powerful phone. On the downside, Note 20 Ultra doesn’t offer a 1TB option, but the 128GB and 512GB options should be more than enough for most, especially with the expandable storage option.

The phone is also IP68 rated and comes with the embedded S Pen stylus. The design is also pretty impressive, with a case made of both metal and glass material and a curved screen. It is a very pricey phone, but that’s expected with a handset that has pretty much all the bells and whistles.

Why you should buy

  • Exceptional performance
  • Feature-packed
  • The only phone with an S Pen

Why you should pass

  • It’s expensive
  • You aren’t going to use the S Pen
  • You’re not a fan of Samsung’s software

What makes it “the best”

  • One of the best Android camera phones thanks to a combination of great camera software and quality camera sensors.
  • It offers a great software experience, just like the rest of Pixel phones.

The Pixel line-up has been known for sporting the best specs, including the latest processor and all the features you could need. Google took a different approach with the Pixel 5 by cutting some corners and making the phone more affordable.

The most notable difference is that this phone doesn’t come with the latest and greatest Snapdragon chipset available. Instead, the search giant has opted to go with the Snapdragon 765G, which still performs very well. In our tests, we found that this chipset is comparable to the Snapdragon 845.

Other specs are as good as you would expect. You get 8GB of RAM, a large OLED display, and a nice 4,080mAh battery. You also get a fantastic camera that can capture great images in all sorts of lighting conditions. Then there’s also the software experience, which is one of the reasons people love Pixel phones.

Why you should buy

  • Exceptional camera
  • Fast Android updates
  • Clean software experience

Why you should pass

  • Lacks a telephoto sensor
  • Doesn’t come with a flagship chipset
  • Slow charging compared to rivals

What makes it “the best”

  • One of the better Android phones overall thanks to powerful hardware, solid cameras, and a long-lasting battery.
  • The quadruple-camera setup is very, very good.

The Mi 10 Pro is a flagship phone that competes with the Oppo Find X2, Huawei P40 Pro, and Samsung S21 family. It’s a heavy hitter designed to appeal to those who want the whole package: good looks and top performance.

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro sees the company focusing on four major tentpoles: the display, processor performance, battery life, and the camera. If these are the core features that might get you to part with your cash, Xiaomi has them in spades.

Xiaomi kept its design chops in check with the Mi 10 Pro, an unassuming, stealthy flagship that under promises and over-delivers. The 90Hz display, fast battery, and quad-camera array make the Mi 10 Pro a serious contender in the premium space.

This $999 flagship seemingly has it all. Moreover, everyday usability is great thanks to the comfortable hardware, and the quality is top-notch. Of course, those in the US won’t be able to officially get this phone, though it’s easy enough to find an imported version online.

Keep in mind that the Xiaomi Mi 11 has already been released, but it’s not available outside of China just yet. It will launch in Europe on February 8, so hold off on your Mi 10 Pro purchase for now. The Mi 11 offers more on paper, but we can’t fully recommend it at this point since we have not reviewed the device yet.

Why you should buy

  • Versatile cameras
  • Great battery life
  • Extremely fast charging

Why you should pass

  • Expensive
  • Limited availability
  • Software isn’t the best

What makes it “the best”

  • One of the better value Android phone series thanks to competitive price tags and a big step up in overall features and quality.

OnePlus went for broke. Rather than bring new flagship killers to market, it made a killer flagships. The OnePlus 8 Pro is a formidable handset thanks to a bevy of features. The metal-and-glass design is classy and the Snapdragon 865 processor means it have plenty of power to push through all the apps you can throw at the device.

The camera system is capable, perhaps the most capable from OnePlus to date. It’s not quite up to the level of the Google Pixel 5 series, but the camera is close to the likes of the S20 and V60. Battery life on the handset is excellent. Speaking of the battery, the OnePlus 8 Pro adopts wireless charging for the first time. Moreover, the phone is also waterproof.

These featured did, however, raise the price a bit compared to previous generations. Where the OnePlus 7T series cost in the $600 – $800 range, the OnePlus 8 Pro launched at $899. Budget flagship no more, but flagship nonetheless.

Why you should buy

  • High-end hardware
  • Improved cameras
  • Flagship features
  • Carrier availability

Why you should pass

  • More expensive than ever

What makes the Google Pixel 4a “the best”

  • This phone may be the best Pixel phone ever released, with great hardware and features for a low price.

The Google Pixel 4a may be the best all-around phone Google has released in years. It gets rid of the huge bezels found on the Pixel 3a for a nearly bezel-free 5.81-inch display. You are also getting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor, along with a boost in memory and storage, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage.

While the Pixel 4a still has the same 12.2MP rear camera and 8MP front camera that the Pixel 3a had, there are improvements in both processing and software that allow the phone to take slightly better pictures. You are also getting Android 10 out of the box, with updates for at least three more years, and a 3,140mAh battery

Best of all, the Google Pixel 4a comes with a price tag of just $350, which is $50 lower than the starting price of the 3a when it first launched. You get a terrific phone for not a lot of money with the Pixel 4a.

The Pixel 5 and 4a 5G may offer more overall, but they can’t beat the price-performance ratio you get with the Pixel 4a.

Why you should buy

  • Nearly bezel-free display
  • More RAM and storage than its predecessor
  • The camera can still take great pictures
  • Three years of OS updates
  • The price is excellent

Why you should pass

  • The processor is a bit on the lower end
  • No IP rating
  • No wireless charging

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