Android phones vary widely in both price and user experience, from just a couple hundred dollars to well over $1,000, and from unbelievably frustrating to unbelievably impressive.
After spending hundreds of hours testing Android smartphones, we think the Google Pixel 7—which sits in the sweet spot of competitive pricing and great hardware—is the best Android phone for most people.
It offers outstanding software and camera performance, and it costs much less than other high-end handsets. It will receive guaranteed software updates for longer than most Android phones, too.
Google’s Pixel smartphones have always offered the best Android software experience, but the Google Pixel 7 proves that Google is taking the hardware seriously, as well. It has a crisp 6.3-inch OLED screen and a solid wrap-around aluminum frame. The Pixel 7 also offers the best camera performance of any Android phone save for its sibling, the Pixel 7 Pro, and Google’s custom Tensor G2 processor holds its own against the high-end chips in other phones. In addition, the Pixel 7 is more likely to remain secure for years longer than most Android phones thanks to its five years of guaranteed monthly patches. And at $600, it costs hundreds less than other Android phones that won’t last as long or perform as well.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro is similar to the Pixel 7 but adds a larger OLED screen with a higher resolution and refresh rate, more expansive 5G support, and a 5x telephoto camera. These improvements bump the price up to $900, so the value isn’t quite as strong as with the Pixel 7. But the Pixel 7 Pro is a more capable phone with the same excellent software and five years of update support.
Google’s Pixel 7a is $50 more than last year’s Pixel 6a, but offers upgraded features that make it only a slight step down from Google’s flagship Pixel 7. The Pixel 7a is powered by Google’s latest processor and has an improved 64-megapixel camera sensor, more RAM, wireless charging, Face Unlock, and an upgraded 1080p display with a smoother 90 Hz refresh rate. The Pixel 7a has a plastic body, an aluminum frame, a dual camera setup on the rear, and the same great version of Android 13 with five years of security updates.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has the biggest, brightest screen of any smartphone you can buy, and the included S Pen can help you take notes, mark up documents, and create art in ways you can’t on any other phone. It offers the best build quality of any Android phone we’ve tested, with a custom aluminum-alloy frame that wraps around the edges and matte glass that repels fingerprints. The S23 Ultra also has the best camera hardware in a phone, including a 200-megapixel primary lens and a 10x “periscope” zoom. Its primary drawback is its high price of about $1,200. For $300 less, the Google Pixel 7 Pro is better at most things. The S23 Ultra is ideal if you demand maximum versatility from your phone, but you should buy it only on sale—we recommend purchasing when it’s closer to $1,000 or if you have an older Samsung phone to trade in.
Most good Android phones are big and heavy, but the Samsung Galaxy S23 is petite enough for those with smaller hands. The 6.1-inch OLED display looks even better than the Google Pixel 7’s screen, and the build quality is every bit as good as that of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s built to last on the software side, too, with the same five-year update commitment as on Samsung’s other flagship phones. The Galaxy S23 lacks the advanced camera array of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it still shoots better photos than anything else that isn’t a Pixel. However, the smaller size means a smaller battery—the Galaxy S23 lasts a day, but only just.