While Apple aims to give you a similar experience across its devices, Android embraces variety and offers phones from different manufacturers. The result is plenty of distinct personalities and features to pick between.
That means personal brand preference plays a big part, aside from the core Android experience. Pricing is hugely competitive, too, which presents you with a lot of choices.
We're continuously reviewing all the top options, so here's our rundown of the very best Android phones you can buy - and the reasons why they deserve your attention.
For those who need a bit more advice when narrowing down their choice, also check out the FAQs section below our picks.
Best Android phones in 2022
Best Android phones: Our top pick
Google Pixel 6 Pro
- Top notch camera performance
- Proper Android 12 experience
- Stylish design
- No headphone socket
- Charging could be faster
The Pixel 6 Pro is Google's most high performing smartphone to date. It's got a top tier camera system paired with fantastic software, and is plenty speedy thanks to the new Tensor chip at its core.
As with all Google smartphones, you get a pure Android experience and a reliable timeline for future updates.
Possibly the most impressive thing is the pricing. While it can go head-to-head with the top dogs on performance, it does so at a significantly lower price.
Android phones we also recommend
While the Google Pixel 6 Pro is at the top of our list, we know it won't be the right phone for everyone. We all look for different things in a smartphone. Maybe you need top gaming performance, or maybe your top priority is camera quality. With that in mind, we've also selected the following devices for you to consider.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
- Bright, punchy screen with adaptive refresh
- Integrated S Pen stylus is great
- Great camera performance
- Software not exactly bug-free
- Battery life should be stronger
There aren't many handsets on the market with the S22's unique combination of all the top features and specifications. Plus, with the addition of the S Pen this year, it takes over the position once held by the Note series.
It's got one of the best displays we've ever seen on a smartphone, and it's packed into a really neatly designed - albeit quite large - body. There's something quite unique about the squared corner, flat top and bottom edge combined with the rounded sides. It's distinctive, and the camera design is fantastic too.
It does everything you'd expect from an ultra-premium flagship. It is - however - a little on the expensive side, plus its battery doesn't perform as well under load as you'd hope from the supposed 'king of the smartphones.
Oppo Find X5 Pro
- Stunning design
- Great display
- Battery life is market-leading
- Slippery and attracts fingerprints easily
- Ultrawide camera is inconsistent
We love Oppo's approach to the ultra-premium tier, offering a design that sets it apart from everyone else.
Not only does it ditch glass in favour of the harder, more durable ceramic, but has made the rear of the phone completely seamless. It's moulded and compressed into one surface, including the camera protrusion that ramps up from the back.
Add to that a stunning display, fantastic battery life and strong cameras, and you have one of the best phones on the market. Plus, it comes equipped with fast wired and wireless charging.
There are some question marks over the software still, but - on the whole - it's a phone we think will make anyone looking for a top flagship really happy.
OnePlus 10 Pro
- Great price for a premium phone
- Fast and responsive performance
- Sharp, bright display with adaptive refresh
- Battery life could be better
- Camera performance could improve
Now that OnePlus and Oppo are officially the same company, the OnePlus 10 Pro is a sort-of Oppo Find X5 Pro 'lite'. It offers many of the same features, and even very similar software, but it costs less.
With its QuadHD+ resolution display - complete with 120Hz adaptive refresh and great adaptive brightness - it has one of the best displays on the market. And with OnePlus' focus on delivering a fast and smooth experience, it's really speedy and responsive too.
We were surprise the battery life wasn't as strong as the Find X5 Pro, and the cameras aren't quite as good, but it's still a very complete all-round device and one that comes with the guarantee of software support for the next 4 years.
- Superb fast charging
- Impressive performance
- Finally added wireless charging
- Plastic frame
- Wireless charging is only 15W
The OnePlus 9 is our pick because it offers a great experience at a really affordable price. Now that it's not the current generation anymore, and it's been discounted since launch, you can pick one up at a very competitive price.
It offers great performance, that light-touch OxygenOS software treatment, really fast charging and a great 120Hz display - with a few corners cut on the build quality to hit a more affordable price point.
Oppo Find X5
- Lovely design and shape
- Bright and vibrant display
- Strong battery performance
- Fast charging (adapter included)
- Snapdragon 888 is previous gen hardware
- Display/bezel design is a little dated
The Oppo Find X5 is perhaps one of those phones were looking at the numbers on the spec sheet may not be the best way to judge the phone. Because while it 'only' has a fullHD+ display and uses an 'old' Snapdragon 888 processor, the overall experience is a good one.
The shaping and finish of the glass on the back is soft, comfortable and doesn't attract fingerprints. The cameras are strong performers in good daylight, the display is bright and vibrant, and the overall feel is of a smooth, responsive phone that can cope with anything.
If you can live without some of the luxuries offered by the Find X5 Pro, the regular Find X5 is definitely worth considering.
Other products we considered
When trying to figure out what we believe to be the best Android phones currently available, we spent hours testing real-world performance, battery life and gaming; as well as getting out in the streets and snapping pictures. Then, we go over the results with a fine-tooth comb. We consider a range of factors when it comes to recommending devices - and also when a new device enters our top five selections. This isn't just our own testing, either, with consumer reviews, brand quality and value all taken into account, as well.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.
- Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
- Google Pixel 4A 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
- OnePlus Nord 2
- Sony Xperia 5 II
- Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
How to choose the right Android phone
There's a lot more to choosing an Android phone than there is to choosing an iPhone: Apple's divisions are mostly around size, with all models offering a similar experience and few unique features.
Android phones are entirely different: there are many manufacturers, some well known and some more niche, there is a wide range of prices, designs, features - including phones with some specificity, like gaming phones, for example.
Stock Android vs. 'skinned' devices
One of the considerations is how close to stock Android you want your phone to be. While all Android voices have the same underlying experience, the alterations that the manufacturer makes can bring character, it can also bring duplication and bloat.
Google offers its own phones - the Pixel phones - while only a few offer a "pure" experience. Those phones running Android One are as close to stock as you'll get - included those from Nokia and a couple from other manufacturers, although they are rare.
Motorola also offers a near-stock experience on its devices, although Lenovo offers a completely different experience (Lenovo owns Motorola).
Brands have generally been drifting towards Google in the last few years: there's wider use of Google's stock apps instead of duplicated alternatives, as well as the use of features like Google Discover on the home screen to enhance the experience.
The skin and the manufacturer will define the experience, with OnePlus often regarded as light touch and well optimised, through to Samsung's highly evolved reworking that's packed with features. Brands like Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi (and formerly Huawei) are often seen as slightly less advanced with software - but often offer better value for money.
Android phones cover all aspects of hardware, but there are really two areas that get the most discussion: flagship and not a flagship.
This gap has narrowed recently, with mid-range devices offering an experience closer to a flagship, meaning the many day-to-day experiences are just as good on an affordable device as they are on a flagship phone.
Qualcomm dominates these devices, with Snapdragon 800 series at the top level and 700 series in a tier just beneath this. We're now seeing new versions of 800-series hardware reappearing for newer devices as a sub-flagship - while some devices will use slightly older hardware to make them better value for money.
Samsung is the big outsider here, often using its own Exynos hardware, but often have a mixture of Qualcomm and Exynos too. Huawei also used its own Kirin hardware, although generally, as it can't use Google, it's not considered as an Android phone in the same sense.
There are many budget Android phones, some with lower grade Qualcomm hardware, some using MediaTek to bring the price down further.
RAM runs to the ridiculous - up to 18GB on some gaming devices, while storage matches the pricing, with microSD expansion included on some devices - but not all.
Display dictates the size
One of the big decisions is choosing the size of the device. Smaller devices will fit your hand better, larger devices give a more immersive media and gaming experience - but can draw more power.
High-quality displays that were once the preserve of flagship devices are now common in the more affordable devices, where you can get an AMOLED display without paying top prices. Samsung Display is often considered the market leader, with many brands declaring a Samsung display to convince you to buy.
Refresh rate is the latest battleground, from the typical 60 frames a second to 144fps on some gaming phones. Many phones are settling around 90 or 120Hz, with lower refresh rates now being reserved for lower-positioned devices.
Curves are common, although they are slowly becoming the preserve of flagship phones, with some offering a flat display in a "normal" device and curved in a "pro" device. Although curved looks nice, some might find the touch response across the panel better from a flat device.
The camera is the most often talked about aspect of a modern smartphone and there's no end of comparison between different devices, all claiming to be the best.
The most important thing is having the main camera that will take a good photo in all conditions - that's the one you'll use the most, so that's the one that needs to work. There's a lot of overselling: high resolutions, supporting sensors, fancy functions. The most important thing is point and shoot performance - which is why the Pixel phones often do so well.
Camera performance is a big differentiator too, with flagship phones having better-performing cameras and mid-range devices often having secondary or tertiary sensors that aren't good quality or not really needed.
Pick the phone that's right for you
The best thing about Android is that Google underpins the same thing, so you can move from one brand to the next and almost immediately you know where things are, you can have seamless access to your emails and contacts but still have plenty to choose from.
Picking a phone that fits your budget is important, but also consider that you might not need all those flagship features. If you just use your phone for messaging and browsing social media, do you need four cameras on the back and all the power in the world?
If you spend your whole time gaming, is a gaming phone better for you?
The best phone is going to be the phone that fits your requirements the best - and while we test and evaluate all the Android phones we recommend, you have to make the decision and the phone that's right for you.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
A phone is something you use all day, every day, so we've used all the options on this list extensively to see how they hold up in the real world. We've tested battery life, gaming performance, connectivity, camera performance and everything else you could possibly need to know. Then we've given you all the data you need to help with your buying decisions.
As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each product is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity. Rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested.