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The best Android phones that we tested this year

Eyeing a new Android phone this holiday season? We rounded up the best Android phones available, whether you're shopping on a budget, want something bold and flashy, or a device that just works.
Written by June Wan, Reviews Editor
Reviewed by Nina Raemont

It's been a year for Android, with just about every major manufacturer jumping into the foldable mix while making meaningful refinements to the models they've been building for years and years. There was a whole lot of AI embedded across devices, too, and I expect there to be more to come in 2024.

Also: The 15 best early Black Friday 2023 phone deals

That's to say I've spent the past year testing and reviewing more Android phones than I can count, including ones that have light-up back covers, ones that fold in half, and ones that can fit in the tiniest of palms. I also have experience daily driving Android phones on both ends of the budget spectrum, from the $300 Moto G Stylus 5G to the $1,799 Google Pixel Fold.

To give you a grand scope of what your best Android options are--especially as you navigate the holiday and Black Friday shopping season--I've curated the below roundup -- led by what I consider to be the top dog in 2023, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Read on to learn more, including insights from other industry experts and analysts.

The best Android phones in 2023

Pros & Cons
  • The most complete smartphone experience money can buy
  • Quad-camera setup that's flexible and reliable
  • 256GB of base storage leads the competition
  • Integrated S Pen stylus
  • Phone can be unwieldy for some, especially with a case
  • Fast charging is still capped at 45W
  • Pricier than most Android phones
More Details

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy | Display size: 6.8 inches | Storage options: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Rear cameras: 200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 10x optical, 10MP 3x optical | Front camera: 12MP

Last year's Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra took the crown for best Android phone overall, and its successor, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, is on track to earn back-to-back titles for the Korean giant in 2023. From testing, it's clear that Samsung is once again taking the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach with the new Ultra flagship -- and the strategy still works.

The device comes with arguably the best-looking display on the market, with high brightness for outdoor usage and a glass finish that's less curvy than previous years. That all contributes to a user experience that's immersive, eye-catching, and practical for various needs.

There's also a quad-camera setup on the rear that's headlined by a high-resolution 200MP camera. I'll admit that having a 200MP main lens can be excessive and almost unnecessary for some, but the added detail that's captured leads to photos that pop in color and sharpness, even in low-lit scenes. Plus, the Galaxy S23 Ultra still features an integrated S Pen stylus for note-taking, sketching, and remote camera controls, meaning you can always set the phone down, step back, and capture from a distance.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

There are some more subtle upgrades to this year's S23 Ultra, including storage configurations that start at 256GB (versus last year's 128GB), a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset that's one of the most performant mobile platforms I've tested, and a more boxy form factor that makes the phone easier to hold and write on. (Of course, you can make the argument that a bigger square is also less wieldy if you're coming from a smaller handset. I won't deny that.) 

All of this comes with what is a relatively premium price tag: $1,199 to start. But if you want the most uncompromising phone available, and our top Android pick so far, the S23 Ultra is the one to get.

Pros & Cons
  • Doubles as a tablet
  • Large 7.8-inch, 120Hz, OLED panel
  • Intuitive multitasking capabilities
  • Lightweight and comfortable design
  • No wireless charging
  • Lack of official water and dust resistance
More Details

OnePlus Open features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Display size: 6.3 (outer) and 7.8 inches (inner) | Storage options: 512GB | Rear cameras: 48MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 64MP telephoto | Front camera: 32MP (outer) 20MP and (inner)

The number of foldable phones on the market this year basically quintupled compared the 2022, thanks to the collective effort of just about every manufacturer, including Google with its Pixel Fold, Motorola with its Razr lineup, and OnePlus with the OnePlus Open. While Samsung has held the reins of the best foldable honor for years, I'm giving the top spot this year to the OnePlus Open. 

Unlike its competitors, the OnePlus Open strikes the best balance of weight-to-size ratio. When folded, the phone is as light as an iPhone, and when unfolded, it expands into a thin slate of visual goodness. OnePlus leverages the 7.8-inch display by offering some of the most intuitive multitasking features I've tested, headlined by "Open Canvas". With it, you can open up to three apps at once, and as you tap into each one, the other one or two will tuck itself to the side, ready to reappear when needed.

Review: OnePlus Open

The triple camera setup, while presented in a casing that sticks out more than I'd prefer, captures spectacular photos and videos, with an emphasis on blue and orangish hues that cinematographers and photography buffs know and love. By nature of the foldable form factor, the Open is also capable of taking hands-free selfies and group photos.

OnePlus got the fundamentals down pat with the Open, too, including 65W fast charging capabilities (with a charger in the box) that blow past Samsung and Google's foldable standards, a base configuration of 16GB RAM and 512GB storage, and a crease-less inner display. The cherry on top for me is its $1,699 price tag, with OnePlus offering $200 off when you trade in any phone in any condition.

Pros & Cons
  • Compact size is refreshing to use
  • Uncompromising build quality and performance
  • First foldable with dust resistance
  • Moderate battery life with only 30W charging
  • No telephoto camera
More Details

Motorola Razr Plus features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Display size: 3.6 inches external, 6.9 inches internal | Storage options: 256GB | Rear cameras: 12MP main, 13MP ultra-wide | Front camera: 32MP

Phones are getting faster and more powerful, but they're also taking up more space in our pockets. That's why the Motorola Razr Plus shines in the sea of 2023 smartphones. This is a clamshell-style foldable, to be clear, meaning it shape-shifts from a smaller 3.6-inch display figure to a larger 6.9-inch size when you need it. Naturally, when folded, the phone is no larger than a card slot wallet.

Despite its small stature, the Motorola Razr Plus packs a lot of features and performance. It's powered by an older Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor but is still capable of running the typical slew of apps and services like Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, games, and more. Thanks to the large external display, you can run the same programs without ever needing to flip open the phone. It feels like a two-phones-in-one device in that sense.

Review: Motorola Razr Plus (2023)

This quote from my full review sums up my main thoughts: "Razr Plus is Motorola's return to form, modernizing a classic flip phone into one of today's best foldables." While the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 remains the best in its class, the Razr Plus is just as considerable if you want a dual-screen handset for a fraction of the price.

Pros & Cons
  • 7 years of software, security, and feature updates
  • Reliable and consistent triple-camera setup
  • Slew of helpful AI features
  • A $100 price bump from the last model
  • Base storage of 128GB
  • Wired charging is just passable at 30W
More Details

Google Pixel 8 Pro features: Processor: Google Tensor G3 | Display size: 6.7 inches | Storage options: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto | Front camera: 10.8 MP

The Pixel 8 Pro is no longer the highest-tier flagship that Google offers; that would be the $1,799 Pixel Fold, but it's still the company's most refined and tested device yet. The 6.7-inch model is now fitted with a more uniform and curved glass-to-aluminum body and sees an updated Google Tensor G3 chip at the helm. With the new processor, the Pixel 7 Pro gets a boost in efficiency, performance, and a series of AI features like context-aware Call Screening responses, the ability to summarize and translate bodies of text, and even support for simultaneous voice-to-text input with multiple languages.

Review: Google Pixel 8 Pro

It's this focus on "accessible creativity" that gives the Google phone a wonder that's absent from almost every other smartphone brand. To the Pixel 8 Pro's credit, the triple camera array, paired with the company's computational chops, is what puts it ahead of the competition. From the natural-colored photo and video capture to the HDR-enhanced low-light capturing, the flagship Pixel's camera system is more capable than ever before.

And, if you're not satisfied with your shots, more AI features like Best Take, Audio Magic Eraser, and Magic Editor allow you to tweak the faces of subjects, remove distracting background noises from videos, and even change the lighting and ambiance of a photo in post. 

Pros & Cons
  • Glyph Interface is bold and practical to use
  • Nothing OS 2.0 software is bloatware free
  • All-day battery life
  • Priced well
  • Slippery without a case
  • No telephoto lens
  • No Verizon support
More Details

Nothing Phone 2 features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Display size: 6.7 inches | Storage options: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 50MP ultrawide | Front camera: 32MP

Nothing is easily the hottest Android maker in recent years, with a flashy transparent design language that tugs the heartstrings of retro-tech enthusiasts. It's also one of the few, if not only, new entrants in the smartphone market, joining the fray at a time when others have pulled out.

Fortunately, Nothing Phone 2, the company's most recent flagship handset brings the sizzle and the substance to back it up. Powering the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor with up to 12GB of RAM which, from ZDNET's testing, proved to be more than enough for Nothing's minimalist and digital wellbeing-focused software experience.

Review: Nothing Phone 2

The key selling point of the Phone 2 is what Nothing calls Glyph Interface, an assembly of LED strips on the back of the phone that blinks in unique patterns depending on incoming alerts and notifications. It's a clever way to leverage the transparent back panel and encourages users to stare at their phone screens less. Bold design philosophy, I know.

For $700, the Nothing Phone 2 undercuts most flagships on the market today while offering a reliably charming smartphone package that most design freaks and fashionistas will adore. And, if you're on the fence about Android in general because of its green-bubble inferiority, you'll be happy to know that the Nothing Phone 2, to an extent, supports iMessage exchanges.

Pros & Cons
  • Snappy and smooth performance
  • 100W fast-charging (80W in the U.S.) with charger in the box
  • Premium build quality for the price
  • Competitive main camera for photos
  • Storage and RAM configuration is limited to 128GB/256GB
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP68 rating for water and dust resistance
More Details

OnePlus 11 features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Display size: 6.7 inches | Storage options: 128GB/256GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 32MP telephoto | Front camera: 16 MP

OnePlus has had its ups and downs over the past three years, pivoting from value-driven smartphones to ultra-premium, and then back to square one with the new OnePlus 11. The phone starts at $699 and here's everything you get for the price: a large 6.7-inch AMOLED 120Hz display, a 5,000mAh battery, a triple camera setup with a competent 50MP main lens at the helm, the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, and more. Again, $699, with frequent sales that take it down to as low as $550. 

Putting the bang-for-your-buck aspect aside, the OnePlus 11 shines above the competition with its charging speed, something you'll quickly take for granted once you realize that phones don't have to be sitting by an outlet for two hours every day. "The 80W charger is a significant increase in charging speed compared to current market standards and we expect more OEMs to increase fast charging support with future devices," Maurice Klaehne, Senior Market Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, tells ZDNET.

Review: OnePlus 11

The 100W charging brick (80W in the U.S.) included in the box can take the OnePlus 11 from 0 to 50% with just a 10-minute charge, or 0 to 100% in less than 30 minutes. 

Pros & Cons
  • Smooth-looking 90Hz OLED display
  • First A-series with wireless charging
  • Reliable dual-camera system
  • Middling battery life with acceptable charging rates
  • Only one storage configuration
  • Display may not be bright enough for some
More Details

Google Pixel 7a features: Processor: Google Tensor G2 | Display size: 6.1 inches | Storage options: 128GB | Rear cameras: 64MP main, 12MP ultrawide | Front camera: 13 MP

For a fraction of the cost of Google's Pixel Pro, the Pixel 7a gives you a near-similar smartphone experience. I daily-drove the mid-range Pixel for two weeks and kept asking myself whether a "Pro" phone was even a necessity anymore. That's how competent this $499 handset is.

Review: Google Pixel 7a

To be frank, thr Pixel 6a had already set the bar for the middle market, offering essential features like an OLED display, a reliable camera system that's backed by Google's computational expertise, and a software experience that includes all the fantastic Pixel features we've come to love, like Photo Unblur and Magic Eraser.

This year, Google's taking things up a notch by adding a smoother 90Hz refresh rate display, wireless charging support (though it's capped at 7.5W), and it's signature Tensor G2 chipset for improved machine learning and overall performance. The new processor also enhances the Pixel's photo-taking capabilities, lending to better capturing of various subjects in various lighting conditions. 

That's all accented by an inclusive 13MP front-facing camera with a 95-degree field-of-view, which, from ZDNET's testing, proved to be the phone's most underrated feature.

Pros & Cons
  • Exceptional value at $350
  • Up to five years of software and security updates
  • Reliable 5,000mAh battery
  • Smooth 120Hz OLED display
  • Mid-range processor is not as performant
  • Hardware can have a plastic feel
  • Night-time photography can use some work
More Details

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G features: Processor: Exynos 1380 | Display size: 6.4 inches | Storage options: 128GB | Rear cameras: 50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro | Front camera: 32MP

Yes, the mid-range Android market has gotten so competitive that we had to nominate an alternative, too. You deserve options, so let us introduce you to the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G.

Samsung's Galaxy A series of smartphones focus on value, display quality, and battery life above all else. That's a recipe for a great handset if you can live without the flashy features found on more premium devices. And that's also compared to Google's Pixel A devices that put camera performance before other things.

Like last year's Galaxy A53, the new A54 sports a 120Hz OLED display, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage (expandable up to 1TB), and all the Samsung software fix-ins. While the improvements are minor this year -- you're looking at a more modern design that pays homage to the S-series models and an updated Exynos processor -- the A54 somehow costs the same as its predecessor at $350.

Review: Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

The camera system is solid, though I wouldn't put it above the Pixel 7a's standard. The A54 won't snap the sharpest shots in the dark, but the built-in optical image stabilization helps the 50MP camera capture images of people, animals, food, places, and more to an acceptable degree. From ZDNET's testing of the device, the image results were satisfyingly clear, with a hint of saturation that should suit most users' tastes.

Again, if your feature priority list starts with display quality, battery life, and performance, and in that order, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G is for you.

Pros & Cons
  • 6.78-inch OLED display ramps up to 165Hz
  • A whopping 6,000mAh battery
  • Included cooling fan doubles as a subwoofer
  • Software experience can feel cluttered
  • May not support your carrier network
  • Pricey when it's all been said and done
More Details

Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Display size: 6.78 inches | Storage options: 512GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 13MP ultrawide, 5MP macro | Front camera: 32MP

If there's one area that Android completely dominates iOS in, it's gaming. Whether you game on existing mobile apps or take to the cloud for streaming, Android manufacturers have spent the past decade forging a new category of gaming-tailored smartphones, and the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate may just be the best in its class. 

Here's a rundown of its key features for gaming: The phone has a 165Hz refresh rate display for buttery-smooth visuals, 16GB of RAM and the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset to power through games and background tasks, capacitive side triggers that are mappable to various in-game functions, an additional LED back panel that casts animations depending on what you're doing (it's excessive, but we're here for it,) and a 6,000mAh battery keeping the lights turned on.

Review: Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate

But perhaps the most important addition to this year's ROG Phone, and it's bizarre to think that there's more to all the madness above, is the bundled AeroActive Cooler. On the surface level, it's a cooling fan that snaps onto the back cover of the device. And when it's turned on, a small vent opens up from the phone, allowing any internal heat to ventilate out. The cooler doubles as a subwoofer for enhanced audio output and has extra buttons to give you more controls when in-game.

What is the best Android phone?

After weighing out the specs and reviewer-tested experiences, the best Android phone is currently the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It's got a beautiful AMOLED display, a powerful CPU, and a state-of-the-art camera that covers all the bases and angles. Here's how the best of the best compare to each other: 





Cameras (rear)


Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy

6.8 inches, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED

200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 10x optical, 10MP 3x optical


OnePlus Open


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

6.3 and 7.8 inches, 120Hz Flexible AMOLED

48MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 64MP telephoto


Motorola Razr Plus


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1

3.6 and 6.9 inches, 144Hz and 165Hz OLED

12MP main, 12MP ultrawide


Google Pixel 8 Pro


Google Tensor G3

6.7 inches, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED

50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto


Nothing Phone 2


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1

6.7 inches 120Hz AMOLED

50MP main, 50MP ultrawide


OnePlus 11


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

6.7 inches, 120Hz AMOLED

50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 32MP telephoto


Google Pixel 7a


Google Tensor G2

6.1 inches, 90Hz gOLED

64MP main, 12MP ultrawide


Samsung Galaxy A54 5G


Exynos 1380

6.4 inches, 120Hz OLED

50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro


Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

6.78 inches, 165Hz AMOLED

50MP main, 13MP ultrawide, 5MP macro


Which is the right Android phone for you?

All of these phones run the same base operating system, but the user interface ranges from stock Android to more elaborate options. First, you need to figure out which fits your needs best.

Camera performance across the board is solid for just about every phone on the list, but some are better than others. If you plan to capture photos as your primary function, then you should look to Google, Samsung, or even OnePlus.

If you plan to spend $1,000 or more, then you may also want your phone to last for at least a couple of years. You should consider companies with a good track record of regular updates, notably Google and Samsung.

Choose this Android phone…

If you want…

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The overall best with nearly no compromises. Buy this phone if you want a device that delivers on display and camera quality, performance, and battery life. It also comes with an S Pen stylus for precision inputs.

OnePlus Open

The best foldable phone on the market right now, whether you're based in the US or not. The OnePlus Open is built with comfortability in mind, nails the smartphone essentials, all while undercutting its competition by $100.

Motorola Razr Plus

A compact phone that doesn't compromise on performance. It's rare to find such a combination, but that's exactly what you're getting with this clamshell foldable.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A clean and minimal software experience and several Google-exclusive perks, like Audio Magic Eraser and Best Take, distinguish the Pixel 8 Pro from the rest of the competition.

Nothing Phone 2

A great-looking Android phone that puts hardware and software design first. The Nothing Phone 2 has a unique Glyph Interface feature and a relatively affordable starting price of $599. 

OnePlus 11

A phone that takes less than 30 minutes to completely top up, with other specifications that are just as capable. The best is its $699 starting price, which undercuts the industry's best.

Google Pixel 7a

Arguably the best sub-$500 phone on the market right now, with a camera system that rivals flagships and a rather comfortable form factor compared to the industry norm.

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

Another great-value Android with all the essentials, including a large 120Hz display, a 5,000mAh battery, up to five years of software updates, and MicroSD card support.

Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate

A high-performance package that comes with all the features necessary for an enjoyable gaming experience. That includes side triggers and a cooling fan add-on.

How did we choose these smartphones?

We chose these smartphones by testing the phones for weeks and months, evaluating them based on real-world applications like phone calls, messaging, web browsing, and taking way too many pictures and videos. 

ZDNET's mobile experts also liaise with industry colleagues and analysts who have hands-on experience with the handsets, sifting through the Android pile for the best of the best. Here's the breakdown of what factors we look for.

  • Display: Possibly the most overlooked feature on a smartphone, the display is what you stare at, scroll at, and interact with day in and day out. Therefore, when picking the best Android phones -- no matter the budget -- ZDNET put an emphasis on the devices with above-average panels. Ideally, a good display covers a wide color gamut, is durable, and has a high refresh rate for the smoothest visuals.
  • Performance: Most Android devices are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipsets, and we've found its more recent offerings very capable of running the daily and weekly onslaught of apps and services. When you have a task at hand, the best Android phones above are more than able to get the job done.
  • Camera quality: From group selfies to slow-motion videos, the best Android phones feature camera systems that are reliable and flexible to capture any shot you want. Naturally, an ample amount of storage size is also considered during the selection process.
  • Battery life: For how reliant we've become on smartphones, the top picks on this list are not only able to last you from morning to night but support fast charging when it's time to top up. 
  • Price: What you won't find on this list is a device that's not worth the money, or is overcharging you for the hardware-software package you're getting.

Can I use eSIM on an Android phone?

While Apple's iPhone 14 made headlines for its eSIM integration, the digital service also works -- and has been for some time -- with Android devices, including the latest Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, and OnePlus smartphone. As always, it's best practice to consult with your local carrier before converting to eSIM

What is the best small Android phone?

Besides the Motorola Razr Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a worthy runner-up, with only a 3.4-inch display when folded together, up to 512GB of storage, and a gapless hinge design. During ZDNET's testing, the small-but-mighty Android proved capable of handling apps and services typically run on larger devices.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is another great pick if you prefer a compact handset.

Are there alternative Android phones to consider?

Outside of this list of excellent options, here are worthy alternatives that will surely delight you.

Google Pixel 6a Display


Google Pixel 6a

The Pixel 6a is my sleeper pick for best value smartphone of the year, now that Google sells it for $349. It's not too bulky, has a reliable display that isn't curved, and boosts a similar camera configuration as the Pixel 6 series. 

View at Best Buy
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 in hand


Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

While the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is not as flashy as the Z Fold 5, it's argued to be the best foldable for most users. In fact, it's the model that Samsung continues to sell more of; the combination of the nostalgic clamshell form factor with a more accessible $1,000 starting price is stellar.

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Hand holding a Samsung Galaxy S23, showing the line of three cameras


Samsung Galaxy S23

Small phone enthusiasts, rejoice! Besides the Motorola Razr Plus, the latest Samsung Galaxy S23 is another Android worth considering if you're shopping for a compact handset that doesn't settle on specs. 

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