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The best Android phones you can buy (and how the Pixel 7a stacks up)

Want a new Android phone? We ranked top models from Samsung, OnePlus, Google, and more to round up the best Android phones money can buy.
Written by June Wan, Technology Editor on
Reviewed by Amy Lieu

When it comes to smartphones, you really only have two options: Android and iOS. While Apple's iPhone continues to reign supreme on the sales side of things, Android remains superior for its customizability, variety, and innovative features. "Samsung and Google (within the U.S., at least) have ecosystems of their own, including more support for home automation products than Apple's HomeKit," adds Avi Greengart, lead analyst at Techsponential.

Among the sea of Android manufacturers, the likes of Samsung and OnePlus have already come out of the spring season swinging, with the Galaxy S23 series and the OnePlus 11, respectively, hitting stores early on. And just recently, Google joined the fray with a couple of handsets of its own, including a new budget king and the company's first-ever foldable.

Also: All the hardware Google announced at I/O 2023 

To give you a grand scope of what your best Android options are, the expert team at ZDNET, along with a pool of industry professionals, tested and reviewed the latest devices to determine which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. You can find the list below, with hand-picked devices for virtually every consumer need.

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 for enhanced functionality
  • 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 specs: 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 | Colors: Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender | Size: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm | Weight: 234g | Starting price: $1,199

Last year's Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra took the crown for best Android phone overall, and its newly-released 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 it still works.

The device comes with arguably the best-looking display on the market with excellent brightness and a quad-camera setup on the rear that's headlined by a high-resolution 200MP camera. Plus, it still features an integrated S Pen stylus for notetaking, sketching, and more. That's only the tip of the iceberg, of course.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

There are several 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 we've tested, and a more boxy form factor that makes the phone easier to hold and write on. Unsurprisingly, all of this comes with a lofty 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
  • A smartphone that doubles as a tablet
  • Large 7.6-inch, 120Hz, OLED panel
  • S Pen support
  • Flex Mode features
  • Expensive at $1,799
  • Charging speed can be better
  • Form factor takes some getting used to
More Details

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Display size: 6.2 (outer) and 7.6 inches (inner) | Storage options: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto | Front camera: 10MP (outer) 4MP and (inner) | Colors: Graygreen, Beige, Burgundy, Phantom Black | Size: 155.1 x 67.1 x 14.2mm (folded) | Weight: 263g | Starting price: $1,799 

Foldables are inching closer and closer to mainstream acceptance, but that doesn't mean it's too early to hop on the innovation wagon. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the company's most polished 2-in-1 smartphone yet, and it's also the best one on the market, though Google's new Pixel Fold may give it a run for its money. (You can also make the argument that its Galaxy Z Flip 4 sibling is better with its smaller learning curve and practical design!)

Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

With the latest model, you'll get up to 12GB of RAM, a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor powering the system, a flexible display that can expand from 6.2 inches to 7.6 inches, and all the software perks of Android 12L. Samsung has also made some improvements to its industrial design to create a more uniform, durable, and lightweight form factor.

To summarize ZDNET's testing with the Z Fold 4, here's a quote from my full review: "The Z Fold experience is one that keeps giving, with new use cases and software tricks that unravel as you flex the device throughout your daily life." Is there a stark contrast between using a foldable and a traditional slab? Sure. But as with most technology products, it's the experience of learning how to use it that's the most powerful.

Pros & Cons
  • Compact size is refreshing to use
  • Uncompromising build quality and performance
  • Bloatware-free software
  • 3.5mm headphone jack and charger included
  • Speakers come off as tinny
  • Only two years of OS updates
More Details

Asus Zenfone 9 specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Display size: 5.9 inches | Storage options: 128GB/256GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide | Front camera: 12MP | Colors: Midnight Black, Moonlight White, Starry Blue, Sunset Red | Size: 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1mm | Weight: 169g | Starting price: $699 

Phones are getting faster and more powerful, but they're also taking up more space in our pockets. That's why the Asus Zenfone 9 shines in the sea of 2023 smartphones. The device has a relatively compact 5.9-inch display and weighs just 169 grams, but those dimensions don't hold it back from boasting flagship internals, like a 120Hz refresh rate, a capable Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, and 8GB of RAM.

Review: Asus Zenfone 9

Rarely will you see a compact phone that's not compromising on aspects like battery life and performance, but the Asus Zenfone 9 is built differently -- and for the better. I reviewed the handset back in July and found its dual camera system dependable as well, with Asus opting for just two lenses: a 50MP wide and a 12MP ultra-wide, and not overloading the back cover with unnecessary camera parts.

Pros & Cons
  • 30x Super Res Zoom is ahead of the competition
  • Android 13 is buttery smooth
  • Timely updates and support for years
  • Software tricks unique to Pixel
  • Battery life and charging speed lag behind
  • Curved display makes it difficult to find a screen protector
  • Software experience can be too minimal
More Details

Google Pixel 7 Pro specs: Processor: Google Tensor G2 | Display size: 6.7 inches | Storage options: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto | Front camera: 10.8 MP | Colors: Obsidian, Snow, Hazel | Size: 162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9mm | Weight: 212g | Starting price: $899 

The Pixel 7 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 glass-to-aluminum body and sees an updated Google Tensor G2 chip at the helm. With the new processor, the Pixel 7 Pro gets a boost in efficiency, performance, and a series of practical software features like Unblur and Guided Frame, along with last year's fan-favorite, Magic Eraser

Review: Google Pixel 7 Pro

It's this focus on "accessible creativity" that gives the Google phones a wonder that's absent from almost every other smartphone brand. I sat down with one of the company's product managers, Navin Sarma, late last year to talk about the philosophy behind the Pixel 7 Pro's camera system. The main takeaway was that Google isn't catering to a specific demographic of users with the Pixel camera. "If you have any inclination to take a picture, then this (Pixel) camera's for you," said Sarma.

To the Pixel 7 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 new 30x Super Res Zoom that can snap crisp and surprisingly detailed close-up shots, the flagship Pixel's camera system is more capable than ever before.

The $899 price tag, which undercuts Samsung and Apple's very best, is the cherry on top. 

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 specs: 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 | Colors: Titan Black and Eternal Green | Size: 163.1 x 74.1 x 8.5mm | Weight: 205g | Starting price: $699 

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. 

Review: OnePlus 11

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, told me.

The 100W charging brick (80W in the U.S.) that'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 specs: Processor: Google Tensor G2 | Display size: 6.1 inches | Storage options: 128GB | Rear cameras: 64MP main, 12MP ultrawide | Front camera: 13 MP | Colors: Charcoal, Snow, Sea, and Coral | Size: 152.4 x 72.9 x 9mm | Weight: 193g | Starting price: $499 

For a fraction of the cost of Google's Pixel Pro, the Pixel 7a gives you a near-similar smartphone experience. I've been daily-driving the mid-range Pixel over the past two weeks and continue to ask myself whether a "Pro" phone is even a necessity anymore. That's how competent this $499 handset is.

To be frank, last year's 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.

Review: Google Pixel 7a

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 its 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.

All of these improvements do come at a cost: A $50 price bump from the Pixel 6a's $449 sticker tag. But for what you're getting, the A-series remains a top pick for budget shoppers.

Pros & Cons
  • Exceptional value at $449
  • 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 feel plasticky
  • Night-time photography can use some work
More Details

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G specs: Processor: Exynos 1380 | Display size: 6.4 inches | Storage options: 128GB | Rear cameras: 50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro | Front camera: 32MP | Colors: Graphite, VIolet, Lime, and White | Size: 158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm | Weight: 202g | Starting price: $449 

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.

Review: Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

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 $449.

The camera system is more than passable, 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 specs: 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 | Colors: Storm White | Size: 173 x 77 x 10.3mm | Weight: 246g | Starting price: $999

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


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1

6.2 and 7.6 inches, 120Hz Flexible AMOLED

50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto


Asus Zenfone 9


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

5.9 inches, 120Hz AMOLED

50MP main, 12MP ultrawide


Google Pixel 7 Pro


Google Tensor G2

6.7 inches, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED

50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto


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

$1,300 (expected)

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.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

The best foldable phone on the market right now, whether you're based in the U.S. or not. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 makes subtle yet meaningful refinements to last year's model, including better camera performance and durability.

Asus Zenfone 9

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 the $699 Zenfone 9.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

A clean and minimal software experience and several Google-exclusive perks, like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur, that distinguish it from the rest of the competition.

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, researching reviewer guides and manufacturer websites, talking with colleagues, analysts, and industry experts who have hands-on experience with the handsets, and then selecting the best of the best.

Over the past year, we've tested new Android phones from Google, Samsung, OnePlus, Sony, Motorola, and several others. 

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?

While smartphones in general continue to scale up in size, there are still options aplenty if you're eyeing a compact, pocket-friendly handset. The Asus Zenfone 9, my top pick, only has a 5.9-inch display but comes equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, up to 256GB of storage, and 16GB of RAM. During my testing, I found the small-but-mighty Android to perform above standards.

The new 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 4 in hand to take photo


Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

While the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is not as flashy as the Z Fold 4, 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 $999 starting price is stellar.

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


Samsung Galaxy S23

Small phone enthusiasts, rejoice! Besides the Asus Zenfone 9, 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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