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The best Android phones: Top models from Samsung, OnePlus, and more

Want a new Android phone? ZDNET has tested the very best that money can buy and ranked the top models from Samsung, OnePlus, Google, and more.
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 (and outside the U.S., Xiaomi) 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 new year swinging, with the Galaxy S23 series and the OnePlus 11, respectively, hitting stores last month.

Also: Best Samsung phones you can buy right now

So, the expert team at ZDNET, along with a pool of industry professionals, has tested and reviewed all the latest Androids 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 ultra wide, 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 ultra wide, 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. (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 ultra wide, 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 latest flagship Pixel from Google is also its most refined and capable one 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 US) 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 ultra wide, 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 US) 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
  • Exceptional value at $449
  • Timely software updates and support for years to come
  • Best camera system in its price range
  • Mid-range processor
  • Hardware can feel plasticky
  • Selfie camera is decent at best
More Details

Google Pixel 6a specs: Processor: Google Tensor | Display Size: 6.1 inches | Storage Options: 128GB | Rear Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP ultra wide | Front Camera: 8MP | Colors: Sage, Chalk, Charcoal | Size: 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm | Weight: 178g | Starting Price: $449 

Google's Pixel 6a checks all the boxes of a competitive, mid-range smartphone. Instead of focusing on premium-grade materials and flashy features, the Pixel 6a is a simple, user-friendly device that makes you question if you've been paying too much for your smartphone. 

Review: Google Pixel 6a

For as low as $249 (with some digging), the Pixel 6a offers a useful dual 12MP camera system, with Google's Tensor chipset powering all that's within. That means you get the same software tricks as flagship Pixels, like Magic Eraser and Live Translate. If you can live with a 6.1-inch display and have a tight budget, then the Pixel 6a is the budget Android to buy.

Pros & Cons
  • 6.67-inch OLED display ramps up to 144Hz
  • 4,650mAh battery
  • Magnetic pop-up trigger buttons are beneficial for gaming
  • Software experience can feel cluttered
  • May not support your carrier network
  • Hardware design can be too jarring
More Details

Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | Display Size: 6.67 inches | Storage Options: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Rear Cameras: 108MP main, 13MP ultra wide, 5MP macro | Front Camera: 16MP | Colors: Stellar Black, Nebula White | Size: 163.9 x 76.5 x 9.5mm | Weight: 220g | Starting Price: $599

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 years forging a new category of gaming-tailored smartphones. If you want the best, check out the Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro. It's not the most expensive gaming phone on the market, and it certainly doesn't need a big price tag to do the talking.

Review: Black Shark 5 Pro

To start, the phone can be configured with up to 16GB of RAM for high-graphics gaming and enhanced app management. Then, there's the external hardware like the 144Hz refresh rate display that makes gameplay look buttery smooth, the two side trigger buttons that can retract into the phone when not in use, and RGB designs etched throughout the body of the phone -- because Xiaomi wants you to game in style.

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 ultra wide, 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 ultra wide, 10MP telephoto


Asus Zenfone 9


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

5.9 inches, 120Hz AMOLED

50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide


Google Pixel 7 Pro


Google Tensor G2

6.7 inches, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED

50MP main, 12MP ultra wide, 48MP telephoto


OnePlus 11


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

6.7 inches, 120Hz AMOLED

50MP main, 48MP ultra wide, 32MP telephoto


Google Pixel 6a


Google Tensor

6.1 inches, 60Hz OLED

12MP wide, 12MP ultra wide


Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro


Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

6.67 inches, 144Hz AMOLED

108MP main, 13MP ultra wide, 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 6a

A reliable handset that ditches flashy hardware in favor of a compact, balanced, and affordable build.

Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro

A high-performance package that comes with all the features necessary for an enjoyable gaming experience. That includes side triggers and a fast refresh rate display.

How did we choose these smartphones?

I 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, I 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.

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 7 in hand.


Google Pixel 7

The Pixel 7 is my sleeper pick for best value smartphone of the year. (That is, until the next Google A-series device or Pixel 8.) It's not too bulky, has a reliable 90Hz display that isn't curved, and boosts a similar camera configuration as the Pixel 7 Pro. Most importantly, it costs hundreds of dollars less than its larger sibling.

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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.

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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 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. Like the Ultra and Plus models, the standard Galaxy S23 boost a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip that's proven to be reliable and power efficient. The display measures just 6.1 inches.

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