The best Android phones 2021

We’ve tested the best of the best Android phones and ranked them, so you can make an informed decision based on hundreds of hours of real testing.

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The best Android phones, ranked:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
  2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
  3. Google Pixel 4a 5G
  4. Vivo X60 Pro 5G
  5. ASUS Zenfone 8
  6. Oppo Find X3 Neo
  7. Samsung Galaxy S21
  8. Nokia 8.3 5G
  9. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
  10. Google Pixel 4a

How did we pick this list?

Finder's expert team has tested and reviewed every single phone featured in this guide to come up with our list of the best Android smartphones. Testing involves considering the performance, battery life, cameras, design and overall value for money.

Our editorial team selected the phones on this list based on their overall quality and value compared to other phones on the market. The selection and order is not based on review scores.

Read more detail on our methodology below.

Compare the best phones of 2021


Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Samsung's best phone is its highly affordable Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Finder Score:

★★★★★

Pros

  • Great app performance
  • Good low light camera
  • Flexible shooting for video or stills
  • Range of colour choices

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • 5G model carries a stiff price premium
  • 4G model uses a lower spec processor

Why we chose it

Samsung has newer phones than the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, but it takes our top spot because – just as it did when it was brand new – it distils the best that Samsung can do in the Android arena and gives it to you at a highly compelling price point. That's only improved as the newer Galaxy S21 and Galaxy A series have arrived, frankly.

The 5G version features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, a very capable camera and a slick 120Hz capable display at a reasonable price for a premium phone. It's worth spending extra for the 5G model even if you don't want next-gen connectivity, as the 4G variant makes do with a lower-power Exynos processor. In either case, you'll want to use that 120Hz display feature sparingly, because it can be a real battery hog.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review.


    Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

    Samsung's premium smartphone comes with all the trimmings – and most of the price

    Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

    Finder Score:

    ★★★★★

    Pros

    • Flexible and capable cameras
    • Delightful 120Hz display
    • S-Pen compatibility
    • Good battery life

    Cons

    • S-Pen isn’t standard
    • Australia gets the weaker Exynos model (again)
    • AI focus can go off-track
    • No included charger or headphones
    • No storage expansion

    Why we chose it

    It's a very close run at the top between Samsung's affordable S20 FE and the more technologically advanced Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. Certainly, if you're looking for the best of the best in regular Android handsets right now, this is our easy pick of the bunch.

    The S21 Ultra 5G is basically a Note phone thanks to its S-Pen compatibility, although annoyingly, there's no included stylus. Match that with some of the best app performance we've seen from any Android handset to date and some really impressive camera tech, and you've got a phone that almost lives up to its asking price.

    There are some other annoyances too, though. The 100x "Space Zoom" is a gimmick, and it's really not clear why it doesn't support any level of storage expansion. The Exynos-based models we see in Australia are also slower than the Qualcomm versions sold in the USA. It doesn't seem likely that Samsung's going to opt for a 2021 actual Galaxy Note refresh right now, especially as the Galaxy Z Fold3 supports the S-Pen as well. As such, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G remains Samsung's more sensible flagship – and a superb phone in its own right.

    Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G review.


      Google Pixel 4a 5G

      A great Google phone for buyers on a budget

      Google Pixel 4a 5G
      Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

      Finder Score:

      ★★★★★

      Pros

      • 5G compatibility
      • Larger display than any other 2020 Pixel
      • Easy-to-use cameras
      • Guaranteed quick Android updates

      Cons

      • 5G is only sub-6 in Australia
      • Design still feels plain
      • AI bokeh doesn't always get it right

      Why we chose it

      Google's shifted to and fro on whether the Pixel line should be premium priced or more affordable and, in 2020, it swung towards the more affordable side of the equation. Its best phone of the lot is the Google Pixel 4a 5G, thanks to its larger display, the inclusion of an actual headphone jack and that super-smart AI-led Google camera at the rear.

      However, the use of the cheaper Snapdragon 765G processor does leave its performance wanting compared to other flagships. It's not exactly a pretty phone either, and we know that the Pixel 6 family is coming soon, even though Google doesn't seem keen to launch the Pixel 5a down under.

      However, the Pixel 6 phones are expected to swing back to the premium side of the pricing fence, which may leave the Pixel 4a 5G in rather good standing.

      Read our full Google Pixel 4a 5G review.


        Vivo X60 Pro 5G

        Premium features for less

        Vivo X60 Pro 5G
        Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

        Finder Score:

        ★★★★★

        Pros

        • Great performance
        • Good cameras
        • 3 years of Android updates
        • Good price point

        Cons

        • No storage expansion
        • No wireless charging
        • No water resistance
        • Annoying camera watermark

        Why we chose it

        Vivo isn't a brand that's too well known to Australians. It's yet another make out of Chinese mega-firm BBK Electronics, owners of the Oppo, realme and OnePlus brands. The Vivo X60 Pro 5G is competitively priced for its feature set, mostly. Its Snapdragon 870 processor is fair for the price, and its gimbal stabilisation feature really does make it simple to take good photos, even if you're a novice.

        Weighing against that is the fact that this is a premium phone that skips out on a few expected premium features, such as water resistance and wireless charging. Battery life isn't spectacular, either, although that's true of many 5G handsets.

        Read our full Vivo X60 Pro 5G review.


          ASUS Zenfone 8

          ASUS's affordable and compact flagship

          ASUS Zenfone 8
          Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

          Finder Score:

          ★★★★★

          Pros

          • Snapdragon 888 at a low price
          • Small and easy to use with one hand
          • 120Hz display

          Cons

          • Lacks telephoto lens
          • No storage expansion
          • Plain design

          Why we chose it

          In the phone space, ASUS has delivered a number of surprisingly good phones under its ROG sub-brand, but for value for money, it's hard to look past the ASUS Zenfone 8. It's also one of very few compact Android phones that doesn't compromise on performance, packing in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 under its 5.9-inch Super AMOLED 120Hz display.

          That makes it a good choice for Android performance fans who hate the whole large phones/phablet trend, although there are some compromises along the way. Battery life in our tests varied a lot, and the cameras are quite plain for a flagship phone in 2021.

          Read our full ASUS Zenfone 8 review.


            Oppo Find X3 Neo 5G

            An appealing and affordable phone with good cameras

            Oppo Find X3 Neo 5G
            Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

            Finder Score:

            ★★★★★

            Pros

            • Good app performance
            • Lovely 90Hz display
            • Good overall cameras

            Cons

            • Battery life could be better
            • No water resistance
            • ColorOS wants lots of permissions

            Why we chose it

            The real flagship in the Oppo range at the time of writing is actually the Oppo Find X3 Pro.

            So why have we chosen the more affordable Find X3 Neo instead? It's partly because it is more affordable than Oppo's flagship. But it's also because you'll get more everyday use out of the Find X3 Neo's quad camera array than you will the fancy-but-not-functionally-useful microscope camera on the Find X3 Pro. The Snapdragon 870 on the Find X3 Neo isn't the fastest competitor on the block, but it's more than enough for most Android apps.

            You will have to put up with Oppo's somewhat garish ColorOS overlay on top of regular Android, as well as a lack of water resistance, which is annoying.

            Read our full Oppo Find X3 Neo review.


              Samsung Galaxy S21

              Samsung's shrunken flagship phone

              Samsung Galaxy S21
              Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

              Finder Score:

              ★★★★★

              Pros

              • Contour cut body design is really nice
              • Easy to use camera
              • Great in-display fingerprint sensor
              • Lower cost than last year’s S20

              Cons

              • Exynos model isn’t quite as snappy as the international Snapdragon models
              • No storage expansion
              • No headphones or bundled charger
              • Battery can drain fast

              Why we chose it

              Samsung's range of Android phones in Australia is very wide, which can make picking between them quite difficult. We would rate the S20 FE and S21 Ultra 5G over the Galaxy S21, but if you don't want a phone that big, this is still a very good option.

              Samsung's curved contour design really shines on the smaller Galaxy S21, making for a phone that looks really cool while also being easy to use with a single hand. The underlying Exynos 2100 processor is good for just about every Android app, although – as is almost always the case with Samsung phones – the US Qualcomm models are just that wee bit better.

              Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 review.


                Nokia 8.3 5G

                HMD Global's flagship has superb battery life

                Nokia 8.3 5G
                Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

                Finder Score:

                ★★★★★

                Pros

                • Exceptional battery life
                • Clean Android UI with guaranteed updates
                • 5G ready

                Cons

                • Cameras could be better
                • Side fingerprint sensor isn't great
                • Side Google Assistant button is awful
                • No water resistance or wireless charging

                Why we chose it

                HMD Global (the company with the rights to produce Nokia-branded phones) mostly plays in the budget and low mid-range parts of the Android ecosystem. To date, its premium phones have felt lacking, even if devices like the Nokia 9 Pureview were genuinely different.

                The Nokia 8.3 5G's calling card is its battery life, scoring the highest level of battery endurance we've seen in any Android handset to date. This is a phone that just keeps on going, and it's pleasant to use when it does, thanks to HMD's hands-off approach to Android. That also makes it easier to update, with a guaranteed 3 years of updates under the Android One banner.

                However, it's not all positives. The cameras are heavily hyped, but we found them rather lacking in our tests. Unlike many flagships, you don't get any level of IP-rated water resistance, and wireless charging is also absent.

                Read our full Nokia 8.3 5G review.


                  Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

                  Samsung's foldable is cheaper now, but it has some weird limitation

                  Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
                  Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

                  Finder Score:

                  ★★★★★

                  Pros

                  • More durable than previous generations
                  • Powerful processor
                  • 5G

                  Cons

                  • Camera quality could be better
                  • Battery life

                  Why we chose it

                  Foldable phones have commanded a price premium since their introduction, but Samsung has tried to combat that with the Galaxy Z Flip3. No, it's not a low-cost budget foldable, but it is priced substantially below the premium expected of prior foldable generations.

                  There's a lot to like about this phone, most notably the easy way you can fold it in half to make it easier to carry. The external cover display has been expanded, making it far more useful for notifications and a limited range of widgets. There's even IP-rated water resistance and a tougher internal display covering to keep it going.

                  However, its dual camera set-up feels out of place on a $1,499 phone in 2021. The folding nature of the Galaxy Z Flip3 means that the screen crease is always visible. Our biggest issue with the Galaxy Z Flip3 is its battery endurance – or, more accurately, its lack of battery endurance. It's a flagship phone that all too often fails to last a single day of regular usage, and that's not great. However, if you can live with its battery limitations, it's a fascinating device.

                  Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 review.


                    Google Pixel 4a

                    Small, low-cost and still great

                    Google Pixel 4a
                    Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

                    Finder Score:

                    ★★★★★

                    Pros

                    • Better night photography than similarly priced phones
                    • Decent storage
                    • Has a headphone jack

                    Cons

                    • Plastic body
                    • No wireless charging
                    • Average battery life

                    Why we chose it

                    The Pixel 4a has technically been superseded by the Pixel 5a, but Google doesn't seem to want to sell that phone to Australians just yet. That leaves Google's Pixel 4a as a good option if you don't need 5G or the larger display on the Pixel 4a 5G. Like all Pixels, you get the benefits of Google's computational photography for your happy snaps, as well as the assurance of the fastest Android security and full OS upgrades.

                    The big catch here is that because Google's now selling the Pixel 5a, it appears to have stopped making the Google Pixel 4a. That makes it a tough phone to track down on virtual or actual store shelves.

                    Read our full Google Pixel 4a review.


                      Why you should compare the best Android phones in Australia

                      Google's Android operating system runs more phones than any other, having entirely seen off Windows Phone and taken significant market share from Apple's iOS. It's where we see the most innovation, year in and year out – whether it's in battery capacity, new camera features or consumer-friendly ways to make each Android device your own.

                      That means it's much more than just a game of comparing specifications, especially as the vast majority of premium phones run off the same OS and mostly the same core processors. Premium Android phones bring features such as improved camera optics, wireless charging, large high-resolution displays and stylish finishes with robust glass.

                      Here at Finder, we've reviewed all of the flagship smartphones that have launched in Australia, putting them through their paces to see which is best. We've argued long and hard to create this list of 2021's best smartphones, which we update constantly.


                      Glossary: Key Android phone terms to consider

                      DisplayAMOLED displays don't need a backlight – screen pixels are actually turned off to produce blacks, which can save energy. Super AMOLED has improved visibility in direct sunlight. LCD displays use a backlight, which reduces contrast. An IPS LCD display has truer colour reproduction and looks better when you view the screen at an angle.
                      RAMRAM is your phone's short-term memory. When you use an app, instead of writing data to your phone's internal storage or SD card (long-term memory), the data is stored in the device's RAM so it can be recalled quickly and easily when it's needed. The more RAM, the better – and in the premium space, that typically means 4GB or more. When the RAM reaches capacity on an Android phone, RAM is recycled through a memory-heavy process called garbage collection.
                      MegapixelsMP is short for megapixels and is generally accepted as a guide for image quality. More megapixels doesn't mean a better-looking photo. Megapixels are about the maximum size of the image in relation to image quality. The more megapixels, the larger you can blow up your picture without it becoming distorted.
                      Sensor sizeToo many megapixels for a small image sensor will ruin the image quality.

                      Amazon prices last updated on 29 November, 2021 at 08:05 am
                      eBay prices last updated on 29 November, 2021 at 09:06 am


                      Methodology

                      150+
                      Mobile phones reviewed
                      10,000+
                      Hours spent testing
                      10
                      Best Android Phones ranked
                      • We've spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing mobile phones.
                      • Our editorial team has a combined 60+ years of experience writing about tech and reviewing the latest devices.
                      • The phones on this list are chosen by our editorial team and are not based on commercial relationships.

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