9 Best Android Phones (Unlocked, Cheap): Our 2021 Picks
We tested a ton of Android phones. We like the following, but you’re better off with a taller option. If you haven’t already, check out ours Most Cheap Phones guide for multiple options.
The Sony Xperia 1 III costs $ 1,298: Sony’s latest Xperia is great for anyone who likes to tinker with camera app settings, or prefers to shoot photos or videos in manual mode. The camera experience was enjoyable, but it still didn’t deliver results that were much better than some of our top picks at the top. You get the best performance, a beautiful 4K OLED 120-Hz screen, powerful stereo speakers, wireless charging, and a headphone jack! It’s just too expensive. And the 5G here is just a sub-6, which wouldn’t have cost a $ 1,300 phone (5G also doesn’t work with AT&T).
ZTE Axon 30 Ultra at $ 749: ZTE fell off the map for a while because it was banned violated U.S. sanctions. But the ban was lifted, and the company finally changed the phone. The Axon 30 Ultra is a surprise in price. You get a powerful Snapdragon 888 chip inside, a full day of battery life, and a 144-Hz OLED screen. I found the triple-camera array to take decent photos, but it didn’t come close to the very best. ZTE just said it will upgrade to Android 12, which has almost 3 years of security updates. It won’t work with Verizon.
Asus Zenfone 8 at $ 630: If you’re following the smallest, most powerful phone around, then don’t look for anything else the Zenfone 8. The 5.9-inch screen is a bit next to most mainstream phones-and it is a flagship, thanks to the Snapdragon 888 inside. You also get a 120-Hz AMOLED screen, a headphone jack, and a full day of battery life. It won’t work on Verizon, though, and the camera system is OK. Amua the review has many details.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G costs $ 500: It’s not the most interesting phone, but the A52 5G (7/10, Recommended WIRED) reliable. It will get three OS upgrades and also four years of security updates. Amua the review has many details.
The Motorola One 5G Ace costs $ 350: Motorola phones have some of the best battery life around, and the Ace takes the cake at this price. It outperforms competition like the Pixel 4A and Nord N10 with two days of battery life, and you get better performance, 5G connectivity, NFC for contactless charges (rarely on a cheap Moto), add multiple 1080p displays. Not surprisingly, the cameras suffer from low light. the Moto G Stylus 5G also an equally good option if you want a stylus, but it doesn’t have NFC.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra at $ 950 ($ 1,050 to Samsung): This phone (8/10, Recommended WIRED) remains one of the largest Android phones around with a ginormous 6.9-inch screen, but it’s also ra high-end phone with Bluetooth stylus. Take the ballpoint pen out from the bottom and you can use it to take notes, draw, take remote photos, and more. It also has a beautiful AMOLED screen with a fast 120-Hz refresh rate, powerful performance, more than a full day of battery life, and three great cameras in the back. This is the phone for power users, and it’s expensive. Samsung didn’t release a new version until 2021, and the Galaxy Z Fold3 is high doeth working with a stylus; it just doesn’t have a storage area.