If you’re on the hunt for a new smartphone, chances are you’ve got a lot of devices on your shortlist. There are so many different options out on the market today that it can make finding the right one a bit difficult. So, let’s take a look at the best Android phones you can buy today, as of January 2019.
The best gifts for Android users
BEST ANDROID PHONES – JANUARY 2019
Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL
The best Android experience you can get, and a killer camera
Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the latest and greatest devices from the company, and they nail a lot of aspects that Google’s past Pixel devices have failed. You’ll find a Snapdragon 845 processor powering these devices, along with 4GB of RAM, 64/128GB of storage, wireless charging, and IP68 water/dust resistance. The smaller Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch AMOLED 1080p display, where the Pixel 3 XL has a 6.4-inch AMOLED 1440p notched display.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL also run Android 9 Pie out of the box without any bloat or changes. This is Android as Google intends it, and it’s lightning quick, reliable, and gets updates quickly. You’ll also get enhanced security thanks to Google’s Titan M chip within the device. Further featured are dual front-firing speakers that are loud and clear, along with a new hardware design which feels more premium than its predecessors. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the back that’s quick and reliable.
As for cameras, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL share the same 12MP rear camera, as well as two front-facing 8MP cameras, one regular and one wide-angle. Google’s reputation with smartphone cameras speaks for itself, and that’s to say that, bar none, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have the best smartphone camera on the market today.
Why they’re the best Android phones you can buy:
On the spec sheet, most Android phones are pretty much the same today, so what sets Google’s Pixel 3 family apart? It comes down to really just one thing, the experience you’re getting.
While Google’s hardware is far from perfect, the performance you’ll get from the software is one of the best you can get and unlike most other Android phones today, that software gets updated quickly and regularly. Monthly security patches arrive at the start of each and every month, and major platform updates can be had first only on a Pixel.
The cameras here also stand out from everyone else, with a shooter that manages to get a near-perfect picture every time, even in unforgiving conditions. Not to mention the tight Assistant integration, support for handy features such as wireless charging, improved haptics that outrank most other Android phones, and much more.
Where to buy Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL:
If you want to buy a Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, you’ll be looking at prices starting at $799. Add $100 for extra storage or the bigger model. Buying unlocked from the Google Store means the phone will work on any US network, but you can also pick it up directly from Verizon Wireless too in the United States.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+
The best Android phones for most people
Samsung is about as mainstream as it gets for an Android smartphone, and that’s no mistake. For years, Samsung has made some of the most popular Android phones, and at this point, they still make some of the best phones on the market. The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are prime examples of that.
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ offer a Snapdragon 845 processor (or Exynos in certain regions), between 64GB and 256GB of expandable storage, wireless charging, and IP68 water/dust resistance. Both also have 1440p OLED displays which feature thin bezels all around and no notch. Each has a fingerprint sensor and a facial recognition system for unlocking. Between the two phones, though, there are some big differences.
The Galaxy S9 is a 5.8-inch device which has a single 12MP rear camera with dual-aperture. There’s also a 3,000 mAh battery in that device, 4GB of RAM, and a smaller overall footprint.
The Galaxy S9+, on the other hand, has a 6.2-inch display, dual rear cameras with a primary 12MP dual-aperture sensor, 6GB of RAM, and a larger 3,500 mAh battery. Despite their differences, though, both are very solid phones with similar features, performance, and endurance. Oh, and they both have a headphone jack too.
Why they’re the best Android phones you can buy:
What sets Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+ apart from the competition? Put simply, it’s that there are no glaring flaws with these phones. They have killer hardware, software that offers most of the features that you’d want, the best screens on any phone today, cameras that work great, and so much more. There’s nothing really missing from these devices, just things we wish were a little better.
Sure, the camera doesn’t eclipse the Pixel, the speakers aren’t as good as others, and you might have to put up with some extra bloatware, but you’re getting 90% of the wish list with these phones. They’re pretty fantastic devices across the board and truly the best Android phones for most people.
The only glaring flaw with the Galaxy S9 family, and any Samsung phone for that matter, is software support. You’ll get updates, but only eventually. Security patches are hit or miss depending on carrier, and major platform updates are usually months behind the likes of Google.
Where to buy the Galaxy S9/S9+
A big pro of the Samsung Galaxy S9 is that, as far as flagships go, it’s one of the more affordable options. Pricing starts at $720 and goes up depending on model, but you can use carrier deals or even pick up a used device to save even more. Check out the links below for more, and follow 9to5Toys for deals on the S9 and S9+.
- Amazon (Unlocked): Galaxy S9 – Galaxy S9+
- Samsung (Unlocked)
- Verizon: Galaxy S9 – Galaxy S9+
- AT&T: Galaxy S9 – Galaxy S9+
- T-Mobile: Galaxy S9 – Galaxy S9+
All the fun of a flagship for half the cost
Most flagship phones on this list are pretty expensive. However, OnePlus has had a knack for a few years now in bringing those specs to more affordable devices. Its current OnePlus 6T continues that trend and brings a whole lot to the table.
OnePlus has a heavy focus on specifications, so let’s start there. The OnePlus 6T offers the same Snapdragon 845 as many other flagships, but it’s paired with 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of storage, and Android 9 Pie out of the box, one of the few devices even offering that OS version. It’s also got a large 6.4-inch 1080p display with a small notch up top and thin bezels all around.
The OnePlus 6T also stands out a bit with its in-display fingerprint sensor, the only mainstream device currently to offer that feature in the United States. It’s also got very quick facial recognition for unlocking as well as tons of added features thanks to the OxygenOS software layer on top of Android Pie.
You won’t get proper water resistance, a headphone jack, or wireless charging on this device, but you do get unlocked compatibility with GSM carriers as well as Verizon. There’s also a dual-camera array on the back which is pretty decent, but not as good as what you’d get from a Pixel or Samsung device.
Why it’s the best Android phone you can buy:
The biggest reason to buy a OnePlus 6T isn’t the specs or the features, it’s the value. Nowhere else can you get these specs and features in a package this inexpensive.
The OnePlus 6T costs just $549 to start. While it’s the company’s highest starting price to date for a phone, is still significantly cheaper than the competition. Even the 8GB/128GB option which T-Mobile sells is still over $100 cheaper than anything else on this list.
Not to mention that, on top of the value, you’re still getting some of the best software support in the business, one of the fastest phones, and more. It’s really a no-brainer. Unless you need the best camera and a carrier that’s not T-Mobile, the OnePlus 6T is likely the best deal you’re going to get right now.
Where to buy OnePlus 6T:
As usual, the OnePlus 6T is sold unlocked directly from the company, but you can also get it through T-Mobile. There are some special promos available through the carrier too. Further, you can buy it internationally through a variety of places including Amazon and other carriers in select countries.
OTHER EXCELLENT ANDROID SMARTPHONES
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
When you’re looking for basically every major spec and feature out there, Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup is usually the best place to turn. The current Galaxy Note 9 is the king of the hill in that department. It packs a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, microSD, IP68 water resistance, a 6.4-inch OLED display, slim bezels, a glass/metal design, and it even has a headphone jack. With the Note 9, you’re also getting wireless charging, a 4,000 mAh battery, an excellent camera and Samsung’s famous S-Pen.
The Note 9 is truly a killer package and one of the best Android phones out there today, but all that tech comes at a cost. Pricing for the Note 9 starts at $999 and jumps to $1,249 for the 512GB/8GB variant. You can read more about the Galaxy Note 9 in our full review.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
While it’s not available in the United States, it’s hard to talk about the best Android phones without mentioning the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. This device brings it all with a new design, three cameras, and in-display fingerprint sensor, a Kirin 980 processor, and so much more. As far as Note alternatives go, this is the best of the best.
We’ve got a lot more coverage of the Mate 20 Pro including a full review, but if you’re interested in buying, we’ve got links to do so. Just keep in mind that if you’re in the United States, chances are the Mate 20 Pro won’t work all that great for you.
Razer Phone 2
Love mobile games? Here’s the phone for you. The Razer Phone 2 builds on the original with a more mainstream design, some welcome upgrades, and all of the same great gaming features.
Where the original Razer Phone was a brick with gaming as its only purpose, the Razer Phone 2 brings wireless charging, water resistance, and a much brighter display that borderline makes it a device acceptable for the average person. Still, though, this is a device best suited to gamers. It packs a Snapdragon 845 with 8GB of RAM, Android 8.1 Oreo, a 120Hz refresh rate on the display, and louder speakers as well. The Razer logo on the back even has RGB lighting. Pricing starts at $799 unlocked and the Razer Phone 2 works on all GSM carriers in the US as well as Verizon.
LG G7 ThinQ & LG V40 ThinQ
LG isn’t the name it once was in the Android world, but the LG G7 ThinQ still earns a spot among the best Android phones on the market today. This device offers up a Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, Android Oreo, a metal/glass design, and a 6.1-inch notched LCD display. That display features a “Super Bright” mode which eclipses most others out there in daytime use as well.
The LG G7 ThinQ also delivers dual-cameras with a standard and super wide-angle sensor, as well as a “boombox” speaker which is louder and fuller than many others available today. LG’s software suite is on board too, but it’s slimmer this time around, and you’ll also find a 3,000 mAh battery with wireless charging to power the experience. Pricing generally falls around $750 depending on when and where you buy. Recently, prices have fallen as low as $600.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit bigger, the LG V40 ThinQ might be a good bet. This device brings the same great features that the G7 does, including that “boombox” speaker, but offers a larger 6.4-inch OLED display, 3,300 mAh battery, and adds a third camera for optical zoom. Pricing for the LG V40 ThinQ is typically around $900.
Sony Xperia XZ3
Sony isn’t a huge name in the United States, but it still makes some pretty excellent smartphones. The recent Sony Xperia XZ3 offers up a 6-inch OLED display with BRAVIA HDR, a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 3,330mAh battery, and Android Pie out of the box.
A point of interest on this device are the cameras, as it features a 19MP rear shooter which can record 4K HDR video. There’s also a 13MP front camera and front-facing speakers too. Pricing lands at $900, however.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
You should always be a bit weary when buying older devices when their successors are already out on the market, but with Google’s Pixel 2 family, there’s a few reasons why they’re still worth considering.
The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL make some huge upgrades over the Pixel 2 series, specifically in regards to the display quality and wireless charging, but last year’s crop is still solid.
The smaller Pixel 2 may have an outdated design and the Pixel 2 XL may have an admittedly poor display, but both of these phones deliver quick updates which are guaranteed through 2020, they still feature some of the best cameras out there today, and specs that still provide a smooth experience. Better yet, the Pixel 2 XL now costs $649 brand new, and you can get the smaller model used for as little as $350.