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Best Android phones you can buy in 2021

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Best Android phones you can buy in 2021

New Android phones come out all the time, and now that it’s fall, we’re expecting even more handsets from Samsung, Google, and other phone makers using Android 11 or Android 12. Features like fast 5G connectivity, vivid Super AMOLED displays and 120Hz refresh rate screens are now commonplace on the high end, and those with even deeper pockets can access futuristic, cutting-edge tech like foldable displays

Lots of solid Android phone choices are available at a variety of prices, ranging from budget Android phones to high-end flagship phones. We took a close look at them all and rounded up our favorites. These phones all have generally great cameras, screens, battery life or all of the above. We also considered features such as 5G and wireless charging. Read on to see our top picks for the best Android phones and check out our tips on how to buy a new phone, too. We’ll update this list periodically as we review new products.

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As Samsung’s elite flagship phone for 2021, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features a brilliant 6.8-inch AMOLED display with an ultrasmooth 120Hz refresh rate that also supports Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, an awesome rear camera with incredible zoom skills and 5G connectivity for super speedy data. This is the best in mobile technology that Samsung has to offer, and it’s the Android phone to go for if you’re keen to put cutting-edge tech in your pocket.

Read our Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G review.

Best Android phone for affordable 5G

Google Pixel 5A 5G

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The Pixel 6 is expected to arrive this fall, but if you want 5G on the cheap right now, the Pixel 5A 5G is a solid choice. This Pixel phone has good battery life and great rear cameras, and at $449 it’s one of the best, cheapest ways of getting 5G.

Read our Google Pixel 5A review.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

While OnePlus isn’t as well-known as Apple or Samsung, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro offer a premium experience at a relatively more affordable budget phone price than rivals. Both phones are 5G-enabled, run the most powerful Qualcomm processor and have multilens cameras. The OnePlus 9 is our favorite of the two, with all of the features we love from the series but at the more affordable price and with better battery life. It’s a solid option if the lofty prices of the Galaxy S21 Ultra are out of your reach.

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Juan Garzon/CNET

Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE packs much of what we’ve come to expect from its premium S range of phones, including multiple rear cameras, great performance and 5G connectivity, but wrapped it in cheaper materials and brought the price down to a more affordable phone. This Android phone won a coveted CNET Editors’ Choice award, and it’s the cell phone to go for if you want a great Samsung phone but don’t want to empty your bank account to get it.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition review.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Foldable phones haven’t really hit the mainstream, remaining instead only in the reach of those willing to spend top dollar on the latest in mobile innovation. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best folding phone around, offering top-notch performance, a great camera setup and a variety of tweaks to its folding technology that make this Android smartphone more desirable than its predecessor.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Motorola Edge Plus has pretty much everything you’d hope for in a premium 5G phone: A Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, a giant battery, an OLED screen with a high refresh rate, and multiple rear cameras with heavy-duty specs. Motorola took features found on other top-of-the-line Android phones, put its own Moto spin on them and built them all into one of our favorite Android phones of the year.

Read our Motorola Edge Plus review.

Discover the latest news and best reviews in smartphones and carriers from CNET’s mobile experts.

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