Looking for the best value android phone, or the best android phone 2021? There sure are a lot of choices, but we spent over fifteen hours researching all the best budget android phone models on the market. We looked for the best google pixel phone, the best android phone camera and the best budget android phone. During our search, we narrowed down the list by looking for devices that offer excellent performance, newer Android support, of at least 8.0 Pie and above, and wide network coverage.
The top pick title goes to the Google Pixel 3a because it offers the best experience out of all budget handsets on the market. It has an excellent price, some impressive power, including 4GB of RAM, awesome cameras, and pleasant software experience. The Samsung Galaxy A70 earns an honorable mention because it’s an absolute powerhouse. It’s not the only one, however. Keep reading to learn all about our top picks.
Top 7 Best Android Phones
#1 Google Pixel 3a Android Phone
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you only consider one phone on the list it should be the Google Pixel 3a. It offers an amazing experience because it has some great hardware, but the software is top-notch — as it’s running stock Android 9.0.
Read Full Review: Google Pixel 3a Reviews
- Excellent camera & night sight
- Best in class
- Stock Android experience
- No wireless charging or NFC
The Google Pixel 3a is our top pick for Android phones because it is one of the best of the best, with an excellent camera, quality display, and plenty of power. The Pixel phones don’t just have just great hardware, they have incredible software too. They’re running stock Android 9.0 Pie with no bloatware whatsoever. Plus, Google Assistant — the company’s voice-assistant — is ingrained in just about everything. Seamlessly use your voice to search the web, send texts, place calls and much more.
The 3a model is packing a 5.6” fullscreen touchscreen display, 4GB DDR4 RAM and 64GB of storage at the lowest tier model. You also get dual-band WiFi (2.4GHz and 5GHz), and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity. A USB-C port on the bottom is available for charging, with fast charging support — a 15-minute charge will give you up to 7 hours of use. When fully charged, the 3000mAh battery should be able to last you most of the day and then some, even more, if you enable Android’s built-in power-saving mode. Plus, Android has the best software apps around.
#2 Samsung Galaxy A70 Android Phone
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you want as much power as possible at an affordable price, the Samsung Galaxy A70 will do it. You get 6GB of RAM which is pretty much unheard of for budget phones, plus 128GB of internal storage. You also get excellent cameras, a fingerprint reader, and the latest version of Android 9.0 Pie.
- Absolute performance powerhouse
- High-resolution 32MP camera
- Beautiful 6.7” Super AMOLED display
- Not stock Android
- Lots of bloatware
The Samsung Galaxy A70 is a powerhouse for the price, with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage plus microSD support (up to 512GB) and an octa-core processor — that’s eight total cores. Plus, the massive 4500mAh battery will last you for well over a day’s worth of use, or a little less with performance-heavy applications and games. The beautiful 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display houses an on-screen fingerprint reader for security. While it also sports not just one but two excellent cameras on the front and rear — both rated at 32MP.
The unlocked international version supports a wide variety of GSM bands and carriers including UMTS, HSPA+, LTE and more. That means it’s compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T, but not CDMA carriers like Verizon or Sprint. You may also want to sompliment your phone with the best smartwatch.
#3 Moto E5 Android Phone
Award: BEST BUDGET FOR USA
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s not the cheapest phone on the list, but the Moto E5 does offer the most value and it’s one of the best affordable handsets for use with US carriers. You get 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and close to a vanilla Android 8.0 Oreo experience.
Read Full Review: Moto E5 Review
- Excellent power
- 2GB of RAM
- Close to stock Android
- Only 16GB of storage, but supports microSD
- Android 8.0 Oreo (previous version)
Now owned by Lenovo, the Motorola Moto E5 saw a return to form for the phone manufacturer packing some decent hardware and features into a budget-friendly device. Even though the phone is from a year or two prior, it still deserves a spot on the list and is an excellent Android handset. It’s rocking a 5.7” HD display, powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 425 processor and 2GB of RAM. The base version has 16GB of internal storage, but there’s a MicroSD slot with support for cards up to 128GB in size. The 4000mAh battery will last all day and then some, giving you plenty of time to enjoy media, communicate with friends and family or just browse the web. The rear 8MP camera will take some decent shots, while the 5MP front-facing camera is suitable for selfies and quick shots.
The Moto E5 supports both CDMA and GSM bands, including LTE. It should work with pretty much all carrier networks including T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. Unfortunately, Sprint is not supported. You may also want to learn about the best android smartwatch.
#4 Huawei Y7 Dub-LX3 Android Phone
Award: BEST FOR GAMING
WHY WE LIKE IT: Huawei’s Y7 Dub-LX3 packs quite the punch with 3GB of RAM, an Adreno 506 GPU, and Qualcomm octa-core processor. It’s one of the best on the list for playing games, especially if you’re into newer titles like Fortnite and PUBG.
Read Full Review: Huawei Y7 Dub-LX3 Review
- Best International budget
- Excellent for gaming
- 3GB of RAM, Adreno 506 GPU
- Not stock Android
- EMUI 8.2 OS is based on Android 8 Oreo
Another budget-friendly powerhouse on the list, the Huawei Y7 Dub-LX3 is suitable for international use and supports most GSM networks around the world. A 6.26-inch “Dewdrop” display offers HD quality visuals. It’s powered by a Qualcomm 450 octa-core processor, Adreno 506 GPU, and 3GB of RAM. That’s plenty of power to enjoy most newer games like Fortnite, PUBG and more. It comes with 32GB of storage built-in, which is not bad but not amazing either. That said it does have a MicroSD slot for up to 512GB of expanded storage. The rear camera is 13MP, while the front camera is slightly higher at 16MP, and both are excellent when compared to similar budget phones.
The Y7 does not support CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint, but GSM networks — even global — are just fine. The phone works with compatible 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks flawlessly. A 4000mAh battery will offer up to a full day of use, slightly less if you’re playing games or keep the screen on continually. Don’t forget about the best cell phone cases for your new phone.
#5 BLUE Studio Mini Android Phone
Award: BEST DUAL SIM
WHY WE LIKE IT: The BLUE Studio Mini doesn’t have a lot of power, but that’s okay it’s media-friendly and offers a dual SIM for multi-network use. It’s also running the latest version of Android 9.0.
Read Full Review: BLUE Studio Min android Phone Review
- Excellent for streaming media
- Android 9.0 Pie
- Amazing price
The BLUE Studio Mini is a budget-friendly handset that was designed with multimedia in mind. We’re talking, streaming videos and content, music and more. The 5.5-inch curved glass HD display looks beautiful at just about any angle. While the ARM-Cortex A55 octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM offer some excellent performance. A 13MP rear camera and 8MP front camera offer decent capture support. The phone has 32GB of storage built-in but does include a microSD supporting up to 64GB cards. All of that is running on the latest version of Android, 9.0 Pie. Plus, the 3,000mAh battery offers about a day’s worth of use, much less if you’re doing anything performance-heavy.
The Studio Mini supports all GSM networks nationwide including AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket and MetroPCS. It’s compatible with 3G and 4G LTE networks. Unfortunately, CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint are not supported. It has a dual SIM slot, which means you can connect to multiple carriers at once, including a national and international plan. Speaking of phones, have a look at the best cell phone plans as well.
#6 ZTE Blade L8 Android Phone
Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: Sometimes you need a cheap burner phone to replace a broken one, or use temporarily. The ZTE Blade L8 is an excellent choice, as it’s cheap but still includes all the modern features of most smartphones.
Read Full Review: ZTE Blade Reviews
- Great burner for emergencies & travel
- Cheapest price
- 16GB of storage plus microSD
- Only 1GB of RAM
- Not compatible with CDMA
The ZTE Blade L8 offers some average hardware when compared to most of the other phones on the list, but it’s hard to argue with the price. Inside, you’ll find an ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The 5” touchscreen display is not the best on the market (not HD), but it’s more than suitable. An 8MP HDR-enabled rear camera takes decent shots, and a 5MP front-facing camera takes clear selfies. Plus, the 2000mAh battery will get you a half a day to full days worth of use.
The phone doesn’t support CDMA networks and only works with GSM like T-Mobile and AT&T. It supports various GSM bands including 850 to 1900 both 4G and 3G. All in, however, the ZTE Blade L8 is the cheapest phone on the entire list.
#7 CUBOT X19 Android Phone
We're sorry, this product is temporarily out of stock
Award: BEST GENERIC
WHY WE LIKE IT: CUBOT is probably a brand you haven’t heard of, so you’d be taking a chance with this one. But it’s the best generic device on the list because it has impressive hardware and is feature-rich. It’s difficult to find budget phones that offer face and fingerprint unlock.
Read Full Review: CUBOT X19
- Most feature-packed
- 4GB of RAM with 64GB internal storage
- Fingerprint and face unlock
- CUBOT not a well known brand
If you don’t mind taking a chance with an affordable yet reasonably powerful phone, you should go with the CUBOT X19. It’s a 4G-ready, Android 9.0 phone powered by a Mediatek Helio P23 octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM. It sports a 5.93-inch FHD touchscreen display, with face unlock and fingerprint unlock security technologies built-in. It also offers 64GB of internal storage, which is excellent. The 4000mAh battery should last you a full day’s worth of use. Plus, the 16MP rear-facing camera and 8MP front-facing camera will capture some beautiful shots.
The CUBOT X19 is compatible with 3G and 4G GSM band networks, but not CDMA. That means you can use the phone with AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, Metro PCS and many others. Verizon and Sprint, however, are not supported. The best android tablets are also worth a look
How We Decided
When selecting the best Android phones for our list, we looked for several major features. The first was support for one of the newer versions of Android.
Everything you’ll see here is running either Android 8.0 or above. That maximizes the compatibility with apps available on Google Play. The Google Pixel 3a offers the best software experience, hands down. It’s running a stock or vanilla version of Android 9.0 Pie, the latest available.
The phones we chose have screens that are at least 5-inches or more. Most feature an HD quality display, with the exception of the ZTE Blade L8 which is rocking a 480 x 960 pixel resolution. While not HD, it does offer a decent experience for the smaller 5-inch display size. The rest of the phones have excellent screens, with the Samsung Galaxy A70 AMOLED rated as one of the best. We are always looking for the best smartphone and the best unlocked smartphone.
Next, we looked for devices — albeit budget-friendly — that offered some excellent performance. Most handsets on the list offer 2GB of RAM or more, which is necessary for running multiple apps and tasks at a time.
Also, many of the handsets offer quad to octa-core processors, which is plenty of power for common tasks. The exception is the ZTE Blade L8 with only 1GB of RAM, but it also has the cheapest price tag of the lot. The best are the Samsung Galaxy A70 and the Huawei Y7 Dub-LX3.
For battery life, we accepted no less than a day’s worth of use on a single charge. Of course, if you have performance heavy applications or games open, the battery won’t last as long so keep that in mind. But when you need them to, these phones will definitely make it through most of the day.
Finally, we looked at mobile connectivity or network coverage. Every phone on the list supports GSM band networks, at speeds of 4G and above. If you need something that supports CDMA — like Verizon and Sprint networks — the Moto E5 is your best bet.
Product Category Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Android Version
The latest version of Android is 9.0 Pie, and Android 10 will be arriving soon. You’ll want something as close to the latest version as possible. The older versions of the OS will eventually lose access to most newer apps and games. The sweet spot right now is Android 8.0 or above. Anything below that and you’re going to start running into some compatibility issues. Be sure any phone you buy in 2021 is either sporting Android 8.0 or above or has an OS that’s based on that version.
You might not think so because these are phones, but once you dive in and start using the camera on a smartphone there’s no going back. It’s super convenient too because you always have a smartphone on you, allowing you to capture some excellent photos. When looking at phones, you want to make sure the camera is passable, at the very least. Something like the Google Pixel 3a, however, has an amazing camera with night sight for low light conditions and HDR+ support. If you select a phone with a poor quality camera you’ll soon find yourself regretting it, especially if you have kids, pets or love engaging with social media.
- RAM Capacity and Speed
When measuring the true performance power of a phone, a lot of people make the mistake of looking at just the processor. While the CPU does handle a majority of the processing power, it’s the RAM capacity and speed that determines the usability of today’s phones. With higher capacity, phones can handle more apps and tasks at once with limited slowdown. With the newest and higher speeds, that performance is boosted even more. You should be looking for 1GB minimum, but 2 or more is ideal. As for the DDR speed, the higher the number the newer the RAM. 1GB of DDR4 RAM is going to be superior to 1GB of DDR3. But if you’re talking about capacity, 2GB of DDR3 is going to be better than 1GB of DDR4. More capacity tends to trump speed.
- Battery Life
With most phones, you’ll get nearly a full day’s worth of use on a single charge. For more performance heavy applications and games, however, the battery will deplete a lot faster. It’s something to keep in mind when looking for a phone, as you should always consider how you’ll be using it. If gaming is your forte, for example, you’ll want to find something with a higher capacity battery like Samsung’s Galaxy A70 Android Phone which has a 4,500mAh battery.
- Display Type (and Viewing Angle)
All the phones on the list feature a touchscreen display, so that’s not necessarily something you have to worry about. However, the display type will determine the brightness level and visual quality of what you’re seeing on-screen. If you plan to watch streaming media in HD, you’ll want to select a phone that’s using a superior display resolution. The Google Pixel 3a has an excellent quality display, but the brightness levels will never quite reach those of the Samsung Galaxy A70. That’s because Samsung’s AMOLED display tends to have much higher brightness levels to begin with, alongside more vivid colors. They can also seem oversaturated to some, in which case the Pixel 3a display might be the better choice.
You may also want to check out the best Android tablets.
Best Android Phones FAQs
What Is the Best Android Phone 2021?
The best phone for you is always going to be subjective, depending mostly on why and how you will be using the device. In general, you should be looking at the top pick on our list, the Google Pixel 3a, as well as the honorable mention, the Samsung Galaxy A70. You can’t go wrong with any of the others, either.
What Phone Should I Get for 2021?
If you want to be sure you get the absolute best experience from both the hardware and software side of the mobile world, you should go with the top pick, the Google Pixel 3a. It offers a reasonable amount of power for an affordable price, but the software experience is unrivaled.
What was the Best Android Phone?
Looking back, it’s important to remember that the phones launched in previous years were less powerful and the stakes were a lot lower in regards to performance. If we had to choose the best for the whole year, however, we’d say the Google Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL take the title.
Is Samsung Releasing a New Phone In 2021?
While kind of a silly question, because Samsung is constantly releasing new handsets, it’s valid. Yes, Samsung will be launching many new phones in 2021. It has already launched a flagship for the year, the Galaxy S20 series. We can’t say for certain if Samsung will be launching another budget-friendly device like the Galaxy A70 that made our list, but the chances are quite high.
If you are looking for the best Android phone, you owe it to yourself to stop by Gadget Review and check out our Android phone reviews. The top Android phones are constantly changing based on the latest versions of Android and what major brands like Samsung and LG are currently offering. Android phones are available from all major carries, including Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and others, so we'll give you advice and comparisons of the different carriers and if there are any major differences that you should know. When looking for Android phones, you'll probably also want to know what phones are equipped with the latest version, and which are only compatible with early versions of Android – along with what versions of Android will be available far beyond Lollipop. Gadget Review's news and analysis will keep you ahead of the curve and informed on all the latest Android news when it comes to these important changes.