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The best Android phones in 2024, from flagships to budget-friendly models

Android offers a far wider range of options when it comes to choosing your next phone

Steve Hogarty
Monday 08 April 2024 17:33 BST
Ready to leave the iPhone behind? Android phones come in a much wider range of colours, shapes and sizes, to suit all tastes
Ready to leave the iPhone behind? Android phones come in a much wider range of colours, shapes and sizes, to suit all tastes (The Independent)

Apple might still be the dominant player by far when it comes to mobile phones in Western markets but the best Android phones offer a serious alternative to buying an iPhone in 2024.

Built around the Google developed mobile operating system, Android phones come in a much wider range of shapes, sizes, form factors, and prices than the current market leader.

You can find a superfast iPhone killer such as the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. You can choose a fully Google-integrated phone such as the Pixel 8 Pro. There are phones that fold in half, phones for less than £200, and weird, flashy phones, such as the Nothing phone (2).

Choice is the biggest benefit when opting for an Android phone, and the best Android phone for you is the one that has exactly the features you want. Whether you’re after a phone with a built-in stylus, one with a cutting-edge camera, or one that won’t break the bank, you’re likely to find something that ticks every box.

How we tested the best Android phones

We test all of the most popular new phones here at IndyBest, primarily by swapping them out for our everyday devices and using them as we usually would, paying close attention to how they coped with basic tasks such as messaging, listening to music and podcasts, and scrolling through social media feeds.

A selection of the phones we tested (Steve Hogarty)

We also put them through more rigorous testing processes, using the camera in challenging lighting conditions, running YouTube videos around the clock to track battery performance, and running high-performance apps and benchmarking tools to stress the CPU and test for slowdown and lagginess.

The best Android phones for 2024 are:

  • Best Android phone overall – Google Pixel 8 Pro: £849, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best budget Android phone – Samsung Galaxy A25: £249, Johnlewis.com
  • Best Android phone for photography – Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: £1,349, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best Android phone for style – Nothing phone (2): £519, Amazon.co.uk

Google Pixel 8 Pro

pixel 8 pro with best buy logo
  • Best: Android phone overall
  • Size: 162.6mm x 76.5mm x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 213g
  • Display: 6.7in OLED, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP main, 48MP ultra-wide, 48MP telephoto
  • Selfie camera: 10.5MP
  • Storage: 128GB to 1TB
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Why we love it
    • AI capabilities are truly impressive
    • Excellent cameras
    • Professional camera controls
    • Sleek new flat-screen design looks great
    • Seven years of software support

The best phone Google makes, the Pixel 8 Pro is £300 more expensive than the regular Pixel 8 and has a larger and brighter 6.7in OLED screen, additional camera controls, 50 per cent more RAM, a better main lens and a 5x telephoto lens. The display can reach a whopping 2,400 nits peak brightness, which is brighter than the iPhone 15 Pro.

The Pixel 8 Pro features all-new camera hardware. As well as the 50MP main lens it shares with the regular Pixel 8, it gets a new 48MP ultra-wide lens capable of taking macro shots from less than 2cm away from your subject. A third 48MP telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom promises better zoomed-in shots in low-light conditions, too. Pro camera controls let you tweak things such as ISO and shutter speed manually, and the pro exclusive video boost enhances low-light video with cinema-quality post-processing effects.

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Samsung Galaxy A25

Samsung Galaxy A25 5G
  • Best: Budget Android phone
  • Size: 161mm x 76.5mm x 8.3mm
  • Weight: 197g
  • Screen: 6.5in AMOLED, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP wide, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
  • Selfie camera: 13MP
  • Storage: 128GB
  • RAM: 6GB/8GB
  • Why we love it
    • 120Hz AMOLED display
    • Great cameras
    • Samsung’s OS is better than most at this price
    • Takes microSD cards for more storage

The very latest in Samsung’s A-series of budget-friendly phones, the Galaxy A25 launched in December 2023 and is easily one of the best cheap Android phones for less than £250.

A solid little performer, it packs in a 120Hz AMOLED display, 5G connectivity, a decent triple-lens camera, Samsung’s excellent One UI operating system and a long-lasting 5000mAh battery.

The 128GB capacity of the base model means on-device storage could be tight, particularly if you plan on shooting 4K video, but it’s a happy compromise to get the price this low. Plus, unlike even top-of-the-range phones, you can pop a microSD card into the Galaxy A25 for up to 1TB of extra storage.

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Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 in sandstone orange
  • Best: Affordable flagship Samsung phone
  • Size: 147mm x 70.6mm x 7.6mm
  • Weight: 167g
  • Screen: 6.2in AMOLED
  • Cameras: 50MP wide, 10MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide
  • Selfie: 12MP
  • Storage: 128GB to 512GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Why we love it
    • Great display
    • Long-lasting battery life
  • Take note
    • Low storage capacity in cheapest mode

If you want the latest Samsung Galaxy features but don’t want to shell out £1,249 for the all-singing S24 Ultra, we’d recommend the baseline S24 model. It features the same build quality and AI-powered tools in a device costing hundreds of pounds less.

Neither the S24 nor S24 plus is compatible with the S-Pen stylus but, make no mistake, this is still a premium Android phone on par with the iPhone 15 and Google Pixel 8. It features a bright and colourful AMOLED display and a dynamic refresh rate that reaches a butter-smooth 120Hz. The S24 has a camera that effectively matches the S24 Ultra when it comes to daytime and portrait photography too, albeit with a shorter-range telephoto lens with three times optical zoom.

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 with 100GB data: £26.99 per month, £99 up front, Mobiles.co.uk
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Google Pixel 7a

best phones review 2024 indybest  Google Pixel 7a
  • Best: Cheap Pixel phone
  • Size: 72.9mm x 152.4mm x 9mm
  • Weight: 193g
  • Display: 6.1in OLED, 90Hz
  • Cameras: 64MP main, 13MP ultrawide
  • Selfie camera: 13MP
  • Storage: 128GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Why we love it
    • Improved camera
    • Premium build quality
    • Excellent value
  • Take note
    • Pixel 8a upgrade expected soon

The latest in the budget-friendly A-series of Pixel phones, the Pixel 7a is the best mid-range Android phone you can buy. It features an improved camera over the Pixel 6a, a new ultra-wide lens, sharper low-light photography, a smoother 90Hz display, face unlock and Google’s latest Tensor G2 chip.

The faster chip means you enjoy all of Google’s software smarts in a phone costing much less than the newest Pixel 8 range, from photo-editing tools such as Magic Eraser, to intelligent battery management and a more responsive Google Assistant. And, because it runs on a clean and streamlined version of the Android operating system, you don’t have to fuss around with third-party apps and multiple logins – the Pixel phones offer the best software experience you’ll find on any Android.

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

samsung galaxy s24 ultra 3
  • Best: Samsung phone
  • Size: 79mm x 162mm x 8.6mm
  • Weight: 233g
  • Display: 6.8in QHD+, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP + 10MP telephoto, 200MP main, 12MP ultrawide
  • Selfie camera: 12MP
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Why we love it
    • New AI tools throughout
    • Flat display looks great
    • Fast, efficient processor
  • Take note
    • Too big for smaller hands

The Galaxy S24 ultra is the best phone Samsung has ever made. The blisteringly powerful Android phone features a faster processor, a brighter screen, and a newly redesigned flat display.

The only mainstream phone to come with its own stylus, the Galaxy S24 ultra is a genuinely unique device among a sea of iPhone alikes and is designed to be a productivity powerhouse. The slim and lightweight S-Pen slips out of a neat little enclosure in the bottom of the device, letting you jot down notes, sketch, doodle, and trace circles around things you want to Google.

While the hardware specifications have received just the lightest of upgrades, this year’s flagship Galaxy phone is all about new software features. Like seemingly every other tech company, Samsung has been bitten by the artificial intelligence (AI) bug, incorporating machine-learning magic into its already powerful photography and text-editing tools.

Just like the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro before it, the Galaxy S24 ultra’s camera can now erase subjects and nuisances from pictures, move them around in the frame, change their size or replace them completely. You can also re-crop photos after taking them, letting the AI engine create new parts of the image from its imagination.

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra with 250GB data: £50 per month, £170 up front, Mobiles.co.uk
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Google Pixel 8

GOOGLE-TELÉFONOS
  • Best: Affordable flagship Pixel
  • Size: 150.5mm x 70.8mm x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 187g
  • Display: 6.2in OLED, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide
  • Selfie camera: 10.5MP
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Why we love it
    • Speedy Tensor processor
    • Seven years of software support
    • Excellent cameras
    • Comfortable, smaller design
    • A great deal at this price
  • Take note
    • No telephoto lens

The Pixel 8 is a smaller but similarly powerful alternative to the pro edition of the phone, measuring 6.2in corner to corner. It’s noticeably less weighty than the Pro, too. The Pixel 8 uses polished Gorilla Glass on the front and back, in contrast to the grippier matte glass finish found on the Pro.

The OLED display is 42 per cent brighter that last year’s offering, and gets an upgrade to the same super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate found in the Pro device. Scrolling feels buttery smooth, and the higher refresh rate makes opening and switching apps feel zippier.

Inside, you get the same Tensor G3 processor, though Google says only the Pixel 8 Pro is capable of handling generative AI tasks directly on the phone. Both phones lean on Google’s cloud-processing prowess to achieve the same features – you need to be online to use Magic Editor, for example – though, during testing, there’s really no discernible difference in how they function.

The Pixel 8 Pro is marginally quicker at Magic Editor tasks, but we think we’ll only start to see the difference once Google adds more AI-based features in future updates.

The Pixel 8 can now use autofocus on its 12MP ultra-wide lens, meaning the previously Pro-exclusive macro mode is now enabled on the cheaper device.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

samsung galaxy z flip 5
  • Best: Folding Android phone
  • Size: 165.1mm x 71.9mm x 6.9mm / 85.1mm x 71.9mm x 15.1mm
  • Weight: 187g
  • Display: 6.7in AMOLED 120Hz / 3.4in AMOLED
  • Cameras: 12MP main, 12MP ultra-wide
  • Selfie camera: 10MP
  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Why we love it
    • Excellent build quality
    • Compact, stylish design
    • Great software
  • Take note
    • Cameras aren’t as good as the flagship Samsung phone

The Samsung Galaxy Z flip 5 is a pocket-friendly flip phone that folds down to about the size of a Post-It note. Upgraded for 2023 with a new gapless design and a larger outer screen, it’s the best folding phone you can buy right now.

The clamshell design opens vertically at any angle, which allows for some fun camera tricks. When shooting a picture or video with the phone unfolded, your subject can see themselves on the cover screen’s viewfinder. Prop the phone open on a table for a group selfie and you can use the cover screen to more easily get everyone into the frame. Software tricks such as raising your hand to trigger the shot round off a very polished camera experience.

The enlarged outer display makes the Galaxy Z flip 5 a whole lot more useful when closed, with more information available at a glance, and the redesigned hinge gives the phone a neater, more finished appearance.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

samsung galaxy z fold 5
  • Best: For performance
  • Size: 154.9mm x 129.9mm x 6.1mm / 154.9mm x 67.1mm x 13.4mm
  • Weight: 253g
  • Display: 7.6in/6.2in AMOLED, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 12MP ultra-wide, 50MP wide, 10MP telephoto
  • Selfie camera: 4MP/10MP
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Why we love it
    • Powerful performance
    • Closes flat
    • Can survive being dropped in 1.5m of water
  • Take note
    • Average battery life

Samsung pioneered the first mainstream folding phone, with the original Samsung Galaxy Z fold, in 2019. The first-generation iteration was predictably flawed, prone to damage and notorious for collecting debris between the flexible glass and the phone’s display. Four years and four phones later, Samsung has hit a comfortable stride with a foldable we can recommend to anyone interested in the form factor.

The 2023 model is the slimmest, lightest, brightest and fastest in the series, naturally enough. The Samsung Galaxy Z fold 5 is a powerful smartphone with a giant, impressive, unfolding screen. The opening and closing action feels sturdy, the camera is decent, the display looks amazing and is well-protected against dirt and damage.

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 with 100GB data: £55 per month, £35 up front, Fonehouse.co.uk
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Nothing Phone (2)

best phones review 2024 indybest Nothing phone (2)
  • Best: For style
  • Size: 161.1mm x 76.4mm x 8.6mm
  • Weight: 201.2g
  • Display: 6.7in OLED, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP wide, 50MP ultra-wide
  • Selfie camera: 32MP
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
  • RAM: 8GB / 12GB
  • Why we love it
    • Genuinely original design
    • Speedy and clean OS
    • Glyph interface looks great
  • Take note
    • A bit of an oddball in terms of style

The Nothing Phone (2) is the challenger tech brand’s second phone, and is now available SIM-free at Amazon and other major UK retailers.

Nothing has made all the right decisions with the follow-up to its debut smartphone, focusing on an improved display, cameras and performance without compromising on the oddness that makes it so distinctive. The showy glyph interface is back and, while as much of a gimmick as it’s always been, when combined with the improvements to Nothing OS, it feels like a cohesive part of a very thoughtfully designed phone.

The Nothing Phone (2) is defiantly, adorably weird. The steep price increase means you can find similarly priced phones with faster specs and better cameras, but not one so remarkably different to everything else out there. Grab one if you’re bored of the same shiny black rectangles, or just in the market for an excellent, stylish and capable mid-range Android.

Read the full Nothing Phone (2) review

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Samsung Galaxy A54

samsung galaxy a54
  • Best: Value for money
  • Size: 158.2mm x 76.7mm x 8.2mm
  • Weight: 202g
  • Screen: 6.4in Amoled, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth
  • Selfie camera: 32MP
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • RAM: 4GB/6GB/8GB
  • Why we love it
    • Stunning screen
    • Quality cameras
    • Five years of security updates
  • Take note
    • No wireless charging
    • Average performance

Best known for producing flagship premium devices at the top end of the price spectrum, Samsung also makes some of the best budget and mid-range smartphones you can buy. Not only does the Samsung Galaxy A54 sport a stylish design, it is excellent value for money.

Crammed in here are high-spec features such as a great-looking AMOLED screen with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and a camera array that runs rings around other phones at this price.

To keep the price low, however, the Galaxy A54 runs on a relatively slow processor with poor battery efficiency, so performance and battery life take a small hit, compared with pricier Galaxy phones. Overall, though, this is an attractive Android phone at an unbeatable price.

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OnePlus 12

oneplus 12
  • Best: OnePlus phone
  • Size: 164.3mm x 75.8mm x 9.2mm
  • Weight: 220g
  • Display: 6.8in OLED, 120Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP main, 64MP telephoto, 48MP ultrawide
  • Selfie camera: 32MP
  • Storage: 256GB to 1TB
  • RAM: 12GB to 24GB
  • Why we love it
    • Splashproof touchscreen
    • Speedy and optimised software
    • Decent cameras at this price
  • Take note
    • Relatively short software support

The resurgent OnePlus brand was originally celebrated for its super-cheap but flagship-quality Android phones, and while in recent years the price of its phones have crept upwards, last year’s OnePlus 11 and lately the OnePlus 12 have reclaimed the Chinese manufacturer’s crown as one of the best challenger phones on the market.

The OnePlus 12 scores top marks for hardware, packing in 12GB of RAM (we tested the 16GB model) and the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor. The highly optimised software keeps things feeling zippier than any other phone we’ve tested – apps snap open like traps, and navigating the operating system is faultlessly smooth. Charging is also incredible speedy and battery life is huge.

There’s a refreshing lack of focus on trendy AI features here. Instead the OnePlus 12 is all about ease of use and basic, practical features. One stand-out upgrade is the phone’s splash-proof touchscreen, which is still be useable even when wet. If you’ve ever tried to use your phone in the rain and found the touchscreen to behave weirdly, OnePlus has seemingly solved this issue. Great news for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors.

Decent cameras and great all-round build quality round off this excellent Android phone.

  1. £999 from Oneplus.com
Prices may vary
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Xiaomi 14

xiaomi 14
  • Best: Xiaomi phone
  • Size: 152.8mm x 71.5mm x 8.2mm
  • Weight: 188g
  • Display: 6.36in, 120Hz OLED
  • Cameras: 50MP main, 50MP telephoto, 50MP ultrawide
  • Selfie camera: 32MP
  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Why we love it
    • Brilliant display
    • Slick performance
    • Excellent cameras
  • Take note
    • Clunky operating system

The numbered Xiaomi phones sit at the top end of the outsider brand’s product range, boasting more premium features and better performance than the budget-focused Redmi and Poco phones.

The Xiaomi 14 is the latest in the flagship Android series, and it’s a solid performer with a bright and vibrant 6.36in screen, running on the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor backed up with 12GB of RAM as standard.

The camera is the star of the show here. Xiaomi’s camera array is made up of three 50MP lenses, enabling fast shutter speeds, 3.2x optical zoom, 14mm ultrawide photography and a pro mode for shooting in RAW format. Pictures look great in all lighting conditions, though, you’ll miss out on some of the fancier post-processing capabilities found in Apple, Samsung and Google phones.

As with all Xiaomi devices, it’s the HyperOS operating system that drags the experience down. Xiaomi ships its phones with a full set of its own basic apps – which are way more fiddly, less integrated and less polished than competitors’ versions – as well as unwelcome third-party bloatware. With some customisation, you can easily tweak the default apps to suit your own preferences but the out-of-the-box experience is cludgy compared with the streamlined elegance of iOS or Pixel phones.

Still, this is an excellent, great-looking and compact Android phone running on seriously impressive hardware.

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Zenfone 11 ultra

zenfone 11 ultra
  • Best: For gaming
  • Size: 163.8mm x 76.8mm x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 224g
  • Display: 6.78in, 144Hz
  • Cameras: 50MP wide, 32MP telephoto, 13MP ultrawide
  • Selfie camera: 32MP
  • Storage: 256GB
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Why we love it
    • Sharp design
    • Great performance
    • Big and beautiful screen
    • Improved battery life
  • Take note
    • No smaller variant available yet

Asus is known for producing some of the best small phones on the market, but the Zenfone 11 Ultra breaks from tradition with a much bigger 6.78in display, putting it in the same category as plus-sized flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S23, Xiaomi 14 and Pixel 8 Pro. That might be sad news for small-handed users, but great for anyone looking for a more expansive AMOLED screen, hugely improved battery life and better overall performance.

The Zenfone 11 Ultra boasts the premium features you’d expect at this price point: a dynamic 1Hz to 144Hz refresh rate, under-display fingerprint sensor, wireless charging, the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset and a trio of cameras including a 3x optical zoom telephoto lens and a 13MP ultrawide lens.

Performance is snappy, the display is vibrant, and the clean, squared off design is accented by neatly etched, angled lines. It’s a great looking phone, with similarities inside and out to the Asus ROG phone, giving the Zenfone 11 Ultra unbeatable credentials for handheld gaming on the go.

  1. £819 from Asus.com
Prices may vary
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FAQ: Android phones

What are Android phones?

Android phones are smartphones that run on the Android operating system, a phone interface developed by Google. The iPhone exclusively runs on iOS, Apple’s own operating system, but pretty much every other phone on the market runs on Android software.

Phone makers customise Android to make their phones look and perform differently to other Android phones on the market. This means you get a much wider variety of choices in terms of features, price and style from brands like Samsung, LG and Xiaomi.

How do Android phones compare to iPhones?

Android and iPhones are the two major players in the smartphone world, and while they both offer broadly the same features and functionality, there are some differences. Android is more flexible, letting you customise the look and feel of your phone more readily, and because so many manufacturers use it you can more easily find a phone that suits your needs and your budget.

The iPhone is more user-friendly, more closely integrated with iOS, and connects seamlessly with MacBooks, AirPods, the Apple Watch and other Apple devices. Because it’s by far the most popular phone in western markets, apps will often appear on the iPhone’s app store first, before they show up on Google Play.

The verdict: Android phones

Our pick of the best Android phone in 2024 is the Samsung Galaxy S24. One of few phones that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the iPhone 15 in terms of overall build quality, the Galaxy S24 (and the scaled-up Galaxy S24 plus) is a smart, stylish, fast and great-looking device with exceptional all-round performance at a reasonable price.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, the Google Pixel 8 is a showcase of everything an Android phone can be without breaking the bank, with a streamlined interface and an effortless user experience to match Apple’s.

Want more tech inspiration? Check out our list of the best laptops

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