There’s so many different brands, types and models of phones out there that it’s difficult to get your bearings and know what’s what – especially when prices range between $100 and $2,000! Luckily, most phones on the market have one factor in common – the Android operating system.
You’ll find most phones out there use this operating system, with few exceptions apart from Apple devices. Most of the big-name phone manufacturers – including Samsung, OPPO, Google, and Motorola – use Android, meaning customers can enjoy a similar user experience across multiple devices and brands.
Phones can be a big and pricey commitment, but they don’t have to be a stressful one! In this article, we’ll take a look at the best Android phones available in Australia in 2021, including the best options at every price point.
What is Android?
Android is a device operating system owned by Google, and is the most common operating system seen on smartphones and tablets. The Android platform is found on a huge range of phones with Google architecture in place (notably the Google Play store and Google Assistant). Because of this you’ll find it on phones as cheap as $100, and as expensive as around $2000.
Although each version of Android is essentially the same across different devices, manufacturers often put their own spin on the operating system, adding in different layers of customisation, apps and more. Some Android phones will have features others won’t: although the operating system is a common factor among all Android phones, the hardware can vary greatly. Most importantly, iPhones are not Android phones, and instead run on Apple’s own operating system (iOS).
What is the best Android phone?
With so many phones on the market, it’s difficult to make a solid judgement on a phone being the ‘best’, especially when needs and priorities will vary from user to user. Instead, we’ve put together a list of Android phones for you to consider.
The below list compiles some of the best Android phones on the Australian market right now across budget, mid-range and luxury price ranges. For some of these phones we have provided specifications and reviews, which you can click the links to find.
Best Android phones: A quick summary
- OPPO A54, $399
- Google Pixel 4A, $599
- Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, $849
- ASUS Zenfone 8, $999
- Google Pixel 5, $999
- Google Pixel 4XL, $1,279
- Samsung Galaxy S21, $1,249
- Samsung Galaxy S21+, $1,549
- OPPO Find X3 Pro, $1,699
These are some of the most highly-rated phones of 2021. For most of these phones we’ve produced articles with our thoughts, however, you’ll find a consistent theme among these phones in that they’re reliable. Below you’ll find a table where you can buy some of these phones on a plan from various telcos.
The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of published 24-month phone plans for the OPPO Find X3 Pro on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of published 24-month phone plans for the Google Pixel 5 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
What is the best budget Android phone? (under $500)
Below you’ll find a selection of Android smartphones in the under-$500 range, including some brands you might not have heard of. Keep in mind that you should shop around for the phone that fits your needs, in terms of performance, ability, and price.
|Phone||Price (Original RRP)||Pros & Cons|
|Alcatel 1V 2020||$99||Great price and nice storage, but no NFC chip and a little slow|
|Realme C3||$269||Great phone with a great battery, but a disappointing camera|
|OPPO A54||$399||Great battery life with a nice display, but slow to charge and slow face unlock|
|TCL 20 Pro 5G||$499||Nice display and performance, but slow charging|
What is the best mid-range Android phone? (under $1,000)
Below you’ll find some of the best mid-range to high-end phones available in 2021. These phones are great handsets in the $500-$1000 price range and offer better performance and cameras than those in the budget category.
|Phone||Price (Original RRP)||Pros & Cons|
|OPPO Find X3 Lite||$749||Has 5G, great battery life, price and performance, but no IP rating.|
|Samsung Galaxy S20 FE||$849||Great performance and choice of colours, but a lacking camera and not a terrific screen.|
|LG Velvet||$899||5G, great performance with a slick design and screen, but lots of clutter in the operating system.|
|ASUS Zenfone 8||$999||Terrific performance, screen and battery life, but average camera quality and poor fingerprint and facial recognition.|
What is the best luxury Android phone? (above $1000)
The following phones are some of the best luxury phones on the market right now. These are premium phones from premium brands, and have been released recently – don’t forget that while outright prices are steep, most of these phones are available on telco plans to spread the cost over 12, 24, or 36 months.
|Phone||Price (Original RRP)||Pros & Cons|
|Samsung Galaxy S21||$1,249||Nice feeling and camera, but not great battery life.|
|Google Pixel 4XL||$1,279||Great camera with a slick design, but poor battery life and quite expensive.|
|Samsung Galaxy S21+||$1,549||Great design and a nice camera, but expensive and not great battery life.|
|OPPO Find X3 Pro||$1,699||5G phone with some terrific cameras, but with a lacking night mode and pricey.|
What should I look for in a phone?
There are a few key points you should be looking for when you’re shopping around for a new phone, most notably price, camera, battery life, and performance. We’ve broken down the key things you should keep in mind when shopping for a new phone.
Knowing the limits of your wallet is the best place to start when considering a new smartphone. Try to not go too far above your maximum price point, and definitely expect to either spend much less or much more than what you’re willing to at first, depending on what you expect from your new phone. Expect to be impressed, especially if you haven’t shopped for a new phone in a while!
The cameras on your smartphone are incredibly important, or irrelevant, depending on what you’re looking for in a phone. Good quality cameras can typically be found at all three of the price points discussed above, however, you can typically expect the quality to improve as you move on to more expensive devices.
It’s reasonable for you to expect your phone to last all day (or more!) without needing to constantly be on charge. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to gauge from phone specifications how good battery life can be (for example, a phone with a 5,000mAh battery could only last a short time, compared to a phone with a 4,000mAh battery). It’s best to look into what reviews have to say about battery life, as with all other phone shopping points.
Performance is quite a broad category in terms of comparing phones, as it compares internal and external components directly. It can turn into quite technical language very quickly, so again, it’s worthwhile reading reviews on performance-related issues. Here are the specific performance things to look out for:
- Screen: If the screen is important to you, look into how good it is on phones that you’re interested in. New Android devices typically have AMOLED displays, which naturally look better on phones, but it’s worth reading about the screen on phones you’re interested in before making a purchase.
- Processor: This is the brain of your phone that looks after how fast and well it can handle tasks. Another point to look out for in reviews, most Android devices in Australia include Qualcomm processors, which use a number prefix indicating how powerful the processor is (a higher number like ‘888’ means a better processor than a number like ‘765’).
- RAM: Hand-in-hand with the processor, higher RAM means a faster phone. RAM is your phone’s quick memory, with more RAM basically meaning your phone can remember more things in the short term.
- GPU: GPU means Graphics Processing Unit, and is a good indicator of your phone’s potential when it comes to graphics-intense things like games. This isn’t a hugely important performance point, but a good GPU typically comes in tandem with a good processor.
Best phone plans for Android devices
If you’re shopping around for a new phone, it’s always worth looking for a new postpaid or prepaid plan as well. Telcos frequently offer new phone plans with extra perks and data inclusions, and your current plan might be lagging behind if you haven’t had a look at the alternatives recently.
However, keep in mind that while most of the phones on these lists are 5G-capable, very few providers in Australia offer 5G. At this stage, only Telstra, Optus and Vodafone provide limited 5G mobile coverage, with only a small number of MVNOs providing 5G phone plans. If you do plan on using 5G with a new phone, check your provider’s coverage maps before jumping on board.
Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use Canstar Blue’s phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans on offer from mobile providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.
Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.