There are 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. But with so many brands using the Android system, what is the best Android phone out there? Find out with this Canstar Blue guide.
- What is the best Android phone?
- Best Android phone over $2,000
- Best Android phone between $1,000 and $2,000
- Best Android phone under $1,000
- Best Android phone under $500
- Android phone with best camera quality
- What brands operate on the Android system?
- What to consider when buying a phone
- Is it worth buying an Android phone?
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 delved into different price points to highlight what’s out there, and which phone you should look closer at to help you find the best fit for your needs.
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.
Best Android phone over $2,000
There aren’t many Android phones in Australia that cost over $2,000, and those that are the top-of-the-line models, packing plenty of features to balance out the price tag. Currently, there’s only two models that cost over $2,000 outright – the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3. But which one is the best?
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G (512GB) – $2,149 RRP*
The latest entrant to Samsung’s smartphone line-up, the Galaxy S22 Ultra offers plenty of features for its price tag, with the S22 also the first Galaxy smartphone to include an in-built S Pen to help you with note-taking, or some drawing to pass the time. The S22 Ultra also includes a 4NM processor – the fastest chip ever for a Galaxy S phone – along with a Dynamic AMOLED 2X display and 120Hz adaptive refresh rate to keep your screentime smooth. Available in multiple colours, you can also expect an IP68 water resistance and Armour Aluminium frame, in addition to multiple cameras, including a 40MP front-facing camera and 108MP wide-angle camera on the back.
Best Android phone between $1,000 and $2,000
$2,000 can get you a lot of phone, with plenty of brands offering an Android smartphone that features plenty of specs and hardware. But which Android phone with a price tag under $2,000 should you give a closer look to?
Google Pixel 6 Pro 5G (512GB) – $1,599 RRP*
Google’s latest offering to the smartphone market, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is the top-of-the-line model, and is available in a number of colours and storage capacities, with the 512GB model the largest. Featuring the Google Tensor processor – which was specifically made for the Pixel by Google – the Pixel 6 Pro also includes Titan M2 security for increased privacy and safety, in addition to multiple rear cameras, including a 50MP wide lens. You can also use the Magic Eraser to edit and remove people and objects in the background of your photos, allowing you to get the shot you want, alongside fast wireless charging, and the ability to charge other devices with Battery Share.
|Phone||Price (RRP*)||Pros & Cons|
|Asus ROG Pro 5G (512GB)||$1,899||Top tier gaming phone, strong processor and display, unnecessary specs for average user.|
|OPPO Find X3 Pro 5G (256GB)||$1,499||Dual SIM capabilities and quality cameras, but no night mode.|
|Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (256GB)||$1,349||Smooth display and camera, but no Micro SD card slot or charger in pack.|
Best Android phone under $1,000
Phones can be expensive, with even $1,000 a lot to spend on a phone. But considering that you likely use it every day, and that brands pack plenty into each phone model, it may be worth the price. But what Android phones can you get for under $1,000, and which one should you be looking at?
Samsung Galaxy A52S 5G (128GB) – $649 RRP*
If you’re looking for a 5G-compatible phone that comes with plenty of features and a price tag that’s easier to swallow than some models, the Samsung Galaxy A52S may be the phone for you. Featuring an Octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM and a 128GB of internal storage – with a slot for a microSD for additional storage space – the A52S additionally includes IP67 water resistance four rear camera lenses and one front-facing camera, as well as a 6.5inch AMOLED display while weighing in at under 190g.
|Phone||Price (RRP*)||Pros & Cons|
|Asus Zenfone 8 5G (128GB)||$999||Clear display and strong processor, unsure future around software updates.|
|Motorola Edge 20 Pro 5G (256GB)||$899||Strong colour display, but only has an IP52 water resistance rating.|
|Black Shark 4 5G (128GB)||$899||Built-in gaming triggers, but processor is outdated compared to competitors.|
|Nokia XR20 5G (128GB)||$879||Tough design, average camera quality for the price.|
|Nokia 8.3 5G (128GB)||$799||Sleek design, but questionable battery life and mono audio system.|
|Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (128GB)||$799||Most of the flagship features at a cheaper price, but average battery life.|
Best Android Phone under $500
Phones don’t have to be expensive, and some of us just need a phone to do the basics, meaning all the bells and whistles aren’t necessary. But what Android phones can you pick up on a budget?
OPPO A74 5G (128GB) – $349 RRP*
Increasingly popular over recent years, Chinese brand OPPO offers a number of cheaper models in Australia, including the A74. Compatible with 5G, it’s one of the cheaper 5G models available on the market, ideal for those looking to future-proof their phones without spending big, in addition to a 6.5inch display, Qualcomm processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, fingerprint sensor and 5,000mAh battery, all of which are solid inclusions for its price point. The OPPO A74 5G additionally features a 48MP quad rear camera and a 16MP front-facing camera, with the rear camera capable of multiple of camera modes, including night and portrait mode.
|Phone||Price (RRP*)||Pros & Cons|
|Samsung Galaxy A32 5G (128GB)||$449||Capable specs and cameras for price, display isn’t the smoothest available.|
|Nokia G50 5G (128GB)||$449||Strong battery life, cameras and processor could be more powerful.|
|Realme 7 5G (128GB)||$439||Good screen display and size, but frame rate could be smoother.|
|Motorola G51 5G (128GB)||$399||Big screen and solid construction, but doesn’t charge quickly.|
|Samsung Galaxy A22 5G (128GB)||$349||Sleek design and feel, but performance can lag during high intensity sessions.|
|Vivo Y52 5G (128GB)||$339||Solid performance for price point, design leaves something to be desired.|
|Samsung Galaxy A12 (128GB)||$299||Strong battery life, but performance and camera aren’t the best in this price range.|
|Nokia 5.4 (128GB)||$299||Solid and comfortable design and feel, camera quality could be better.|
|TCL 20R 5G (64GB)||$299||Good performance for price point, but screen isn’t as responsive as you’d like.|
|OPPO A53s 5G (128GB)||$279||Strong battery life, but no HD display.|
|Motorola G10 (64GB)||$249||Long battery life, but design seems somewhat flimsy.|
|Realme C12 (32GB)||$219||Sleek design and strong battery life, but the camera shutter is a bit slow.|
|Opel J2 (8GB)||$119||Small design easy to carry and use, but also comes with a smaller battery.|
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.
Which Android phone has the best camera quality?
Phone camera quality has often been the battleground for modern phones, with the quality and quantity of cameras on phones increasing over the years. But if you’re looking for the best camera quality, which Android phone offers the goods?
The best camera quality on an Android phone comes down to a two-horse race between the Google Pixel 6 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The Google Pixel 6 Pro features a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide lens, a 48MP telephoto with 4x optical zoom, alongside an 11.1MP front-facing camera, while the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra includes a 108MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide, two 10MP telephoto lens with 3x and 10x optical zooms, in addition to a 40MP front-facing camera.
As a result, which Android phone offers the best camera comes down to what you consider the most important camera to be. If you prefer to take long-range photos, the Pixel 6 Pro offers a 48MP camera in comparison to the S22’s 10MP cameras, although Samsung does claw back a bit of ground with a stronger optical zoom. But if you’re after a clearer image, the Samsung Galaxy S22’s 108MP camera is truly in a class of its own, with a 40MP front-facing camera able to produce high-quality selfies.
However, both phones cost well over $1,000 – and over $2,000 for the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S22 – meaning that the camera quality doesn’t come cheaply, with those on a budget potentially having to settle for a lower camera quality.
What brands operate on the Android system?
Android is developed by group known as the Open Handset Alliance – which is commercially sponsored by Google – with parts taken from the Android Open Source Project, meaning that while each brand offers its own spin on the system, some of the basics stay the same. The following brands all operate on the Android operating system, although not all are available to purchase in Australia:
- Cherry Mobile
If you’re looking at an Android phone, be sure to check out some of our guides on Android phones:
- Accessibility features on Android phones
- How to switch from iPhone to Android
- How to screenshot on an Android phone
What to consider when buying a phone
There’s plenty to consider when it comes to buying a new phone, but while you may be distracted by how shiny the latest model is, it’s important to factor in what you use your phone for, and what you really need. Factors to consider when buying a phone are:
- Performance: You’ll likely be using your phone for hours every day, meaning you’ll need something that can keep pace. Looking into the processor, the RAM size and the quality of screen can all help you find a phone that runs smoothly.
- Design & Size: The physical size and feel of the phone is important to consider, as you don’t want something that feels uncomfortable while using, or too bulky for your pocket. Similarly, you’ll want something that’s easy to use, with buttons easy to reach and press, especially if you have a fingerprint scanner.
- Camera Quality: While not important to some, the camera quality is the main selling point for others. Camera quality often correlates with the price of the phone, with the amount of lens and modes to capture the moment also often dependent on the price.
- Battery Life: There’s not much point having a phone that can do it all if it can only do it for a short amount of time. Looking into the battery size, and how long it lasts while using apps, can give you an insight into if it’ll last the distance.
- Price: Regardless of the purchase, price is always a big factor. But with some phones costing over $2,000, it’s an important area to consider, particularly if you’re looking to stay on a budget. The amount of features generally determines the price, so if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, you’ll likely be able to find a phone that doesn’t break the bank.
Is it worth buying an Android phone?
With iOS and Android essentially your two options when buying a phone in Australia, it’s become a never-ending debate as to which one is better. But the answer relies primarily on you, and what you need from your phone and its operating system. If you live an Apple house, then continuing to use an iOS phone makes more sense, but if you don’t use Apple products, or are just looking for more variety, than an Android phone may be worth exploring more.
Both Apple and Android offer strong operating systems with plenty of features, inclusions, capabilities and updates, but Android does get the upper hand in that more brands and models use its operating system, allowing you more choice when it comes to buying a new phone. And with some Android phones available for around $100, it can be a pretty tempting choice!
If you’re really stuck as to what phone you should be looking at, check out ratings for smartphones to see which brands you should be keeping an eye out for.