Os Compatibility: Android Is A Waiting Game
To ensure you always have the latest and greatest version of your smartphone operating system, you have to get an iPhone.
That’s because some Android makers are slow to update their phones to the latest version of the Android OS and sometimes don’t update their phones at all. The makers of the phonesnot userscontrol when the OS update is released for their phones. Most Android makers are very slow to update if they update at all.
While older phones will eventually lose support for the latest OS, Apple’s support for older phones is much better than Android’s.
Take iOS 11, which was released in 2017. It fully supported the iPhone 5S, which was released four years earlier. IOS 11 was installed on about 66% of compatible models within six weeks of its release, thanks to its broad device support.
On the other hand, Android 8 ran on just 0.2% of Android devices more than eight weeks after its release. Even its predecessor, Android 7, was only running on about 18% of devices more than a year after its release.
So, if you want the latest and greatest OS as soon as it’s ready, you need an iPhone.
How To Decide Which Budget Phone To Buy
It can be pretty difficult deciding which of the great budget phones available today you should buy. While the availability of fantastic phones under $500 has exploded over the past few years, you’re still unable to get everything you would get in a more expensive device that’s the compromise you must reach when deciding which device to get.
For most people, the question comes down to whether you want a device that “mimics” the flagship experience but with cheaper, lower-quality components, or whether you can settle for something that has fewer specs but ones that, individually, hold up well.
Perhaps a good example is something like the Google Pixel 4a. At $350, its 1080p display isn’t the best out there, but it’s very good and quite color-accurate for the price. But it lacks a high refresh rate, like the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, for example.
Similarly, its single rear camera is outstanding and will output by far the best photos of any of the other devices in this list. But that’s it there’s no ultrawide or telephoto option, so you’re limited in the kinds of photos you can frame.
It’s also made of plastic high-quality plastic, yes unlike some of the other devices on this list with a more premium fit and finish.
With that said, the Snapdragon 690 inside the N10 5G is faster in many ways than the Snapdragon 730 in the Pixel 4a. As a result, there are myriad reasons, including the aforementioned 5G support, to choose the OnePlus phone over the Pixel.
How Many Cameras And Megapixels Do I Really Need
Over the last couple of years, there’s been a trend with certain phone companies to throw as many cameras onto their devices as possible. As it’s become more common for phones to ship with two, three, or even four cameras, there’s something of an expectation that phones have to have multiple camera sensors to be any good.
Spoiler alert this isn’t true.
Let’s look at the OnePlus 9, for example. It has a 48MP primary camera, 50MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP monochrome portrait camera. Compared to the smaller 12.2MP cameras on the Pixel 5a, one would assume that the OnePlus 9 takes better photos, but that’s not always the case.
Having those extra camera sensors can be a lot of fun, but only if they’re high-quality. Far too often, we see companies throw in a bunch of extra cameras on their phones only to have these secondary lenses not be very good. But, of course, the primary camera sensor is always the most important, so that’s the one you want to be concerned about the most.
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Best Phones In : The Top Smartphones Rated
The best phones are all about giving you what you want from a handset. They deliver great cameras, the performance you need to multitask and enough battery life to last the whole day.
To help you pick the best smartphone for you, we test dozens of handsets in the lab and in the real world to bring you in-depth reviews and make recommendations you can trust.
With strong options available at all price levels, you don’t have to spend a lot to get something great. Some people may prefer to have the biggest display possible along with the most advanced specs. And others want a solid mid-range phone that delivers all the basics without feeling cheap.
Our best phones list has something for everyone, including great bargains under $500 and under $300. We’ve ranked all the top phones based on our testing. Here are the top smartphones right now.
Best Stock Android Phone: Google Pixel 6
Okay, so the Google Pixel 6 technically isnt stock Android, because stock Android is the bare bones open-source Android usually seen in a few entry-level budget phones from obscure brands. Instead, the Pixel 6 runs a Google-modified version of Android 12, because its Android exactly the way Google sees it. And in our opinion, this Pixel-ified experience is a far more important signifier than stock Android.
And if you want that pure Google Android experience, the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro is the phone to get. This year, not only are the phones among the first to run on the newest version of Android, but it also happens to coincide with one of the biggest Android visual overhauls in years.
The theme of this years new Android 12, at least on the Pixel, is Material You. Essentially, the Pixel 6 phones will look at your homescreen wallpaper and create a palette to color the system interface. Throughout the UI, there are whimsical Google touches, such as buttons of varying sizes and shapes.
Other than the excellent software, youre getting an excellent phone too with the Pixel 6. You get a 6.4-inch, 1080 x 2400 OLED screen that refreshes at 90Hz, along with arguably the best point-and-shoot main camera around, a 50MP sensor backed by Googles epic photo-processing algorithms. You also get a large 4,612 mAh battery and plenty of RAM to make sure the phone zips around. Add in a unique two-tone finish, and a really attractive price, and its hard to name anything else in this spot.
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Ios Vs Android Which Os Is Right For You
Youve just finished reading about the best Android phones, so we have an idea of where you stand in the iOS vs Android debate. However, nothing is ever set in stone. If you have an iPad or maybe a MacBook, you might decide that its best to stick with Apples ecosystem. On the other hand, you might be ready to break free and tap into more customization options. Youll face different app selections on both platforms, but its all about your comfort level.
Check out more on the long-standing iOS vs Android debate right here.
Best Small Foldable Phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
If you have ever lamented the escalating size of smartphones and want something that wont create a bulge in your pocket, then the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is worth considering. Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is a tablet that folds into a phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a normal-sized smartphone that folds into a compact square, about the dimensions of a coaster, or a makeup compactor. Improvements this year include a much larger outside cover screen that allows you to read entire notifications, as well as interact with several widgets showing things like weather, timer, etc.
The inside folding screen, measuring 6.7-inches, sees its refresh rate bumped up to 120Hz. A new film material is used this year to cover the screen, giving it a feeling more resembling glass than plastic. Inside youll find a Snapdragon 888 with 8GB of RAM and a 3,300 mAh battery. The entire package comes in ultra-sleek, measuring just 6.9mm in thickness when unfolded . Its 183g weight can be considered light in late 2021. The hinge is sturdier than ever, and the Galaxy Z Flip 3, like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, also features IPX8 water resistance.
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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold : The Best Foldable Android Phone
Weve mostly been focused on powerful and traditional Android phones so far, but now its time for something that will turn heads. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 takes the cake as the you can buy right now. While it may not be the same value buy as a Galaxy Z Flip 3, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 packs all the bells and whistles you could ever ask for.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 packs all of Samsung’s best technology into an ultra-premium package.
Its perfectly pocket-sized when folded, yet the 6.2-inch display is plenty large enough to manage just about all of your notifications. Then, when you open it up, youre treated to a massive 7.6-inch AMOLED display, complete with a 120Hz refresh rate. It also features Samsungs first official crack at an under-display selfie camera, even if its not the best camera around. Youll also find a true flagship processor for the first time, in the form of Qualcomms Snapdragon 888.
Although the Galaxy Z Flip 3 shows that foldables are becoming more affordable, the shows just how far they can go. It still commands a premium price point, but it offers features you wont find anywhere else in the Samsung Galaxy.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Display: 6.8 inches 120Hz AMOLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | RAM: 12GB LPDDR5 | Internal Storage: 128GB-1TB storage | Rear cameras: 10MP rear f/4.9 telephoto 10x optical, 10MP f/2.4 telephoto 3x optical, 108MP f/2.2 wide-angle camera, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera | Front camera: 40MP f/2.2 under-display camera | Weight: 229g | Dust/water resistance: IP68
Samsung’s first flagship phone of 2022 was released as the Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G. While the S21 Ultra from 2021 supported the S Pen, there was no way to store, carry, or charge up the S Pen. With the S22 Ultra, Samsung has fully embraced it as the Note successor with an S Pen silo, flat and square design elements, and all of the latest and greatest specifications in a smartphone.
The Galaxy S22 phones were the first to launch widely with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor inside. While the same resolution cameras are found in this year’s S22 Ultra, Samsung improved the camera’s capabilities, especially in terms of low-light shooting. With two telephoto cameras, Samsung stands out from Apple and Google with fantastic zoom capability.
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Moto G 5g Plus: The Best
Price: £240 l
If you’re in the market for a 5G phone, and you’re lucky enough to live in a 5G area, then the Moto G 5G Plus is the absolute cheapest way to access the faster mobile network. Undercutting other 5G phones by a particularly wide margin the next cheapest, the Galaxy A90 5G, is double the price the Moto G 5G Plus proves that you don’t need to pay top dollar for 5G connectivity.
Even if you aren’t fussed about 5G, the Moto G 5G Plus is perhaps one of the most well-rounded smartphones we’ve ever tested. Its battery life is excellent, the cameras are exceptional for the price, and the large, 90Hz screen is an added bonus too. If you don’t want to spend more than £300 on your next smartphone, then the Moto G 5G Plus is a serious contender for your cash.
Read our full Moto G 5G Plus review for more details
Key specs Processor: 2.4GHz Snapdragon 765 Screen: 6.7in, 2,520 x 1,080 Camera: 48MP, 8MP , 5MP , 2MP Storage: 64GB, 128GB Operating system: Android 10
Core Hardware And Storage
Flagship phones will typically have the latest hardware in them. While Apple offers its own hardware, Android chooses from a range of suppliers – but many offer Qualcomm. Samsung will use Exynos and Qualcomm, and some might range into MediaTek – although this is usually reserved for mid-range or entry-level devices.
Storage is important, too, obviously. Low storage will bring the price down, but fewer and fewer manufacturers are offering microSD card expansion these days. That means you need to buy a device with enough storage – considering that the option of 4K and now 8K video is using up more storage than ever.
Of course, cloud storage is a lot more integrated these days, but remember that nothing is free – if you want to store a lot of photos, you’ll have to pay for it.
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How We Test The Best Android Phones
T3 is one of the world’s foremost experts in terms of reviewing and rating phones, and when it comes round to testing the best Android phones we’ve got a very detailed, multi-step process to sort the pretenders from the champs.
The first step we undertake is reviewing the phone from a design and build quality point of view. Here we want to discover exactly what the phone offers physically, aesthetically and in terms of connectivity. We’re looking at general things like fit and finish here, too.
Next we’re specifically looking at the Android phone’s screen. We break the screen out as its own section as a phone’s screen is absolutely critical to its usage experience. We want to know what its size, resolution, panel type, coating, brightness and features are. If a handset delivers HDR10+, for example, we’ll find out.
Camera system is next, and once again this gets a lot of weight in T3’s testing as a person’s Android handset is also their primary camera in most circumstances. We’re looking at not just the quality and size of the phone’s camera lenses, but also the types delivered as well as what advanced sensors are on board, such as Time of Flight . In terms of camera we’re also looking at just how useable and versatile the camera system’s shooting software is, as too what shooting modes and options it delivers. Finally, we’re obviously judging a camera system’s quality by the images it takes, with us looking out for key scoring areas such as accuracy of color reproduction.
Resale Value: Iphone Keeps Its Worth
With new smartphones being released so often, people tend to upgrade quickly. When you do that, you want to be sure to resell your old model for the most money to put towards the new one.
Apple wins on that front. Old iPhones fetch more money at resale than old Androids.
Here are a few examples, using prices from the smartphone resale company Gazelle:
- 64GB iPhone X in good condition, unlocked: $161
- 128GB iPhone 8 in good condition, unlocked: $118
- 64GB Samsung Galaxy S9 in good condition, unlocked: $95
- 128GB Google Pixel 3 XL in good condition, unlocked: $89
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Smartphones We Also Recommend
For now, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is our pick for the top smartphone available to buy. However, we understand that it may not be one that every user likes the look of – or, indeed, the price tag that comes with it. Here are the other options we currently recommend checking out.
- No big leaps from iPhone 12 Pro
- Heavy users may still challenge the battery
If the ‘standard’ iPhone 13 is the right device for most people seeking an iOS device, the iPhone 13 Pro is the model for those who care just that bit more about their phone’s performance. If you want a true flagship experience from Apple, this is it.
That’s not to say it does a great different to last year’s equivalent – it doesn’t – but it does still refine enough aspects to make it a compelling upgrade for those with a model that’s at least a couple of years old.
Battery life is improved, giving you around 90 minutes more than iPhone 12 Pro, and Apple’s ProMotion adaptive refresh rates provide much smoother scrolling. The notch is still there, of course, but its reduction does also makes the overall experience feel just that bit better than last year.
We’d suggest power users will still be able to drain down this battery fairly quickly , but, generally, this is the most refined iOS experience you can buy. Naturally, all of this also applies to the Pro Max variant, too, since they are essentially the same experience in a different shell.
What To Look For In An Android Phone
While most smartphones might look pretty much the same, buying one is a very personal experience. We all have unique needs, a unique budget, and personal preferences. You might need to access secure corporate email and documents with a phone that works on lots of networks around the world. Or you might spend all your time chronicling your life on Snapchat. That said, there are major features of all smartphones that you should compare before making a purchase decision.
Display: A good display has a high-resolution, retina-style display , so even fine text is crisp and legible. Nearly every premium phone has moved to a 18:9 aspect ratio, bringing more height to the display while making it easier to hold, and OLED for better color accuracy and deeper blacks. A high contrast ratio and maximum brightness will make it easier to see in bright sunlight.
Samsungs phones have some of the best displays you can buy.
Camera: Smartphone vendors like to tout a cameras megapixels or portrait abilities, but a second lens and wide aperture get you only so far. The particulars of the sensor, image processing chip, and camera software have a huge impact on the photo- and video-taking experience.
The Note 10+ is a giant phonebut if you dont need such a big screen there are other options available.
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