Best Android One Phones Android Central 2021
The best Android One phones get the latest Android updates at the same time as Google's Pixels. With guaranteed software updates and security patches and a clean interface without any bloatware, they offer pretty significant benefits. There are a lot of great Android One phones out there, but if you ask us, the Nokia 7.2 is the best you can get.
- Best Overall: Nokia 7.2
- Best Value: Nokia 6.2
- Best Low-Cost Option: Nokia 4.2
- Best Battery Life: Nokia 5.3
- Best Display: Motorola One Vision
- Best for Photography: Nokia 9 PureView
- Best For Videos: Motorola One Action
Best Overall: Nokia 7.2
Out of all the Android One phones you can buy in the U.S., our top pick has to be the Nokia 7.2. The HMD Global-led Nokia brand has been kicking out a lot of great smartphones over the last couple of years, and for the North American market, the 7.2 stands out as an incredibly strong offering.
Nokia phones have a legacy for being well-built, and that point holds 100% true with the 7.2. It has a durable aluminum frame with a sleek glass back that looks and feels incredible. Around the front, the 6.3-inch display is a joy to look at. Not only is it crisp with a 2220x1080 resolution, but its ability to natively play HDR10 content and convert SDR videos into HDR ones means everything is brimming with color and vibrancy at all times.
What else helps the Nokia 7.2 stand out? Its battery life is fantastic, an NFC chip enables contactless payments with Google Pay, USB-C is used for charging, and you can expand the generous 128GB of base storage up to an additional 400GB if you plan on storing a bunch of local files.
There aren't many downsides to the Nokia 7.2, but we will point out that the triple rear cameras are simply OK and that the bottom bezel below the screen is on the large side of things. Other than that, this is a stellar handset.
- Premium glass build
- HDR10 display
- Great battery
- 128GB of expandable storage
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Large bottom bezel
- Rear cameras are just fine
Best Value: Nokia 6.2
One step below the Nokia 7.2, we have the Nokia 6.2. The 6.2 isn't quite as technically impressive as its more expensive sibling, but there's no denying how good of a value proposition it brings to the table.
The Nokia 6.2 is essentially the same body as Nokia 7.2 with some slightly downgraded specs. It has the same 6.3-inch Full HD+ display, along with support for playing native HDR content and converting SDR videos into HDR ones. You also get the same 3,500 mAh battery, triple rear cameras, 4GB of RAM, and NFC for Google Pay.
The 6.2 has a different processor than the 7.2, less internal storage, and a 16-megapixel primary camera instead of a 48-megapixel one, but for the most part, it's a similar experience. When you factor in the sizable price difference between the two, the 6.2 becomes that much more compelling.
- Excellent hardware
- HDR display
- Three rear cameras
- Large 3,500 mAh battery
- Google Pay support
- Average processor
- Camera quality is OK
Best Low-Cost Option: Nokia 4.2
There's no denying that the Nokia 7.2 and 6.2 are fantastic phones, but at the same time, we also understand that they may still cost too much for some people. If you'd prefer to keep your budget even lower, our top recommendation goes to the Nokia 4.2.
The Nokia 4.2 packs serious value. It has a 5.7-inch screen with a small waterdrop notch, face unlock, and a metal + glass design that looks and feels just as good as phones that cost hundreds of dollars more.
Speaking of its design, the Nokia 4.2 has some unexpected flair that we dig. There's a dedicated button for prompting the Google Assistant, along with an LED notification light that wraps around the power button. How neat is that?
Specs-wise, the Nokia 4.2 is also packing the capable Snapdragon 439 chipset, 32GB of expandable storage (up to 400GB), a fingerprint sensor, and NFC for Google Pay. The display isn't the sharpest at just 720p HD and the older Micro-USB charging port is irritating, but for the price, it's hard to complain too much.
- Durable, flashy design
- Google Assistant button
- Notification light
- Waterdrop notch
- NFC chip for Google Pay
- Dual rear cameras
- 720p display resolution
- 32GB internal storage
Best Battery Life: Nokia 5.3
The latest entrant in HMD Global's portfolio has a lot to offer. The Nokia 5.3 is powered by a familiar Snapdragon 665 chipset and comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, making it a decent enough phone for day-to-day use. The phone is "ready" for Android 11, meaning it will be one of the first to receive the stable update. There's also a 13MP camera at the back and a 5MP wide-angle lens, as well as a 2MP macro and 2MP portrait lens.
However, the standout feature on the Nokia 5.3 is the battery life. With a 4,000mAh battery under the hood and an energy-efficient chipset, you'll get two days of battery life.
The phone has a massive 6.55-inch screen, but the resolution itself is at 720p. That's not too bad as the screen feels fine in daily use, but a 1080p panel would have been better. Elsewhere, there's NFC for Google Pay, FM radio, 3.5mm headphone jack, Wi-Fi ac connectivity and Bluetooth 4.2.
- Two-day battery life
- Exciting colors with minimalist design
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Large screen
- Outdated chipset
- Only a 720p display
Best Display: Motorola One Vision
The first Motorola One was a reliable Android One device that did the basics well, but from a design standpoint, it wasn't very exciting. With the Motorola One Vision, Motorola retains that focus of giving you a no-nonsense handset that can do everything you ask of it while having a bit of pizazz.
Without a doubt, the most striking part of the One Vision is its 21:9 display. This is much narrower and taller than the majority of phones out there, giving it a much more cinematic experience when watching movies or playing games. It also looks great with a resolution of 2520x1080.
The Android One software experience on the One Vision is as clean as ever, but you also get some of Motorola's outstanding custom additions like Moto Display, twisting the phone twice to open the camera, and more. Specs-wise, you also benefit from a 48-megapixel (MP) rear camera, USB-C for charging, and 128GB of built-in storage that can be further expanded up to 512GB.
There is a slight catch, however. While you can buy the Motorola One Vision in the U.S., it's not officially sold here. That means two things — 1) It'll work on AT&T and T-Mobile, but your LTE connections might not be as strong in rural areas or crowded buildings. 2) The phone does not come with a warranty.
- Super narrow 21:9 display
- Motorola's excellent software features
- 48MP rear camera
- Plastic construction
- Meh cameras
- Doesn't support all U.S. LTE bands
Best for Photography: Nokia 9 PureView
For a lot of people, the camera is one of the most important factors when buying a new phone. While all of the phones on this list have cameras that are more than adequate for sharing things on Twitter and Instagram, the Nokia 9 PureView is worth a look if you want to take your photography game to the next level.
Outfitted with a total of five cameras on the back, three of which are dedicated monochrome sensors while the other two capture color images, the Nokia 9 PureView manages to capture an insane amount of detail and light data with each shot you take. The automatic shooting mode is fine, but the real magic happens when you shoot in manual/RAW. This is a camera that requires a bit more work than most other phones, but if you put in the time/effort, you can capture some truly gorgeous photos.
Outside of the camera experience, the Nokia 9 PureView also delivers with its big OLED display, stunning design, and surprisingly great haptics — something that's still far too rare with most Android phones. We do wish it was powered by the newer Snapdragon 855 chipset and not the older 845, and the in-screen fingerprint sensor can be a pain in the butt.
If you can overlook those complaints, however, the Nokia 9 PureView is a unique phone that could be well worth the investment for some folks.
- Unique five-camera system
- Lots of manual photo controls
- Colorful OLED display
- Striking glass design
- Great haptic feedback
- Slow in-display fingerprint sensor
- Using 2018's flagship processor
- Weak speaker
Best For Videos: Motorola One Action
The One Action is certainly a unique option since it has an action camera integrated into its chassis. That makes it stand out from the rest of the options on this list, and if you take a lot of videos on the go, it might be a good choice. The camera on the back has a 117-degree wide-angle lens and shoots horizontal video seamlessly, with Motorola reorienting the position of the lens to be able to do so.
Elsewhere, the phone comes with a 6.3-inch FHD+ display, and is powered by Samsung's Exynos 9609 chipset. It isn't the fastest phone in this segment, but it is discounted right now, and it does hold up fine in day-to-day use.
You also get 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, a microSD slot, NFC, FM radio, and even a 3.5mm jack. The 3,500mAh battery delivers a day's worth of use with ease, but the downside here is that charging is limited to 10W.
Overall, there is a lot to like with the One Action, and the video camera at the back is the big differentiator.
- Built-in action camera
- Vibrant screen
- Long-lasting battery
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Great design
- Ageing hardware
- 10W charging only
You can't go wrong with any of the Android One phones on this list, but at the end of the day, the Nokia 7.2 is our top pick.
One of the standout features on the phone is its chassis, and it continues Nokia's heritage of sturdy designs. Nothing about the Nokia 7.2's design makes it feel as cheap as it is. Instead, it feels like a proper, much more expensive flagship. As you start using the phone and get to appreciate its gorgeous display, long-lasting battery, and features such as NFC for Google Pay, the whole experience comes together to create a genuinely fantastic phone that should last you for years to come.
The primary reason for buying Android One is for fast updates and the clean software, and all the devices on this list deliver in those key areas. Motorola also makes a lot of phones with clean software that aren't under the Android One initiative, so be sure to take a look at the best phones in this category for more options.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is Android Central's Senior Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip for the site? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to email@example.com!
Harish Jonnalagadda is the Regional Editor at Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India's burgeoning handset market. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.