Best Android Phones in the U.S. for Android Central 2020
Globalization of the smartphone world has leveled the playing field dramatically, with most phones nowadays being made available internationally. But there are some notable exceptions, and if you're in the U.S. you don't get your choice of every phone out there. These are the best devices you can get in the U.S. today — from the highest end with the Galaxy S10+, down to dramatically more affordable options.
- Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S10+
- Best on a Budget: Moto G7
- Best Camera: Google Pixel 4 XL
- Best Compact Choice: Samsung Galaxy S10e
- Best Value: OnePlus 7T
- Big Battery on a Budget: Moto G7 Power
- Best With a Stylus: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
- Best with 5G: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S10+
There's a reason why Samsung's a leader in the high-end phone market: It just keeps making great phones that provide all of the hardware, design, specs, and features people want. In the Galaxy S10+ you're getting exceptional hardware, a great display, specs that still feel modern, and strong battery life. The recent update to Android 10 has kept things fresh as well.
A year on the Galaxy S10+ is showing its age a little bit, with cameras that aren't best-in-class and a very slow in-display fingerprint sensor. However, it still stands out in so many areas it's an easy recommendation at its discounted price.
Note: The Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra are just around the corner, widely reported to be on sale starting March 6. The Galaxy S10+ has dropped in price to reflect this, making it a good buy for the money, but if you want the latest and greatest you're best off waiting for the S20.
- Best-in-class display
- Great battery life
- Fun wide-angle camera
- Software features galore
- Headphone jack and SD card slot
- Software can be cumbersome
- In-display fingerprint sensor is slow
- Nearly a year old
A fantastic phone for anyone's needs.
The S10+ has lust-worthy features, inside beautiful hardware and punctuated by the best screen you can get on a smartphone today.
Best on a Budget: Moto G7
Motorola defines the budget phone segment with the Moto G series. The baseline G7 is an excellent value device that hits all of the basics at a price just about anyone can afford. You get functional hardware, a big display, capable specs, and clean Motorola software that's easy to pick up and use. Best of all, you can get it on the Big Four major U.S. carriers.
Note: The Moto G8 series has been announced, but not yet released in the U.S. If you're willing to wait, you'll get a newer phone with fresh specs and features for a similar price.
- Big 1080p display
- Capable specs for the money
- Simple and intuitive software
- Works on the Big Four U.S. carriers
- No NFC
- Software update future uncertain
Best on a Budget
Get the basics done in a solid package
The G7 is the budget phone benchmark. You still get great build quality, a solid screen and full spec sheet with clean software.
Best Camera: Google Pixel 4 XL
The Pixel 4 XL is first and foremost about its cameras. The main rear camera takes spectacular shots in all conditions, and the secondary telephoto lens is surprisingly capable even at 5X zoom using software processing. There are other redeeming qualities here: The understated hardware is nice in the hand, the 90Hz display is solid, and Google's software is powerful and always kept up to date.
Google has clearly stumbled when it comes to battery life, where even the large Pixel 4 XL fails to make it through a day for many people. Its weak longevity provides no confidence. Plus, new features like face unlock and Motion Sense have little real-world use or don't work with enough apps. This all detracts from so many other great aspects of the phone.
- Super-smooth 90Hz display
- Simple, useful and fast software
- Excellent face unlock
- Top-notch camera quality back and front
- Nice-looking and feeling hardware
- Incredibly weak battery life
- Motion Sense has little real-world use
- Low RAM and storage for the money
- Many apps still incompatible with face unlock
The best camera you can get in a smartphone today
The Pixel 4 XL has the best camera you can get, but it's let down by poor battery life and weak specs for the money.
Best Compact Choice: Samsung Galaxy S10e
All of the core tenets that make the Galaxy S10+ great can be found in a smaller package in the S10e. This is a flagship experience through-and-through, and it actually has a better fingerprint sensor than the S10+. You sacrifice a little bit on battery life, and lose the dedicated telephoto camera, but those are fine trade-offs if you're in search of a compact phone. Better yet, you're saving money compared to the larger S10 models as well.
- Small enough for one-handed use
- Great cameras for the price
- Headphone jack and SD card slot
- Fun wide-angle camera
- Weak battery life for a flagship phone
- Screen may feel cramped for some
- Software can be cumbersome
Best Compact Choice
A GS10 in every way, but in a smaller size
The S10e scales back battery life and screen resolution compared to the S10, but the smaller manageable size is worth it.
Best Value: OnePlus 7T
An argument could be made that the OnePlus 7T represents a better value than the ostensibly higher-end 7 Pro. This hardware feels every bit the quality of phones hundreds of dollars more, the screen looks great, and the internal specs are top notch. The software experience is also fantastic, as is the battery life.
The only shortcomings here are on the fringes, where you're missing out on some extra features. There's no official waterproofing rating or wireless charging, and the cameras just aren't quite flagship-level. Still, the value on offer here is exceptional, splitting the difference perfectly between typical "budget" phones and true high-end flagships.
- Well-designed, with premium materials
- Excellent battery life
- OxygenOS 10 is awesome
- Consistent and versatile cameras
- Great price for what you get
- Lacks official IP rating
- No wireless charging
- Loses telephoto OIS from OnePlus 7 Pro
A perfect balance of high-end quality and mid-range price
You get the same great specs as the OnePlus 7 Pro, in a slightly smaller package with a few extras cut back — but in return get an exceptional price.
Big Battery on a Budget: Moto G7 Power
When you're looking for a budget-minded phone, you expect to give up a lot of features. With the Moto G7 Power, battery life certainly isn't one of them. A massive 5,000mAh battery will undoubtedly power you though even the longest days, all without being too terribly big or heavy.
The rest of the experience rounds out just like the standard Moto G7, which is a good thing. A big display, solid hardware and capable cameras run on simple software.
Note: The Moto G8 series has been announced, but not yet released in the U.S. If you're willing to wait, you'll get newer phones with fresh specs and features for a similar price.
- Huge battery and incredible battery life
- Simple and useful software
- Unlocked model usable on all U.S. carriers
- Large 6.2-inch display
- Expected short software update lifespan
- Middling camera quality
Big Battery on a Budget
When you're on a budget, but hold battery life in high regard.
The G7 Power is all about long battery life at a low price. Plus a standard slate of basic Moto design, features and a big screen.
Best With a Stylus: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
Even with the Galaxy S20 Ultra right around the corner, the Note 10+ can still hold its own as one of the best phones you can buy. It's big, powerful, and feels completely modern for 2020. The hardware looks and feels great, the display is bright and wonderfully colorful, and there's nothing you can throw at it to slow down the software.
Everything the Note 10+ has to offer is punctuated by its S Pen, which really has no equal in the smartphone world. If you see value in having a stylus in your phone, there's no comparison here — and thankfully the rest of the phone is great as well.
- Incredible display
- Hardware looks and feels expensive
- Outstanding performance
- Great battery life and fast charging
- Consistent camera performance
- Best stylus experience on any phone
- Low-light camera quality is weak
- Software requires lots of tweaking
- No headphone jack
Best With a Stylus
Samsung's biggest and best (for now), with a stylus
For many, there's no replacement for a Note. You get the best Samsung has to offer, with a huge display, plus the unique S Pen.
Best With 5G: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G
For the moment, your options for a 5G phone in the U.S. are limited. That'll change soon with the launch of the Galaxy S20 series (and plenty of others throughout 2020), but for now, if you want to get 5G your best bet is the Note 10+ 5G. It's the best choice purely because aside from its networking capabilities, it's the exact same as the standard Note 10+. That means you're getting great hardware, specs and features with a huge battery and the unique S Pen.
You just have to pay a lot extra to get the Note 10+ 5G, which is likely not worth it unless you live in one of the few markets with comprehensive coverage.
- 5G connectivity for upcoming networks
- Huge, high-quality screen
- Complete Galaxy Note 10+ experience
- Extremely expensive for what you get
- Limited to just Verizon right now
- 5G networks will be limited for some time to come
Best with 5G
The future is now … with a few caveats.
The Note 10+ 5G has access to the future of networking, but you spend extra to get it. 5G aside, it's effectively a Note 10+.
When you're looking to buy a phone in the U.S., you have access to nearly all of the leading Android phones out today. Samsung does a great job with the Galaxy S10+'s U.S. availability. You can get the phone unlocked and use it on any U.S. carrier, whether that's one of the big four or a prepaid offering. And it's a great phone to pick for every other reason: it has great hardware, a whole mountain of features, long battery life, and has been updated to Android 10. Its cameras are feeling a bit old now that it's getting on in age, but the complete package is a great choice at its reduced price.
There's one big caveat here, though, as the forthcoming Galaxy S20 series is set to replace the Galaxy S10+ in mid-March. Keep that in mind when you're shopping.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Martonik is Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Daniel Bader is Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.
Joe Maring is Android Central's News 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? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to email@example.com!
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