The Google Pixel 5 is the best Android phone when it comes to security. Google builds its phones to be secure from the start, and its monthly security patches guarantee you won't be left behind on future exploits. Some of the most secure Android phones available to date are on this list to keep your mind at ease while staying safely connected.
Best overall: Google Pixel 5
Google Pixel 5
At the forefront of Android security
The Pixel 5 is updated directly from Google with the latest version of Android. Outside of any new features that may come with it, the device security model has been updated and strengthened by a dedicated team that regularly audits and enhances the code used to build Android. On top of this, Google releases updates to the security model at the beginning of every month for the people who build Android phones to apply to its software. These are important, direr than any other update.
Equally necessary but often overlooked is transparency. You shouldn't have to trust a company when it says something is secure or updated, and the Android code for both the platform version and all updates is available for anyone to take a look at. Plenty of people do, and despite any opinions to the contrary, Android, as written, has proven to be a very secure platform. A phone like a Pixel 5 is the embodiment of this.
Best alternative: Samsung Galaxy S21
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G - Factory unlocked
Samsung used to have a poor reputation regarding Android security, but the company has done a complete turn-around and is now regularly updating and patching its phones. The Galaxy S21 ships with Android 11 and will get regular monthly security patches in a timely manner. It also has Samsung Knox, which adds an extra layer of security that can separate business and personal data and allow you to hide certain information behind a password. This can mean the difference between personal and corporate security.
The rest of the Galaxy S21 experience is rock solid outside of the security features. It features a gorgeous 120Hz AMOLED display, flagship speed thanks to the Snapdragon 888 processor, and a very respectable 4,000 mAh battery.
You don't get the official guarantee of updates that you do with Google's Pixel 5, but Samsung's recent performance in these regards has made us confident in the S21's overall security. Factor that together with the improved processing speed and display over the Pixel 5, and it stands out as an excellent alternative.
Best value: Google Pixel 5a
Google Pixel 5a
Inexpensive, secure, and capable
The Pixel 5a is a slightly upgraded version of the fan-favorite Pixel 4a, and it's clearly one of the best value phones you can buy. The internal hardware isn't over the top, though it's extremely capable for pretty much all day-to-day tasks. The battery life, however, is the stuff of legends and you get the great Pixel camera system on top of that.
You'll also find the same focus on security and security-related software features. The Pixel 5a receives the same updates that the more expensive Pixel 5 does and gets them simultaneously. The result is a super-secure phone at a low price, making the Pixel 5a one of the best values out there if you don't want to compromise your security just because you have a lower spending budget.
Best Android One: Nokia 8.3 Android 10
Nokia 8.3 5G Android 10
Still the best Android One phone
The Nokia 8.3 from HMD Global already stood out in a list of the best Android One phones. The phone's large 6.81-inch Full HD+ display stands out on its own, and it's nice to have a pretty strong Snapdragon 765G chipset with 5G connectivity to go with it. Throw in the 4500mAh battery, and you're probably a lock to get at least two days of battery life.
The 3.5mm headphone jack is a nod to those looking to literally plug in, while the 64MP rear camera has enough to capture solid photos in most lighting conditions. The Nokia 8.3 gets a lot right, which has to do with how clean the software is. There's no bloatware to drag things down or take up much-needed space. The catch is that Nokia is often tardy with software updates, releasing the Android 11 update for this phone a full five months after it first came to market.
It's also too bad that Nokia didn't include a 90Hz or 120Hz screen or even wireless charging. So, while the phone doesn't quite hold its own against the Galaxy S20 FE or the Pixel 5a 5G, it still stands up as one of the best Android One phones available.
Best cheap flagship: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G - Factory unlocked
Samsung followed up the Galaxy S20 lineup with the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition), and it continued its dedication to security. If you're interested in a flagship that's a little cheaper, this one fits the bill. The Galaxy S20 FE has since been upgraded to Android 11 and keeps getting monthly security patches in a timely manner. Just like the newer Galaxy S21, Samsung Knox is on board if you need an extra layer of protection.
There isn't a huge gap in age between this phone and the Galaxy S21, so the update cycle should apply to both, and it's yet another reason why it's a great choice. You get a good mix of design, features, and performance, along with a flagship Android experience that saves you some cash.
Outside of the security perspective, everything else about the Galaxy S20 FE also holds up incredibly well. Samsung made it by mixing the previous S20 lineup elements, including that beautiful AMOLED screen and solid camera output.
Best low cost: Nokia G20
Keep your spending to a minimum
We wouldn't consider our best value, the Pixel 5a, to be an expensive phone, but if you're shopping with an especially tight budget, you may need a phone that costs even less. For you, we'd recommend the Nokia G20.
The Nokia G20 is part of Google's Android One program, meaning it's guaranteed to get two years of Android updates and three years of monthly security patches, which means platform updates until 2023 and security updates into 2024. You don't always see that level of update commitment with some flagship devices, so getting it at this price is outstanding. The Nokia G20 also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, giving you a level of on-device security that's not always expected for phones this cheap.
Outside of those perks, the Nokia G20 also delivers a great design, quad cameras, an HD+ display with minimal bezels, expandable storage, and more.
Media outlets like to give Android a bad reputation for security, and it's difficult to blame them. Old, outdated software from manufacturers with no real concern for your security or privacy is the norm for phones running Android. But that's not how it has to be.
The Google Pixel 5 delivers a great smartphone experience that ticks all the boxes for reviewers and average buyers alike, and with no modifications, your personal data is very safe. A team of security professionals and engineers is dedicated to keeping it that way. Any of the phones on our list will do a great job in security, but the overall experience of using the phone over and above the security aspect makes the Google Pixel 5 the best choice.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation's Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently, he is using Google's Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You'll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.
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.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.