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The 9 Best Google Phones 2021

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The RundownBest Overall:Google Pixel 4a 5G at Best Buy"The Pixel 4a 5G is a smooth and responsive phone with excellent camera capabilities, great battery life, and speedy 5G."Best Flagship:Google Pixel 5 at Amazon"The Pixel 5 is the best and mostly costly phone Google has to offer, featuring great dual cameras, a high refresh screen, and speedy 5G."Best Value:Google Pixel 4a at Amazon"The Pixel 4a offers excellent value in terms of performance and camera capabilities, the only thing it's missing is 5G speeds."Best Mid-Range (Large):Google Pixel 3 XL at Walmart"A premium option for all your different media and games."Best Mid-Range (Compact):Google Pixel 3 at Amazon"The main draw for the Pixel 3 is the camera improvements, including two front-facing cameras with an 8MP wide-angle lens."Best Budget (Compact):Google Pixel 3a at Amazon"The compact Pixel 3a is an older device, but it still offers clean software and solid specs for a reasonable price."Best Budget (Large):Google Pixel 3a XL at Amazon"The Pixel 3a XL offers a big screen, clean Android software, and solid performance and battery despite being an older device."Best Older Model (Compact):Google Pixel 2 at Amazon"An older generation that still has a lot of fantastic features without that new flagship price tag."Best Older Model (Large):Google Pixel 2 XL at Amazon"Gives you a lot of high-end features for your money if you want a big-screen smartphone."

The best Google phones are Pixel devices that run Google's barebones version of Android. The Pixel lineup typically consists of a larger XL model, a more compact base variant, and a value model that takes the best of both devices and puts them into a more affordable option without compromising on camera capabilities. If you're in the market for a Google phone, you can find everything from the latest and greatest 5G flagship to a more reasonably priced mid-range device. It's also worth noting that many older generation Pixel models are still available for sale, giving you the opportunity to get a top-tier phone for a reasonable price.

For a broader overview of your phone options, take a look at our roundup of the best smartphones and the best Android phones. Otherwise, read on to see the best Google phones to get.

Best Overall:Google Pixel 4a 5G

4.3 Buy on Best BuyBuy on Google.comWhat We Like

Stellar cameras

Smooth Android OS

Long-lasting battery

Great, big screen

5G support

What We Don't Like

Generic looking design

No water resistance

Lacks mmWave 5G

Google Pixel 4a 5G Review

The Google Pixel 4a 5G is a phone that offers incredible value. Its specs are similar to the Pixel 5, though there are some key differences. It has a 6.2-inch 2340x1080 OLED display with a crisp 413 pixels per inch. The screen is OLED, giving it rich, inky blacks and saturated colors. Under the hood it's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The processor isn't as powerful as the flagship chipset you can get on phones like the Galaxy S21, but combined with Google's lightweight and optimized take on Android 11, it runs incredibly well. The speedy 5G connectivity can keep[ you going no matter where you are, though it doesn't support Verizon's UltraWide 5G unless you buy the more expensive carrier model.

Our reviewer found the performance to be smooth and responsive, and he was particularly impressed by the long-lasting 3,886mAh battery. Camera and video quality is one of the biggest selling points, with a dual-camera system that's identical to the one on the Pixel 5. It features excellent photo processing, resulting in great point-and-shoot photos in terms of color, clarity, and reliability. It also performs well in low-light with Nigh Side mode, raising the bar for night photography. Video recording is a solid 4K at 60fps with great video stabilization.

"At $499, you get a 5G-capable phone with a great screen, excellent cameras, and strong battery life, and enough processing power to get the job done."— Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Flagship:Google Pixel 5

4.1 Buy on AmazonBuy on Google.comWhat We Like

Brilliant cameras

Super speedy 5G

Smooth 90Hz screen

Incredible battery life

Android 11 OS

What We Don't Like

Skimps on power

Bland design

Iffy value proposition

Google Pixel 5 Review

The Pixel 5 is the current flagship in Google's phone lineup. Despite similarities to the Pixel 4a 5G, the two phones are quite similar, sharing camera capabilities and overall design language. That said, the Pixel 5 stands out due to its 6.2-inch 2340x1080 screen. It's a crisp screen and the OLED panel is bright and colorful, but the real selling point is the 90Hz refresh rate which the 4a 5G doesn't have. Animation and transitions look smoother, and scrolling around the screen feels snappier and more responsive.

Under the hood, the phone has a Snapdragon 765G processor which isn't as capable as Snapdragon 800 series chipsets more common on flagships. That said, with Android 11 being lightweight and well optimized, the phone is more than capable of handling everything you throw at it. The 4,080mAh battery is also enough to keep you running all day.

Our reviewer was particularly impressed by the Pixel 5's camera quality, praising the 12MP and 16MP dual sensor for their easy point-and-shoot capabilities. The phone takes sharp, detailed snaps even in low-light thanks to Night Light. It's also capable of recording 4K video at 60fps. Our reviewer also recorded incredibly high downlink and uplink speeds over the Pixel 5's 5G network.

The 9 Best 5G Phones of 2021

"I recorded a maximum download speed of 1.6Gbps on Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband network. That's the fastest speed I've seen anywhere on anything."— Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Value:Google Pixel 4a

4.5 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on VerizonWhat We Like

Excellent camera

Great OLED screen

Solid performance

All-day battery

Incredible value

What We Don't Like

No 5G

Bland design

Google Pixel 4a Review

The Pixel 4a is a phone that offers almost unbeatable value considering its price. For the $300 range, you get a device with a crisp 5.8-inch 1080p OLED screen. It packs in 443ppi, making it crisp despite not having the higher refresh rate of the Pixel 5. It also looks better than the Pixel 3a screen. Under the hood, the phone is powered by a Snapdragon 730 processor. It's a mid-range chipset that won't match the 765G on the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5, but with 6GB of RAM it's still enough for smooth and responsive multitasking. Games also run reasonably well, though more demanding ones may be hit and miss.

Unlike the more costly 4a 5G and Pixel 5, the 4a doesn't have 5G connectivity, but it's still solid at using 4G LTE networks. The real standout feature is the camera and video quality. The single 12MP sensor can take great shots in almost all settings, especially when optimized by Google's photo algorithms. The 3,140mAh battery is enough to last most of a day with average use.

"The Pixel 4a is lightweight and better suited as a one-handed device than most of today's major smartphones."— Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Mid-Range (Large):Google Pixel 3 XL

Buy on WalmartBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like

Large Quad HD OLED screen

Dual stereo speakers

Great cameras with AI enhancement

Supports wireless charging

What We Don't Like

Older generation model

No microSD card slot

Battery could be bigger

If you have the budget for it, Google's Pixel 3 XL is a truly splurge-worthy device. This smartphone comes with a 6.3-inch P-OLED display with a 2960 x 1440 resolution and dual front-firing stereo speakers, making it a premium option for all your different media and games. Heavy app users will appreciate the super fast Snapdragon 845 processor and Android 9.0 Pie OS, the latter of which facilitates all kinds of intuitive shortcuts and app-switching features. It's also AR and VR capable and built to work with the Google Daydream View headset.

If you're a shutterbug, then the Pixel 3 XL is even more appealing. It has the same lens setup as the Pixel 3 and includes the same sophisticated AI software for a host of cutting-edge camera and photo-editing effects. A CMOS image sensor adjusts the sharpness and brightness for almost every type of setting so your pictures always look great.

A 3,230 mAh battery keeps you going all day, and you can power up using a wireless charger and the phone's fast-charging capabilities if you're in a time crunch. The Pixel 3 XL is available with either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and you can choose from three color options: black, white, and pale pink.

Best Mid-Range (Compact):Google Pixel 3

4.8 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartWhat We Like

Best in class camera

Fast wireless charging

Haptics feel great

Useful new features like Call Screen

What We Don't Like

No headphone jack

Chunky bezel

Less RAM and storage than some competitors

Google Pixel 3 Review

Google Pixel 3 is the best smartphone from the brand. With a 5.5-inch P-OLED display, the Pixel 3 is about an inch smaller (diagonally) than its XL companion — a plus for smartphone users are put off by the super-sized smartphone trend. It runs the latest Android 9.0 Pie OS with Google Assistant, so you can ask questions, make calls, control music playback and more with just your voice.

But the main draw for the Pixel 3 is the camera improvements. This version includes two front-facing cameras, including an 8MP wide-angle lens for group selfies. Google's advanced AI photo correction algorithms fix any distortions when using the wider lens. The rear 12.2MP dual-pixel camera has a bevy of advanced features, too: the Night Sight mode gives you clear shots even in low-light situations, and the Top Shot mode captures several frames before and after you snap a photo to recommend the most perfectly-timed option. You also have about 40% faster HDR processing with this device.

The Pixel 3 has a Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB RAM for plenty of processing power, and you can choose between 64GB and 128GB of storage. It also has a generous 2,915 mAh battery with wireless and fast-charging capabilities and a single USB Type-C port. It's available in black, white, and a very light blush pink.

"The Pixel 3 sports a 5.5-inch, 2160 x 1080 OLED screen, which means you can stream compatible movies from YouTube and Netflix in 1080p HDR."— , Product Tester

Best Budget (Compact):Google Pixel 3a

4.3 Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like

Takes excellent photos

Android 10 is a joy to use

Very appealing price

Vibrant 5.6-inch OLED screen

Has headphone port

What We Don't Like

Limited storage and no option to expand

Slightly chunky design

No water resistance

Google Pixel 3a Review

The affordable Pixel 3a is a compact mid-range phone with a 5.6-inch 1080p OLED screen. The colors look a bit oversatuarted compared to the higher resolution Pixel 3 screen, but at 441ppi it's still plenty sharp. Under the hood, you get a Snapdragon 670 chipset, which is an older mid-range processor. Fortunately, the clean Android 10 software the phone comes with is still buttery smooth when browsing and multitasking, though the phone faces more challenges with 3D gaming.

One of the big value propositions of the Pixel 3a is that it doesn't make serious compromises to the phone despite being a value model. It has a 12.2MP sensor that can take snappy shots with vivid details. This includes Night Sight, allowing for better night and low-light photos that most other mid-range phones wouldn't be able to handle. The 3,000mAh battery is enough to get you a day's usage.

The 9 Best Budget Smartphones for Under $300 in 2021

"If you want a flagship-level camera without spending flagship-level money, then the Google Pixel 3a might be the phone for you."— Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Budget (Large):Google Pixel 3a XL

4.1 Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on EBayWhat We Like

Fantastic back camera

Android is smooth and smart

Strong price point

Great 6-inch screen

Pretty good battery life

What We Don't Like

Just 64GB storage and no microSD port

Not the most polished design

No water resistance rating

Google Pixel 3a XL Review

The Pixel 3a XL is a bigger variant of the off the Pixel 3a. It comes with a 6.0-inch 2170x1080 screen and it doesn't have as many pixels as the Pixel 3 XL so it won't be as crisp. That said, it's a good smartphone screen especially because of the vibrant OLED panel. The processor is a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset which runs smoothly with Android 10. The camera and video quality is where the phone really stands out though.

It has a single 12.2MP sensor that's capable of capturing great detail with plenty of colors and clarity. It also does fairly well in lower lighting, using machine learning with Night Side for better optimized pictures even when it's dark outside. It won't be as fast a snapper as higher-end models due to the lack of the Pixel Visual Core, but it's still quite impressive for a budget phone. The 3,700mAh battery should also be good enough to keep you running for most of a day.

"It's a trimmed-down edition of Google's flagship phone that opts for cheaper materials and less cutting-edge components, but arrives at a much more appealing price point."— Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Older Model (Compact):Google Pixel 2

Buy on AmazonWhat We Like

Crisp AMOLED display

Guaranteed 3 years of updates

Solid camera capabilities

Decent specs

What We Don't Like

Older generation device

Battery could be bigger

No wirless charging

Released at the end of 2017, the Google Pixel 2 is the older generation of this device, but it still has a lot of fantastic features without that new flagship price tag. The phone has a five-inch AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution. It runs on Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, which is older than the Pixel 3's system, but Google guarantees a minimum of three years of OS and security updates so you don't have to worry about any immediate security vulnerabilities (a real concern for most older phone models). You can update it to Android 9.0 Pie right away and get the same OS experience as the newer phones.

The phone has one 12.2MP rear and one 8MP front-facing camera. The rear dual-LED flash, combined with Google's AI photo editing algorithms, still delivers an unmatched camera experience. You can shoot in Portrait Mode (for a DSLR-style shot) with both rear and front cameras, use Motion Photos that detect movement, and Google Lens. There's also support for augmented reality games and apps. 

The Pixel 2 has a Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM and a choice of 64BG or 128GB of storage. The 2,700 mAh battery does not support wireless charging, but it does have fast-charging capabilities that can give you seven hours of battery in 15 minutes. Choose between black, white, and pale blue color options.

Check out our list of the best Google Pixel phone cases available online.

Best Older Model (Large):Google Pixel 2 XL

Buy on AmazonBuy on EBayWhat We Like

Big crisp Quad HD OLED screen

Solid camera capabilities

Good specs

Decent battery size

What We Don't Like

Older generation model

Could use more RAM

If you want a big-screen smartphone but don't want to shell out for the latest flagship, the Pixel 2 XL gives you a lot of high-end features for your money. It has a six-inch P-OLED screen — only slightly outsized by the latest Pixel 3 XL — with slim bezels, a taller display ratio, 16.77 million colors, and 2880 x 1440 QHD+ resolution for an immersive screen experience. It also features front-facing stereo speakers so your media sounds great, too.

Like the Pixel 3, the 2 XL sports a 12.2MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing camera for great photos. It has a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, support for Google Assistant, and a hefty 3,520 mAh battery to keep you running all day. It is available with either 64GB or 128GB of storage and you can choose between black and white color options.

Final Verdict

The Google Pixel 4a 5G is a value-packed powerhouse for Google customers. It has solid specs, clean Android software with guaranteed updates, and excellent camera performance. The cherry on top is the speedy 5G connectivity at a reasonable price. For those who want a phone without compromise we also like the Google Pixel 5, it has the same great camera but with a higher refresh screen and slightly beefed up specs.

About Our Trusted Experts

Andrew Hayward has been writing for Ach5 since 2019. He's been covering tech, gadgets, phones, and video games since 2006. Andrew has been published in TechRadar, Stuff, Polygon, and Macworld, bringing his years of phone review experience with him.

has been writing for Ach5 since 2019 covering gadgets, phones, laptops, and other consumer electronics for Ach5. He also boasts years of experience covering major trade publications and has a background in automotive work.

Ajay Kumar is a Tech Editor at Lifwire with over a decade's experience in the industry. He's reviewed hundreds of phones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices over the course of his career. He's previously been published at PCMag and Newsweek.