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Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Android has had many rivals over the past decade and more since its inception, but only iOS has presented a major alternative to Google’s platform (arriving before Android in the first place). One of the most prominent rivals in the 2010s was Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, which eventually evolved into Windows 10 Mobile.

It goes without saying that Microsoft’s platform eventually fell by the wayside. It was finally abandoned in 2023. But that doesn’t mean that the failed OS didn’t leave an impression on the industry. So what is there to know about it? What was it like at the time and in 2023? Did it do anything better or worse than Android today? We’ll answer all this and more in this, our Windows 10 Mobile retrospective.

Microsoft’s final mobile OS

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Microsoft introduced Windows 10 Mobile in early 2024 as part of a public beta before launching the first phones with the software in November 2024. This release saw Microsoft’s mobile software draw even closer to its desktop counterpart.

Windows 10 Mobile’s shared Windows 10 DNA extended to the UWP apps concept (allowing a developer to make one Microsoft Store app that works on both platforms), the Continuum mode (giving you a Windows-style desktop when connected to a display), and notification syncing across mobile and desktop. In hindsight, this was a rather smart idea that Samsung Dex and others have attempted to emulate in more recent times.

Where it worked well

It may look a little cluttered by modern standards, but Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile was a pretty fresh if slightly simplistic take on the mobile operating system interface. The live tile UI has been emulated by Android launchers since, but the Redmond company’s take included several extra customization options, including wallpaper backgrounds and different accent colors.

Microsoft also tried to keep up with its rival platforms by refining the notification shade and quick toggles settings it introduced with Windows Phone 8.1. The firm embraced other generic design trends, such as the hamburger menu, much to the dismay of die-hard fans, but there was no mistaking that this was a unique platform.

And where it stumbled

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block was the lackluster app store and software portfolio compared to Google and Apple’s storefronts. A Microsoft executive previously explained that the company tried everything from paying for apps to developing apps on behalf of others, but that it still couldn’t narrow the app gap to the big two players. The situation could’ve perhaps been alleviated by implementing Android app support, but this was nixed from the final release, despite beta versions supporting the functionality.

Apps make the platform and Microsoft simply couldn’t catch up with Apple and Google.

One major issue with Windows 10 Mobile, in particular, was simply the lack of polish in the months following its release. Some issues like the Windows Store’s buggy and laggy interface and an issue with the moment capture camera mode weren’t addressed for months after launch. In fact, the Windows Store isn’t without its glitches and/or quirks today. For example, it still promotes Game Pass even though it’s not on the platform and incorrectly marks desktop apps as mobile-friendly.

Another notable hurdle the platform couldn’t overcome was the decline in OEM support. By the time of Windows 10 Mobile’s release, only Microsoft itself, HP, Alcatel, and Acer were building handsets.

What’s it like in 2023?

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Anyone using a Windows 10 Mobile device in 2023 will have several challenges to overcome. For starters, Microsoft has abandoned the platform and halted all updates for it, meaning that security fixes and version updates are out of the window. You’ll also need to make sure you have a 4G device, as 3G shutdowns in some markets mean a 3G device is left without cellular connectivity. But all the usual bells and whistles still work on the Lumia 950 XL flagship that I recently took for a spin. Phone calls, texts, web browsing, and (most) apps run just fine, and the UI is still functional too.

The last Windows 10 Mobile flagship still supports phone calls, texts, and apps. But the app store is pretty barren today, while the web browser is obsolete.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the web browser was modern, but the Edge browser lacks some important features like comprehensive support for progressive web apps, which would’ve helped address the lack of apps in a major way. Switching to a different browser won’t guarantee different results, as all browsers on the platform use the same engine. And no, Wordle doesn’t work on this browser.

Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone are effectively dead, but they still brought a ton of features we take for granted on Android and iOS today.

Windows 10 Mobile, in particular, wasn’t perfect at the time, though, owing to the lack of apps and buggy software. But for all the downsides of the platform, revisiting it today is a reminder that there can be more to smartphones than endless rows of icons.

Microsoft has since returned to the mobile arena with 2023’s Surface Duo and 2023’s Surface Duo 2, making for sharp departures from typical phones thanks to the dual-screen approach. And with news of the company doubling down on Android, you shouldn’t expect Windows 11 to officially come to smartphones any time soon.

You're reading Android’S Fallen Rivals Revisited: Windows 10 Mobile

I Hate Android: Why? – By A Hardcore Android Lover!

Like millions of people around the world, I am an Android fanboy. Recently I though about sharing some of my  aspects which I don’t like about Android.  Eventhough being Android has gotten better over the years but there are still many things I dont like about it. To put it bluntly, I hate Android, at least some of its features. I have used Linux for a few years since Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon and fell in love with the open source movement. Ive come to realize that all the hype about being open and portraying Apple and RIM as the evil closed platform was all a deception. . Theres a list(I love lists). Lets go through them. I hate some of the UI. Customization is nice but it allows for more things to break. These include themes and design. At first, the UI was cool and beautiful. I felt like I had a computer in my hands, literally. Icons were nice to touch and scrolling was smooth(at first). After using it for a while, I started to experience the pains of using the touch screen. Mistypes, and mistaps were frequent. The Android experience varied depending on manufacturer. All the different flavors of Android pushed by their respective hardware developers all look different. OneUI, TouchWiz, and MotoBlur are all different. OneUI is probably the best(IMO) out of all these. TouchWiz makes me feel like Im using an iPhone and MotoBlur is a mess with all their social networking widgets. These skins load on top of Android making it slower than its vanilla stock core. When I get my phone, I hate all the bloatware that comes with it. All carriers seem to do it. They push Vcast, SprintTV and other bloatware that I dont want. The Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi,Oppo,Vivo are the notorious ones feeding bloatware just to compnsate for the cheap price they offer in some countries. Not only that, but I hate that I cant delete them. I hate knowing that they are on my phone and the only way for me to get rid of them is by rooting my phone. Why do I have to jump through hoops just to get rid of this crapware? Im not scared of rooting my phone. In fact, Ive done so and install a few custom ROMs but there is always a risk of bricking your phone and leaving it useless. Average users dont want to risk the warranty by rooting their phone. Not only are there crapware on the phone, but there is/was malware on the Market. I hate Andoid memory management, being an old Symbian OS user.Symbian was the most efficient Mobile Os in memory management, followed by iOS. My old Nokia 808 Pureview had just 512MB RAM which was handling the Mammoth Camera, the 41MP beast with Xenon flash. I know that comparing a Symbian Phone with very limited apps and strict developer requirements with Android which has an ocean of apps and simpler developer standards is not fair. But are these crazy RAM of 12GB,16GB etc etc in many high end Android Phones really necessary? Or are they worth the performance they offer compared to iOs? Expanding from the 1st and the 3rd reasons, I hate Androids software fragmentation. I hate that Motorola’s flavor is different from Samsung’s. I hate that the buttons are different in all manufacturer, and even sometimes, within the same manufacturers. And I hate that I cant install certain apps because I my phone doesnt have the latest and greatest version of Android. Notoriously all my Samsung Phones from Galaxy S3 to Galaxy S9 Plus started showing sluggishness after 1 year of usage. The problem being whenever I update an app, the hardware is not able to cope with newest software. Android isВ recognized as the open platform and that unadulterated Android experience does not come standard. It only comes standard on Googles Nexus phones  and Selected flagship phones from other manufacturers. But most people dont own these flagship devices. Most people get their Droids from their carriers. Not only are these phones locked down with carrier bloatware but they are also locked down from performing specific tasks. People have gotten around this issue by a process called rooting. This grants the user superuser status allowing him to do anything he wishes with the phone. The Nexus phones are relatively easy to root but carrier phones are harder. Android phones are great if you want the phone to be your hobby, if you dont mind tinkering with the device, rooting it, or if youre just a techno buff.  

Whatever Happened To Android One?

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Ample competition has ensured that mid-range smartphones are doing better than ever now, and there’s no dearth of brands aiming to make the flagship experience more affordable for everyone. However, it wasn’t all that long ago that the disparity in the user experience between a budget and a high-end phone was a lot more significant. The first few generations of budget smartphones were particularly bad, owing to their underpowered processors and bloated software

Read more: Stock Android vs Android One vs Android Go

In 2014, Google stepped in with the Android One program to clean up the Wild West budget Android landscape. The result was a clean and clutter-free version of Android that came with hardware guidelines to guarantee a quality user experience.

However, eight years later, all that remains of the program is a website that appears to be stuck in 2023, fleeting references on community forums, and a pretty big question — what the heck happened to Android One?

Remind me again, what was Android One?

As smartphone penetration grew in developing markets, dozens of smartphone brands popped up to capitalize on a growing audience. Unfortunately, not every brand was equipped to give users a quality user experience, and more often than not, the phones had poor hardware, bloatware, or a combination of both. They also sullied Android’s image as a refined operating system.

Go back in time: Google and Android One — Is this the new Nexus line?

So what could’ve gone wrong?

Without any official statement on the state of the program, we only have snippets of information to go on. However, it isn’t hard to see the bigger picture.

After reading what exactly the Android One program required of device makers, I’m not surprised it flopped. There are so many restrictions. Google even had the say on the industrial design and go-to-market strategy for each device. What was really in it for the OEM?

— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) November 8, 2023

Mishaal Rahman, Senior Technical Writer at Esper and ex-XDA whizz, recently talked about the sheer number of restrictions on OEMs shipping Android One devices. His observations hint that Google mandated strict control over the industrial design of any device sold as part of the Android One program. The restrictions extended beyond hardware design too. Google only permitted a total of five pre-loaded apps, including those mandated by operators. And all of these apps would have to be vetted by Google.

Even though these limitations made sense back in 2014, that level of control could very well be considered a stranglehold on creativity. When both the hardware and software stacks between a Moto, Nokia, or Xiaomi phone were essentially the same, there just wasn’t much room for differentiation.

This is truer still in 2023 when the hardware is, for the most part, commodified. Phones are sold on the basis of software experiences, and that’s something no brand could build while being a part of the Android One initiative.

Modern smartphones are sold on software experiences, and Android One didn’t give OEMs much wiggle room there.

There’s also something to be said about the update commitment. While HMD Global managed to do a decent job of keeping its phones updated for the first generation or two, that cadence quickly fell off the cliff.

In fact, almost no OEM was able to consistently deliver fast software updates and we might never find out why. In hindsight, it is almost bizarre considering the limited hardware options and customization-free software. Between phones like the Xiaomi Mi A3 bricking with software updates and HMD users waiting indefinitely for updates, there’s little doubt that something was definitely amiss.

Another factor to consider is that Google too introduced its own budget line of Pixel phones. Starting with the Pixel 3a, the phones were incredibly well-received due to the marriage of rapid updates, flagship-grade cameras, and excellent pricing. These phones competed directly against mid-range Android One devices, leaving little reason for anyone to buy anything but a Pixel.

Common Troubleshooting Techniques For Android

With any bit of technology, be it a gadget or software, there are some basics for general troubleshooting some people don’t always think about. Even the most tech savvy people can get into a bind with misbehaving technology.

Read the Instructions

While this seems like the most obvious step, we tend to scan over the instructions may times looking for the important stuff. If you are running into a problem, make sure to read what is on the screen. If you are getting a specific error, that’s a great place to start. Try to search the error in Google to see what is causing it.

Also, when in doubt, look at the manual or tutorial. Many times, there is a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section where the solution to your issue may be.

Restart

Restarting your device using the power button or possibly remove the battery for 30-60 seconds can solve a lot of little quirky problems. It is recommended to power cycle your phone every day or two to keep things running smoothly.

Clearing the Application data

By clearing the data, you effectively reset the entire application reverting it back to when you first installed the application. There can be some leftover info on your microSD card though. Make sure you have a back up of any important information before erasing the application data.

Uninstalling the application Master reset

Note: There is no way to recover any information after a factory reset. Make sure to backup contacts and other important information in any note taking or applications not synced anywhere else!!!

Final thoughts

Whenever you have a problem and need to do a little troubleshooting, try to use a little common sense. Think about any changes you have made to settings or new applications you have downloaded recently that may be causing the problems.

What are your troubleshooting steps?

image credit

Trevor Dobrygoski

Trevor is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from the Android OS to free web and desktop applications. When he is not writing about mobile productivity, He is coaching and playing the world’s greatest game… Soccer.

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Best Android Phones Of 2023

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Written By Brendan Hesse

Updated Mar 8, 2023 7:53 AM

How we picked the best Android phones

We selected our picks for the best Android phones based on our experience with many of these phones, as well as trusted sources and professional reviewers. Since there are so many Android devices on the market, each with its own hardware and features, we made sure to select a variety of devices at various price points and unique use cases that we’re confident will match your specific needs in a smartphone.

What to consider when buying a new Android phone

If this is your first time shopping for a new Android phone, you’ve probably noticed just how many options there are. Not only are there several Android phone manufacturers, but each company may have multiple smartphone lines, each of which comes in multiple models that differ in size, power, and features. It’s overwhelming, but spotting the right phone for you will be easier if you keep a few essential factors in mind during your search.

Display

The first thing most people examine when picking a new phone is the part they stare at most of the time, the screen. Many immediately look at the phone’s size, but the technology that determines how sharp and bright it looks is far more sophisticated (and important). This includes the screen’s resolution, which measures how many pixels are in the display, and pixel density, or how close those pixels are on screen. A higher pixel density, measured in pixels per inch (or PPI), translates to a sharper, more detailed image. A 7-inch screen with a 1080p resolution will look grainier than a 5-inch screen running in 4K.

In addition, a phone display’s refresh rate, measured in Hz, determines the number of times a screen “draws” a screen per second. A phone with a higher refresh rate (aka frame rate) allows for smoother animations in videos, apps, and even menus. High refresh rates are especially important for mobile gaming.

Size

While the size of the screen isn’t a measure of picture quality, the overall form factor of your smartphone is still important. Android devices come in many sizes and, in some cases, shapes. Right now, 6-6.5 inches tall and 2.5-3 inches wide are common measurements for a modern phone, and most of our picks fall within that range. These should fit in the hands of most adults, and probably in your pocket. 

Size isn’t just about usability, however. For better and for worse, a larger phone often comes paired with superior specs. The Samsung S21, for example, is smaller and less powerful than the S21 Ultra. The same goes for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, and so on. Bigger isn’t always better; the Pixel 5a was bigger than the Pixel 5, despite being the weaker phone. However, in general, bigger phones tend to have more powerful hardware and/or better battery life.

Cameras

It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have a camera in our pockets. Every smartphone has a camera, but there’s a lot of variation in camera quality. For some devices, photography is a major focus; for others, it’s merely a formality. 

Sussing out a phone’s camera quality will be tough unless you already have a strong background in photography. In general, the best camera phones will at least have a main camera, a telephoto camera, and a wide-angle (or ultra-wide angle) camera on its rear-facing array, and at least one or two selfie-cameras above the screen. 

However, smartphone camera specs can be deceiving. More cameras and larger megapixel counts might seem better, but the truth is much more complicated. Other factors, such as sensor size, pixel size, whether a camera uses optical or digital zoom, and your phone’s settings will affect the final picture quality. And perhaps even more important than hardware specs—at least when it comes to high-end flagship devices—is camera software. 

For example, Google’s Pixel devices are frequently heralded by critics as the best smartphones for photography, but it’s easy to imagine a general user seeing the Pixel 6’s three-camera array as “inferior” to the four-camera setups with high megapixel counts on the OnePlus Pro and Samsung S21 Ultra. In practice, however, the Pixel 6’s camera’s hardware and software result in the best phone photography currently available. 

The best way to judge a smartphone’s camera quality is to test the phone hands-on before you buy. If you can’t, be sure to look for reviews that provide photo comparisons for reference.

The processor

It’s easy to forget sometimes, but a smartphone is a computer. Modern phones are packed with powerful components that let them run apps, games, take pictures, and every other function you can think of instantly, without any friction. To run so smoothly, phones require a powerful system on a chip (SoC) with the core processing components of your phone, including its CPU and GPU. 

Newer and more powerful SoC chipsets will naturally result in faster performance. Currently, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and 888 Ultra are the top-of-the-line chipsets found in many flagship Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S21. With the Pixel 6 line, Google started building its own custom Tensor chips like how Apple creates custom chipsets for each version of the iPhone. While not quite as powerful as Qualcomm’s high-end SoCs, Google’s Tensor chips enable AI-driven features that are exclusive to Pixel 6 devices.

Memory

The processor isn’t solely responsible for your phone’s performance. Memory, or RAM, dictates how many tasks a phone can do at once. (Which is important, because it’s almost always doing many things at the same time.) Though cloud services allow you to offload lots of files, having enough internal storage for your apps, photos, media files (like songs and podcasts), is also important.

5G connectivity

It’s likely you’ve seen 5G, short for fifth-generation cellular broadband, touted as a massive step up for your mobile download and streaming speeds. It’s true! That said, actually connecting to and using 5G is still a mess in some parts of the country. Mobile ISPs are expanding 5G service, though, and more smartphones are 5G compatible than ever.

Android version

Like we said, even Android itself varies from phone to phone. Many Android phones run plain-old Android out of the box, but some use modified versions of the OS—such as the OneUI on Samsung devices, OnePlus’ OxygenOS, and ASUS’ ZenUI—that look and run slightly different from the standard, “stock” Android experience created by Google. 

Custom variants tend to add manufacturer- or model-specific features and apps, like the Samsung Messages app or the ASUS ROG Phone’s gaming-focused widgets—but these modifications are mostly superficial. OneUI, OxygenOS, and ZenUI are still Android, so you won’t have any trouble downloading apps, and deciding whether they’re “good” or “bad” is a matter of taste. 

However, there is one objective downside to these custom Android variants: you won’t get major Android system updates immediately at launch. The monthly security patches still roll out on time, but you may have to wait months before you get major upgrades and revisions like Android 12, which was only available on a very small number of devices at launch.

If you want the pure Google Android experience, the company’s Pixel devices are built around the stock Android experience and get the latest core features, system updates, and beta invites before other Android devices. If you want to get Android 12—and, eventually, Android 13—as quickly as possible, a Pixel phone is your best option.

Best Android phones: Reviews & Recommendations

Even if you know what you want from your next smartphone, it’s hard to grok a phone’s quality based on spec lists alone, and even harder to parse the differences between models with seemingly identical components. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best Android phones currently available. 

We used the criteria outlined above to find the best Android phones overall, plus the best options for specific uses like photography and gaming, the best folding phone, and the best 5G phone at an affordable price point to give a range of devices we think are worth your time. Or, at the very least give you a good place to start your search.

Best Android phone overall: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Why it made the cut: The Galaxy S21 Ultra is packed with the latest smartphone technology, including five cameras, a high-refresh-rate screen, and one of the strongest smartphone processors available. 

Specs

Display: 6.8-inch AMOLED (3200 x 1400 px resolution; 10 to 120 Hz variable refresh rate)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

RAM options: 12GB, 16GB

Storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Battery: 5,000 mAh

Charging: 25W fast charging wired; 15W wireless charging

Cameras: Front: 40MP (ƒ/2.2);  Rear: 108MP main (ƒ/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, ƒ/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, ƒ/4.9).

Size: 2.97 x 0.35 x 6.5 inches (WDH); 8.08 ounces

Android OS version: Android 11 (OneUI 3.1)

Pros 

Big AMOLED display with dynamic refresh rate

Powerful Snapdragon 888 CPU

Good battery life on a single charge

Multi-lens rear camera with two telephoto lenses

Cons 

Wall charger and other important accessories sold separately

No Micro SD card

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is the company’s strongest flagship yet and our pick for best Android phone overall. It’s an incredibly expensive phone, starting at $1,200, but its features and performance are worth that sky-high price.

Videos, apps, and games look great on the S21 Ultra’s 6.8-inch AMOLED screen, and an optional dynamic refresh rate setting shifts from the standard 60Hz mode up to as high as 120Hz, or as low as 10Hz, depending on what’s on the display. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra also has a  sharp, versatile camera, featuring two separate telephoto lenses (one 3x optical zoom and the other 10x), and helpful shooting modes to get the perfect shot. Qualcomm’s current-best chipset, the Snapdragon 888, powers these features, and is strong enough to handle demanding apps, games, and general multitasking. 

Battery life, another smartphone pillar, also shines. You can expect about a day’s worth of use on a single charge and it juices up quickly over wired or wireless charging. Performance will fluctuate depending on how often the screen uses the higher refresh rate modes, but only slightly, and you can lock the screen to 60Hz if it’s an issue. Charging does present a small issue, though: The Galaxy S21 Ultra ships with a USB 3.0 cable, but you need to buy a wall charger separately (unless you own a compatible one from a previous Android device). 

Speaking of extra accessories, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the first Galaxy S phone to support the S Pen stylus, but it doesn’t come with the phone, and you need a specific case if you want to store the stylus on the S21 Ultra. And unlike many previous Galaxy devices, the S21 Ultra does not have a MicroSD slot for expandable storage, so you’re locked into the onboard space for the model you buy.

Even with minor quibbles like the lack of an SD card slot and having to buy one or two necessary accessories, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the most well-rounded flagship Android phone, making it the best choice for most people.

Best value Android phone: OnePlus 9 Pro

Why it made the cut: The OnePlus 9 Pro is a powerful flagship Android phone that’s just barely outmatched by the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but with a prettier design and more affordable price.

Specs

Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED (3168 x 1440 px resolution; 1-120 Hz variable refresh rate)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

RAM: 12GB

Storage: 256GB

Battery: 4500 mAh

Charging: 65W fast charging wired; 50W fast charging wireless

Cameras: Front: 16MP (ƒ/2.4) Rear: 48MP lens (ƒ/1.8), 50MP ultrawide lens (ƒ/2.2), 8MP 3x optical telephoto lens (ƒ/2.4), 2MP monochrome lens

Size: 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches (HWD); 6.9 ounces

Android OS version: Android 11 (Oxygen OS 11)

Pros

Amazing high refresh rate AMOLED display

Snapdragon 888 CPU is fast

Fast charging in wired and wireless charging modes

Wall charger included with the phone

Excellent design

Cons 

Some lackluster camera features

Only one memory/storage option

The $1,000 OnePlus 9 Pro is probably the best-looking phone on this list, being the best value Android phone is its real draw. In many ways, it matches the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in specs and performance, thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset, but with a $1,000 starting price. That’s still very expensive, but also substantially less than Samsung’s top phone.

Like the S21 Ultra, it sports an AMOLED display with a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The screen is a smidge smaller, at 6.7 inches, but it’s just as vibrant. 

Camera performance is also good, but this is one area where the OnePlus 9 Pro lags behind its main competitor, largely due to its underwhelming software feature like the nighttime photography mode. It also has a slightly smaller battery than the S21 Ultra at 4,500 mAh, but its super-fast charging speeds make up for it. Plus, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s 65W wall charger actually ships in the box. A small win, sure, but a noteworthy inclusion since other manufacturers only supply wall chargers as separate purchases.

The phone only comes in a single configuration with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, but those numbers are plenty for most users, and the model’s overall performance often outpaces other flagship devices with similar specs, including the Galaxy S21 Ultra. 

Like other OnePlus handsets, the OnePlus 9 Pro runs OxygenOS—OnePlus’ unique version of Android. OxygenOS still has the same core functionality as other Android devices, but it looks and feels different from the stock Android experience. It’s less of an alteration than Samsung’s OneUI, but like other modified versions of Android, major updates (like the recent Android 12) will take longer to show up for OxygenOS.

Best Android phone for photography: Pixel 6 Pro

Why it made the cut: Google’s Pixel 6 Pro features the best smartphone camera on the market, with excellent hardware specs and unique machine learning photo features thanks to Google’s new Tensor chip.

Specs

Display: 6.71 inch LTPO AMOLED (1440 x 3120 px resolution; 10-120 Hz variable refresh rate)

Processor: Google Tensor

RAM: 12GB

Storage: 128GB, 246GB, 512GB

Battery: 5000 mAh

Charging: 30W fast charging wired; 25W fast charging wireless

Cameras: Front: 11.1 MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) Rear: 50 MP wide (ƒ/1.9); 48 MP 4x zoom telephoto (ƒ/3.5); 12 MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2)

Size: 6.45 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches (HWD); 7.41 ounces

Android OS version: Android 12

Pros 

Amazing camera quality and features

An excellent high-refresh rate OLED screen

IP68 water resistance

Unique features thanks to Google’d tensor chip

Cons 

Smaller battery compared to other flagship phones

Tensor chip isn’t as fast as other top-shelf SoCs

The Pixel 6 Pro is Google’s most powerful smartphone to date. While not as fast as the Snapdragon 888 chip that powers many of the other devices on this list, Google’s new proprietary Tensor chip enables several features unique to the new Pixel 6 line, including on-device speech translation and—most importantly—impressive software-enhanced photography. 

It’s also the only device on our list that ships with Android 12 preinstalled.

As with Samsung’s devices, the Pixel 6 Pro’s 30W wall charger is sold separately. Older Pixel wall chargers should work, but if you don’t have one, plan to buy one separately. Even when you factor in the price of a wall charger, the Pixel 6 Pro is still a relatively affordable flagship phone and does some amazing things no other device can.

Best folding Android phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

Why it made the cut: Samsung needed a few iterations to get the folding smartphone design right, but the Galaxy Z Fold3 may be the first to really be worth the money. 

Specs

Display: Folding screen: 7.6 inch folding AMOLED (1786 x 2208 px resolution; 120Hz refresh rate); Cover display: 6.2 inch AMOLED (832 x 2268 px resolution; 120Hz refresh rate)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

RAM: 12GB

Storage: 256GB, 512GB

Battery: 4,400 mAh

Charging: 25W fast charging wired; 11W fast charging wireless

Cameras: Front: 12 MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.8); 12 MP telephoto (ƒ/2.4); 12 MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) Rear: 10 MP wide-angle (ƒ/2.2)  Inner: 4 MP (ƒ/1.8)

Size: 6.2 x 2.6 x 0.56 inches (HWD, Folded), 6.2 x 5 x 0.25 inches (HWD, Unfolded); 9.56 ounces

Android OS version: Android 11

Pros 

Fantastic folding 120Hz display

Better durability than previous folding phone attempts

Great high-end hardware specs

A new multitasking bar for better usability

Cons 

One of the most expensive Android phones

No wall charger included

Samsung has finally made good on the promise of the best folding Android phone with the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G. Its seamless 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED folding display is big and bright, while the refreshed hinge design and the sturdy chassis solve many of the durability concerns of past folding devices, and folds seamlessly with no gaps. 

The Z Fold3 also has a second, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED screen on the outside of the chassis, which displays key info when the main screen is folded. While thinner than most smartphone screens, the exterior display looks good and works well when you need to operate the phone without unfolding it.

The Z Fold3 has similar hardware specs to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Of course, powering multiple high-refresh-rate displays means Z Fold3’s performance is comparatively slower and battery life is shorter than the S21 Ultra’s, but it’s still a strong phone.

When unfolded, the Z Fold3 is almost as large as a tablet, so Samsung wisely added a new multitasking bar to the display used for quickly swapping between open apps, similar to the Windows taskbar or Mac OS app bar, that makes it easier to use. It also supports the Samsung S Pen stylus for writing and drawing in apps that support it, and navigating the OneUI interface.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to buy it separately, adding an extra charge on top of the extremely steep $1,700 base price for those who want to use the accessory.

Best Android phone for gaming: Asus ROG Phone 5

Why it made the cut: ASUS’s latest gaming-focused Android device has the processing power and 5G connectivity necessary to play the latest games, and an unbeatable 144Hz screen to make them look great.

Specs

Display: 6.78-inch AMOLED (2448 x 1080 resolution; 60 – 144 Hz refresh rate) 

Processor: Snapdragon 888

RAM: 8GB, 12GB, 16GB

Storage: 128GB, 256GB 

Battery: 6000 mAh

Charging: 65W fast charging wired

Camera: Front: 24MP (ƒ/2.45) Rear: 64MP ultrawide (ƒ/1.8), 13MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4), 5MP macro (ƒ/2.0)

Size: 6.1 x 2.7 x 0.36 inches (HWD); 8.39 ounces

Android OS version: Android 11 (ZenUI)

Pros 

Incredible gaming and app performance

6.78-inch 144Hz AMOLED screen 

Large, fast-charging battery.

Integrated DAC and dual front-facing speakers.

Cons 

Poor camera quality

Doesn’t support wireless charging

Smartphone games run the gamut from pocket-sized puzzle games you play on bus rides, to hardcore gaming experiences on par with (or identical to) the games played on PC and home console. Whatever you’re playing, it takes a lot of power (and a lot of mobile data) to keep up with the demands of modern games, but as the best Android phone for gaming, the ASUS’ ROG Phone 5 is up to the task. That’s not all too surprising; ASUS’ Republic of Gamers, or “ROG,” brand is a top gaming PC manufacturer, so it makes sense it’s gaming-focused smartphone has the hardware to run games like Genshin Impact or PUBG locally with excellent fidelity, or stream Stadia, Xbox Cloud Streaming, and GeForce Now games over WiFi or 5G data. 

Inside the phone’s stylish chassis is a swathe of high-end hardware perfect for games, including a Snapdragon 888 chipset, two 3000 mAh batteries (for a total of 6000 mAh battery life), and up to 12 GB of LDDR5 RAM and 256 GBs of data storage. The phone’s 6.78-inch AMOLED panel has a whopping 144Hz refresh rate, which makes games look smooth and keeps input lag to a minimum. It also has plenty of high-end, gaming-friendly features including two USB-C ports, an integrated headphone DAC, two front-facing speakers, and preinstalled gaming apps. At the same time, ASUS clearly cut corners in some non-gaming areas, including a lackluster camera. That said, it’s unbeatable for gaming and app performance.

Best budget Android phone: Pixel 5a

Why it made the cut: The Pixel 5a isn’t the newest Android device, but its powerful camera, 5G connectivity, and the promise of feature updates for years to come feel like a steal at $450.

Specs

Display: 6.43-inch OLED (2400 x 1080 px resolution, 60Hz)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G

RAM: 6GB

Storage: 128GB

Battery: 4680 mAh

Charging: 18W fast charging wired

Cameras: Front: 8MP (ƒ/2.0) Rear: 12.2MP (ƒ/1.7), 16MP (ƒ/2.2) ultrawide

Size: 6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches (HWD); 6.5 ounces

Android OS version: Android 11 (upgradable to Android 12)

Pros

Incredible photo quality

Larger screen than the Pixel 5

Includes 3.5mm headphone jack

Purest Android OS experience

Cons 

Not as powerful as flagship phones

No wireless charging option

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro might be Google’s newest Android phones, but don’t count out last year’s models just yet. The Pixel 5a is a worthy pick for best budget Android phone and anyone trying to upgrade to a 5G phone without spending a thousand bucks or more. At just $450, the Pixel 5a offers respectable (if outdated) mid-range specs, 5G network support, and camera technology second only to the Pixel 6 and its Tensor chip. It can also upgrade to Android 12 right out of the box, giving you immediate access to features that may take months to arrive on non-Pixel devices. Google also supports older devices for years after launch, routinely adding new features and fixing bugs, and the Pixel 5a still has several years of updates ahead of it.

To be fair, and some other sub-$500 options best the Pixel 5a in a few key points. One of its closest rivals, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, is just $50 more expensive and features an eye-catching 6.5-inch 120Hz AMOLED panel compared to the Pixel 5a’s 6.34-inch 60Hz OLED. Sure, the 5a’s processor is better, but it’s not a massive leap; it really is the camera that makes this the best sub-$500 5G Android device. It takes better photos than almost every other phone on this list—except, of course, the Pixel 6 Pro—and at less than half the price. 

FAQs

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best smartphone you can buy in 2023. It’s expensive, sure, but it excels in every category. If it’s just outside your budget, the OnePlus 9 Pro is almost as good in every way. Its camera isn’t as good as the S21 Ultra’s, but its battery charges faster, and it’s a great-looking device. For those who want the best photographs possible, the Pixel 6 Pro is your best option—though the Pixel 5a is pretty good, too, and more affordable. 

There are always tradeoffs for picking one device over another. We can confidently say that all of these phones have qualities that make them one of the best Android phones and worthy of your consideration…at least until someone comes along and makes something better.

Best Custom Android Uis 2023

Android is today every bit as easy to use as iOS, and most users will be familiar with the standard interface no matter which version of the OS they use. But every so often you pick up a phone that looks and feels completely different, a phone to which the manufacturer has applied its own skin. Google, too, talks about presenting Android as it should be in its Nexus and Pixel devices, so what is the difference between all these UIs?

In this article we look at some of the most common and notable departures from standard Android, and what you can expect as a user of that UI. The four big ones we cover here are TouchWiz, used by Samsung, Xiaomi’s MIUI, OnePlus’ OxygenOS and Huawei’s EMUI. These are just a handful of the custom Android UIs out there, but they will give you a taste of what to expect from a custom UI. Also see: Best Android phones and best Android tablets

What is TouchWiz?

By Chris Martin 

If you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or tablet then the Android user interface, or skin, is called TouchWiz. A year ago we would have told you it was very different to stock Android, but Samsung has since taken steps to streamline its UI and make it less of a burden on resources. 

Samsung has come under criticism over the year for TouchWiz being a little over complex and busy. Luckily it has seen sense and cleaned it up with a more minimalist look and feel, fewer preinstalled apps and improved overall performance. 

That said, it’s still packed with handy features – many of which are now finally part of stock Android – such as Multi-window, which lets you can run two supported apps side-by-side, and Themes. We also like the useful and customisable notification bar and the intuitive Settings menus. Some features, however, are hidden away in said menus like Smart Stay and various gestures. 

It might not be our favourite, but it’s certainly no longer the case that we’d actively avoid TouchWiz.

You might also like: How to disable TouchWiz and our Samsung Galaxy S7 review and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review

What is MIUI 8?

By Marie Black

MIUI 8 is the custom Android UI used by Xiaomi in all its devices, and is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It’s quite the departure from standard Android, though, with no app tray, a re-ordered Settings menu, and Xiaomi’s own apps in place of Google ones – in fact, there’s no support for Google Play at all out the box.

That isn’t a reason to avoid MIUI, provided you’re comfortable with using Xiaomi’s apps or with sideloading apps and installing Google services yourself. This is easily achieved by sideloading the Google Installer APK, but removing or replacing all the Chinese-language apps, notifications and even keyboard can take a little longer.

MIUI 8 has a lot of great features to recommend though, and although we find the lack of an app tray odd it’s something that may appeal to switchers from iOS for its familiarity. Given how large phone screens are getting these days, one of our favourites is the One-handed mode, which can shrink the screen to 3.5-, 4- or 4.5in, and move it to the left or right side of the display to suit both left- and righthanded users. This goes hand in hand with the Quick Ball, which places onscreen a movable icon that gives you quick access to back, home, screenshot and other options.

This UI is easily cutomisable by the user, with multiple Themes to choose from. You can also tweak the screen colours and contrast, change the font and text size, customise the ordering of the buttons below the screen, the colour and behaviour of the notifications LED and more.

You might also like: How to buy Xiaomi devices in the UK and our Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review and Xiaomi Mi5s review

What is EMUI 5?

By Lewis Painter

Huawei- and Honor-branded devices feature a custom Android skin called Emotion UI, or EMUI for short. While some skins strive to be as close to stock Android as possible, Huawei’s option has been, historically, as far from stock as you can get – until now, anyway. The completely overhauled EMUI 5 looks to fix long-time complaints like the lack of an app tray, and an over-complicated interface.

Huawei prides itself on the fact that you can reach 93 percent of all functions of an EMUI 5-enabled smartphone within three taps, a huge change when compared to the confusing EMUI 4. It’s much cleaner and crisper too, featuring a rather attractive blue-and-white colour combination throughout the OS and within Huawei’s own apps too. It also brings a miss-touch feature that doesn’t register accidental taps, but this is exclusive to the only curved screen Huawei smartphone, the Porche Design Mate 9.

EMUI 5 also features many relatively untouched features found in Android N, including multi-window, quick app switching and Google Now on Tap.

The most impressive feature of the software? Huawei claims that EMUI 5 can keep the performance of the smartphone up regardless of how often you use the phone. It does this by using an algorithm that learns how you use your phone to make sure there’s always enough resources to run the apps you use most often. This is done via a combination of smart CPU management, storage defragmentation, memory compression and GPU acceleration thanks to native Vulcan support. The company has gone as far as to say that it could even perform better than originally after a year of use, more than enough time for EMUI 5 to optimise the smartphone for you.

EMUI 5 is currently available on the Huawei Mate 9 with support for the Huawei Mate 8, P9 and P9 Plus all receiving the update in early 2023. Beyond that, the Honor 8, along with other Honor-branded devices, should receive the update in Q2 2023.

You might also like: Huawei Mate 9 review and our Honor 8 review

What is OxygenOS?

By Henry Burrell

OnePlus handsets run a skin called OxygenOS. While its smartphones run closer to stock Android than most, the company’s version of the OS is clean, crisp and easy to use. Much remains the same; the app tray, notifications and menus are only slightly changed in appearance, but there is a unique text messaging app rather than Google’s standard. 

The latest version (3.5) runs on the OnePlus 3T and is a modification of Android Marshmallow, though this will be updated to Nougat in December 2024. A swipe right from your home screen gets you to the handy Shelf where you can type a memo, see your recent contacts, apps and more.

OxygenOS also gives you tweaked versions of the Gallery, Music, Weather and file manager apps, and you can resize and customise the appearance of all app icons on the home screens and app tray. Pair this with a dark or light theme to suit your mood and change the entire feel of the user interface. The overall effect is slightly warmer than the sparseness of fully stock Android. 

You might also like: OnePlus 3T review

What is LG UX?

By Henry Burrell

For a long time LG’s operating system was known as Optimus, but it seems to have quietly dropped that branding and pushed LG UX, which is cooler, obviously. On the LG G6, the skin has been refined to its best ever form.

The G6’s taller screen  means LG has tweaked the UI to display more on screen, and the pastel colours and graphics add to the playful nature. It’s less po-faced than TouchWiz or EMUI. 

Running as it does from Android Nougat, it also incorporates Google Assistant excellently, while the rounded corners of the G6’s display are mirrored in app icons, animations and general thoughtful changes to interaction. The notification panel in particular is intuitive and clear. Split screen multitasking is also a treat with LG UX. 

You can have an app tray or an iOS style grid, while menus and customisation feel uniform but also not as on-rails as it used to. There’s a blue light option called comfort view too, though you can’t set it to timed usage.

Coming from other operating systems, you should find LG UX easy to get on with. We expect current LG devices such as the G5, V10 and V20 to receive updates to the latest version soon.

Developing Android Apps With Bottom Sheets

Types of bottom sheets

Preparation

As mentioned above, bottom sheets have been integrated into the Design support library from version 23.2. Make sure you have included the library in your project, by adding the following line to your app build.gradle file, note that 24.1.1 is the current version at the time of writing:

Code

dependencies { ... compile 'com.android.support:design:24.1.1' Main Activity design

The initial design for our activity_main.xml, before adding bottom sheet declarations, is shown below

<android.support.design.widget.CoordinatorLayout android:id="@+id/bgLayout" android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" android:paddingBottom="@dimen/activity_vertical_margin" android:paddingLeft="@dimen/activity_horizontal_margin" android:paddingRight="@dimen/activity_horizontal_margin" android:paddingTop="@dimen/activity_vertical_margin" <ScrollView android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" <LinearLayout android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" android:orientation="vertical" <Button android:id="@+id/button_1" android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:text="@string/button1" android:padding="16dp" <Button android:id="@+id/button_2" android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:padding="16dp" android:layout_margin="8dp" <Button android:id="@+id/button_3" android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:padding="16dp" android:layout_margin="8dp" Designing the bottom sheet

Code

<android.support.v4.widget.NestedScrollView android:id="@+id/bottom_sheet1" android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="250dp" android:clipToPadding="true" android:background="@android:color/holo_blue_bright" <LinearLayout android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" <TextView android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" android:text="@string/sheet_p1" android:textSize="16sp" android:textAllCaps="true" <TextView android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" android:text="@string/long_latin" android:padding="16dp" Showing the bottom sheet

Code

private BottomSheetBehavior mBottomSheetBehavior1; @Override protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) { super.onCreate(savedInstanceState); setContentView(R.layout.activity_main); View bottomSheet = findViewById(R.id.bottom_sheet1); mBottomSheetBehavior1 = BottomSheetBehavior.from(bottomSheet); mButton1 = (Button) findViewById(R.id.button_1); @Override if(mBottomSheetBehavior1.getState() != BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED) { mBottomSheetBehavior1.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED); mButton1.setText(R.string.collapse_button1); } else { mBottomSheetBehavior1.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_COLLAPSED); mButton1.setText(R.string.button1); } } });

Code

<android.support.v4.widget.NestedScrollView android:id="@+id/bottom_sheet2" android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="250dp" android:clipToPadding="true" android:background="@android:color/holo_green_light" <LinearLayout android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" <TextView android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" android:text="@string/sheet_p2" android:textSize="16sp" android:textAllCaps="true" <TextView android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" android:text="@string/long_latin" android:padding="16dp"

Code

final View bottomSheet2 = findViewById(R.id.bottom_sheet2); mBottomSheetBehavior2 = BottomSheetBehavior.from(bottomSheet2); mBottomSheetBehavior2.setHideable(true); mBottomSheetBehavior2.setPeekHeight(300); mBottomSheetBehavior2.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_HIDDEN); mButton2 = (Button) findViewById(R.id.button_2); @Override if(mBottomSheetBehavior2.getState() == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED) { mBottomSheetBehavior2.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_COLLAPSED); mButton2.setText(R.string.button2_hide); } else if(mBottomSheetBehavior2.getState() == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_COLLAPSED) { mBottomSheetBehavior2.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_HIDDEN); mButton2.setText(R.string.button2); } else if(mBottomSheetBehavior2.getState() == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_HIDDEN) { mBottomSheetBehavior2.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED); mButton2.setText(R.string.button2_peek); } } }); Handling swipe events

Code

mBottomSheetBehavior2.setBottomSheetCallback(new BottomSheetBehavior.BottomSheetCallback() { @Override public void onStateChanged(View bottomSheet, int newState) { if (newState == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED) { mButton2.setText(R.string.button2_peek); } else if (newState == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_COLLAPSED) { mButton2.setText(R.string.button2_hide); } else if (newState == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_HIDDEN) { mButton2.setText(R.string.button2); } } @Override public void onSlide(View bottomSheet, float slideOffset) { }

Modal bottom sheets

<LinearLayout android:orientation="vertical" android:layout_width="match_parent" <TextView android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent" android:text="@string/sheet_m1" android:textSize="16sp" android:textAllCaps="true" <ImageView android:id="@+id/imageView" android:layout_width="wrap_content" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:layout_weight="1" <TextView android:id="@+id/textView" android:layout_width="wrap_content" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:layout_weight="1" android:layout_gravity="center" android:textAlignment="center" android:text="This is a test string for the sample"

Showing a modal bottom sheet

For our sample app, which has no special actions, we simply extend BottomSheetDialogFragment, as shown below, and override the setupDialog method to set the dialog’s content view.

Code

public class BottomSheet3DialogFragment extends BottomSheetDialogFragment { @Override public void setupDialog(final Dialog dialog, int style) { super.setupDialog(dialog, style); View contentView = View.inflate(getContext(), R.layout.fragment_bottomsheet3, null); dialog.setContentView(contentView); }

Code

mButton3 = (Button) findViewById(R.id.button_3); @Override BottomSheetDialogFragment bottomSheetDialogFragment = new BottomSheet3DialogFragment(); bottomSheetDialogFragment.show(getSupportFragmentManager(), bottomSheetDialogFragment.getTag()); }

Conclusion

Bottom sheets have their uses, and in some situations, they provide the most elegant solution to presenting users with additional information or actions. However, in other cases, they can be a particularly poor design choice. For example, on larger screens which have more screen estate, dialogs and menus could be more useful and intuitive, compared to smaller screen devices, where apps have to make the most use of each precious pixel.

There are other methods that affect your bottom sheets behavior, which we have not covered here. Explore the BottomSheetBehavior APIs to find out more. As always, the complete source for the sample app is available on github. Live long and code hard.

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