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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 tabletsWhat 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 reviewWhat 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 reviewWhat 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 reviewWhat 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 2023. 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 reviewWhat 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.
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Written By Brendan Hesse
Updated Mar 8, 2023 7:53 AMHow 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.
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)
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
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.
Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED (3168 x 1440 px resolution; 1-120 Hz variable refresh rate)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
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)
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
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.
Display: 6.71 inch LTPO AMOLED (1440 x 3120 px resolution; 10-120 Hz variable refresh rate)
Processor: Google Tensor
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
Amazing camera quality and features
An excellent high-refresh rate OLED screen
IP68 water resistance
Unique features thanks to Google’d tensor chip
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.
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
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
Fantastic folding 120Hz display
Better durability than previous folding phone attempts
Great high-end hardware specs
A new multitasking bar for better usability
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.
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)
Incredible gaming and app performance
6.78-inch 144Hz AMOLED screen
Large, fast-charging battery.
Integrated DAC and dual front-facing speakers.
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.
Display: 6.43-inch OLED (2400 x 1080 px resolution, 60Hz)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
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)
Incredible photo quality
Larger screen than the Pixel 5
Includes 3.5mm headphone jack
Purest Android OS experience
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.
The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro’s Kirin 980 has the best performance, with caveats
When it comes to silicon, for the moment you want HUAWEI’s Kirin 980 powering your smartphone. While there’s been a lot of hay made by tech bloggers about concerns shown with benchmarks, even Qualcomm is taking notes on this chip. Until Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 hits shelves, we won’t have another credible 7nm chip to compare the Kirin with. That might not be enough to satisfy you, so let me go a little more in-depth on how we determined our leaders in this competition.
The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro is not the best phone in every benchmark we ran, it’s simply the best overall results.We chose benchmarks for a decent cross-section of performance results… and to sidestep cheating
In all of our benchmarking, we unintentionally limited what kinds of performances we’d find by using almost only flagship phones. In truth, most results from device to device are much smaller than the numbers would have you believe, so it was tough to get a good cross-section of performances. If you were to add more phones like the Motorola Moto G6 or any bargain model outside of the Xiaomi POCOphone F1, you’d find a lot more separation between devices. Our battery of tests consisted of:
Geekbench (single core)
Geekbench (multi core)
Geekbench (single core stealth)
Geekbench (multi core stealth)
3DMark (Slingshot Extreme)
If you’re wondering what that “stealth” version of Geekbench is, it’s a build of Geekbench that defeats benchmark detection on today’s crop of phones. We didn’t want to have to do that, but to find results more indicative of your actual use we have to keep manufacturers honest. We won’t shame companies outright with this, but we’ll only be listing results from the stealth app. We have the “regular” results too, but we’re more interested in what the phone actually gives its users.Performances were incredibly similar
After normalizing the scores in each category, we found much like the competition in displays: the differences between units were really nothing to write home about. Here are our rankings for the best-performing smartphones, all hitting marks within 2 points out of 100 of each other in our scoring. All of these phones will perform brilliantly, and you won’t likely notice anything different — outside of the Razer Phone 2’s higher frame rate, at least.
HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro
ASUS ROG Phone
HUAWEI Mate 20
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Samsung Galaxy S9+
Samsung Galaxy S9
All of these models lag severely behind the iPhone, but I’ll let Gary explain that one. In truth, smartphone processing power has never been more astounding than it is now. It’s one of the last things you should be concerned about.The Mate 20 Pro holds its own in graphics processing
Most phones hit the 60fps limit in the first GFXBench test, so let’s also look at GFXBench Manhattan, where there was a lot more separation. This high-level test is brutal for GPUs, and relies on lots of difficult-to-handle tasks.
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[reviews height=”400″ width=”600″ step=”” min=”0″ max=”” tension=”” type=”bar” characteristics_colors=”#dd3333″ characteristic=”performance.gfxbench-manhattan-onscreen” showAll=”” desc=”Higher is Better” title=”GFXBench Manhattan” x_legend=”FPS” y_legend=”” ][review id=”925181″pattern=”#dd3333″][/review][review id=”924503″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924494″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924488″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924154″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924152″pattern=”#252525″][/review][review id=”923225″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”903130″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review] [/reviews]
However, that’s a fairly limited test, and throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the mix yields slightly different results:
[reviews height=”400″ width=”600″ step=”” min=”0″ max=”” tension=”” type=”bar” characteristics_colors=”#dd3333″ characteristic=”performance.3dmark-overall-test-score” showAll=”” desc=”Higher is Better” title=”3DMark overall score” x_legend=”Score” y_legend=”” ][review id=”925181″pattern=”#dd3333″][/review][review id=”924503″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924494″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924488″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924154″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”924152″pattern=”#252525″][/review][review id=”923225″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review][review id=”903130″pattern=”#00eb95″][/review] [/reviews]
The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro is still among the leaders in the pack, but not the best for graphics. The chip’s “weakness” in graphics is intense 3D rendering, but it still hangs tough with the top gaming phones. That’s not bad!The Mate 20 Pro excels in OS-level benchmarking Final thoughts
Ever want to create custom Android ringtones but think it’s too complicated to do? With Ringtone Maker, you can make new ringtones in minutes. It’s free and easy and by far one of the quickest ways to make a ringtone out of existing music or sounds on your phone.Download and installing
You can download and install Ringtone Maker from the Google Play Store through either your mobile phone or online.
The installation is standard on Android phones, and the permissions for the app ask for a wide variety of access, mostly to your call logs and contacts.Settings
After opening Ringtone Maker for the first time, you can start by accessing its settings. You can do this by opening the menu on your phone.
From there, you can organize your music in a certain way or open the options.
The options of Ringtone Maker let you set your default music folder on the phone as well as where you store your ringtones, alarms and notifications.
Keep in mind that creating custom Android ringtones will take up storage space, so choosing where to keep what you make can help conserve space on your device.Creating and editing ringtones
Once your music folders are set, Ringtone Maker will populate them with all the possible files to make ringtones with.
From there, look at #1 on the image above. These sliders can be used to pinpoint more exact spots in your song along the musical graph. You can drag them left and right to get the right spot to start and stop your ringtone. If you pull the sliders away from one another, you can extend the amount of time the ringtone runs.
During the use of the slider tool or the time tool, you can zoom in and out on the track for a closer look, as shown in #3 above.Setting default ringtones
When successfully saved, you can do a variety of things with your new ringtone.
You can save it as a default ringtone for a particular group or function or you can assign it to a specific contact. You can also share ringtones through e-mail so others can use what you’ve created, as long as their phone supports third party ringtones.
After saving the ringtone, you can go back to it at any time by using Ringtone Maker. You can edit it as you see fit or create a new ringtone.Conclusion
Ringtone Maker is one of the most used and simplest ways to make custom Android ringtones, notifications and alarms. It’s easy-to-use interface lets you create ringtones in no time, so if you’re looking for a way to make your own, Ringtone Maker is the go-to Android app.
Melissa Popp has been a freelance writer for over a decade. While she primarily has focused on writing about technology, she’s also written about everything from custom mailboxes to health care to just about anything in between. Melissa is the Content Strategist for chúng tôi the nation’s leading marketplace for trailers for sale, the Social Media Manager for the best roofing Denver company as well as a Writer here at MakeTechEasier. She’s a proud support of the Denver SEO community and a big fan of online radio.
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Android TV has a built-in screensaver feature, but it’s quite limiting in functionality. You can’t set your own images as a screensaver, neither can you customize the aspect ratio or change the transition effect. So if you are looking for a way to set custom screensavers on Android TV that also brings a range of new features then you have come to the right place. Just follow the steps below and you will be able to import your images and set them as your screensaver. The best part is that there is also an option to bring back Google Photos as your screensaver. So on that note, let’s go through the steps.Set Custom Screensavers on Android TV
1. First of all, open the Play Store on your Android TV and search for “screensaver”. Now install Photo Gallery and Screensaver (Free, offers in-app purchases) app.
2. After installing the app, open it, and move to “Settings”.
3. Here, open “Photo Sources“.
4. Next, scroll down and open “Local” if you wish to set custom screensavers on Android TV from local storage. In case, you want to connect your Google Photos for screensaver then you can do that too.
6. After that, open “Internal Shared Storage“.
8. Now open Settings again and open “Set your screensaver“.
9. Here, open “Screen saver” and choose “Photo Gallery and Screensaver“. You can also customize the inactivity period as to when the custom screensaver will kick in.
11. Now the screensavers will be live on your Android TV. Now onwards, the app will start the custom screensavers on your Android TV based on the inactivity time you have set.
List of Popular Android TVs
The above tutorial will work with most of the popular Android TVs. You can find a list of popular Android TVs below. The list is not exhaustive by any means and is only to serve as an example.
Marq (flipkart)Marq 43AAUHDM43
iFFALCON (by TCL)iFFALCON 43K6143
VU 43 OA43
VU 43 OA -V143
VU 55-OA V155
Kodak 32HDXSMART V132
Kodak 40FHDXSMART V140
Thomson 40M4099 PRO40
Thomson 32M3277 PRO32
Thomson 55 OATHPRO 010155
Thomson 43 OATHPRO 200043
Thomson 65 OATHPRO 202365
Thomson 75 OATHPRO212175
Thomson 43 OATH 100043
Thomson 49 OATH 900049
Toshiba 43L505043Change Screensaver on Android TV Just Like That
McAfee Mobile Security: The Best Android Antivirus in 2023?Malware Protection offered by McAfee Mobile Security:
Primary purpose of an Antivirus application is the security from Malware. Malware (Malicious Software) are constantly being used as a technique to steal and misuse user’s data. Most admirable antivirus applications for Android offer complete protection from Malware threats such as Bitdefender Mobile Security, Norton, etc.
Malware Protection offered by McAfee Mobile Security is second to none. There are various independent labs that evaluate the performance of such antiviruses. One such lab is AV-Test Lab. In a test conducted in July 2023, McAfee Mobile Security was able to detect and eliminate 99.9% of the Malware out of 3,345 samples. Although the score seems pretty good, rivals of McAfee like Bitdefender Mobile Security were able to detect all 100% of the samples.Effect on System Performance:
In my 7 Day usage of McAfee Mobile Security, I didn’t come across any major hit in device’s performance or battery. (Anti-Theft tool was On and was using the Location services in the background at all times.) AV-Test Lab came across the same finding in its evaluation regarding the effect on device’s performance and battery.
Similar tests when conducted on McAfee’s competitors like Bitdefender, Norton, and Kaspersky also gave similar results. Hence, McAfee and its rivals are yet neck and neck in the quest of being the best Antivirus for Android.
In the competitive environment, Antivirus applications are not only judged by the Malware Protection they offer but also on the basis of extra tools they offer.
When it comes to Additional tools offered, McAfee has no Competitor. McAfee offers the best of the best tools that are not generally available with any other competitors. These tools certainly take McAfee ahead of its rivals in the race of being the best Antivirus for Android.McAfee VPN:
In my 7-day usage, I found McAfee VPN to be extremely powerful. It also offered decent speeds while streaming.
Thefts are the absolute worst nightmare when it comes to data privacy and security. Once your device is stolen, the intruder has a number of ways to access your data even if your device has a biometric lock. Therefore, most admirable antivirus applications come equipped with Anti-Theft tools.
Anti-theft tools include remotely wiping the data, triggering the alarm, locking the device, and locating the device.
However, not all of these tools function really well. Anti-Theft tools incorporated only in Bitdefender and McAfee were able to do the task at hand.
Number of other tools too come equipped with McAfee Antivirus that are not available with competitors. Look at the table below for a clear idea:
McAfee Bitdefender Norton
Anti-Theft Yes Yes Yes
Yes Yes No
VPN Yes Yes No
Backup Feature Yes No No
Privacy Advisor Yes No No
Application Control Yes Yes Yes
Call-Blocker No Yes YesPricing:
Pricing is a bit of a subjective topic. We can only compare the pricing of its McAfee and its competitors. But we can’t tell you which one to choose. It all depends on how much sensitive data you have on your mobile device; how much do you want to spend on it; etc.
There is absolutely no doubt, when it comes to functionality, McAfee is the best Antivirus for Android in the market. However, the price at which all these services are offered is much higher than its competitors.
When we look at features, McAfee is the absolute best Antivirus for Android. The features that McAfee has to offer are not available anywhere else whichever price point. So, if you are a user who wants the absolute best, Go for McAfee Mobile Security.
But if you are an average user, like me, you wouldn’t mind losing a few features if you could save 50$ on the price. Therefore, if you are like me, I would suggest Bitdefender Mobile Security. (Read Full Review here)
We hope we were able to help you decide whether to buy McAfee and if McAfee is the best antivirus for Android available in the market. Do let us know your views on McAfee and which is your personal favorite, we love hearing from you.
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