I believe everyone can appreciate the strengths of the iPhone: the blazing-fast processors, the tight and integrated OS, and the impeccable Apple build quality. But, the lack of cutting-edge features like a high refresh rate display in the latest iPhone 12 series can certainly leave a sour taste in the mouths of long-time iPhone users who want the freshest features and technologies in their smartphone.
If you’re one of the people beckoned by the Android world but didn’t know where to start, don’t fret: we at TechEngage have got you covered. This list compiles the best picks of Android Phones for the discerning iPhone user. Each of these devices serves as a fantastic pick to introduce you to the rich world of Android smartphones.
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1. Google Pixel 5
- Stellar camera
- Clean Google software experience
- 90Hz Display
- Not the fastest processor
- Huge selfie camera cut-out
First up, it had to, of course, be Google’s response to the iPhone: the Pixel 5. Ever since its first installment in 2016, the Pixel line of phones attempted to capture the tight synergy between software and hardware Apple is famous for, whilst also being the bastion of the latest Android features.
Made by Google (who develop and maintain the Android OS), the Pixel line is revered for its clean user interface – especially compared to the notoriously bloated Android skins of yesteryear relied on by Chinese phone brands – and its phenomenal camera to rival the best of that Apple has to offer.
With the Pixel 5, Google’s strategy change. For the previous four flagship Pixels, Google positioned their devices as full-on premium phones with premium price tags. With the Pixel 5, Google changed its pricing strategy and offered its latest flagship at $699. Positioning itself to compete with the Samsung S20 FE (a phone that cut its price with a plastic construction), the Pixel cuts down with a mid-range Snapdragon 765 G. But the great, clean Google software experience keeps this phone fast and snappy.
Although, by hardware largely unchanged from the Pixel 2, the camera is still brilliant as ever with Google’s fantastic image processing.
Overall, priced at $699, the Pixel 5 is perfect for iPhone users who love a great and reliable camera and a clean, stock Android software experience.
2. Samsung Galaxy S21
- Great camera
- Entering the market at $700
- No MicroSD Support
- Plastic build
Samsung’s latest entry in the Galaxy flagship series makes some cutbacks that angered long-time Samsung fans, but for anyone looking to move from iOS, Samsung has made a fantastic Apple-user friendly premium phone.
The main selling point of this device is its bright and beautiful 6.2-inch 20:9 AMOLED display. With HDR 10+ support and with an insane peak brightness of 1300 nits, movies, TV shows, and photos will look stunning on this phone.
This year, Samsung dropped the maximum resolution of the display from 1440p to 1080p. Whilst this is a technical downgrade, last year, Samsung limited the 120Hz high refresh rate mode to 1080p, and we think you’re going to notice the high refresh rate way more than the higher resolutions.
The high refresh rate mode is where the Samsung phones break away from Apple’s latest phones – offering ultra-smooth graphics that makes whizzing around Android super fun whilst games look fantastic also.
Samsung’s latest UI is cleaner than ever, adding some interesting features missing from Google’s base OS. The design is still a somewhat acquired test, but the latest design refresh in OneUI 3 takes some liberal cues from iOS’s transparency-based design over Google’s largely “paper” based Material Design. Disgruntled iOS will certainly feel at home here.
With the S21, Samsung swapped out the metal and glass “sandwich design” for a polycarbonate back design. If you use a case, this won’t matter, but for naked phone users, the plastic downgrade may irritate. Fortunately, Samsung has retained the metal edges to add some premium construction to the mix.
Featuring a great camera and a fantastic display, the S21 is a great choice for any iPhone users looking for a powerful multimedia device. HDR Movies look fantastic, and for most people, that’d be the best screen in their home. Priced at , the Samsung S21 is a perfect substitute for the iPhone 12.
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Top of the range specs
- Beautiful, large display
- Great stylus
If you had your head turned by the iPhone 12 Pro Max, then this is the Android phone that will steal back your attention. One look at its beautiful “wall to wall” 6.9” display shows its leaps behead Apple’s premium offering. The central camera pinhole destroys any perception that the iPhone’s notch is anything but ugly and enormous, whilst Samsung’s bright and vibrant AMOLED technology with a 120Hz response rate leaves the iPhone 12 Pro Max playing second fiddle.
Powered by either the Snapdragon 865+ or Samsung’s own Exynos 990 SoC, you get lightning-fast performance and great 5G capabilities on this super premium phone. The Note 20’s camera is one of the best in the Android world, with three shooters delivering quality photos from a 108-megapixel main shooter, a 12MP ultrawide, and a 12MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom. Unlike most other Android phones with a telephoto lens, this phone takes brilliant quality photos of objects very, very far away.
With a stereo speaker set up made from a bottom-firing loudspeaker and an amplified earpiece at the top of the phone, the movie-watching experience simply slaps when paired with the stunning display. HDR10+ content looks fantastic on this display, with the high peak brightness of 1600 nits allowing colors to “pop” in a way that will certainly “pop” your mind!
The S-Pen has long since been a staple of the Note brand, and its usefulness above a “gimmick” continues here with the Note 20 Ultra. The stylus allows you to remotely snap photos and take cool notes. Samsung has dramatically cut the response time of the S Pen from previous models to 9ms – and we’re at a point where we can’t see any latency from this stylus, making it feel like we’re using a real pen. (Using an Apple Pencil on an iPhone will lead to a 20ms response time).
Samsung pulled out all the stops to create “the best of the best” when it comes to the Note 20 Ultra, and we think – even with the $879.99 price tag – the Note is an all-around better ultra-premium phone than the somewhat underwhelming iPhone 12 Pro Max.
4. Google Pixel 4a with 5G
- OLED Display
- Headphone Jack
- Only 60Hz Display
The latest generation of the iPhone SE tips itself as the best deal for a budget phone with premium features. However, if you’re strapped for cash and want a solid, flagship-level experience, we think the Pixel 4a with 5G is a much better deal than Apple’s recycled iPhone 8.
What we love most about the Pixel 4a with 5G is that beautiful, large OLED display. Put it side-by-side with the iPhone SE and its LCD retina display, and the difference is night and day. Using Google’s new “Dark Mode” feature is breathtaking, with the deep blacks making the UI look fantastic.
Watching videos and movies on this phone is brilliant with the stunning contrast an OLED panel affords. Powered by the same Snapdragon 735G as the Pixel 5, the 4a 5G is a little slower than phones like the Samsung S21 or even the iPhone SE with its blistering fast A13 Bionic, but we think you’d appreciate the better display on the Pixel than the sub-1080p LCD panel in Apple’s budget phone.
The Pixel 4a with 5G utilizes two impressive cameras, with Google’s ever-impressive image processing churning out reliably excellent photos and video. With a 12MP main shooter, the numbers may not be impressive on paper, but the low light performance and fantastic portrait mode makes the 4a with 5G’s camera the best on any phone in its price range.
With a list price of $490.00, the Pixel 4a with 5G represents some insane value on the cheap. With how much more affordable it is than its big brother, this phone is perfect for anyone who wants the Pixel 5 experience without shelling out $700 for it – and is a great choice for anyone not too impressed with the iPhone SE 2020.
5. OnePlus 8T
- 120Hz Display
- 6.55″ Fluid AMOLED Display
- Fast Snapdragon 865
- Not the best camera performance
OnePlus are famous for their insane value phones, with their first few devices having been marketed with the moniker “The Flagship Killer.” OnePlus continue that trend of flagship specs for mid-range prices with the OnePlus 8T – offering itself as a much more compelling deal than the iPhone 12 Mini or the iPhone 11.
We love the display on this phone: it’s a big and bright 6.55” AMOLED display. The display technology in this brings vibrant colors and deep blacks, great for “Dark Mode” Android and watching HDR movies. With a peak brightness of 1100 nits, HDR movies “pop,” and you can comfortably view the phone’s screen outdoors even in direct sunlight.
The 120Hz high refresh mode is a great feature, allowing for a brilliant level of smoothness. You’ll love whizzing around Android 11 with this phone, placing it heaps ahead of the iPhone 12 Mini stuck at a measly 60Hz. Considering the iPhone 11? Its sub-1080p LCD display is pure garbage when compared with this Full HD AMOLED panel.
Where Apple does, however, have the upper hand is with the camera tech. It isn’t too bad, with its 48MP main shooter churning out passable, decent pictures – and we love the Optical Image Stabilisation in it, making it great for low-light and steady video.
There’s also a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 5MP macro shooter, and a 2MP monochrome lens. The last two there are just pure filler, and we don’t understand why OnePlus – who made their name by trimming the unnecessary expenses in Android phones to drop the price – chose to include two cameras that are basically useless. The macro shooter is bad, capturing grainy and soft photos. The monochrome lens is meant to help with image processing, but we think it’s probably just there so that OnePlus can advertise a “quad-camera set-up.”
At , the OnePlus 8T is a fantastic value offering for anyone looking for a big and beautiful multimedia powerhouse. Camera nerds may prefer the Pixel 5 for its stellar camera, but for every other aspect of this phone, it destroys the similarly priced iOS competition.
6. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
- 120Hz AMOLED Display
- Great camera
- Plastic build
Here’s another phone that crushes the “value-orientated” iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 Mini – the Samsung S20 FE. Released as a cut-down “lite” version of the immensely popular Galaxy S20 released in early 2020, the FE (standing for Fan Edition) quickly became one of the most loved phones in the $700 price bracket.
Half a year on, it received a price cut and slots in a great value bracket to compete with the mid-range Apple offerings with some impressive specs. Samsung’s AMOLED displays are the best in the business, and that’s no different for the S20 FE. The phone drops the max resolution of the S20 down from 1440p to 1080p, but we think the trade-off is worth it as we’d expect users to want to use the 120Hz high refresh mode instead.
This makes whizzing around Samsung’s OneUI an absolute dream. The AMOLED panel is bright as ever, with great color reproduction and super deep blacks: HDR content looks as good as ever here. A plus over the standard S20 for some, gone is the slightly curved edges of the display for an entirely flat front. It looks less impressive, but it’s certainly a plus on the usability front.
The cameras on the back of this phone are excellent too, with Samsung’s classic great photography being enough to woo over some diehard Apple fans. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition has three rear cameras, with 12MP f/1.8 main, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, and 8MP f/2.4 telephoto camera. The large sensor on the main shooter lets in a lot of light, resulting in bright and colorful pictures.
Samsung’s image processing is now excellent; gone are the days of the oversaturated, over-sharpened photos we’d expect from the S3 or S4 days. The AI scene enhancer works well to tweak every photo to get the best out of your image.
The 5G version of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, while the 4G version uses Samsung’s Exynos 990. For performance bang on with the newer S21, this phone is no slouch, and for the price, it’s an absolute steal.
Priced at $399.99, the Samsung S20 FE is a perfect way to get flagship level performance at mid-range prices!
7. OnePlus 9
- Good camera
- Great display
- Great specs
- Plastic edges
OnePlus did it: they finally made a phone with a good camera. This makes their base model of the 9 Series a perfect first “flagship killer” for anyone disloyal to the iPhone 12 looking to turn to the Android world.
Through a partnership with Swedish camera company Hasselblad, OnePlus have been able to tweak their color science and image processing to create a camera that can finally rival Samsung and Apple. Whilst color accuracy is a notch of the iPhone 12 Pro, the OnePlus 9 photos are sharp, true-to-life, and exhibit great dynamic range.
Powered by the brand-new Snapdragon 888 – this phone is powerful enough to handle anything you through at it, outperforming nearly every other Android phone on the market.
Whilst OnePlus advertises a triple-camera setup, in reality, you’re only going to be using two of those three sensors. The 48MP and the 50MP ultra-wide make for great shooters, but the 2MP monochrome sensor is less useful. OnePlus say it’ll help with low-light photography, but we don’t think it’s very useful above becoming one extra feature on the spec sheet.
The OnePlus 9 has a 4,500mAh battery, delivering some insane charge speeds with its included 65W charger that can juice up the OnePlus 9 from zero to 100 in 40 minutes. This is achieved as the battery is actually split into two roughly 2550mAh battery cells which can be charged in parallel.
Android fans lament the loss of the microSD card expansion slot on the OnePlus 9, but iPhone users should be used to this as Apple has never offered expandable storage. It’s a shame one of the biggest upsides to owning an Android phone is slowly being chipped away – but I suppose that’s par for the 2021 course.
The display is largely unchanged from the OnePlus 8T, a great 6.55” AMOLED panel delivering great colors, decent brightness outdoors, and fantastic HDR performance – along with a 120Hz mode.
Priced at $319.99, the OnePlus 9 is a modest upgrade to the already excellent OnePlus 8T – and it’s a perfect choice if you had your head turned by OnePlus but want a great camera.
8. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G
- Revolutionary, innovative folding design
- Useable front screen
- Huge 7.6” interior display
- More durable design than Fold 1
- Really expensive
- Not water-resistant, display still fragile
If you want an ultra-premium phone and cost is not an option, Apple can only offer you the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Sure, it’s a good phone: with new cameras and a decent display, but it’s not very innovative or impressive. The notch is still so much bigger than even the most affordable Android phones’ pinhole camera cutouts, and it fails to have the wow factor we want from an over $1000 phone.
Samsung has this ultra-premium market all set with its jaw-dropping Z Fold 2. With massive improvements in usability and durability over the first generation fold, Samsung has introduced a quantum-sized leap in quality for their second folding phone.
The main improvement here comes with the bigger front display. Whereas the old Fold had a tiny display that was only good enough for quick glances at your notifications, the Z Fold 2 has a big but narrow, 6.2” display which can be used as a normal phone for when you don’t want to use the larger screen.
When you’re ready to unfold the phone, the 7.6-inch display is a lot more durable than the last generation’s, with the “Ultra Thin Glass” strengthening things up a bit. The hinge is vastly improved, creating what Samsung calls “Flex Mode,” allowing you to open the display at various angles, great for turning your premium phone into a laptop.
That interior screen is certainly this phone’s unique selling point, with the AMOLED panel perfect for watching movies, TV shows, and playing games. Multitasking works great here, with the ability to switch between multiple apps. Samsung has really figured out how to use their large display for this second folding phone attempt.
The Z Fold 2 doesn’t come cheap at all, with prices starting at $849.99, but if you have money to burn and are looking for the best phone you can get for your cash, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a fantastic choice.
Whilst Google would have you believe their Pixel 5 is the perfect Apples-to-Apples competitor to the iPhone, Samsung’s great hardware and software experience puts their latest phone, the Galaxy S21, as the firm favorite for a phone with a phenomenal display, great camera, and great performance.
If you’re looking for a phone on a budget, the Pixel 4a with 5G is Google’s better deal, especially if camera performance is important to you – whilst if you want a multimedia machine on the cheap, the OnePlus 8T might be right up your street.
If the iPhone 12 Pro Max is on your radar, maybe a look at the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G gives you a slice of the true innovation pie.
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