Our best Android phones from $100-1000 guide, covers certified Australian models from authorised resellers like JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Officeworks, Harvey Norman and Bing Lee. It is vital to buy a genuine 5G model because grey market phones may not work with Australian 5G Telcos.
My, how the market has changed! We always said that 5G adoption would be like 4K television. Once 4K sets were the same price as full HD, everyone bought them. Well, now 5G dominates the scene, with the Samsung A22 ($299 outright) and TCL 20R leading the way ($349 outright and $299 on a 36 month Vodafone plan).
4G is still popular, and that network will be around for many years to come as a backup to 5G. While Telcos still tout fantastic coverage figures like 75% of the population, the true state of Australia’s 5G networks in 2021 is more like 10% of the population and 2% of the geographic area.
And some issues complicate 5G. In particular, the new Low-Band 5G (repurposed 3G) requires a different 5G modem supporting both sub-6 gigahertz n78 and Low-band n5, n28 and n40, which a lot of low-cost phones and pre-early 2021 models don’t support. (The n band figure defines the signal used for a particular mobile network).
The absence of any brand and model from this list simply means that we haven’t spent enough time with it to make a recommendation. Or it is a 2020 run-out model that may be in limited supply. Retail prices shown are generally for dual-SIM models from JB Hi-Fi as of 5 October. The list generally excludes any single-SIM Telco carrier-locked deals.
Final note: From 1 September, we adjusted our base pass mark to 6/10 (and was 8/10) to allow more headroom to reward special or class-leading features.
What about second-hand or refurbs?
We have also updated our advice on buying second-hand or refurbished phones. We don’t have any problems with ‘recycle and reuse’, but when you look at the value, warranty, battery life, and new tech you can get starting from about $150, the used market is a lot less attractive than it was.
And the Best Android phones from $100-1000 are?
Perhaps the most stunning change since our April update is the class-leading dominance of Motorola’s Edge 20 series, its new g-50 5G and its price leading 4G e7 series. Motorola has touted up wins in six price brackets.
Best Android phones for <$200 (4G)
Moto e7 Power 8.3/10, 32GB $129 – the lowest price you can go for a passable smartphone
This OPPO Find X3 Lite is the almost perfect sub $600 phone with three years of Android Upgrades, all sub-6Ghz and 5G Low-bands, AMOLED screen, 64MP camera and Qualcomm Snapdragon. It is more so the bargain of the year as it started at $749!
It also stands out for value with an excellent Android upgrade/update policy and a 108MP camera. But it does not support Optus n40 low-band 5G, so that may be an issue for Optus users. The OPPO Find X3 Lite competition is at $100 less with Optus support, but Moto’s extra specs justify the extra dollars.
Best Android phones for $700-799 (5G)
Nokia XR20 128GB $703
This is Nokia’s MIL-STD phone, and it is heavily discounted from $879. MIL-STD means it has a ‘military standard’ rating for durability. On paper, it has a low-end SD480 processor and 6/128GB. It does not support Optus 5G Low-band.
While the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a terrific phone, it is a 2020 model. It supports all sub-6Ghz, and 5G low-bands, AMOLED screen, decent camera and Samsung Android upgrade/update policy is good.
The Motorola Edge 20 Pro is the standout latest tech, AMOLED 120Hz screen, SD870 processor, 108MP camera, and more. It also has a full implementation of ‘Ready for’, Motorola’s Android desktop. The only downside is no support for Optus 5G Low-band.
The OPPO Find X3 Neo is a superb, fully-featured, no compromise (well, very few) premium smartphone at a budget price of $999. It supports all sub-6GHz and 5G Low bands, has an SD865+ processor and a 90Hz AMOLED screen.
Best Android phones for $1000+ (5G)
There are run-outs here like the Galaxy Note 20 (Telstra only), Galaxy Flip (Gen 1) and early the 2021 Samsung Galaxy S21 series 128/256 $1249/1349.
CAT S62 Pro MIL-STD 4G Thermal camera $1099 (Good Guys)
Vivo x60 Pro 9.4/10 256GB $1099 with a gimbal stabilised camera, all sub-6Ghz/5G low-bands and SD870 is very impressive.