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Best Android phones in South Africa

(Image credit: Future)

Compared to buying an iPhone, buying an Android phone can be a dizzying choice thanks to the huge array of different devices from different manufacturers. While there are mid-range and budget Android options, this list is our collection of the best Android phones overall, so they’re higher in price as they have the best current features like top cameras, displays and build quality. 

Because Android is such a popular smartphone operating system, this list has a lot in common with our list of the best smartphones overall.

We’ve included all of the Android world’s big hitters like Samsung, Huawei and LG, and more phones are being added regularly. The Google-free Huawei P40 Pro has put in a strong a performance and earned a place on the list, while the Vivo X50 Pro is another surprise. Meanwhile LG now has two 5G models appearing. 

Check back regularly to see what new phones have earned a place on our list. 

Best Android phones in SA

  1. Samsung Galaxy S20 & S20 Plus
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  3. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  4. LG V60 ThinQ
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
  6. Huawei P40 Pro
  7. Vivo X50 Pro
  8. Samsung Galaxy Note 10
  9. LG Velvet
  10. Samsung Galaxy S10 & S10 Plus
  11. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite
  12. LG G8s ThinQ 
  13. Huawei P30 Pro

Samsung Galaxy S20

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Galaxy S20 & S20 Plus

These are the very best Android phones

Release date: March 2020 | Weight: 163g/186g | Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9mm/161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.2-inch/6.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990 | RAM: 8GB/12GB | Storage: 128GB (S20) or 128GB/256GB/512GB (S20 Plus) | Battery: 4,000mAh/4500mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

The best screen around
Excellent cameras
High price
Iterative improvements

The Samsung Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus are – along with the Galaxy S20 Ultra – Samsung’s latest and greatest flagship phones, so it’s no wonder they top this list.

While the S20 Plus has a slight specs edge, thanks to a larger 6.7-inch screen, a bigger 4,500mAh battery, a fourth camera lens (for depth-sensing) and optionally more storage, they’re largely very similar phones, so they’re fit to share the top spot.

Both have a highly capable camera array, with 12MP standard, 12MP ultra-wide, and 64MP telephoto sensors, and both also have top-end power, thanks to a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 chipset (depending on where in the world you are) and up to 12GB of RAM.

They also both have a stunning 1440 x 3200 display with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. At the time of writing this is arguably the best screen you’ll find on any smartphone.

The design is premium too, and they’re both packed full of features, like reverse wireless charging, 5G, an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and water resistance. They might not quite be the very best at everything, but they’re certainly the best Android phones overall.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S20 review

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

An Ultra-sized phone

Release date: August 2020 | Weight: 208g | Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.9-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3088 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus / Exynos 990 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 108MP, 12MP, 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

Useful S Pen features
Great-looking screen
Slow charging

Samsung's latest super-premium smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, with advanced features, a great-looking screen, and special features for the S Pen stylus which comes included in the phone, that give you added versatile ways to use your device.

Sure it's expensive, and pretty huge, and doesn't actually have all the bells and whistles of the Galaxy S20 Ultra. But those weaknesses are made up for with plenty of advantages.

This is a real top-end phone with top specs in every sector, so if your budget (and hand) can stretch for it, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra may really be one worth considering.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The ultimate flagship - at an ultimate price

Release date: March 2020 | Weight: 166g | Dimensions: 166.9 x 76 x 8.8mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.9-inch | Resolution: 3200 x 1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 | RAM: 12/16GB | Storage: 128/512GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 108MP+48MP+12MP | Front camera: 40MP

Best specs of 2020, period
5x optical, 100x digital 'Space Zoom'
Very expensive
Extras not worth price bump

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is, indeed, ultra – billed as the ultimate Samsung phone thanks to top-of-the-line specs on paper. It's an evolution of the max-specced Samsung Galaxy S10 5G from last year, though the Ultra's execution isn't the best.

It may come with the very best specs, but it's a very expensive handset and it has a few flaws that mean it isn't entirely worth the price bump like you may expect it to be.

That said, if you're looking for all the top-end features available on a Samsung phone including the phenomenally powerful 100x zoom feature you may want to opt for the Ultra over the other Samsung devices on this list.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review

LG V60 ThinQ 5G

LG V60 ThinQ  (Image credit: LG)

4. LG V60 ThinQ

Foldable 5G flagship flying below the radar

Release date: May 2020 | Weight: 214g | Dimensions: 169 x 78 x 9mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.8-inch | Resolution: 2466 x 1080 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Adreno 650 GPU | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 64MP + 13MP + TOF | Front camera: 10MP

5G enabled
Very well priced
Free second screen 
No telephoto camera

LGs latest flagship deserves far more recognition. To our mind it matches, and even surpasses, the Android market leaders and looks very good doing it, especially with its new gold-coloured chamfered aluminium edges.  It sports the same top-end Snapdragon 865 CPU as its competitors, and that's paired with the fastest GPU available for Android phones, the Adreno 650, which handily outperforms the chip in Samsung's S20 series.

And the V60 is 5G-enabled (something else not offered in Samsung's S20 range in SA) for those looking for a future-proof superphone investment. It is also LGs first phone to record 8K video, a feat rounded out with its array of 4 mics which creates a kind of surround sound effect, and there's video stabilisation included. Like Samsung the V60's primary 64MP camera uses pixel-binning to create better quality low light shots. 

The clincher though is the folio cover which, for free, adds a second, beautiful FHD+ OLED screen. Using two apps side-by-side won't impress everyone, nor will the dual screen gaming, but it's likely to be the most affordable folding phone most consumers will be able to afford for a while yet. 

Full review: LG V60 ThinQ

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

A top Android phone, and the best with a stylus

Release date: August 2019 | Weight: 196g | Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3040 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9825 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 256/512GB | Battery: 4,300mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP + 3D ToF | Front camera: 10MP

Best screen on a smartphone
Handy S Pen Stylus
Supremely expensive
Camera isn't the 'best'

While the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus may not top our list of the best Android phones anymore, that's only because it's been beaten by its successor. Saying that, it's still worth considering if you're looking for a new Android phone.

There's a lot to love in Samsung's Note phablet, from its beautiful 6.8-inch screen to the powerful selfie camera and the S Pen stylus which transforms your smartphone experience.

Sure, the cameras aren't as good as the Huawei P30 Pro, and the body leaves a bit to be desired with its huge frame and slippery design, but this is still a great smartphone if you can stomach the price.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Huawei P40 Pro

(Image credit: Huawei)

6. Huawei P40 Pro

A superior Android experience... eventually

Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 165g | Dimensions: 149.1 x 71.4 x 7.6mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Kirin 980 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 64/128/512GB | Battery: 3,650mAh | Rear camera: 40MP + 16MP + 8MP | Front camera: 32MP

Great camera
Powerful processor
No wireless charging
P30 Pro is superior

The only Huawei phone on the list right now is the P40 Pro, which claims its spot by virtue of its truly excellent hardware, superb build quality and refreshingly different Android experience. Once you hack your way past the lack of Google services and get things tweaked to your liking this handset delivers with its gorgeous screen, best-in-class camera system and beefy Kirin processor. 

Huawei Mobile Services is surprisingly good and weighs down the Android experience far less than Google's bloated, but ubiquitous, apps, we found. As such it could have placed far higher on this list if it wasn't a bit technically challenging to get started without the Play Store.

The upspecc-ed P40 Pro Plus model has even better camera tech, including second telephoto camera, but the price premium pushed it just marginally out of the running.  

Read more: Huawei P40 Pro review

Vivo X50 Pro

(Image credit: Vivo)

7. Vivo X50 Pro

Advanced cameras and 5G smarts

Weight: 181g | Release date: August 2020 | Dimensions: 158 x 73 x 8mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.6-inch | Resolution: 2376 × 1080 | CPU: Snapdragon 765 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 4315mAh | Rear camera: 48+13+8+8MP | Front camera: 32MP

Impressive build quality
Advanced camera system
Last year's CPU

We're as surprised as anyone to find Vivo on our top 10 list, given that their offerings to date have been of the budget variety. But this 5G handset certainly is not with wonderfully tactile frosted glass on the rear panel, an excellent 6.6-inch screen and a seriously advanced camera system.  The main 48MP camera is mounted on a gimbal which has the effect of mechanical image stabilisation far superior to traditional optical image stabilisation (IOS) that works a treat for creating smooth video on the move and for truly amazing low light shots. That's rounded out with an excellent 5x optical telephoto lens. There's also plenty of RAM and storage to keep things flying. 

Read more: Vivo X50 Pro review

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

(Image credit: Samsung)

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 10

All-screen, and it's a true flagship

Release date: August 2019 | Weight: 168g | Dimensions: 151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.3-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2280 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 10MP

One of the easiest Notes to hold
Great video recording
Only a Full HD display
Battery life is a little mediocre

While the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is beaten in many ways by the Note 10 Plus, earlier on this list, the Note 10 Plus does have a way higher price too.

The 'basic' Galaxy Note 10 loses a rear camera from its bigger sibling, and has a lower res display less RAM so it's not exactly as powerful in a few ways.

At its core though, the Galaxy Note 10 is the same device as the one sitting at our third slot on this list, with an S Pen stylus, good-looking design, and all of Samsung's software, so if the price of the Note 10 Plus puts you off, this is a great alternative.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 review

LG Velvet

(Image credit: LG)

9. LG Velvet

Stylish look for media creatives, with 5G

Weight: 180g | Release date: July 2020 | Dimensions: 167.2 x 74.1 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.8-inch | Resolution: 2,460 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 765 5G | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4300mAh | Rear camera: 48+8+5MP | Front camera: 16MP

This is the first of the new-look phones from LG: a range that will replace the traditional G-series phones with more unusual and more innovative models to complement the V-series flagship models. The Velvet certainly is a striking looking design with perfectly symmetrical front and back sections in a premium high gloss glass finish. It's a multimedia powerhouse phone with a superb 6.8-inch OLED screen, stereo speakers and 5G connectivity for uploading and downloading video at top speeds. The four-camera array is arranged in an unusual and eye-catching "droplet" configuration and features a 48MP main shooter with a wide angle and depth sensor on the rear and 16MP selfie cam. The Velvet uses the tall-and-thin form factor, so this big-screen phone remains very pocketable. It's all round good value for a 5G phone in SA.  

Read more: LG Velvet review

Samsung Galaxy S10 & S10 Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

10. Samsung Galaxy S10 & S10 Plus

Two top Android phones

Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 175g | Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3040 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9820 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128/512GB/1TB | Battery: 4,100mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 10MP + 8MP

Great screen
Excellent cameras
Not cheap
Design offers little grip

The Samsung Galaxy S10, and in particular the plus-sized S10 Plus, was for a long time the best Android phone you could buy, and while the S20 range has now superseded them, they're still great phones.

The Galaxy S10 Plus is a big phone that's designed for big hands - and it takes the very best of what's on the smartphone market and puts it together in a compelling package that we've loved testing.

The Super AMOLED display has been measured as the very best around (at least, at the time), with super colours, plus there's a fingerprint scanner embedded in the display.

Battery life is an improvement over the S9 Plus, thanks to the larger battery inside, and you also get Samsung's new Wireless PowerShare, allowing you to wirelessly charge other devices on the rear of the handset.

The trio of cameras on the rear of the Galaxy S10 Plus are also great, offering loads of features, shooting modes and overall clarity. The standard S10 is a very similar phone - a slight step down in a few ways, but also cheaper.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

(Image credit: Samsung)

11. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

Release date: Feb 2020 | Weight: 199g | Dimensions: 163.7 x 76.1 x 8.7mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Exynos | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 32MP

We like the idea of a scaled back Note 10. Until the launch of the S20 series the Note was Samsung's most expensive phone, sporting the usual line up of top shelf components and turbocharged performance. But we think there is a niche of small business operators who appreciates the virtues of the Note: the big squared-off screen format combined with stylus functionality, but without the monster price tag. At R12,000 the Note 10 Lite is 30% cheaper than the Note 10.

On the Lite you are still getting full-strength multimedia handling, including an excellent triple rear camera with all Samsung's usual camera smarts for helping you capture great shots without trying too hard, and a massive, silky 6.7-inch super AMOLED screen at better-than-HD resolution (that's bigger and better than the Note 10). There is even a headphone jack!

The Note 10 Lite has a 4500mAh battery, again, bigger than the Note 10,  and the fractionally downscaled CPU (Exynos 9810) runs more lean than the full Note 10 CPU too. Other than screen scribbling the S-Pen stylus performs all the same tricks, like advancing music tracks and PowerPoint slides, and remote-snapping photos. 

Altogether it's on our list as a great-value, powerful and professional business tool.

LG G8s ThinQ

(Image credit: LG)

12. LG G8s ThinQ

Release date: September 2019 | Weight: 180g | Dimensions: 155.3 x 76.6 x 7.99mmmm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.21-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2248 | CPU: Snapdragon SM8150 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3.550mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 13MP + 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

The "lite" version of LG's G8X flagship this model maintains the brands reputation for excellent build quality, and still holds on to many of the key features found on the more pricey version.

It sports a triple rear camera arrangement including a 2x telephoto which is not available on the G8X. The other sacrifices are not deal breakers for us. It has a smaller 3550mAh battery which works out okay since its powering a lesser CPU and a slightly smaller 6.21 inch screen at a slightly lower resolution (1080 x 2248). 

You're still scoring LG's sturdy build and the innovative palm recognition system (called Hand ID by LG,  you pass your hand over the front of the phone where the front facing sensor reads your unique vein patterns to unlock the phone). Add in LGs powerful audio decoding subsystems, using specialised processors, then check the price and it's more obvious how this "lite" phone  made our top 10 list. 

Read more: LG G8S ThinQ review 

Huawei P30 Pro

(Image credit: Huawei)

13. Huawei P30 Pro

Still standing strong, and now at a bargain price

Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.47-inch | CPU: Kirin 980 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB | Battery: 4,200mAh | Rear camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP + ToF | Front camera: 32MP

Fantastic cameras
Eye-catching design
Display 'only' Full HD
EMUI lacks polish

The Huawei P30 Pro was last years' photography champ, but was also a superior overall Android experience. It's a top, top Android phone and could have placed higher, but it's becoming increasingly hard to find on the shelves where you can now snap it up at bargain prices.

Its 5x and 10x zoom capabilities are staggeringly good. It also performs fantastically well in low light. For those who really want to get up close to their subject, the P30 Pro also offers a 50x digital zoom, and although quality is reduced it's still impressive.

You also get plenty of power under the hood, an in-display fingerprint scanner, premium design and wireless charging with the ability to wireless charge other devices from the back of the P30 Pro.

Read more: Huawei P30 Pro review