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Best Pixel phones: we've ranked all the Google Pixel handsets worth buying

Best Pixel phones
(Image credit: Google)

Our best Pixel phones list saw big updates last year with the introduction of the Google Pixel 4a 5G and the Google Pixel 5 in the second half of 2020. 

While the latter is the best that Google currently offers, the Google Pixel 4a 5G is a solidly dependable middle child to the Google Pixel family. With rumors of a Google Pixel 6 later this year, we're expecting big things, and there's also the Google Pixel 5a that arrived earlier this year to shake things up further. 

For now, if you're looking for a phone to buy, you have plenty of good Pixel options. Whether you go for the latest and greatest Pixel 5 or something a little older, these are good phones thanks to using the cleanest version of Google's Android operating system, and typically offering top-end cameras in a smaller and easier build than the competition. 

Google doesn't put out that many handsets each year, compared to many other companies but it can still be hard working out which of its phones are for you. Knowing whether to go for a 'standard' size or an XL model is one option, as well as knowing whether to opt for a flagship model or one of the cheaper A-series devices like the new Google Pixel 4a 5G. 

If all that doesn't appeal, and you're merely looking for Android phones in general, then we've got a guide for the best Android phones too. The guide you're reading is for smartphones that were actually made by Google, not just running Google's software.

With so many options to choose from, we've ranked all the Pixel phones currently available. We've considered everything from the original Google Pixel right up to the Google Pixel 5, but we've only featured the very best of the bunch - the ones you should actually buy.

We're expecting the list to change frequently as Google releases more Pixel phones so check back regularly for the latest updates to the rankings.

Best Pixel phones at a glance

  1. Google Pixel 5
  2. Google Pixel 4a
  3. Google Pixel 4 XL
  4. Google Pixel 3 XL
  5. Google Pixel 4
  6. Google Pixel 4a 5G
  7. Google Pixel 3
  8. Google Pixel 3a

Best Pixel phones

Google Pixel 5

(Image credit: Google)

1. Google Pixel 5

The best Pixel phone out there right now for most users

Specifications
Release date: October 2020
Weight: 151g
Dimensions: 144.7mm x 70.4mm x 8mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6-inch
Resolution: 2340 x 1080
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 16MP + 12MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Camera software is better than ever +Metal case is refreshing change from glass 
Reasons to avoid
-No telephoto -Middling night photography 

The Google Pixel 5 might drop some advanced features compared to its predecessor, but it means you get a simplified phone that still does everything you could want, and at a competitive price. The standout feature is easily the Pixel 5's camera software with a plethora of different editing tools and plenty of ways to create better imagery from your snaps. 

The phone also offers superior battery life than before thanks to the backup plan of the Extreme Battery Saver feature which claws things back to the very basics when you're running low. 

It's those little things combined with the clean Android interface of the Google Pixel 5 that makes it an appealing proposition at an attractive price. Just keep an eye out for that slightly slower processor than the competition and the removal of Soli - Google's touch-free gesture control system. They're small sacrifices for an otherwise good smartphone. 

Read our full Google Pixel 5 review

Google Pixel 4a

(Image credit: Google)

2. Google Pixel 4a

A budget take on the Pixel 4

Specifications
Release date: August 2020
Weight: 143g
Dimensions: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.81-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
CPU: Snapdragon 730G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 3,140mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Easy one-handed use+Powerful single camera
Reasons to avoid
-Mediocre battery life-Cheap-feeling design

The Google Pixel 4a is the company's affordable take on the Pixel 4, with a few corners cut from the Pixel 4 in order to get the cost lower.

It has a single rear camera, a plastic body, and a physical fingerprint sensor, all traits of cheap phones, but if you don't want all the top features of the Pixel 4 you likely won't mind those compromises.

In addition it's a pretty small phone, and given how rare sub-6-inch-screen phones are in 2020, that might be enough to sway some.

Read our full Google Pixel 4a review

Google Pixel 4 XL

(Image credit: Google)

3. Google Pixel 4 XL

The best Pixel phone you can buy right now

Specifications
Release date: October 2019
Weight: 193g
Dimensions: 160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3040
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB
Battery: 3,700mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP + 16MP
Front camera: 8MP + TOF
Reasons to buy
+Top-of-the-line camera+Simple design
Reasons to avoid
-No fingerprint sensor-Battery life is barely adequate

The Google Pixel 4 XL used to top our list of the best Pixel phones - until the Pixel 5 debuted - and it also avoids some of the pitfalls its non-XL sibling had.

The Google Pixel 4 XL has a top-end camera, high-quality display, two selfie cameras, and a few neat features designed just for the Pixel 4 range like Soli, offering touch-free gesture controls.

Sure, the phone is a bit behind in a few ways - its chipset was slightly dated even at the time of release, its battery is rather small, and it doesn't have as much storage as some phones. But its strengths outweigh its weaknesses and that's why it's so high in this list.

Read our full Google Pixel 4 XL review

(Image credit: Google)

4. Google Pixel 3 XL

Older but still good

Specifications
Release date: October 2018
Weight: 184g
Dimensions: 158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 2960
CPU: Snapdragon 845
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB
Battery: 3,430mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP
Front camera: 8MP + 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Great camera+Solid battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Notch is hard to ignore-Not one-hand friendly

The Google Pixel 3 XL is one of the oldest phones on this list, but it's more affordable than some of the others as a result, which is why we can recommend it to you.

The Pixel 3 XL has a great camera as we've come to expect from Pixel phones, but it also has a high-quality screen and, slightly unusually for a Pixel phone, a long-lasting battery too. It was a great phone when it came out, and it still is, even though it's getting on a bit now.

The phone has been discontinued, but if you can find it somewhere it's definitely worth considering. 

Read our full Google Pixel 3 XL review

Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4 (Image credit: Google)

5. Google Pixel 4

The Google Pixel 4 XL's slightly lesser sibling

Specifications
Release date: October 2019
Weight: 162g
Dimensions: 147.1 x 68.8 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.7-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2280
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB
Battery: 2,800mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP + 16MP
Front camera: 8MP + TOF
Reasons to buy
+Great camera+Beautiful 90Hz display
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery life-No fingerprint scanner

We were initially disappointed by the Google Pixel 4, but after using it for a while we can concede that it's a great phone with a few big issues.

The Google Pixel 4's battery life just isn't up to snuff, and there's no fingerprint scanner. This means you're forced to use facial recognition to unlock the phone, which is certainly temperamental.

If you can look past these issues though, you're left with a phone with a beautiful FHD+ 90Hz display, a top-end camera and fantastic image optimization software, and a design that makes it super easy to grip.

Like the Pixel 4 XL, this handset isn't perfect, but depending on what you're looking for it might be good for you.

Read our full Google Pixel 4 review

Google Pixel 4a 5G smartphone

(Image credit: Google)

6. Google Pixel 4a 5G

The budget alternative to the Pixel 5

Specifications
Release date: November 2020
Weight: 168g
Dimensions: 153.9mm x 74mm x 8.2mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.2-inch
Resolution: 2340 x 1080
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 3,885mAh
Rear camera: 16MP + 12.2MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Clean Android experience+Good battery for a Pixel phone
Reasons to avoid
-Slow performance-Cheap feeling

The Google Pixel 4a 5G won't set the world on fire with some slow performance issues and a bit of a hit-and-miss camera experience but its admirable battery life and clean Android build that endears us so much to all things Google certainly helps.

If you're looking for a mid-range option in the Google Pixel family, the Google Pixel 4a 5G is the one for you. It uses the same chipset as the Pixel 5 although scores lower in benchmarks, but its reliable battery life (somewhat unusual in a Pixel phone) makes up for the performance issues. 

Simply put, the Google Pixel 4a 5G is a perfectly fine phone. It doesn't stand out particularly but it works well, offering mostly what you need as well as that all-important 5G connectivity. 

Read our full Google Pixel 4a 5G review

(Image credit: Future)

7. Google Pixel 3

An older flagship Pixel

Specifications
Release date: October 2018
Weight: 148g
Dimensions: 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.5-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2160
CPU: Snapdragon 845
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB
Battery: 2,915mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP
Front camera: 8MP + 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Great camera+Good one-handed phone
Reasons to avoid
-Weak battery life-Low RAM

The smallest Pixel phone on this list is the Google Pixel 3, released alongside the Pixel 3 XL higher on this list.

The Google Pixel 3 gives you the company's camera hardware and UI software in a small frame, so you can easily use one hand to take pictures, scroll through social media, or play games. 

It's one of the oldest phones on this list, so you can get it at a discount from its original price, but it might not last as long and has slightly outdated hardware compared to the others higher on this list. 

But if you don't need cutting-edge hardware or all the newest tech, it could be a good option for you.

Read our full Google Pixel 3 review

(Image credit: Google)

8. Google Pixel 3a

The first ever a-series phone

Specifications
Release date: May 2019
Weight: 147g
Dimensions: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.6-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2220
CPU: Snapdragon 670
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Affordable price tag+Has Active Edge
Reasons to avoid
-Plastic body-Feels a little slow

When the Google Pixel 3a launched alongside the 3a XL it kicked off the Pixel a-series, as there wasn't a Pixel a or Pixel 2a. It introduced to phone fans the concept of Pixel phones with reduced features and missing specs, but the same clean Android software and impressive camera capabilities.

The Pixel 3a may have a plastic body, single front-facing camera and lesser chipset than the standard Pixel 3, but its lower price more than makes up for that.

The Pixel 3a won over phone fans, which is likely why we got a 4a, and although the Pixel 4 and 4a are newer and don't cost a huge amount more than the 3a, some buyers might still prefer the older device.

Read our full Google Pixel 3a review

Tom Bedford

Staff Writer, Phones

Tom's role in the TechRadar team is as a staff writer specializing in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness trackers and more.