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

Google Pixel phones
Google Pixel phones (Image credit: Future)

Our guide to the best Google Pixel phones has recently enjoyed a new addition thanks to the release of the Google Pixel 5. It's a surprisingly affordable successor to the Pixel 4

But whether you opt for the latest and greatest Pixel 5 or an older model, a Pixel handset could be well worth considering, especially if top-end cameras, the cleanest version of Google's Android operating system, and smaller, easier-to-hold sizes sound perfect for you - as these are the things Pixels are known for.

It's worth noting though that if you're actually looking just for Android phones in general - handsets running Google's operating system - then we've got a guide for the best Android phones. This guide you're reading is for smartphones that were actually made by Google, not just running Google's software.

Google doesn't put out that many handsets each year, at least not compared to many other companies, but it can still be hard working out which of its phones are for you. Should you go for one of the 'standard' phones or stretch to an XL model? Do you want one of the flagship phones or perhaps one of the cheaper A-series devices?

And, perhaps most importantly of all, do you want to buy one of the company's more recent handsets or perhaps go for an older Pixel phone that might be a bit more affordable?

To help you get your head around all the best phones for you, we've ranked all the Pixel phones (barring the brand-new Pixel 4a 5G). That'll be added to this list soon, but for now we've ranked everything from the original Google Pixel all the way to the recent Pixel 5. The list below though contains just the best of the bunch - the ones you should actually consider buying.

This list will constantly change as Google brings out more Pixel phones too, so if you're just interested in what the best Pixel phone is because you like to keep abreast of cool tech, keep checking back to see where any new phones land.

Best Pixel phones at a glance

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

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

Camera software is better than ever 
Metal case is refreshing change from glass 
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 4 XL

(Image credit: Google)

2. Google Pixel 4 XL

The best Pixel phone you can buy right now

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

Top-of-the-line camera
Simple design
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)

3. Google Pixel 3 XL

Older but still good

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

Great camera
Solid battery life
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 4a

(Image credit: Google)

4. Google Pixel 4a

A budget take on the Pixel 4

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

Easy one-handed use
Powerful single camera
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

Google Pixel 4 (Image credit: Google)

5. Google Pixel 4

The Google Pixel 4 XL's slightly lesser sibling

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

Great camera
Beautiful 90Hz display
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

(Image credit: Future)

6. Google Pixel 3

An older flagship Pixel

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

Great camera
Good one-handed phone
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)

7. Google Pixel 3a

The first ever a-series phone

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

Affordable price tag
Has Active Edge
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