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

Included in this guide:

Best Pixel phones, including Google Pixel 5, Google Pixel 5a and Google Pixel 4a
(Image credit: Google)

Pixel phones are known for having top-tier cameras, a clean 'stock' Android operating system, and also getting new Android updates as early as possible. If these traits sound like something you want, you've come to the right place. 

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 6 Pro 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 a Pro or 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.

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 6 range, 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.

But if none of that appeals, 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.

But before you dive into a purchase, remember that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up at the end of November. We're expecting to see some of the best phone Black Friday deals of the year.

Best Pixel phones 2021

A Google Pixel 6 Pro against a white background

(Image credit: Google)

The best Pixel phone

Specifications
Release date: October 2021
Weight: 210g
Dimensions: 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.71-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3120
CPU: Google Tensor
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 5,003mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 48MP + 12MP
Front camera: 11.1MP
Reasons to buy
+Multitalented camera+Big and beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid
-Contentious design-Average battery life

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is arguably the first truly top-end phone Google has ever made, and certainly the first one in a while.

Yet it takes a different approach to most flagships, and to most Pixels. Its design is all-new, and very different to other phones from any brand. It won’t be to everyone’s taste with its big visor-like camera block, but it will certainly turn heads.

Google has also taken the unusual route of equipping the Pixel 6 Pro with a home-made chipset called the Google Tensor. This is designed with AI and machine learning in mind, and it’s built specifically for the Pixel 6 range.

Add in a versatile triple-lens camera, with a 50MP main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide and a 48MP telephoto (with 4x optical zoom), plus a 6.71-inch QHD+ screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, and this is an enormously exciting handset.

In our review we found that the battery life wasn’t the best, but that aside this is the best Pixel you can buy.

Read our full Google Pixel 6 Pro review

A Google Pixel 6 against a white background

(Image credit: Google)

The best mid-range Pixel

Specifications
Release date: October 2021
Weight: 207g
Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.4-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Google Tensor
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Battery: 4,614mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 12MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic photos+Intriguing design
Reasons to avoid
-No zoom lens-Middling battery

The Google Pixel 6 isn’t quite as exciting as the Pixel 6 Pro, but the most important features remain intact. That includes an unusual design with a three-tone color scheme, and the powerful new Google Tensor chipset, designed to improve photography, speech processing and more.

Beyond that, the Google Pixel 6 also has a dual-lens camera that we found capable of taking true-to-life photos, plus a sizeable 6.4-inch screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, and Android 12 out of the box.

It’s also a remarkably well priced phone, making the Pixel 6 an ideal choice for anyone who doesn’t feel the need to splash out on a true flagship, but still wants some high-end features.

The lack of a telephoto camera hurts it, and the battery life is average, but for the price you’re paying these are small complaints.

Read our full Google Pixel 6 review

Google Pixel 5

(Image credit: Google)

The best older Pixel

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 5a

(Image credit: Google)

A reliable mid-range phone with a great camera

Specifications
Release date: August 2021
Weight: 183g
Dimensions: 154.9 x 73.7 x 7.6mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.34-inch OLED
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,680mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP + 16MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Great camera+Big battery
Reasons to avoid
-No zoom camera-Limited improvements over predecessor

A lot like the Google Pixel 4a 5G but with a better battery and a slightly bigger screen, the Google Pixel 5a is a solid improvement upon an already good phone. 

Its 6.34-inch Full HD Plus OLED display looks great, and its 12.2MP main camera and 16MP ultra-wide camera offer a plethora of features that mean you'll be able to take some great snaps even in the dark.

Expect reliable performance too with Android 11 out of the box, fast speeds when browsing, playing games, or anything else you fancy doing. 

Read our full Google Pixel 5a review

Google Pixel 4a

(Image credit: Google)

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)

A great XL Pixel

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

Google Pixel 3 XL

(Image credit: Google)

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