Android apps have arrived on Windows 11... sort of. The feature is still being labeled as a ‘preview’ for the time being, and you’re limited to apps from the Amazon Appstore (not the Google one), but it’s open to everyone and it doesn’t take long to get started. Here, we’ll take you through the steps of installing Android apps on your Windows 11 computer.
The appeal is clear: Being able to load up Android apps and games while leaving your phone in your pocket. Your PC gives you more screen space and all the convenience of keyboard and mouse inputs, so there are plenty of reasons why you would want to get your most-used apps up on a desktop interface.
To get started, you need to install the Amazon Appstore from inside the Microsoft Store. Open the Microsoft Store from the Start menu, then search for “Amazon Appstore”: Select the Appstore when you find it, then click Get to put it on your system—you’ll need to go through a few confirmation screens and wait several minutes while the necessary virtualization technologies are set up.
If you’re interested in what’s happening behind the scenes here, the Amazon Appstore for Windows 11 runs on a platform called the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA)—that platform combines a Linux kernel with version 11 of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), without any of the trimmings that Google offers for its Pixel devices.
You can then launch Amazon’s portal of Android apps from the Start menu, a portal which will be familiar to anyone with experience on an Amazon Fire tablet. You’re also going to need to log in with an Amazon account, so if you don’t have one (or don’t want to use your existing one), you’ll need to sign up inside the Appstore.
The Amazon Appstore isn’t difficult to get around: You can use the search bar at the top to look for specific apps and games, or start browsing through the categories that show up as you scroll down the store front. When you see something you like, click on its thumbnail for a closer look, then select Get to install it and Open to launch it.
Android apps that you’ve installed through the Amazon Appstore will show up on the Start menu, like any other app—you don’t need to go back through the Appstore every time you want to run the app. The process for uninstalling these apps is the same as usual as well (via Apps and Apps & features in the Windows Setting pane).
Right now, the app selection is pretty paltry, and you might struggle to find apps that are actually useful. Apps that are available on Fire tablets, including Instagram and Dropbox, are nowhere to be seen on Windows—this seems to be tied into the current ‘preview’ status of the feature on Windows 11 at the moment, so we’re hoping that a better app selection will be along soon.
Even with a full strength Amazon Appstore, this isn’t the Google Play Store, and you won’t find anything made by Google here (including YouTube). It is possible to hack Windows 11 to run the Google Play Store, but it’s a complicated process that requires a degree of coding knowledge, and at the moment it’s not worth it for most people.
Click Settings on the left and you can customize various aspects of the Amazon Appstore experience, including how download notifications are handled and whether or not apps are able to update themselves automatically. Some basic parental controls are included here too as well, in case you’re thinking about any kids with access to your PC running up large bills on your Amazon account.
Speaking of in-app purchases, you’ll see references to Amazon Coins inside the Appstore. These coins are a virtual currency that you can use to purchase apps and items inside apps—you can buy them in bulk to get them more cheaply, and you will occasionally see them offered for free as part of promotions. These coins don’t have an expiry date, so you don’t have to worry about using them before a particular date.
Gaming is perhaps where the Amazon Appstore on Windows 11 is strongest for at the moment, and there are quite a few simple games to help you pass the time of day. Other apps of note include Facebook Messenger, the BBC Sounds podcast portal, and the Audible and Kindle apps offered by Amazon itself. There’s clearly still a long way to go here, though, and lots more to come.
It’s worth bearing in mind that there are alternative options for getting your phone apps up on your computer, whether that’s through running a web version of a particular app in a browser, or using one of the different emulator programs that are out there. Point is, your smartphone apps don’t necessarily have to stay stuck on your smartphone.
Google's finally interested in tablets again. Android 12L and its tablet-specific features have had rippling effects, with more developers jumping on the tablet bandwagon with apps that actually use the extra screen space. We compiled a roundup of our favorite Android apps that support tablets, offering a solid mix, whether you're interested in navigating on a large screen with Google Maps or need a trusty media player like VLC to watch a video large and in charge. And if you haven't picked up one of Android's best tablets, check out the current selection.
It's right there in the name. This is the Amazon shopping app exclusively designed for tablets. Much like how the phone app displays the site on phones, this tablet app fills the entire screen with shopping goodness. This version has a few exclusive features, such as a press-and-hold option to fling items to the bottom of your screen, saving them to an always-accessible tray, like a fancy bookmark for your favorite items.
Seven to ten-inch tablets are recommended. Even though the app is pretty old, Amazon still updates it diligently. One thing's for sure. It's nice to see other companies support tablets on Android even when Google doesn't feel it's necessary.
For easy remote file handling, AirDroid tends to be the go-to choice. It works across phones, tablets, and Chromebooks to sync with almost any device you own, so you can expect a tablet-friendly UI that makes good use of screen real estate. You can even use the app to respond to texts and calls, which can be handy while working on a PC with your phone synced. AirDroid rocks for syncing files across systems and works in a pinch to reply to messages from the comfort of your PC.
If you're on the hunt for a tablet-oriented news feed, Google News is one of the top choices (along with Feedly, also on this list). It has a two-column layout in a portrait orientation that suits the large screens of tablets quite well. Even in landscape, things look great, which means Google News is also great on Chromebooks. The app works as you would expect. Pick your interests to receive daily news that revolves around those topics. Google News also supports subscriptions to outlets like Washington Post or Wall Street Journal, so you can read your favorite newspapers in a single app.
Microsoft's Office applications are some of the best examples of tablet-optimized Android apps. You might not need to edit an Excel spreadsheet on the go very often, but the apps have the same Ribbon interface as the desktop equivalents. There is also extensive support for keyboard shortcuts if you use a keyboard with your tablet.
In 2020, Microsoft released a new combined Office app that includes PowerPoint, Word, and Excel in a single package. The app initially didn't properly support tablets, but that has since been fixed. Microsoft has also integrated the Office Lens scanner and notes that sync with Windows 10.
The only downside is that creating and editing documents requires a paid subscription to Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365. The cheapest plan is $70 a year (or $7 a month) and includes the web, mobile, and native desktop versions of the most popular Office applications, plus 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Uber drivers use large tablets for navigation. That's thanks to Google Maps offering a UI that's suitable for tablets in portrait and landscape modes. Not only is navigation a breeze, but so is hunting down info on your favorite establishments and eateries. It's all laid out intuitively, with the primary information on the left and the map taking up most of the screen. This way, you can get your info without losing sight of the map, which is key if you use the map for navigation on a tablet often. You could use your phone, but when the situation calls for it, it's nice to navigate with a larger screen.
VLC is a cross-platform media player that can open most video or audio files, and the Android app functions very well. It has an integrated file browser (with the ability to view network drives), Picture-in-Picture support, and other nice features.
The interface only has minor tweaks for tablets, like additional columns in the file viewer, but you'll spend most of your time watching media anyway. VLC is also one of the few media applications that actually pauses the content when you tap the spacebar on the keyboard.
Pocket is a simple app for saving text content you find on the web. Pocket displays these stories in a readable form, distraction-free. Best of all, the app offers a tablet interface that's great in portrait and landscape, with multiple rows of content. Even the stories display well for large screens, though it would be nice if images weren't always centered.
What's great is that you can use the app for free (and it even ties into Firefox, making things much simpler to save content to the platform). However, if you'd like a better search and a permanent library of content, a subscription is necessary at a price of $4.99 a month.
If you prefer open source apps, you've probably heard of LibreOffice and OpenOffice. An enterprising developer built an open source office app called Collabora based on LibreOffice/OpenOffice. The download is free and supports a plethora of extensions, including .odt, .odp, .ods, .ots, .ott, .otp, .docx, .pptx, .xlsx, .dotx, .xltx, .ppsx, doc, .ppt, .xls, .dot, .xlt, and .pps.
Collabora Office uses the same engine as LibreOffice, with a front-end based on Collabora Online, which results in an app that's suitable for small and large screens. Google Drive is supported out of the box and works seamlessly, making for an intuitive way to store and edit files while on the go.
Gmail is one of the few remaining Google apps with a dedicated tablet interface. On large screens, Gmail has a two-column design, with your inbox shown on the left and the current message on the right. There are also a few keyboard shortcuts available for quickly managing messages.
If you're not a fan of Gmail or want to try something new, Microsoft Outlook is another great email application for Android tablets. It works with third-party email services in addition to Microsoft's Outlook.com, so you can use it without switching email addresses.
Outlook has a similar layout to Gmail on tablets, with columns for your inbox and the selected message, but there are a few differences. The list of accounts is always pinned to the left side, and a third column for inboxes and folders can be toggled by tapping the menu in the upper-left corner.
MyScript Nebo is one of the best note-taking applications for Android. It can convert your handwritten sentences into text, and just like Evernote and OneNote, you can embed images, drawings, and other resources into your notes. The full list of features is staggering.
There's one catch to Nebo. You need an Android device with an active stylus pen, like a Galaxy Tab S6 or S6 Lite, to use all the features. Nebo has a list of compatible models on its support website.
The regular Twitter app looks terrible on tablets, with tweets taking up the full width of the screen. You're better off with Twitter Lite, a repackaged version of the Twitter web app. It's not a native Android application, which is annoying, but it looks better on tablets.
Twitter Lite is only available from the Play Store in select regions, so if you can't download it, open twitter.com in your mobile browser and find the option to install it on your homescreen (in Chrome, tap the menu button in the upper-right corner and pick Add to Home Screen). It's the same experience, but you'll need to enable notifications from Twitter's settings for full functionality.
Feedly is one of the most popular feed reader apps on Android, partly because the app supports large screens properly. The tablet layout is similar to a magazine layout, which should be familiar to most, making for a comfy app to peruse as you digest your daily news.
Google Duo is one of the best video chat applications on Android, and it works as well on tablets as it does on phones. You don't need a phone number paired with your Google account when using it on tablets, which is handy for young children and other people without a phone.
Solid Explorer is an excellent file manager application, and it's one of the few options with a clean tablet interface. It has a dual-panel mode for viewing (and moving files between) two directories at once, support for network drives, batch operations, integration with various cloud storage services, and more.
If moving files around on your Android devices is something you do regularly, supply Solid Explorer a try. You can use it for 14 days before you have to pay the $1.99 in-app purchase for full access.
Samsung Internet is one of the most popular web browsers on Android, and it also seems to have one of the best tablet interfaces. That's hardly a surprise, given that Samsung is about the only company left producing high-end Android tablets. Still, you don't need a Samsung Galaxy Tab to use the browser. It's available on the Play Store for any device.
Samsung Internet is based on Chrome, but it has a few features that aren't in Google's browser. You can move the buttons around, force a dark theme on all web pages, and install select add-ons. Tabs can either be displayed below the address bar (similar to Chrome) or hidden behind the tabs button for more vertical space.
Gboard is the default keyboard application on many Android devices, and it has one feature that is especially nice on tablets: one-handed mode. With Gboard open, tap the detached keyboard icon in the toolbar to move the keyboard to a floating window. It's easier to type while holding a tablet in one-handed mode, especially when swiping between letters instead of tapping keys individually.
Vivaldi is another web browser that works slightly better on Android tablets than Chrome. It shares the same core engine as Chrome but offers a tracker blocker, an option to always view desktop sites (super helpful for sites that load mobile layouts on tablets), a speed dial, and a built-in screenshot utility.
SketchBook is one of the most feature-packed drawing applications on Android. It's designed for everything from industrial design sketches to digital art, and it works best with tablets and active stylus pens.
You can read comics with the Amazon Kindle app and access Amazon's entire e-book store, which ranges from books to magazines to newspapers. The app is optimized for tablets, making use of the entire screen, and you can dial in your memorizing settings to ensure text fills as much of the screen as possible. There's a warm lighting option, and you can dim your screen independently of the device's global settings, which is super convenient. All around, the Kindle app is one of the best e-reader apps on the platform, and since it offers tablet support, it's definitely a go-to for power readers who enjoy memorizing on large screens.
A horrible scenario any Android phone user may need to confront is the possibility of losing their device. If this has ever happened to you, then you may know that recovering a missing phone is often a fruitless task, especially if it is misplaced in a public location. You can consider yourself lucky if a good-hearted Samaritan stumbles across your smartphone and actually returns the gadget to you. Fortunately, Android has a feature that makes you less dependent on the kindness of strangers.
Assuming you're using a newer version of Android, you can track your phone via Google Maps and the "Find My Device" feature. If you have this setting enabled, you can remotely cause the device to play a sound, which may make the phone easier to find if it's within your immediate vicinity. In a worst-case scenario, the feature can also erase all of the data on the phone if recovering it is impossible. These aren't your only options, however. There is another Android safety feature that you can enable while the phone is still in your possession that may increase your odds of getting it back when or if you ever misplace the device.
Some Android phone models let you compose a short message that you can place on your Android phone's display while it's locked. You can essentially type anything you want in the message, but in the interest of labeling your device with your name — like you would your books or other prized possessions — it's a good feature to use to get your device back if it is lost. For this purpose, you'll want to use the lock screen message to show information that'll make it possible for someone to contact you to return your phone. That info can include things like your email address, social media handle, or another preferred method of communication.
On most Android phone models, the lock screen message option can be found by going to Settings, tapping Display, and then adding text by tapping the Lock Screen option within the Lock Display menu, as explained by Google. Depending on your phone manufacturer, menu names may be worded differently or may even be located elsewhere in the settings. A good way of checking to see whether the feature is available on your device is by looking up "lock screen message" or something similar using your Settings app's search bar.
Android phone brands generally provide their users with similar features. However, the ability to add text to the lock screen is not something that's available on all devices. In lieu of using your Android smartphone's settings to input your contact details, you can use third-party apps to use the useful tip to your advantage. There are lock screen message apps like Heynote that you can download and install from the Play Store that let you write a message post-it style and apply it as a lock screen wallpaper. Similarly, you can also use photo-editing apps like Picsart to design your own lock screen wallpaper, complete with images as well as text.
Using a lock screen background that bears your pertinent contact information can be beneficial when you lose your Android phone and you want whoever picks it up to know how to get in touch with you. However, it also has some risks — the chances are high that a stranger will be able to see and view your lock screen message. To stay on the safe side, refrain from sharing your home or work address. Instead, opt for an online means to reach out, particularly on platforms and services that allow you to easily stop future contact once they've returned your phone, like your email address or your Twitter or Instagram handle.
Read this next: Hidden Android 12 Features You Probably Didn't Know About
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Choosing the best Android phone can seem overwhelming with so many choices, but ultimately it comes down to a few simple questions:
Once you know what’s important to you, the list narrows down considerably. If you’re not too familiar with smartphone tech, check out our detailed buyer’s guide for more info. If you’re feeling comfortable and confident, check out our top picks below. We’ve tested and reviewed hundreds of devices and picked out the best Android phones you can buy in 2022, starting with a device we think everyone will love.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Excellent display • Great performance • Fantastic software support
The best sofware support on Android phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus sits between the smaller Galaxy S22 and the more feature-packed S22 Ultra. It's a premium device that outperforms its siblings in a few key areas. The performance is top-notch, the camera system is impressive, and the software support is the best you can get on an Android phone.
For most people, we think the Galaxy S22 Plus is the best Android phone you can buy. It ticked every box on our list, and honestly, we struggled to find faults. It has excellent performance, a stylish design, versatile cameras, and the best software support in the industry. And although it’s the middle child in the S22 lineup, it’s the one you’ll probably want to buy.
As one of Samsung’s premium flagship smartphones, the S22 Plus has some of the best performance you can get in the smartphone world. Both the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor offered in the US and the Samsung Exynos 2200 processor found in international variants were not slowed down by anything we threw at them in testing. Everything from social scrolling to high-intensity gaming was smooth and stutter-free.
Performance often comes at the cost of battery life, but in this case there’s nothing to worry about. Despite the battery being downsized from the Galaxy S21 Plus to 4,500mAh, we still got great battery life from the device. On a typical day we got about seven hours of screen-on time, which is actually more than we got from the premium S22 Ultra.
Charging speeds are also quick since the S22 Plus is capable of 45W charging. With a USB Power Delivery PPS-compatible charger (not included in the box), our tests clocked in at 50 minutes to go from 0 to 100%, and just 25 minutes to go from 0 to 50%. Wireless charging is limited to 15W, and filled up the battery in roughly 90 minutes.
If you want a premium smartphone that can do it all, the Galaxy S22 Plus is the one to get.
Although the Galaxy S22 Plus isn’t the very best camera phone you can buy, it’s more than capable enough for most people. We found the 50MP main sensor, the 12MP ultrawide sensor, and the 10MP telephoto sensor all produced spectacular photos. Typically the secondary lenses don’t match the main sensor when it comes to white balance or exposure, but that wasn’t the case in our testing. All three lenses are useful, making this one of the best all-around camera phones you can buy (with most alternatives costing much more).
Apart from the cameras and performance, the Galaxy S22 Plus hardware impressed us across the board. The speedy 120Hz display might be limited to an FHD+ resolution, but it’s easily one of the brightest and most vivid displays we’ve ever tested, coming in at an incredible peak of 1,750 nits. The physical design of the phone is also stellar, and leaves nothing to be desired from the Galaxy S22 Ultra (except for the S Pen). This is a very premium phone, and it even comes in a wide variety of colorways to suit your style.
In terms of software, Samsung’s One UI is one of the most fully-featured Android skins you can get. It has everything and the kitchen sink — almost to its detriment. We found far too many preinstalled apps during our testing, and although most can be uninstalled, many cannot. Despite this slight feature creep, there’s a lot you can do to make your phone look and work exactly as you want it to. It also has exceptional synergy with Samsung’s wearables like the Galaxy Watch 5, with some features being exclusive to Samsung phones.
Another big selling point is Samsung’s unbeatable software support, which now offers a full five years of security updates and four years of Android version updates. No Android brand can match that, not even Google itself. If you’re looking for a premium smartphone that can do it all without pushing past $1,000 MSRP, the Galaxy S22 Plus is the one to get.
While we think the Galaxy S22 Plus is the best Android phone for most people, there are plenty of other great options out there. If you’re looking for something a bit more niche, here are our picks for the best of the rest:
Google Pixel 6
Premium, unique design • Upgraded cameras • Competitive price
Pixel 6 is one of the most well-rounded smartphones on the market.
The Google Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch FHD+ display and runs on the all-new Google Tensor SoC. It has an upgraded camera system, exclusive software features, and offers some of the best hardware Google has ever produced.
It should come as no surprise to see Google make the list of the best Android phones, but the Google Pixel 6 is in a really unique spot. It’s not quite as premium as the Galaxy S22 Plus above, but it hits all the key points while maintaining a price and value that’s only matched by another Google device, the Pixel 6a (further down the list). You won’t find a better phone for this price without dipping into Apple’s devices, and even then there are some major tradeoffs.
The Pixel 6 launched with the first iteration of Google’s in-house Tensor chip, which was a bold move for the company that mostly paid off. It focuses more on machine learning and image processing than raw power, but in our testing we found it to perform just fine in daily tasks. We experienced no hiccups while scrolling or playing games, with one major caveat. The first-generation Tensor chip heats up very quickly, meaning sustained performance (while gaming, for example) and battery life took a major hit.
Speaking of battery life, the Pixel 6 managed to hit five hours of screen-on time with relatively intensive use, which isn’t the best but should still be enough to make it through a day and then some. Charging tops off at 21W for both wired and wireless, although you’ll need a Pixel stand to get those wireless speeds. We did notice a few quirks in charging that meant a full charge took more than two hours to reach 100%. However, it hit 80% in one hour, and that excessive slowdown is Google’s attempt to preserve battery health in the long run.
Like all Pixel phones, the Pixel 6 places a special focus on photography, and it finally comes with some upgraded hardware. The phone has all the same smarts as previous Pixels (or more, thanks to the Tensor chip), but it’s now paired with an upgraded 50MP main sensor, alongside a 12MP ultrawide sensor. Numbers aside, we could plainly see the upgrade in our photo samples, with the images showing much better detail, especially when you start cropping in. But the thing we really liked about Pixel 6 photos is their natural color replication. Although they’re a bit punchier than previous Pixel phones, they’re nowhere near as oversaturated as Samsung’s software efforts.
Speaking of software, the Pixel 6 has all kinds of smart features. For photos, that means things like Magic Eraser, which removes background objects and people from your images, and Face Unblur, which is perfect for parents of children who just won’t sit still. It also means things like Wait Times and Direct My Call, which use Google’s ingenious Duplex tech to screen your calls and save you time. These are great extras, and since they’re entirely software-based, the list of features will only grow over time as the Pixel 7 and future phones come out. Google has also promised three years of OS updates and five years of security updates, which is second only to Samsung.
Ultimately, the Pixel 6 is a major milestone for Google, and a really great phone at a really attractive price point. At $599, it’s one of the cheapest options on our list of the best Android phones, and there are no budget trappings here.
Just keep in mind that the Pixel 7 is just around the corner, so you may want to hold off on your purchase.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultra-premium build quality • Gorgeous screen • Solid performance
Samsung has merged the Note and S series into one device
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra pushes productivity, power, and photography to the utmost to satisfy those seeking a premium experience. It combines outstanding performance, a stunning design, and an S Pen in one device.
The Pixel 6 might offer the best value, but if you want all the bells and whistles, we recommend the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It combines the best of the Galaxy S series with the best of the now-defunct Note series into the ultimate power user’s phone, though you certainly have to pay for it.
Starting with the physical aspects of the phone, the landmark feature here is the S Pen. It’s a big part of what made the Note series a power user’s dream, and now that it stows away inside the body of the device, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is finally a true successor. We were also happy to discover that the new S Pen has a grippy texture, making it easier to hold while navigating, writing, or doing anything else the stylus can do.
Make no mistake about it, this is a very large device. The dynamic AMOLED display is a whopping 6.8 inches, which for us was simply too large to use with one hand. It’s wider, thicker, and heavier than the last Note phone, the Note 20 Ultra, although the overall design is similar. If you’re coming from a smaller phone, the waterfall edges and sharp corners at the top and bottom of the device will take some getting used to. The screen itself, though, is gorgeous. It’s one of the brightest and sharpest screens we’ve ever tested, and changing the resolution or refresh rate is an easy way to eke out more battery life in a pinch.
As far as performance goes, we found the Galaxy S22 Ultra to be absolutely perfect for daily use. No hiccups, no stutters, and no slowdowns while using apps, streaming media, or even playing demanding games. It also sports an impressive connectivity suite, with support for all of the latest and greatest standards like Wi-Fi 6E, mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, and ultra-wideband for things like Bluetooth trackers (such as Samsung’s own Galaxy SmartTags). Our only complaint in this department is that the base model is slightly under-spec’d with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re looking for the true premium Android phone experience, go with the 12GB/256GB model or higher. That’s the sweet spot for futureproofing your device.
Another area where this phone excels is the camera. It’s actually our pick for the best camera phone you can buy, edging out the Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max in our big camera shootout. Much of this is thanks to the phone’s versatile setup with a beefy 108MP main shooter backed up by 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x telephoto, and 10MP 10x periscope lenses. We found each one to provide consistently great exposure and color, although the 100x “space zoom” feature is best left in marketing materials. Real-world samples just didn’t hold up.
Ultimately, whether or not the Galaxy S22 Ultra is right for you will depend mostly on your budget. It starts at an eye-watering $1,200, and if you want to get the 12GB model that we recommend, the price is bumped up another $100 or more. That’s not cheap, but what you’re getting is one of the absolute best Android phones on the market, and one of the most premium devices outside of Samsung’s own foldable lineup.
Asus Rog Phone 6
Great performance • Awesome battery life • Useful gaming features
One of the best gaming phones you can get
The Asus ROG Phone 6 is a gaming powerhouse. You get all the power you need along with a big battery, fast charging, a unique design, and various accessories that will take your gaming to the next level.
Phones marketed at gamers have always had some glaring omissions or unusual design choices, but the ROG Phone 6 is a welcome exception. Not only is it the best gaming phone you can buy, but it also does away with most of the typical pitfalls of niche gaming devices.
Starting with the gaming features, the big thing here is the inclusion of hardware shoulder buttons called Airtriggers. These reside where your pointer fingers rest while holding the device in landscape, providing a similar experience to using triggers on a console controller. We didn’t find them quite as satisfying to use as real triggers though, because they don’t click down. Instead, they use an ultrasonic sensor with no moving parts. Thankfully, the phone does provide some haptic feedback. We were also impressed by the software support for this feature with nine mappable gestures, press and lift settings, and ten different motion control gestures.
As a gaming device, you’d also expect power, and the ROG Phone 6 delivers. It has the same souped-up Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 as many other late 2022 flagships, but still edged ahead of the competition in our head-to-head benchmark tests. In fact, both the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro topped the charts, beating out far more expensive devices like the S22 Ultra. This is due to improved heat dissipation, which has been the biggest weakness of modern processors. For even better performance, Asus sells an Aero Cooler 6 accessory to lower those temps. With the cooler equipped and Asus’ X-Mode performance toggle activated, the ROG Phone 6 managed to achieve a stable 60fps in the most demanding games like Genshin Impact and Apex Legends Mobile during our testing.
How does the phone fare apart from gaming performance? Quite well. It has a bright, bespoke 165Hz AMOLED display with much faster touch sampling than we’ve seen anywhere else (720Hz) for maximum response times. The build quality isn’t quite as premium as other phones in this price bracket, but we thought it still felt great in the hand, if a bit heavy. Aesthetics are decidedly “gamer,” but if your home PC is already RGB’d up, you’ll probably be into it.
Camera performance is just fine, but no one is buying this phone for the camera. Battery life, on the other hand, is stellar. We found that the beefy 6,000mAh cell could hit two days of regular use, or, since we know you’re wondering, anywhere from three to six hours of gaming at max settings. Oh, and it also includes a powerful 65W charger in the box, which topped off the phone in just 36 minutes in our tests.
As mentioned above, there are two versions of this phone: the ROG Phone 6 and the ROG Phone 6 Pro. Between the two, we recommend getting the cheaper ROG Phone 6. The Pro model adds a few bells and whistles (like a neat, but not very useful screen on the back), but you’re better off saving the money to buy more accessories. Performance is identical on both phones, and in this case, that’s what really matters. There’s also the ROG Phone 6D series which trades out Qualcomm’s silicon for Meditatek’s flagship processors. While it offers some novel tweaks, such as an air vent for the included Aero Cooler on the 6D Ultimate model, we found that the regular ROG Phone 6 family outscored its D-branded counterparts in the GPU stakes.
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Impressive display • Unique design • Great software
A great quadri-camera, and a handful of software features with the Pixel 6 Pro.
The Pixel 6 Pro stands out due to its great camera system, clean software experience, and unique design. It also sports a large and impressive display that comes in at 6.7 inches.
We’ve already extolled the virtues of the standard Google Pixel 6 above, but now it’s time for the Pixel 6 Pro to get its time in the limelight. It doesn’t offer quite as much value as its smaller sibling, but it has a host of features that you won’t find on any other flagship in this price range. If you want a premium phone and don’t want a Samsung, we think the Pixel 6 Pro is the perfect alternative. We’ve been burned by rough edges on Google’s top-end phones in the past, but this is the true Google flagship phone we’ve been waiting for.
The main thing that makes the Pixel 6 Pro unique, apart from its sizable and gorgeous 6.7-inch display that nearly matches the Galaxy S22 Ultra, is the camera setup. All of the advantages listed for the regular Pixel 6 still apply here — great detail, excellent color accuracy, and software features like Magic Eraser to further enhance photos in post. However, the Pixel 6 Pro takes things to the next level with a 4x telephoto lens, finally reaching parity with the competition. This gives the device far more versatility than any Pixel phone before, and as we noted in our review, the results are impressive, even at 20x zoom with the assistance of Google’s Super Res Zoom technology. Video performance also impressed us, although it still can’t quite compete with the best of the iPhone lineup.
Battery life is also a marked improvement over the non-Pro model, easily beating a full day in our testing. It lasted about 34 hours before needing a top-off, with an extreme battery saving option to bring that up to 48 hours. Like its smaller cousin, it does have some charging quirks that Google has put in place to preserve the longevity of the battery over the years. Check out our deep dive to learn more, but the takeaway is that it takes around an hour to reach 80%, and around two hours to reach 100%. Again, there’s no charger in the box, and Google’s first-party 30W option runs $25 (although alternatives are available).
Again, the Pixel 6 Pro has a host of software features you won’t find on Android phones from any other brand. These include Call Assistance, Hold for Me, Live Translate, and so much more. As time goes on, that list will only grow. However, there are a few drawbacks. The fingerprint sensor is among the worst we’ve tested, and some users have reported network connectivity problems. There are also the aforementioned heat issues that plague Google’s first-gen Tensor chip on all of its devices.
Despite these minor quibbles, we still think the Pixel 6 Pro is capable of standing toe-to-toe with the best from Apple and Samsung. Starting at $899, it undercuts flagship devices from both companies and leaves little to be desired. The biggest competition is the standard Pixel 6, which is almost as good and much less expensive. You also might want to consider waiting for the Pixel 7 to see if Google can further Strengthen on the formula.
Keep in mind that the Pixel 7 Pro is just around the corner, so you may want to hold off on your purchase.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Compact clamshell design • Upgraded cameras and battery life • Outstanding software support
Good things come in small packages
An upgraded camera setup, a more powerful chipset, a larger battery, and a few new features make the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 a solid upgrade over its predecessor.
A few years ago, foldable devices were a very small niche, with far too many caveats to recommend to anyone but ambitious early adopters. Now, this budding category has matured, and for most people, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a killer Android phone to buy.
Granted, the latest model isn’t a huge change over what the company has put out in the past. It’s more of a refinement of what worked from the previous generation. Considering the Z Flip 3 was previously the best and most popular foldable on the market, that’s not a bad thing. It addressed all of the pain points we had with its predecessor, chief among them battery life. The Z Flip 4 averaged four to five hours of battery life in our testing, which is still less than a traditional flagship, but enough to get through a typical day. It took about 75 minutes to top back off with a wired charger or 90 minutes with a wireless charger in testing, although unfortunately neither are included in the box.
But the real unique selling points here are the form factor and software. The 6.7-inch foldable AMOLED screen was speedy and bright in our testing, and it’s a bit less wide than traditional displays, which makes it easier to use with one hand. The crease is as visible as ever, but your eyes get used to it quickly, trust us. We also found the Cover Screen on the front to be handy for checking the time or notifications without opening the device, which helps save battery life and avoid distractions. The tiny screen can also serve as a viewfinder when using the external cameras for selfies, and the resulting photos were much more impressive than the internal cameras in our testing.
The phone works pretty much like a normal phone when fully open, but when half open, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. The “Flex mode” panel enables unique features for certain apps like Chrome or Calendar. Our favorite integration is with the camera, which places the shutter button on the bottom half and the viewfinder on the top half. While holding it half open this turns the phone into a kind of camcorder, or on a table it turns the phone into a fun way to take group selfies. Apart from these special features, Samsung’s One UI software is among the best in the business, and its software updates truly are the best in the Android world, as mentioned above.
As you’d expect from a flagship Samsung phone, performance is stellar. The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor was as capable as ever in our benchmark tests, despite the smaller form factor. We experienced no hiccups whatsoever, although it did heat up a bit with extended use. Camera performance is also great and a welcome upgrade over its predecessor, although it still isn’t on the same level as Samsung’s traditional flagships in the Galaxy S22 lineup.
At the end of the day, if you’ve ever considered trying a folding device, now is the time to try the Z Flip 4. It’s stylish, performs great, and the clamshell design is just plain cool. There’s simply nothing like it. It’s also relatively affordable, although if you want to save a little money you can also opt for last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 3, which is remarkably similar, but with notably worse battery life.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Great performance • Impressive build quality • Large internal display
A productivity machine with a powerful SoC.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is impressive in many ways. The large display will supply your productivity a boost, while the high-end SoC makes sure everything runs smoothly. The build quality is outstanding as well considering the foldable nature of the device.
While we still think the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the best foldable for most consumers, there is a strong case to be made for the Z Fold 4. It’s not quite as convenient (or affordable) as its smaller sibling, but for power users, there’s a lot to like about Samsung’s book-style foldable. Much like the Z Flip 4, it refines a product that was already at the top of its field, providing an even better (and still unparalleled) experience.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the powerhouse of traditional phones, but the Z Fold 4 takes things up a notch by unfolding into a bright and sharp 7.6-inch screen. This tablet-like form factor adds a level of productivity you won’t find anywhere else, and combined with an S Pen (which unfortunately isn’t included in the box) and some new features unique to Android 12L, this thing is a beast. If you’ve never heard of it, Android 12L is a special version of Android intended for devices with larger screens, and we found it to be perfect for the Z Fold 4. It essentially adds a taskbar like you’d find on a computer, putting all of your most used apps a single tap away.
Camera performance is also top-notch, and finally competes with the best of the best, albeit not the absolute elite. It shares two of the same lenses as the Galaxy S22 Plus, which we already know is a great performer with consistently good white balance and exposure. It pairs these with a third 12MP ultrawide camera, which we found to have a slightly different color profile than the other lenses. However, photos were generally good, and it managed to keep distortion to a minimum at 0.6x. It’s worth noting that the interior screen has an under-display selfie camera, which leaves you with more screen real estate, but like others we’ve tested it’s pretty awful in real-world use. Thankfully, the more traditional Cover Screen you’ll use when the Fold 4 is closed has its own superior selfie camera.
Apart from that, it’s flagship performance across the board. We found that even with the larger screen, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 gives the device all the power it needs. It faired a bit better in sustained performance than the Z Flip 4, winning the title of the most powerful foldable you can buy. Battery life is ok, averaging five and a half hours of screen time in our testing and taking roughly 85 minutes to top off. It’s worth noting that these results were with the fastest 120Hz display speeds turned on. You may get longer battery life by lowering the speeds or relying more heavily on the Cover Screen instead of the larger folding screen.
And now the bad part: this thing starts at $1,800. That price also doesn’t include an S Pen, which is an additional $49 for the Fold edition and $99 for the Pro edition with advanced Bluetooth controls. There’s also nowhere to stow the S Pen, so you’ll need a case for that too. Clearly, this is not the device for anyone on a budget, although you can save a bit by opting for the older Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is often on sale for half the price. Camera performance will be much worse, but the software and productivity features are nearly identical.
Google Pixel 6a
Powerful Tensor chip • Compact design • Excellent image processing
Pixel 6a pulls some of the best Pixel 6 features at a more affordable price.
The Pixel 6a pulls some of the best Pixel 6 features into a smaller and more affordable package. It sports Google's powerful Tensor chipset, great cameras, and excellent software.
The mid-range Android phone market is a crowded space, but our favorite among them is the Google Pixel 6a. It shares many of the same benefits as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, but at a slightly more affordable price. It’s also significantly smaller. At 6.1 inches, it’s the smallest option on our list of the best Android phones, and we think it’s the perfect size for one-handed use.
Another big benefit is the Tensor chip, which is closer to flagship performance than most mid-rangers can muster. As such, it has all of the same exclusive software features as its pricier siblings. However, it once again heated up quickly in our testing, which really hurt the overall battery life. That was the real Achilles’ heel in our testing, struggling to make it through a full day. Results were better with battery saver mode on, although you’ll still need to top off at least once a day. With the fastest-supported 18W wired charger (not included in the box), it took about an hour and 45 minutes to charge, which is slower than most rivals. There’s also no wireless charging, which isn’t surprising in this price range.
What the Pixel 6a does do right is the camera. Using the primary shooter, we got some really excellent shots, with accurate colors and an impressive natural bokeh effect. However, it’s still just a 12.2MP sensor, so zooming in revealed its limitations in terms of detail capture, especially when compared to the 50MP sensors on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. There’s also an ultrawide camera, which produced great colors and little distortion. Both cameras also have Night Sight for low-light photos, which cheaper devices from Samsung and iPhone can’t match.
Although we recommend the Pixel 6a for most users, it’s worth noting that there are some strong alternatives. Most notably, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is a very well-rounded phone that covers a lot of the Pixel 6a’s weaknesses. Cameras and software performance are slightly worse, but it can easily achieve two days of battery life. The other big alternative here is the standard Pixel 6, which is our top pick above. We’ve seen it on sale for as low as $499, which is just 50 bucks more than the retail price of the Pixel 6a. Get that one if you can afford it.
While we’ve listed the best Android phones we’ve tested above, there are a few more options out there that might better suit your needs. Some are Europe-only, and others are just a bit too niche to earn a top spot on the list. Here are our honorable mentions:
Here at Android Authority, we’ve reviewed hundreds of Android phones over the years, but you may have different criteria when selecting the device for you. Here’s a short list of things we consider during our time with each device so you can decide which ones are a priority.
Smartphones are now regularly pushing $1,000 or more, but spending more won’t always get you a better device. We look at price in relation to what a phone and its competitors offer, both from a hardware and software perspective. Obviously, in this particular list, we’re looking at the cream of the Android crop so you’ll find mostly flagship devices, but we’ve got a separate list for the best budget Android devices, too.
When we talk about performance, we’re mostly talking about a phone’s processor or system on a chip (SoC). At this point, even mid-range devices are capable of great everyday performance, but the latest Qualcomm powerhouses are necessary for smooth scrolling on speedy, high-resolution screens or getting the best framerates in demanding games. Other options, like Google’s Tensor, focus on machine learning to unlock things like better photo processing and real-time translation. Another thing we consider is RAM. We recommend at least 6GB of RAM for the best experience, with gains falling off after 12GB.
For the best Android phones, we expect more than a single lens to provide more versatility in mobile photography. Megapixel counts play some role here in providing good detail, but nowadays the biggest determining factor is software. Google has traditionally been the king of photo processing, but others like Samsung, Sony, and Oppo are also top performers. Check out our camera shootout for samples of the best of the best.
5G isn’t quite as ubiquitous as we’d like in 2022, but if you’re buying a new phone, we recommend devices with 5G to futureproof it as much as possible. It’s worth mentioning that there are a few flavors of 5G available: the speedy but short-range mmWave and the slightly-less-speedy sub-6GHz. Not all phones support mmWave, but unless you live in a major city in the US, odds are you don’t need it.
Most premium Android phones are made of some combination of glass and metal, but they vary in how much protection they provide. Gorilla Glass Victus is significantly more resistant than Gorilla Glass 5, for example, although you’ll probably want to slap a case on it regardless. You should also keep in mind that foldable devices are particularly prone to damage, especially in the vulnerable hinge mechanism.
You’ve just finished memorizing about the best Android phones, so we have an idea of where you stand in the iOS vs Android debate. However, nothing is ever set in stone. If you have an iPad or maybe a MacBook, you might decide that it’s best to stick with Apple’s ecosystem. On the other hand, you might be ready to break free and tap into more customization options. You’ll face different app selections on both platforms, but it’s all about your comfort level.
You’re in luck because we have a handy guide to help here too. There are some specific options for seniors with simplified menus, or we recommend a Samsung device for its Easy Mode feature. You can also load up a launcher like Big Launcher or Simple Launcher to make menus and dialers more approachable.
We talk an awful lot about RAM every time we mention a smartphone, but how much is enough? Luckily, we have yet another in-depth guide to help you out. If you’re only covering the bare basics, you might be able to get away with 4GB, but 8GB is more appropriate if you have eyes on multitasking. Some heavy-duty gamers might even want 12GB or 16GB just to keep up with anything and everything.
Yes! Well, some of them. Most latest flagships are worth buying, even up to a year or two after release. You can usually save a good amount of money at this point and still get good performance. At this point, we don’t recommend buying a 4G flagship, but most 5G flagships are still good to go.
This is a tricky one. If you’re eyeing a flagship device, you’ve probably seen the likes of the Snapdragon Plus 8 Gen 1, Dimensity 9000, and Exynos 2200 thrown around. Each comes with its own list of devices, but we’ve put them through the wringer for you. You can check out our comparison results and know that we put every phone through a series of tests to measure its performance under stress.
It has been 15 years since Amazon debuted the first Kindle, introducing many readers to the benefits of electronic paper (e-ink) technology, including long battery life and excellent sunlight readability.
Over the years the displays improved but still exhibited drawbacks such as screen ghosting, where a light version of the previous screen image can be seen in the light parts of the display, and disruptive refreshes, in which the screen flashes before showing an image to remove ghosting. The technology also traveled a fraught path to color.
Two recently released e-paper tablets address these issues, offering multiple modes for managing contrast versus screen refresh speed, out-of-the-box Google Play compatibility, stylus support, and the latest in E Ink’s color technology called Kaleido Plus.
Nova Air C hails from Onyx Boox, which offers the industry’s widest range of e-readers and e-paper tablets — even if one excludes its China-only products.
The Onyx Boox portfolio ranges in size from 6″ to 13.3″ and includes two E Ink-based monitors under its Mira brand. Its products consistently demonstrate thoughtful design, attractive packaging, and smartly designed accessories.
For example, Onyx Boox offers a keyboard folio for its 10.3″ devices that makes for the closest thing to a true E Ink laptop today (a product the company floated at a 2017 trade fair but canceled). It also offers a cover that adds page-turning buttons for e-reading apps. Indeed, one of the advantages of Android-based e-paper tablets is that they provide the screen aesthetic of a Kindle while allowing to choose from a wide range of digital bookstores.
While most companies in the e-paper tablet space have yet to ship a color product, the Nova Air C is Onyx Boox’s second entrant that includes improved color and grayscale uniformity.
Nova Air C e-reader (Image Credit: Onyx Boox)
Like other Onyx Boox products, the Nova Air C interface is marked by “function tabs” that appear to the left of the display by default. These launch the less-useful store filled with public domain works and a library to organize them, a basic file manager, and an exceptionally full-featured note-taking app.
Working with the product’s svelte, button-free stylus, the app supports multiple page sizes, adding and deleting pages and layers, inserting of images, shapes, and recordings, free cloud syncing up to 5 GB, and two methods of handwriting-to-text. You can also set up multiple pens and brushes and choose from three different erasing modes.
The Apps section includes an app store that offers some basics culled from the internet. However, the device supports the full breadth of Google Play and Android-style navigation including settings and notifications access from a swipe-down notification shade; Back, Home, and App Switch functions can be accessed by swiping up from the left, middle, and right side of the screen bottom respectively.
Optionally, a circle floating over other app interfaces — similar to those used by Android screen-recording applications — pops out controls for features such as switching apps, taking a screenshot, and powering off.
All told, the Nova Air C is a mix of the best that E Ink has to offer: a superlative note-taking app for those looking for an alternative to Android apps such as Nebo or Noteshelf, and access to a wide range of Google apps through Google Play — all in a lightweight, nicely accessorized package.
Onyx Boox is not the only vendor to bring color to previously monochrome slates using E Ink and similar technologies such as Digital Electronic Slurry (DES). The latter has been used so far in one-off crowdfunded products from Reinkstone and mini-laptop vendor Topjoy; both have faced long shipping delays from their original November 2021 targets.
While the more-established vendor Bigme has also gone the crowdfunding route for its Inknote Color device, it has used the same Kaleido Plus color technology used for the Nova Air C. Indeed, the product’s interface is very similar to that of Onyx Boox’s and other e-paper tablets, even including an optional floating navigational control and a lock screen illustration in the same style.
After launch, you’re presented with a similar shelf of icons on the left that includes meeting records, offline books, and storage. Bigme, however, offers more customization options, including being able to dock Android apps there. That’s particularly useful given that the company hasn’t (yet) implemented alphabetization for Android apps as Onyx Boox has.
Bigme partnered with Good e-Reader — a provider of news and reviews about e-paper devices and an online store selling many that are difficult to find in the U.S. — on the product’s design.
As Good e-Reader ‘s effusive review notes, the Inknote Color is the first color E Ink product with an A5-sized display. The larger size makes it better suited to content such as web pages, magazines, sheet music, and comics, as well as memorizing and annotating PDFs.
Similar to other large E Ink-based devices, such as Kobo’s Elipsa, the Inknote Color has a relatively thin bezel except for a particularly wide one on the left margin.
Bigme Inknote Color e-ink tablet (Image Credit: Bigme)
Beyond color, the tablet offers hardware features that have rarely, if ever, been seen before in such a product. These include:
The Inknote Color also revives the microSD slot that’s seen waning vendor support, and it supports 4G internet access, but not in the U.S.
A tech tour de force for the category, Bigme Inknote Color caters to those who want the largest color E Ink tablet available, particularly to consume and annotate content moved through a range of Android apps and recognized by the device’s image and audio text recognition applications.
E-paper tablets have made great progress in areas such as refresh rate and color support. However, their more mainstream competitors from companies such as Apple, Lenovo, and Samsung have made strides in e-paper sweet spots, like daylight readability and longer battery life, while continuing to have great advantages in color reproduction.
E-paper tablets, then, are better optimized for long periods of reading, note taking or annotation versus popular media-centric tablet activities such as playing games and watching videos. Products such as the Inknote Color and Nova Air C don’t come close to challenging the iPad for those tasks.
However, with Google Play support and an improving color story, these devices allow more forays into applications such as email, web browsing, and messaging — that is, if you want to dismiss their promise of a less-distracting experience.
Goal Zero was a pioneer in high-capacity portable power products with AC outlets sold under the Yeti brand. These were handy for applications ranging from camping to emergency power. However, its smaller products, sold under the Sherpa brand, did less to stand out in the USB-based charging crowd.
Since the first Sherpa products, we have seen a flood of no-name brands enter the portable power space. Additionally, USB-C, with its high-wattage power delivery option, has offered a more versatile and popular charging standard.
In response, Goal Zero’s latest 95 kWh Sherpa power banks, the 100PD, which delivers up to 100 watts through USB-C Power Delivery, and 100AC which offers the same in addition to a 100-watt AC outlet, do more to stand out while covering every base and offering exceptional control over their features.
The Sherpa 100PD (pictured left) and Sherpa 100AC power banks provide 95 watt-hours of portable, airline approved charging. (Image Credit: Goal Zero)
While both products are large to accommodate their high capacity, the AC-based product is small for its class. Both include informative displays tracking charge levels, incoming and outgoing wattage, and other details.
More power banks are now smartly taking advantage of USB-C PD for charging themselves as well as other products, cutting down on the need for a separate AC adapter. The Sherpas implement this very well, with a switch on the back designating the port for input, output, or automatic detection; a subtle colored light ring around the port glows blue or green to reflect this.
The Sherpa 100 family products support Qi-based charging, and, in keeping with the company’s heritage, they are sturdily built — although not water-resistant; the 100AC includes a ventilation hole on its side. Still, the products represent how a company can reclaim premium positioning, even in a category that has seen extensive commoditization.
Goal Zero currently has the Sherpa 100PD priced at $199.99 and the Sherpa 100AC at $299.99.
Google is in the process of updating its first-party apps with tablet-friendly UI and other optimizations for improved user experience on big-screen devices. The company announced this commitment to Android tablets at its I/O conference in May. It has already updated several apps with the necessary UI changes. The Play Store also got a redesign on tablets a couple of weeks back, with the navigation rail that Google previewed in May finally showing up for users. But it appears there’s more to come. Starting in 2023, Play Store app listings on tablets will be much richer up front.
A newly published post on the Android Developers Blog details the changes coming to the Play Store on big-screen devices such as tablets, foldables, and Chromebooks next year. Google says app screenshots, videos, and descriptions will be visible on the Apps and Games home page without having to open each app listing (see featured image above). Currently, the home page only shows the app icon, name, rating, and price (if any). To check out screenshots and other app info, you need to open the listing.
Google says this content-forward approach will enable developers to better represent their apps in the store. The company also sees the changes helping users make install decisions. For developers, Google has provided a set of content quality guidelines that they need to follow for their apps to take advantage of the richer format. The new layout will start appearing early next year. The company states that the changes will not impact an app’s profitability. Google is only changing how the app is displayed in the Play Store.
The redesigned Play Store layout on tablets shown in the image above has a Kids tab on the navigation rail (via). The current layout doesn’t have it, with Games, Apps, Books, and Offers as the four tabs. It appears Play Store is gaining a dedicated Kids section too.
Play Store app listings currently only show screenshots for phones and tablets. Since they don’t correctly portray the Chromebook version of the app, Google will allow developers to upload Chromebook-specific screenshots as well. Developers can upload up to eight screenshots which will appear on the app listing page as well as the Play Store home page. The company has also updated its screenshot quality guidelines for big screens, including tablets.
Google’s latest post on the Android Developers Blog also contains other tips for developers to optimize their app listings. The company recommends using device-specific screenshots that demonstrate the core experience of the app. Developers should also avoid showing a physical device in screenshots and use high-quality images with the proper aspect ratio. Using pixelated or compressed images should be avoided, and so should screenshots with too much text.
Your Android phone's speaker grill is exposed to the world and all its debris all the time, even if it's in a case. While your phone is built to withstand these environments, it doesn't always hold up well against dust. That often results in your Android phone speaker sounds becoming muffled, or worse, your phone's speaker not working.
Fortunately, if you're facing speaker issues, you don't have to book an appointment at a service center just yet. Here are a handful of troubleshooting steps and fixes you can try to revive your Android phone's speaker if your phone speaker is not working.
Before we dive into the genuine troubleshooting for why there may be no sound from your Android phone speaker, you should make sure the issue is an genuine hardware malfunction. There are several ways you can do this.
The first step is to simply perform a reboot. This will restart all background services and supply your phone a clean start in case anything had crashed since your last reboot and may have been causing the speaker on your phone to stop working.
Next, if your phone speaker is not working during a call, you need to examine whether your phone's audio output is set to the built-in speaker. If you regularly connect your phone to wireless headphones or speakers, it might still be connected to another device.
Head into Settings > Connected devices to see if your phone is connected to any Bluetooth audio outputs. After this, you should head into the Sound section of Settings and confirm you haven't accidentally switched on the Do Not Disturb or Silent modes.
In addition, we recommend testing the speaker by turning down the volume to its lowest setting and then raising it to the maximum level. Try to play music at both levels to make sure it isn't stuck.
You can also try volume amplifying apps to fix your speaker volume if your phone speakers are muffled. These try to artificially pump up the sound output, which could work in case your phone's sound is stuck at a low level due to a glitch.
If you're trying new audio apps like pairing Shazam with Spotify, then your music app of choice could be to blame here too. So a more conclusive way to check if it's your music app or your phone speaker not working is to play a ringtone or alarm from your phone's audio settings.
You can do that by heading into Settings > Sound > Ringtone and selecting one of the many available options. Make sure your call volume is turned up while doing this.
Sometimes, your phone speaker may not be working, but your headphones are. When you unplug accessories from the audio jack, Android may fail to process this event, leaving your phone stuck in headphone mode and your phone speakers not working. That means your speaker will be disabled, despite you having disconnected your earphones.
While a lot of phones don't have headphone jacks these days, those that do can still experience this problem.
Usually, you can resolve this bug with a standard reboot. But if that doesn't do the trick, you can try a free app, appropriately named Disable Headphone. With the flick of a switch, this app lets you manually force your phone to leave headphone mode and play sound via its speakers.
Disable Headphone functions in the opposite manner as well. For whatever reason, if your phone is unable to transmit audio through a connected accessory, you can enable headphone mode manually using the app.
Download: Disable Headphone (Free)
Android allows you to launch a stripped-down mode that only runs the original software your phone shipped with. Doing so lets you troubleshoot your phone without any third-party services or apps interfering with the diagnosis. It's called safe mode, and it's present on every Android phone.
To enter safe mode, press and hold the power button. In the resulting prompt, touch and hold the Power Off button, then hit OK when you see a prompt. Your phone will soon restart in safe mode. You can easily leave safe mode by repeating the procedure and choosing the Restart option the second time.
Do note that the steps for safe mode could differ depending on your Android device. If nothing comes up when you follow the steps above, try a Google search for your model or check the official support forums.
If you're wondering, "why does my phone sound muffled?" or "how do I fix my speaker volume?", the chances are that your speakers are full of dust! As mentioned earlier, your smartphone's speaker vents often accumulate dust over time.
This can hinder their ability to emit sound. At this point, you should try cleaning the grills yourself to remove as much obstruction as possible.
There are many tips and tricks to help you clean your phone. You can begin by blowing air into the speakers, either using your mouth or a can of compressed air. Apart from that, you can try to suck small crumbs and bits of dust out using a vacuum cleaner. This could affect your phone's internals, though, so you should be careful if you attempt this.
Another good option is gently scrubbing the speaker grills with an old toothbrush or a soft bristle brush, which should help loosen up the dirt. If you're feeling particularly confident and your phone is easy to take apart, you could try getting inside it and blowing out the dust from the inside too.
Testing your phone in safe mode, as above, rules out the chances of a third-party app being the cause of your phone's sound not working.
If your phone's speakers functioned properly in safe mode, you could try to isolate the issue to a specific app, setting, or device. In case you've only had this speaker problem after making changes to these options, try undoing what you changed.
Failing that, you can go ahead and perform a hard reset. You could supply this factory reset a shot even if switching to safe mode didn't have an effect. By doing this, your phone starts afresh, and you eliminate the possibility of any software wreaking havoc on the speakers.
You'll often find the option to reset at Settings > System > Reset options, but you can use the search bar at the top of the Settings app if you don't see it. Just make sure to fully back up your data first.
If your phone speaker isn't working and it recently came into contact with water, then water damage is the likely culprit.
One of the most common consequences of water damage on your phone is a malfunctioning speaker. The liquid can quickly make its way to the internal component linked to the open grills. So if you've had speaker issues after such an accident, let your phone dry off.
There are several methods to dry a wet phone. You can blow hot air into it, dump it in a bowl of rice, and more. Whatever you do, turn your phone off immediately and let it completely dry before trying to boot it back up.
While many phones are water-resistant these days, an IP rating doesn't make them immune to water damage. If you don't know what an IP68 rating even is or whether your phone has one, then it's worth doing some research before trying your hand at underwater photography!
Further, you can try downloading apps like Speaker Cleaner. These will play a vibrating sound to unclog the speakers and pump water out of them. It has a proven track record and doesn't cost anything, though it does include ads.
Download: Speaker Cleaner (Free, premium version available)
If none of these steps worked for you, you most likely have a hardware failure. You should book an appointment with a trusted service center and have it examined by a professional.
Given how often your smartphone speakers are at work, their quality will eventually wear out. While these fixes can potentially help you revive a dead speaker, they won't promise longevity. So if your phone speakers aren't working, and you have an old phone, you may simply need a new one.
Your phone goes through a lot on a day-to-day basis. To help protect it from falls, debris, and general wear and tear, it's always best to keep it in a phone case. While you may prefer the look of your phone as is, using a case can help to extend the life of your phone and will also save you money on repairs.
Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.
Global app spending reached $65 billion in the first half of 2022, up only slightly from the $64.4 billion during the same period in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed down. But overall, the app economy is continuing to grow, having produced a record number of downloads and consumer spending across both the iOS and Google Play stores combined in 2021, according to the latest year-end reports. Global spending across iOS and Google Play last year was $133 billion, and consumers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.
This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more.
Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters.
Epic Games and Match Group are looking to fortify their antitrust lawsuits against Google by adding new counts to their initial complaint, filed last year, which illustrate the lengths Google supposedly went to in order to dominate the Android app market. The companies, a week ago, filed a motion to amend their complaints in their cases against Google, which now allege that Google paid off business rivals not to start other app stores that would put them in competition with Google Play. This would be a direct violation of U.S. antitrust law known as the Sherman Act, the amended complaint states.
Epic Games and Match Group had originally detailed Google’s plans in a filing last year, where they detailed a Google program known as “Project Hug,” or later, the “Apps and Games Velocity Program.” This effort was focused on paying game developers hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to keep their games on the Google Play Store, it had said.
Now, Epic Games and Match Group are looking to add to their complaint with two new allegations specifying how Google had either paid or otherwise induced its potential competitors to agree to not distribute apps on Android in competition with the Play Store, including through their own competing app stores. Google, it reads, had identified developers who were “most at risk … of attrition from Play” and then approached them with an offer of an agreement.
The complaint now deems this a “per se” violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which prohibits “every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations,” it says. (You can read the full story here on TechCrunch.)
Google announced this week new features for its Play Store that are designed to put more of developers’ store listing assets “front and center.” The company says that on large-screened devices, like tablets, foldables and Chromebooks, the Play Store redesign will make better use of app screenshots, videos and descriptions directly in the Apps and Games Home. This will help Android users when they’re browsing for new apps and games to install, Google says.
It’s also adding the ability for developers to upload Chromebook-specific screenshots in the Play Console, to better portray the Chromebook experience. Developers can upload up to eight screenshots, in the recommended 16:9 screenshots for landscape, with dimensions of 1080-7690px. Google is updating its quality guidelines for tablets for consistency across large screens, as well, but notes that previous uploads won’t be impacted by the changes.
Google additionally published a set of content quality guidelines to help developers learn best practices about how to showcase apps on large screens.
The changes announced this week follow an earlier revamp of the Play Store that offered users the ability to filter search results by device, making it easier for them to discover and download apps for non-phone devices like smartwatches, TVs and cars, including through remote installs. The feature was timely, given Google’s latest debut of its first Pixel-branded smartwatch this month.
Gen Z social media app BeReal encourages its users to take a photo every day — a format designed to create a daily habit. But only a small number of the app’s users are currently doing so, new estimates from a third-party app intelligence firm indicate. According to research from Sensor Tower, BeReal is demonstrating significant traction across some metrics — it topped 53 million worldwide installs across the App Store and Google Play and has seen its monthly active users jump by 2,254% since January 2022, for example. But only 9% of its active Android installs are opening the app every day as of the third quarter of this year, the firm found.
Active users are a better indication of an app’s adoption than downloads, as many people will install an app out of curiosity to check it out, but then abandon the app if they don’t end up enjoying the experience.
On this front, BeReal is still trailing established social media giants, Sensor Tower says. Today, 9% of BeReal’s active installs on Android (users who downloaded the app and are actively using it) are now launching the app daily. That’s far behind Instagram and TikTok. Instagram leads this category with 39% of its active installs opening the app every day, while TikTok comes in second with 29%. This is followed by Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter at 27%, 26%, 20% and 18%, respectively.
Of course, BeReal proponents point out that the app’s Android adoption is not at the same pace as iOS, as we said in our initial report. With many of its new installs being from young people in the U.S. — where iOS is preferred — this figure may not present a full picture of the app’s current usage. However, it’s a window into a company that’s media-averse, declining to speak to press on the record or share any of its metrics or growth, or even tout its funding. So for now, third-party data is what we have — and, if Android usage can be extrapolated to iOS, it shows that many of BeReal’s users aren’t necessarily everyday addicts. (Yet?)
Elsewhere, another mobile app data firm, 42matters, estimated BeReal’s MAUs on Android were only up by 633% this year, growing from 43,899 MAUs in January to 321,787 MAUs by August 2022. (You can read the full report here on TechCrunch.)
Real estate investing app Fintor raised $6.2 million at an $80 million valuation in an extension round from existing investors including Public.com, Hustle Fund, 500 Global, VU Ventures, Graphene Ventures and angel investors such as Manny Khoshbin, Andy Madadian, Cindy Bi and Marcus Ridgway. The app allows non-accredited investors to invest in real estate.
Teen banking app Step borrowed $300 million in debt financing led by Triplepoint Capital and Evolve Bank & Trust. To date, the company has raised $500 million in equity and debt. Last year, Step raised a Series C equity round from investors including Coatue, Stripe and angels such as Charli D’Amelio and Jared Leto. The app will also now expand into crypto.
Paris-based Homa, which offers an SDK to indie mobile game studios, raised $100 million in Series B funding, led by Quadrille Capital and Headline. The SDK offers tools for tracking metrics in order to Strengthen session and retention times, along with other A/B testing tools.
Cairo-based fintech app Telda raised $20 million in seed funding led by Sequoia Capital and Global Founders Capital, with Block also participating. The app offers money management, payments and offers a Mastercard-powered card. The company has onboarded 25,000 users and has a waitlist of 110,000.
London-based GoHenry, a digital banking app aimed at kids, raised £49 million+ ($55 million) in Series B funding. The company said 2021 revenue grew 55% year-over-year to £30.5 million, with losses up 20x year-over-year. The startup claims to have 2 million users.
Lego parent company Kirkbi is acquiring the U.S. edtech company Brainpop, which makes short educational videos for kids, for $875 million. Brainpop’s videos, available online and through its apps, reached around 25 million children per year across two-thirds of U.S. school districts.
Naver, the parent company behind Webtoon and Wattpad memorizing apps reaching a combined 200 million monthly users, has launched a new app called Yonder, a serialized fiction platform. The app aims to attract both those who are already avid consumers of serialized fiction as well as those new to the space but looking for a more premium experience without ads or distractions.
At launch, Yonder will include hundreds of titles and exclusives from authors like romance author Ivy Smoak (The Hunted Series), bestsellers P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (House of Night) and fantasy author Ruby Dixon, along with titles from publishers including Blackstone Publishing, Aetheon, Sterling and Stone, Portal Books and Wraithmarked. Unlike Naver’s Wattpad and Webtoon app, where anyone can contribute, Yonder’s stories are curated.
To monetize, the app will offer users the ability to explore and read several chapters for free, then unlock the rest of the story using virtual coins purchased in-app. The app will be available on Android and soon, iOS.
This Week in Apps: Play Store revamp, Google antitrust suit updates, BeReal’s real traction by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch
Steam has been a go-to hub for the gaming community for years, and even though the desktop app looks relatively modern, the same couldn't be said about the mobile app. Earlier this year, Valve decided it was finally time to beta test a replacement for the dated user interface of the Steam mobile app, complete with a striking new UI, framework, and several other changes, which are rolling out widely right now with the stable release.
Once you update to the latest version of the Steam app, you’ll be treated to a striking redesigned UI (via The Verge). Valve has gone for a Netflix-style library interface for a familiar feel, where all the games you own show up in rows of three. The app even lets you apply filters when searching for titles, and you can even use it to install games remotely or update titles installed on your PC, a pre-existing feature, but always handy.
There are similarities with the Steam desktop app plenty of users are accustomed to. You can browse the Steam store, purchase titles, read gamer news, and interact with the community, all from within the app.
One of the biggest non-visual changes is the new QR code-based login system for desktop. Valve explains you can use your phone’s camera to scan a QR code on Steam for PC and log in, just like linking a device on WhatsApp. The system authenticates your login attempt using the two-factor authentication (2FA) codes stored on your smartphone. Alternatively, you can skip using the camera and use the mobile app to bypass the Steam Guard code requirement when logging in on PC. Either way, logging in to Steam just became easier; no more jumping to your email to grab a code. You can also use the mobile app to log out of active sessions remotely.
The separate Steam Chat app is also receiving various bug fixes on Android, and an update for iOS users is in the pipeline. Valve also plans to bring the convenience of QR code logins to the Steam Deck. With these significant changes now available to everyone, and plenty more on the horizon, we suggest you go ahead and update the Steam app for Android at the first opportunity; it's a game changer.