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Best Android One Smartphones for the Barebones Android OS Experience

Google launched its Android One initiative back in 2014, but only recently have Android One smartphones come to the foreground and offered features good enough to be considered as alternatives for other flagship devices.

Having a barebones Android smartphone results in one of the best Android OS experiences out there, and that’s the intended purpose of Android One. Initially limited to budget phones, the application of Android One has expanded to a few smartphones with flagship-worthy specs.

Best Android One Smartphones

There aren’t many Android One smartphones available in North America, so it’s not an easy decision for anyone to find one that is both latest and the best. We’ve done the hard work for you and selected the 5 best Android One smartphones available right now in U.S. and Canada.

To help you with your purchase, there’s also a buyer’s guide after the quick reviews along with a FAQs section regarding Android One and Android One smartphones.

Our Top Pick

Our Top Pick

LG G7 One

Flagship Features and a Reliable Design

The LG G7 One is an Android One smartphone that takes a lot of the design choices of the flagship G7 ThinQ but with stock Android running on it. It is powerful, fast, reliable, and an all-around excellent smartphone for the price.

If you’re looking for flagship level performance from an Android One smartphone, the newly launched LG G7 One is the best one out there right now.

Best Value

Best Value

Xiaomi Mi A2

Great Phone at a Great Price

The Xiaomi Mi A2 is a successor to the popular Mi A1. It improves upon its predecessors with a better design, a sharp screen, and a great performing camera. All that packed in an elegant design makes this an appealing Android One smartphone.

If you’re looking for a reliable, snappy Android One smartphone at a great price, the Xiaomi Mi A2 is an excellent option for you.

LG G7 One

  • Display: 1” 3120×1440 QHD+, 18:9
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 32GB internal (expandable)
  • Camera: Rear – 16MP f/1.6, Front – 8MP f/1.9
  • Water & Dust Resist: IP68
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh

The LG G7 One is the most powerful Android One smartphone available right now. It’s loaded with features you’d find on the flagship LG G7 ThinQ, and shares the same design as well. LG does cut the costs down a bit by using last year’s Snapdragon 835 processer, but given the streamlined performance of stock Android, the difference in real-world use is almost non-existent.

You get the familiar notch on the LG G7 One as its flagship counterpart along with the same QHD+ resolution. What you don’t get is a secondary rear camera lens like in the ThinQ. IP68 water resistance and a certified design along with the fantastic Boombox Speaker ensure a reliable and high-quality phone. There’s also a dedicated Google Assistant key, among other essential features.

Simply put, the LG G7 One is the most feature-packed Android One smartphone available right now and will continue to be for a while. The only challenge you’ll have with this phone is actually finding it.

Pros

  • Flagship level features
  • Great value for the price
  • Snappy and fast

Cons

  • Limited availability

Nokia 8 Sirocco

  • Display: Curved 5.5” 3120×1440 QHD pOLED with Gorilla Glass 5, 16:9
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Memory: 6GB RAM, 128GB internal (expandable)
  • Camera: Rear – Dual 12MP + 13MP cameras, Front – 5MP with flash
  • Water & Dust Resist: IP67
  • Battery: 3,260 mAh

Though the pricing of the Nokia 8 Sirocco isn’t the most appealing, it’s an incredible phone that trumps the LG G7 One in certain specs.

The curved screen design greatly mimics Samsung’s implementation of it with their S7 Edge, maintaining the classic 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the current standard 18:9 we see in most flagships. The bezels on the top and bottom of the screen are a little larger because of this, but it’s not necessarily a con.

Performance-wise, this phone is loaded. Featuring more RAM, internal storage, and the same processor as our top pick, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is simply a beast. However, real-world performance isn’t all that noticeably different from the G7 One, so the specs may be reserved for future-proofing and bragging rights. The phone also comes with Qi wireless charging, something rare among Android One phones.

Pros

  • High-end specs
  • Wonderful cameras
  • Appealing screen
  • Qi wireless charging

Cons

  • Unreasonably priced
  • Not easily available with warranty in the US

Xiaomi Mi A2

  • Display: 6” 2160×1080 FHD+, 18:9
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
  • Memory: 4/6GB RAM, 32/64/128GB internal
  • Camera: Rear – 12MP + 20MP, Front – 20MP
  • Water & Dust Resist: N/A
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh

Xiaomi’s Mi A1 was the company’s first Android One smartphone, and it was one of the best selling Android One smartphones out there. The company has released the second iteration with the A2, which improves upon its predecessor in numerous ways.

The elegant Mi A2 has a no-nonsense, modern design without the obsession of maximizing screen coverage with the display. That’s not to say it has thick, egregious bezels though. Side bezels on this smartphone are nonexistent, and the top and bottom bezels don’t spoil the looks of the phone.

The rear mounted dual camera setup is great, and we love the quality of the pictures for the price you’re paying. The stock Android One experience is run well with the Snapdragon 660. Though it’s not the most powerful phone, it should be able to handle everyday tasks with few hiccups.

Pros

  • Great camera performance for the price
  • Reasonably snappy
  • Great value

Cons

  • No NFC
  • No expandable storage

Nokia 7.1

  • Display: 84” 2280×1080 FHD+, 19:9, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
  • Memory: 3/4GB RAM, 32/64GB internal (expandable)
  • Camera: Rear – 12MP f/1.8 + 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor, Front – 8MP f/2.0
  • Water & Dust Resist: N/A
  • Battery: 3,060 mAh

The Nokia 7.1 is the “midrange” version offering by the company. It is designed as an alternate to th Nokia 7 Plus which is reasonably popular in the eastern market. This Android One device comes with a super-wide aspect ratio more reminiscent of modern Android flagships and boasts a distinct notch.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chipset is considerably slower than the 835, but with the stock Android experience, it can outperform many older phones and other budget-friendly Android smartphones out there.

One of the stranger aspects of the phone is the rather odd combination of rear cameras. It features a secondary 5MP shooter to add depth of field for improved bokeh effects in your pictures. We’d have preferred something like a wide-angle shooter instead, but it is what it is.

Battery life of this device should get you through a day of use and nothing more. Considering the price of this phone though, the feature set is great, though you should expect a few performance hiccups every now and then due to the inferior processor.

Pros

  • Good midrange offering
  • Good display for the price
  • Elegant design

Cons

  • Can be slow
  • Odd camera combination

Moto X4

  • Display: 2” 1920×1080 FHD, 16:9, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
  • Memory: 3/4/6GB RAM, 32/64GB internal (expandable)
  • Camera: Rear – 12MP + 8MP, Front – 16MP
  • Water & Dust Resist: N/A
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh

Although the Moto X4 was released in 2017, it’s still a popular choice for many individuals thanks to its incredible pricing. The Moto X4 can be found for under $200 and offers a minimalistic yet streamlined Android One experience. It was the first non-Google phone to come with Android One, and still remains one of the best-selling Android One smartphones.

When it comes to specs, there’s nothing truly significant about the Moto X4. It offers basic functionality that you’d expect from most smartphones in 2018/19. What makes the phone a great choice is its reliability. For the price, it performs well and offers everything a basic Android user needs.

The display is a little archaic, using an IPS LCD panel at FHD resolution. However, given the small screen size and the phone’s overall compactness, it functions adequately for users looking for a barebones smartphone. Proprietary enhancements such as Tempow Bluetooth Audio Profiling, built-in Amazon Alex, and Moto Key make this all the more useful. You also get objective recognition in the camera app similar to Google Lens.

Pros

  • Incredible value
  • Reliable build and performance
  • Comes with neat enhancements

Cons

  • Archaic screen resolution and size
  • Not the fastest phone in the world

Buyer’s Guide

    The Android One initiative by Google was designed to democratize its popular smartphone OS. Many companies choose to overlay the operating system with their custom designed user interfaces and add a ton of additional software. A lot of the included software by manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Huawei etc. are often filled with bloatware – unnecessary applications that very few will use.

    Moreover, this overlay with a custom user interface often results in performance levels that are below what the device could usually output using stock Android UI. But perhaps the biggest downside to this practice is the greatly delayed release of updates, which can not only devoid the user of the latest Android operating system experience, but also behave as a potential security threat as every minor and major update is intended to improve the security of the device.

    Android One gets rid of all that and offers the barebones Android experience. Stock Android is one of the reasons Google’s Pixel smartphones have been so popular, and Android One brings that to the table to more affordable devices.

    The key features for your Android One smartphone should be similar to what you’d want in a regular smartphone. You should look at basic features such as the display, the performance of the cameras, the general performance, memory, storage, battery life, and more.

    As with most smart devices, going through extensive reviews of these key features is paramount as despite all of them being Android One devices, the hardware varies significantly. The hardware is also the determining factor in the pricing of the devices.

    The snappiness of a device is determined largely by the chipset it is running, especially when it comes to Android One smartphones. Since there is no custom user interface overlay on Android One smartphones, the device runs at the fastest speeds it possibly can out of the box.

    To make the device more affordable, many manufacturers utilize slower Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets. However, this does not necessarily mean reduced response and snappiness. While it can have a significant impact on the benchmark performance of the device, real-world use is the best way to determine how fast and comfortable the device is to use.

    Therefore, instead of solely looking at the hardware specs, it’s important to test the device yourself in a store or read/watch extensive reviews of it to determine if its speed and snappiness match your requirements.

    Will the Android One smartphone of my choice comes with the latest Android version?
    Android One smartphones released prior to October 2018 likely won’t come with the latest Android OS version out of the box. However, they can easily be updated once turned through software updates from within the device settings.

    Do Android One smartphones offer a similar experience to Google Pixel?
    Android One smartphones offer a similar software experience to Google Pixel. Google still has certain neat features exclusive to the Pixel, and the overall build quality and performance of the Pixel smartphones is generally superior. That’s expected though, given the massive difference in prices.

    What’s the biggest benefit of Android One?
    The biggest benefit of Android One is offering a minimalistic, true Android experience. It is also a big bonus that these devices get Android OS updates faster than other smartphones.

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