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The Google Pixel 4 and Galaxy S20 are the most secure Android phones

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The Google Pixel 4 (and 4 XL) is the best Android phone when it comes to security. Google builds its phones to be secure from the start, and you get monthly security patches to guarantee that you won’t be left behind on future exploits. Three years of guaranteed updates will let you use your phone knowing you’ll be up to date for what is likely the life of the phone.

Best Overall: Google Pixel 4

Pixel 4 phones are updated directly from Google with the latest version of Android. Outside of any new features that may come with, the device security model has been updated and strengthened by a dedicated team that regularly audits and enhances the code used to build Android. On top of this, Google releases updates to the security model at the beginning of every month for the people who build Android phones to apply to its software. These are important, more important than any other update.

Equally important, but often overlooked, is transparency. You shouldn’t have to trust a company when it says something is secure or updated, and the Android code for both the platform version and all updates is available for anyone to take a look at. Plenty of people do, and despite any opinions to the contrary, Android, as written, has proven to be a very secure platform. A phone like a Pixel 4 is the embodiment of this.

Pros:

  • Monthly (or more) security updates
  • Guaranteed updates for three years
  • Excellent software experience
  • Great cameras

Cons:

  • No headphone jack
  • Pixel 4 has weak battery life
  • Bleeding edge software can be buggy

Best Overall

Google Pixel 4

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From $700 at Amazon
From $800 at Best Buy
From $660 at Walmart

At the forefront of Android security

With its default protections, the Pixel 4 will keep you protected from security threats and gets updated to keep it that way.

Best Alternative: Samsung Galaxy S20

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Samsung used to have a poor reputation when it comes to Android security, but the company has done a complete turn-around and is now regularly updating and patching its phones. The Galaxy S20 ships with Android 10 and will get regular monthly security patches in a timely manner. It also has Samsung Knox, which adds an extra layer of security that can separate business and personal data and allow you to hide certain information behind a password. This can mean the difference between personal and corporate security.

Outside of the security features, the rest of the Galaxy S20 experience is rock solid. It features a gorgeous 120Hz AMOLED display, flagship speed thanks to the Snapdragon 865 processor, and a very respectable 4,000 mAh battery.

You don’t get the official guarantee of updates that you do with Google’s Pixel 4, but Samsung’s recent performance in these regards has made us confident in the S20’s overall security. Factor that together with the improved battery life and display over the Pixel 4, and it stands out as an excellent alternative.

Pros:

  • Top-notch hardware
  • Samsung Knox
  • 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Great cameras
  • Android 10 out of the box

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Updates aren’t guaranteed like the Pixel

Best Alternative

Samsung Galaxy S20

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$1,000 at Amazon
$1,000 at Best Buy
$1,000 at Walmart

Timely updates

Samsung is now one of the best phone makers when it comes to keeping your phone updated with the latest security patches.

Best Cheap Flagship: Samsung Galaxy S10

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The Galaxy S20 isn’t the only Samsung phone that shows a new dedication to security, and if you’re interested in a flagship that’s a little cheaper, the Galaxy S10 fits the bill. The Galaxy S10 has since been upgraded to Android 10 and keeps getting monthly security patches in a timely manner. Just like the newer Galaxy S20, Samsung Knox is on board if you need an extra layer of protection.

It’s safe to say that the Galaxy S10 won’t get updates as long as the S20 will given that it’s a year older, but if you want that flagship Android experience while saving some cash, it’s still a great choice.

Outside of the security perspective, everything else about the Galaxy S10 also holds up incredibly well. The build quality is excellent, performance continues to be speedy, and there’s no getting over that beautiful AMOLED screen.

Pros:

  • Top-notch hardware
  • Samsung Knox
  • Still getting regular security patches
  • Awesome display
  • Reliable cameras

Cons:

  • Not the newest phone in Samsung’s lineup

Best Cheap Flagship

Samsung Galaxy S10

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$747 at Amazon
$750 at Best Buy
$700 at Walmart

Still great

Samsung will keep your Galaxy S10 updated with critical security patches so you can stay secure while online or off.

Best Value: Google Pixel 3a

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The Pixel 3a is a scaled-back version of 2018’s Pixel 3, but it’s clearly one of the best value phones you can buy. The internal hardware isn’t over the top, but it’s extremely capable for pretty much all day-to-day tasks. On top of that, you still get the great Pixel camera system.

You’ll also find the exact same focus on security and security-related software features. The Pixel 3a receives the same updates that the more expensive Pixel 4 does, and it gets them at the same time. The result is a super secure phone at a low price, making the Pixel 3a one of the best values out there if you don’t want to compromise your security just because you have a lower spending budget.

Pros:

  • Monthly (or more) security updates
  • Low price
  • Excellent software experience
  • Great cameras

Cons:

  • Not the most powerful
  • No wireless charging

Best Value

Google Pixel 3a

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$334 at Amazon
$400 at Best Buy
From $342 at Walmart

Inexpensive, secure, and capable

The Pixel 3a is the best mid-range Android phone you can buy, and one of the most secure.

Best Low Cost: Nokia 5.3

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We wouldn’t consider the Pixel 3a to be an expensive phone, but if you’re shopping with an especially tight budget, you may need a phone that costs even less. For you, we’d recommend the Nokia 5.3.

The Nokia 5.3 is part of Google’s Android One program, meaning it’s guaranteed to get two years of Android updates and three years of monthly security patches. This level of update commitment isn’t seen with some flagship devices, so getting it at this price is outstanding. The Nokia 5.3 also has a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, giving you a level of on-device security that’s not always expected for phones this cheap.

Outside of those perks, the Nokia 5.3 also delivers a great design, an HD+ display with minimal bezels, expandable storage, and more.

Pros:

  • Monthly security patches are guaranteed
  • Running Android 10
  • Has a fingerprint sensor
  • Clean, uncluttered software
  • Great hardware

Cons:

  • Display is only HD

Best Low Cost

Nokia 5.3

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$199 at Amazon

Keep your spending to a minimum

Trying to spend as little as possible while still getting great security features? The Nokia 5.3 is for you.

Bottom line

Media outlets like to give Android a bad reputation when it comes to security, and it’s difficult to blame them. Old, outdated software from manufacturers with no real concern for your security or privacy is the norm when it comes to phones running Android. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL deliver a great smartphone experience that ticks all the boxes for reviewers and average buyers alike, and with no modifications, your personal data is very safe. A team of security professionals and engineers are dedicated to keeping it that way. Any of the phones on our list will do a great job when it comes to security, but the overall experience of using the phone over and above the security aspect makes the Google Pixel 4 the best choice.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation’s Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently, he is using Google’s Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You’ll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.

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Joe Maring is Android Central’s News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to [email protected]!

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