Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Google Pixel 5 and Galaxy S21 are the most secure Android phones



The Google Pixel 5 is the best Android phone when it comes to security. Google builds its phones to be secure from the start, and its monthly security patches guarantee you won’t be left behind on future exploits. Some of the most secure Android phones available to date are on this list to keep your mind at ease while staying safely connected.

Best Overall: Google Pixel 5


The Pixel 5 is 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 5 is the embodiment of this.


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


  • No headphone jack
  • No “XL” model this time
  • No Wi-Fi 6 support

Best Overall

Google Pixel 5


From $699 at Amazon

At the forefront of Android security

With its default protections, the Pixel 5 will keep you protected from security threats and gets updated to keep it that way.

Best Alternative: Samsung Galaxy S21


Samsung used to have a poor reputation when it came to Android security, but the company has done a complete turn-around and is now regularly updating and patching its phones. The Galaxy S21 ships with Android 11 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 S21 experience is rock solid. It features a gorgeous 120Hz AMOLED display, flagship speed thanks to the Snapdragon 888 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 5, but Samsung’s recent performance in these regards has made us confident in the S21’s overall security. Factor that together with the improved processing speed and display over the Pixel 5, and it stands out as an excellent alternative.


  • Top-notch hardware
  • Samsung Knox
  • 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Great cameras
  • Android 11 out of the box


  • Expensive
  • Updates aren’t guaranteed like the Pixel
  • Not a big leap forward from the S20

Best Alternative

Samsung Galaxy S21


$800 at Amazon
From $750 at Best Buy
$800 at B&H

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 S20 FE


Samsung followed up the Galaxy S20 lineup with the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) and it continued its dedication to security, and if you’re interested in a flagship that’s a little cheaper, this one fits the bill. The Galaxy S20 FE has since been upgraded to Android 11 and keeps getting monthly security patches in a timely manner. Just like the newer Galaxy S21, Samsung Knox is on board if you need an extra layer of protection.

There isn’t a huge gap in age between this phone and the Galaxy S21, so the update cycle should apply to both, and it’s yet another reason why it’s a great choice. You get a good mix of design, features, and performance, along with a flagship Android experience that saves you some cash.

Outside of the security perspective, everything else about the Galaxy S20 FE also holds up incredibly well. Samsung made it by mixing together elements of the previous S20 lineup, including that beautiful AMOLED screen and solid camera output.


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


  • Not the newest phone in Samsung’s lineup
  • Not every color is available everywhere

Best Cheap Flagship

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE


$600 at Amazon
From $550 at Best Buy

Still great

Samsung will keep your Galaxy S20 FE updated with critical security patches so you can stay secure while online or off.

Best Value: Google Pixel 4a


The Pixel 4a is a scaled-back version of 2019’s Pixel 4, but it’s clearly one of the best value phones you can buy. The internal hardware isn’t over the top, though extremely capable for pretty much all day-to-day tasks. And you still get the great Pixel camera system on top of that.

You’ll also find the exact same focus on security and security-related software features. The Pixel 4a receives the same updates that the more expensive Pixel 5 does, and gets them at the same time. The result is a super secure phone at a low price, making the Pixel 4a one of the best values out there if you don’t want to compromise your security just because you have a lower spending budget.


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


  • Not the most powerful
  • No wireless charging

Best Value

Google Pixel 4a


$349 at Amazon
From $300 at Best Buy

Inexpensive, secure, and capable

The Pixel 4a is the best mid-range Android phone you can buy, and one of the most secure.

Best Low Cost: Nokia 5.3


We wouldn’t consider the Pixel 4a 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. That means platform updates till 2022 and security updates to 2023. You don’t always see that level of update commitment 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.


  • Monthly security patches are guaranteed
  • Running Android 11
  • Has a fingerprint sensor
  • Clean, uncluttered software
  • Great hardware


  • Display is only HD

Best Low Cost

Nokia 5.3


From $185 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 that’s not how it has to be.

The Google Pixel 5 delivers 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 5 the best choice.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide


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.


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]!


Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.

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