There are many smartphones out there on the market today, and we’re here Android authority trying to cover them all. But what about the phones we actually use every day as our daily drivers? After all, it’s one thing to review a phone and call it the best you can buy, but quite another thing to completely use one as your primary device.
We did a daily poll from Team AA in 2018, as well as another last year. With some great phones already released this year, we thought it’s a good time as someone to do a 2021 edition of this poll to see how things have changed over the last twelve months.
21 Team AA members from around the world contributed to these results, while also giving their daily drivers a score of 10 and letting us know what they liked / disliked.
What phones do Android authority team members use? Let’s find out!
We have mapped the results by phone model and phone brand. We will go into the details further down in this article, but you can check out the robbery numbers below:
There’s a Samsung party up here
In last year’s poll, Samsung led the package by a very small margin over Google’s phones, but the South Korean manufacturer has widened this gap in 2021. Back in 2020, nearly a quarter of all Team AA members used a Samsung device as their daily driver, followed by 21 % of members with a Google device. Now a third of all members use a Samsung phone.
Divided by model, the Galaxy S20 (two) and Galaxy S10 Plus (two) were the only phones that had more than one Team AA member using them. Otherwise, no other phone model appeared twice in our poll.
Samsung owners generally praised the cameras, performance, battery life and size (both large and small models). A standout complaint regarding Samsung phones came from social and SEO expert Luka Mlinar and his Exynos Samsung Galaxy S20:
“You expect a € 1000 + phone to run COD Mobile without stuttering, and yet it does not.”
Almost a quarter asked Android authority members (five) use a Google Pixel phone as their daily driver, and praise generally went to the camera, phone size and software experience. However, complaints were directed at Pixel 5’s aging main camera sensor, while Sam Moore – editor of our sister site SoundGuys – regretted the lack of IP rating and wireless charging on Pixel 4a.
OnePlus rounded out the top three brands, with four AA members reporting using a OnePlus device as their daily driver. Interestingly, it also earned the highest average ranking among the top three manufacturers (8.75 / 10 versus 8.1 / 10 for Samsung and 8/10 for Google).
Deals Editor Matt Horne also gave his OnePlus 8 full marks – the only perfect score this time. Matt said he liked everything about the phone, noting that it was his first device with a fingerprint sensor on the screen, and that he also liked the design. However, he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat him.
Apple Authority strikes again
Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
Believe it or not, two members of our team use iPhones as daily drivers. Resident reviewer Eric Zeman and Audio Editor Lily Katz chose the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini, respectively.
Eric cited camera, battery life, performance and app choices to choose the iPhone. Meanwhile, the Lily Mini model preferred as she says she has small hands, carries a charger around and does not use her phone very often anyway.
However, the iPhone owners have some criticisms, with Eric rejecting the size of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the notch and the lack of high refresh rate. Lily also criticized the iPhone 12 Mini for the lack of a 3.5mm port and camera lens flare.
Three outside choices
Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
What else did our AA members use as their daily drivers? Well, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi all made one look each.
As of Huawei, I still use the Mate 20 Pro as my daily driver. It’s still fast enough for my needs, the cameras are quite versatile, I can get more than a day out of the battery, and fast charging is still quite handy. However, it definitely feels like battery reduction has come in, and the lack of a high refresh rate screen and 4K at 60 fps recording is a bit disappointing compared to newer devices.
Meanwhile, Executive Editor Kris Carlon is making a rather unusual choice in the LG Wing. He reckons that the T-shaped phone is LG “at its finest”:
“It is far from perfect, but it is one of the most interesting phones I have used in many years. The use cases are definitely quite a niche, but once you have found the ones that work for you, they feel strangely indispensable. It’s also a pretty solid “regular phone.” “
That’s not all good, since Kris dislikes Wing’s software. Still, he admits it was better than he first expected.
Only one Xiaomi phone was used as a daily driver in this poll, and that’s Gary Sims’ Mi 9T Pro. He praised the performance, storage capacity (128 GB), on-screen fingerprint sensor and MIUI updates. But he also had special praise for the battery, noting that he rarely went to bed with less than 50% juice. However, Gary lamented the forward-facing camera as being too wide and said it distorts selfies as a result.
- Only one Team AA member said they would not recommend their phone to readers, and that’s CEO Ollie Cragg and his Pixel 4 XL. He hates 64 GB of fixed storage and called the phone’s battery horrible. In the case of the latter, he said it barely gets him to 6pm right now. He still gave it a high rating of 8/10. It’s a complicated love affair right there.
- There was a lot of transfer from last year’s poll, with eight models returning in 2021. These were Google Pixel 4 XL, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7T, OnePlus 7T Pro and Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro.
- There is only one Huawei phone on this list, compared to five members who had a Huawei device a year ago. The lack of Google Mobile Services suggests that many Team AA members are steering away from the Chinese brand’s phones for now. I know I would upgrade to a Mate 40 Pro at heart rate if it had the support of Google.
- This is our first daily driver survey with an all-OLED series, as the 2020 poll included LCD toting phones such as the Huawei P20, Huawei Mate 9 and older, cheaper iPhones. And even with medium-sized rangers that will have high refresh rate OLED screens in 2021, we assume that this trend will continue next year.
- Just under 24% of our daily drivers offered 3.5 mm gates. These were Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 4a, Mi 9T Pro and Galaxy S10 Plus. That is in line with last year’s opinion poll, for better or worse.
- Only one phone (Pixel 4 XL) packed a traditional forehead, while three offered a pop-up selfie camera. The rest have a notch or hole in the hole.
- The average battery size is 3,861 mAh, with the iPhone 12 Mini and Google Pixel 4a reducing the average at the big time.
- The oldest phone on the list is the Mate 20 Pro, released in late 2018. I think it’s time for me to get an upgrade …
- Only six phones out of the 21 choices (28.5%) were made by Chinese brands. Meanwhile, South Korean brands accounted for eight elections (38.1%), while US brands accounted for seven units (33.3%).
- Oppo was ranked fifth for shipments in 2020, according to Counterpoint Research, but it is completely missing in this year’s poll. It is not the only top 10 global player missing in this poll, as Vivo (ranked sixth), Realme (seventh) and Lenovo / Motorola (eighth) were all absent.
Our next phones
We also asked the team if there were any announcements or rumors they had their eyes on next, and by far the biggest option was “nothing.” Seven team members were happy enough with their current phones that they did not intend to upgrade anytime soon – up from five a year ago.
As for the most popular brand, five team members said they wanted to upgrade to a Samsung phone. Two Android authority members said they wanted a 2021-compatible Samsung while three others wanted the Galaxy S21, Galaxy Note 21 and Galaxy S22. The second most popular manufacturer was Google, as two team members spotted Pixel 6 and one rated Pixel 5a.
We also saw two brands make the cut that did not appear in our daily driver survey, when Kris chose the Asus ROG Phone 5 and Ollie chose the Oppo Find X3 Pro. Finally, we also saw two choices that were not actually brand specific, as newsletter editor Tristan Rayner just wanted a Snapdragon 888-powered phone while accessory guru Ankit Banerjee simply looked at a phone with a selfie camera under the screen.
What is your daily driver right now? Do you have any likes or dislikes to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below.