Last year, Android 11 introduced a clever privacy feature that removes permissions granted to “unused apps” that haven’t been opened in some time. Google is now bringing this auto-reset to older phones and tablets via Play services over the coming months.
Android 11 (and newer) can automatically remove permissions from “unused apps” to limit access to sensitive personal data, including location, camera, contacts, files, microphone, and phone. This does not get in the way of day-to-day usage as you have to go at least three months without using an application before Android automatically removes permissions.
Google is now bringing permission auto-reset to “billions more devices” running Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Android 10. This is made possible with Google Play services.
Once rolled out, auto-reset will be enabled by default for apps targeting Android 11 (API level 30) and later. To prevent issues and unintended experiences, resets will not apply to older applications still targeting API levels 23-29 unless manually enabled by end users. Additionally:
Some apps and permissions are automatically exempted from revocation, like active Device Administrator apps used by enterprises, and permissions fixed by enterprise policy.
Meanwhile, developers can ask users to “prevent the system from resetting their app’s permissions.”
This is useful in situations where users expect the app to work primarily in the background, even without interacting with it. The main use cases are listed here.
Next month, Google will make the cross-platform auto-reset APIs available with Jetpack Core 1.7.0, while the company today issued guidance on how developers can prepare.
Android’s auto-reset feature will begin gradually rolling out in December and be fully available in Q1 2022. Once live, users will get a new auto-reset settings page to enable/disable the behavior for specific applications. A few weeks after that, Google will start resetting permissions from unused apps.
Breaking from the recent yearly release cadence, the next version of Android to release might be a mid-cycle bump — an “Android 12.1,” if you will — rather than Android 13.
By all measures, Android 12 is a significant release for Google’s phones, among other things, revamping the design with “Material You,” which matches the system and your apps to your wallpaper’s colors. In the coming months, we should see more of how Android 12 will improve other companies’ phones, with Samsung set to beta test One UI 4.0 in the next few weeks.
Normally, this would be about the time that we should set our sights on 2022’s Android release, presumed to be Android 13. In fact, Android 13’s internal dessert name, Tiramisu, has been discovered.
However, it seems there may be another stop in the journey. As tipped to XDA by luca020400 (Director of the Lineage OS ROM), a new Android code change suggests that Tiramisu/Android 13 will be API level 33, which is two levels higher than the forthcoming Android 12, which will be API 31. 9to5Google has also discovered a newer code change that directly confirms that Android 13 will be API 33.
More than that, it’s directly stated that API level 32 will be “sc-v2.” In this instance, “sc” is shorthand for Android 12’s internal dessert name, “Snow Cone,” while “v2” implies that Snow Cone will get a “version 2.”
In almost every case over the last 13 years of Android’s history, a change to the API level has coincided with a change to Android’s version number. However, this would be the first time since 2017 that Google has felt the need to put out a second, mid-cycle upgrade for a particular Android version.
At that time, Android Oreo got a bump from 8.0 to 8.1 at the end of the year, with the update debuting on Pixel and Nexus phones. A similar mid-cycle “x.1” release schedule also occurred following Android Nougat and Lollipop. Following that pattern, it’s quite possible that this “sc-v2” update might be called “Android 12.1” when it launches.
So what can we expect from such an Android 12.1 upgrade? Whatever is changing must be both important enough to justify a mid-cycle release, and also drastic enough that Google couldn’t add it all to Android 12 while keeping the API stable for developers.
For now, there aren’t many clues to go on, especially as more parts of Android have become updatable without needing a major upgrade, thanks to Mainline modules. In a comment on another code change, we see that “sc-v2” will introduce some tweaks to the WindowManager APIs, which would definitely affect app developers.
It’s too early to say when this supposed Android 12.1 would release, but the earliest available evidence suggests Google has been preparing it since at least May. In past examples of a mid-cycle release, the new Android version bump would see release within a few months of the major version’s launch.
Another tidbit you’ll probably have noticed in the quote above is that a Googler mentions that “some of our Nest devices might not be migrated to T.” For now, we’re not too sure what to make of this, as no known Nest devices run on Android — let alone have potential to upgrade to Android 13 (T) — with the Nest Hub series using either Cast OS or Fuchsia. It’s possible this may simply be referring to the Chromecast with Google TV, which could be seen as falling under the Nest umbrella.
While text chatting with classic Hangouts is still possible today, Google has killed most of the legacy service’s video calling features. Google will soon restore a familiar capability that lets you make direct calls using Meet without having to generate a link ahead of time.
Today, setting up a Meet call involves giving participants a URL. In Google Chat, you can quickly insert an invite like to start a session. This makes sense for group meetings — with video links now normalized — but feels somewhat excessive when you’re just talking to one person.
Direct “Google Meet calling” is the company’s attempt to make “meetings more spontaneous.” In Google Chat, you’ll get a “video” button to quickly start a call. The “phone” icon next to it lets you make audio-only Meet calls without video. This behavior is similar to classic Hangouts, Google Duo, and other consumer video communication apps, with Meet having to increasingly target both casual and enterprise audiences.
This will ring their device running the Gmail mobile app and send a call chip to Gmail running in a web browser, so they can easily answer from any device
It’s rolling out “soon” for one-to-one chats in the Gmail mobile and standalone Chat apps. However, it will come to “other Workspace endpoints in the near future.”
Google today also provided an update on Meet’s upcoming Companion Mode. This second-screen experience lets you use one device for audio/video and another computer to better see what’s being presented, respond to and create polls/Q&A, access meeting chat, and whiteboard. You can also share/mirror your screen from that second device.
This will begin rolling out in November (previously September), with Google also working on adding the ability to read live-translated captions in Companion Mode by year’s end:
We’re currently working on translating meetings in English to French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, with many more languages coming in the future.
Gmail on the web is set to get a navigation revamp this summer, while the Android app is now beginning to roll out a Material You redesign.
It starts on the homescreen, with the top of the page seeing a pill-shaped search field that features a hamburger icon on the left and profile avatar/account switcher at the other end that fits the curvature. The layout of the navigation drawer is unchanged with this revamp, while various buttons in Gmail are now rounded.
At the bottom, we get a taller bottom bar — like we enabled in Google Play — that makes use of a pill-shaped indicator to highlight what tab you’re currently viewing. The selected icon is also filled out, while Gmail leverages a rectangular Compose FAB just above it — similar to the one in Google Contacts.
The other big change today is the use of Dynamic Color to hue the background of Gmail for Android. This includes the main email list, all tabs, and the compose screen. The bottom bar, search field, and buttons leverage a darker shade, while the overflow menu also sees some theming.
Gmail’s Material You redesign is coming with version 2021.08.24.394054613, as spotted by Artem Russakovskii and XDA this morning. That new release is rolling out via the Play Store, but it’s not yet available for all users.
Meanwhile, sideloading does not guarantee you’ll see these changes as there is a server-side component, but you might get lucky. This new update does seem to widely rename “Rooms” to “Spaces” — as expected — in the bottom bar.
While Chrome has been visually refreshed over the years, Google has kept the core user experience intact to avoid “disorienting” users. Over the past few weeks, however, Chrome for Android has been testing a redesigned New Tab page that changes quite a few things for the worse, but fortunately you can get back the old version.
Usually, new features added to Chrome do not change the fundamental design. For example, if you don’t use Tab Groups, most aspects of the mobile browser’s tab grid are unchanged.
The same cannot be said about the redesigned New Tab Page. The Google logo still appears at the top, but is much smaller and fits in the app bar. Next to it is your profile image and overflow menu, but there is no tab switcher button (or open page count).
That is part of my biggest gripe with this redesign. In removing, Google has fundamentally elevated the New Tab Page (NTP) — ironically — out of being a tab. If you imagine the tab switcher/grid view as Chrome’s underlying structure, then all open pages fit within it. Previously, the NTP was just another card alongside websites.
Now, it’s an entirely new screen and piece of browser chrome that exists on top of Chrome’s existing layout. It’s more akin to settings, history, bookmarks, and other pages that have a close “x” in the top-right corner.
Google’s intended replacement is an unfamiliar “View all” button that’s part of the “Continue browsing” carousel — one of two that happen to be stacked right on top of each other. The other is for recent/frequent pages and replaces the previous 4×2 layout, which was more efficient.
We first encountered this New Tab Page redesign in late June. Over the past week, it’s been appearing for most users. While the NTP revamp is not yet widely available, it could be an indication that Google is closer to launch.
Fortunately, you’re able to change it with the #enable-start-surface flag. The dropdown offers a slew of different iterations. Some do not even have an NTP, which is somewhat indicative of the new design’s lack of purpose/importance.
Selecting “Disabled” at the very bottom and Relaunching the browser will bring you back to the old Chrome New Tab Page — for now.
The process of shutting down classic Hangouts for Workspace users is almost complete, as Google this week enables the integrated Gmail with Chat and Rooms for even more paid accounts.
Following on Google in late 2018 confirmed that it was shutting down classic Hangouts for Chat and Meet. The legacy service is being split into standalone messaging — with a group productivity focus that will soon have a new name — and video calling apps. This deprecation was always slated to happen first for enterprise G Suite, now Workspace, customers.
Google has a five-part plan for this, and we’re now in “Phase 4” where companies using the “Chat and classic Hangouts” setting will be moved to the “Chat Preferred” option by default. That started this week and will occur for “most organizations in Q3.”
Admins can opt out, but this is the last step before the mandatory upgrade currently set for “late 2021.” At that point, all customers will be migrated and Google will “fully replace classic Hangouts with Chat.”
In terms of what end users experience, the primary change occurs in Gmail. On the web, they will be prompted with a yellow banner at the top of the screen to reload the tab. Afterwards, they will see classic Hangouts in the left/right sidebar replaced by “Chat” and “Rooms,” which is Google’s Slack and Microsoft Teams competitor. Once capability lets you open Google Docs/Sheets/Slides directly in the page next to a message thread for live collaboration.
On Android and iOS, Google Workspace customers will be prompted with a “Chat and rooms are now in Gmail” banner to “Relaunch.” The app adds two tabs to the bottom bar. The Hangouts mobile apps and website will continue to work, but the classic service’s days are numbered.
Google has yet to announce when classic Hangouts will disappear for free Gmail users, but it’s under way. These users have been able to turn on the integrated Gmail since June.
Bottom line: Samsung’s Galaxy S21 is a great overall package, delivering 5G, the latest hardware, and all the extras you could ask for in a 2021 flagship.
6.2-inch AMOLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
128 or 256GB
12MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide, 64MP telephoto
25W wired, 15W wireless
151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm
Compact and lightweight design
Snapdragon 888 is a performance beast
120Hz AMOLED display
Very capable cameras
All-day battery life
Doesn’t have expandable storage
No MST for Samsung Pay
In 2021, Samsung has released a smaller and more affordable smartphone in the regular Galaxy S21. For shoppers that want a fully-fledged smartphone experience without completely breaking the bank, it’s well worth your consideration.
One of the best things the Galaxy S21 has going for it is the display. It’s a Full HD+ AMOLED panel, and when paired with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, it is nothing short of excellent. It’s not quite as sharp as the Quad HD+ resolution found on the S21 Ultra, but the picture still looks really crisp thanks to a smaller 6.2-inch display size. Combine that smaller display with plastic construction, and the S21 ends up being a really comfortable phone to use thanks to its small size and lightweight design.
Another highlight is performance; the Galaxy S21 features the Snapdragon 888 and 8GB of RAM. No matter what tasks you throw at the phone, it’ll handle them with ease. There’s also a 4,000 mAh battery for all-day endurance, an IP68 dust/water resistance rating, and your choice of 128GB or 256GB of storage. The camera experience isn’t as jaw-dropping as what you’ll find with the S21 Ultra, though it is a bit better than the S20 FE. Once again, it’s a nice middle-ground between the two.
You get three guaranteed Android updates and four years of security patches on the software front, making the Galaxy S21 one of the best phones for long-term use. That said, the Galaxy S21 shares the same cons as the S21 Ultra, meaning there’s no expandable storage or MST for Samsung Pay. Those are two features you do get with the S20 FE, but the S21 still manages to stand out thanks to its improved cameras, faster performance, nicer design, and more pocketable form factor.
Bottom line: The S21 Ultra stands out as the phone to get if you don’t want to spare any expense. Everything from the display, performance, cameras, and more are among the very best you can get — just be prepared for it to cost you a pretty penny.
What Samsung achieved with the Galaxy S20 FE is nothing short of amazing, and for the vast majority of you reading this, it’s the phone you should probably buy. But if you’re itching for a device that has even more to offer and you’re OK spending more to get that kind of experience, you’ll want to turn your attention towards the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
This is Samsung’s top-of-the-line flagship for 2021, and in virtually every regard, the premium nature of the S21 Ultra is easy to see. Starting first with the display, you’re treated to a massive 6.8-inch panel that’s capable of running a Quad HD+ resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate at the same time — something very few smartphones are capable of doing. This means you get razor-sharp text, buttery smooth animations, and the stunning colors of Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED screen technology.
Powering the S21 Ultra is the Snapdragon 888 chipset, paired with either 12 or 16GB of RAM. In real-world use, that means the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the fastest phones money can buy. Keeping with the theme of high-end specs, other niceties include a 5,000 mAh battery, up to 512GB of storage, an IP68 water/dust resistance rating, and a larger in-screen fingerprint sensor that’s much faster and easier to use than the one found on the S20 FE.
As if that wasn’t enough, the tour de force of the Galaxy S21 Ultra is its camera system. The primary camera is a 108MP sensor that captures extremely detailed and colorful shots. The 8MP ultra-wide lens is a strong performer. The two telephoto cameras — featuring 3x and 10x zoom distances — allow for some of the very best zoom pictures we’ve ever seen.
There’s no denying the impressiveness of the S21 Ultra, but that’s not to say it’s without its faults. Samsung got rid of expandable storage and MST for Samsung Pay, two hallmark features of Galaxy phones before it. If you’re alright with losing out on those features, the Galaxy S21 Ultra experience is well well worth the price of admission.
Bottom line: The OnePlus 9 Pro delivers a gorgeous new design combined with top-notch internal hardware, cameras tuned by Hasselblad, and clean software. OnePlus finally has a phone that measures up to Android’s best, and the OnePlus 9 Pro is an affordable alternative to the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is gunning straight for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The phone features the latest hardware you’ll find today, including the Snapdragon 888 chipset, along with LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage modules, and a marquee addition this year is the cameras.
OnePlus always nailed the hardware, but it just couldn’t deliver cameras that held up to Samsung, Google, and Xiaomi. That has changed with the OnePlus 9 Pro. The device comes with an upgraded 48MP camera at the back that takes fantastic photos. OnePlus also partnered with German camera giant Hasselblad to deliver outstanding photos to capture every moment. The result: the OnePlus 9 Pro takes amazing shots in just about any lighting condition. There’s also a 50MP wide-angle lens that may just be the best on any phone today, and you get an 8MP module that offers 3x digital zoom.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the fastest phones you can buy today, and a new 120Hz AMOLED display joins the top-notch hardware. The phone uses an LTPO display to dynamically change the refresh all the way from 1Hz to 120Hz, allowing it to conserve battery life while delivering a smooth and fluid user experience in daily use.
You’ll also find clean software without any bloatware at all in the Android 11-based OxygenOS 11. The interface has plenty of customizability, and unlike Samsung’s One UI, you will not find any errant ads anywhere. The clean UI combined with a focus on performance and customization make OxygenOS the default choice for enthusiasts.
The phone doesn’t miss out in other areas either — you get IP68 dust and water resistance, 5G connectivity over both Sub-6 and mmWave, and dual-band GPS along with NFC. But a key highlight is around battery tech — the OnePlus 9 Pro offers 65W wired charging along with 50W wireless charging, with the phone taking just 29 minutes to fully charge using the bundled charger. OnePlus also recently announced that its flagship phones would begin receiving three major Android updates — up from the two promised previously.
While it’s exciting to see the gains in this area, the one downside is that battery life itself isn’t on par with other Android flagships. For example, the OnePlus 9 Pro barely manages to last a day with heavy use, so you may want to take the charger along if you’re heading out.
That said, the OnePlus 9 Pro is a great overall package that nails the fundamentals. So if you’re not sure about the Galaxy S21 Ultra and are looking for an alternative, you will love what the OnePlus 9 Pro has to offer.
Bottom line: There are many good smartphone deals out there, but none of them are as amazing as the Pixel 4a. From its flagship-grade cameras, reliable performance, all-day battery life, and long-term software support, no other phone gives you this much for so little.
5.81-inch OLED, 2340×1080, 60Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm
Flagship camera on a budget phone
Easy to use in one hand
AMOLED display looks great
Three years of software support
The Pixel 4a is the best phone value available today, period. Google’s packed most of what makes the Pixel 4/5 series good into a smartphone that costs over 50% less. You also get a compact device that, despite its size, excels in the battery life department. Seriously, this phone lasts all day and then some.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the 4a is its camera, which is nearly on par with the Pixel 4 that preceded it. The main camera shoots exceptional photos in all lighting conditions, with Night Sight really showing its strength in poor lighting. Google even added Astrophotography mode this time around and improved the already impressive Portrait Mode. The front-facing camera is also tack-sharp and focuses more quickly than on the Pixel 3a from 2019. Both front and back, you’re getting flagship-level camera quality out of a phone that’s a fraction of the price. Google’s also improved the video quality on the 4a, thanks to an improved Snapdragon 730 chipset and 6GB of RAM standard.
So what do you lose by spending a third of the price of a more traditional flagship? Well, the Pixel 4a is made of plastic and lacks both water resistance and wireless charging, features you can take for granted at a higher price point. It also only comes in one size, a 5.8-inch variant, and one color, black. There are no storage size options, either: you get 128GB of internal memory, which should be plenty for most people, but a lack of microSD expansion may be a problem for the content collectors out there. Also, there’s no 5G support here.
All of these limitations shouldn’t impede your desire to buy the Pixel 4a, which proved to be one of the best smartphone surprises of 2020 — even if it did launch a few months late. Google’s latest budget phone is a winner, from the size to the performance to the battery life and camera quality.
Bottom line: They say that the best camera you have is the one you have with you, so make sure it’s the best it can be. Google’s Pixel 5 takes incredible photos in virtually any setting, and thanks to the company’s top-notch image processing, you don’t even have to be a pro photographer to get impressive shots.
6.0-inch OLED, 2340×1080, 90Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
12.2MP primary, 16MP ultra-wide
18W wired, 15W wireless, 5W reverse wireless
144.7 x 70.4 x 8.0mm
Among the best cameras on the market
Compact and comfortable to hold
90Hz AMOLED display
Great battery life
Three years of software updates
Might be too small for some users
The Pixel 5 is Google’s latest flagship smartphone that you can buy. Compared to past releases, it’s a huge departure. Rather than trying to have the absolute best specs possible, the Pixel 5 focuses on offering a great all-around user experience at a competitive price. And, in just about every regard, it succeeds.
First thing’s first, we have to talk about the Pixel 5’s camera performance. Simply put, if camera quality is a key priority for you, the Pixel 5 should be at the very top of your shopping list. The 12.2MP primary and 16MP ultra-wide cameras may not look all that impressive on paper, but combined with Google’s unmatched image processing, they kick out truly incredible results. The detail is sharp, colors are true-to-life, and the Pixel 5 handles low-light environments without a hitch. The best part? The Pixel 5 does all of this more reliably than any other smartphone.
Outside of killer cameras, the Pixel 5 has a bunch more to offer. We’re in love with its design, which is refreshingly compact and is made entirely out of aluminum. The paint job gives it an exceptional in-hand feel, and if you ask us. The Sorta Sage color is one of the best we’ve ever seen on a phone. Period.
Rounding out the Pixel 5 experience is a 90Hz AMOLED display, fast performance thanks to the Snapdragon 765G processor, and long-lasting battery life. For considerably less money than a lot of other flagships, the Pixel 5 is well worth your consideration.
Bottom line: Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE is a solid, affordable 5G phone that offers most of what makes Samsung flagships so good in a cheaper, colorful package.
6.5-inch OLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
12MP primary, 8MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide
15W wired, Qi wireless charging
161.6 x 71.1 x 9.3mm
Flat 120Hz display is terrific
All-day battery life
Promised three years of software updates
Impressive cameras with 3x optical zoom
Sturdy design with fun color options
Not every color option is available everywhere
Camera can be slow to load
Samsung clearly understands that this is a time for people to pare back their expenses because the Galaxy S20 FE is a value flagship that really doesn’t skimp. It’s based on the successful foundation of the Galaxy S20+, featuring a spacious 6.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a luxurious 120Hz refresh rate, a Snapdragon 865, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and an all-day 4,500mAh battery.
Of course, to hit its affordable price point, Samsung needed to make some sacrifices, so it traded the Galaxy S20 series’ back glass for colorful plastic — the FE is available in six delicious colors — and cut back on the quality of the triple-camera setup ever-so-slightly.
Still, the S20 FE has everything you’d expect in a high-end phone and performs just as well. We especially love the IP68 water resistance and wireless charging, two features rare in this price bracket. Plus, it shares the same primary camera sensor as the Galaxy S20 and S20+, ensuring beautiful results in good light and bad.
Samsung’s One UI 3.0 is also on-board, and the company’s promising three years of platform and security updates, ensuring that you’ll be getting the latest Android features well into the next decade.
Finally, Samsung includes sub-6Ghz 5G in all variants of the Galaxy S20 FE, and we found performance to be excellent on both AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s 5G networks. If you want a Verizon version that supports mmWave, it’s also available for purchase.
Bottom line: The Moto G Power 2020 has reliable hardware combined with outstanding battery life and clean software. There are a few downsides — it’s limited to 10W charging and will only get one Android update, but you are getting a great entry-level package overall.
6.4-inch LCD, 2300×1080, 60Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
16MP primary, 8MP wide-angle, 2MP macro
159.9 x 75.8 x 9.6mm
At least two-day battery life
Large 1080p display
Will get only one Android update
Charging limited to 10W
If you’re in the market for an entry-level phone, the Moto G Power 2020 is still a great choice in 2021. Motorola has nailed the basics here, delivering a robust phone with all the features you’re looking for in a budget option.
The standout feature on the Moto G Power 2020 is the battery: featuring a large 5000mAh battery, the phone manages to last over two days without fail. The charging situation isn’t ideal, though; the Moto G Power 2020 has 10W wired charging, so you will want to plug in the device overnight.
The phone holds up pretty well in other areas too. You get a 6.4-inch 1080p LCD that’s decent enough in its own right, and the Snapdragon 665 is a reliable performer in normal use. The phone has stereo sound, a 3.5mm jack, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a microSD card slot. And as the phone is officially sold in the U.S., it works on all the major carriers.
In fact, it’s a better option than the Moto G Power 2021 in key areas — the 2021 model has fewer LTE bands, a lower-resolution 720p display, and a less powerful chipset. You’ll find positives on the software side as well, with Motorola offering a clean interface without any bloatware. The downside here is that the phone will get just one Android update — to Android 11 — and if you’re okay with that, the Moto G Power 2020 has plenty to offer in 2021.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a value flagship and want a phone with a gorgeous design, the latest hardware, stellar cameras, fast charging, and clean software, the OnePlus 9 is the obvious choice.
6.5-inch AMOLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
48MP primary, 50MP wide-angle, 2MP portrait
65W wired, 15W wireless
160 x 74.2 x 8.7 mm
Sublime 120Hz AMOLED display
Clean software with no bloat
65W wired / 15W wireless charging
Three years of Android updates
Single-SIM in the U.S.
With the OnePlus 9, OnePlus sets its sights on the Galaxy S20 FE. The phone delivers on the same fundamentals as Samsung’s value flagship, offering the latest internal hardware, a 120Hz AMOLED display, reliable cameras, and many extras from the OnePlus 9 Pro.
The 120Hz AMOLED display on the OnePlus 9 is one of the best you’ll find in this particular category, and thanks to the Snapdragon 888 chipset, the phone handles anything you throw at it without breaking a sweat. You also get 5G connectivity over Sub-6, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, AptX HD audio codecs, and an excellent vibration motor.
The phone has the same 4500mAh battery as the OnePlus 9 Pro, and you get 65W wired charging. What’s new this generation is the addition of 15W Qi wireless charging. It may not be quite the same as the insane 50W wireless charging on the 9 Pro, but the upside is that the OnePlus 9 works with any Qi-enabled wireless charger available today. This particular feature is missing on the Indian and Chinese models, but you’ll find it on the OnePlus 9 variants sold in North America and Europe.
Coming to the software, OxygenOS 11 continues to set the standard in terms of customizability. The bloatware-free UI is a delight to use, and recently OnePlus announced that it would begin supporting its flagship phones with three years of Android platform updates.
Overall, the OnePlus 9 is a solid contender to the Galaxy S20 FE. It has the latest hardware, great cameras, clean software, and fast charging, and for what it costs, you are getting a great overall value.
Bottom line: The ASUS ZenFone 8 is a bit of a departure from its predecessors, but it is the best smallest Android flagship you can buy right now. It has an excellent build, clean software, great cameras, 5G, and the powerful Snapdragon 888 SOC.
5.9-inch OLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
64MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide
148 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm
Easy to use one-handed
Gorgeous screen with 120Hz refresh rate
3.5mm headphone jack
No wireless charging
No telephoto camera
If you’re one of those people who still pines for a smaller, flagship-level phone, then we have some good news for you. The ASUS ZenFone 8 delivers one of the best Android experiences that you can get in mid-2021 for much less than the competition. Plus, it’s one of the smallest Android flagships around.
Unlike the ZenFone 6 and 7 series and the ZenFone 8 Flip, the ZenFone 8 has done away with the flipping camera module in favor of a more traditional design. While this new (older) form factor makes the device more pocketable, ASUS was able to retain an excellent camera setup nonetheless. It also means that it is now IP68 water-resistant. The ZenFone 8 features a gorgeous AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and it even retains an old-school fan favorite with its 3.5mm headphone jack.
The ZenFone 8 has top-notch internal specs, too, including the powerful Snapdragon 888 processor, fast 20W wired charging, and one of the cleanest builds of Android we’ve seen this year. However, you miss out on wireless charging, and ASUS’s track record for updates has left us wanting in the past.
This is the perfect phone for someone who admires the size and capabilities of something like the Google Pixel 4a but who also wants a more premium and performant Android phone.
Bottom line: Folding phones are here, and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best one we’ve seen yet. It’s basically a smartphone and tablet in one device, and while it is costly, it’s also the best attempt yet we’ve seen for this form factor.
6.23-inch AMOLED, 2260×816, 60Hz refresh rate
7.6-inch AMOLED, 2280×1768, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
12MP primary, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide
25W wired and 11W wireless
159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9mm (unfolded) and 159.2 x 68 x 16.8mm (folded)
Puts a mini-tablet in your pocket
Great cameras and battery
App compatibility issues
Just like any piece of technology, smartphones evolve and change as time goes on. We’ve seen screens get bigger, cameras get a lot more capable, and processors rival those found in computers. The next big thing for phones is the folding form factor, and so far, the best yet in this niche is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.
The best way to think about the device is as a phone and tablet in one. When the Z Fold 2 is closed, you’re treated to a 6.23-inch AMOLED display that you can use for anything you’d like — checking email, scrolling through Twitter, watching YouTube videos, you name it. Should you find yourself wanting a larger canvas, however, all you need to do is open up the Z Fold 2 up. There, you’re treated to a larger 7.6-inch AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s a lot like having an iPad Mini that you can fold up and take with you wherever you want, and if you ask us, that’s pretty amazing.
As you might expect for a new technology like a folding phone, the Z Fold 2 does come with some unique dilemmas. For example, the Ultra-Thin Glass for the tablet display is prone to scratches more than traditional glass. The folding design raises questions about long-term durability, and not all apps are properly optimized for that larger display size. There’s also the matter of price, with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 costing more than two OnePlus 8 Pros.
This isn’t a phone that we recommend everyone go out and buy right now, but as far as folding phones go, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best we’ve seen to date. If you’re willing to spend the money and put up with those quirks, the Z Fold 2 has a lot to offer.
Bottom line: The Galaxy A52 5G gives you amazing hardware in the form of a 120Hz AMOLED screen and a Snapdragon 750G chipset with 5G connectivity. Although the design looks similar to the S21 series, you also get great cameras and all-day battery life, which is much more affordable.
If you want to switch to a 5G phone but don’t want to pay too much money, then the Galaxy A52 5G may just be the ideal option for you. Samsung has always delivered value packages with the Galaxy A series, and it is taking things to a whole new level in 2021.
The Galaxy A52 5G offers considerable upgrades over its predecessor; the 6.5-inch AMOLED panel now has a 120Hz refresh rate, giving you a level of immediacy during daily interactions that was missing in last year’s Galaxy A51. The internal hardware has also received a boost, and the Snapdragon 750G chipset is faster in almost every day-to-day scenario.
The camera has received some attention as well, with the A52 5G now offering a 64MP lens at the back. There’s even a MicroSD slot and a 3.5mm jack, two features you won’t find on the Galaxy S21 series. And thanks to a generous 4500mAh battery and 25W fast charging, you don’t have to worry about battery life.
Samsung added IP67 dust and water resistance to the Galaxy A52 5G, making it just that little more enticing. Oh, and there’s, of course, 5G connectivity here, so if you’re thinking of switching to a 5G plan this year and need a mid-range phone, the Galaxy A52 5G ticks all the right boxes.
Bottom line: The ASUS ROG Phone 5 is designed for gamers. It has an incredible build, a stunning 144Hz AMOLED display, and is paired with a massive 6,000mAh battery and 65W wired fast charging. There are also great accessories and extras to help you get the most out of your mobile gaming experience.
6.78-inch AMOLED, 2448×1080, 144Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
64MP primary, 13MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro
172.8 x 77.2 x 10.2mm
Huge battery (6,000mAh)
144Hz refresh rate
3.5mm headphone jack
Gaming inspired design
Fast and fluid performance
This phone is BIG
No wireless charging
No water resistance
Gaming phones are definitely a niche category, but the folks who are interested in these devices really care how they perform. ASUS knows this subset extremely well and has been cranking out heavy-duty gaming phones for several years now. Its ROG line of phones complements its gaming PCs quite well, and there is undoubtedly a lot of crossover between owners of these computers and phones.
The latest in the vaunted ROG series is the ROG Phone 5. It boasts one of the largest capacity batteries we’ve seen (6,000mAh) for extended play sessions, as well as a brilliant AMOLED display with an high 144Hz refresh rate to make your content fly. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don’t have to worry about audio latency, and it’s all powered by the latest and greatest Snapdragon 888 chipset.
There are several great accessories that you can purchase separately to help you get even more out of the experience, such as gamepads, coolers, and cases, but the phone looks great au naturale. The biggest drawbacks of the phone are that it doesn’t have wireless charging or an official IP rating, and it is quite a big and heavy device.
Bottom line: The Redmi Note 10 Pro takes things to a whole new level in the budget segment. The phone has a 120Hz AMOLED display, robust internal hardware, a 64MP camera that takes great photos in any lighting, and a gigantic 5020mAh battery with 33W fast charging. You can’t ask for much more in a budget phone.
Xiaomi knows how to deliver a value-focused package, and with the Redmi Note 10 Pro, it is setting a new standard for budget phones. The phone has features previously only seen on flagships, including a 120Hz AMOLED display that makes an immediate difference in day-to-day use.
The Snapdragon 732G delivers decent performance for most tasks, including intensive gaming. The phone also has generous memory and storage options, and you get a 3.5mm jack, microSD slot, NFC, and even an IR blaster that lets you control your TV or other AV gear. The phone also has IP53 dust and water resistance to withstand the occasional splash of water or be submerged in a pool without any issues.
The 5,020mAh battery on the Redmi Note 10 Pro easily delivers over a day’s worth of use as for battery. When you need to charge the phone, the bundled 33W charger ensures the battery is full in just over an hour. You won’t find wireless charging here, but honestly, the battery life is good that you don’t need to plug it in during the course of a day.
The 64MP camera is also new, and it takes great photos in just about any lighting condition. This may just be one of the best cameras you’ll find for under $300, making the Redmi Note 10 Pro that much more enticing. Xiaomi has made a lot of changes on the software front as well. MIUI 12 comes with Android 11 out of the box, and the UI is cleaner than earlier iterations. You get more customization options than you’ll end up using, and there are genuinely useful features here.
Ultimately, the main drawback is that the phone isn’t available officially in the U.S. You can pick up the global version of the Redmi Note 10 Pro from Amazon, but you miss out on the warranty.
How to pick the best Android phone
Android phones have never been better than they are right now. So regardless of how much or little money you can spend, you can go out and buy a phone that you’ll be thoroughly happy with. Out of every single phone on the market in 2021, however, we have to give our top recommendation for the best Android phone to the Samsung Galaxy S21.
Samsung makes amazing phones every year, but you need to pay out the nose for the privilege of owning one more often than not. With the Galaxy S21, you get a top-tier Samsung experience for less than previous years, and that makes it a better overall value.
Compared to a more expensive Galaxy handset like the S21 Ultra, the standard S21 does an admirable job of holding its own. It has a 120Hz AMOLED screen, excellent performance, great battery life, and the same One UI software experience. Even wireless charging and an IP68 rating are here, and the only area it misses out on is the Quad HD+ display and a glass back.
There are plenty of other options on this list if something about the Galaxy S21 just isn’t clicking for you, but we think it’s easy to see why it has our highest recommendation at the end of the day.
1. What size screen should I get?
You should consider many different things when buying a new Android phone, and it all starts with the display. This is the component you interact with more than anything else, so you must get one that you’ll enjoy using. Things like the resolution and refresh rate of a screen are worth talking about, but more so is the size.
Smartphones come in different shapes and sizes, and the biggest determining factor for that is the display. A 6.8-inch screen results in a much larger phone than one with a 5.8-inch one, and because of that, you need to know how big or small you’re willing to go.
Take the Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example. It has the largest display on this list (outside of the Z Fold 2, but that’s different), and because the screen is so huge, it’s a phenomenal canvas for watching movies, playing games, and browsing the web. Basically, any kind of content consumption you do looks better on a larger display because the more room you have, the bigger and easier to see your media is. The downside to this, however, is that phones like the S21 Ultra can be rather unwieldy. Especially if you’re someone with smaller hands, managing a phone like that can be a pain in the butt.
Then there are smaller-sized phones, such as the Pixel 4a. It’s substantially easier to manage and can actually be used with one hand, but you have less room for your movies and games on the flip side. It also means you can fit less content on the screen at one time, and if you’re someone who likes to increase your font size, things are easier to read, which could result in you having to do a lot of scrolling.
And, of course, there are plenty of phones that fall somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. If you’re really concerned about whether or not a phone will be too big or small, your best bet is to honestly go hands-on with it yourself at your local carrier store or Best Buy before making your purchase.
2. Are software updates important?
It’s easy to compare displays, processors, and cameras, but something that’s just as important to talk about is software updates. Android is constantly evolving and getting better, and unfortunately, only certain phones are backed by a few years of software support.
As it currently stands, Google, Samsung, and OnePlus are the best in the business when supporting their phones with long-term updates. All of the Pixels, Galaxy devices, and OnePlus phones mentioned on this list are backed by three years of major OS updates from their initial release, which is by far the best support any Android phone maker has to offer. Google even goes a step further with three years of guaranteed monthly security patches, and while Samsung does the same for its flagships, it is now starting to follow suit for its mid-range devices.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you have a company like Motorola. Take the Motorola G Power, which is only promised to get a single update to Android 11. Security patches are even worse, with Motorola having a track record of falling multiple months behind on updates.
So, how important is it that your phone gets software updates? That ultimately depends on how much you care about new Android features. Google releases a new version of Android every year, and while these updates don’t tend to be that drastic from year to year, they give your phone important features and security settings that help keep it running in tip-top shape for a long time. It also ensures that your phone stays compatible with all the apps and games on the Play Store because as Android versions become too outdated, app developers eventually drop support.
A phone like the Motorola G Power won’t be unusable two years down the road just because it’s running Android 11 and not Android 13, but it’s also a bit disheartening to buy a product and know it’s backed by such a small window of post-purchase support. This divide in updates is something Android has been faced with for years, and while companies are gradually getting better in these regards, we still have plenty of room to grow.
3. How many cameras and megapixels do I really need?
Over the last couple of years, there’s been a trend going on with certain phone companies where they throw as many cameras onto their devices as possible. As it’s become more common for phones to ship with two, three, or even four cameras, there’s something of an expectation that phones have to have multiple camera sensors to be any good.
Spoiler alert — this isn’t true.
Let’s look at the OnePlus Nord 9, for example. It has a 48MP primary camera, 50MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP monochrome portrait camera. Compared to the single 12.2MP camera on the Pixel 4a, one would assume that the OnePlus 9 takes better photos, but that’s not always the case.
Having those extra camera sensors can be a lot of fun, but only if they’re high-quality. Far too often, we see companies throw in a bunch of extra cameras on their phones only to have these secondary lenses not be very good. The primary camera sensor is always the most important, so that’s the one you want to be concerned about the most.
On a similar note, more megapixels (referred to as MP) don’t always mean you’re getting a better camera. As mentioned above, the 48MP camera on the OnePlus 9 sometimes takes photos that aren’t as good as those taken from the 12.2MP camera found on the Pixel 4a. There are so many other factors that come into play with phone cameras, so don’t let the megapixel count be your only factor for judging them when you’re out shopping. Read reviews, look at camera samples, and you’ll have a much better understanding of what kind of camera you’re dealing with.
4. What size battery should I get?
Battery life isn’t the most fun thing to talk about with smartphones, but ultimately, it’s one of the most important components. Your phone can have the best display and processor around, but if it’s constantly dying throughout the day, what’s the point?
There are many different battery capacities for all of the phones on this list, and if you don’t regularly keep up with them, it can be difficult to know what a good size is and what isn’t. So, here’s a general rule of thumb. If you’re buying an Android phone in 2021, the ideal capacity is 4000mAh or larger. As phones move toward larger displays with faster refresh rates, more battery is needed to keep them powered throughout the day.
Of course, this can vary a bit depending on the type of phone you’re buying. The Pixel 4a, for example, only has a 3140mAh battery but can still get through a full day of use without a hitch. What gives? It has a small display by 2021 standards and only has a 60Hz refresh rate, resulting in substantially less power use.
These are factors you’ll need to consider when shopping for your phone, but generally, more mAh means more battery life.
5. What smaller features should I look out for?
Last but certainly not least, there are a few smaller features and specs that can be easy to overlook when doing your shopping — a prime example being NFC. NFC stands for Near Field Communication, and it’s the chip in most phones that allows you to pay with your smartphone with Google Pay at grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Most of the phones on this list support NFC, but many cheaper Motorola phones often lack the feature. You may not care about Google Pay, but if you do, it’s worth double-checking that the phone you want to buy does, in fact, have NFC.
Another spec to check for is an IP68 rating. This is a seal of protection many phones have, and it ensures they’re protected from a certain amount of dust and water. If you happen to get caught outside in the rain or take your phone to the beach, an IP68 rating is nice peace of mind that your phone should survive just fine.
Some phones lack this IP rating yet boast water resistance or have a water-repellent coating. Those devices are also probably fine to get splashed with water here and there, but you don’t have that same guaranteed protection. The best-case scenario is to avoid getting your phone wet whenever possible, but if you happen to be around the water a lot, it’s probably worth getting something with that IP68 protection.
We should also address a trend that’s been going through the smartphone space for a few years now — the death of the headphone jack. The vast majority of new phones coming out these days no longer have the port, but few holdouts continue to offer it. It’s certainly nice to have if you’re someone that primarily uses wired headphones or earbuds, but if you’ve moved on to the wireless bandwagon, it’s not something you need to be all that concerned with.
If you’ve downloaded one of the following, you might want to check your account
Google has a lot of moving parts behind the scenes, trying to keep malware off of the Play Store. But with seven figures of apps posting and updating constantly, even it doesn’t have a perfect record. Such is the claim from a security researcher last week, which said they found ten apps with variations on a trojan horse program. The apps are fairly innocuous based on their title and description, but each is designed to scrape a user’s phone for Facebook login credentials.
Dr. Web Anti-Virus said that variations of the Trojan were detected in the following publicly available apps:
PIP Photo by developer Lillians — 5,000,000+ downloads
Processing Photo by developer chikumburahamilton — 500,000+ downloads
Rubbish Cleaner by developer SNT.rbcl — 100,000+ downloads
Horoscope Daily by developer HscopeDaily momo — 100,000+ downloads
Inwell Fitness by developer Reuben Germaine — 100,000+ downloads
App Lock Keep by developer Sheralaw Rence — 50,000+ downloads
Lockit Master by developer Enali mchicolo — 5000+ downloads=
Horoscope Pi by developer Talleyr Shauna — 1000+ downloads
App Lock Manager by developer Implummet col — 10+ downloads
The researchers alerted Google to their findings, and as of Monday morning, it looks like all the apps and developers have been removed from the Play Store. Even so, the Play Store’s basic metrics report that the apps were installed on approximately six million Android devices, on the low end. A similar app, “EditorPhotoPip,” had already been removed from the Play Store but was available on alternative download sites.
Dr. Web reports that all of the apps it found were fully functional for their advertised purpose, making them particularly effective as spyware. This serves as yet another lesson to keep your guard up, even when downloading “vetted” apps directly from Google.
Similar-sounding privacy details, but more and better information when it comes to your security
Last year, Apple rolled out a new set of what it called Privacy Labels for the App Store. These disclaimers were sort of like privacy-oriented nutrition information attached to each app listing, with developers supplying the details regarding exactly what data their apps collect and precisely how it’s used — assuming you trust them to be honest. The moment that news landed last year, expectations swung our collective attention at Google: When would Android and the Play Store get something similar?
The answer is “next year,” assuming the tentative schedule Google for the new “safety section” announced today holds up. And based on the details provided, it might beat Apple when it comes to caring about your security instead of just your privacy.
We don’t know what the new safety section will look like in action, and Google is still ironing out some of the particulars with developer feedback, but the overall strategy has been outlined in broad strokes.
A (chunky) example of a Privacy Label on the App Store.
The new safety section will offer similar data to Apple’s Privacy Labels (example visible above), with developers stating on their app listings exactly what type of data an app collects or stores and how that data is used. While we don’t know how Google will organize that information or if it will offer the same super-granular approach Apple does, it does sound like Google could intentionally going for something a little simpler — skeptics might claim that’s because Android cares less about your privacy, but to be honest, the way Apple shows that data does start to feel a little overwhelming and overcomplicated for big, monolithic apps with deep cross-service integrations, which are all the rage these days.
As in the case of Apple, Google will require that developers be honest and responsible for declaring what their apps use, and if they try to scoff the rules, they’ll have to either fix it or be subject to further “policy enforcement.” Though precise terms of enforcement haven’t been described, we have to assume it’s similar to violating other Play Store policies, which could mean things as simple as holding back updates, or potentially as extreme as app delisting for extreme violations. And Google is making itself and all its own apps subject to this same policy, so there isn’t a double standard, matching Apple.
However, in a few very significant ways, Google is also one-upping Apple, like security. This new safety section will also explain if an app follows specific security practices, like data encryption. Furthermore, these sorts of labels are only accurate so long as developers are honest about what they’re doing. To that end, Google will let apps declare if their privacy and security claims have been verified by an independent third party.
Apps on the Play Store will also explain if the permissions are required or optional, rather than just listing all possible permissions they could declare. For example: If you’re cool with a third-party photo app accessing your camera but not your microphone and it can take photos either way. Or, if a workout-tracking app can access your physical activity history but not your location directly and still follow your calories burned, etc.
Apps will also declare if they meet Google’s Families Policy, presumably making it easier to pick out family-friendly apps for the kiddos — though hopefully doing a better job of it than the kid-friendly section of YouTube. This would build upon the “teacher approved” badges that rolled out last year for the Play Store and policy changes in 2019 regarding apps that target specific age groups and which child accounts can be limited to with Family Link.
Very importantly, Google’s policy will also let apps highlight if customers can delete their data should they stop using an app. So if any of your data for an app is stored off your device (which plenty of apps do), you’ll know if that’s going to be someone else’s property for time immemorial or if you can tell them to toss it out when you decide you’re done playing Clash of Crush or whatever.
I honestly assumed that if Google rolled out its own version of Privacy Labels, they’d just be a straight clone of Apple’s system. But this policy is set to beat Apple when it comes to security and accountability, not just privacy.
There is one kind of major snag, though, and that’s Google’s timeline for this new Play Store safety section — outside the kind of “eh” name.
While it’s subject to change, this new section isn’t set to show up until next year, sometime in Q1 2022. That’s coming up on two years after Apple announced its privacy disclosures back in June 2020, which rolled out to phones last December. The formal policy details also won’t be standardized until Q3 of this year, and developers can start putting that info in their app listings around the end of the year.
The ultimate deadline by which all new and existing apps must declare details for the safety section is Q2 2022, and it isn’t immediately clear what might happen to the (probably millions of) apps on the Play Store that have been basically abandoned and will never be updated to honor this new policy — if, for example, they might still be available with a prominent warning and blocked from delivering updates until they do, or if they’ll be outright unlisted.
Developers hoping to participate in the conversation for the new safety section going forward are invited to review their apps and see what data is collected, saved, and where and how it’s sent anywhere. At the same time, they should review best privacy practices and best security practices, raising a stink as required should they run into any issues or questions Google might want to be aware of before the new rules are set in stone.
Several users have taken to social media to report that the Google app on their Android phone is constantly crashing. While there’s no clear reason why this is happening, a new update seems to be causing the problem.
The issue doesn’t seem to be limited to just one version of the app. I faced the problem with version 18.104.22.168 on my Redmi K20 Pro whereas one of our tipsters experienced it with the beta version 22.214.171.124. Lens, Podcasts, and the Assistant are also affected by the crashes as they’re bundled into the Google app.
Google‘s Twitter account has suggested a soft reboot to fix the issue, and it seems to be working for some users. However, the fix isn’t universal and you might need to resort to other steps to stop the crashes. For me, uninstalling the update via the Google Play Store did the trick, but you could also try clearing cache and data.
A similar problem with tons of crashing apps plagued Android phones back in March, though that time around, the Android System WebView was the culprit.
If you’re experiencing a bunch of apps suddenly crashing on your recent Samsung phone, you’re not alone. This afternoon US time, reports from dozens, then hundreds of users on the Samsung subreddit started coming in, complaining of apps crashing on their phones, constantly and seemingly at random. It’s causing some major headaches. You can quickly fix the problem by disabling the Android System WebView app, or updating it via the Play Store or APK Mirror.
Users of recent Samsung phones—Galaxy S20 and S21, Note 20, A50 and A70 series, among others—seem to be the most heavily affected. There are scattered reports of the same problem happening to Pixel, Motorola, and OnePlus phones, though those may be coincidental issues unrelated to the primary problem. Owners of some older Samsung devices, including one J7, are reporting similar issues. The app crashes aren’t limited to any specific subset: applications with more or less any function, from any developer, are crashing repeatedly and without warning.
A few users have reported success with a relatively simple method: uninstalling the latest version of Android System WebView, a small tool that allows apps to render a web page using Chrome without leaving the application. It’s used in a lot of different ways, including secure logins and viewing support documentation. Reddit user /u/WatfordHert detailed their method, which is fairly straightforward.
How to Fix the Recent App Crashes
To use WatfordHert’s method, go to the main Android Settings menu, then tap “Apps & Notifications” (just “Applications” on some phones). Find Android System WebView in the list and tap it. (If you can’t see the app, check the three-dot menu and tap “show system apps.”) Do not disable the app.
Tap the three-dot menu at the top right of this screen, then select “Uninstall updates.” This won’t uninstall Android System WebView completely—it’s an essential component, and many apps will cease to function without it. Instead, it will remove the updates installed from the Play Store and restore it to the version that came with your phone. This isn’t ideal, but it’s better than having a phone that can’t go thirty seconds without an app crash.
Tap “OK” on the warning that pops up, and you should be done. If you’re still seeing constant app crashes, try a reboot of your phone.
We can’t personally test this method on all the phones being affected, but multiple Reddit users are reporting that it’s working for them. If you see the app crashing problem return, try repeating the steps above—the Play Store may have automatically updated the app without alerting you. According commenters like Jorell, this method may not work on devices running older versions of Android—try uninstalling the updates from the Chrome browser itself instead.
Update Android System WebView
If you want a more permanent solution, Google quickly issued an update to the Android System WebView application in the early hours of March 23rd. It should be rolling out on the Play Store right now, but if you don’t want to wait, it’s available on APK Mirror as a direct download. The version number you’re looking for is 89.0.4389.105.
According to a service update posted to the Google Workspace Status Dashboard, this version of the app should fix the problems with other reliant apps crashing. Note that users who are already on the developer previews for Android 12 shouldn’t need this—they’re already running early versions of Chrome 90, and WebView gets updated along with its.