Best smartphone you can buy in 2019
With so many different (yet similar) smartphones from so many brands from across the globe, one may start feeling a bit lost. Which one of those many is the best phone you can buy right now, in 2018?
There is no one-size-fits-all deviceLate 2018 is not a bad time to get a new phone: a few months have passed and most of the dust around the new fall flagships has settled and you know what you are buying.
But there is no definite one-size-fits-all device, as is quite clear these days, and that's why we explore all the options, trying to help you narrow down the choice to some outstanding devices that we think won't disappoint you. With no further ado, here are the best phones you can buy right now.
Best Premium Phones (~$1,000):
Apple iPhone XS and XS Max
Apple's flagship phones for 2018, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max are the first phones in the world to come with a 7nm chip, which accounts for a big leap in performance over the competition.
Apple has also stepped up its game in terms of camera quality in a big way and the photos from the new XS series look outstanding, capturing a lot more color and doing a much better job at night. 4K video on the XS series is also among the very best we have seen from a phone, with support for 4K60 and impressive color reach in 4K30 mode, where you also get excellent video stabilization.
The XS series also feature great-looking OLED displays that get very bright and show rich color, they have even better sound with a lot of depth to it and best of all, they are devices that are future proof thanks to Apple's long software update support. The price is the biggest downside to these phones and the cost of repairs is also high.
Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+
The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ are two of the finest Android phones that money can buy. They feature a refined glass and metal design, one of the best screens ever put on a phone, as well as excellent cameras. Samsung is one of the few companies to keep all options on board, so these two phones have both a microSD card for memory expansion, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack for those who want it.
Samsung's new One UI is also a step forward with some nice options added on top of stock Android and it now finally also supports gesture navigation. Little flagship conveniences like wireless charging (and reverse charging) are also on board.
Google Pixel 3 XL
The new Pixel 3 XL refines the Google phone formula with an even better camera with huge aspirations, a new glass back that now allows for wireless charging, a dual camera on the front for group selfies, all that while keeping the buttery smooth performance and the long software update support. Google says that it will deliver Android updates to this series for the next three years and you know that you will not need to wait months for those updates to actually arrive to the devices.
Unfortunately, all the rumors about the notch on the XL are true: it has one big and unsightly notch that sticks like a sore thumb, and not only that but the phone also has a quite big chin on the bottom. If you can live with those design compromises and really want a clean and smooth performing phone that uses AI to help you screen calls and keep annoying telemarketers out, as well as capture incredible photos, the Pixel 3 XL is a great choice.
Huawei P30 Pro
The Huawei P30 Pro is something that users in the United States cannot have, but for the rest of the world, this phone brings a solid battery life, fast performance and previously unseen camera capabilities like a telephoto camera that can zoom in 5x or even 10x times, and the ability to gather light when even our human vision is challenged to see.
Huawei has quickly grown to become a popular global brand and the P30 Pro is its attempt to stand out in the camera space.
- Huawei P30 Pro specs
- Read our full Huawei P30 Pro review here
Best $600-$800 phones:
Apple iPhone XR
The Apple iPhone XR might be more affordable than the premium iPhone XS series, but it's still a top-end phone starting at $750.
Thankfully, being more affordable does not mean that it has made big concessions: the biggest compromise here is clearly the screen, an LCD display with a 750p resolution, while the XS series features modern OLED displays with richer color and deeper contrast.
The XR, however, still excels in terms of performance with the same A12 chip as the XS phones, the same impressive main camera with support for portrait mode (but it lacks a secondary telephoto lens), and it even offers longer battery life than the XS and XS Max. The XR also comes in a variety of cool colors that you get to pick from. Combine this with iOS, long software support and the big catalog of apps and games in the App Store, and we see the XR as one of the biggest hits of 2018 and 2019.
Google Pixel 3
The smaller Google Pixel 3 is a phone well worth considering: first, it's a surprisingly compact device, and second, unlike the XL, it does not have an unsightly notch and looks much more symmetrical.
For all else, this is the same phone as the 3 XL, with the same excellent pOLED screen, incredible camera with advanced new features like Top Shot, Night Sight and more, and it's powered by the same internals.
Of course, it comes with Google's promise for timely software updates and support for the next three years, so you won't need to wait for months on end for an update and you know the phone will stay relevant years from now.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The Galaxy Note 9 is the most feature-packed, powerful phone that Samsung has to offer: it comes with a big and beautiful, 6.4" Super AMOLED display, it has the S Pen, double the storage of most 2018 flagships with 128GB on board, and most importantly, it's got a gigantic, 4,000mAh battery inside that makes ensure the phone can last you through even the longest days, and for many it would last the whole two days off the charger.
The Note 9 is a big phone with sharper corners, but it still features the refined and elegant glass design that we are used to seeing from Samsung. The loudspeakers are big and powerful, and it has no notch.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
The pleasingly compact Galaxy S10e offers a small size and a powerful, flagship experience to everyone willing to make the jump to a smaller phone. It makes little compromise compared to the bigger flagships: its battery life is sufficient, it lacks a telephoto camera, but has an ultra-wide angle shooter, and its side-positioned fingerprint reader is faster than the new breed of under-the-screen fingerprint scanners.
LG G8 ThinQ
The LG G8 this year launched with heavy discounts and is basically one of the most affordable Snapdragon 855 devices on the market at just around $600. At this price, it offers great value for the money: it has premium design, a really appealing red color, probably the best 3D face recognition system of any Android phone, and extras like expandable storage, a headphone jack and wireless charging.
LG's official promo materials, however, focus on the gimmicks: things like hovering your hand on top of the phone to control music playback and vein recognition. These things do not work well and should just be ignored. If you don't care about those gimmicks, the LG G8 is a solid Snapdragon 855 flagship phone.
The HTC U12+ continues HTC's quest to gain back its popularity does not have the trendy edge-to-edge screen, but it's nonetheless a stunningly beautiful phone (even if it might be a bit too wide for comfortable one-handed use). The HTC Sense interface has not changed much and has some elements that look the same as they looked say five years ago, but if you don't mind this, it is a very fast UI. The squeeze function might be a gimmick but it works well. Battery life is solid as well.
Overall, this is the underrated overperformer of Android flagships.
The OnePlus 6T is the latest and most advanced phone by OnePlus and it continues the company's tradition of delivering phones with top-notch hardware (the Snapdragon 845 powers the 6T) at about half the price of its rivals. The 6T is equipped with a good-looking Full HD AMOLED screen and it is among the fastest and smoothest-performing Android phones that we have ever used.
It's not much different than the OnePlus 6, that launched in early 2018, with the biggest change being the in-screen fingerprint scanner, a futuristic piece of technology that looks great, but is a bit slower and a bit less accurate than a traditional fingerprint reader. You also have a bigger, 3700mAh battery here that lasts a long time.
Apple iPhone 7
The Apple iPhone 7 is the most affordable iPhone that is available from Apple and at its $450 starting price, it offers the iOS experience at the lowest price.
While it is a phone with big bezels that looks a bit dated in comparison to newer designs, it features the familiar Touch ID home key navigation, a very compact form factor, a pretty good camera, as well as a few more years of software updates to ensure it will stay relevant. And while it's not cutting-edge anymore, the smooth and reliable performance combined with the rich catalog of iPhone apps and games, will make it a great choice for many people.
Honor View 20
Honor is an offshoot of Chinese giant Huawei, but it operates with no physical stores and relies on word-of-mouth and has no big marketing budget, which saves it a ton of money. This is what makes phones like the Honor View 20 possible.
The View 20 sports a 6.4-inch LCD screen and Huawei's own Kirin 980 chip inside, the first 7nm chip ever released for Android phones. Huawei's years of effort in making chips have definitely paid handsomely as the Kirin 980 beats the Snapdragon 845 in terms of performance. The View 20 also sports a big, 4,000mAh battery and is a looker, with that distinct V-shape on the back. The phone also features a 48-megapixel Sony sensor for the main camera that we expect to see in many phones in 2019. This sensor combines four pixels into one to deliver 12-megapixel images with superior night time performance.
Razer Phone 2
The new Razer Phone 2 has ironed out a lot of the shortcomings of the first generation device and is now a much better pick for a daily driver, and not just a gamers' phone.
First and foremost, the Razer Phone 2 has a brighter display that looks better outdoors and it comes with an improved camera. The staples of the Razer experience: the 16:9 screen with unmatched 120Hz refresh rate, the big speakers are all here, and the speakers are equally as impressive with a bigger and fuller sound than most any other phone out there. Now, however, you also have water proofing on board and a super cool new glowing logo on the back that can change colors. Speaking of the back, it's now made of glass and this has allowed Razer to incorporate wireless charging.
At a price of $800, the Razer Phone 2 is not terribly expensive and is worth considering.
Xiaomi Mi 9
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the most affordable phone with the newest Snapdragon 855 on board and at just $450 it is an absolute steal. It features a very sleek, thin design, excellent camera performance and a battery that lasts a long time.
The only big downside is the MIUI custom interface that serves ads in certain countries like India (you don't get ads in the MIUI version on Xiaomi phones in Europe, however).
The Pocophone F1, the first phone made by Xiaomi for its new Poco brand, offers incredible value for the money. Equipped with the powerful Snapdragon 845 system chip, this phone is a steal at a starting price of around $350. Pair this fast performance with excellent battery life thanks to a large, 4,000mAh cell inside, and you get a pretty mighty combination.
The two biggest compromises with the F1 are the plastic materials used when building it and the fact that it has an LCD screen, which does not quite look as rich and lush as OLED screens.