Best smartphone you can buy right now in 2019

Best smartphone you can buy right now 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 2019? And why is it better than the rest?

The truth is that there is no one phone to fit every person's needs: some people prefer a smaller phone, other want a large screen, some value the camera immensely, other care more about gaming performance, and for a different group of people battery life is of paramount importance. We have considered all these factors to make a list of phones where you can find the right one for you, without overlooking all of its downsides.

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


Pros

  • Best-in-class performance
  • Best-in-class software support (~5 years)
  • Impressive OLED screen
  • Very good camera
  • Face ID, the most advanced face recognition
  • Great for video
  • App Store with lots of great games

Cons

  • Extremely high price
  • Battery life is not among the very best
  • No fast charger in the box
  • Costly repairs
  • The notch is still here
  • Pricey 256GB/512GB storage upgrades

Apple's flagship phones, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max, were the first phones in the world to come with a 7nm chip, which accounts for a big leap in performance over the competition and in 2019 they remain the fastest-performing phones one can buy.

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, with a vastly improved dynamic range and they also do a 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 high price is the biggest downside to these phones.



Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+


Pros

  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Impressive Super AMOLED screens
  • Good camera quality
  • Expandable storage, headphone jack
  • Wireless charging

Cons

  • Performance is not as fluid and smooth as on others
  • Battery life is good, but not quite great
  • Software updates come late
  • High price

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


Pros

  • Much improved OLED screen
  • Buttery smooth performance
  • Great camera
  • Wireless charging
  • Android updates arrive on day one
  • Software support for three years

Cons

  • Very high price
  • Big, unsightly notch
  • No 4K60 video option
  • Traditional three-button on-screen navigation option is gone

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


Pros

  • Stylish design
  • Unique periscope zoom camera and night-shooting capabilities
  • Fast performance
  • Great battery life
  • Wireless charging and reverse charge

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Huawei EMUI takes getting used to
  • No 4K60 video

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.

Update: The US-China trade war has escalated in the summer of 2019 and Huawei is currently included in the so called Entity List of the US Government, meaning that it might be banned from using all Google services and its phones will not be able to get updates in the future. We recommend waiting out until there is clarity about Huawei's long-term future before buying a Huawei phone right now.


Sony Xperia 1


Pros

  • Tall and narrow 21:9 display
  • 4K resolution is delicious overkill
  • Great for watching movies

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Battery life is below average

With its 4K display, hugely improved cameras, strange but interesting super tall and narrow 21:9 screen, the Sony Xperia 1 certainly stands out.

We don't know whether the bare-bones software is enough to capture your attention, but the Xperia 1 delivers on the camera front and is great for watching 21:9 movies. One area it does not excel in is battery life, where it falls below the average. It also commands a price of nearly $1,000, which might be a bit too much to stomach.

Best $600-$800 phones:

OnePlus 7 Pro


Pros

  • Industry-leading display with 90-hertz refresh rate
  • No notch, beautiful AMOLED colors
  • Likely the fastest and smoothest performing Android phone around
  • Portrait Mode produces great quality photos
  • Great price
  • Fast, 30-watt charging in the box

Cons

  • Camera is still not quite great
  • Battery life is solid, but a bit shorter than on earlier OnePlus phones
  • No wireless charging support
  • Curved screen will be annoying to some

The OnePlus 7 Pro is the best phone that OnePlus has ever made.

With the first 90-hertz display in a mainstream flagship, it offers unprecedented speed and smoothness of operation. The large, 6.7-inch AMOLED screen is absolutely stunning and it features a high, Quad HD resolution, so everything on it appears perfectly sharp too. Under the hood, there are no compromises made with the top-tier Snapdragon 855 chip and on some versions you can have up to 12GB of RAM, which is just a delicious overkill.

The cameras, the one weak point of OnePlus phones, have improved too. The main camera takes good looking pictures during the day and at night, but the colors appear just a bit on the bleak side. In exchange for that, you get positively the best portrait mode on a phone so far with a 3X zoom lens that gives people a nice look and background is pleasingly blurred. Little details like the mute switch are great to have too and the phone is one of very few Android devices with an excellent vibration motor.

At a price of around $700, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a steal with the only minor downsides being the curved display and the somewhat big physical size of the phone.


Apple iPhone XR


Pros

  • Best-in-class performance
  • Comes in wide variety of colors
  • Great camera
  • Face ID is the most advanced face recognition
  • Great for video
  • Guaranteed updates
  • App Store with lots of great games

Cons

  • Slightly bigger bezels than XS
  • No secondary camera
  • LCD screen is not quite as impressive
  • No fast charger in the box
  • The notch is here

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


Pros

  • Much improved OLED screen
  • Buttery smooth performance
  • Great camera
  • Wireless charging
  • Android updates arrive on day one
  • Software support for three years

Cons

  • Very high price
  • No 4K60 video option
  • Traditional three-button on-screen navigation option is gone

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


Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Impressive OLED screen
  • Great camera
  • Lots of customization options
  • S Pen
  • Expandable storage

Cons

  • Maybe a bit too big for some
  • Android updates take months to arrive
  • Not quite buttery smooth in daily use

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


Pros

  • Pleasingly compact
  • No big compromises
  • Fast performance
  • Great camera
  • microSD card, 3.5mm headphone jack

Cons

  • No telephoto camera

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


Pros

  • Affordable Snapdragon 855 phone
  • Stylish, premium design, gorgeous red color
  • 3D face unlock that is secure and works very well
  • Expandable storage, headphone jack
  • Wireless charging

Cons

  • New hand gestures and vein recognition are gimmicks
  • Choppy performance in interface (should be fixed with software update)
  • Cameras are good, but not on par with the very best
  • Battery life good, but not quite great
  • Loudspeaker is boomy, but not very well balanced

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.



Best value-for-money phones:

OnePlus 7

*not available in the United States

Pros

  • Great value for the money
  • Impressively fast performance
  • Good battery life
  • Recharges very quickly

Cons

  • Low-light camera performance not quite flagship grade
  • No wireless charging


The OnePlus 7 might not be quite as impressive as the 7 Pro edition with the 90-hertz display, the new vibration motor and the triple camera magic, but it's a super solid performer at a very reasonable price that delivers when it comes to the fundamentals.

And those fundamentals are the extremely zippy performance thanks to the Snapdragon 855 chip under the hood, the clean, clutter-free experience and the improved quality from the single rear camera sensor.



Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL


Pros

  • Incredible, best-in-class camera
  • Smooth performance
  • Clean software, years of guaranteed software updates

Cons

  • Dated looks, plastic body
  • Chip is not the fastest around


The Google Pixel 3a bring a small revolution in affordable phones: at just $400, they bring the flagship Pixel camera phone experience, something that no other phone in this price range can match.

So if you want a cheap phone and a great camera, that's pretty much your only option. The compromises that Google makes are mostly in terms of styling and looks: the 3a series are made of plastic and have big bezels, which gives them a decidedly dated look. But if you don't care about that, you would be pleased with the performance and the 3 years of timely software updates are another great thing that you will not get on other devices.

Honor 20 Pro

*Not available in the United States


Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • 7nm Kirin 980 processor is fast
  • Big battery
  • Versatile camera setup

Cons

  • No AMOLED screen
  • Camera quality is not quite as great as on the very best
  • The interface takes some getting used to
  • Software updates under question

All in all, the Honor 20 Pro ends up being something like a more affordable version of Huawei’s flagships. Honor is not likely to sell this phone in the United States, but it will bring it to Europe and the UK, and the price is set at 600 euro, less than the price of a OnePlus phone, which is definitely very competitive.

The Honor 20 Pro does not quite have the camera chops of the P30 Pro, nor the vibrant AMOLED screen, and it lacks a few of the tricks like an in-screen fingerprint scanner, but it gets most things right: the long battery life, an LCD screen that still looks very good, the fast and smooth performance, and certainly - the looks.

The big question here is called Google and Android. If Google does indeed cut Honor’s access to Android, this means no future software updates, and this is a real problem. Our advice? Wait it out for a few months and only then consider buying this phone.



Honor View 20

*Not available in the United States

Pros

  • Unique V shape design
  • 7nm Kirin 980 processor is fast
  • Big battery
  • 48-megapixel camera performs well

Cons

  • No AMOLED screen
  • Software updates under question

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


Pros

  • One of a kind 120Hz display
  • Brighter screen
  • Super cool glowing logo
  • Incredible loudspeaker sound quality
  • Flagship chip, 8GB RAM
  • Big battery
  • Wireless charging
  • Improved camera

Cons

  • Big and bulky

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).



Pocophone F1


Pros

  • Great value for the money
  • Powerful processor
  • Big 4,000mAh battery
  • Up to 8GB RAM

Cons

  • Plastic back
  • Not particularly stylish
  • New brand, many unknowns


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.

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