Smartphones are perhaps the most personal tech we own. That’s why it’s so important to pick the phone that’s best for your needs. There are many factors to consider, from the design and operating system to security and durability. We fully test every phone we can get our hands on and after conducting hundreds of reviews, we’re confident in recommending whether a particular phone is a top buy for you, or if you’re better off with something else.
1. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
The Galaxy S10 Plus is the first handset to employ its all-new Infinity-O design with an AMOLED panel. And what an AMOLED panel it is! The screen is staggeringly good, with gorgeous colors and cavernous blacks. The Infinity-O design, which relocates the front-facing camera to a pill-shaped cut-out in the top right-hand corner of the display, has allowed Samsung to fit the S10 Plus with an expansive 6.4-inch AMOLED panel – that’s the same size as the Galaxy Note 9 – while simultaneously shrinking the physical size of the handset compared to the 6.2-inch Galaxy S9 Plus from last year.
Dimensions: 74.1 x 157.6 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 9.0 (Pie)
Screen Size: 6.4-inches
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9820
Rear Camera: Triple 16MP Ultra Wide-Angle + 12MP Dual Aperture + 12MP Telephoto
Front Camera: 10MP + 8MP Depth Sensor
2. iPhone 11 Pro Max
The ultimate iPhone is also the best phone you can buy. The iPhone 11 Pro Max has vaulted past the Android competition to become the top camera phone, thanks to a new Night mode for much better photos in low light and a versatile ultra-wide lens. Plus, improved Smart HDR gives you superior portraits. Apple has upped the ante on video quality, too, with extended dynamic range and smooth cinematic stabilization.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max also offers the fastest processor yet with its A13 Bionic chip, a more durable design and a 6.5-inch OLED display so bright that it makes other phones look dingy. I wish Apple offered more than 64GB of storage, but once you add in nearly 12 hours of battery life, fast charging and more immersive audio you have the nearly perfect smartphone.
Display Size (Pixels): 6.5-inch OLED (2,688 x 1,242 pixels)
CPU: A13 Bionic
Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Cameras (Back / Front): Triple 12MP / 12 MP
Weight: 7.97 ounces
Battery Life (Hrs:Mins): 11:44
3. Google Pixel 3 XL
The Google Pixel 3 phones aren’t a huge leap forward from the Pixel 2 models, but they are enough of an upgrade to warrant a place on our list of the best smartphones to buy in 2019. The specs above refer to the larger Google Pixel 3 XL – if you prefer you can pay a little less money for the slightly smaller (and notch-free) Pixel 3 instead, as almost all the specs are the same.
Inside the phones, we have the Snapdragon 845 to keep everything ticking along nicely, while Google is now using a glass backing to enable wireless charging on the Pixels for the first time. Its traditional two-tone design is still in place though, with a textured finish that feels good in the hand.
Dimensions: 158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm
OS: Android 9.0
Screen Size: 6.3 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2960 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 845
Rear Camera: 12.2MP f/1.8
Front Camera: 8MP f/1.8
4. Huawei P30 Pro
We like what Huawei has managed to do with the Huawei P30 Pro, and it easily slides into our Top smartphones in 2019 list. It makes an appearance at the expense of the P20 Pro and builds on everything that made that 2018 handset great as well.
We’re talking internal components that are enough to give it lightning-fast performance (note the Kirin 980 processor and up to 8GB of RAM), as well as a quad-lens camera capable of performing some really impressive tricks – not least a whopping 5x of optical zoom!
Dimensions: 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm
OS: Android 9.0 Pie
Screen Size: 6.47 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels
CPU: Kirin 980
Rear Camera: 40MP f/1.6 + 20MP f/2.2 + 8MP f/3.4 + TOF 3D
Front Camera: 32MP f/2.0
5. OnePlus 7T
The OnePlus 7T is easily one of the best smartphones of the year, especially in terms of sheer value. A very reasonable price of $599 gets you a fast Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, a 6.5-inch AMOLED screen with an ultra-smooth 90Hz refresh rate, and a triple-camera system that can hang with the iPhone 11 and top camera phones. We do wish the 7T’s battery life lasted longer, but it charges pretty quickly. Overall, the OnePlus 7T is a steal.
Display Size (Pixels): 6.55-inch AMOLED (2400×1800)
CPU: Snapdragon 855+
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No
Cameras (Back / Front): 48-MP (f/1.6), 16-MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 12MP telephoto (f/2.2)
Weight: 6.7 ounces
Battery Life (Hrs:Mins): 8:47
We rank smartphones using a combination of subjective criteria including ease of use and design. Our benchmarks include our audio, battery, and display tests. Our synthetic benchmarks include Geekbench 4 for speed and 3DMark for graphics. We also perform real-time speed tests like video editing and capture photos in different lighting to measure the results.
After we are finished with all of our testings, we rate each smartphone based on performance, features, and overall value. Only the best performing devices make our top list.