It’s difficult to keep up with the pace of technology these days, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the world of the best smartphones. Companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google are cranking out new models on a yearly basis and there’s always some new innovation or gadget taking center stage.
Of course smartphones are barely even used as phones anymore, but rather they serve as an all-in-one gadget that rolls the power of our television, laptop, tablet, and camera into one pocket-sized powerhouse. And while they all have the same core feature set, different smartphones often specialize in one area over another. Some pack in powerful hardware and stunning OLED screens which suit high-end gaming and video streaming, while others have advanced camera technology that would make the Hubble space telescope blush.
So when we ask the question what is the best smartphone, really what we’re asking is what’s the best smartphone for your needs? Are you looking for a top-of -the-range monster that can do it all, do you just want something with an amazing camera or are you just looking for something that offers great value for money? Whatever your needs, there’s a smartphone out there for you.
Of course, choosing the handset is only part of the decision. Once you’ve picked a smartphone, you’ll need to choose which of the best cell phone providers you’re going to take out a plan with. We’ve rounded up our reviews of all the carriers out there, and we’ve even looked at the cell phone coverage maps to help you figure out which providers are the best in your area.
For the time being, we think that the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus as our best smartphone thanks to its phenomenal array of cameras and stunning screen, though it’s successor the S20 might be stealing its spot on this list very soon. The iPhone 11 Pro is also an excellent choice if you prefer Apple phones, but you’ll struggle to go wrong with most of the smartphones on our list, it just depends on what you’re looking for. Check out our list of the best smartphones below.
1. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: Best smartphone overall
King of the world... of smartphones
Average price: $999 | Operating System: Android | Screen size: 6.4" | Storage: 128GB/512GB | 5G ready: Yes | Headphone jack: Yes | Charging type: USB-C | Also consider: iPhone 11 Pro
It was a close race, but we think that the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is the best overall smartphone on the market, which also snags it the crown of the best android smartphone too. Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro was hot on its heels, but in the end there’s no arguing with the staggering feature set on the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
The screen is absolute dynamite, with a 6.4-inch WQHD edgeless display that shows gives off incredibly vibrant colors at near 4K resolution. This is backed up by some booming built-in speakers to provide a fantastic movie watching experience. The rear camera array is great too, with three lenses that offer options for ultra-wide and zoomed in shots which is perfect for capturing holiday snaps.
There are a few little drawbacks that hold the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus back from perfection that we’d be remiss not to mention. Bixby still sucks, the edgeless display makes it too easy to accidentally touch the screen and the selfie cameras are just okay. All of these are annoying, but in the end the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus still comes out with the crown of best smartphone.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review
2. iPhone 11 Pro: Best iPhone
The best iPhone in the world
Average price: $999 | Operating System: iOS | Screen size: 5.8" | Storage: 64GB, 256GB or 512GB | 5G ready: No | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: Lightning by USB-C | Also consider: iPhone 11
Apple has been the kings of the smartphone market for years and while Samsung may be stealing that crown from it today, the iPhone 11 Pro is still one of the best smartphones you can buy thanks to its exceptional camera and iconic design. It’s not cheap, but if you’re willing to pay the big bucks, you’ll be rewarded.
The iPhone11 Pro is a premium product and the design reflects this perfectly. The front of the handset is covered with textured matte glass, while the rear of the phone has a stainless steel finish that comes in a variety of color options to suit you. The battery life isn’t the best, but the iPhone 11 Pro supports wireless charging and fast charging via a USB-C cable, so you should be able to keep it juiced up throughout the day.
Compared with the standard iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro has a much better screen and great sound quality which makes it perfect for watching movies on. The camera is outstanding too, with three rear-facing lenses and Night sight mode ensuring that you can take great photos in low light conditions. If you’re looking for the best iPhone, look no further than the iPhone 11 Pro.
- Read our full iPhone 11 Pro review
3. OnePlus 8 - Best value Android smartphone
No longer the underdog
Average price: $699.99 | Operating System: Android | Screen size: 6.5" | Storage: 128GB or 256GB | 5G ready: Yes | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: USB-C | Also consider: Huawei P30 Pro
OnePlus might not have the brand recognition that companies like Apple and Samsung enjoy, but we’re sure that’s about to change thanks to the excellent OnePlus 8, its latest flagship smartphone.
Powered by the same Snapdragon 865 chip that you’ll find in the Samsung Galaxy S20 line, the OnePlus 8 is packing some seriously impressive performance and with it’s 6.5-inch QHD screen, you’ll be able to make the most of all that power when watching videos or playing games.
The camera is excellent too, with a triple lens setup that features a 48 MP wide camera, a 16 MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP macro camera. There’s no optical zoom lens, which is a shame as it means you only get digital zoom, which looks blurry, but for standard shots, this camera is fantastic.
The best feature is the price though, which starts at just $699. That’s a whopping $300 less than the entry-level Samsung Galaxy S20 and we think that’s an absolute bargain.
- Read our full OnePlus 8 review.
4. iPhone 11: Best all-rounder
Jack of all trades
Average price: $699 | Operating System: iOS | Screen size: 6.1" | Storage: 64GB, 128GB or 256GB | 5G ready: No | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: Lightning by USB-C | Also consider: OnePlus 7T Pro
If you’re looking for the phone that does it all, then you can’t go wrong with Apple’s iPhone 11. It’s not quite as big as the iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, but it offers almost everything that they do at a fraction of the price. You can currently snag an iPhone 11 for $699, which is an absolute bargain when you consider what they’ve managed to cram into this thing.
There are two 12 megapixel lens cameras on the back, and another on the front for taking selfies. One of the rear lenses is for taking ultrawide shots, so you can get the whole family into your pictures. There’s also some cool stuff happening behind the scenes to improve your picture quality too, with Night mode for taking shots in the dark and Deep Fusion mode, which sounds like it belongs in a nuclear reactor, but actually fuses multiple pictures into one image.
It’s beautifully designed too, with only a tiny bezel on the outside edge and huge range of colors to choose from. There have been some sacrifices to keep the cost down though. The 6.1 screen isn’t quite HD and it’s only LCD, rather than OLED so the images it shows won’t be as vibrant as the Google Pixel 4 XL, or even the Google Pixel 3a. It’s not the best at anything, but the iPhone 11 is the best jack of all trades on the market.
- Read our full iPhone 11 review
5. iPhone 8: Best budget iPhone
iPhone skills, but without iPhone bills
Average price: $449 | Operating System: iOS | Screen size: 4.7" | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | 5G ready: No | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: Lightning by USB-C | Also consider: Google Pixel 3a
It might be a few years old now, but the iPhone 8 is still an absolute monster of a smartphone, and now it comes at a bargain price. If you’re looking for a new iPhone and don’t want to spend $1000 (or more), then the iPhone 8 is the perfect choice. You can pick one up for just $449 (and you can find it even cheaper than that during sales).
The iPhone 8 maintains the look of the older iPhone models, so there are still bezels around the screen and a chunky home button below it, but for our money this is still a gorgeous piece of technology. The iPhone 8 comes in three classic color choices: gold, silver and black. Battery life is impressive too, with the iPhone 8’s charge lasting for up to 26 hours by some accounts.
When it comes to smartphone cameras, you simply won’t find a better shooter for cheaper than this too. The iPhone 8 comes with a 12 megapixel main camera that can even record video in 4K resolution, which is perfect for capturing videos of the family on holiday. If you want an iPhone and don’t want to spend iPhone money, the iPhone 8 is a winner.
- Read our full iPhone 8 review
6. Google Pixel 3a: Best budget android smartphone
The cheapest OLED screen phone out there
Average price: $399 | Operating System: Android | Screen size: 5.6" | Storage: 64GB | 5G ready: No | Headphone jack: Yes | Charging type: USB-C | Also consider: iPhone 8
If you’re looking for a budget android smartphone that still packs some serious punch, then the Google Pixel 3a has answered your call. Much like the iPhone 8, this budget smartphone comes with a 12.2 megapixel single rear camera that takes beautiful photographs - it might not be the high-end multi-lens affair you see in flagship models like the Google Pixel 4 XL, but this little camera can still outperform some of the heavy hitters.
You also get an OLED screen with the Google Pixel 3a, which means better image quality and more vibrant colors when viewing photographs and movies. This is the cheapest smartphone on the market to feature an OLED screen and we adore the sheer decadence of it.
There are a few drawbacks to the Google Pixel 3a though. The plastic shell feels tacky compared to most high-end smartphones and the audio quality isn’t fantastic when using the speakers at high volume. But if that’s the price we have to pay to get a smartphone this good for under $400, then we pay it gladly.
- Read our full Google Pixel 3a review.
7. Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus: Best for artists
Average price: $1099.99 | Operating System: Android | Screen size: 6.8" | Storage: 256GB | 5G ready: 5G version available | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: USB-C | Also consider: iPhone 11 Pro
We like big phones and we cannot lie, and the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus is the largest phone that we tested in our search for the best smartphones. The screen is a 6.8-inch QUAD HD+ display - if it was any bigger you could lay it flat and use it as an aircraft carrier. With the edge-to-edge screen, there are no bezels either so there’s no wasted space.
Samsung’s proprietary stylus, the S-pen also comes with the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus to let you make full use of that enormous screen. We found that it worked great for writing and even drawing, so it’s perfect for high-tech artists or students who need to take quick notes and don’t want to carry a laptop or tablet around with them.
Thanks to the extra size of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, there was more room for cameras. So Samsung casually threw four rear-facing lenses into the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. There’s an ultrawide lens for wide shots, a telephoto lens for zoomed in pics and a VGA depth lens that lets you do some funky stuff with Live Focus. There are also two front-facing lenses for snapping selfies.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a great choice for creative people who want to draw, take notes and snap amazing pictures on the go. It’s also the perfect choice for people who just want the biggest phone they can get their hands around.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus review
8. Google Pixel 4 XL: Best design
Hey Google, you're so fine
Average price: $899.99 | Operating System: Android | Screen size: 6.3" | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | 5G ready: No | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: USB-C | Also consider: Samsung Galaxy S10+
When it comes to styling, most of the best smartphones all kind of look the same. That’s why we were so impressed with the design of the Google Pixel 4 XL, which features a ceramic-like outer shell that gives it a truly premium feel. We also loved the defined shape and black outline around the edge of the phone that provides a striking visual, even at a distance.
The Google Pixel 4 XL isn’t just about good looks though, it’s got it where it counts too. With a 6.3-inch QHD OLED screen and deafeningly loud speakers, it’s great for watching TV and movies. You’ll need to buy your own headphones if you want to listen in private though, as it doesn’t come with any.
The camera set-up is a bit of a beast too, with two rear-facing lenses that work in tandem with some impressive software behind the scenes to give you incredible images. Then there’s Google’s Night Sight mode which lets you take incredible images of the night sky, or just snap pictures in low light conditions.
Some of the extra features on the Google Pixel 4 XL did seem a little gimmicky to us, but it’s still a fantastic phone that ticks all the boxes.
- Read our full Google Pixel 4 XL review
9. Huawei P30 Pro: Best for battery life
The power of the sun, in the palm of your hand
Average price: $899 | Operating System: Android | Screen size: 6.47" | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB | 5G ready: No | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: USB-C | Also consider: OnePlus 7T Pro
There are some concerns around Huawei phones at the moment due to the company’s ongoing battles with the U.S. government. You can't actually buy one in the USA as things stand, but it's easy enough to import one. We’re not going to dive into that mess, but what we can say is that the Huawei P30 Pro is an excellent handset that can easily go toe-to-toe with the best smartphones out there today, especially when it comes to the camera and battery life.
Seriously, what’s going on with the battery in the Huawei P30 Pro? Our best guess is that Huawei has powered this thing with the heart of a dying star, because it offers astronomical battery life. With normal use, you’ll struggle to even get the Huawei P30 Pro down to half battery by the end of the day.
The screen lags behind Samsung’s best handsets and doesn’t quite reach QHD with a 2360 x 1080 resolution on its 6.47-inch OLED screen, but it’s still no slouch. The camera set-up is excellent though, with four rear facing lenses including a 40 megapixel wide angle lens and a 5 x optical zoom telephoto lens. It even has a 32 megapixel selfie camera, which blows most of the competition out of the water.
- Read our full Huawei P30 Pro review
10. Honor 9X Pro: Best for budget gaming
Powerful gaming smartphone, but no Google is a downer
Average price: $399 | Operating System: Android | Screen size: 6.6" | Storage: 256GB | 5G ready: No | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: USB-C | Also consider: OnePlus 8
People use their smartphones for all sorts of things, from snapping pictures to watching movies. If you’re looking for a great value smartphone that has its sights set squarely on gaming, then the Honor 9X Pro might be the one for you.
Coming in at around $400, the Honor 9X Pro has a flagship-worthy Kirin 810 chipset and 6GB of RAM along with liquid cooling to let you know that it’s serious about gaming performance. It also looks and feels the part of a premium smartphone too with a glass cover and flashy color options.
So what’s the catch? Well it’s an Honor phone, which is a subsidiary of Huawei. Due to Huawei’s current issues with the US government, there’s no Google Mobile Services on the Honor 9X Pro (unless you install it yourself). This means no Play Store, no Google Maps etc. It has its own store, but most of the apps we rely on are missing, especially when it comes to social media and gaming.
If you’re willing to risk installing Google Play Store on here yourself, we think the Honor 9X Pro is a great smartphone, but otherwise maybe steer clear.
- Read our full Honor 9X Pro review.
Why Trust Us
We combine thorough research with hands-on testing to compare all the features, functions, and flaws of the top smartphones so we can recommend only the best of the best.
By now, it’s pretty standard for flagship phones to boast features such as water-resistance, long battery life, great cameras, fast speeds, gorgeous displays and airtight security. We leverage our own extremely high expectations for our smartphones in our evaluations, so you can be confident in your phone purchase.
How We Tested
Our smartphone evaluations combine thorough research with extensive testing. We start by gathering and arranging available information about every smartphone to narrow down the top choices. We get our hands on the best smartphones on the market and then compare the items you see above, including battery capacity, screen quality, camera specs, and internal components. After we compile our data, our team spends time with each device. We conduct a variety of benchmark tests to assess features such as battery life, CPU processing power, graphic card performance, data read and write speeds, display quality and overall performance, and we factor these results into our overall evaluation.
Of course, a smartphone is more than the sum of its parts. To gauge how smoothly all the functions and features work together in day-to-day use, we take each phone for a spin for a few days. We play games, watch videos, check our social media, take photos and make phone calls to feel what it’s like to use the phone.