August 10, 2018
It’s near enough impossible to get by without a smartphone these days – so it’s worth having the best phone you can buy. In this guide, we’ll be running through the best phones on the market, what they’re great for, and who they’re best for.
We’ll also explain the specs you should be looking for in a new phone, as well as talking about the brands, operating systems and the best deals you can get on each phone.
Read on for our expert list of the best smartphones for 2019
- Google Pixel 3 XL – Incredible cameras, design and AI features. The best phone on the market
- Apple iPhone XS – The best iPhone yet, and almost the best phone full stop that you can buy
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Samsung’s big phone gets even better
- Google Pixel 3a XL – Has the same camera as the Pixel 3 XL, but way cheaper
- Google Pixel 3a – Like the 3a XL, but smaller and cheaper again
- Apple iPhone XS Max – The big iPhone with a big price tag to match
- Samsung Galaxy S9 – Excellent hardware but Samsung bloatware grates a little
- Moto g7 Plus – A budget phone that punches way above its price tag
- Apple iPhone XR – The cheapest new iPhone is good, save for the screen
- Motorola One Vision – Head-turning design and a low price tag
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for in a phone, find out how to choose the best phone for you.
|Google Pixel 3 XL||Apple iPhone XS||Samsung Galaxy Note 9||Google Pixel 3a XL||Apple iPhone XS Max||Moto g7 Plus|
|Tech.co overall score|
|Ease of use|
|Screen size (in)||6.3||5.8||6.4||6||6.5||6.2|
|Dimensions (HxWxD mm)||158×76.7×7.9||143.6×70.9×7.7||161.9×76.4×8.8||160.1×76.1×8.2||157.5×77.4×7.7||157×75.3×8.3|
|Storage sizes (GB)||64/128||64/256/512||128/512||64||64/256/512||64|
|Battery size (mAh)||3,430||2,658||4,000||3,700||3,174||3000|
|Rear cameras (Mp)||12.2||12 + 12||12 + 12||12||12 + 12||48 + 5|
|Price||From $929||From $999||From $999||From $479||From $1,099||From $350|
|Read our full review||Click here||Click here||Click here||Click here||Click here||Click here|
We think the Google Pixel 3 XL is one of the best phones you can buy right now. While its exceptional cameras often grab the headlines, it’s also a beautifully judged phone all round.
Its good-looking, combining different glass finishes to create pleasing gloss and matte finishes for different parts of the phone. Its big ‘notch’ at the top of the phone is certainly distinctive (though not to everyone’s tastes).
Being a Google phone, it uses a stock version of Android. That means zero manufacturer bloatware and instant access to security and feature updates.
The Pixel 3 XL also utilizes Google Assistant brilliantly. The speedy performance is impressive, too, thanks to a Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB Ram.
The Pixel 3 XL’s 6.3-inch OLED display is bright, sharp and excellent for playing games or watching TV shows and movies.
While you can’t add a memory card, you do get free unlimited Google Photos storage. Plus, Google Assistant is excellent at helping you optimize files to free up space.
And the cameras? They’re the best on the market, bar none.
Click to read our full review of the Google Pixel 3 XL
The iPhone XS might not be a huge step forward from 2017’s iPhone X, but it’s still a brilliant phone and one of the best on the market.
It has a brilliant OLED display with beautiful screen quality. At 5.8-inches, it easily fits into the palm of your hand, and is crafted from high-quality glass and metal to make it a truly premium-feeling phone. The XS’ excellent hardware is paired with equally strong software. iOS and the powerhouse A12 Bionic processor means that AR functions are effortless, and the TrueDepth facial authentication is faster than ever.
There’s a bump in audio quality from the older iPhone X, with new stereo speakers offering wider audio playback. It’s also IP68 certified, making it one of the best waterproof phones you can buy. Plus, it’s the first iPhone to offer dual SIM card support. Battery life is decent and you’ll easily get through a day with moderate usage. The price might seem a bit steep to some, but this is a phone you’ll be able to hang onto for years to come.
Click to read our full review of the iPhone XS
Samsung’s Note series of phones has always sought to give users of everything, and this latest Note 9 version is no different. It packs in a whopping 6.4″ edge-to-edge display, a mammoth 4,000mAh battery and 128GB storage as standard with the option to add up to a 512GB micro-SD card.
However, the Note 9 has brains to go with its brawn. Its signature stylus, known as the S Pen, has evolved from a simple note taking implement to a Bluetooth-connected smart stylus than can control your phone from afar. Its two rear cameras also feature the same adaptive sensors as the S9 and S9+, which adapt to the lighting conditions around you, ensuring more detailed snaps.
While its Bixby smart assistant can’t match Google Asssitant, the Note 9’s huge feature set mean that it is well worth the near-$1,000 asking price. It’s probably the best ‘big’ phone on the market.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review for more
The Google Pixel 3a XL is incredible value for money. For $479, you get the best camera on any phone. That’s right, Google has taken the Pixel 3 XL’s best feature, and put it on a phone that is almost half the price.
The good news continues beyond the camera as well, as you get a clean version of Android — no Samsung-style bloatware to be seen. What’s more, you’ll get Android updates as soon as they’re available.
Google has had to make some compromises with the Pixel 3a XL, however. It’s not quite as fast as many of the other phones on this list and the rear case is plastic, rather than glass. But this is still a fantastic phone at a fantastic price.
Find out more in our full Pixel 3a XL review
The Google Pixel 3a is like the Pixel 3a XL above, but smaller and even cheaper. That means that you get access to the best phone camera on the market at the moment for a paltry $399. There are phones on the market that cost three times more than the little Pixel 3a that can’t compete with its camera.
Like all the other Pixel phones, you get Google’s clean version of Android and instant access to the latest OS updates. Like the Pixel 3a XL, it has a slower Snapdragon 670 processor, so it won’t be as good for serious mobile gamers as other phones on this list.
It also has a headphone jack, which is pleasing to see, but it sadly doesn’t get expandable storage. You’ll have to make do with 64GB — although you do get unlimited photo storage with Google Photos.
Find out more in the full Pixel 3a review
The iPhone XS Max is the largest and most expensive phone Apple has ever released. Its 6.5-inch OLED screen is pin-sharp, and great for watching films.
It uses Apple’s blisteringly fast A12 Bionic processor and it has a great set of front and rear cameras — not as good as Google’s offerings, mind, but you’ll definitely be pleased with the photos you take.
However, it is large, heavy, and very expensive. We’d probably go for the regular XS, but the XS Max is still a very impressive phone.
Want to know more? Read our full iPhone XS Max review
The Moto g7 Plus is one of the best value phones on the market. It costs just $350, but punches well above its price tag with a strong screen, impressive cameras, and decent performance.
It also looks more expensive than it actually is, with slim bezels and a small notch for the front-facing camera. Its 6.2-inch display is plenty sharp and bright enough — despite being an LCD rather than an OLED — and it’s great for streaming TV shows or films.
Its dual rear cameras take impressively detailed shots with a good level of contrast. It’s not the fastest phone on the market, but it’s plenty quick enough for playing lightweight games and flicking through social media apps. Again, it costs just $350.
Want to know more? Read our full Moto g7 Plus review
The iPhone XR is, unofficially, the new ‘cheap’ iPhone. However, at $750, it’s not exactly a bargain. But in our opinion, it’s a better choice than the bigger and pricier XS Max.
Firstly, the XR actually offers something different. It comes in a variety of colors not seen since the much-loved iPhone 5C, which launched back in 2013. This gives the XR a unique look and makes it a refreshing change from Apple’s typical monochrome design language.
Secondly, by being cheaper, the XR actually offers something different to the XS and the XS Max in particular. It keeps many of the headline features from the XS, with no significant downsides. The LCD screen is perfectly fine, and its 6.1-inch screen will suit more people than the unnecessarily-large 6.5-inch XS Max.
Check out our full guide, Which iPhone Should I Get?
The Motorola One Vision is one of the most interesting phones on sale — it combines an unusual tall deisgn with top-drawer cameras, and a surprisingly low price tag.
Its 6.3-inch LCD display has a 21:9 aspect ratio, making it three times taller than it is wide. It also has a punch hole camera, reminiscent of the Samsung S10 series. Its dual rear cameras take excellent, well-lit photos. This is largely thanks to the cameras use of quad pixel technology which combines four small pixels into one big pixel. This increases the amount of light available to the lens, giving you greater contrast and better light management.
However, it’s not the speediest phone on the market and its plastic rear case can feel a bit lightweight. But when it costs $350, Motorola had to save money somewhere.
Find out more in our full Motorola One Vision review
Some of the links on our page will take you directly to a provider or retail website, where you may find deals and discounts. If you make a purchase at this stage, we may receive a payment. This has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.
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