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Top 10 Best Phones for 2019

September 3, 2019

12:43 pm

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

  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus – Incredible display, stylish design, great cameras, and top-drawer perforamnce
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – Incredible cameras, design and AI features but starting to feel its age
  • Apple iPhone XS – The best iPhone yet, and almost the best phone full stop that you can buy
  • Google Pixel 3a XL – Has the same camera as the Pixel 3 XL, but way cheaper
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G – Another incredible S10-series model, but price and patchy 5G would make us think twice
  • 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
  • OnePlus 7– Despite being more expensive than previous OnePlus phones, it's still incredible value
  • Moto g7 Plus – A budget phone that punches way above its price tag
  • Motorola One Vision – A great camera phone at a very affordable price

If you're not sure what you're looking for in a phone, find out how to choose the best phone for you.

Which are the Best Smartphones to Buy?

Of course, a simple list can only tell you so much. So read on to find out exactly why we think you should fork out your hard-earned for these phones, in particular.

We’ll explain the phone camera specs, screen quality and speed, amongst other features to help you decide which phone is right for you.

Samsung Galaxy S10 PlusGoogle Pixel 3 XLApple iPhone XSGoogle Pixel 3a XLApple iPhone XS MaxSamsung Galaxy S10 5G
samsung galaxy s10 plusG<oogle Pixel 3 XL smallApple iPhone XS smallGoogle pixel 3a xl best phonesApple iPhone XS Max Smallsamsung galaxy s10 5g
Tech.co overall score5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4 stars
Design5 stars4 stars5 stars4 stars4 stars4.5 stars
Camera4.5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars4.5 stars
Ease of use4.5 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars3 stars3 stars
Value3.5 stars4 stars3 stars5 stars3 stars2.5 stars
Performance5 stars4 stars5 stars3.5 stars5 stars5 stars
Screen size (in)6.46.35.866.56.7
Screen resolution1440×30401440×29601125×24361080×21601242×26881440×3040
Dimensions (HxWxD mm)157.6×74.1×7.8158×76.7×7.9143.6×70.9×7.7160.1×76.1×8.2157.5×77.4×7.7162.6×77.1×7.9
Weight (g)175184177167208198
Storage sizes (GB)128/ 512/ 1TB16/ 12864/ 256/ 5126464/256/512256/ 512
RAM (GB)8/ 1244448
Battery size (mAh)4,1003,4302,6583,7003,1744,500
Rear cameras (Mp)12 + 12 + 161212 + 121212 + 1212 + 12 + 12 + depth sensor
Front camera (Mp)8 + 108 + 878710 + depth sensor
Price$999$929From $999From $479From $1,099From $1,299
Read our full reviewClick hereClick hereClick hereClick hereClick hereClick here

 

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

samsung galaxy s10 plus
  • Incredible cameras
  • Stunning screen
  • Great battery life
  • Remarkable performance

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is, in our mind, arguably the best phone on sale. It's a beautiful phone, with a large, bright, and pin-sharp screen.

However, that beauty is matched by some serious brawn — it uses a market-leading Snapdragon 855 processor and not-inconsiderable 8GB of RAM. Its perfomance is geuinely market-leading, with no discernible slow down when playing intense games or swapping back-and-forth between big apps.

Samsung has also maintained its relationship as a consumer-friendly brand, including a 3.5mm headphone jack, space for a SD card, and even remappable-buttons so you can avoid waking Bixby when you don't mean to.

It is quite expensive, mind. But, you're getting a hell of a lot of phone for your money.

Want to dig a bit deeper into why the S10 Plus is the best phone on sale? Read our full review

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Key SpecsBuy the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
  • 12 + 12 + 16Mp rear cameras
  • 8 + 10Mp front cameras
  • 128/ 512/ 1,000GB storage
  • 6.4-inch 1440×3040 OLED display
  • Android 9
  • 4,100mAh battery

From Verizon

 

Google Pixel 3 XL

google pixel 3xl
  • Class-leading camera
  • Clean Android operating system
  • Instant access to security and OS updates
  • Brilliant OLED display

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. Performance is pretty strong, thanks to a Snapdragon 845 processor. However, the relatively paltry 4GB of RAM is a shame.

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

Google Pixel 3 XL Key SpecsBuy the Pixel 3 XL
  • 12Mp rear camera
  • Two 8Mp front camera
  • 64/ 128GB storage
  • 6.3-inch 1440×2960 OLED display
  • Android 9
  • 3,340mAh battery

From Verizon

 

Apple iPhone XS

iphone xs best phones
  • Sharp screen
  • Powerful processor
  • Strong camera
  • Great integration between software and hardware

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

iPhone XS Key SpecsBuy the iPhone XS
  • Two 12Mp rear camera
  • 7Mp front camera
  • 64/ 256/ 512GB storage
  • 5.8-inch 1125×2436 OLED display
  • iOS 12
  • 2,658 mAh battery

From Verizon

 

Google Pixel 3a XL

google pixel 3a xl
  • Remarkably cheap
  • Incredible camera
  • Clean version of Android
  • Good screen

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

Google Pixel 3a XL Key SpecsBuy the Pixel 3a XL
  • 12Mp rear camera
  • 8Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 6-inch 1080×2160 OLED screen
  • Android 9
  • 3,700 mAh battery

From Verizon

 

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

samsung galaxy s10 5g
  • 5G is great when you can get it
  • Impressive cameras
  • Attractive design
  • Class-leading performance
  • Great battery life

Samsung's S10 5G is the most expensive S10 variant you can buy at the moment, costing a not-inconsiderable $1,299.99. However, it's difficult to argue that it isn't worth the price.

For a start, it actually works on 5G networks — something only a handful of phones can currently claim. However, it also has brilliant front and rear cameras which take beautifully detailed shots — the addition of time-of-flight sensors gives shots an excellent sense of depth.

Its screen is huge, but remains bright and sharp thanks to its surprisingly high resolution and performance from the Snapdragon 855 processor (and 8GB of RAM) is electric. However, the large battery means you're rarely caught short.

Want to know whether you should take the 5G leap? Read our full S10 5G review

S10 5G Key SpecsBuy the S10 5G
  • Four rear cameras, including a time-of-flight sensor
  • 10Mp front camera, plus a time-of-flight sensor
  • 256GB storage
  • 6.7-inch, 1440×3040 resolution display
  • Android 9
  • 4,500 mAh battery

From Verizon

 

Google Pixel 3a

google pixel 3a in hand
  • Even cheaper than the Pixel 3a XL
  • Remarkable camera
  • Stock version of Android
  • Lightweight and handy

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

Google Pixel 3a XL Key SpecsBuy the Pixel 3a XL
  • 12Mp rear camera
  • 8Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 5.6-inch 1080×2220 OLED screen
  • Android 9
  • 3,000 mAh battery

From Verizon

 

iPhone XS Max

apple iphone xs max best phones
  • Large, sharp screen
  • Blisteringly fast
  • Seamless integration between hardware and software
  • Great build quality

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

iPhone XS Max Key SpecsBuy the iPhone XS Max
  • Two 12Mp rear camera
  • 7Mp front camera
  • 64/ 256/ 512GB storage
  • 6.5-inch 1242×2688 OLED screen
  • iOS 12
  • 3,174 mAh battery

From Verizon

 

OnePlus 7

oneplus 7 screen
  • Blisteringly fast performance
  • Impressive screen
  • Strong front and rear cameras
  • Issues speedy software updates
  • Cheap compared to phones with similar performance

OnePlus is known for taking on big manufacturers with significantly cheaper, but similarly-specced, phones. And, with the 7, OnePlus has managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat again.

For just over $600, the OnePlus 7 packs in the latest-generation Snapdragon 855 processor, excellent rear cameras, a choice of 6 or 8GB of RAM, and hard-wearing Gorilla Glass 6. Most phones with similar spec sheets cost well in excess of $800.

It's not all good news, however. OnePlus decided not to bring the phone to the US — instead only selling the more expensive OnePlus 7 Pro. That's a shame, because it's a great cheap-ish phone.

Read our full OnePlus 7 review to find out why the US is missing out

 

OnePlus 7 Key SpecsBuy the OnePlus 7
  • 48Mp rear camera, plus 5Mp depth sensor
  • 16Mp front camera
  • 128 or 256GB storage
  • 6.4-inch 1080×2340 LCD screen
  • Android 9
  • 3,700 mAh battery

From Amazon

 

Motorola g7 Plus

Moto g7 plus
  • Very affordable
  • Decent cameras
  • Flagship looks
  • Headphone jack and expandable storage

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

 

Moto g7 Plus Key SpecsBuy the Moto g7 Plus
  • 16 + 5Mp rear cameras
  • 12Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 6.2-inch 1080×2270 LCD screen
  • Android 9
  • 3,000 mAh battery

From Amazon

 

Motorola One Vision

motorola one vision
  • Great rear cameras
  • Interesting, unique design
  • Android One means speedy updates
  • Affordable

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

Motorola One Vision Key SpecsBuy the Motorola One Vision
  • 48Mp + 5Mp rear cameras
  • 25Mp front camera
  • 128GB storage
  • 6.3-inch 1080×2520 LCD screen
  • Android 9
  • 3,500 mAh battery

From Amazon

 

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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.