For the past few years, the best smartphones on the market have generally been from the same three producers: Apple, Samsung and Google (we’ll leave Huawei out of this for now).
And, to the dismay of manner, not much has changed.
To put it bluntly, Apple, Samsung and Google are simply better than all of the competition. But with that said, we are excited to add one new brand to the mix for the best smartphones of 2020.
For this list, we aren’t just rating the top 9 smartphones, but we are separating them out to the best smartphone for 9 different types of buyers. We’ve also included phones that are rumored to be released in 2020 (in case you want to delay your gratification).
Important Features to Look for in a Smartphone
Regardless of which smartphone you purchase, though, there are a few key features you’ll want to look for when shopping. Which features you prioritize will depend on how you plan to use the phone and your daily habits.
While big phones are the big thing right now, they’re not right for everyone. Going with a smaller phone around the five-inch mark might be more suitable for those with smaller hands, those looking for a lightweight phone and those who want a phone they can easily slip into their pockets and easily take on the go.
However, you may want a larger phone if you watch a lot of media on your phone, use your phone for reading or if you have vision problems.
Camera quality can differ highly across phones, but the emphasis you place on camera quality will depend on how often and, how in general, you use your camera phone.
Do you take lots of photos that you intend to print, post on social media or use for work?
Then you may want to invest in a smartphone with a high-quality camera. Many phones these days offer cameras that are just as high quality as what you might find in an actual DSLR or point and shoot camera.
If you don’t take photos often, or if you do, they’re just for your own digital use and you’re not trying anything fancy, like nighttime shooting, then you might not place such a big emphasis on this feature.
If you work from home or in an office where charging your phone is just as easy as plugging it in, then you might not worry about battery life. If, though, you’re not often in a situation where you can charge your phone on the fly, either via a wired charger or wirelessly, then battery life will definitely be an important feature for you to consider.
Some of the latest and greatest smartphones can last you an entire day or two days without a need for charging.
While it’s not the first thing you might ask about when shopping for a new phone, display quality is a phone feature that matters. The better the display quality, the better the user experience, especially when it comes to things like watching videos, playing games or reading.
Another oft-overlooked feature if you’re not a tech geek, a smartphone’s processor is something to consider. The better your processor, the faster your phone will operate, meaning better gameplay, faster app usage and seamless photo editing.
If you plan on using your smartphone for video editing and other functions that require a lot of power, you definitely want to consider the phone’s processor heavily before making a final decision.
The Best Smartphone for Most People: iPhone 11
The new iPhone 11 is our choice for the best smartphone for most people because it hits the sweet spot between function, fashion and affordability.
The base price of $699 is cheaper than previous versions (something we never thought we were going to see) and comes with all of the features that make iPhones great. Features include the super-fast A13 Bionic CPU, 11+ hours of battery life, and an incredible camera.
The Best Android Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus
We get it; not everyone loves Apple products. And we’re not going to debate the merits of iOS vs. Android because by now, most people have already picked a side. So if you have your heart set on an Android device, we think the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is the best Android smartphone on the market right now.
The full-featured flagship phone looks great thanks to its unique approach to designing away the infamous “notch” that plagues most smartphones today. It’s also lightning fast thanks to the Snapdragon 855 processor and has everything you’d look for in an Android phone (like expandable storage).
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is also a great alternative if you don’t need the added size or the signature Samsung Pen that comes with the Note 10.
The Best Overall Smartphone (And The Best Camera): iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max
The iPhone 11 Pro is the upgraded version of the iPhone 11 and is simply the best smartphone on the market right now. The 11 Pro not only skipped past phone offerings from Google and Galaxy to become the fastest phone out right now, but it also has the best camera(s). If you haven’t heard, there are 3 cameras on this phone. We also love the ridiculously long (10+ hours) battery life.
Why didn’t we pick it as the best smartphone for most people? Because to us, the upgrades aren’t really worth it (for most people). But if you are willing to foot the bill ($999 for the base model) and want to take advantage of the 3rd lens for video and photographer, then it’s definitely worth it.
Best Overall Samsung Phone: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
For those who are die-hard Samsung fans, you have quite a few phones to choose from this year. However, the best of the best (and some might argue, the best among all 2020 smartphones, beyond just the Samsung line) is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus.
Released in March, the Android 10 Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is big, inside and out. It has a huge screen, lots of internal storage, the option to expand your storage with a microSD card and 5G capabilities. The S20 Plus comes with a hefty price tag, at least compared to previous Samsung models, with a $1,199 starting price. The phone boasts a great camera and can shoot high-quality video, and a long battery life will keep you charged through an entire day of usage.
The Most Innovative Smartphone Available Right Now: Samsung Galaxy Fold
If you want to turn heads while you’re scrolling through Instagram on the subway, then grab the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
Phone developers have been shoving the idea of a foldable smartphone down our throats for the last few years, but 2020 is the first time that they are actually (sort of) viable.
Even though it came out on September 27, 2019, it’s still relatively hard to get your hands on one. It’s also really expensive coming in at $1,980. These two factors are increasing demand even more for the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
The “Best Value” Smartphone: OnePlus 7T or Google Pixel 3A
The OnePlus 7T is the best smartphone for people who are less concerned about cutting edge features and more concerned about price and value.
Starting at $600 (and sometimes going lower), the phone definitely isn’t a “flagship killer” (meaning it doesn’t compete with the best Android phones on the market in terms of features). Still, it does offer a whole lot of value at a very reasonable price. If you are going on specs alone, there really isn’t much difference between this phone and the newer offerings from Samsung.
The Google Pixel 3a was another strong contender here, since it’s now available for around $400.
Best Phone You’ve Never Heard Of: OnePlus 8 Pro
Most smartphone shoppers are choosing between Samsung and Apple. After all, when you walk into a big-box retailer, those are the two brands immediately thrust into your face. And why look at any other options when you’ve been marketed Samsung and Apple pretty much exclusively across all marketing channels? They’re simply top of mind.
However, it’s worth looking at your other options, such as the OnePlus 8 Pro, the best smartphone you’ve likely never heard of. Released in April, this phone offers a great value, with excellent display, 5G capabilities, a long battery life and fast wireless charging. While the camera might not be as impressive as what you’ll find on the newest Apple and Samsung phones, if you’re not a pro photographer, you likely won’t notice, making the $900 starting price an attractive value.
Best Budget Phone: Motorola Moto G7
If your primary concern when buying a new smartphone is budget, then you’ll want to consider the Motorola Moto G7, which comes in at just $200. Don’t think that you’ll be getting a subpar phone for that price, though. The Motorola Moto G7 truly stands apart as the best low-budget phone, thanks to its quality cameras, impressive battery life and turbocharging capabilities.
The only cons? The video quality and low-light photography quality aren’t stellar.
Best Small Phone: Samsung Galaxy S10e
If you hate the trend that smartphone manufacturers have been going toward, to make phones as big as seemingly humanly possible, then you’re going to want to check out the Samsung Galaxy S10e, easily the best small phone on the market right now.
At just $750, the small Samsung Galaxy S10e is budget-friendly but provides a lot of attractive features. It offers a nice camera, speedy operating system, long battery life, wireless power-sharing features and more. The phone comes in at just over five inches, making it significantly smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, which is nearly seven inches, as well as the Motorola Moto G7, at over six inches, and the OnePlus 8 Pro, also at nearly seven inches.
Smartphones Coming Out in 2020
Not in the market for a smartphone, but looking to upgrade soon? Here are the phones that are expected to be released in 2020.
- iPhone 12 (expected release date: October 2020)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 11 (expected release date: August 2020)
- Galaxy Pixel 5 (expected release date: October 2020)