Best smartphone 2019: Apple, Samsung and OnePlus duke it out

Looking for an upgrade? We've got you covered

Whether you're looking to upgrade your smartphone for business or for personal use, you might find that the market's current offerings leave you feeling like a kid in a candy store.

While there are so many choices out there, it can be hard to make the right decision without trying a device out first. But fear not, because our comprehensive list of the best devices on the market - based on our reviews - can help.

Apple iPhone 11

It’s taken several generations, but Apple has finally addressed its smartphones’ battery issues with the iPhone 11: at last, a full day of heavy use is practically guaranteed, rather than being a distant hope.

Longevity isn’t all the iPhone 11 is good at, either. The A13 Bionic chip within can outperform just about any Android-oriented processor, both in serious multitasking and 3D gaming, and the camera setup - largely borrowed from the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, with some tweaks - takes some lovely photos. 

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

All that said, here’s hoping for a less conversative redesign for the next generation; as desirable as the iPhone 11 is, its sub-1080p display and honking great camera notch could do with an update.

CPU

Apple A13 Bionic

RAM

4GB

Display

6.1in 828p IPS

Battery

3,110mAh

Price when reviewed: £608 exc VAT

Read our full Apple iPhone 11 review for more information.

Asus ZenFone 6

The ZenFone 6 certainly takes an original approach to dealing with the front camera-versus-bezel problem: instead of a notch or even a hidden, pop-up selfie snapper, Asus’ mid-ranger can rotate its rear camera so that it faces front instead. 

It’s a good camera too - 48MP shots exhibit over-active noise reduction, but 12MP images look fine, and stabilised video can be filmed right up to 4K resolution and 60fps. Just as importantly, the ZenFone 6 is a well-rounded handset in general, with reliable performance, extremely long battery life and a large, HDR-ready display. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

RAM

6GB

Display

6.4in 1080p IPS

Battery

5,000mAh

Price when reviewed: £416 exc VAT

Read our full Asus ZenFone 6 review for more information.

Google Pixel 3a

Google's third-generation flagship phone already looked like good value next to the likes of Apple and Samsung, but it's now even better with the launch of a pared-down midrange version, the Pixel 3a.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Retailing for roughly half the price of the original Pixel 3, the Pixel 3a solves one of our biggest bugbears by combining a slightly larger battery with a less power-hungry processor, and while that does result in a slight hit to top-end performance, the increased battery life is more than enough to make up for it. Even better, it still features all the clever software flourishes that made us love the Pixel 3 in the first place, as well as the amazing camera.

CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM4GB
Display5.5in 1080p AMOLED
Battery2,915mAh

Price when reviewed: 332 exc VAT

Advertisement - Article continues below

Read our full Google Pixel 3a review for more information.

Huawei P30

In many ways the P30 is a lesser phone than its bigger brother, the P30 Pro, but this model is cheaper, easier to fit in a pocket and still comes with a full set of flagship-grade bells and whistles - so it’s just as worthy of consideration.

Highlights include the rear camera, which includes a massive 40MP sensor as well as an ultra-wide angle lens, and the octa-core Kirin 980 chip that ensures blazing single-core and multicore performance alike. For the style-conscious, the P30 also happens to be a particularly stylish smartphone, especially with the two-tone finish on the back.

CPU

Huawei Kirin 980

RAM

6GB

Display

6.1in 1080p AMOLED

Battery

3,650mAh

Price when reviewed: £699 exc VAT

Read our full Huawei P30 review for more information.

OnePlus 7T

The OnePlus 7 was a great phone, and the 7T takes things even further with a surprisingly comprehensive overhaul of the display. Not only is it bigger, measuring 6.5in diagonally instead of 6.4in, but the aspect ratio has been tweaked to a taller 20:9, HDR10+ support is included out of the box and the refresh rate is now a much higher 90Hz. 

This makes scrolling and general movement look a bit smoother, but the real advantage is in games, where you can play at an effective maximum of 90fps. Elsewhere, the processor has been upgraded from the Snapdragon 855 to the Snapdragon 855+, and even the battery is a little larger, producing even greater endurance than the already long-lasting OnePlus 7.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+

RAM

8GB

Display

6.5in 1080p AMOLED

Battery

3,800mAh

Price when reviewed: £549 exc VAT

Read our full OnePlus 7T review for more information.

Oppo Reno2

Lower-than-average performance might be a turnoff if you’re looking for maximum, but there’s plenty about the Reno2 that makes up for its slightly underachieving processor. Take the design: a striking mix of glossy glass and some almost nonexistent bezels, the latter of which is enabled by a quirky pop-up front camera.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The display, too, is both star-bright and brilliantly vibrant, while the rear camera - made up from a staggering four sensors - shoots wonderfully in any lighting conditions. The ultra-wide mode is particularly good fun, and there’s the ability to shoot stabilised 60fps video up to 1080p as well. That’s a lot of tricks for the price, to be sure.

CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G

RAM

8GB

Display

6.5in 1080p AMOLED

Battery

4,000mAh

Price when reviewed: £375 exc VA

Read our full Oppo Reno2 review for more information.

Samsung Galaxy A90 5G

If you want to hop aboard the 5G train but can’t afford the Galaxy S10 5G, you don’t have to look far for a much more attainable alternative. The Galaxy A90 5G might be the most expensive of Samsung’s A-series, but it’s cheaper than most flagships while offering a range of high-quality hardware and features.

The Snapdragon 855 processor, for instance, wouldn’t be out of place on a £800 smartphone, while its result in our battery life benchmark - 23hrs 38mins - is even longer than that of the Galaxy S10 5G. The camera is more reminiscent of mid-range tech, but there are some other premium touches, such as the inclusion of both facial recognition and an in-display fingerprint reader as biometric unlocking options.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

RAM

8GB

Display

6.7in 1080p Super AMOLED

Battery

4,500mAh

Price when reviewed: £557 exc VAT

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A90 5G review for more information.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

How do you make the Galaxy Note series even better? By taking the most recent model and creating an even bigger, bolder version. The Note 10+ packs a gargantuan 6.8in display with HDR10+ support, and despite both this and the top-end performance of its Exynos chip, battery life is still up there with the best.

S-Pen integration has been improved too. ‘Air actions’, with which you can perform actions by waving the stylus like a magic wand, are neat enough but the main attraction is automatic note transcription. With this feature, you can jot down notes to share with colleagues, or write an email by converting handwriting into regular text.

CPU

Samsung Exynos 9825

RAM

12GB

Display

6.8in 1440p Dynamic AMOLED

Battery

4,500mAh

Advertisement - Article continues below

Price when reviewed: £833 exc VAT

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review for more information.

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

There aren’t many 5G smartphones on the market right now, but the Galaxy S10 5G has proven to be the best high-end option for early adopters. It has the sleek styling and immense power of the standard Galaxy S10, combined with all the benefits of significantly faster data downloads and uploads.

It’s not a one-to-one copy of Samsung’s main flagship - there’s no microSD card on the 5G version, for example - but with a spacious, HRD10+ display, seriously long battery life and a strong camera, it’s still worth this high price. Since 5G coverage remains limited, any phone you choose for it should also feel like a great handset when connected to 4G or below - and the Galaxy S10 5G delivers.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

CPU

Samsung Exynos 9820

RAM

8GB

Display

6.4in 1440p Dynamic AMOLED

Battery

4,500mAh

Price when reviewed: £915 exc VAT

Advertisement - Article continues below

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10 5G review for more information.

Sony Xperia 1

Sony’s recent smartphones have adopted a mantra of taller is better; the Xperia 1 demonstrates this with its 21:9 aspect ratio, something the manufacturer says is to cater for watching Netflix videos in ultra-widescreen format. 

Luckily, the Xperia 1 is a fine handset for endeavours well outside simply bingewatching. It’s powerful, captures excellent stills from its triple-lens camera arrange (a collaboration with Sony’s Alpha camera team) and even in portrait mode, that taller display does make reading long webpages and documents a little easier on your scrolling thumb.

CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

RAM

6GB

Display

6.5in 1644p OLED

Battery

3,330mAh

Price when reviewed: £708 exc VAT

Read our full Sony Xperia 1 review for more information.

Featured Resources

Digitally perfecting the supply chain

How new technologies are being leveraged to transform the manufacturing supply chain

Download now

Three keys to maximise application migration and modernisation success

Harness the benefits that modernised applications can offer

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

The 3 approaches of Breach and Attack Simulation technologies

A guide to the nuances of BAS, helping you stay one step ahead of cyber criminals

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/business-strategy/33311/apple-launches-new-tv-gaming-and-finance-services
Business strategy

Apple launches new TV, gaming and finance services

25 Mar 2019
Visit/hardware/laptops/354509/apple-macbook-pro-16in-review-a-little-bigger-a-lot-better
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 16in review: A little bigger, a lot better

10 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/354336/the-it-pro-products-of-the-year-2019-all-the-years-best-hardware
Hardware

The IT Pro Products of the Year 2019: All the year’s best hardware

24 Dec 2019
Visit/hardware/354395/mac-pro-a-masterclass-in-repairability
Hardware

Mac Pro a "masterclass in repairability"

18 Dec 2019

Most Popular

Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/web-browser/30394/what-is-http-error-503-and-how-do-you-fix-it
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020
Visit/business-strategy/mergers-and-acquisitions/354602/xerox-to-nominate-directors-to-hps-board-reports
mergers and acquisitions

Xerox to nominate directors to HP's board – reports

22 Jan 2020