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.

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.

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
Display5.5in 1080p AMOLED

Price when reviewed: 332 exc VAT

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

OnePlus 6T

With the smartphone market well-saturated and somewhat dominated by the pricey models from Apple, Samsung and Huawei, that leaves a market gap for a company to provide a phone with comparable performance for a much smaller price tag.

Enter OnePlus, the relatively new kid on the block is Chinese firm famous for its flagship-killing smartphones in recent years and its 6T model offers some small upgrades to the 6 and provides a very attractive and much cheaper alternative to its market-leading counterparts.

It's got power in abundance, a battery life that outperforms most of the phones we've tested and a price tag less than half of the iPhone Xr's.

CPUOcta-core 2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

Price when reviewed: 416 exc VAT

Read our full OnePlus 6T review for more information.

Samsung Galaxy S9

There's no denying this one: the Samsung Galaxy S9, like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best device of its time. Although only a year's gap between this and its sibling, the Samsung Galaxy S9 puts a whole lot more on the table.

First - it's super-fast. In fact, it's without doubt the fastest Android smartphone we've ever used, powered by an Exynos 9810 CPU with 4GB RAM and in speed tests, it absolutely smashed the performance of the Galaxy S8 and caught up with the iPhone 8 too.

The design doesn't move on much from the Samsung Galaxy S8, but excellent improvements to the internals and of course the camera, which is not stupendous, make it a worthy upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S8 - if you have deep pockets.

CPUOcta-core 2.8GHz Exynos 9810

Price when reviewed: 616 exc VAT

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Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 review for more information.

Nokia 8.1

Nokia underwent a rebrand back in 2017 after a period where consumers simply lost interest with the phones that weren't as sleek or as sexy as the smartphones of other brands. Since then, the once-beloved mobile phone brand has a hat in every corner of the market and has done particularly well in the mid-range space, where the 8.1 resides.

You won't get much from a smartphone for less than 400 with most brands but Nokia's offering provides a smooth design that's very un-Nokia, a nice dual-camera setup and a stunning 18:9 IPS display. You can even upgrade the storage from 64GB by an extra 400GB with a microSD card.

CPUOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 (2x2.2GHz, 4x1.7GHz)
Display6.18in 2280 x 1080 IPS

Price when reviewed: 317 exc VAT

Read our full Nokia 8.1 review for more information

BlackBerry Key2 LE 

Perhaps this one is more for the retro fan, the 'I don't want to let go of the naughties' kind of phone owner as this one has a physical keyboard, the kind with actual, real tactile buttons. 

Despite looking like a phone that entered the market a few years too late, the old (looking) dog does have a few tricks up its sleeve. For starters, the price of the device is quite nice, you can pick it up for under 300 and with it comes some business-specific software out of the box that will appeal to some.

Privacy Shade blacks out the screen except for one narrow bar so you can overlook sensitive documents or emails without worrying about nosy onlooker. Redactor is also useful as it allows you to place thick black lines to, yes, redact parts of a screenshot before sending them. 

CPUOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (1.8GHz)
Display4.5in 1620 x 1080 IPS

Price when reviewed: 291 exc vat

Read our full BlackBerry Key2 LE review for more information

Apple iPhone Xs Max

Apple's biggest, fastest phone to date is visually stunning and the boasts the most power than any other phone we've had on test. Its camera produces stunning photos and is the most durable iPhone yet - its the iPhone you buy when you want it all, no matter the cost.

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And cost it does, a lot. At 916 exc VAT for the 64GB version, it's one of the priciest phones in this list but could be a great investment for the future, especially if you're a 'buy well, buy once' kind of person. The hardware in this model is second to none and will undoubtedly age well, keeping up with flagships for at least a few years if you don't like the idea of regular upgrades.

CPUSix-core Apple A12 Bionic Processor 
Display6.45n 1242 x 2688 AMOLED

Price when reviewed: 916 exc VAT

Read our full Apple iPhone Xs Max review to find out more information

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