Search

Best smartphone 2019: iPhone, Huawei, Samsung and OnePlus compared and ranked

Guardian Technology 10 Jun 2019 05:47

Need a new smartphone but don’t know which one is the very best? Here’s a guide comparing the current top-end smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus and others to help you pick the best handset for you.

There has never been a better time to buy a new flagship smartphone with many quality handsets available at a wider range of prices than ever before. Whether your priority is two-day battery life, fantastic camera performance or a spectacular screen, there’s plenty to choose from.

This Guardian buyer’s guide to top-end smartphones was last updated on 10 June 2019, and represents the best available models at the time. As new models are released and tested, this guide will be updated to help you choose the right flagship phone for you.

Q&A

What is a buyer's guide?

Welcome to one of the Guardian’s new buyer’s guides. This article represents hundreds of hours of testing by the author to bring together a succinct list of recommended products or services so you can pick from the best and ignore the rest without having to do hours of your own research.

Best overall: OnePlus 7 Pro

These regularly updated deals have been sourced through a third-party price comparison service. The Guardian may make a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. More information.

Best iOS: Apple iPhone XS

These regularly updated deals have been sourced through a third-party price comparison service. The Guardian may make a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. More information.

Best smaller Android: Samsung Galaxy S10

These regularly updated deals have been sourced through a third-party price comparison service. The Guardian may make a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. More information.

Best camera: Huawei P30 Pro

These regularly updated deals have been sourced through a third-party price comparison service. The Guardian may make a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. More information.

Best value: OnePlus 6T

These regularly updated deals have been sourced through a third-party price comparison service. The Guardian may make a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. More information.
Quick guide

Smartphone jargon

Size

Smartphones are rated by screen size measured on the diagonal in inches. The bigger the number the larger the phone, but different phones use different ratios of height to width.

How easy it is to handle comes down to the width of the phone and its weight. The narrower and lighter it is, the easier it is to hold in one hand and the less likely you are to drop it.

Processor

What is commonly called the processor in a phone is actually a system-on-a-chip combining the processor, graphics and other essential systems into one.

Generally the newer the processor the more powerful and battery efficient it will be. Samsung, Huawei and Apple make their own, while Qualcomm is the largest supplier to other brands at the high end, with its Snapdragon 8-series range at the top.

RAM

The RAM (memory) is where your apps and processes are stored when in use, so the you more your phone has the better, up to a point.

Android requires more RAM than iOS, so it's difficult to directly compare them. But with Android at least 4GB of RAM is currently recommended.

Storage

Different from memory, storage is where everything is stored on the phone, including apps and media. While a few phones can have their storage expanded with microSD cards, most cannot.

That means you should aim for 64GB of storage at a minimum, but more if you want to store lots of photos. Cloud services such as Spotify or Google's Photos can help offload your music, photos or videos to the internet.

Software updates

Keeping your phone secure from hackers is essential, which makes software updates critical to patch bugs and security holes, as well as adding new features and improving things such as battery life and the camera.

Not all phones receive regular updates. Apple's support of older phones is the best in the business of around 5 years, followed by Samsung and Google's three years, both from when the phone was released - not when you buy it.

Battery life

Battery life varies drastically between devices, and "all-day battery" often doesn't mean 24 hours between charges. Some may not last long enough, particularly if you're out in the evening.

Battery life gets worse as the battery ages too, so a two-day battery will likely make sure the phone lasts at least a day two years later.

Camera

Cameras are the current battleground between the big players, but the margins between them are slimming.

Most use computational photography that combines hardware with advanced software algorithms, typically allowing multiple cameras to combine to make one image.

As such the camera software makes as much difference as the hardware, and is one of the few areas that actually improves over time with updates.

Multi-camera systems often offer more, such as useful zooms, portrait modes and better low-light performance, but they are not all created equally. There are also 3D cameras, which can detect facial expressions and other fun tricks.

The number of megapixels (MP) also makes a difference. Having more MP doesn't necessarily equal a better image, but modern smartphone cameras combine multiple pixels to improve image quality producing 12MP shots from 48MP sensors, for example.

Other things to consider

Wireless charging: convenient, but slower than via cable and normally a charging pad doesn't come in the box

Durability: generally glass on the front and back of the phone makes it more fragile

Resale value: iPhones hold their value better than most others

OLED versus LCD: OLED screens emit their own light so have much deeper blacks and more vibrant colours, while LCD screens are cheaper

Was this helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

Apple’s slightly cheaper iPhone XR offers most of the features of the iPhone XS. It has better battery life too, but has a worse camera, a slightly larger, but worse screen and is made of aluminium and glass, instead of stainless steel, losing its luxurious feel and the knowledge that it’s the best Apple can make.

If you must have an iPhone and it must have a massive screen, then the iPhone XS Max is your only option. But it’s even more expensive and bigger and heavier, making it pretty difficult to handle day-to-day, meaning the smaller iPhone XS is the better option.

The bigger version of the Galaxy S10 with a 6.4in QHD+ display has the best screen available on any device. The oval-shaped hole-punch notch is novel, containing two good selfie cameras. The triple rear camera is good, but not a patch on the Huawei P30 Pro. Performance is good, so is the software, but the battery life is slightly disappointing compared with the best.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 offers something a bit different, with long battery life, a massive screen and the all-important S Pen stylus. If you’re looking for a productivity powerhouse, the Note 9 is it. But it’s also huge with a slightly dated design.

The Mate 20 Pro has the big, attractive 6.39in QHD+ screen, svelte body, long battery life and great performance that made it the top phone of 2018. However, its excellent triple camera system with 3x optical zoom has been outdone by Huawei’s newer P30 Pro, which has a Leica quad camera with 5x optical zoom. It is worth looking out for deals, particularly if you want the 3D face unlock option.

Huawei’s Honor brand has made a name for itself cut-price but good phones. The View20 is the best phone it has ever made and is cracking value at just £500.

The Pixel 3 is all about Google’s camera and software. The 5.5in OLED screen is small by 2019’s standards and has large bezels at the top and bottom, which make the phone bigger than it needs to be and give it a dated look.

The larger Google Pixel 3 XL has everything that makes the Pixel 3 a really great phone, but is bigger with a huge notch at the top of the screen. It’s more difficult to handle than its smaller sibling and is more expensive, but has slightly better battery life. If you like the Pixel 3 but want a bigger screen, this is the phone for you, but on the whole the smaller version is a better device for most people. The Mate 20 Pro is a better big-screen phone all round.

Xiaomi’s first slider phone offers more than most for the money, with top-flight specs for 2018 competing directly with the OnePlus 6T and Honor View20. It takes a different approach to the problem of where to put the selfie camera in an all-screen design, hiding it behind the screen on slide-out section.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information.

Continue reading original article...

Tags

HuaweiSamsungAppleGoogle
You may also like