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The best smartphone of 2019: 15 top mobile phones tested and ranked

via TechRadar - All the latest technology news http://bit.ly/2zWLza4 We're still awaiting the first big smartphone launch of 2019, whic...


via TechRadar - All the latest technology news http://bit.ly/2zWLza4

We're still awaiting the first big smartphone launch of 2019, which means our best smartphone list remains the same for now - but there isn't long until a slew of new handsets will arrive, all vying for the coveted top spot in our best phone rundown.

If you're considering buying a new smartphone, you may want to hold off for now, as big launches from Samsung, Honor and a number of other major Android manufacturers will take place in January and February.

In fact, we already know the Honor View 20 will officially be announced on January 22, while the Samsung Galaxy S10 launch date (plus the Galaxy S10 Plus, 5G-toting S10 X and foldable Galaxy X) has been confirmed for February 20.

We're also expecting launches from LG, Nokia, Huawei, Oppo and more before the end of February, so our best smartphone ranking could change dramatically in the coming weeks.

However, if your smartphone replacement simply can't wait you'll be asking, what are the 15 best smartphones available right now? Read on to find out.

We know that it's not all about the high-cost, super spec phones all the time so we've made you a handy list of all the top smartphones that you can get on the market right now, assessing what really matters to you, the buyer.

We test these phones rigorously, making sure that we check every angle and feature - but most importantly, considering whether they've got a decent battery, great screen, strong design and a cracking camera.

On top of that, they can't be too exorbitant in price either - not everyone wants or can afford a supercar of a handset, so we've made sure there are plenty of options for you there.

If you do want to focus on the cheaper side of things, then check out our list of the best budget phones of 2019 for some great ideas. 

Still here? Still thinking about which phone to go for? Don't worry... there are 15 excellent options to choose from.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is still the best smartphone available right now.

It's a big phone that's designed for big hands - and it takes the very best of what's on the smartphone market and puts it together in a compelling package that we've loved testing, despite the strong competition on the following pages.

Screen: The Super AMOLED 6.2-inch display has been measured as one of the very best around right now, with super colours, great dynamic range and, essentially, the very best viewing experience you can have on a mobile phone.

Battery life: The battery life on the S9 Plus is better than that seen on the smaller S9, thanks to the 3,500mAh battery in the Plus model - although it's probably the weakest part of the phone, not offering as much life as we'd have liked.

Camera: The camera on the Galaxy S9 Plus is among the best on the market, and the dual-aperture capability offers some startlingly good snaps when things get a little darker. 

Colours can look a tad washed out when the exposure is higher, but the power of the sensor, with memory built into it to make it smarter than most rivals, offers very low-noise shots.

Mini verdict: If you're after a bigger phone with all the features that matter on board, the Galaxy S9 Plus is that and more.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the best phones we've ever tested - and also one of the most expensive. 

However, for that money you're getting an extraordinary spec list, including the first mainstream phone to offer 1TB of storage and an incredible screen.

Screen: Let's get right to that screen: it's beautiful. Yes, it's a bit narrow if you're coming from the Note 5 or similar, but the way it wraps around the frame, the smaller bezels and the impressive color reproduction and brightness make it a real favourite.

Battery life: With 4,000mAh under the hood, the Note 9 has one of the biggest batteries Samsung has ever thrust into a device, meaning it can easily last through the day (plus it has new cooling tech to help it last longer in gaming sessions, although we've not seen much proof of that). You can also charge over wireless easily, and fast charging boots in 17% battery in 15 mins.

Camera: The cameras on Samsung phones are part of the reason they rank so highly in our list - the sheer capability and low light performance is impressive. Photos are definitely more on the colourful side, but there are more AI smarts in the mix to help you get the right shot at the right time.

Mini verdict: It's hard to wrap the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 into a mini verdict - it does so much and we've not even touched on the new, camera-remote-enabled Bluetooth S Pen. The expansive, quality screen, the battery life and the camera all combine to make this a stunning smartphone... if you can afford it.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the best phone from the Chinese firm to date, offering up a heady mix of design, power and performance with a few party pieces thrown in too.

It builds on the excellent P20 and P20 Pro, offering up even more screen, enhanced triple rear cameras and an in-display fingerprint scanner.

Screen: The Mate 20 Pro packs a huge 6.39-inch display giving you a huge amount of space for gaming and movies, and its QHD resolution and HDR10 support ensures everything looks great. There is a wide notch at the top of the display though.

Battery life: You'll get great battery life from the Mate 20 Pro, and we regularly achieved a day and a half of usage from a single charge during our review time with the handset.

Camera: The Mate 20 Pro comes with three cameras on the rear, nabbing the excellent 40MP wide-angle and 8MP telephoto lenses from the P20 Pro - but the third sensor is new. It's an ultra-wide 16MP snapper allowing you to cram even more of your surroundings into each shot.

Mini verdict: The Mate 20 Pro is a full-featured phone for a full-featured price - it even has a few tricks you won’t see elsewhere, and more powerful specs than most of its competitors.

Read more: Huawei Mate 20 Pro review

Pronounced ten S (like tennis), the iPhone XS and XS Max are the incremental upgrades to Apple's game-changing iPhone X from 2017.

They build on the all-screen, notch-laden, almost bezel-free design with more power under the hood, improved cameras, a new storage option and, in the case of the XS Max, a huge screen and even huger price tag.

Screen: The 5.8-inch OLED screen on the iPhone XS is the same as the one you'll find on the iPhone X, so it's the 6.5-inch offering on the XS Max which has really grabbed our attention - fantastic for video streaming and gaming.

Battery life: It's has improved a little on both handsets over the iPhone X, but you'll still find yourself plugging both of these phones in each night to ensure you'll get through a whole day in the morning.

Camera: The dual camera setup on both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max is fantastic. The Smart HDR mode makes images even clearer, brighter and more detailed, and Apple's famously intuitive interface makes snapping great shots a breeze.

Mini verdict: If you're after the latest and greatest iPhone, look no further. And if your hands are as big as your bank balance, the iPhone XS Max takes Apple's smartphone to a whole new level with plenty of additional screen space.

Read more: iPhone XS review | iPhone XS Max review

The Huawei P20 Pro is one of the best phones the brand has ever produced, and it's still troubling the top of our charts. Even if you've never heard of this brand before, the P20 Pro is a phone that deserves its place among the very best brands out there.

Screen: The 6.1-inch display is only Full HD, but that does help with battery life. This is actually probably one of the weakest parts of the phone, as it lacks the colour reproduction of its rivals, but it does come with a screen protector pre-fitted, which is a nice touch.

Battery life: The Huawei P20 Pro will get you a day and half of light to moderate use - it goes down after a full month's effort, filling it with apps, but even still we're getting a good day's hard use, which is great.

Camera: The camera is the standout feature on the Huawei P20 Pro, offering three lenses... and they're actually useful. The resolution is pin sharp thanks to brilliant image stabilisation, the software photo optimisation is excellent and having that 40MP sensor has been boosted well by Leica for good low light performance.

Mini verdict: The main issue you have to overcome with the P20 Pro is the fact you might not be familiar with the brand, but not only is Huawei a worthy competitor to Apple and Samsung, but it's the most likely to get the bigger price drops first (which is worth checking out using our price finder below).

Read more: Huawei P20 Pro review

The Samsung Galaxy S9 isn't quite the phone that the S9 Plus is - it's only got a single camera sensor, for one - but it's a more palm-friendly model that still packs the power and top screen quality of its sibling.

Screen: A QHD 5.8-inch screen takes up most of the front of the phone - and it's still a stunning design. Brighter, more colourful and capable of showing the best of movies, the Super AMOLED tech is once again showing itself to be best thing to look at on a smartphone.

Battery life: Battery life is a little disappointing for a top-end smartphone, meaning you'll need to think about a top-up during the day if you're a harder user. Wireless and fast charging capabilities help with this though.

Camera: It's only a single sensor on the rear of the Galaxy S9, unlike the Galaxy S9 Plus - meaning it's not as good at photography. But don't think the S9 takes poor photos, as they're still stunning, and in low light it's a sterling performer, with very little noise.

Mini verdict: The Galaxy S9 is a smartphone with all the top-end features you'd want, and more on top. It's not quite at the level of the S9 Plus - but once again the price of this phone is starting to get a little more competitive, making it more of a lure than at launch.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 review

If you're looking for a the best camera phone on the market, look no further. The single rear snapper on the Google Pixel 3 XL (and the smaller Pixel 3) is the best we've come across.

You also get a big screen, decent battery life and plenty of power under the hood, making the Google Pixel 3 XL a great all-round flagship smartphone.

Screen: It's hard to ignore the 6.3-inch display which dominates the front the of the Google Pixel 3 XL, but it still offers a chin bezel providing space for one of the two stereo front facing speakers. The QHD resolution and HDR support ensure everything looks great, but the notch is a little ugly.

Battery life: The battery life on the Google Pixel 3 XL exceeds many of its rivals, comfortably lasting a day on a single charge, and sometimes getting halfway through the next too, depending on your usage.

Camera: You may only be getting a single camera on the rear of the Pixel 3 XL, but do not under-estimate it. The camera here is capable of producing some simply staggering results, making shooting great photos easy and fun.

Mini verdict: The Google Pixel 3 XL marries the best camera phone we’ve ever tested with a sizable OLED screen. It’s the right fit for people who don’t mind the notch cut out at the top and have already adjusted their grip for bigger smartphones in the past.

Read more: Google Pixel 3 XL review

The price of flagship phones are rising every year, but you don't need to pay top dollar for a top-notch experience.

OnePlus offers flagship phones at a lower price point and while its first few handsets didn't trouble the established names, its more recent efforts have really pushed the likes of Samsung, Apple and co. 

The OnePlus 6T is the firm's best flagship offering yet, with a host of high-end features and a price tag which is comfortably lower than the competition.

Screen: This may be a "cheap" flagship phone, but you still get a huge 6.41-inch AMOLED display providing colorful, bright and punchy images. It may 'only' have a fill HD resolution - and there's a notch at the top - but for the price it's difficult to knock.

Battery life: OnePlus has increased the size of the battery in the 6T over the 6 it replaces, and that's resulted in improved battery life with the handset easily lasting a full day on a single charge.

Camera: There's a dual camera setup on the rear of the OnePlus 6T, and while it doesn't reach the same heights as the Google Pixel 3, Huawei P20 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S9, when you consider the price it's still an accomplished offering.

Mini verdict:  The OnePlus 6T is a good-looking and powerful smartphone that can compete with handsets from the larger and more established brands on the market while undercutting them in price.

Read more: OnePlus 6T review

The LG G7 ThinQ is an impressive little phone from the brand (irritating name aside), bringing with it a strong package and a decent price in many regions. There's an attempt to right the wrongs of the LG G6 - and it's resulted in a good alternative to the traditional big hitters.

Screen: LG's Super Bright screen might not be OLED - LCD is preferred here - but it's capable of delivering good peak brightness, can handle HDR10 and Dolby Vision playback and has a large, expansive look with a smaller notch. It's a little large to hold, but it's one of the most capable screens around.

Battery life: At 3,000 mAh, the LG G7 ThinQ isn't the largest on the market... and it shows in the performance. It's not terrible, with some clever background processing keeping things going, but it'll only last you around a day when others are starting to eke into two.

Camera: The smart camera here is great if you want to capture more of the picture, with a much wider field of view bringing in more information. The smart sensor tries to work out what's in front of you - with great results, but only when it gets things right. It's not the best camera out there, but you can take some stellar shots.

Mini verdict: It's so tight at top of our best smartphone list that the small tweaks can make all the difference, and LG impresses thanks to offering up a tightly-made package for a pretty reasonable price - it's similar to many other top Android phones out there, but you'll certainly find some elements to enjoy here.

Read more: LG G7 ThinQ review

The iPhone X (although it's pronounced 'ten') was the redesigned Apple phone that iFans had been crying out for - and even though it's now been superseded by the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max it's still a great buy.

Screen: The 5.8-inch OLED screen is the best display Apple has ever crammed into an iPhone. It’s far ahead of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus for so many reasons: the sharpness, the quality, the fact that it fills the whole front of the phone, and the color reproduction.

Battery life: The iPhone X's battery life is pretty good but it's by no means best in class. If you're a very heavy user you might struggle to last more than 12 hours but for most users it'll comfortably last a whole day.

Camera: Cameras on iPhones have always been superb, and the iPhone X is no different. The camera on the X is often stunning, delivering still shots that are rich with detail. Perhaps not quite as brilliant as the Pixel 2 XL, but still right up there with the best.

Mini verdict: This is the phone to buy if you want to treat yourself to a high-end handset – a little extra per month for something you really enjoy taking out of your bag or pocket is worth it.

Read more: iPhone X review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was the first time the brand's phablet range was seen as a real rival for the Galaxy S phones - the larger screen and more power starting to resonate with the average phone buyer. 

However, it's no longer the best Note in our list thanks to the launch of the Note 9, so you might want to have a look at that one.

Screen:  The Note 8 maximises Samsung’s dual curved edge and nearly bezel-less Infinity Display to the point where this phone feels like a mini tablet from the future. It's more squared off than the Galaxy S phones, but still lovely to look at. 

Camera: The camera on the Note 8 is superb and near the front of the pack for all round quality. On the rear its dual lenses allow for optical zoom as well as digital zoom, as well as live focus which enables you to do all kinds of effects including blurring the background - even after you've taken the shot.

Battery life: The battery in the Note 8 isn't best in class - you can thank the large screen and slender design for that (although the Note 9 has managed to achieve better results). But it'll still last you all day unless you're streaming a lot of video or using it with the brightness pumped up.

Mini verdict: The Note 8 has leapt up the rankings thanks to a mega price drop - it's much, much more palatable thanks to the launch of the Note 9. You might want to check that out, but the Note 9 is now a pretty stunning buy for the cost.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review 

The iPhone XR (pronounced 'ten R') is a cheaper smartphone from Apple aimed at opening up its mobile range to more consumers, with a range of colors, premium design and still a decent slug of power under the hood.

While it doesn't cost as much as the XS or XS Max, the iPhone XR isn't a cheap phone - it's just more affordable than the other two new iPhones.

Screen: The iPhone XR may be the cheapest of Apple's three new iPhones, but it sits in the middle of the trio in terms of screen size with its 6.1-inch display. This provides lots of space for movies and games, although its resolution is under full HD. 

Camera: The camera on the iPhone XR doesn't hit the same heights as its XS siblings, and portrait mode is a little lacking, but it still offers up the same intuitive Apple interface and an auto mode than makes the best of most scenarios.

Battery life: The shining light for the iPhone XR is its battery life. If you're looking for an iPhone with great endurance, this is it, with the XR easily lasting a full day on a single charge.

Mini verdict: The iPhone XR is one of the best handsets Apple has ever made, and that's mainly down to the excellent battery life.

Read more: iPhone XR review

The Google Pixel 3 is the smaller sibling to the Pixel 3 XL, with a smaller screen and battery, but the same power and excellent camera under the hood.

This is a great handset for those looking for a top-flight phone that can be used comfortably with one hand (although those with smaller palms may need both still).

Screen: At 5.5 inches, the screen on the Google Pixel 3 isn't exactly small, but it's one of the smallest in this list of the best smartphones. The full HD resolution isn't quite as sharp as its larger sibling's QHD panel, but it still looks great.

Camera: You get the same camera here as you do on the Pixel 3 XL, and that's great news as it's one of the best smartphone snappers we've ever tested. It's easy to use, extremely powerful and produces excellent shots.

Battery life: The Google Pixel 3 battery life isn't as impressive as the larger Pixel 3 XL which has a bigger power pack. It should give you a day of use, but don't expect for than that.

Mini verdict: If you're looking for a compact flagship smartphone with a class-leading camera experience the Google Pixel 3 is the best phone for the job.

Read more: Google Pixel 3 review

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a phone that might not instantly be on your wish list, but the brand has made huge strides of late (just look at where the P20 Pro sits), and the battery life is something that outranks most on this list. If you're feeling that it's time for a change, this is worth checking out.

Screen: The Full HD screen is a match for the Pixel 2 but not its other Android competitors like the Galaxy S9 and Note 8 phones from Samsung. As such, the screen on the 10 Pro is very good...but not spectacular.

Battery: The biggest talking point of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is its battery. Huge at 4,000mAh, it translates to impressive performance, with the possibility of stretching usage to two days from a single charge if you knock it to flight mode overnight.

Camera: On the rear, the dual camera setup is a solid point-and-shoot option, but it really excels if you dive into manual mode; if you're a camera enthusiast who's willing to spend time fine-tuning, you can get some great shots from the Mate 10 Pro.

Mini verdict: It's not the best looking or bristling with the most features, but the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a brilliant phone if you're looking for a big screen and top quality battery life, and it's starting to get even more competitive on contract, far undercutting the phones ahead of it in this list.

Read more:  Huawei Mate 10 Pro review 

The Pixel 2 XL is all about the camera, with a wider frame and more expansive screen for watching all manner of content. You'll buy it for the pictures you can take, but the power and latest Android upgrades will impress too - Android P is here and bringing some nice to this phone before any other handset.

Screen: The Pixel XL 2 has an expansive 6-inch display that's decent for gaming and video playback (although a few issues have surfaced around its viewing angles), and it boasts an improved design over the smaller Pixel 2, with slimmer bezels housing its dual front-facing speakers.

Battery life: The XL has good battery life - you won't have a problem with it. It will comfortably last you a full day under normal conditions and with normal use, and its ability to save power when it's not doing anything means it'll last a few days in standby.

Camera: Like the smaller Pixel 2, the camera on the XL is stunningly good. Photos look fantastic, and they'll please both casual and more serious snappers alike. Low light conditions in particular are where this phone shines - perhaps only equalled by the Galaxy S9 pair and Huawei P20 Pro - and you'll struggle to take a poor snap with this phone.

Mini verdict: This phone is for you if you want to go for a pure Android experience with the best camera on the market, and with a large, high-res screen. It's a pricey phone (although the cost is dropping these days) but worth it if the above appeals. 

Read more: Google Pixel 2 XL review

You're at the end of our best smartphone guide, but that doesn't mean we can't help you still - if you're stuck on which model is for you, we've got a tool that can compare all the phones together and you can decide which one suits you best based on the cost.

If you want to get all the info, then use the tool below or check out our full mobile phone deals page.

Enter price comparison

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TECHNICAL MUKHTAR: The best smartphone of 2019: 15 top mobile phones tested and ranked
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