Which is the best smartphone of 2020?
We are in the first half 2020 and already the phone launches are coming thick and fast. If you’re on the hunt for an upgrade to your smartphone, our list of the best options is your ideal starting point.
Samsung has already unveiled its latest slew of flagship phones, including the foldable Galaxy Z Flip, the S20 and S20 Ultra, and we’re expecting a load more to follow. Apple has even acted fast this year, releasing the iPhone SE 2.
In this guide, you’ll find all you need to know, including the best big phone and which model has the best camera.
See below for a handy overview of our current favourites or scroll down for an in-depth look at each device. As always, we’ve reviewed all the phones on this list and you can find our full verdicts linked below each entry.
- Best camera: iPhone 11 Pro
- Best Android: Samsung Galaxy S20/S20 Plus
- Best display: OnePlus 8 Pro
- Best for fast charging: Oppo Find X2 Pro
- Best iPhone: iPhone 11
- Best for specs: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Best big phone: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
- Best for clean software: Google Pixel 3a
- Best for Google: Google Pixel 4
- Best value flagship: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Best value 5G: OnePlus 8
Those who already have a specific budget in mind should check out our round-ups of the best budget smartphones and best mid-range smartphones. And if you’re particularly interested in smartphone photography, take a look at our best camera phone guide.
What about 5G?
We don’t think you should be jumping into 5G just yet – it’s just too early. Now that 5G is available on some networks, however, we’ve created a guide to the best 5G phones currently available.
Related: Galaxy S20 review
1. iPhone 11 Pro
- A lovely, supremely bright display
- One of the best camera systems on any phone
- Includes a quick charger in the box
- Design hasn’t changed much and the notch remains annoying
- 64GB is still the base storage option
- The iPhone 11 is a better pick for most people
Glitzier, flashier and far more expensive than the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro sits at the top of Apple’s current phone line-up along with its larger iPhone 11 Pro Max sibling. For the extra cash you get a Super Retina XDR display, a triple-camera array on the back and higher-end materials. So is this enough to warrant the now overused Pro tag?
Apple has seriously improved its photographic output with the iPhone 11 Pro – and, in many ways, with the iPhone 11 – which now holds its own among the best phone cameras out there. Packing three distinct 12-megapixel cameras, the iPhone 11 Pro is the first iPhone to feature an ultra-wide-angle lens (13mm equivalent, f/2.4). You also get a standard lens (26mm, f/1.8) and a 2x telephoto lens (52mm, with an improved maximum aperture of f/2.0).
The video recording, audio and super-bright XDR display are all tremendous, and the iPhone 11 Pro is also an absolute performance beast. The new A13 Bionic chipset helps put it up there with the fastest phones we’ve reviewed. This is also the first 5.8-inch iPhone that doesn’t feel hamstrung by a battery which needs constant attention to get it through a full day.
Related: Best iPhone Deals
Downsides include the meagre amounts of base storage, the speed of the refresh display and Apple’s resistance to fully embracing USB-C. The idea of being able to charge the MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and iPhone 11 Pro with the same block and charger just makes so much sense.
The iPhone 11 Pro offers many improvements over its predecessor, but there are still areas that Apple could have pushed forward in, especially as it has now decided to label these phones as Pro. 5G was never going to happen but would have been nice anyway and other notable omissions include some sort of Touch ID-enabled fingerprint sensor inside the display and the rumoured reverse wireless charging, which could have juiced up a pair of AirPods.
2. Samsung Galaxy S20/S20 Plus
- Nice design
- Great screen
- Strong performance
- Good battery
- Ugly UI
- 8K video recording is pointless
The Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 are the best Android phones you can buy right now. They are both smaller than the Ultra, making them easier to handle, but still have large immersive screens that boasts an incredible refresh rate and an enviable sharpness.
The cameras are also sharp and detailed and have less of the lurid post-processing that affected previous Samsung flagships.
The punchy performance was of a very high standard, only coming up short in comparison to the iPhone 11 Pro, and could handle everything we threw at it (though it broke a sweat undertaking 8K video recording).
Battery life is generally impressive and will comfortably last you a full day – unless, that is, you opt for the high 120Hz refresh rate, which takes a big bite out of the battery. In this case, even a moderate usage will see you needing a top-up before the end of the day.
One of the few things we didn’t take much of a shine to was Samsung’s user interface, which is quite a departure from standard Android and might take you some time to get used to.
3. OnePlus 8 Pro
- Gorgeous 120Hz display
- Improved ultra wide camera
- Clean software
- Very fast charging and now wireless charging too
- It’s a very big phone
With the OnePlus 8 Pro, OnePlus has finally made a flagship-worthy device. For the first time, there aren’t any obvious sacrifices here – Qi charging and an IP68 rating finally make an appearance – which makes the £799 price even more impressive. Yes, it is pricier than OnePlus phones of years gone, but it’s far more affordable than similar devices from the likes of Samsung and Oppo.
The star of the show is the 6.78-inch OLED display, which has a 120Hz refresh rate and a QHD+ resolution. It’s smooth, seriously bright and oh so crisp. However, if you want to get the most from that 4510mAh battery, then you’ll probably want to keep the resolution at FHD+.
Like all OnePlus phones, the 8 Pro has all the latest tech inside. There’s a 5G-capable Snapdragon 865 running the show, with either 8 or 12GB RAM. Four cameras sit on the back, including a very impressive 48-megapixel ultra-wide and a less impressive colour filter sensor, while a 16-megapixel version sits on the front. There’s no mechanical pop-up this time around, with the selfie camera housed in a very small cutout.
Warp Charge remains to get you to 50% charge in about 30 minutes, and there’s Warp Charge wireless too, which is just as fast if you’re using the brand’s own wireless pad.
Our biggest criticism is the slightly uncomfortable body, which isn’t helped by the overly sloping display and massive overall footprint. Bunging on a case does help the situation somewhat.
With a price that’s lower than the competition and just about every feature going, the OnePlus 8 Pro deserves its spot as one of the best phones available right now.
4. Oppo Find X2 Pro
- Masses of storage
- Sharp, punchy screen
- Class-leading fast charging
- Only single sim
A real rival to Samsung Galaxy S20 series for the crown of best Android phone, the Oppo Find X2 Pro is a leather-clad beauty that packs a whole load of tech.
The Snapdragon 865 makes for a seriously fast phone, while the 120Hz QHD+ OLED is a joy to behold. Battery life is excellent too and the ridiculously fast 65w charging makes up for the lack of Qi wireless charging. There’s 5G too.
The Find X2 Pro beats both the S20 Plus and the iPhone 11 Pro when it comes to zoom. It also outguns them with its resolution, with the phone’s primary camera featuring Sony’s new 12-bit IMX689 sensor with a large 1/1.4” size and 1.12-micron pixels. The 13MP periscope camera offers up a 10x hybrid zoom and a 60x digital zoom.
The Oppo Find X2 Pro will be released in April for £1099.
5. iPhone 11
- Great camera
- Long-lasting battery
- Really nice colour options
- Surprisingly excellent value for an Apple phone
- A screen resolution bump would have been nice
- Still no fast charger in the box
The iPhone 11 is the natural successor to the ridiculously popular iPhone XR and sits below the more expensive iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max in Apple’s current phone line-up.
You could think of it as an iPhone XRS: it takes the previous phone, leaves the design virtually unchanged and alters the internals. For example, there are now two cameras on the back and the same A13 chipset as the Pro model. Most surprisingly, the iPhone 11 costs less than the outgoing model: at £729/$699 for the 64GB base as opposed to £749/$749, this could be the best-value iPhone yet.
The 11 offers the best size of any iPhone. There’s more screen to play with than on the 11 Pro, but the phone doesn’t feel overly bulky or heavy. In terms of battery life, the iPhone 11 is a really long-lasting phone that we found went slightly further than its predecessor on a single charge.
The new rear cameras are also excellent. The iPhone 11 is much more affordable than the Pro models but boasts exactly the same wide-angle 12-megapixel optical image stabilised (OIS) main sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and the same 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera (f/2.4).
The only thing you’re missing out on is the Pro’s 2x optical zoom telephoto camera, but if you’d take ultra-wide-angle over zoom, you might well see this as a fair trade – it’s hard to see any differences when comparing photos from the Pro and the 11.
The 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD, however, falls below the competition in terms of resolution and it would have been nice to see the 1792 x 828 panel upgraded to a 1080p version.
Also less than impressive is the 5W charger included in the box. The omission of a fast charger is clearly a cost-cutting measure and remains a significant negative aspect of this phone. The charger provided has always felt slow and this is even more obvious now that the iPhone 11 Pro models come with an 18W charger.
Overall, if you’re updating an older iPhone then you’ll notice the vast array of improvements to camera, battery life and design straight away. This is a great buy that’ll hopefully perform comfortably for a number of years.
6. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Great zoom camera
- Best display
- Very fast charging
- Battery life could be better
- Very pricey
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is an absolute behemoth of a phone with a list of features that puts just about every other phone to shame. Highlights include a main 108-megapixel camera, 40MP selfie cam, a 5000mAh battery and fast 120Hz display.
While the camera might sound like the key selling point, it’s the 6.9-inch OLED panel that has us most excited. It is truly stunning, with fantastic colour reproduction, HDR support and unmatched levels of brightness. It’s a 120Hz screen too, rather than the standard 60Hz, meaning everything has a smoother look.
That camera array is supremely capable too, with the typical rich and colourful images you’d expect from a Samsung phone. The multitude of lenses give it great versatility, you can shoot 8K video and its zooming skills are unmatched.
Powering the S20 Ultra is either a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990, RAM options up to 16GB and it supports the 5G network which is now live in lots of places. Basically, if there’s a feature going, the S20 Ultra will have it.
You’ll have to pay a hefty price for all this power though, both in terms of cost and battery. With the 120Hz screen option enabled we struggled to comfortably get through the day, even with such a large cell on board. And then it comes down to the price of the phone itself. With a starting price of £1199 in the UK and $1499 in the US, this is one of the priciest phones around.
7. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
- Lovely big screen
- Very quick to charge
- S Pen is useful
- Versatile cameras
- Camera isn’t quite up there with the best
- Dodgy Live Video bokeh mode
- 65W charger not included
As the name suggests, the Plus is a larger, more feature-packed take on the standard Note 10, complete with optional 5G. This phone is one of the finest all-round Android devices we’ve reviewed: it’s powerful, has just about every feature going and doesn’t skimp anywhere. In terms of negatives, it’s big, it’s expensive and the display, while fantastic, doesn’t have any fancy tech to enable a fast refresh rate, unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro. If you want the best of the best, however, there aren’t many superior options out there.
This brute of a phone has a lovely display, plenty of grunt, huge battery, Qi charging and water resistance, and comes with USB-C buds. Compared to the S10, there aren’t a lot of new features but this model is still the true high-end Samsung phone for the start of 2020. Watch this space, however, for our full, in-depth reviews of the the S20 and S20 Ultra models.
The S Pen is undoubtedly the headline feature for the Note series and it is pretty much the only flagship around that lets you draw and take notes with a pen on the display. Thanks to fantastic responsiveness and excellent palm-rejection, it’s a pleasure to write and doodle with. With the Note 10 Plus, you can now also plug your device into a Windows computer or Mac for access to a PC-like DeX UI. It includes some new gaming features and the ability to stream games from a compatible PC to the phone.
Audio from this phone is merely OK and this seems to be a side effect of having basically no room for speakers. The same goes for call quality, which can often sound slightly distorted. At least Wi-Fi and cellular strength are excellent.
Samsung has finally ditched the headphone jack from the Note’s design, meaning you’ll have to rely on wireless headphones or a pair with a USB-C connection. There’s a perfectly decent-sounding pair of AKG branded USB-C headphones in the box, although there’s no 3.5mm dongle. The Note 10 Plus retains a microSD slot for upping the base storage, unlike the smaller Note 10.
Also boasting a whopping 6.8-inch display and huge 4500mAh battery, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is Samsung’s most feature-packed phablet yet.
8. Google Pixel 3a
- There’s a headphone jack!
- Flagship-quality camera
- Fantastic display
- Great size
- No Qi charging or water resistance
- Can feel slow in certain activities
- Screen is a little dim
Google may have just announced its new Pixel 4, but you’ll be very happy with the Pixel 3a if you want a handset with a great camera and decent screen, and aren’t as concerned about sheer speed and performance.
Google’s Pixel 3a aims to offer the Pixel 3’s amazing camera at a much lower price and a £399 smartphone that boasts a camera this capable is an appealing prospect. Google has ported much of the Pixel 3’s feature set to the 3a, including exactly the same 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.8 aperture.
Pixel 3a also ships with the latest version of Android 9 along with the latest iteration of the Pixel Launcher. Visually, it’s identical to the software you’ll find on the flagship Pixels and that’s a good thing for many. With these more affordable phones – especially if you want the highest-spec devices available – you’re often restricted to convoluted software from the likes of Oppo, Xiaomi and Huawei.
Google also hasn’t removed many features. You’ll find Pixel stalwarts such as Call Screen (the US-only self-answering phone trick), unlimited storage for your snaps in Google Photos, and the same Digital Wellbeing dashboard.
Other smaller but no less welcome features – including the always-on display (facilitated by the OLED panel) and access to Google Assistant by squeezing the phone’s sides – also suggest that Google wants your experience with the £400 3a to be similar to that of an £800 Pixel 3 phone.
By sacrificing its luxury features, Google has managed to squeeze the essential Pixel features into an excellent, more affordable phone.
This isn’t the right choice for intensive gaming or multi-day use and you’ll still get better value by upping your budget for a device such as the Honor View 20 or Xiaomi Mi 9. If you value software and user experience, however, the Pixel 3a is a great option.
9. Google Pixel 4
- Compact design
- Camera is unmatched on an Android phone
- Clean Android 10 install
- Battery life just isn’t very good
The Google Pixel 4 isn’t the complete package that we might have been hoping for but, with its stunning camera and software that remains one of the best implementations of Android, it still deserves its place on this list. It’s just a real shame that the battery life on both this and the larger XL model isn’t what we’ve come to expect.
Let’s start with the positives. The display now refreshes at 90Hz (in certain circumstances and at varying brightness levels) which gives it a much smoother look. It generally makes the whole phone feel snappier and we would like this to become a common feature for many phones.
Google has added a secondary camera on the back for the first time, pairing a 12-megapixel wide-angle and 16-megapixel telephoto camera. These two sensors work together, improving everything from general picture quality to low-light shooting and zooming. Snaps from this phone are great and the added versatility of the new lens is welcome.
The software is another success, ditching pesky third-party apps for a clean install, with Google Assistant integrated pretty much everywhere. You’ll also be first in line for new updates from Google.
One of the big new features this time around is the radar sensor, which lets you interact with the phone through gesture and powers the face-unlock functions. While the facial unlocking is good (and needs to be, as there’s no fingerprint sensor) the gesture stuff is a bit of a gimmick. Aside from stopping alarms with your hand, there’s not much else you can do.
But it’s the battery life that’s the biggest weakness. We would often struggle to get comfortably through the day without reaching for a USB-C cable – not something you expect in 2020.
10. Xiaomi Mi 9
- Versatile camera experience
- Superb value for money
- Fantastic performance
- Excellent screen
- Slightly temperamental fingerprint sensor
- No IP certification
The Xiaomi Mi 9 picks up from its predecessor, with a refined design, more features and a superior rear triple-lens camera that can compete with the most capable snappers on the market.
It fixes some of the key pain points found on the company’s late-2018 Mi 8 Pro flagship, with the addition of wireless charging (and up to 20W fast wireless charging at that), as well as an improved in-screen fingerprint sensor. It also rocks the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC and performs like a champ, not least because it’s backed up by 6GB of RAM.
The standout feature is the phone’s triple primary camera, centred around a 48-megapixel sensor – just like the Honor View 20, which relies on pixel binning to create top-notch 12-megapixel stills. It’s also accompanied by a 12-megapixel telephoto camera with a 2x optical zoom and 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, granting you the same level of quality and versatility as the likes of the far more expensive Samsung Galaxy S10.
11. OnePlus 8
- Great software experience
- Top-notch performance
- 90Hz display is great
- No wireless charging
- No IP certification
It might not be as feature-packed as the OnePlus 8 Pro, but the OnePlus 8 is still an excellent device. It packs a Snapdragon 865 chipset, 5G support on all models and a great 90Hz OLED display.
Unlike the OnePlus 7 and 7T, the 8 looks very much like its Pro brother. The 6.57-inch screen curves and it comes in a very slick Glacial Green colour. It does lack the Qi charging skills held by its sibling, though.
You’ll find a 48MP sensor on the back which takes good snaps but isn’t much of an improvement over the OnePlus phones from last year. There’s also a 16-megapixel ultra-wide and 2-megapixel macro camera.
How do we select the best smartphones?
Every handset on this list has been reviewed thoroughly using the same combination of real-world use cases and repeatable benchmark tests.
This means that we test everything, from battery life and processor performance, during the full range of everyday tasks, right up to call quality and screen calibration. Most importantly, we take these phones out and use them as our own over an extended period of time, living with them to learn their quirks and discover any hidden treasures. Discover more about how we test phones.
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