Smartphones are better than ever but which is the best phone for you? These are the ten best smartphones currently on the market
By Alex Walker-Todd, Consumer Tech Editor | 18 Sep 2020
What is the best smartphone you can buy?
There are so many good phones to choose from in 2020 but which one is the king of the castle? Is there even a winner? In truth, there’s no one perfect choice for everyone, so bear in mind that the best phone for you might not be number one in our chart.
Phones come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Here, we have ranked and reviewed the ten best phones money can buy.
Best smartphone 2020
1. OnePlus 8 Pro
£799 (8GB/128GB) | £899 (12GB/256GB)
The OnePlus 8 Pro is arguably the company’s first full flagship, finally incorporating long-requested features like wireless charging and an IP68 waterproof rating to make it a genuine contender with Samsung’s finest.
Understandably the price has gone up accordingly, but at £799/$899 for the base model – no slouch at 8GB RAM and 128GB storage – it still represents serious value by flagship standards, meaning you will save at least some money by opting for OnePlus over most other manufacturers. You can save even more with the £599/$699 OnePlus 8, though you’ll have to give up a few features and downgrade the display and cameras.
The 8 Pro camera is OnePlus’ best yet, and while it still lags behind rivals slightly in some software the hardware is among the best around, which has helped to close the gap considerably. Throw in 5G, a great design, and the best Android skin around and the OnePlus 8 Pro is easy to recommend to anyone who can afford it.
2. Apple iPhone 11
- RRP: $1,199 (64GB) | $1,279 (128GB) | $1,449 (256GB)
The iPhone 11 didn’t need to rewrite the smartphone rule book to be a winner. It simply needed to build on the success of the XR and it has done exactly that.
Not a huge amount has changed, but that means the 11 has a nice design which comes in various colours. Face ID has been improved and the telephoto lens has been swapped for a more useful wide-angle lens. The screen still isn’t OLED but offers a decent experience anyway and performance is top-notch here – even when playing the very demanding Oceanhorn 2.
All of this for a cheaper price than when the iPhone XR arrived. Apple has done it again so most won’t need to spend extra on the Pro.
Read our full Apple iPhone 11 review
3. Samsung Galaxy S20
- RRP: $1,349 4G | $1,499 5G
The Galaxy S20 is the best phone in Samsung’s S20 series, and simply the best phone the company makes right now. It’s compact, powerful, and packs a versatile camera system that may not match the top-tier S20 Ultra on zoom or detail, but it meets – and sometimes beats – it across the rest of the board, which means it’s more than a match for just about any other phone out there too.
The wider 5G ecosystem isn’t quite there yet, but will be within the lifetime of this phone, making it almost worth the upgrade. And while battery life remains a slight concern, that’s really the only major fault here. The Android ecosystem offers more for less elsewhere, but usually without Samsung’s level of prestige or polish, and in this case we think that’s worth paying for.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 review
4. Oppo Find X2 Pro
- RRP: $1,599
The Oppo Find X2 Pro is a phenomenal phone by any measure. The 6.7in, 10-bit, 120Hz, QHD+ panel is the best display in any phone right now, and Oppo backs it up with the fastest wired charging around at 65W, and a top-tier camera that boasts two 48Mp lenses and up to 10x hybrid zoom.
You’ll have to live without wireless charging, and the choice between bland grey ceramic or garish orange vegan leather finishes might leave some struggling to find a design that suits their style.
For pure performance though, the Find X2 Pro can’t be beat right now, with all of the above plus a Snapdragon 865 5G, 512GB storage, and 12GB RAM – you just have to be willing to pay the price, as at £1,099 it doesn’t come cheap.
Read our full Oppo Find X2 Pro review
5. Realme X50 Pro
- RRP: $1,249
- Best Price Today:
Realme’s first 5G flagship (and second-ever flagship phone) is an impressively affordable device that doesn’t skimp on high-end specs and features.
The Realme X50 Pro forgoes aspects like IP water resistance and a thin body, but in return sports the latest and greatest Snapdragon 865 chipset, 5G, up to 12GB of RAM, fast UFS 3.0 storage and insane 65W ‘SuperDart’ fast charging, which delivers 60% charge in just 15 minutes and a full charge in only 35.
Best of all, with an initial starting price of £569, the X50 Pro costs nearly half that of most top-tier Android flagships on the market in 2020.
Read our full Realme X50 Pro review
6. Apple iPhone 11 Pro
- RRP: $1,749 (64GB) | $1,999 (256GB) | $2,349 (512GB)
We’re not fully on board with the ‘Pro’ naming but there’s no doubt this is the best iPhone to date for various reasons.
We like the matte finish which provides more grip than standard glass and helps negate fingerprint, too. The OLED screen is stunning, especially with Dark Mode in iOS 13, the cameras are excellent, performance is slick and battery life is better than ever so there’s a lot to like.
Still, it’s a lot more expensive than the regular iPhone 11 which has the things that most people want and doesn’t really break any new ground. It’s not even 5G capable.
Read our full Apple iPhone 11 Pro review
7. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- RRP: From $1849 (4G) | From £1999 (5G)
- Best Price Today:
If you’re comfortable with the Note 20 Ultra’s huge 6.9in display size and its notable price tag, it’ll serve you superbly well otherwise.
It boasts one of the best screens on a smartphone right now, packs a real punch in terms of both performance and features, and Samsung has rectified the missteps made with the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s camera this time around – while retaining that impressive 108Mp main snapper and its 5x optical zoom.
The S Pen experience is also the best it’s ever been – with an unprecedented 9ms latency, making it feel as responsive as writing with an actual pen and paper.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review for more.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review
8. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
- RRP: $2,199
- Best Price Today:
The Galaxy Z Flip isn’t a perfect phone. It’s expensive, there are only two main camera lenses, and the fingerprint sensor sucks.
Price aside, these are minor quibbles however, and even while this may not be the best phone we’ve used this year, it’s one of our favourites. With the Z Flip Samsung has nailed the compact foldable form factor, and by comparison every other 2020 flagship feels ungainly and oversized.
This phone looks great, offers solid performance and flagship features, and is just plain cool. Most people probably shouldn’t spend this much on a phone, but if you can afford to then nothing else right now can match the Z Flip.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review
9. Nubia Red Magic 5G
- £539 (8GB+128GB) | £599 (12GB+256GB)
- Best Price Today:
The Red Magic 5G is undeniably one of the best gaming phones on the market. Its 144Hz display and stereo speakers are among the best in their class, while the camera enjoys a notable upgrade over the Red Magic 3S.
The phone is targeted squarely at mobile gamers and as such, some aspects are less well suited to mainstream users. These include its imposing industrial design and some unimpressive software tweaks – the frustrating in-display fingerprint scanner chief among them.
All things considered, however, the Red Magic 5G offers everything budding gamers are looking for, not to mention 5G speeds, at a price that means it’s hard to resist.
Read our full Nubia Red Magic 5G review
10. Sony Xperia 1 II
Sony’s latest flagship doubles down on the unique attributes of 2019’s Xperia 1, with an enhanced 21:9 4K HDR OLED display, a wealth of audio technologies (including a 3.5mm headphone jack) and a Sony Alpha-influenced triple-camera module.
It’s augmented but clean take on Android includes meaningful improvements and despite not looking as competitive on paper as other Android flagships, its performance and battery longevity proved more than capable in testing.
Read our full Sony Xperia 1 II review
Your buying guide for the best phones in 2020
When choosing a phone you should consider these things: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance and value.
Generally speaking, a flagship phone in 2020 will start at around £700 but can cost over £1,000 in some cases. On contract, you’re looking at between £30 and £50-per-month on average but you can spend a lot more if you want an expensive phone and lots of mobile data.
Buying a phone outright will usually give you the best value, but we appreciate finances in the real world don’t always accommodate such big one-off purchases. If you can, you’ll obviously need a SIM card and plan, as well as the phone. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.
Should you buy an iPhone or Android phone?
There’s more than one mobile phone operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS.
The vast majority of phones today run Android; 10 being the latest publicly-released version. Apple’s iOS platform, meanwhile, may have a lower market share but developers almost always release their apps on iOS first, partly as a result of this it has one of the best app stores you can find.
If you have an Android phone or an iPhone and want to move to a phone running the other OS (operating system), it’s fairly easy to transfer your contacts and other select data from one to the other. What you can’t move are paid-for apps and certain app data (like WhatsApp backups), so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform – and research any specific concerns you may have about the process.
Why you should buy an unlocked phone
The most important point is that an unlocked phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract – if you can afford it.
The only real exception to this is Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.
Generally speaking, if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked.
More importantly, you are not locked into a lengthy contract. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of said contract or commit to another two years.
Just be sure to make certain the phone you’re getting is not locked to a certain network.
The right SIM
One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.
For the record, every phone in our top 10 takes a nano-SIM.
If you get that wrong it is easily solvable – every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes – you simply pop out the one you need.
But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.
More important is to make sure that if you want 5G you get a 5G-enabled phone and SIM.
This article was originally published by TECH ADVISOR