Best smartphones 2019: the very best phones, ranked

T3's roundup of the very best smartphones money can buy today. Get the best phone for you now

Best smartphone 2019 best phone

There has never been a better time to buy a smartphone than right now, here in 2019, and your friends at T3 have worked tirelessly to compile a list of the cream of the crop. If you're looking for the best phones on the market today then you are in the right place, as this guide is stuffed full of the absolute best smartphones going. 

From the stunning Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and super slick Apple iPhone XS Max, to the insanely fast OnePlus 7 Pro, onto the photo-taking majesty of the Huawei P30 Pro, or the movie-watching joy delivered by the Sony Xperia 1, these truly are the best mobile phones on the market today.

So sit back, relax, and let us take you through the contenders...

Best phone overall

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

With its stunning design, immaculate fit and finish, super powerful internal hardware and top-rate camera system, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is the best phone in the world in 2019.  Very strong rivals like the Apple iPhone XS Max and Huawei P30 Pro come close but, if you can stretch to it, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus should be right at the top of your list of potential upgrades.

Every quality phone worthy of your consideration can be found in our best phone 2019 guide – we've tested every aspect of each phone, from screen quality to battery life, from internal specs to camera quality. That way we can make very clear recommendations of what each phone's strengths are and who they would be perfect partners for.

As phones are very important tools in our everyday lives, we've also spent some serious time with each handset in our best phones list as well, so we can let you know exactly what, say, the Google Pixel 3a, Xiaomi Mi 9 or Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones are like to live with on an extended daily basis.

We only include the absolute best phones in this list, so you can be sure you're reading about the very latest, cutting-edge devices. We've listed all the phones in order of preference, too, so there's no confusion – the first phone is the best phone that you can get in 2019.

So whether you're currently after the most powerful Android smartphone money can buy, or a shiny new iPhone upgrade from Apple, we've seen and extensively tested all the best phones on the market so you don't have to.

Take a look below and we guarantee you'll find the best phone for your needs, and we're going to start with the very best smartphone currently available...

best phones Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

The best phone in the world, as well as the best phone running Android, is the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

1. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

Simply put, the best phone in the world

Weight: 175g
Dimensions: 74.1 x 157.6 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 9.0 (Pie)
Screen size: 6.4-inches
Resolution: QHD+
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9820
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,100mAh
Rear camera: Triple 16MP Ultra Wide-Angle + 12MP Dual Aperture + 12MP Telephoto
Front camera: 10MP + 8MP Depth Sensor
Reasons to buy
+Expansive 6.4-Inch Quad HD+ AMOLED+Up to 1.5TB storage via MicroSD card+Awesome Live Focus images from front-facing camera
Reasons to avoid
-Can cost up to £1,399-Infinity-O design is a little unsightly

If you're looking for the absolute best phone on the market today, as well as the best smartphone powered by Android OS, then look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

Not only is this the fastest, most feature-packed and polished Galaxy smartphone that Samsung has ever launched, but it's also doing something truly different from the iPhone and other rival flagship handsets. Whereas competitors have rushed to clone the notched screen design that first gained prominence with the iPhone X, Samsung has taken a dramatically different approach with its Infinity-O design.

Admittedly, that Infinity-O design isn't the prettiest thing to leave the Samsung R&D lab and definitely takes some getting used to. However, it has allowed Samsung to fit the S10 Plus with an expansive 6.4-inch AMOLED panel – that's the same size as the Galaxy Note 9 – while simultaneously shrinking the physical size of the smartphone compared to the Galaxy S9 Plus from last year, which sports a 6.2-inch screen.

Elsewhere, Samsung has included dual-front facing cameras so you can shoot Live Focus photographs brimming with artificial bokeh-style blur. There's also some fun new depth effects with the Galaxy S10 range, including the ability to turn the background greyscale to make the subject of the image really pop. These can also be shot using the triple-camera on the back of the handset.

The rear-mounted camera also boasts an ultra-wide angle camera, which produces some incredibly dramatic shots. It also has less of the unsightly distortion we've seen from rival ultra-wide angle cameras in the past.

Finally, the new One UI operating system, which is based on Android Pie, is infinitely better than anything from the likes of Huawei, LG or Sony. One UI has been designed from the ground-up to acknowledge that while we all want massive screens on our phones, massive smartphones are really annoying to use, especially one-handed while squished into the train carriage during a morning commute. To solve this headache, One UI shifts all the elements of the user interface that you’ll actually need to tap into the lower-third of the touchscreen where they are within easy reach.

The Galaxy S10 Plus isn't perfect. There are some really gimmicky new photo modes (who wants the background to look like it's spinning?!), the Infinity-O cut-out is a little bit unsightly and it can cost up to an eye-watering £1,399 for the maxed-out model with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of built-in storage.

However, these are nitpicks, and don't stop this from becoming our new go-to recommendation for anyone who wants the best phone on the market.

Apple iPhone XS Max best phones

The best phone in the world today running iOS? That's Apple's iPhone XS / XS Max.

2. Apple iPhone XS / XS Max

Simply the best phone you can buy today running iOS. Just choose a screen size...

Weight: 177g / 208g
Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm / 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm
OS: iOS12
Screen size: 5.8 inches / 6.5 inches
Resolution: 1125 x 2436 pixels / 1,242 x 2,688 pixels
CPU: Apple A12 Bionic
Storage: 64/256/512GB
Battery: 2658mAh / 3174 mAh
Rear camera: Dual 12MP
Front camera: 7 MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly desirable brand+Fantastic HDR screen+Ease-of-use is first rate
Reasons to avoid
-Average battery life

After its release the Apple iPhone XS / XS Max held the position of the best phone in the world for months, with its stunning screen, fabulous ecosystem, and desirable Apple brand ensuring it was the phone we would recommend above all others.

However, now, eight months down the line it has been toppled as the out-and-out best phone in the world by the insanely powerful and premium Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, which delivers Apple levels of fit and finish and desirability, but with an ehanced suite of hardware and features.

Regardless of this, though, the iPhone XS / XS Max remains an incredibly attractive proposition, as the same spec but different screen size phones deliver the out and out best iOS experience on the market. The ultra-desirability has in no way diminished, and super accessible user experience remains a major boon for Apple that isn't even matched by Samsung.

Take an XS out of the box and the first thing that strikes you about the design is the gorgeous Super Retina OLED screen.  It's certainly true that the edge-to-edge screen looks absolutely stunning, both from a design perspective and from a technology viewpoint, and it plays a big part in why the handset is in the upper echelons of our best phones of 2019 list.

Watching movies on the screen is especially impressive: all of Apple's OLED phones support Dolby Vision (the most advanced kind of HDR), and it's supported by Netflix and iTunes movies, too, so there's plenty of content to watch – that counts on both the 5.8-inch XS and 6.5-inch XS Max.

Aside from the screen, you've got Apple's blazing fast A12 Bionic processor, a fantastic dual 12MP camera with portrait lighting mode, and Face ID (which actually works very well). Compared to the year before’s iPhone X, the Apple iPhone XS / XS Max has been subtly re-engineered pretty much from top to bottom, and the results are superb.

Of course, we have to mention the price. The iPhone XS starts at a considerable £999 ($999), and the iPhone XS Max starts at £1,099 ($1,099), making it the most expensive iPhone to date. If you want the best iOS experience currently on the market then you definitely have to pay for it.

We'll say this, though: if you think that's too much money then the iPhone XS / XS Max isn't for you. Are the prices justified? Well, it's complicated. Just like a Louis Vuitton bag, there are more affordable alternatives that do exactly the same job, but it's all about prestige and branding.

Apple has slowly been morphing into a luxury goods company for a while now, and the iPhone XS / XS Max is another step in that direction. It's essentially a luxury range from a designer brand, with Apple successfully creating an incredibly desirable package that comes in two different screen sizes.

Huawei P30 Pro best phones

The Huawei P30 Pro has a camera system that simply excels.

3. Huawei P30 Pro

A superb Android phone with a jaw-dropping camera system

Weight: 189g
Dimensions: 158 x 73.4 x 8.4 mm
OS: Android 9.0 Pie, EMUI 9.1
Screen size: 6.47 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340
CPU: Kirin 980
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 4,200 mAh
Rear camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP + ToF
Front camera: 32MP
Reasons to buy
+Amazing camera system+Generous 6.47-inch Display+Fast In-Display Fingerprint Scanner
Reasons to avoid
-Specs Aren't Market-Leading

If you are a photography enthusiast and prefer the Android ecosystem to the iPhone one then, traditionally, we'd be pointing you towards Google's Pixel range of phones, specifically the latest and greatest Pixel 3 XL, as these devices have become famous for their excellent camera systems.

Now, though, while the Google Pixel 3 XL is still a superb phone, the Huawei P30 Pro and its jaw-droppingly good quad-camera system has come along and largely stolen its thunder. Indeed, in our review of the P30 Pro we said that, "the phenomenal 5x optical and 10x hybrid zoom are unlike anything we've used before and allow you to capture photos that you simply wouldn't be able to get with any other smartphone."

And that is saying nothing of the phone's very impressive Night Mode photography, or its sharp and colour-vibrant images with little noise, either.

The P30 Pro isn't just about photography, though, with a large 6.47-inch screen, rapid Kirin 980 central processor, and long-lasting 4,200 mAh battery helping to deliver a fully rounded flagship experience.

Certain aspects of the device can't compete with some of the other high-ranking phones in our best phones of 2019 guide, such as the higher resolution screen on the Mate 20 Pro, better user interface and screen vibrancy on Samsung's Galaxy S10, or out-and-out brand desirability and ease-of-use of the iPhone XS range. 

But for many users the P30 Pro's suite of quality hardware, excellent camera system, and numerous high-end features like a fast in-screen fingerprint scanner and reverse wireless charging will be more than enough to see it rung up.

best phones OnePlus 7 Pro

The OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the best phones available today for pure speed a performance.

4. OnePlus 7 Pro

A beautiful Android smartphone with speed that kills

Weight: 185g
Dimensions: 162.6x75.9x8.8 mm
OS: OxygenOS / Android 9.0 Pie
Screen size: 6.67-inch AMOLED, 90Hz
Resolution: 3120 x 1440 at 516 ppi
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB / 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP main + 8MP telephoto + 16MP ultra-wide
Front camera: 16MP selfie
Reasons to buy
+Buttery Smooth 90Hz Display+Flawless, Google-beating performance+30W Warp Charing is astoundingly quick+Gorgeous design and colourways
Reasons to avoid
-Awful camera pop-up-No wireless charging-No IP rating

OnePlus 7 Pro is a new proposition from the company. After spending the last five years of its existence convincing customers they don't need to cough-up for a flagship smartphone because they can get a comparable experience from its aggressively-priced rival, OnePlus has decided to launch a smartphone that costs £50 more than the iPhone 7 did at launch.

It’s an ambitious, designed to prove that OnePlus can now compete at this level and price point. And in some ways, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a bona fide victory lap for the company – the 90Hz Fluid AMOLED is astonishing, the smartphone is blink-and-you'll-miss-it fast, and the wired Warp Charging is the best you'll find on any phone at the moment.

However, there are other areas where the OnePlus 7 Pro still doesn't quite feel like it's on the same level as the Samsung Galaxy S10e and Huawei P30, which are all similarly priced – there's no wireless charging, no expandable storage, no adjustable bokeh blur in Portrait Mode, no IP Rating for water resistance... the list goes on.

OnePlus fans will find a lot to love here, and its great to see the spunky Shenzhen start-up really flex its muscles and show what it's capable of when it's not designing a budget-conscious smartphone. Unfortunately, while small niggles are easy to dismiss when the device is competitively priced, they're magnified when it's not.

The biggest saving grace for the OnePlus 7 Pro is that, while the iPhone 7 launched with a starting price of £599 – times have changed. The current-generation flagship from the company, iPhone XS, starts from £999, with Android-powered competitors creeping towards the same price point. As such, OnePlus 7 Pro might be the priciest phone the company has ever launched… but it still manages to feel quite reasonable compared to some of its rivals.

Honor View 20 best phone 2019

The Honor View 20 offers very strong internal hardware at a mid-tier price point.

5. Honor View 20

The best phone for flagship-grade internal hardware at a mid-range price point

Weight: 180g
Dimensions: 156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm
OS: Android 9.0 Pie
Screen size: 6.4-inches
Resolution: 2310 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Kirin 980
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP rear
Front camera: 25MP front
Reasons to buy
+Bold, standout design+Large and vibrant 6.4-inch screen+Rapid internal hardware
Reasons to avoid
-No wireless charging-No water resistance certification

With its incredibly bold Aurora nanotexture design, massive 6.4-inch screen, and incredibly rapid 7nm Kirin 980 processor, the Honor View 20 certainly delivers you bang for you buck. And that's saying nothing about its flagship-level RAM and storage options either!

And it certainly is that affordability that really elevates the Honor View 20, as the phone is very much a mid-price range device, with the base unit of the phone retailing for a penny less five hundred notes, and the top-spec version still only ringing in at £80 more at £579.99 in the UK.

Throw in a strong camera system that boasts the showboating ability to shoot 48MP images, some advanced GPU Turbo 2.0 tech that makes any Android game run like a dream, and the very latest version of Android 9.0 Pie and Honor's own Magic UI 2.0.1, and you're left with a device that can compete benchmark-wise with phones hundreds of pounds more expensive and leaves very little to be desired.

Yes, you don't get some flagship phone-level features like wireless charging (or reverse wireless charging) or an in-display fingerprint reader, but they seem small compromises considering the package you do get for your money – and it's a package that includes a screen with a natty pin-hole front camera.

Apple iPhone XR best phones and best smartphone

The iPhone XR from Apple brings premium specs at a lower price.

6. Apple iPhone XR

The best phone for Apple fans looking for maximum bang for their buck

Weight: 194g
Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
OS: iOS 12
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Resolution: 828 x 1792
CPU: Apple A12 Bionic (7 nm)
Storage: 64/128/256GB
Battery: 2,942 mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Modern, bright design+Liquid Retina screen+Excellent build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Camera system could be better-Lacks 3D Touch

If you're an Apple fan and can't stretch financially to the 5-star awesomeness that is the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, then the iPhone XR makes a great case as a cheaper alternative – and so it could well be the best phone for you in 2019.

The iPhone XR comes in a variety of attractive, bright colours, and features a quality 6.1-inch HDR Liquid Retina display, Apple's latest and greatest A12 Bionic chipset, 3GB of RAM, a 2,942 mAh battery, and 64GB of storage space in the entry model (which can be taken up to 256GB with extra spend).

It is, across the board, a well-equipped and very well made phone that, straight out of  the box, feels great in the hand.

What you don't get in the Apple iPhone XR is the same flexibility of camera that you get in iPhone XS. Plus, the screen (while large and clear) is also trumped by the XS range and some other, equally-priced devices.

Regardless, though, as T3 concluded in our official review of the phone, the iPhone XR delivers "a full iPhone experience for a great price. It deserves to stand outside of the shadow of the iPhone XS, offering a finely balanced experience that takes most that phone's premium feel, and throws in a couple of tricks of its own."

As such, we feel the iPhone XR is the best phone Apple currently makes in terms of bang for your buck, and as such is an easy recommend for most users.

Best phones Sony Xperia 1

For the cinephiles among us, it's hard to do better than the Sony Xperia 1.

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony Xperia 1

The best phone in the world for watching movies

Weight: 180g
Dimensions: 167 x 72 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 9.0
Screen size: 6.5 inches
Resolution: 1644 x 3840 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 3,300mAh
Rear camera: 12MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto), 12MP (ultrawide)
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Huge, unique display+Powerful processor+Immersive audio+Dust and waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Disappointing battery life-No wireless charging

As you can probably see, the biggest thing – literally – about this phone is it's 6.5-inch 21:9 4K display which, for the uninitiated, is the preferred aspect ratio for watching films (or movies, as the Americans call them) and TV. If those are two things that you like to do, then look no further than this beast of a handset.

The issue is, as we said in our review, is that while this display is a thing of beauty – crisp, huge, vibrant – the phone has a rather underwhelming battery, which means the screen appears dim unless cranked right up to near maximum. Crank that brightness up though, and the viewing experience is truly superb. Just don't expect that battery to run for days on end.

The phone's super tall size also makes it somewhat unwieldy, especially when it's in a normal-sized pocket. Now, of course, this applies to many big phones (Galaxy Note, we're looking at you), but the pure length of this handset – combined with its above-average weight – exacerbates the problem.

If this doesn't seem like an issue to you, and it could easily not be, there's a lot to love here: 128GB of storage on board as standard, the latest Snapdragon chip is lightning fast, the display, as mentioned, is stunning, and the sound system – provided by Dolby – is top notch. There really isn't a better phone for the cinephiles among us.

best phones Google Pixel 3a

The Google Pixel 3a is the best phone for value and a killer camera system on the market.

8. Google Pixel 3a

The best phone for photography lovers shopping on a budget

Weight: 175g
Dimensions: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 9.0 Pie
Screen size: 5.6 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2220 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3000mAh
Rear camera: 12.2 MP, f/1.8, 28mm (wide), 1/2.55", 1.4µm, OIS, dual pixel PDAF
Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1.12µm
Reasons to buy
+Phenomenal Pixel 3 Camera+Pure Android 9.0 Pie out of the box+3.5mm Headphone Port+Fast-Charger In The Box
Reasons to avoid
-No Water Or Dust Resistance-No wireless charging-No ultra-wide group selfie mode

The Google Pixel 3a is the best smartphone going in 2019 if you prioritise value for money, camera quality and also want a vanilla software experience that comes straight from Google.

Indeed, the Pixel 3a's super-low retail price of only £340 ($399) makes an absolute mockery of max-spec flagships that cost over £1000 more when you factor in the performance and experience it delivers.

Not only do you get the phenomenal camera that debuted in the much more expensive Google Pixel 3 XL, which along with the system loaded in the Huawei P30 Pro is the best-in-class system going today, but you also get a fast and pure Android 9.0 Pie experience as well as a very solid mid-range hardware spec, too.

Internals consist of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage space, and a 3,000mAh battery. The phone also comes with a compact but sharp 5.6-inch, FHD+ (2220 x 1080) OLED screen which delivers 441 ppi.

Throw in the phone's low weight (147 grams), understated and stylish design, and the fact that it comes with a guaranteed three years of Android OS updates and unlimited Google Photos cloud storage, and it is easy to see how the Google Pixel 3a has lodged itself into T3's best phones 2019 buying guide.

Xiaomi Mi 9 best phones

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is one of the best phones for mixing looks and performance.

9. Xiaomi Mi 9

Packed with top-end specs and fantastic looks as well

Weight: 173g
Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.7 x 7.6 mm
OS: Android 9.0
Screen size: 6.39 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6-8GB
Storage: 64-128GB
Battery: 3300mAh
Rear camera: 48 MP f/1.8 + 16 MP f/2.2 + 12 MP f/2.2
Front camera: 20 MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Appealing, polished design+Some of the most powerful specs around+Very competitive price
Reasons to avoid
-No waterproofing-Software could be better

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the latest flagship from the Chinese firm to hit the UK and it brings a lot with it: high end specs (including a Snapdragon 855), nicely finished looks, a fantastic screen and impressive camera performance.

While the Mi 9 might not seem to stand out against the S10s and Pixel 3s of this world, when you check the price the appeal of this phone becomes clear – it goes toe-to-toe against the best in terms of specs and looks but at a much lower price.

Almost every aspect of the Xiaomi Mi 9 impresses, including the different camera modes, and the longer-than-usual battery life, and the small teardrop notch that doesn't take much away from the display.

If you're nit-picking you could say the MIUI software isn't the best in the world, and there's no IP68 waterproofing or expandable storage here, but everything considered – and at this price – it's definitely one of the best phones of 2019.

Best phones Samsung Galaxy Note 9 best smartphone

More than just a productivity powerhouse, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a do-everything powerhouse.

10. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

A superb Android phone equipped with a fantastic digital stylus

Weight: 201g
Dimensions: 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 6.4-inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2960 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear cameras: 12 MP f/1.5-2.4 + 12MP f/2.4
Front camera: 8 MP f/1.7
Reasons to buy
+Powerful hardware suite+6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen is stunning+New S Pen digital stylus works superbly
Reasons to avoid
-4,000mAh battery is only competitive, not standout-Bixby AI assistant is still definitely a work in progress

With its absolutely stunning 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, powerful internal hardware suite, and advanced new S Pen digital stylus, the Note 9 is undeniably one of the best Android phones available today and, simply put, delivers strongly across the board.

Indeed, when you factor in the phone's excellent camera system, competitive battery, and audiophile audio credentials, you realise that this isn't just a work-focused productivity powerhouse, but a do-anything powerhouse that easily makes our best phones 2019 list.

In our review of the Galaxy Note 9 we stated that it's one of "the most functional, feature-packed, and premium Android smartphones in the world", before concluding that "if you're shopping for a flagship-level new phone, and can afford its high price point, then you should definitely count it among your top contenders."

While its admittedly high price point may put you off, as might the Android platform if you're used to iOS, you simply can't ignore what a polished and highly useful device the Note 9 is.

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