2019 saw hundreds of smartphones being released. However, not all of them were worth a look or your money, with the majority of them being just noise and only a handful of them worth buying. Before 2020 begins and the market is flooded with more smartphones that are even more powerful and pack even better cameras, we decided to rank the best smartphones released this year.
Now, the below list is completely subjective and chances are, you are not going to agree with at least some of my choices. To back up the list, I have also noted a few pros and cons of every device below as well. In case, you do not agree with my list of the top 10 smartphones of 2019, do drop a comment and let us know your own list.
Best Smartphones of 2019
1. iPhone 11 Pro
Now, I am not ranking the iPhone 11 Pro as the best smartphone released this year just because we are an Apple-focused site. The iPhone 11 Pro ticks every box that one could ask for in a smartphone: great display, great battery life, great camera, and great build quality. All this might sound so simple on paper, but it is a formula that somehow other OEMs have just struggled to perfect this year.
The iPhone 11 Pro brought about some much-needed improvements on the camera front which allowed Apple to catch up to the likes of the Pixel and Huawei. The slight design refresh and the introduction of the new Midnight Green color also helped in giving the phone a new look. The dramatic improvement in battery life was a surprise and one that had the most impact: everyone has been singing praises of the iPhone 11 Pro’s battery life after owning it.
Apple even got around to bundling an 18W fast charger with the iPhone 11 Pro this year which means it could be charged from 0-50% in just 30 minutes.
The phone is not without its own issues though. The ultra-wide camera could get its own Night mode, the base storage should be increased to 128GB, and Apple should really ditch the Lightning connector in favor of USB-C. Well, there’s always 2020 to look forward to.
Read: iPhone 11 Pro Review
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
Samsung’s Galaxy Note series remains the king of the best big smartphone in the market. The Galaxy Note 10+ is essentially a Galaxy S10 in a bigger body with a bigger display and S-Pen. However, Samsung knows how to make big phones like no one else.
Despite being unwieldy large, the ergonomics of the Galaxy Note 10+ are on point. And it makes up for its massive size by packing almost every feature you can think of: oodles of RAM and storage, stunning display, the ever-useful S-Pen, reverse wireless charging, 25W fast charging, and more. Yes, Samsung did ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Note 10+ but I think the world has now moved on to Bluetooth earbuds.
Apple also needs to take a cue from Samsung’s book when it comes to storage and RAM. The Galaxy Note 10+ comes with a staggering 12GB RAM and even the base variant ships with 256GB of storage. Plus, there’s also a microSD card slot so one can always increase the storage down the line for cheap.
3. iPhone 11
There are plenty of Android flagships that are priced in the same range as the iPhone 11. On paper, many of them also seem more attractive than the latter. However, the iPhone 11 handily beats them in real-life use. Yes, its 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD sticks out like a sore thumb and it still ships with an embarrassingly slow 5W charger.
However, there’s a lot that’s going in favor of the iPhone 11 as well — a class-leading dual-camera system at the rear, selfie camera with slow-motion recording capabilities, Face ID, A13 Bionic chip, and battery life than puts almost every other phone out there to shame.
Apple has further sweetened the deal this year by lowering the price of the iPhone 11 to $699. The 128GB model also costs an additional $50 which is what you really should opt for.
4. Samsung Galaxy S10
If there’s one company other than Apple that knows how to make flagship phones, it is Samsung. The Galaxy S10 continues to remain a formidable flagship smartphone in the market despite being released in early 2019. The stunning design, versatile camera system, beautiful and bright display, and generous amount of RAM and storage means the Galaxy S10 offers everything one could ask for. It was also the only major flagship smartphone released in 2019 to feature a headphone jack.
The Exynos variant sold in the international market suffered from performance and battery life issues which is why the phone does not sit above the iPhone 11 in this list. Samsung needs to ensure that it offers its customers the same experience with its flagship handset in terms of performance and battery life irrespective of where the region they live in.
5. Samsung Galaxy Fold
Expensive? Yes. Impractical? Yes. Innovative? Definitely! And that’s why the Galaxy Fold is on this list. Major reliability issues with the Galaxy Fold’s design were discovered even before the device went on sale. This led Samsung to delay the launch of its first foldable by a few months. Even with the tweaked design, the foldable display of the Galaxy Fold was just too fragile to withstand any daily life wear and tear.
Despite all these issues though, it is hard to ignore the Galaxy Fold. It is the first foldable phone that made people sit up and take notice of the technology and it marked the beginning of foldable devices making their way into the hands of consumers.
There are many areas that Samsung can work on and improve the Galaxy Fold, especially in terms of reliability. These things should happen over the next few years as Samsung receives more public feedback and the technology further advances.
6. Huawei P30 Pro
The U.S. Entity ban might have put a brake on Huawei’s growth outside of China but that has not stopped the company from launching impressive smartphones. The Huawei P30 Pro launched in the first half of the year and it was the company’s last flagship smartphone to launch with Google apps and services.
The Huawei P30 Pro set new a new benchmark in terms of camera performance, with its primary 40MP shooter taking some outstanding photos in low-light scenarios. The 50x digital zoom feature was also a nice addition that got people talking, though it was mostly a gimmick. The innovative periscope zoom lens offered 5x optical zoom, but the photos it took at full zoom were just too soft. Also, despite being a camera-centric phone, the Huawei P30 Pro was inconsistent and its video recording capabilities were also very poor.
Read: Huawei P30 Pro Review
7. Oppo Reno
Announced in April, the Oppo Reno makes it to this list because of the innovation it brought to the table when it first launched. The shark-fin take on the selfie camera was unique, but even more innovative was the inclusion of a periscope lens offering 10x hybrid zoom. Other aspects of the device were strictly mediocre though and Oppo really needs to work on its skin and improve its usability.
8. OnePlus 7T
OnePlus was known for launching budget flagship smartphones. However, with the OnePlus 7 Pro and the OnePlus 7T Pro, its smartphones breached the $600+ price band and were closer in price to what a Samsung flagship would cost after discount. But then, the company once again managed to spring a surprise with the OnePlus 7T in the second half of the year.
The OnePlus 7T ships with a 90Hz Optic AMOLED display, a powerful Snapdragon 865 chipset, 128GB of base storage, 3800mAh battery with 30W fast charging, 8GB RAM, and more. It even has a capable triple-camera system at the rear which includes a primary 48MP shooter and a 16MP ultra-wide angle camera.
Despite packing such impressive specs and features, the OnePlus 7T retails for only $549 — a steal for its price. If you cannot buy the iPhone 11 due to budget constraints, the OnePlus 7T is a capable alternative that you should consider buying.
9. Mi 9T Pro/K20 Pro
Another budget flagship that offers insane value for money. Xiaomi offers a number of impressive budget mid-range smartphones around $200. However, its flagship Mi smartphone is also equally impressive and offers immense value for money. The Mi 9T Pro/Redmi K20 Pro packs a Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6/8GB RAM, a beautiful glass design, pop-up selfie camera, in-display fingerprint scanner, a 4,000mAh battery, and a potent triple-camera system. Its price? £399 or roughly $480.
Read: Redmi K20 Pro Review
10. Google Pixel 4
The Google Pixel 4 makes it to this list purely based on its camera performance. It’s a phone that I won’t recommend anyone to buy unless all they care about is camera performance. The phone simply does not have anything else to offer. The 90Hz OLED display might look tempting on paper, but the additional power requirement it brings to the table means the Pixel 4 cannot even last a full day of normal use.
Even from a camera perspective, the iPhone 11 Pro makes more sense than the Pixel 4. The latter misses out on an ultra-wide angle shooter which is a shocking and surprising omission for a flagship phone in 2019. The video recording capabilities were also nothing to write home about, with the phone missing out on 4k@60fps recording. If Google really wants its Pixel lineup to compete with the iPhone, it really needs to rethink its strategy.
Read: Google Pixel 4 Review
Which were the best smartphones of 2019 as per you? Do drop a comment and share your list with us!