High-end flagship smartphones appear in ads and dominate the headlines of reviews. However, these innovative smartphones often cost $ 1,000 or more. With smartphones packed with high-quality components, long-lasting features, and the ability to receive software updates, phones that were flagship products a year or two ago can save you hundreds and provide almost the same experience as the latest and greatest.
This is the time of year when the latest Android smartphones and the latest Apple iPhones are announced and launched. The following are excellent smartphones to consider while ignoring the hype surrounding the shiny new phones coming in late 2020. They’re not ranked in any order, but they are all very powerful phones that are definitely worth considering.
$ 699 for a beautiful, powerful 5G phone
At the end of 2019, the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren topped my list of the 10 best smartphones and is still an impressive phone. Though the name is mouth full, it was one of the first 5G phones on T-Mobile and has several cool McLaren design cues, including the unboxing experience.
The OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus processor with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage. Three reversing cameras offer a solid picture experience. The front-facing camera slides up from the top only when you need it and is a sleek design feature.
A large battery and a super-fast Warp Charge 30T keep you charged all day. The black with papaya orange highlights is glorious and this phone was tough to sell and keep going. Right now it’s $ 200 less than the original price, so $ 699 for a very capable 5G phone is a good buy.
$ 699 at OnePlus
On sale: $ 449 full price
The OnePlus 7T was recently replaced by the OnePlus 8T, but this means a huge drop in price compared to the previous year’s model. You can find it on sale now for $ 150 less than last year for just $ 449. It’s an extremely capable phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal UFS 3.0 storage. The 90Hz display offers one of the most fluid experiences seen on an Android phone.
Triple rear cameras allow you to take standard, ultra-wide and telephoto pictures. There is also a macro mode that allows you to take pictures from an inch away. It is rare for this feature to be available on a phone without an external macro lens.
With the Warp Charge 30T adapter, the 3,800 mAh battery is charged in a few minutes. In our full test, we found that this was the best smartphone score of 2019. While competitors are now offering phones in this price range, these phones often compromise on internal specifications.
$ 599 at OnePlus
Bluetooth S Pen and amazing note taking capabilities
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is probably the best corporate phone available right now, but last year’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus is still worth considering. It’s priced at $ 1,099.99, which is still a lot of money, but the comparable new Note 20 Ultra 5G starts at $ 1,299.99. You can also find it at other online retailers for less than Samsung.
The Galaxy Note 10 Plus has been improved over the Note 9 with improvements to the S Pen, improved audio, and an improved camera experience. It’s a beautiful phone that runs on a Snapdragon 855 process and is upgraded to Android 11.
$ 1,150 at Best Buy
Three sizes to suit your needs
The Samsung Galaxy S20 was announced in February with multiple models ranging from a smaller to a 5G package, taking on the best flagships available. Last year’s Samsung flagships were arguably the best smartphones out there at the time.
The Galaxy S10 is offered in a small S10e form, S10 and S10 Plus. There are some differences in the cameras and in the display and battery sizes. These devices have an interesting feature that lets you charge your Galaxy Buds, or even other wireless chargers, by placing them on the back of the Galaxy S10.
The Galaxy S10 phones now run Android 10 with Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processors, lots of RAM and internal storage, IP68 dust and water resistance, and more. These phones are known for great cellular reception and fast performance.
$ 600 at Amazon $ 750 at Walmart $ 600 at Best Buy
The 2019 Pro models are still fantastic
Sarah Tew / CNET
Apple’s iPhone models are sold annually, but Apple is at the forefront of keeping their phones updated for years after it was launched. While the four new iPhone 12 models are impressive, you can save some cash and pick up last year’s iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max and maintain a high level of productivity.
The 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max differ only in screen size and battery capacity with the Apple A13 Bionic chip, 4 GB of RAM and three internal storage options. The latest version of iOS is available on these phones. The triple rear cameras allow you to capture amazing still images and video content.
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are highly water-resistant and last a whole day. There are many accessories available at great prices. The 11 Pro and Pro Max are no longer available directly from Apple, but from other online retailers. Amazon sells renewed iPhone 11 pros starting at $ 729.
$ 999 on Amazon $ 900 on Best Buy $ 587 on Back Market
The best iPhone 2019 for everyone
The cheapest iPhone of 2019 and the most loved one was the Apple iPhone 11. It remains a classic and despite the new four iPhone 12 models, Apple is still selling the iPhone 11 starting at $ 599.
The iPhone 11 has a beautiful 6.1-inch display and is powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic processor, 4GB of RAM, and three internal storage options. The display is LCD compared to the OLED panels of the Pro models. We also find two cameras on the iPhone 11 so there is no tele option.
There are several color options available for the Apple iPhone 11, which fit in well with Apple’s new price range.
$ 599 at Apple
High-end imaging for just $ 349
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / ZDNet
Last year, Google tried something different and released two mid-range phones in the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. This year it was only possible with the smaller version and brought the Pixel 4a onto the market. We have since released the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5. So if you want a more powerful 5G Google Pixel phone, check out either of these two.
The Pixel 4a offers almost the same immersive viewing experience for a mid-level processor and starting at just $ 349. In fact, if you want amazing still images that you can easily capture, consider carrying one around as a second imaging phone.
With the Pixel 4a you get a classic, fast fingerprint sensor on the back, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of internal storage, a 12.2-megapixel camera, an 8-megapixel front camera and a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor.
$ 349 at Amazon $ 420 at Walmart $ 350 at Best Buy
An affordable dual screen option
This year, LG launched the LG Velvet and LG Wing phones, but a phone released earlier this year is an affordable option to get dual-screen capabilities. The LG V60 with dual screen cover is available
The LG V60 ThinQ is a 5G phone with MIL-STD 810G shock resistance, a Google Assistant key with LG-specific features and a triple rear camera system. The 5,000 mAh battery seems to work forever.
Inside the phone is a Snapdragon 865 processor, a 6.8-inch display, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot, IP68 rating, 5000 mAh battery and much more. It’s available now for $ 699.99, which is $ 200 less than its original starting price. This also includes the dual-screen cover.
$ 550 at Walmart $ 900 at Best Buy $ 900 at LG