What is the best smartphone right now? It’s a deceptively simple question. Millions of people type it in a search engine every month. The results that come back usually take the form of a list, leaving the user to go through a bunch of options that may, or may not actually suit them. At Android Authority, we do the list thing (some people just want a quick recommendation), but we also try to go further.
What is the best smartphone, objectively speaking? We have the answer for you in our Best of Android Awards 2019 post. I won’t spoil the result, in case you haven’t read it yet. I’ll just say we came to the answer by painstakingly measuring device performance across product features throughout 2019.
We know exactly which phone has the best display, or the fastest-charging battery, or even the best-sounding audio. But is that the 2019 phone we actually recommend to most people?
Introducing our Editors’ Choice award
You can’t always measure your way out of a question. For all the “intangibles,” the stuff you can’t measure or even put your finger on, you have to rely on old-fashioned experience, industry knowledge, and a little instinct. Luckily, we have all of these traits in spades here at Android Authority.
This brings us to the Best of Android 2019: Editors’ Choice Award. It’s an award that has little to do with the objective testing we’ve been doing, though we certainly looked at the data before making our picks. Instead, we looked at the whole package, including intangibles like value for money, the overall quality of the software, the ease of use, the strength of the brand ecosystem, the frequency of updates, and the long-term support the phone is likely to get.
We looked at the whole package, including intangibles like value for money and the overall quality of the software
We’ve asked a panel of Android Authority editors, picked from the team members who actually got to experience most devices that came out in 2019, to select their choice for our Editors’ Choice award. The results are below.
Best of Android Editors’ Choice winner: Google Pixel 3a XL
Our 2019 Editors’ Choice award goes to the Google Pixel 3a XL.
The Pixel 3a XL is nothing like the winner of our objective testing award. If you just look at the numbers, the phone seems, in fact, forgettable. It’s not the best at anything, it’s not even in the top-10 of most categories. But the Pixel 3a XL easily beat more expensive devices to become our top pick out of all phones released in 2019.
Out of all the phones of 2019, the Pixel 3a XL is the one we feel comfortable recommending to most people.
The Pixel 3a XL compares favorably not just with its stablemates, but also the dozens of flagship phones out there, running Android or iOS. You get many of the same features, great battery life, a superb camera, and front-row access to Google’s ever-growing lineup of innovative software features, without having to spend as much.
The Pixel 3a XL’s camera weighed heavily in our decision. It’s almost as good as the Pixel 4 XL’s, which leads camera rankings in our objective testing. Thanks to Google’s policy to bring new features to existing hardware, it has cool functions like Astrophotography. Image quality remains hard to beat, though its lack of secondary cameras means it’s not as flexible as we’d like.
Availability and pricing are massive factors when making purchasing decisions, so we took that into consideration when we picked our Editors’ Choice phone of 2019. The Pixel 3a XL shines in this regard: It cost as low as $360 earlier this week – it’s currently $424, which is still pretty great for what it gives you. It’s also easily available from Google Store, Amazon, and other major retailers.
The Google Pixel 3a XL may not be flashy, and it’s definitely not a status symbol, but it’s an amazing phone for every-day use, at a decent price. Out of all the phones of 2019, it’s the one we feel comfortable recommending to most people.
Runner-up: Huawei P30 Pro
Huawei is mired in controversy, and there’s some uncertainty around the long-term availability of updates for its devices. However, the company is here to stay, and a lot of its resilience is based on the strength of its product line.
The Huawei P30 Pro is the most recent flagship phone that Huawei broadly released internationally. It’s also superb all-around, from its luxurious design and great battery life and charging speed, to its powerful and versatile cameras.
Like with the Pixel 3a XL, the Huawei P30 Pro’s camera is one of the main reasons we’re recommending this device. It’s simply that good. But that’s not the only one. The P30 Pro is great in virtually every way.
Runner-up: OnePlus 7T
OnePlus has slowly transitioned away from its initial mission of delivering “flagship killing” specs on the cheap, but the value-oriented ethos hasn’t really changed. The OnePlus 7T is a prime example, and it’s one of the best phones OnePlus has put up in years.
We recommend the OnePlus 7T thanks to its impressive triple camera, solid battery life, and high-res, high-refresh screen, but also because OnePlus is one of the best manufacturers when it comes to fast updates and smooth software.
OnePlus 7T is also cheaper than many competitors, and available widely throughout the world.
The beauty of the Android world: so many perspectives, and so many phones for every taste
Make your voice heard in the Reader’s Choice award
The Google Pixel 3a XL is our pick for best smartphone of 2019, based on more than just objective testing. But we know many of you are passionate enthusiasts and smartphone experts in your own right. That’s why, starting tomorrow, you can make your own voice heard by voting in our Best of Android 2019: Reader’s Choice polls.
Through December 25, we’ll let our audience pick their favorite phone of the year. Come back tomorrow to begin voting.
Meanwhile, do not miss the objective testing segment of our Best of Android 2019 awards.
And that concludes the Editors’ Choice segment of our Best of Android 2019 awards. We realize our pick may not be what you expected, or even what you would think of as a great phone. But that’s the beauty of the Android world – there are so many perspectives, and so many phones for every taste.
Thanks for reading and for following Android Authority throughout the year!