“What is the best phone?”
Such a loaded question, but it’s probably the first thing anyone who meets me asks. It’s a fair query, but there’s so many things to consider for each potential buyer out there that there’s no true answer. Heck, that’s why you’re at Android Authority in the first place: Android phones offer a level of choice that simply can’t be matched by Apple, and the array of options is dizzying. There’s no one-size-fits-all phone out there.
We’re here to help guide you through the best phones of 2019.
How we determined award winners
After subjecting each phone to a battery of objective and subjective tests, we normalized the scores so that each assessment is as fair as it possibly could be. For example, we didn’t want anything you can’t perceive to make a difference in how we award our phones.
Though it’s a little less visible this time around, our testing is now far more serious. We drew help from our friends in the industry to ramp this up, including display experts SpectraCal, digital imaging pros Imatest, the brains behind leading benchmark software (3DMark, GFXBench, and Geekbench) and SpeedTest G (Gary Sims) to make un-gameable testing, and our colleagues at SoundGuys to run each phone through an audio performance gantlet.
This year's crop of devices is exciting in ways that only the Android ecosystem can be.
We found that unlike in previous years, most 2019 phones do extremely well, which means now it’s about finding which phones have something truly special to offer. Only phones that truly earned their spot were given awards, but that number shrunk in 2019 due to the fact that this year’s crop of devices is hyper-competitive and much closer together than in any year prior.
We greatly increased our candidates over last year, with 73 eligible models (120 total between both years) being tested, argued over, and assessed. We had actually hoped to test more, but some models simply weren’t available. Others were disqualified if their replacements were released, or if they’re at the end of their retail lives. We feel this is the best representation of the Android field as of mid-November, 2019.
Best of Android 2019: The candidates
- Asus ROG Phone II
- Asus Zenfone 6
- Google Pixel 3a
- Google Pixel 3a XL
- Google Pixel 4
- Google Pixel 4 XL
- Honor 20
- Honor 20 Pro
- Honor 9X (EU)
- Mate 20 X
- Huawei Mate 30 Pro
- Huawei P30
- Huawei P30 Pro
- LG G8 ThinQ
- LG G8X
- LG V35 ThinQ
- LG V50 ThinQ
- Moto G6
- Moto G6 Play
- Moto G7
- Moto G7 Power
- Moto G8 Plus
- Motorola Moto Z4
- Motorola One Vision
- Nokia 7.2
- Nokia 9 PureView
- Nubia Red Magic 3
- OnePlus 7
- OnePlus 7 Pro
- OnePlus 7T
- OnePlus 7T Pro
- Oppo F11 Pro
- Oppo Reno 10x Zoom
- Oppo Reno 2
- Oppo Reno Ace
- Realme 3 Pro
- Realme 5
If your eyes glazed over a bit, don’t worry: many of those phones are designed for a certain niche. While we only awarded a handful of phones, no entry on this list is truly bad, but there’s a lot of data for each one of these options. Be sure to check the scores of each phone in the reviews in order to see how they stacked up in testing!
When the dust had settled we awarded three titles: the overall best phone based on raw performance data, our Editor’s Choice pick, and your Reader’s Choice winner. Without further ado, let’s see how the 2019 crop fared (if you want to see all of our category winners and place-winners, then check out our full list of Best of Android 2019 Award winners).
By the numbers, the best smartphone of 2019 is…
After all our testing, the king of 2019 is the Realme X2 Pro. With a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor and 12GB of RAM, this phone offered a class-leading performance at a very affordable price… if you’re outside the US, that is. If you are in the US, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (our runner-up) is another high-caliber option.
Of course, if the numbers told us anything, it’s that the phones of 2019 are mostly extremely good, and the “best” title means less and less every year. For many people, features win the day. However, the upside of our findings is that no matter what phone you choose, there’s a very high likelihood you won’t notice massive performance differences among the midrange phones to the flagship ones.
Our Editors went a different direction
Of course, when you don’t take things that many consumers prize into consideration (read: value for money), what’s best for some people isn’t the same as it would be for others. Naturally, this is where our trained staff of editors comes in. This year, our editors chose the Google Pixel 3a XL as the phone they most often recommend to others to buy. Not only does this phone hang tough with the latest Android features and camera goodies, but it also offers the best value for money on the market for Android phones.
While the Google Pixel 3a XL was our main pick, other phones like the OnePlus 7T, Asus ROG Phone II, and more made a strong showing in our internal poll. It’s very clear that the Android world is stronger than ever, and with more crowd-pleasing options than before.
Who’s your winner?
Every year, we conduct polling on our site and social feeds to determine which phones win in a head-to-head competition. The final remaining phone will win the award. While this year’s contest isn’t as long or as brutal as last year’s Reader’s choice awards, it’s be no less illustrative of what our audience feels is the best of the best.
This year, our readers chose the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus as their choice for smartphone of the year, which just goes to show that the numbers don’t tell the whole story when you’re looking at handsets.
We sincerely hope you enjoy our Best of Android content, and would love to hear back from you to figure out what we can improve next year. We didn’t have time to discuss every data point, but we left no stone unturned in our quest to provide you with the information you need. We’re looking to debut our own testing suite for phones in 2020 that uses SpeedTest G as its main driver, and because it’s our own app: we can slice up the data in so many ways it’ll make your head spin!
There’s a lot of really great things on the horizon, and we’d love to take that leap with you all.