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Class of 2018: Five best Android phones that weren’t released in the U.S.

A lot of great phones that were announced last year did not make it to the U.S. Check out the five best ones to see exactly what you're missing out on.
January 17, 2019

A lot of great Android phones were announced in 2018, but not all of them made it to the U.S. While flagships models from Samsung, LG, and Sony are all available stateside, U.S. consumers missed out on a number of impressive phones from brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo.

Before we take a look at the five best and most interesting ones, remember you can still find some of these devices on Amazon. However, they usually don’t come with a warranty and sometimes ship from Europe or Asia, meaning a higher delivery cost and potential import fees.

HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro

HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro handset showing the app drawer in a person's hand.

The Mate 20 Pro is the best phone in Huawei’s lineup and one of the best Android phones on the market today. It offers top-of-the-line specs, a great design, and a few extra bells and whistles you won’t find on any other handset — like reverse wireless charging.

The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro is the class leader in battery life.

The device sports a large 6.39-inch Quad HD+ display with curved edges, similar to the latest Galaxy S and Note series. It’s powered by the AI-focused Kirin 980 chipset and comes with up to 8GB of RAM. There’s a triple-camera setup on the back that takes fantastic photos, even in low-light conditions thanks to Huawei’s Night Mode. Other standout features include an in-display fingerprint scanner, 3D facial recognition, and a massive 4,200mAh battery.

The Mate 20 Pro isn’t perfect — no phone ever is. It doesn’t have a headphone jack, which is a deal breaker for some. It uses EMUI, which isn’t the best Android skin out there, packing in a lot of bloatware and a few questionable design choices. On the flip side, it offers a few great features you don’t get on stock Android devices, like Navigation dock and App twin.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

What makes the Mi Mix 3 special is its slider design, which reveals the two front-facing cameras on top when you push down the screen. The phone achieves an almost bezel-less display without needing a notch like most high-end phones these days.

What is 5G, and what can we expect from it?
Red 5G logo

The Mi Mix 3 also impresses in the specs department, packing the Snapdragon 845 chipset and up to 10GB of RAM under the hood. It comes with a 6.39-inch Full HD+ display, sports a great dual-camera setup on the back, and supports wireless charging. There’s even a 10W wireless charging pad included in the retail box, which is something I’d like to see from more manufacturers.

Unfortunately, there’s no headphone jack on the Mi Mix 3 and the phone isn’t waterproof. The battery is also quite small at 3,200mAh, especially compared to similarly-sized devices like Galaxy Note 9 (4,000mAh) and HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro (4,200mAh). There’s no microSD card slot on board either, but the 128 and 256GB storage options should be more than enough for most users.


The OPPO Find X is probably the most futuristic phone of 2018. Its mechanical module raises from the top of the device to reveals the front and back cameras. The phone doesn’t have a notch and sports an extremely high screen-to-body-ratio at 92.25 percent.

The OPPO Find X features 3D facial recognition but does not have a fingerprint scanner.

Oppo’s flagship also features 3D facial recognition, which is a lot safer than the face unlock feature many phones used this year. It comes with high-end specs including the Snapdragon 845 chipset, 8GB of RAM, and a 6.42-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution. The phone also supports the use of two SIM cards at the same time (dual-SIM) and packs an average-sized 3,730mAh battery.

However, the Find X’s coolest feature is also its biggest drawback. There are concerns regarding the longevity of the moving camera module, mainly because it activates every time you unlock the phone with your face. You’ll be doing that quite often since the phone doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner.


The HONOR Play on a table.

The HONOR Play is marketed as a gaming phone, mainly due to its GPU Turbo technology, which improves graphics processing efficiency by 60 percent and reduces energy consumption by 30 percent. GPU Turbo debuted on the HONOR Play, but now its available on a number of other HUAWEI and HONOR phones as well (learn more about it here).

The biggest highlight of the device is its value. It’s powered by the Kirin 970 chipset found in the much more expensive HUAWEI P20 Pro and comes with 4 or 6GB of RAM under the hood. It also sports a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display, a 3,750mAh battery, and a dual-camera setup with 16 and 2MP sensors at the back. The phone launched at 330 euros (~$380) back in August. Now  you can find it for as low as 285 euros, which is a fantastic deal.

The low price tag means HONOR had to cut some corners. It’s missing a few features found on flagship handsets like an IP rating and wireless charging. The camera is also average at best, and can’t compare with those found on the Galaxy Note 9 and Mate 20 Pro.

Pocophone F1

Front side of the POCOphone F1 held in hand

The POCOphone F1 is manufactured by Xiaomi and offers great value for money. The phone sports a 6.18-inch Full HD+ display, is powered by the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and has 6 or 8GB of RAM. It also packs a massive 4,000mAh battery, putting it right up there with the Galaxy Note 9 and HUAWEI P20 Pro in this category.

The POCOphone F1 has a massive battery, sports headphone jack, and supports expandable storage.

There’s an average dual-camera setup on the back featuring 12 and 5MP sensors, with a fingerprint scanner sitting below it. The POCOphone F1 supports expandable storage, has a headphone jack on board, and offers a 20MP selfie snapper. It even has a nano-coating for basic splash protection. The phone comes in at around 330 euros, which is a steal if you ask me.

Although the POCOphone F1 offers similar performance as $1,000 smartphones, it lacks a number of features typically found on high-end and even mid-range handsets. One of them is an NFC chip for things like mobile payments. The phone also doesn’t have wireless charging and sports a generic design with a cheap plastic back, but at this price point, these things are to be expected.

Learn more about the device:

These are the top five 2018 phones that weren’t released in the U.S. in our opinion, but a number of other models come to mind as well. There’s the futuristic vivo Nex with its pop-up camera, the photography-centric HUAWEI P20 Pro, and the mid-range Moto G6 Plus. Then there’s the Nokia 8 Sirocco, HONOR 10, and many others.