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OnePlus 7 and Xiaomi Mi 9 and Asus Zenfone 6 flagship killers

You don’t have to spend $1,000 or more to get a high-end smartphone. There are plenty of so-called flagship killers available for roughly half the price that come with a powerful chipset, a bunch of RAM, and premium glass and metal designs.

However, they often lack crucial features you might find on a more expensive flagship. Whether the trade-off is worth it or not comes down to personal preference. Here are the best flagship killers that won’t break the bank!

Best flagship killers:

Editor’s note: We’ll update this list of the best flagship killers regularly as new ones launch.

1. OnePlus 7T

OnePlus 7T Upright on table in cafe 2

It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the OnePlus 7T Pro, but the regular OnePlus 7T is the real flagship killer in OnePlus’ latest phone lineup. For $599, you’re getting a 6.55-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate, a 48MP primary sensor paired with 16MP wide angle shooter and 12MP telephoto lens, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 3,800mAh battery.

There’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor, OnePlus’ signature alert slider, a small waterdrop-style notch, thin bezels, and Android 10 with OxygenOS on top. Considered one of the best Android skins out there, OxygenOS looks and feels like stock Android. However, it includes enough tweaks to make it stand out from the rest.

The cheap price tag means OnePlus had to cut some corners. There’s no expandable storage, wireless charging, or IP rating — although the phone is splash-proof. There’s also no headphone jack on board. Additionally, you get a Full HD+ panel instead of the QHD+ found on some more expensive flagships, but the good news here is that the lower resolution will translate to better battery life.


OnePlus 7T specs:

  • Display: 6.55-inch 90Hz AMOLED
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855 Plus
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 48, 16, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 3,800mAh
  • Software: Android 10


2. Samsung Galaxy S10e

samsung galaxy s10e back

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S10e for $749.99, we already thought it was a good purchase, although the phone still wasn’t cheap. However, with the Galaxy S11 lineup not too far off, you can pick it up now at a huge discount. The Galaxy s10e isn’t a true flagship killer because of its high launch price, but if you can get one on offer it’s definitely one of the best sub-high-end phones you can get.

The handset features a 5.8-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution, a punch hole selfie camera, 12MP and 16MP rear cameras, the Snapdragon 855 processor, at least 6GB of RAM, at least 128GB of expandable storage, and a 3,100mAh battery. There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, a headphone jack, and Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung’s One UI Android skin.

One UI might not be the lightest skin out there, but it’s certainly a significant improvement for Samsung. Designed for one-handed use, One UI finally brings a level of cohesion we haven’t seen in Samsung’s previous Android skins.

There’s reason to be a bit cautious — Samsung’s update track record isn’t that great, and not everyone will like the company’s software aesthetics. As for the Galaxy S10e itself, the small-ish battery and footprint won’t be for everyone. However, there’s more than enough to like about the Galaxy S10e to warrant the asking price.


Galaxy S10e specs:

  • Display: 5.8-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: SD 855 or Exynos 9820
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 16MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,100mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


3. Asus Zenfone 6

Asus Zenfone 6 - flagship killer

Announced during an event in Spain in May, the Asus Zenfone 6 is what happens when a company packs as much as it can into a smartphone and charges a reasonable price for it.

The highlight feature is the motorized flip camera system, which houses the 48MP primary sensor and 13MP super wide-angle sensor. In addition to standard rear shots, you can also use the cameras to take some of the best selfies you’ll get from a smartphone.

Editor's Pick

In addition to the cameras, there’s plenty to like about the Zenfone 6. The phone features a 6.4-inch IPS display with Full HD+ resolution, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, at least 6GB of RAM, at least 64GB of expandable storage, and a gigantic 5,000mAh battery. The Zenfone 6 also features Android 9.0 Pie underneath ZenUI 6, Asus’ lightest Android skin to date.

The LCD display isn’t much to write home about, and there’s no wireless charging. There’s also no water resistance. But these omissions are expected based on the Zenfone 6’s affordable price tag.


Asus Zenfone 6 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48 and 13MP
  • Front cameras: 48 and 13MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


4. Honor View 20

flagship killers

The View 20 is Honor’s first phone with a hole-punch display. It’s powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 980 chipset — just like the P30 Pro — and has 8GB of RAM. The phone also comes with a large 6.41-inch Full HD+ display and a 4,000mAh battery.

One of the things that make the View 20 stand out is its design. In addition to the hole-punch display that allows for a high screen-to-body ratio, it sports a striking “V” pattern etched into the back glass. The phone also has a headphone jack that’s missing on most high-end phones these days and is equipped with a dual-camera setup on the back featuring a 48MP main shooter and a ToF sensor.

Like most other flagship killers, the View 20 does not have an IP rating or wireless charging. Originally retailing for 570 euros (~$635), the View 20 can be had for around 399 euros (~$445).


Honor View 20 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Kirin 980
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 25MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


5. ZTE Axon 10 Pro

ZTE Axon 10 Pro 4G screen at angle - Best flagship killers

If you’re looking for a true flagship killer, look no further than the ZTE Axon 10 Pro. It features truly top-of-the-line specs at a price point well below its competitors.

Packing a Snapdragon 855, 8/12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a triple camera setup, the ZTE Axon 10 Pro has it all. It doesn’t have a headphone jack, but it does have a microSD card expansion slot. It even runs near-stock Android, sidestepping the main drawback to most of the other phones on the list.

Even better, it’s now officially available in the United States. It might not have any standout features, but it covers all bases perfectly and offers incredible value.


ZTE Axon 10 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.47-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 20, and 8MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


6. Realme X2 Pro

Realme X2 Pro rear view in the hand 1

Realme hasn’t made a lot of headway in Western markets, but the Realme X2 Pro is worthy of the title flagship killer. It offers flagship specs (or better, in some cases) at a price point that’s less than half of what big-name brands are charging.

The Realme X2 Pro features a 6.5-inch SuperAMOLED display, Snapdragon 855 Plus, 6-12GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, plus a quad camera setup. Between the 64MP main shooter, the 8MP ultra-wide lense, and the 13MP telephoto lens, you’re sure to have just the tool you need to capture any moment for perpetuity. Plus, its incredible 50W fast charger will bring it from dead to full in just 30 minutes.

Starting at just €449, you’re getting an incredible value for your money. Sure, it doesn’t have the best low-light performance and ColorOS is still a mixed bag, but if you’re looking for top-shelf performance at a bargain, the Realme X2 Pro is just what the doctor ordered.


Realme X2 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch SuperAMOLED
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8/12GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 8, 13, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


7. Nubia Red Magic 3S

Red Magic 3S LED strip 16x9

The Nubia Red Magic 3S is the successor to the Red Magic 3 is Nubia’s latest gaming smartphone. It’s also a unique-looking smartphone that packs quite the punch.

The Red Magic 3S features the Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset, up to 12GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, and a huge 5,000mAh battery. The phone also sports a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate, a 48MP primary camera, and Android 9.0 Pie.

As for gaming features, the Red Magic 3 boasts liquid cooling, a built-in fan, an RGB light strip on the back, and two mappable side-mounted triggers acting as shoulder buttons.


Nubia Red Magic 3S specs:

  • Display: 6.65-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855 Plus
  • RAM: 6/8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


8. Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro/Redmi K20 Pro

Redmi K20 Pro with display and apps

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (or Redmi K20 Pro in some markets) offers a lot of bang for the buck. It undercuts the OnePlus 7T and Asus Zenfone 6 in price while offering similar specs. It also has a great design along with a pop-up selfie camera.

The phone packs the Snapdragon 855 chipset under the hood along with up to 8GB of RAM, which means it should handle just about anything you throw at it. It sports a versatile triple-camera setup at the back, has an in-display fingerprint scanner, and comes with a 4,000mAh battery. Due to its low price, it lacks a few high-end features including an IP rating and wireless charging.

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro is definitely one of the best flagship killers out there, but Xiaomi’s MIUI skin isn’t for everyone. Recent iterations have improved the situation, but MIUI’s iOS design inspiration is still going strong. If you’re looking for a more stock Android experience, you might want to look elsewhere.


Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro/Redmi K20 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.39-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 13, and 8MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


These are the best flagships killers you can get in our opinion. We’ll be sure to update this post once new models hit the market.