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What phones do the Android Authority team use as daily drivers? (2020 edition)
We love smartphones of all shapes and sizes here at Android Authority. Expensive or budget, big or small, foldable or… well, not foldable. There are countless great phones out there that cater to different tastes and needs, but it takes something special for a phone to become one of our daily drivers.
Many of our team will hop between three, four, or even five or more phones every year as we put the very best the industry can offer through their paces, but for a variety of reasons, many of us always come back to one phone of choice again and again.
Back in 2018, we polled Team AA to give you an overview of the phones we carry around on the daily and what we loved (and didn’t love) about each of them. With the smartphone market continuing to evolve at a rapid pace in the intervening months, we thought it’d fun to see what’s changed by taking a look at we’re packing in our pockets today.
The results below account for 33 Team AA members from all across the world. As well as Android Authority writers and the amazing talent at our sisters sites like Sound Guys, Drone Rush, we also included responses from some of the unsung heroes of Team AA who work behind the scenes on social, sales, web development, and more.
What phones do Android Authority team members use? Let’s find out!
I’m going to let the results speak for themselves in this section, but keep scrolling below for the big takeaways and some other highlights. To the graphs!
A tale of love and hate: The Google Pixel 4 XL story
With a single exception, no one phone appeared more than twice in our list of daily drivers. That exception was the Google Pixel 4 XL. A whopping seven (!) members of the AA family use the larger Pixel 4 model as their primary phone. The wider Galaxy S10 series came close with a total of five, but apparently we just love those Pixels.
Or do we?
Of those seven Pixel 4 XL users (which includes me!), five gave it an overall rating of eight out of ten. This led to a respectable average score, but that’s far from the whole story.
While Google’s fancy computational photography and clean software were repeatedly praised, all but one Pixel 4 XL owner cited battery headaches as the main complaint. And remember, this is the Pixel 4 XL, not the Pixel 4 with its even smaller battery. Yikes.
On the more positive side, writer Phillip Prado said, “I really love the design and how simple the software is,” going even as far to say that “it’s probably the most pleasurable device to use I’ve ever had,” but still described the battery life as “not good.” Managing editor Jimmy Westenberg echoed this, noting, “I find myself at 50% at about 4pm every day.”
Although battery life was the recurring sore spot, Drone Rush‘s Jonathan Feist had other major complaints and wasn’t shy about listing them all. He also slapped the phone with a rating of six out of ten, the lowest of any phone in our poll. Take it away, Feisty:
“Everything that Google did to make this phone “Pixel,” sucks. I’ve turned off all the special features, (Soli, ambient display stuff, etc.) I hate that the lower chin is so small, I miss the fingerprint scanner, and where’s my headphone jack?”
Samsung: The popular choice
While Google took the crown for the most daily drivers of a single model, it’s Samsung that snagged the gold in basically every other department. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise; it’s the brand most synonymous with Android. But it’s not just about awareness, you have to satisfy your customers, and Samsung killed it in that department too.
Almost a quarter of Team AA rock a Samsung phone as a daily driver. Yet even in spite of the saturation, the brand still achieved the highest average when looking at all phones and all different models. In addition, the Galaxy S10 Plus came out with the top overall average with an almost-perfect score of nine and a half out of ten.
There was a lot of love for the ill-fated Galaxy S10e.
Unsurprisingly, the S series featured a lot and almost all of the comments were glowing in their praise of Samsung’s flagship family. Video editor Felix Mangus gave his Galaxy S10 Plus one of only two perfect tens and gave props to the performance, battery life, camera, and the “awesome” Prism Green colorway.
There was also a lot of love for the Galaxy S10e. Audio editor Lily Katz and writer Suzana Dalul both recommended the compact flagship, even with minor battery life concerns. Seriously, Samsung, are we really not getting another one of these?
Size and power don’t always make for a great phone, but it does for writer John Callaham (“big phone, very fast”) and app editor Joe Hindy (“huge battery, huge screen, huge specs”) who both gave near top marks top the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus, respectively.
Even our social wizard, Luka Mlinar, said he would recommend his now three-year-old Galaxy S8 today, even after spending $400 to get the display fixed. That’s love right there.
Can you believe it, iPhone users at Android Authority!
In all seriousness, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Apple’s phones (and tablets, and laptops, and earbuds, etc.) are all stupidly popular. In fact, most people reading this very article will be doing so on an iPhone!
Love or hate Apple, you also can’t argue that some its products aren’t pretty darn great, especially the excellent iPhone 11 series, which accounted for half of the iPhones scattered around our team.
The most common positives centered around the camera experience, iMessage, speed, and compatibility with Apple’s wider hardware ecosystem. Media operations manager Sarah Clary said her iPhone XR is, “fast, organized, and works seamlessly with my Macbook,” while writer and photography expert Edgar Cervantes highlighted the superior resale value of iPhones.
Perhaps the most telling response came from Adam Sinicki, our Android dev expert who could probably deadlift the entire AA team with one arm:
“I got [the iPhone 11 Pro Max] 99% for the camera! I also was convinced by my iPad Mini 5 that Apple still attracts the best apps. And I wanted the Apple Watch!”
However, when asked what he didn’t like about it even Adam had to admit, “it’s not an Android.” While the petty hate between certain overzealous iOS and Android fans should’ve ended long ago, there are still plenty of reasons why we’re still dedicated to the best OS out there.
- Only four Team AA members said they wouldn’t recommend their current daily driver to our readers. Those were Adam Molina — iPhone 11 Pro (awful file management), Tristan Rayner — Huawei Mate 9 (I mean, it’s pretty old now), David Imel — Oppo Find X2 Pro (great phone, shame about the price), and Jonathan Feist with his aforementioned Pixel 4 XL woes.
- Just three of the phones listed in our 2018 survey made another appearance in 2020. Those were the Huawei Mate 9, the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the Huawei P20 Pro.
- Our results vaguely reflected the global market share picture with Apple, Samsung, and Huawei all featured multiple times. The outliers were Google and OnePlus, with the latter heavily buoyed by votes from our amazing writers in India.
- Despite there being five Huawei phones scattered among the team, not one is of the Google-less variety. I guess we’re not ready to take the plunge on Huawei’s mobile services just yet.
- The oldest phone on the list is the Huawei Mate 9 by quite a wide margin. Seriously, Tristan, treat yourself to a new phone already.
- The only phones that received individual ten out of ten ratings were the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and the OnePlus 7T Pro.
- Just 24% of our daily drivers have headphone jacks. Sad face.
- The notch still reigns supreme at Team AA. 12 of our phones have notches, eight have punch-holes, four have pop-ups, and the remaining nine just have traditional foreheads (that’ll be all those Pixel 4 XLs).
- One-third of the phones had “Pro” in the name.
What phones do we want next?
As well as polling our team for their current handsets, we also asked what phones they had their eyes on next. For this part, we’ve grouped models together into single product lines for a neater overview. We also included unofficial devices that have been rumored or leaked devices, or just phones that we expect to see in the coming months.
As with our current daily drivers, the runaway winner was yet another Pixel phone. Who would’ve thought that an Android publication would be filled with stock Android fans! The Pixel 4a was followed by the OnePlus 8 — another perennial favorite brand among the team.
We're already eying our next daily drivers. Are you?
One exciting takeaway is the sheer diversity of brands. Unlike the current daily driver results, here we see names like Asus, LG, Motorola, Sony, and even Microsoft get a mention. Three foldables also make the list: the Galaxy Z Flip, the Huawei Mate XS, and the rumored Galaxy Fold 2.
Based on the results here, it’s notable that our team of hardcore tech enthusiasts doesn’t reflect wider industry trends. While many are hanging onto their phones for longer than ever, only five respondents said they weren’t looking to upgrade anytime soon. Instead, the vast majority of us are already eying our next daily driver.
What’s your daily driver? Let us know in the comments!