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The most underrated smartphones of 2019

We all know about HUAWEI and Samsung, but what about lesser known devices that still deserved praise in 2019?

Published onDecember 24, 2019

The LG G8X ThinQ is one of the most underrated smartphones of 2019.

We saw quite a few interesting smartphones in 2019, with foldable phones and 5G debuting, while eclectic designs helped to keep things fresh too.

It’s a tough enough job to keep track of the best phones of 2019, but there are quite a few neat devices that fell through the cracks. Maybe they were diamonds in the rough, or maybe they were simply forgotten as more prominent devices stole the spotlight. Either way, these are our picks for the most underrated smartphones of 2019.

OPPO Reno Ace

OPPO Reno Ace review nestled on mulch

Nobody could match the OPPO Reno Ace in one key area this year. The phone packed (and still packs) the fastest charging solution in the market. This device offers 65W charging for its 4,000mAh battery, taking it to 100% capacity in just 35 minutes. Only have five minutes to spare? It’ll go from zero to 25% in that time.

The rest of the Reno Ace is flagship-level too, delivering a Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC, 8GB to 12GB of RAM, 90HZ OLED screen, and up to 256GB of fixed storage. The phone also features a quad rear camera setup (48MP, 12MP 2x telephoto, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP monochrome) and a 16MP selfie camera in a waterdrop notch

Other specs include a 3.5mm port and an in-display fingerprint sensor. And the former makes it one of the few flagship phones with support for wired audio without USB-C or a dongle.

This phone would be a good deal at $700 or thereabouts, but the best part might be that it’s actually available for ~$550 from the likes of Gearbest. In other words, you’re basically getting a supercharged OnePlus 7T at a slightly cheaper price than the OnePlus 7T.

The OPPO Reno Ace.
OPPO Reno Ace
The fastest charging phone around
The OPPO Reno Ace takes the crown for the fastest charging smartphone, juicing up your 4,000mAh battery in just 35 minutes. Other notable features include a 90Hz OLED screen, triple rear camera setup, and headphone port.

LG G8X ThinQ

LG G8X ThinQ open on table 4

The LG G8X was perhaps the most sensible LG flagship of the year, offering a more traditional approach than the G8. That means no front-facing 3D ToF camera, so no 3D face unlock and (fortunately) no Hand ID. Thankfully, you gain a significantly bigger battery than the G8 (4,000mAh).

Read: Thoughts on the LG G8X from an old LG fan

The only major bummer is that it lacks a triple rear camera setup, going for a 12MP+13MP ultra-wide setup instead.  Otherwise, you can expect 6GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage, wireless charging, IP68 water/dust resistance, a 3.5mm port, and quad DAC audio hardware. So far, so very LG.

In an interesting move, the company has also tossed in a dual screen case, letting you use the extra screen for virtual gamepad controls, multitasking, and more. So if you like the idea of the Surface Duo and can’t wait, you might want to check this out.

lg g8x amazon
LG G8X ThinQ
A revised LG G8
The LG G8X eschews the front-facing 3D ToF camera in favor of a bigger battery and a second screen accessory. Otherwise, you're getting all the usual LG bells and whistles, including a 3.5mm port, water resistance, and wireless charging.

ASUS Zenfone 6

zenfone 6 camera in light

Asus is another brand that seems to be constantly overshadowed by more prominent manufacturers, at least when it comes to non-gaming phones. And the ASUS Zenfone 6 was undoubtedly one of the most underrated smartphones of the year.

The Zenfone 6 stands out due to its flipping camera mechanism, which sees the dual rear cameras (48MP+13MP ultra wide) flipping over to serve as selfie shooters. The mechanism can even be used for panoramas, so you don’t actually need to move the phone to take a panorama.

The Zenfone 6 also brings a 6.4-inch FHD+ LCD screen, Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 256GB of expandable storage, a 3.5mm port, and a 5,000mAh battery. You don’t get wireless charging or water resistance, but it’s more than forgivable for the $499 starting price.

asus zenfone 6 amazon
ASUS Zenfone 6
A flipping good phone
The ASUS Zenfone 6 features a flipping camera mechanism, allowing you to use the 48MP and 13MP ultra-wide camera pairing as both rear and selfie shooters. The phone also packs a very reasonable $500 price tag.

ZTE Axon 10 Pro

ZTE Axon 10 Pro rear glass

ZTE’s Axon series seems to constantly result in great flagship phones, and the Axon 10 Pro proved that the company could deliver once again. In fact, this device looks like a pretty good alternative to the OnePlus series.

Here are the best ZTE phones you can get in 2023
Best products
ZTE Axon 40 Ultra back and bottom of phone

The new phone ticks plenty of flagship boxes, featuring a Snapdragon 855 processor, up to 12GB of RAM, 256GB of expandable storage, and a 4,000mAh battery. It doesn’t disappoint when looking at the camera specs either, delivering a 20MP selfie camera in a waterdrop notch as well as a triple rear camera layout (48MP, 3x 8MP telephoto, 20MP ultra wide).

The phone originally started at €599 (~$669), but it’s available for $499 as of writing. And you’re also getting wireless charging, an IP53 splash rating, in-display fingerprint sensor, and a stock-focused take on Android. All in all, it’s one of the most underrated smartphones of the year, and warrants a second look.

ZTE Axon 10 Pro renders in blue.
ZTE Axon 10 Pro
A solid OnePlus rival
The ZTE Axon 10 Pro is your typical 2019 flagship in many ways, offering a Snapdragon 855 chipset and a versatile triple rear camera. The phone is more affordable than traditional flagships, but you're still getting wireless charging and splash resistance.

vivo Nex 3 5G

vivo NEX 3 5G screen 2
David Imel / Android Authority

vivo is one of two major manufacturers to offer a phone with a waterfall display screen, with the other being Huawei. Fortunately, the vivo Nex 3 5G is more than just a one trick pony, earning its place on our list of most underrated phones.

The vivo device packs the top-end Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, up to 12GB of RAM, and 256GB of fixed storage. It also goes toe to toe with the Mate 30 Pro in the battery field, offering a 4,500mAh battery and 44W fast charging.

Vivo’s phone also offers a triple rear camera setup (64MP, 13MP 2x telephoto, 13MP ultra-wide), and a 16MP selfie camera on a nifty pop-up housing. Toss in Google Play Services, and it might just be a better buy for most than the Mate 30 series.

The vivo Nex 3 5G.
vivo Nex 3 5G
One of two phones with a waterfall display
The vivo Nex 3 5G joins the Mate 30 Pro in offering the divisive waterfall display. But you're also getting a 64MP main camera, Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset, pop-up selfie camera, and a 4,500mAh battery with 44W fast charging.

That’s it for our look at the most underrated smartphones of 2019. Are there any devices you’d add to the list?

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