There are so many good phones to choose from in 2019 but which one is the king of the castle? Is there even a winner? There’s no one choice for everyone, so bear in mind the best phone for you might not be number one in our chart.
Phones come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Here, we have ranked and reviewed the ten best phones money can buy.
Check out where the best of 2018 like the iPhone XR, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T have ended up below – and keep coming back as we add the best phones from 2019 as they are released. The Galaxy S10 is already in there!
What to Look For?
When choosing a phone you should consider these things: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance and value.
Generally speaking a flagship phone will cost between £600 and £800 but can be over £1,000 in some cases. On contract you’re looking at between £30 and £50 per month on average but you can spend a lot more if you want an expensive phone and lots of mobile internet data.
We think buying a phone outright is the best value, but we appreciate you may not be able to afford to do that. If you can, you’ll obviously need a SIM card and plan as well as the phone. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.
Should you buy an iPhone or an Android phone?
There’s more than one mobile phone operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS. Windows phones are still around, but only account for around one percent of all phones sold, so it makes more sense to go with Android or an iPhone.
The vast majority of phones today run Android; Pie is the latest version. While Apple’s iOS platform has a much lower market share, developers almost always release their apps on iOS so it has one of the best app stores you’ll find.
If you have an Android phone or and iPhone and want to move to the other type of phone, it’s fairly easy move your contacts and other data from one to the other. What you can’t move is paid-for apps, so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform.
Why you should buy an unlocked phone
An unlocked phone is one which is not tied to any particular mobile operator, such as Vodafone or EE. Buying unlocked usually means buying the phone outright without a SIM.
The most important point is that an unlocked phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract – if you can afford it.
The only real exception to this are Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators do often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.
But generally speaking if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked.
More importantly, you are not locked in to a lengthy contract. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of a contract, or commit to another two years.
Just be sure to make certain the phone you’re getting is not locked to a certain network.
The right SIM
One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.
For the record, every phone in our Top 10 takes a nano-SIM.
If you get that wrong it is easily solvable – every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes – you simply pop out the one you need.
But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.
More important is to make sure that if you want 4G you get a 4G-enabled phone and SIM.
Best smartphone 2019
1. Google Pixel 3
RRP: From $799
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the best phones you can buy right now, provided you don’t want an iPhone. The only differences between both models are the larger screen (and notch) and battery on the XL.
They have the best camera ever on a smartphone, outperforming all rivals in most situations. Both have the most premium Google phone hardware to date, good battery life, can charge wirelessly and are waterproof.
The notch might annoy you on the 3 XL but the smaller one is there with hardly any compromise. The phones cost from £739 / $799.
2. OnePlus 6T
RRP: 6/128GB $549 | 8/128GB $579 | 8/256GB $629
Although it lacks a headphone jack, wireless charging and waterproofing, the OnePlus 6T is still one of the best phones you can buy right now. It is fairly priced, has the best specs you could hope for, looks great and has cameras that can compete with its rivals.
The glass construction, outstanding display and lightning quick performance starts from £499or $549 – an incredible price, but you can find the Galaxy S9 for about the same now. The dual cameras are a shade below the quality of the Pixel 3, but most people won’t care or notice.
While its phones have always been excellent, the OnePlus 6T is its best ever, and the phone with which its small compromises finally don’t matter.
There’s also an awesome McLaren Edition with new paint job and 10GB RAM.
3. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
RRP: From $999
The Galaxy S10 Plus is the best Galaxy phone ever with outstanding cameras, build, display and performance. The Exynos version is let down by its merely acceptable battery life.
It’s also very expensive from £899 / $999 and then some, but it’s a wonderful experience with OneUI’s thoughtful additions, slick day to day use and more features than you can throw a stick at.
If you want to spend £100 / $100 less there’s the regular Galaxy S10 which has most of the same features including the triple rear cameras and outstanding screen. You could even go for the S10e, but it’s a different phone with a smaller screen, less battery and fewer cameras.
4. Huawei P30 Pro
RRP: £899 (128GB), £1099 (512GB)
The Huawei P30 Pro bears many similarities to the older P20 Pro but also to the Mate 20 Pro that sits below it in this chart. Huawei’s software leaves a lot to be desired, but this phone excels with extraordinary cameras.
With an amazing 10x optical zoom and outstanding low light performance the P30 Pro pushes Huawei firmly into the conversation. Battery life is also outstanding.
It’s the same price as the Galaxy S10 Plus at £899 and isn’t available in the US but this is the best phone Huawei has ever made.
5. Huawei Mate 20 Pro
It’s a mark of how good Huawei phones have become that there are two in our Top 10. The Mate 20 Pro has a large vibrant OLED screen, particularly great battery life and awesome triple cameras with a slender notch.
At £899 it’s Huawei’s most expensive phone yet (though you’ll struggle to buy it in the US) and benefits from improvements made to Huawei’s EMUI software. AI features also improve the camera experience over the P20 Pro, and it adds 3D face unlock and reverse wireless charging so it can charge other phones.
Stereo speakers, waterproofing and 128GB storage to ensure this is a phone that will last you into at least two or three years of use.
6. iPhone XS
RRP: From $999
The second generation of Apple’s notched flagship iPhone is one of the most expensive phones in our list at £999 or $999, but that’s the same as 2017’s now discontinued iPhone X.
The OLED display is outstanding and features like the totally secure Face ID unlock system make it the most futuristic phone Apple has ever made. Performance is flawless, much like the build quality. It’s probably still the most desirable phone in the world.
It is fast and wireless charging compatible, but only comes with a slow charger in the box. But improved battery life and amazing dual cameras still make the iPhone XS a no-brainer if you already love iPhone and iOS.
If you want a larger screen there’s the iPhone XS Max.
7. Honor View 20
RRP: To be confirmed
With prices starting from £499, the Honor View 20’s closest comparison is the OnePlus 6T, but there’s a lot more on offer here than a 6T imitation.
For one, the View 20 was the first phone to release in the west with a punch hole selfie camera – a small circular cutout in the corner of the display, rather than a notch dropping down into the middle of the screen.
There’s also the first 48MP rear camera – a stat we worried was all marketing hype, but actually delivers in one of the crispest cameras we’ve used so far, especially when using the AI-enhanced Ultra Clarity mode.
Throw in the stunning holographic rear, flagship processor, and long-lasting 4,000mAh battery – not to mention an honest-to-god headphone jack in a flagship – and you’ve got one of 2019’s best phones already.
8. iPhone XR
RRP: 64GB $749 | 128GB $799 | 256GB $899
This is the best iPhone for most people right now, as well as being one of the best phones in general. At £749 or $749 it’s also more affordable than the iPhone XS and several Android flagships.
Apart from an LCD screen and only one camera it’s practically as capable as the XS with the same A12 processor, wireless charging and Face ID. It’s got a bigger screen than the regular XS, too.
Six colours at launch gives great choice and battery life is outstanding.
9. Xiaomi Mi8 Pro
At £499 in the UK the Xiaomi Mi8 Pro is an incredible deal that pretty much undercuts every other phone at the same spec. For the same price as the £499 OnePlus 6T you get 8GB RAM, not 6.
Its transparent design is polarising but if you love it there’s no other phone like it. It’s blazing fast, has powerful performance, an in-screen fingerprint sensor and great cameras.
Officially available in the UK with full Google services, this is the best Xiaomi phone you can buy, and one of the best in general.
If you want a Xiaomi phone with similar specs and a stunning sliding design there’s the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.
10. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
RRP: From $999.99
The Note 9 takes the winning design of the Note 8 and improves it with better build quality, a larger screen and a sensibly placed fingerprint scanner. The 4000mAh battery is also an amazing upgrade.
The display is the best you’ll find on a smartphone alongside stereo speakers, great cameras and the smoothest Samsung software yet.
It’s too expensive for some starting at £899 or $999 and you might not need the S-Pen, but if its unique inclusion appeals to you then this is the best phone going.