Top five best smartphones for 2020
By Louise Muyanja
We reveal some of the very best mobile phones you can buy – models that have aced our tests thanks to brilliant battery life, cracking cameras and dazzling displays.
We've handpicked five terrific smartphones that are really worth considering, and highlighted three that we think you should steer clear of.
As well as a few of the very top scorers, our top five list also unearths some smartphones that offer excellent value for money.
Our five favourites impress across the board, from battery life and camera quality, to screen clarity and processor speed. Below, we also show you some of the worst we've seen, which are nothing short of infuriating to use.
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Our pick of the best smartphones
Joining the ranks as one of the most expensive smartphones on the market, this model is loaded with every possible feature you could ask for. It has several cameras which produce incredibly detailed pictures, it has an enviable display and its battery is formidable, especially for a phone that's so powerful. Its no surprise that it tops our tests as the best smartphone to date.
There’s a lot to be said for this phone, from its unique functionality to its sleek design, and we’re pleased to say that it performs just as well as you’d hope. This manufacturer went all out with this model: 5G-connectivity, multiple camera lenses, waterproofing and buckets of expandable storage capacity. It’s a must have for 2019.
It might be expensive, but this phone proved that it’s worth it in our tests. It ticks every box: a stunning display, better battery than its predecessor and most importantly, impeccable cameras that far exceed expectations. And with a powerful processor to boot, there’s no question why this smartphone receives such a high score.
As if we hadn’t been wowed enough by other phones from this manufacturer, this model solidifies that this new player in the smartphone market is a force to be reckoned with. Its battery is unbelievable, giving us just shy of 37 hours of call time after a single charge. If that’s not enough it’s cameras produce beautiful pictures and it’s huge display makes for excellent viewing.
There’s no two ways about it, this smartphone has surged past the competition to top our battery tests. It stood out the most for talk time, giving us a staggering 34 hours on full battery and after 15-minutes charging, it lasted 10 hours. It’s pretty good for charging quickly as well, taking only 15 minutes to get to 32%.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of August 2020.
Haven't found the product for you? Browse all of our mobile phone reviews.
And here are three mobile phones to avoid
With the good come the bad. Not all smartphones are worth spending money on - the three we've highlighted below have dismal screens, rubbish cameras and unimpressive battery life.
Worst cheap mobile phones
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of August 2020.
Five tips for choosing the best mobile phone
There are hundreds of mobile phones to pick from. As so many make grand claims about how they're the best for this, or the highest rated for that, you'd be forgiven for wanting to cut through the noise.
We've rounded up our top five tips for compiling your shopping shortlist:
- Price – While it's possible to pick up a phone for a two-figure price, we'd recommend spending at least £100 to help you avoid buying a complete dud. If you just want a phone for simple everyday tasks, such as messaging and web browsing, you can find a few good options for £150-£200 in our guide to the best cheap mobile phones. Spend upwards of £400, and you'll find phones with vibrant displays, high-end specs and a few more extra features.
- Size – Many of the latest mobile phones have 5.5-inch displays, making them harder to use with one hand. While bigger phones are great for watching films and browsing the web, they aren't for everyone - some people find them too large and awkward to hold. The best way to find out which handset size is right for you is to try holding a few in a shop.
- Storage – Think about how many apps and photos you're likely to want on your smartphone. If it's just a few, you might get away with 16GB storage space or less. But if you like to have several news apps, lots of photos and some streaming apps, such as Spotify and Netflix, it's worth thinking bigger. An alternative to buying a larger-capacity phone is to make sure you buy one that has a micro-SD card slot - this lets you buy and insert a separate memory card to give you more wiggle room.
- Operating system – This is the software that powers your phone. It shapes what the phone menu looks like and what apps it can run, and impacts how easy the phone is to use. There are three main operating systems to choose from: iOS, Android and Windows. iOS is the operating system used by Apple iPhones and is pretty easy to use, although Apple iPhones are expensive. Many manufacturers use the Android operating system, including Samsung, LG and Sony, and it's extremely customisable.
- Features – Consider which features you might like. For instance, you might like a fingerprint scanner for fast unlocking of your phone. You might also want a water-resistant phone, especially if you have previous experience of accidentally dropping your phone in the toilet.
For more information on making the right choice with your next smartphone purchase, head straight to our guide on how to choose the best mobile phone.
How to get the best deal on a new mobile phone
The price of mobile phones has skyrocketed, at least at the top-end of the scale. It's now possible to pay over £1,000 for flagship models from some of the big brands – but fortunately there are ways to save.
One way is to opt for a good mid-range mobile phone – these are now far more capable and it's possible to get features more typically found in high-end handsets – such as dual cameras and large displays, for a fraction of the cost.
But if you are determined to buy the best, you can avoid paying a premium by simply waiting it out. When new phones are released you'll usually find the predecessor discount in price, and often quite heavily. For example, Samsung's popular Galaxy S8 became available for about half the original price just over a year after launch, and importantly, saw a significant drop when the Galaxy S9 was released. It's often the case that last year's flagship model will still be better than a brand new mid-range handset.
As well as using our in-depth mobile phone reviews to check a potential purchase, browse the best current bargains in our guide to the best mobile phone deals.