Best smartphones of 2019 – buyer’s guide

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Welcome to all-new GSMArena Buyer’s guide – our completely overhauled directory of smartphones that deserve your attention.

We’ve organized the current best offerings in several categories we’ve deemed best reflect your needs. We’ve hand picked select few devices that stand out in one or more ways among the myriad of competitors. We’ve then settled on one handset per category, which we’ve agreed is the one that strikes the best balance between performance and price and called it our Editors’ choice.

The rest of the phones in the category are valid alternatives which also present great value. For example, our top pick may be unavailable in your market, or maybe you have an aversion to that particular brand, or you want that one specific feature that’s missing on the all-round winner – there better be options.

And there’s a third tier in each category – for the phones that are almost good enough, but not quite, the ‘Almost there’ type. You’ll recognize those by the yellow badge, which we’ll also use to denote edge cases that don’t necessarily fit the standard classification – niche recommendations, if you will.

We’ll be making sure to update those lists as phones are announced and we get to review them. Superior phones will be added, while ones that no longer deserve the their spot on our shortlist will drop out. That way, no matter when you need buying advice, you’d be able to hit the category that best fits your needs and get the current state of the market, as opposed to cross-referencing our latest buyer’s guide from several months ago with the new releases that came after it.

On this very page here you’ll find the current Editors’ choice holders for each use case or budget. Clicking on one of them will take you to the respective category where you can explore your options, have a look at their pros and cons, check prices and, once you’ve got an idea what you want, delve even further and read our in-depth reviews for the smartphones on your own personal shortlist.

Without further ado, here’s the list of our Editors’ choices.

Flagship phones

The latest in a line of stylus-wielding Galaxies, the Note10+ has it all. Of course, the build-quality and looks are befitting its price, the maker of the best displays has fitted one of the best displays and evolution has meant the Note10+ has some of the greatest camera output you can get.

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Flagship killers

Significant savings are to be had if you opt for the Realme X2 Pro, though this one is only officially available in some of Europe for the time being. At a third of the price of the iPhone, you’d be getting a full set of cameras (ultra-wide one can autofocus too), a fluid 90Hz display, and a whopping fast 30-minute charging from 0 to 100%.

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Camera phones

The Mi Note 10 from Xiaomi packs a ton of amazing camera hardware, making it the most flexible camera phone to date. It starts with the biggest and highest-res sensor on the market, a 1/1.33″ 108MP Samsung unit – that in itself is enough to have us excited, producing nice 27MP shots day and night, and having shallow depth of field for subject isolation all on its own without Portrait mode trickery.

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Gaming phones

It wasn’t much of a contest this category – Asus ROG Phone II is easily the best gaming-centric smartphone on the market. It’s a specialized tool for gaming as evidenced by its choice of internals, as well as the vast ecosystem of bundled and optional add-ons, but it’s also a mighty good smartphone outside of that one specific use case.

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Battery life champions

The Zenfone has a 5,000mAh battery, which was one of the highest capacities back when we reviewed it. It aced our battery tests, delivering balanced results across the board and, perhaps more importantly, did that with a flagship Snapdragon 855 chip – the top-tier SoCs don’t normally go to the top our battery life charts.

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Compact phones

We’ll go with the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE as our top pick in the Compact category as it delivers the most smartphone for the least money in the smallest package. It’s the only phone in its class with a true triple camera that includes a telephoto next to the regular and ultra-wide modules. It’s also solid on the other two smartphone pillars – battery life and display.

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Premium all-rounders

The OnePlus 7T is so good in so many areas that we can’t stop recommending it. It’s our top pick for an almost-flagship – a premium device with a lot of the makings of the high-end models, but not quite as all-out. As such it’s missing few things from the 7T Pro – most notably the 3x telephoto, opting for a standard 2x instead. In any case, all three cams on the 7T are bound to leave a smile on your face.

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Midrange all-rounders (up to €300)

Another midrange victory goes out to the Xiaomi Mi 9T in a tight race with the Realme X2. There’s a lot to like about Xiaomi’s entry in this class, starting with the triple camera – as in actual three focal lengths. It also makes very good use of them producing excellent results across the board. That applies to the pop-up selfie cam too, which in turn makes the already great AMOLED display notchless.

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Midrange all-rounders (up to €250)

If you have slightly more to spend, we’d recommend the Galaxy M30s. Our battery life favorite, the M30s has a 6,000mAh cell inside, paired with a nice 6.4-inch FullHD AMOLED, a speedy Exynos mid-tier chip and a promising camera setup – if that’s not an all-rounder, we don’t know what is.

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Midrange all-rounders (up to €200)

If we have about €200 to spend on a phone, we’d go with the Redmi Note 8T. It has pretty much everything you’d want out of a handset for this price – a large and sharp display (LCD, but still), a modern chipset (powerful and efficient), a big 4,000mAh battery with 18W charging support and a whole array of cameras.

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Entry-level phones (Asian markets)

Our top pick to buy in the most affordable category if you’re in (most of) Asia is the Realme 3i. It’s not the cheapest one, more like middle of the road, but that secures you a powerful Helio P60 chipset, by far the most oomph you can get for similar money.

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Entry-level phones (Western markets)

Our top pick for an entry-level smartphone in the Western world is the Samsung Galaxy A20e. One of the most affordable Galaxies you can get, the A20e packs a couple of cams, including an ultra wide-angle one, and has a fingerprint reader on the back.

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Best phones by category

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