Best smartphone 2020: Find the best phone for you
What is the best smartphone you can buy?
There are so many good phones to choose from in 2020 but which one is the king of the castle? Is there even a winner? In truth, there’s no one perfect choice for everyone, so bear in mind that 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.
While you’re going to find established brands like Apple, Samsung and Sony in this list, you might not be familiar with every phone-maker we’ve recommended. With that said, trust us – these phones are all top-notch and if you want to know more, you can simply hop into each phone’s full review.
Best smartphone 2020
Apple iPhone SE
The Black Friday sales season is coming! Our product recommendations are based on average retail prices, but the prices below show the best deals currently available from trustworthy online stores.
1. OnePlus 8 Pro
The OnePlus 8 Pro is arguably the company’s first full flagship, finally incorporating long-requested features like wireless charging and an IP68 waterproof rating to make it a genuine contender with the likes of Samsung’s finest.
Understandably, the price has gone up accordingly, but even the base model – no slouch at 8GB RAM and 128GB storage – still represents serious value by flagship standards, meaning you will save at least some money by opting for OnePlus over most other manufacturers.
The 8 Pro’s camera is the company’s best yet and while it still lags behind rivals, OnePlus’s imaging engineers have clearly worked hard to narrow the gap considerably. Throw in 5G, a great design and the best Android skin around and the OnePlus 8 Pro is easy to recommend to anyone who can afford it.
Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review
2. Google Pixel 5
Google’s first 5G flagship walks a different path to its predecessors, showcasing Android 11 to the best of its abilities but also shedding the more experimental features of previous generations and opting for more conservative hardware at the same time.
Its clean design and user experience are supported by a set of superb – and now more feature-rich – cameras, as well as an incredibly compact design and battery life that’s actually usable.
Read our full Google Pixel 5 review
3. Apple iPhone 11
The iPhone 11 didn’t need to rewrite the smartphone rulebook to be a winner. It simply needed to build on the success of the XR and it has done exactly that.
Not a huge amount has changed, but that means the 11 has a nice design which comes in various colours. Face ID has been improved and the telephoto lens has been swapped for a more useful wide-angle lens. The screen still isn’t OLED but offers a decent experience anyway and performance is top-notch here, thanks to the same chip found in the 11 Pro/11 Pro Max.
All of this for a cheaper price than when the iPhone XR arrived. Apple has done it again, so most won’t need to spend extra on the Pro.
Read our full Apple iPhone 11 review
4. Samsung Galaxy S20
The Galaxy S20 is compact, powerful and packs a versatile camera system that may not match the top-tier S20 Ultra on zoom or detail, but meets – and sometimes beats – it across the rest of the board, which means it’s more than a match for most other phones out there too.
The wider 5G ecosystem isn’t quite there yet but will be within the lifetime of this phone, making it almost worth the upgrade. And while battery life remains a slight concern, that’s really the only major fault here. The Android ecosystem offers more for less elsewhere, but usually, without Samsung’s level of prestige or polish, and in this case, we think that’s worth paying for.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 review
5. Oppo Find X2 Pro
The Oppo Find X2 Pro is a phenomenal phone by any measure. The 6.7in, 10-bit, 120Hz, QHD+ panel is among the best displays in any phone right now, and Oppo backs it up with the fastest wired charging around at 65W, as well as a top-tier camera that boasts two 48Mp lenses and up to 10x hybrid zoom.
You’ll have to live without wireless charging and the choice between bland grey ceramic or garish orange vegan leather finishes might leave some struggling to find a design that suits their style.
For pure performance though, the Find X2 Pro faces little competition right now, with all of the above plus a Snapdragon 865 chip, 5G, 512GB storage and 12GB RAM. You just have to be willing to pay the steep asking price, as it doesn’t come cheap.
Read our full Oppo Find X2 Pro review
6. Apple iPhone 11 Pro
We’re not fully on board with the ‘Pro’ naming but there’s no doubt this is the best iPhone to date for various reasons.
We like the matte finish which provides more grip than standard glass and helps negate fingerprint, too. The OLED screen is stunning, especially with Dark Mode in iOS 13, the cameras are excellent, performance is slick and battery life is better than ever so there’s a lot to like.
Still, it’s a lot more expensive than the regular iPhone 11 which has the things that most people want and doesn’t really break any new ground. It’s not even 5G capable.
Read our full Apple iPhone 11 Pro review
7. OnePlus 8T
Bigger numbers in all things except price renders the OnePlus 8T a great buy. It’s cheaper than the OnePlus 8’s original RRP and yet sports a smoother 120Hz refresh rate display and is the first of the company’s phone’s to integrate blisteringly-fast 65W fast charging.
It’s also one of the first phones outside of Google’s own Pixel 5 to boast the latest and greatest Android 11; in this instance, covered by OnePlus’ OxygenOS 11 user experience on top.
Read our full OnePlus 8T review
8. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
A true powerhouse – the Note 20 Ultra doesn’t take any prisoners, with its flagship performance, greatly-improved camera (compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra), new low-latency S Pen experience and the sheer number of features it offers.
Samsung’s One UI 2.5 user experience is jam-packed with functionality without feeling overwhelming. You have control over pretty much every aspect of the phone and it’s designed to help you get things done.
The pairing of S Pen and the new Samsung Notes experience is a particular highlight, as is the tighter Microsoft integration. There’s also the matter of DeX desktop experience – which is now fully-wireless with compatible displays.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review
9. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
The Galaxy Z Flip isn’t a perfect phone. It’s expensive, there are only two main camera lenses, and the fingerprint sensor sucks.
Price aside, these are minor quibbles, however, and even while this may not be the best phone we’ve used this year, it’s one of our favourites. With the Z Flip, Samsung has nailed the compact foldable form factor, and by comparison, every other 2020 flagship feels ungainly and oversized.
This phone looks great, offers solid performance and flagship features, and is just plain cool. Most people probably shouldn’t spend this much on a phone, but if you can afford to then nothing else right now can match the Z Flip (save for maybe the tweaked 5G version).
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review
10. Sony Xperia 1 II
Sony’s latest flagship doubles down on the unique attributes of 2019’s Xperia 1, with an enhanced 21:9 4K HDR OLED display, a wealth of audio technologies (including a 3.5mm headphone jack) and a Sony Alpha-influenced triple-camera module.
Its augmented-but-clean take on Android includes meaningful improvements and despite not looking as competitive on paper as other Android flagships, its performance and battery longevity proved more than capable in testing.
Read our full Sony Xperia 1 II review
Your buying guide for the best phones in 2020
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 in 2020 will start at around £700 but can cost 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 data.
We also have charts for mid-range and budget phones if you’re looking for something still excellent, but also more affordable.
Buying a phone outright will usually give you the best value, but we appreciate finances in the real world don’t always accommodate such big one-off purchases. 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 Android phone?
There’s more than one mobile operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS.
The vast majority of phones today run Android; 11 being the latest publicly-released version. Apple’s iOS platform, meanwhile, may have a lower market share but developers almost always release their apps on iOS first. As a result of this approach, it has one of the best app stores you can find.
If you have an Android phone or an iPhone and want to move to a phone running the other OS (operating system), it’s fairly easy to transfer your contacts and other select data from one to the other. What you can’t move are paid-for apps and certain app data (like WhatsApp backups), so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform – and research any specific concerns you may have about the process.
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 is Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.
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 into 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 said 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 5G you get a 5G-enabled phone and SIM.
Related: How we test smartphones
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