The Best Android Phones – Summer 2019
Over the last half-decade, Android has matured from a platform with a lot of promise to a fully-grown operating system, where the hardware and software have finally managed to combine to create some incredible experiences. From Samsung’s revolutionary design and refined hardware to Motorola’s investment into their modular Moto Mods, phones have become incredible technical feats. The last several years have seen phone become more powerful than ever before, evolving into supercomputers we can hold in the palm of our hands. And while 2018 saw some stagnation among the Android crowd, 2019 promises some wild new phone designs, starting with the technical dream many have been waiting for: foldable smartphones.
Unfortunately for consumers, if every phone is good, choosing a phone inside the Verizon or AT&T store, inside your local Best Buy, or online through Amazon can be an increasingly difficult decision. That’s where we come in—we’ve looked at nearly every smartphone on the market today, from last year’s flagships to this year’s brand new devices, and have decided which ones are actually worth buying We’ve judged each phone on its design, its features, build quality, specs, the quality of the camera, and even the software included in your purchase, to help you decide which device is right for you.
After all, when you purchase a new smartphone, you aren’t just signing up for a new phone—you’re buying a camera, a GPS, a mobile theater, and so much more. Our phones help us each day to keep track of reminders, find our way home, and to stay in contact with friends, so if you’re going to drop up to $1,000 on a device, you’ll want to make sure it covers every feature you could ever want.
With all that said, let’s take a look at what this summer has to offer in terms of Android phones. From phones first released last fall to critical acclaim, to brand-new handsets added to carrier shelves just this past month, we have recommendations for anyone looking for a quality flagship Android device in 2019. Here’s our full buyer’s guide at the best Android phones you can buy today.
Samsung typically operates on a tick-tock release schedule, offering a redesign of their devices one year and a slightly improved model the next. We’ve seen this over the last half-decade or so, with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S8 both offering new ideas and bold designs from Samsung, while the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S9 improved and iterated on those ideas. Whether it was improving the edge display on the Galaxy S7 edge or moving the fingerprint sensor on last year’s Galaxy S9, the ‘tock’ years help to improve device ideas that have been floated previously. Of course, the ‘tick’ years, flawed as they may be, are often much more fun due to their inventiveness, and if that’s what you’re waiting for, you’re in luck: the Galaxy S10 this year is an inventive new take on Samsung’s flagship device.
Though Samsung has offered two different device sizes in the past, this year’s Galaxy S10 comes in three models: the Galaxy S10, S10+, and the brand-new S10e. It’s difficult to choose one to focus on of these three, as all of them have different selling points in which you should pick, but in order to keep this review short, we’ll be focusing primarily on the S10+, the higher end model, and the S10E, the $750 starting model. The mid-tier unit, the S10, is matched almost exactly to the larger model, but with a smaller screen and without the depth sensor next to the front-facing camera. If the S10+ sounds appealing to you but you want a smaller device, the S10 is perfect for you.
Let’s start with design. Samsung has been one of the best designers in the phone industry for years now, establishing a look for their devices with the Galaxy S6 and largely sticking to that core design while making changes every two years to keep things fresh. The Galaxy S8 really helped to bring forth the minimal bezel movement we’ve now seen on nearly every smartphone, regardless of the operating system, while also leaving Samsung as one of the few companies not to embrace the notch after the launch of the iPhone X at the end of 2017. Though the S10 lineup finally does away with the slim top and bottom bezels from the last two generations, they’ve left a small circular cutout on the right corner of the display, with a larger cutout found on the S10+ to support the included depth sensor.
The front of the phone is where you’ll find the display, easily one of the most impressive parts of these devices. On the S10 and S10+, you’ll find a 6.1″ or 6.4″ Quad HD AMOLED curved display, a nearly bezelless panel that looks stunning in both images and in person. The S10E, meanwhile, offers a 1080p Full HD AMOLED display, with slightly larger bezels than the other models. However, for anyone who has long hated the curved displays of the Galaxy S devices, the S10E model brings back a more standard design of smartphone that may appeal to you. It’s also great to see Samsung’s iPhone XR rival offering users a higher resolution AMOLED display, rather than the LCD panel on Apple’s cheaper offering.
The back of the device features the usual lineup of camera sensors, either two or three modules on the back depending on the model you pick. We’ll talk about the cameras more in a moment, but one piece you may see missing on the back of the phone is the fingerprint sensor. Samsung has moved it from the back of the device to two new locations. On the smaller and cheaper S10E, the sensor is in the power button on the right side of the display. The flagship models have an in-screen fingerprint sensor, allowing you to touch the display to unlock your device. Users have found some mixed success with the sensor, with some saying it works perfectly while others struggling to find the spot over time and having a slower response.
Inside, the S10 line comes with the standard spec bumps we normally expect. All three devices include a Snapdragon 855, with a base storage of 128GB (expandable by microSD cards), IP68 water resistance, fast wireless charging, and yes, a 3.5mm headphone jack. The S10E starts with 6GB of RAM, though higher-end models include 8GB of RAM, while the S10 models include 8GB of RAM out of the box. These are powerful devices, there’s no doubt about that, and in terms of performance, they absolutely fly. When it comes to battery, the S10E takes the biggest it here, offering just a 3100mAh unit. Battery life on the smaller model isn’t terrible, but at around 4 to 5 hours of screen-on time, it’s merely average. The S10+ really kills it here, with a 4100mAh battery that brings battery life to around 6 or 7 hours of screen-on time.
All three models of the S10 have a primary dual-aperture 12-megapixel camera and an ultra-wide 16-megapixel camera on the back of the device. The former offers f/1.5 or f/2.4 when shooting, while the latter brings a 123-degree field of view to the table. They’re also all capable of shooting 4K video with both the rear and front cameras, and offer a stabilization feature for videos shot with the ultrawide camera. The two premium devices also offer a telephoto lens for providing something akin to a physical zoom to your device, while the S10E only features digital zoom.
These specs mean nothing if the S10 can’t produce great photos, and generally speaking, it does about as good of a job as you could ask for in a flagship. It doesn’t hit the high marks of the Pixel 3, but it’s about in line with what we’ve seen with the iPhone X or XS. The video recording, however, is far better than what Google has offered on the Pixel line of devices.
Like most Samsung devices, there’s plenty of features and software tweaks to uncover when using the phone. The devices run Samsung’s latest software, One UI, on top of Android 9 Pie. One UI is designed to make it easier to use large displays on phones by offering large headers and pushing content down the display. It looks great, and it’s easily Samsung’s best software experience yet. Just keep in mind that, as always, when Android Q arrives in late summer 2019 for Pixel phones, you likely won’t see the results of Google’s latest software until early 2020. The other main software offering here is, as always, Bixby. Samsung’s assistant software hasn’t gotten much better since last year, and the best thing about Bixby we can offer this year is that, finally, you can remap the hardware button out of the box in some limited ways.
Ultimately, the Galaxy S10 line represents the best Android device on the market today, and quite possibly the best phone you can buy regardless of operating system. Though the S10 and S10+ are more expensive than ever, starting at $899 and $999 respectively, they mark a great flagship device that should keep you powered for years to come. Meanwhile, the S10E starts at $749, and while that’s by no means a budget device, it does offer users a great small device with virtually no limitations or restrictions in place outside of the average battery life.
Samsung isn’t done in 2019, of course. The Note 10 will arrive sometime this summer, offering pro-users an improved iteration on the S10+ complete with S Pen support, while the Galaxy Fold promises to usher in the future of mobile computer for the low, low price of $1980 (you probably shouldn’t buy the Galaxy Fold). Meanwhile, a fourth version of the S10, with an even larger display and included 5G support, will launch later this year on Verizon. It’s an exciting time to be a Samsung fan, and for the time being, the company reclaims our top recommendation over Google’s Pixel phones.
- Gorgeous display
- Three size and price choices
- Improved software
- Great, not excellent, camera
- Slow software updates
Another autumn, another Google flagship—though this time, we’ve known about the flagship for what seems like years. The Pixel 3 XL, the largest of Google’s two devices this year, began leaking in May, five months before the device was officially announced, and it may come as a surprise, but Google fans didn’t exactly take to the device well. Early leaks of the Pixel 3 XL showed one of the largest notches we’ve seen on a device to date, making it an unfortunate example of what happens when too many design decisions are made in an effort to follow trends in the smartphone market. Plenty of consumers shouted that the design must be fake, or an older design that hadn’t made it to market. Conspiracy theories flooded forums: Google was making a third device with no notch, or the Pixel Ultra device rumored for years on end would finally come to fruition.
Of course, none of this mattered. The Pixel 3 XL leaks were all correct from the start, as were the leaks that had started around the smaller Pixel 3. These phones look very similar to the Pixel 2 and 2 XL from last year in many, many ways. In the eyes of some, this is an S year through and through, despite being an odd-numbered generation. The smaller Pixel 3 looks nearly identical to a Pixel 2 XL that went through the washer on a hot temperature, while the Pixel 3 XL looks nearly identical in size and shape to the Pixel 2 XL before it, with the corners of the screen stretched to the edge of the device. These are not radical redesigns, but they have been divisive. While many find the notch on the Pixel 3 XL horrendous, the Pixel 3 also has its own share of haters, thanks to the somewhat-large bezels on the top and bottom of the device.
Frankly, both of these phones look much better in person, but if you simply can’t stand the notch or the large bezels on the top and bottom of the device, there’s not much to be done. Unlike most devices, we do recommend you check them out in a store. Photos don’t do these justice, and you might be surprised how much better they look in person than you’re expecting.
Design aside, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL basically take what we saw with last year’s devices and improves them in almost every way. Let’s start with the hardware: the displays are both sourced from Samsung this year, instead of sourcing the Pixel 2 XL’s screen from LG. This means both screens are clearer, brighter, and more color accurate than what we saw last year. The Pixel 2 XL has some serious display problem, and the Pixel 3 XL fixes nearly all of them. The display isn’t quite as good as what you’ll find on Samsung’s own flagship devices—it seems they hold the good ones for their own devices—but you won’t find us complaining about the displays.
Everything else about the device is improved too. The waterproof rating has been bumped up to IP68 instead of IP67. The speakers are a bit louder and a hell of a lot clearer, without some of the rattling we’d heard on some Pixel 2 units. The front-facing camera now has two lenses that allows you to take wide-angle selfies, fitting more people in your photo than you ever could before, which helps to make a seriously great photo out of your group shots. Both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL now use glass backs, which allows for wireless charging and helps to make the phone feel more premium than in years past. The device still remains a frosted feel on part of the glass, helping to give the impression of aluminum.
In terms of specs, these devices have exactly what you might expect in a 2018 flagship. A Snapdragon 845 powers the device, alongside 4GB of RAM (a relatively low amount of memory compared to most 2018 Android flagships), along with a 2915 mAh battery on the smaller model and a 3430 mAh battery on the larger. These are comparable to last year’s models, and should provide around the same solid battery life as we saw last year.
Let’s talk about the main aspect of this phone: the camera. The Pixel 2 remained the best smartphone camera for, effectively, it’s entire run as Google’s flagship device. Many reviewers compared the iPhone XS to the Pixel 2 and found that Google’s 2017 flagship still beat out Apple’s newest device, and with the Pixel 3, that is taken a full step farther. Many of the advancements in how good the camera produces photos comes from the improvements in the software, and improvements in the camera’s own processing chip, Google’s Pixel Visual Chip, first launched in the Pixel 2 lineup.
Just generally speaking, the camera takes incredible photos, with Google’s HDR+ software showing better results than ever before. If you’re buying a Pixel 3, you know you’re getting an excellent camera. But Google didn’t stop there; instead, they chose to build in a series of software tweaks and improvements that are destined to help you take better and more interesting shots. Top Shot, for example, allows you to select the best version of your photo, in case someone blinks or accidentally makes a strange face. Motion Auto Focus allows you to track an object as it moves throughout the frame, keeping it in focus along the path. And Super Res Zoom is designed to be a better digital zoom than ever before, even if it doesn’t measure up to what we’ve seen from other cameras’ telephoto lenses.
One of the most interesting features with the cameras launched a month after the phones themselves, and that’s Night Sight. One of the most incredible features with the camera, Night Sight makes it easy to take low-light photos without the flash that look far better than you could ever manage with a bright light. It’s some incredible stuff, and one of the marquee features on a great camera.
In case you can’t tell, the Pixel 3 remains a phone to buy for the software, not so much the hardware. Though Google certainly stepped it up this year, the premiere reason to buy a Pixel device is because of Google’s excellent software features. From running Android 9 Pie and keeping up to date with software updates as they roll out, to offering advanced features like call screening to help avoid spam calls, the software on the Pixel 3 is nearly unbeatable. And good news for those who bought Pixel 2s: plenty of these options, including some of the camera trickery, have rolled out to those devices as well.
Look, at the end of the day, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL aren’t perfect. The designs certainly have some flaws on them, especially in the larger sized model; the prices are costly; and of course, there’s still no headphone jack to be found. Still, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL represent great evolution in the Pixel line, even if some will find the notch on the larger model to be absolutely garish. While some will spring for our top devices or other runner-up phones below, will hold onto their Pixel or Pixel 2, or might even jump ship for the iPhone XR or iPhone XS, it’s no secret that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL represent the best camera and software experience for Android today.
- Unbeatable smartphone camera
- Fantastic software experience
- Great display
- Glass back scratches easily
- Only 4GB of RAM
What began as a passion project for Samsung back in the early 2010s with the original Galaxy Note has evolved into one of their most beloved products. After an infamously-failed launch in 2016 for the Note 7 and a return to form in 2017 with the Note 8, Samsung continued their lineup of the device earlier this year with the launch of the Note 9, and more than ever, this device is a complete beast of a product, satisfying diehard Note fans and those who waited to update their devices til this year.
Powering the 6.4″ 1440p display is a Snapdragon 845, combined with 6GB of RAM and a huge 4000 mAh battery. That is one of the largest on the market, and helps to make the Note’s battery last all day. This is far improved over the Note 8’s battery, which was limited to a much-smaller 3300mAh after the battery concerns surrounding the Note 7. It made sense at the time to limit the size of the battery in the new model, but with the Note 9, Samsung has brought it back to its former glory as a complete tank when it comes to lasting all day. While we have seen some phones with longer battery life, this is still one of the best you can get in any device.
As with last year, the phone features two lenses on the back of the device, the same exact camera system we saw on the S9+ a year ago. Both lenses are 12MP sensors, differing in their abilities as either wide-angle (by default) or telephoto lenses. As with most Samsung devices, these are great cameras—they’re just not the best you can get on the market, a prize that still belongs to the Pixel lineup of phones.
We’ll be honest: for most people, the Note 9 is either an obvious buy, or way too expensive. At $999 for the 128GB and only growing in price for the (we’ll be honest, insane) 512GB version, this is a super expensive phone. It’s one of the most expensive on the market, and certainly competes with Apple’s own iPhone XS Max as one of the priciest devices you can pick up. That said, if you’re interested in using your phone mainly as your computer, it could make sense to own a device this powerful. While Samsung device’s aren’t exactly known for their timely updates, there is a lot to love about this phone.
Of course, the good news is that, several months out from launch, the Note 9 is finally starting to see a reduction in price, down as low as $850 on sites like Amazon. This means that, for those who want a phone like the S10+ but are willing to make a couple reductions in certain specs can pick up this device and get a great experience while saving a couple hundred dollars along the way.
- Incredible AMOLED display
- Beautiful design
- Solid cameras
- Very expensive
- Lower capacity battery
- S Pen might not be used by everyone
OnePlus has made a name for themselves by offering flagship-level products while undercutting competitors, but in 2019, they’ve gone in a new direction. The OnePlus 7 Pro is a new device designed to offer Android fans a phone that gives them everything they want, all while returning flagship prices to their old sub-$700 prices. There’s a lot to love about the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the best feature in our eyes—literally—is the display. OnePlus has built a 90Hz display into the 7 Pro, offering the best display you can get on a phone today. The increase in refresh rate helps to make everything on the device look smooth, fast, and sharp. It’s a change that makes using the phone a much better experience over other platforms, and we hope more manufacturers follow in OnePlus’s shoes here.
The design of the phone has been upgraded, offering a notchless screen with a special pop-up camera for when you’re taking selfies. The pop-up camera actually works fairly well, and while only time will tell how resistive the device is when it comes to failure, OnePlus says the pop-up camera should outlast the lifespan of the phone. The display features an in-screen fingerprint sensor, but unlike the one on the Galaxy S10 or last year’s OnePlus 6T, it’s large, quick, and reliable, making it one of the best fingerprint sensors we’ve seen to date. Performance-wise, the 7 Pro has exactly what you’ve imagine this year’s flagship specs would have: a Snapdragon 855; 6, 8, or 12GB of RAM; fast-charging; and 128 or 256GB of storage. OnePlus claims the phone is waterproof, but opted not to get the device IP-certified in order to save cash along the way.
Starting at $669, the OnePlus 7 Pro is much more expensive than former OnePlus devices, and it may disappoint long-time fans looking to upgrade from older OnePlus phones. Generally, however, we find the OnePlus 7 Pro to be one of the best phones on the market today, with only two major weakpoints. The camera, while a marked improvement over previous OnePlus phones, is still just “good,” while not coming close to the likes of Apple or Google. The phone is also missing wireless charging, and now that OnePlus is asking for nearly $700 for their base devices, it should be expected to include a feature as standard as wireless charging. Still, the device is OnePlus’s best yet, and it continues the trend set last year of full support for Verizon.
- Fantastic display
- Best Improved camera value
- Solid battery life
- More expensive than prior OnePlus devices
- No IP-certification
- No wireless charging
Released six months after their older brother devices, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL are cheaper versions of Google’s flagship device. Starting at just $400 for the smaller model and $479 for the larger device, the Pixel 3a line is a great bang-for-your-buck offering, taking what’s great about Google’s flagship phones and just lowering the price enough to make it a better buy. The camera on the back of the device is nearly identical to what we’ve seen from the Pixel 3, albeit lacking the Pixel Visual Core that allows for dedicated photo processing. Still, despite slightly slower rendering times when taking HDR photos, the Pixel 3a is easily the best camera you can get on a smartphone for under $500—and possibly under $700.
The rest of the phone is great too, switching the glass build of the original Pixel 3 to plastic but keeping the general design language the same. The phone does take a few hits in terms of specs and other areas. Powered by a Snapdragon 675, it’s clear that the phone does run slower than flagships using Snapdragon 845s or 855s. And while 4GB of RAM is the same amount offered in the higher-tier Pixel 3 line, it’s starting to become long in the tooth in terms of speed. The phone also dumps the options for both wireless charging and water resistance, and while wireless charging seems like an obvious feature to leave behind (especially considering the plastic build), it’s really unfortunate that the phone doesn’t offer any kind of resistance to rain or an accidental drop in the tub.
Of course, in terms of software, this is a Pixel device through and through, complete with the clean build one can expect from Google. Fast updates are also guaranteed, coming months before other flagship devices are granted new versions of Android (and possibly years in the budget space). If there’s one major bummer on the software side of things, its the lack of free original resolution photo backups on Google Photos, something Google has included with all three generations of Pixel devices prior. Still, at just $400, the device is great for anyone looking for a reliable midrange Android phone, basically guaranteed to get them through two or more years of use—all while including a headphone jack.
- Best camera under $700
- Solid software experience
- Best bang-for-your-buck
- Midrange performance
- Not waterproof
We have long praised Motorola’s budget line, the G-series, for its affordability and its ease of use. The Moto G4 wasn’t the most attractive phone in the world, but the battery life was solid, the display was a sharp 1080p LCD, and the device was sold from Amazon for under $200. The Moto G5 Plus stepped up the game two years, with an improved metal design, better (if not great) cameras, and yet another low price when purchased through Amazon. And the G6, though not our favorite G-series device ever launched, helped bring premium features like taller displays to a new audience. All three devices, like much of Motorola’s lineup of phones, were able to work on basically every carrier in the United States (all four national carriers, plus every MVNO carrier like Straight Talk or Republic Wireless), and when Amazon revoked lock screen advertisements from their lineup of Prime-exclusive devices, the phones only got that much better.
This year, the Moto G7 continues the tradition of being the cheap phone to beat. Available for just $299 for Amazon Prime subscribers and $329 for those without Prime, the Moto G7 is a step up from the G6 in almost every way. The build is all-glass, similar to Moto’s other devices, and though it looks great, it does increase the fragility of the device and works towards making it easier to break. Still, the phone feels premium in the hand, offering users on a budget a much better experience than other similar devices. The display is solid and looks modern with its notch and minimal bezels, though it won’t compare to the Galaxy S10 displays by any means.
The specs are pretty solid here, offering 4GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 632. The camera is solid for the price range, and actually takes pretty great daytime photos. Overall, the Moto G7 is a solid, if unsurprising package. At $300, it’s a great option for those looking for a new budget device in 2019. Just don’t expect to receive updates from Motorola along the way.
- Modern display
- Solid software experience
- Improved processor over the G6
- Glass but no wireless charging
- Camera is slow
As the successor to both the HTC U11 and U11+ from last year, the U12+ had a lot riding on it. The former device, released this time last year, was a quiet success in critical support if not quite in sales or carrier stock. The phone’s camera was a massive success, seemingly following in the footsteps of the HTC-developed Pixel camera from 2016, the device offered modern specs with a Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM, and the software was massively improved. The U11+, unfortunately, was not quite as much of a critical darling. The device had gone from ergonomic to slippery and massive, the display appeared washed out and dull, the massive battery didn’t attribute to much longer life in day-to-day use, and the phone never shipped in North America, making it impossible for some Android users to buy the device.
The U12+ is, fittingly, a mix of good and bad, matching the split between its status as a successor for the U11 and the U11+. This is HTC’s first phone following their hardware team’s acquisition by Google, in order to continue the development of the Pixel line through 2018 and beyond, which means this could be one of the final phones to ever ship from HTC. There are plenty of things to love about this phone, especially over the U11+ last year. The ergonomics have improved, making for a more-friendly design that’s easy to hold in your hand, and the design of the phone is absolutely gorgeous. From the red model to the translucent blue, the device looks unique as ever. The device uses a Snapdragon 845 with 6GB of RAM, and it absolutely flies in performance while offering solid, dependable battery life. And the camera is excellent, offering one of the best mobile photography kits on the market today.
So what’s not to love? For starters, HTC has included bloatware on the device called News Republic, an app that sends random news notifications to your device about “viral” stories around the internet. While the software experience is clean, this bloatware really hurts the praise. HTC also chose to replace the physical buttons with pressure-sensitive areas on the side of the phone that allow for the device to be clicked, similar to the home button on the iPhone 7 and 8.
Unfortunately, the buttons have been panned by nearly every critic and user alike as unnatural and unusable. Finally, while the USB-C headphone adapter included with the U11 sounded pretty bad, HTC has somehow made the only worse decision possible with the U12: not to include one. Ultimately, there are a lot of drawbacks here, but HTC’s hardware and software are still solid Android experiences. If you want to own something that may soon be a piece of history—the final HTC phone—the U12+ is a solid buy.
- Ergonomic design
- Long battery life
- Great camera
- Fake buttons are bad
- Bloatware and spam on device
- Unknown future for HTC
While the Moto G-series might be Moto’s most successful lineup of devices, it was the Moto X line that originally attracted so much press and fanfare nearly five years ago. When the first Moto X launched, it was the first device from Motorola under Google’s umbrella, and while that ownership model didn’t last long before the company was sold to Lenovo, the first two Moto X devices were not just successful—they were legendary. When Motorola brought back the Moto X line for a fourth generation in 2017, the device had changed quite a bit. Gone were the days of Moto Maker, replaced with a glass back that came in black and sky-blue. The device was no longer the flagship of Moto’s own offerings, now being offered as a mid-range product aside Moto’s Z-series of mod-enabled phones.
The 2017 Moto X4 isn’t a perfect device, but it’s pretty solid for the money. Though the device is now 18 months old, at just $139 or $149 for Prime and non-Prime customers, respectively, at that price, the X4 is great for anyone looking for a backup device or a cheap entry phone. The Moto X4 is IP68 water resistant, making it one of the few devices available below $200 that offers IP-certification for water resistance. 3GB of RAM is the minimum amount we would recommend in 2019, but it hits the mark, and offers a Snapdragon 630 processor for solid performance during both day-to-day activities and when gaming.
The software, like every Motorola phone, is basically stock software with some Motorola enhancements built in. The Moto X4 makes a major exception here when purchased through Amazon—you also gain access to Alexa built into the phone. The device has USB-C, a step-up from every other budget Motorola phone outside of the new Moto G6, and features a dual-lens camera on the device that takes solid shots during the day, but unfortunately, average-at-best shots at night. Overall, the Moto X4’s original price tag of $399 is simply too expensive for what you would be receiving, but at $149 or less, it’s a really solid buy. For those disappointed by the OnePlus 6T’s price increase, the Moto X4 represents a great buy at under $200. Though it was too expensive to initially add to this list, the past few months have helped to make this a great buy for anyone looking for a modest mid-range device.
- Solid, smaller display
- IP68 water resistance
- USB-C support
- Poor low-light performance
- No wireless charging
- Slow camera performance
Earlier this year, rumors began to pop up that LG had delayed and cancelled their 2018 flagship, the LG G7, in order to head back to the drawing board. For some, this seemed to be good news. LG has been lost in the woods for a while, and we’ve longed for the days of the LG G2 or LG G3, classic devices that had problems but seemed to have a direction worth following. It’s no secret that the LG G5 was a major disaster, a setback for LG that basically removed them from the marketplace for an entire year with a focus on a modular system called “Friends” that never took off beyond the initial add-ons. The LG G6 was a solid redesign and refocus, but sank like a stone when sitting aside the more-powerful Galaxy S8. And so, despite the rumors that the G7 had been cancelled for retooling, LG announced the phone at the beginning of May, along with the ThinQ branding we’ve decided to leave off the name.
The LG G7 is a curious phone, one probably destined to follow in the footsteps of the LG G6 before it. The device utilizes the notch design that we’ve seen becoming more popular on Android phones in the wake of the iPhone X, but while that device used the notch to build the equivalent of a Microsoft Kinect into your phone for face unlock technology, the G7 uses it for a camera and not much else. The phone also uses an IPS panel instead of the standard OLED display we’ve seen from most phone manufacturers, though considering the problems that faced LG’s display on the Pixel 2 XL, this might be a good thing. Still, it does make it impossible to truly hide the notch in software, despite LG’s massive attempts to allow you to so with black and a multitude of colors. The notch isn’t the biggest concern in the world, and since the Pixel 3 XL is all but guaranteed to have one, it seems to be the future moving forward. Still, we wish LG had included a real reason to have the notch here.
There’s plenty of good about this phone, though, including the addition of a headphone jack with top-tier audio, an ultra-wide lens on the back of the device that helps with photography (and takes some solid shots!), and a loud, albeit mono, speaker on the device that sounds good. Unfortunately, the software complaints we had with the LG G6 carry over here—LG just isn’t putting in the work to make this a compelling device with good software—and the battery life just isn’t anything to write home about, a must-have in 2018. It does use a Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, answering the complaint about the processor in the G6, but considering the $799 MSRP for the LG G7, it might be too expensive for many to consider as a day to day phone. If you are interested in the G7, wait to see if the price drops following the pattern from the G6 before it. When we last checked, the device was selling for a much-more palatable $600 on Amazon.
- Solid design
- Great display
- Ultra-wide camera
- Weak battery life
- Software experience is mediocre
- Expensive MSRP
Update: With the United States attempting to block US companies from dealing with Huawei in any way—including Google providing Google Play support—we can’t recommend anyone buying a Huawei phone at the moment. Our previous review follows.
First things first: yes, it’s true that the United States government has warned against US consumers from buying products from Huawei, warning that their status as a Chinese company could contribute to leaking of personal details of Americans and the chance that the equipment is used for espionage against the United States. We aren’t here to tell you whether or not these claims are true—there are far too many unknowns, missing details, and unanswered questions for us to offer our take. That said, Huawei continues to be a massive powerhouse of a company, the second-largest mobile phone developer behind Samsung worldwide, and popular in both Europe and Asia. If you have the option to purchase a Huawei device, the P20 Pro is one of the best phones from the company yet, with a striking design and a powerful camera.
Available from Amazon for $885, the P20 Pro is a sight to see. The design is absolutely gorgeous, and though the glass-clad black model is sleek as ever, the midnight blue and the twilight versions (with its reflective teal and purple hues) are simply unmatched in the black and space gray world we live in currently. It’s obvious that part of the design aesthetic comes from the iPhone X, but ultimately, Huawei has taken a twist on that phone’s existing design and made its own. In addition to the colors of the device, the back of the phone finds a different camera module, and while the front of the device uses a notch, you’ll also notice a large bottom bezel that houses a fingerprint sensor. Despite Apple’s move to face unlock technology, most will agree that the fingerprint sensor is perfect for unlocking your devices, and keeping it here was the right move. There’s a face unlock feature here too, and it’s fast and accurate, but it isn’t nearly as advanced as Apple’s own implementation.
The 6.1″AMOLED display is absolutely gorgeous, rivaling only the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9 for the best display on a phone at the moment. The device uses a 1080p panel instead of a 1440p panel, but all that does is assist in the device achieving a strong battery life that helps to make your battery last that much longer. That display, matched with the custom-made Huawei Kirin processor, makes the 4000mAh battery able to extend for days, plural. This thing could potentially go on a weekend camping trip and manage to return home on Sunday with juice to spare.
The camera is phenomenal, with some calling it best in-class, and the software experience has evolved. Huawei still uses EMUI on their devices, a heavy iOS-like skin that some people enjoy and some hate. The lack of wireless charging and a headphone jack are unfortunate, but overall, the device is a success that will, unfortunately, evade many US consumers. You can buy a P20 Pro in the United States, but be prepared for the warranty to be worthless when you do.
- Gorgeous display
- Multi-day battery life
- Incredible camera
- Hard to buy in the US
- No headphone jack