The Best Sprint Android Phones [November 2019]
No matter your choice in platform, this has been a banner year for smartphones. While most consumers don’t expect total revolution in their brand-new devices, the advancements and evolutions found in this year’s devices have taken imperfect ideas from 2017 and 2018 into the next level. Samsung and LG led the charge into reducing bezel sizes on your display, with bigger, longer, and taller screens than ever before. Design and build quality finally evolved from a premium luxury into a conclusive decision among smartphone manufacturers and buyers alike: design counts. And we shouldn’t discount the evolution in smartphone cameras, which have improved vastly upon their earlier counterparts from even three or four years ago. With extra features like waterproofing and wireless charging capabilities finally beginning to become standard features in smartphones, consumers are right to feel excited about smartphones again.
With so many good phones on the market today, it’s more important than ever to make sure you purchase a phone you can be proud to be using six months from now. There are enough “great” phones on the market that you can safely ignore the “good” or “adequate” models, and still manage to get yourself a great device, no matter what your price range is. Whether you’re looking for a gorgeous, crisp display, multi-day battery life, fast and smooth performance, or an excellent camera, there’s a phone for you. That said, it can be a challenge to find devices that manage to combine all of these aspects together into a great package that you can use for years to come. Still, for the most part, devices in 2019 have finally begun to hit every asking point we have of them.
Sprint has a seriously great lineup of devices this year, and you might even be able to pick up a phone from Amazon on the cheap. It’s important to pay attention to which phones do and don’t work on the Sprint network before you buy them, but once you have a solid idea, you’ll find that there’s a great Android phone no matter your budget. With all of this said, let’s take a look at some of the best devices on Sprint in 2019.
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 4, 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. Unfortunately, as is standard with Samsung, Android 10 is still in beta testing, and likely won’t arrive for both the Galaxy S10 and the Note 10 until later this year—potentially early next year.
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 still represents the best Android device on the market today, and one of the best phones 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. Even nine months into its lifespan, the S10 family remains a fantastic deal.
- Gorgeous display
- Three size and price choices
- Improved software
- Great, not excellent, camera
- Slow software updates
The OnePlus 7T has managed to score the runner-up position on our other carrier lists, but unfortunately, OnePlus has yet to extend Sprint support to their unlocked devices. Instead, for those looking for a OnePlus device, we suggest taking a long look at the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, a modified 7 Pro for Sprint that gives you the same experience as the other carriers received back in June. The choice between the OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T on other carriers can be pretty difficult, but on Sprint, the choice is more or less made for you. Luckily, the OnePlus 7 Pro is an excellent phone that hasn’t been outdone by its predecessor. In fact, it’s the perfect phone for Android die hards on Sprint.
There’s a lot to love about the OnePlus 7 Pro, but like the 7T, 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.
The biggest problem with the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is its price. The standard unlocked 7 Pro is $669, already the manufacturer’s most expensive phone yet, but on Sprint, you’re going to pay flagship prices for the 7 Pro. At $839, the Sprint-enabled 5G version is nearly $200 dollars more than its unlocked 4G LTE cousin, putting it well within range of Samsung’s flagship devices that include features like wireless charging and IP-certified water resistance. The One Plus 7 Pro 5G is a great phone, but it’s a real bummer you have to pay through the nose to get it on Sprint.
- Fantastic display
- Improved camera
- 5G support...if you're in the right city
- Nearly $200 more than the unlocked 7 Pro
- Can't use the unlocked 7 Pro on Sprint
- No IP-certification or wireless charging
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 has continued their lineup of the device earlier this year with the launch of the Note 10 and Note 10+, 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.
First things first: this is the first time the Note is coming in two different sizes, but we’ll be looking at the larger model, the Note 10+. Not only is the larger Note the more “traditional” device with its large 6.8″ display, but it also has a microSD card slot that the smaller model is missing. Powering that gorgeous edge-to-edge display is a Snapdragon 855, along with a whopping 12GB of RAM and a massive 4300mAh battery. This is still a power user’s phone through and through, but you’ll probably notice one missing: the headphone jack. Yes, after resisting for years, Samsung has finally removed the headphone jack from their flagship Note devices, with the Galaxy S11 likely to follow suit. It’s a bummer, but we can’t say we’re too surprised. The market has followed Apple towards wireless headphone dominance, and Samsung conveniently sells their own earbuds you can pick up for a cool $139.
The cameras are virtually identical to what we saw on the Galaxy S10+, with a primary dual-aperture 12-megapixel camera and an ultra-wide 16-megapixel camera on the back of the device. There’s also a 12-megapixel telephoto lens for assisting with zooming in on subjects, as well as a bunch of software tweaks that help you take more creative shots. It’s a good camera, though it can’t quite stand up to what we’ve seen on the Pixel 4. That said, the Note 10+ trumps the Pixel in video, which is stable and looks great, even when shooting in 4K. The microphones are pretty great as well, and one of our favorite features is the ability to “zoom-in” on your subjects with the microphone, which should help at lectures or concerts when you’re way in the back of the room.
Ultimately, whether the Note 10+ is a good buy is really up to your preferences as a user. The Galaxy S10+ isn’t much smaller, still has a headphone jack, and this late into its product cycle, the prices on the devices have dropped significantly. The Note 10+, meanwhile, starts at $1099 for 256GB, with the 512GB model going for $1199. This isn’t the most expensive phone on the market—the Samsung Galaxy Fold takes that award—but it’s still expensive for anyone who doesn’t need the S Pen with their device. Ultimately, the Note 10+ is a great phone for power users and stylus diehards. Just make sure the extra features are worth the price increase before grabbing it over the S10+.
- Incredible AMOLED display
- Beautiful design
- Solid cameras
- Very expensive
- S Pen might not be used by everyone
- No headphone jack
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, it’s 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 mid-range 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 been big fans of the Pixel series, with every single Pixel generation landing somewhere in our top picks since 2017. It goes without saying the Pixel 4 was one of our most anticipated Android phones of 2019, especially with Google and Sprint finally partnering to properly sell the phone. Unfortunately, while we still give the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL recommendations, enough flaws have risen to the surface for the device to no longer take the crown. For the first time since Google started taking phones seriously, the Pixel 4 has failed to impress us in any meaningful scale. Let’s explain what went wrong with the Pixel 4—and what’s still great about Google’s flagship series.
Let’s start on a high note. Some may disagree, but in our eyes, this is the best looking Pixel phone to date. It’s finally left the dual-tone design of the first three generations behind, with a cleaner build and matte black side panels. That said, the glossy back on the black model picks up fingerprints too easily. Stick with the matte glass on the white or limited edition orange editions of the phone. The display technology is decent as well, offering a quality 1080p panel on the smaller phone and a 1440p panel on the XL. Display quality control has never been Google’s strong suit, so it’s great to see them finally get it right on the Pixel 4. That display also offers a 90Hz refresh rate, just like this year’s OnePlus devices, though that’s worth coming back to in just a moment.
The rest of the hardware is great too, with stereo speaker support and a solid haptics engine. Google’s implementation of Face Unlock is the best we’ve seen from Android, replacing the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. Of course, being a Pixel device, the phone really shines in two areas: software and camera. On the software side, the Pixel 4 ships with Android 10, along with support for Google’s new version of Assistant, car crash detection for auto-dialing 911, and a new Recorder app that auto-transcribes speech right on the phone, making your memos searchable. On the camera side, Google’s AI camera tricks continue to impress, with support for dual exposure, astrology shots, an improved Night Sight mode over last year’s, and the inclusion of a telephoto lens for better shots with zoom.
So far, so great. As we said, the Pixel 4 isn’t a bad phone—it still earns a recommendation on this list, after all. But the shortcomings are obvious once you take a step back. The display is sharp and color accurate, but it’s not very bright, falling short at max brightness of 500 nits. Despite being a 90Hz display, it switches back to 60Hz any time the phone is below 75 percent brightness, which means you’ll lose out on the smooth scrolling animations in dark rooms (Google says a fix for this is arriving in the coming weeks). Face Unlock doesn’t look for eye detection like FaceID, making it less secure than its Apple competition (once again, Google says a fix for this is arriving in the coming months), and the included Motion Sense gestures, which track your hand movements for hands-free control, are limited in use and come off as a gimmick more than anything else.
The problems don’t stop there. Google has finally put two lenses on the back of their phones, but the iPhone 11 series now includes an ultra-wide camera on all three devices, with the Pro series including both a telephoto and an ultra-wide lens. During the launch of the Pixel 4, Google stated unequivocally that they thing ultra-wide isn’t useful, but when your direct competition is offering both telephoto and ultra-wide lenses, it’s harder to sell the phone. Perhaps the biggest issue, though, comes in the battery department. While the Pixel 4 XL’s 3700mAh battery manages to keep up with the Android competition, it’s 4-5 hour screen-on time is a far cry from the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Meanwhile, the Pixel 4’s 2800mAh battery is criminally small—expect to top your phone up once a day if you get the smaller device.
The Pixel 4 series isn’t bad, but in comparison to competition from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and, of course, Apple, it just doesn’t measure up. There’s too many small problems for us to recommend the Pixel 4 as the phone for every Android user, when both Samsung and OnePlus have filled that placement much better. Instead, the Pixel 4 exists for Android enthusiasts who love having the latest software from Google, along with shutterbugs who want the best camera on a phone today (ignoring, of course, that pesky missing ultra-wide). We hate to say it, but this year, the Pixel just misses the mark for a top pick. Better luck in 2020, Google.
- Great camera
- Clean build of Android
- Poor to mediocre battery life
- Motion Sense is a gimmick
- 90Hz display very rarely operates in 90Hz
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
The V40 isn’t the newest smartphone from LG, with both the LG G8 and the V50 having since arrived on Sprint. However, with the V50 not much more than a 5G-enabled V40 and the G8 focused on gimmicks like Air Motion, we continue to recommend the V40 even a year after its launch. Though LG has continued to struggle in the market since powerhouse devices like the G2 and G3 from several years ago had fatal flaws that caused them to crash and end up as bricks, we still think that, for the right user, the V40 is worth a look.
The front of the phone is adored with a notch that is much smaller in shape and stature than notch we saw on the Pixel 3, making it relatively easy to ignore. With a 6.4″ screen, this is a massive phone, one that is about as large as Samsung’s Note 9 from 2018, but thanks to the notch and the smaller chin along the bottom of the device, the phone is actually a bit smaller than what we’ve seen from Samsung. LG’s V30 (and by extension, the Pixel 2 XL) featured an LG OLED panel that was muddy and feature poor color accuracy; thankfully, the panel on the V40 fares much better, with solid color reproduction, strong black levels, and no color shifts when looking at the screen from different angles. LG has notably improved here, and that alone is making this a phone worth looking at.
Inside the device is everything you’d expect to see in a flagship device from 2018. A Snapdragon 845 powers the V40, alongside the now-usual 6GB of memory and 64GB of storage, all par for the course. LG continues to be one of the few manufacturers still giving power users what they want, alongside their competitor Samsung: a microSD card slot is here, but the phone retains its IP68 waterproof rating. Same goes for the headphone jack, still found on the device and still featuring LG’s signature quad-DAC that makes it the phone to listen to music with. The back of the phone features three camera lenses: a regular 12MP lens, a 16MP ultra-wide lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens. All of this amounts to what is a very-good camera, albeit one that can’t compete with the likes of Google and their software tweaks. It’s certainly a camera that will work in practically any setting, but keep in mind that, for the best shots, you’ll want to upgrade to a Pixel.
And of course, we can’t forget about LG’s software. While it’s better than it used to be, the V40 shares the same software and visual design we’ve seen from LG’s past devices and they’re…fine. Samsung’s software customizations are still better, while LG plays as a knock on what Samsung has been doing for a couple years now. Meanwhile, the Pixel line of phones features Google’s software tweaks and regular updates, and for that measure, you can’t get the same experience on the V40, which still ships with Android 9 Pie. Still, if you don’t like what Google’s doing with hardware design and you’re looking for something that isn’t the usual Galaxy alternatives, the V40 will be a great option—especially at the lower price it’s fallen to on sites like Amazon.
- Great display
- Headphone jack
- Multitude of cameras
- Expensive, especially for LG
- Camera quality not up to par with Pixel
- Software experience