A Guide to the Best Upcoming Android Phones – Fall 2019
It’s been a long, hot summer, but the team at TechJunkie has had only one thing on their mind for weeks now: new smartphones. We’re rapidly approaching the fall smartphone season, where we’ll see new devices from manufacturers like Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Apple, along with likely surprises from the teams at LG and Motorola, and we can hardly contain our excitement. This year has seen the launch of some fantastic phones, including the Galaxy S10 series, the Pixel 3A and 3A XL, and the One Plus 7 Pro, but we’re ready for more. With the fall flagships ready to impress, it’s time to take a look at the upcoming phones set to arrive over the next four months, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Whether you want a budget flagship, a premium software experience, or the largest display we’ve seen on a phone to date, these are the Android phones to watch for in fall 2019.
We’re just days away from the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10, and while we know plenty about the phone, needless to say, we’re excited. This year’s device is set to come in two flavors, making the Note 10 Samsung’s largest phone to date. The smaller model, the Note 10, will feature a 6.25″ display, while the larger Note 10+ will feature a 6.75″ display, ever so slightly bigger than the Galaxy S10 5G released a few months ago. That’s a first for Samsung, who usually release the Note with one variant (although the Galaxy Note Edge was an exception).
Design-wise, the Note is all-new this year, with a small hole-punch in the center of the display for the front-facing camera and a larger, boxier design than what we saw on the S10 family. One thing many Note users may miss: the headphone jack, which has been removed from the phone, setting a precedent for Samsung’s flagships moving forward. Samsung was one of the last major phone manufacturers still using the headphone jack, so while we’re disappointed to see it gone, it’s not all too surprising. Another disappointing mark on this year’s device includes the missing microSD card slot on the smaller Note. While the Note 10+ offers users expandable storage, it seems to be missing on the “entry”-level device.
Otherwise, it’s looking like a pretty standard Note device, just with a fresh design. The S Pen is still included here, making it a capable productivity device. Rumors point to large batteries in both devices, along with speedy charging and faster wireless charging than we’ve seen in most other devices. As expected, the prices seem as large as the displays—$999 for the smaller device and $1149 for the larger—but that’s to be expected with the Note series. After all, the Note 9 launched at a similar $999 last year.
Samsung also intends to make a 5G version of the Note 10, but unlike the Galaxy S10 5G, the 5G Note will look more or less identical to what we’ve seen on the larger version. All in all, it’s a relatively quiet year for the Note. Rumored changes that would’ve made for a more interesting device, like the removal of hardware buttons, ended up either false or left on the cutting room floor. When the device is finally announced on August 7th, it’ll be fascinating to see if Samsung has any secrets in store for us—and how, exactly, the justify the removal of the headphone jack.
We like the Google Pixel 3, but we won’t lie: compared to the phones that came from Google in the two generations prior, the Pixel 3 just didn’t hold up. Featuring a similar design to the Pixel 2, the 3 and 3 XL offered improved displays and better processors. The camera, however, remained largely unchanged on the hardware side, while the 3 XL gained a large notch that was far more unsightly than nearly any other Android device we’d seen in 2018. Even worse, however, was the memory situation. While the Pixel 3 line offered the same amount of RAM as the Pixel 2, memory management seemed far worse than what had come before. Basically, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL provided excellent software, but the hardware was really lacking—especially when considering the increased price tag.
With the Pixel 4, however, we’re hoping for some redemption. Unlike in previous years, where the phone leaked to oblivion before Google’s regular October event, Google’ used this year’s leaks as an opportunity to begin confirming things about the phone. So not only do we know the Pixel 4 exists—we have official confirmation, renders, and even blog posts detailing features.
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL are set to look nearly identical for the first time since the original Pixel in 2016. A slim chin and a large forehead make for an asymmetrical phone, but it also ditches the unpopular notch seen on last year’s model, so we’re considering it a positive change. That large forehead isn’t just there because Google can’t make a slim bezel phone, though. In addition to the front facing camera, the bar along the top of the display holds numerous sensors in order to support face unlock—making it the first Android phone with a face unlock feature at the security level of the iPhone—along with the ability to track hand gestures.
This isn’t just speculation. Google has announced these features in a blog post detailing the Pixel 4, so while we may not know everything about the device, we have first-hand confirmation that the Pixel 4 will have face unlock.
Outside of the new camera technology, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Pixel 4. Two cameras modules appear on the back of the device, making it the Pixel device to feature more than one lens. The front-facing speakers are gone, replaced with bottom-firing speakers, though we’re pretty sure the device will replicate what the iPhone and other earpiece/bottom-firing speaker devices do for sound. There’s still no headphone jack—bound to be a disappointment to those hoping the appearance of one on the Pixel 3A meant it was coming back—and the fingerprint sensor appears to be removed as well.
This is the first year that Google is using the talent they purchased from HTC back in 2017, so we’re hoping the hardware is improved. Rumors point to an increased 6GB of RAM, and while that’s still far below the 8GB we’ve seen in plenty of flagships this year, it’s a big improvement over the Pixel 2 and 3. It’s also a bit unclear which processor the device will use between the Snapdragon 855 and the newly-announced Snapdragon 855 Plus, but we’re really holding out hope for the latter. Expert leaker Evan Blass tweeted in support of the Pixel 4 using the upgraded Plus model, which will make a nice change of pace from the last two Pixels immediately being outclassed by the Galaxy S-series months after.
All in all, it seems like it’s going to be a solid year for Pixel fans. If Google can really iron out some of the bugs in the last-gen device, the Pixel series might be able to take the top spot for Android phones once again.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold nearly launched months ago, before concerns over the device’s durability and issues with the screen hinge caused Samsung to delay the launch in order to make some changes to the first major folding phone on the market. With those changes ready to go, the device now features a built-in screen protector that runs from edge to edge, stopping users from peeling it off by accident. The hinge had been redesigned as well, which should stop debris from getting in between the device and the display. Still, the Galaxy Fold did receive some harsh reviews before being pulled from launching, making it a weak recommend for most users. At nearly $2000, only die-hard early adopters with cash to spare should really be considering the Galaxy Fold.
For most of the year now, Lenovo and Motorola have faced multiple leaks about an upcoming Razr device heading to store shelves that features a folding screen, reportedly bringing back the flip design the original Razr was known for. It’s a cool concept, one we can easily get behind, but there’s a few issues with the device. First, folding phones—even the ones that have been officially announced—have been slow to come to market, and it’s clear that this product category isn’t perfected yet. Samsung’s hardware is much more refined than what we’ve seen from Motorola and Lenovo, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Razr phone can actually make it to market without hardware issues. (It’s also worth noting the render seen here, despite being shown at an official Lenovo meeting, is a fan-made render.)
Of course, the other problem is the price. Much like the Galaxy Fold, we’d assume a foldable Razr phone from Motorola would be well above $1000, making it a tough proposition for most people just looking for a new phone. Still, the foldable Razr idea is an interesting concept, one that makes existing phone sizes smaller rather than making larger displays fit into a smaller chassis. But with no official reveal on the horizon, we’ll have to wait to see what comes of this.
Finally, we’re looking forward to what new phone OnePlus might offer this fall. As usual, the company offers a revised version of their flagship device each year with a “T” moniker, and 2019 should be know different. The OnePlus 7 Pro is a great phone, with some truly excellent features like its 90Hz display, and the promise of an improved version is alluring. Rumors range from an in-screen camera to compliment the in-screen fingerprint sensor to adding 5G support to the device, but we think it’s more likely that the phone will see a spec bump to the new Snapdragon 855 Plus processor. As usual, more RAM and storage tiers will also likely compliment the new OnePlus phone for the tail end of 2019, and we should expect to learn more as we approach the phone’s expected November release.