The 8 Best Smartphones of 2020

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The Rundown

Best Overall (Android): Samsung Galaxy S10 at

"Samsung’s first in-display fingerprint sensor, meaning you can unlock your phone by placing your finger on the front screen."

Runner-Up, Best Overall (Android): Google Pixel 3 at Amazon

"If you’re a serious Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, or Google Assistant user, this is the smartphone for you."

Best Overall (Apple): iPhone 11 Pro at Best Buy

"Apple’s new Night Mode lets you take great and natural-looking pictures in very low light."

Best Splurge: iPhone 11 Pro Max at Best Buy

"An incredible five hours more battery life than its predecessor."

Best Budget: Moto G7 at Amazon

"The best Android phones for the average user at an affordable price."

Best Value (Apple): iPhone 11 at Best Buy

"You’ll get up to 17 hours of video watching, or up to 65 hours listening to audio, and fast charging"

Best Value (Android): Google Pixel 3a at Amazon

"Presents the best collection of features you can find on a smartphone in this price range."

Best Camera: Huawei P30 Pro at Amazon

"Wired fast charging takes it from 70 percent in under 45 minutes."

The best smartphones simplify and add value to your life, keeping you connected to the people you care about and the broader world. The best models deliver high performance that means you're never staring at your phone in irritation waiting for an app or webpage to load. They also pack excellent cameras that rival full, dedicated digital models from just a few years ago, and gorgeous displays with remarkable resolution and color accuracy for such (relatively) small devices.

Of course, even in the age of texting and messaging on social, call quality is still vital, a large part of which is the audio quality a phone's built-in speakers are capable of delivering. In the same vein, there's also the matter of connectivity to the best Bluetooth headsets or best wireless earbuds, so you can not only hear conversations but listen to music and podcasts without having to deal with lagging or interruptions.

Best Overall (Android): Samsung Galaxy S10


 Courtesy of T-Mobile

What We Like
  • Incredible AMOLED display

  • Triple-camera setup

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Spotty in-screen fingerprint sensor

  • No more iris sensor

  • Pricier than the Galaxy S9

If Apple’s iOS isn’t your cup of tea, Samsung still leads the pack for the most popular and best smartphones in the Android world. The company's latest flagship, the Galaxy S10, is a well-rounded device that checks all the right boxes.

First, Samsung has packed in Qualcomm’s ultra-fast eight-core Snapdragon 855 processor, plus 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of internal storage. You not only get wireless charging but Samsung’s new "PowerShare" feature as well, delivering wireless power to other Qi-compatible devices. The gorgeous 6.1-inch AMOLED screen boasts a resolution of 3040 x 1440, with a pixel density of 550 PPI—the highest in Samsung’s Galaxy's lineup—and a new “hole-punch” design accommodating an edge-to-edge display.

A triple-lens camera system, with the standard lenses offering a 12-megapixel (MP) sensor and an f/1.5 aperture, plus a third 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens, can capture an impressive 123-degree field of view. The S10 also boasts Samsung’s first in-display acoustic fingerprint sensor, meaning you can unlock your phone simply by placing your finger on the front screen. Although our tester said this feature was "spotty," he felt the Galaxy S10 was "a beautiful and brilliant smartphone." In his review, our tester Andrew praised the S10s incredible AMOLED display and those three cameras.

"The Samsung Galaxy S10 is a beautiful and brilliant smartphone and one of the best high-end handsets of 2019 so far." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Overall (Android): Google Pixel 3


Courtesy of Google

What We Like
  • Excellent camera

  • Fast wireless charging

  • Haptics feel great

What We Don't Like
  • No headphone jack

  • Chunky bezel

  • Less RAM and storage than some competitors

When the Google Pixel 3 arrived last year, it made waves with its camera. While the camera specs may not seem that impressive on the surface (it only has a single at 12.2 MP rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture), the best Google Pixel 3 features are baked into the software, joining Apple’s iPhone XR as the only other smartphone capable of taking seriously high-quality photos with just a single lens.

Also, because the smartphone is made by Google, it fits most naturally into the Android ecosystem—so if you’re a serious Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, or Google Assistant user, this is the smartphone for you. Plus, in addition to wireless charging, the Pixel 3 switches to a Google Assistant-friendly UI whenever you put it on the charger. Our tester loved this phone: "This is the best Android phone you can buy in terms of access to cutting-edge features," he said. "The Pixel 3 provides an unfiltered Android experience—with the promise of years of timely updates—that you just won’t find anywhere else." Reviewing the Pixel 3, Jeremy loved the amazing camera and fast wireless charging.

"The Pixel 3 leverages Google’s artificial intelligence in some extremely useful ways, and it builds on the line’s reputation for fantastic cameras." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Overall (Apple): iPhone 11 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro
What We Like
  • Robust build

  • Speedy performance

  • Awesome camera

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Must use Apple ecosystem

The iPhone is one of the most popular cell phones and some might argue the best smartphone. The new iPhone 11 Pro gains a triple-lens camera system, and while that’s not a new idea, Apple has combined the three cameras — a 26mm wide-angle f/1.8, a 13mm ultra-wide-angle f/2.4, and a telephoto f/2.0, all of which are 12 megapixel shooters — with its A13 Bionic chip’s “Neural Engine” to provide computational photography features that make these cameras much greater than the sum of their parts.

Apple’s new Night Mode lets you take great and natural-looking pictures in very low light. Deep Fusion, on the other hand, blends multiple photos together, pixel-by-pixel, choosing the best parts of each. On top of that, you now get 4K/60fps video recording with extended dynamic range and a smooth optical zoom that seamlessly transitions between all three lenses without missing a beat. The front-facing TrueDepth camera can now take 12-megapixel selfies as well, with 4K/60fps and slow-motion video capture available to power users.

Apple has also seriously upped its OLED game, with the new "Super Retina XDR" display boasting a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 1200 nits of brightness, Dolby Vision, and HDR10 video. Spatial audio and Dolby Atmos support also make this one of the best pocket movie players you can get. Moreover, Apple has managed to deliver four hours of additional battery life over last year’s iPhone XS, and for the first time ever, an 18-watt USB-PD fast charging adapter is included in the box. Our reviewer Lance loved that Super Retina display, as well as the excellent camera and superb Night Mode performance.

"The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and larger iPhone 11 Pro Max are still the best iPhones ever." — Lance Ulanoff, Product Tester

Best Splurge: iPhone 11 Pro Max

iPhone 11 Pro Max
What We Like
  • Beautiful, minimal design

  • Impressive camera

  • Serious processing power

What We Don't Like
  • Extravagant price

  • Unimpressive battery life

  • No headphone port

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is the ultimate flagship of Apple’s current lineup, bringing all of the great features of Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro to the big screen. While both of Apple’s Pro models have the same specs under the hood, it’s hard to argue that bigger is better, especially when it comes to the gorgeous new "Super Retina XDR" display that Apple has put in this year, as well as the sleek stainless steel and glass design. 

At 6.5 inches, Apple’s new display provides a stunning 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, up to 1200 nits of brightness when viewing HDR content, and a 2688 x 1242-pixel resolution at a triple-density of 458 pixels-per-inch. There’s also Apple’s True Tone display with a P3 wide color gamut, which means you’re getting unsurpassed color accuracy for your photos and videos regardless of the surrounding lighting conditions.

The new triple-lens camera system, which adds 0.5x ultra-wide-angle and 2X telephoto lenses to join the standard f1.8 26mm shooter, is backed up by Apple’s new A13 Bionic, the most powerful CPU ever put in a smartphone, with a Neural Engine to power some pretty cool advanced photography features like a new Night Mode that can take impressive natural-looking photos in extremely low-light conditions. This year’s "Max" model also gets an incredible five hours more battery life than its predecessor, and Apple has, for the first time, packed an 18-watt fast charger right into the box.

Best Budget: Moto G7

What We Like
  • Great value

  • Lots of features

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Slower than Apple and Samsung phones

  • No wireless charging

Recently, Motorola—one of the oldest names in cell phones—has been trying to carve out a new niche for itself by creating the best Android phones for the average user at an affordable price. Its latest offering is the Moto G7, which offers an extraordinary range of features for its price. Physically, it has a premium feel: an all-glass back and an edge-to-edge 6.2-inch display on the front, along with only a tiny teardrop notch for the front camera. A Snapdragon 632 eight-core CPU and 4GB RAM brings solid performance, and while it’s not going to win any speed tests against Samsung or Apple, it’s more than fast enough to suit most of your needs.

On the back are a fingerprint sensor and dual, 12MP/5MP cameras with 4K video recording, Portrait Mode, HDR photos, and slow-motion video. Although it doesn’t have advanced photo features, it nails all of the basics, and then some. Unfortunately, it doesn't have wireless charging capabilities—you’ll have to resort to Moto’s included "Turbopower" charger, which gets you back up to around 50 percent in 30 minutes. It also boasts a surprisingly good battery life. While it lacks an official IP rating for water resistance, Motorola has coated it with "P2i nano-coating." Splashes and spills will be fine, but not much else. Our tester Andrew loved the big, crisp, colorful screen and excellent Android 9.0 integration.

"There's a whole lot to like about the Motorola Moto G7, especially at a glance: the design nearly puts this $299 phone in the same company as much pricier phones, and the 6.2-inch screen doesn't disappoint." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Value (Apple): iPhone 11

iPhone 11
What We Like
  • Excellent value

  • Great color accuracy

  • Best battery life of Apple phones

What We Don't Like
  • LCD screen instead of OLED

The successor to last year’s iPhone XR, Apple’s iPhone 11 is the iPhone to buy for the majority of users, offering the same blazing-fast A13 Bionic CPU, 12 megapixel TrueDepth front camera, and f/1.8 wide-angle and f/2.4 ultra-wide-angle cameras on the rear that you’ll also find in the more expensive "Pro" models. Apple’s A13 "Neural Engine" also adds impressive new computational photography features such as improved Smart HDR, an automatic Night Mode, and "Deep Fusion" for crafting highly detailed photos using pixel-by-pixel analyses of multiple shots. There’s also now Extended Dynamic Range video capture at 4K/60fps. 

Although you’re still only getting an LCD screen, rather than an OLED, it’s the same "Liquid Retina" design that Apple pulled off for last year’s iPhone XR, which gets as close to the edges as any LCD can while providing a 1792 x 828 resolution with a 326 PPI pixel density and a 1400:1 contrast ratio and 625-nit brightness that impress for an LCD display. Also onboard are full P3 wide color gamut and Apple’s True Tone tech, the latter of which matches your display’s colors to the surrounding light for unsurpassed color accuracy.

Last year’s iPhone XR also harbored the best battery life of any iPhone ever made, and this year Apple has managed to boost that by an extra hour with the iPhone 11 — so you’ll get up to 17 hours of video watching, or up to 65 hours listening to audio, and fast charging will get you back up to 50 percent in under 30 minutes, although Apple still isn’t including a fast charger in the box. Of course, wireless charging is also supported too. After thorough testing, Lance called the 11 an affordable phone that doesn't skimp on power or battery life.

"The iPhone 11 keeps all that’s good and upgrades it in a handful of useful ways." — Lance Ulanoff, Product Tester

Best Value (Android): Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3 XL

 Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Same camera system as Pixel 3

  • Feels durable

  • No bloatware

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic body

  • No water-resistance

  • No wireless charging

The Pixel 3 is one of the most compelling Android phones available, but the much more reasonably priced Pixel 3a presents the best collection of features you can find on a smartphone in this price range. 

While Google has cut a few obvious corners to keep the costs down — the body is made out of plastic and it lacks water resistance and wireless charging — it hasn’t compromised on the camera, which is the same system used in its more expensive sibling. Its 12.2MP sensor and f/1.8 lens on the back are accompanied by an 8MP front selfie camera and features like Night Sight and Top Shot. While it lacks the Pixel Visual Core processor of the flagship Pixel 3, all of its processing is done in the main CPU/GPU, and the photos it takes are still indistinguishable from the Pixel 3.

Despite the plastic body, the Pixel 3a also still features a hardened glass screen and feels like a solid and well-built phone. It’s also powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 670 2.0 GHz CPU with 4 MB of RAM. An Adreno 615 Graphics chip drives a great 5.6-inch 2160 x 1080 OLED screen. Lastly, since it’s a Google phone, there’s no bloatware in sight—just the clean Android OS that you know and love. In his review, Andrew praised the affordable price point and that excellent camera.

"The Pixel 3a is one of the best mid-range phones you can buy thanks to its excellent camera and appealing Android experience." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Camera: Huawei P30 Pro

What We Like
  • Best-in-class camera system

  • Fast wireless charging

  • Great battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Slippery to hold

For many people, their smartphones have replaced their point-and-shoot cameras. While Google’s Pixel 3 wowed everyone in 2018, Huawei’s P30 Pro has leapfrogged it this year. The P30 Pro’s camera is a three-lens system with a staggering 40MP resolution at f/1.8 on the main wide-angle lens, while the other lenses come in at 20MP for the ultra-wide and 8MP for the telephoto. Plus, the front shooter can snap selfies at 32MP. A time-of-flight sensor handles depth mapping, while the telephoto camera takes things a step further with a 5X optical zoom.

Where the P30 Pro really shines, however, is its use of Sony's new IMX650 sensor, which uses an RYYB color filter to collect 40 percent more light. Combined with a long exposure mode and other complex algorithms, the P30 Pro can extract every last bit of light without switching to a dedicated "dark mode."

The P30 Pro also has some seriously pocketable power, with Huawei’s own octa-core Kirin 980 CPU and 8 GB of RAM. The 6.5-inch OLED display keeps to Huawei’s typical FHD 2340 x 1080 resolution, with a 398 PPI density, P3 color space, and HDR10. A substantial 4200 mAh battery will get you through two days of normal usage. Wired fast charging takes it from 70 percent in under 45 minutes. It also has 15-watt fast wireless charging and the ability to charge other Qi-compatible devices. 

Final Verdict

If you're shopping for a smartphone and want the very best of the best (and prefer Android handsets), the Samsung Galaxy S10 with it's killer display and amazing performance is the market leader. On the Apple side, the iPhone 11 Pro is the elite choice, delivering a spectacular camera, great specs, and that trademark Apple build quality.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a tech journalist with more than 10 years of experience. He's an expert in smart and mobile technology, and especially in iPhones and other mobile Apple products/accessories.

Andrew Hayward has been covering the latest tech since back in 2006 for a number of major media publications. His top specialty is smartphone and mobile accessories, meaning he was the perfect choice to review a number of the Samsung handsets on our list.

Jeremy Laukkonen is an experienced tech writer who specializes in mobile devices, specifically Android smartphones and tablets. On the side, he manages his own blog about the latest automotive trends and technological advances.

The Ultimate Smartphone Buying Guide

The humble telephone has come a long way over the years. Gone are the days when the phone was simply a way to call people. These days, smartphones are the hub of our digital lives, serving as a way to communicate with people, surf the Web, play games, pay bills, stay organized, and more.

When shopping for a smartphone, there are many factors to consider. First, you'll have to figure out which operating system you want that smartphone to run. And you’ll also want to consider other factors, including the amount of storage, screen size, battery life, and camera quality, to name a few. And so, because a smartphone is one of our most important possessions, it can sometimes be tough to pick out the right one. That, however, is why we’ve put together this guide—to help you find the perfect smartphone for your needs.

Smartphone Operating Systems

So if you decided you want a smartphone, you'll have to then consider which operating system you want to use. The operating system on a smartphone plays the same role as an operating system on a computer. It’s basically the software that you interact with on a daily basis. On an iPhone, the operating system is iOS, while on an Android phone, it’s Android. There are a few advantages and disadvantages to each operating system, which we’ll go over below.


Interested in an Android operating system? Android is the most popular smartphone operating system in the world, and for a number of reasons. For starters, unlike Apple, which only allows for iOS to be used on its iPhones, Google licenses out Android to other companies. That’s why the likes of Samsung, HTC, Huawei, and Google itself all use the Android operating system.

 Lifewire / Claire Cohen

If you’re a tried-and-true Google user, then Android is usually better at working with those apps and services. We’re not just talking about the Google search engine here—other operating systems make good use of that, too. Instead, we’re talking about the Google Play Music streaming service, Google Drive cloud storage, other Google devices like the Google Home smart speaker, and more. Now more than ever, choosing a smartphone operating system is about choosing an ecosystem, and if you go for an Android phone, it might be helpful to either already use Google’s services, or be willing to switch.

Android is also generally considered to be the operating system “that can do more" and has more features. That’s because of the nature of Android—the code for Android is available for developers who want it, and Google is far less closed off than Apple about that. If you’re a tinkerer, or you want to install apps from third-party sources, Android may be the way to go—through we recommend only downloading apps from the Google Play Store to ensure that your phones stay malware-free. The trade-off of being able to do more is that it’s slightly less easy to use than phones with iOS.

Last but not least is the fact that Android phones make use of Google’s work in machine learning and artificial intelligence. The result of that is that Google Assistant is more capable than some other digital assistants, and Android is better at predicting what you might want to do and when you might want to do it.

In the end, there are a few main reasons to go for an Android phone. They can be a little cheaper, they work better with Google’s apps and services, and they’re a little smarter.


Apple’s iOS may not be used by as many people around the world, but in the U.S. it’s actually the dominant smartphone operating system. There are plenty of reasons to go for an iPhone—the phone that runs iOS—over an Android device. The main ones, however, are that it’s built by Apple, and as such it’s both super easy to use, ultra-stylish, and plays nice with other Apple devices.

From the start, iOS guides you through getting used to your phone, and pretty much everything is where you would expect it to be. Settings are all in the settings app, apps are all lined up together, and so on.

Because of the fact that Apple controls every aspect of the development of an iPhone, they can generally last longer and feel faster in how they handle things like multitasking. That doesn’t necessarily mean that iOS phones perform truly better than Android phones—though they often do—it just means that iOS is better at working with the hardware to create a great user experience.

There’s also the fact that iPhones work better with other Apple devices. Safe to say, if you have a Mac computer or iPad, then an iPhone may be the way to go, as it makes it easy to sync things like photos, messages, e-mails, and more, all with Apple’s iCloud.

If you want a simple user interface, better Apple integration, and a phone that performs better for longer, then a phone with iOS is probably the way to go.

Other Features and Considerations

The operating system isn’t the only thing to consider when buying a smartphone—though if you’ve figured out which operating system you want, then you’ve done a lot of the work. You’ll also want to think about the hardware (processor, RAM, etc.) under the hood, the camera, screen size, battery capacity, and more. Only a few of these things are an issue when buying an iPhone (there are only a few iPhone models each year to choose from). But if you’re buying an Android phone, these things might all be something to consider.

 Lifewire / Jordan Provost


The processor is essentially the brain of a computer, or in this case, a phone. More powerful processors basically mean that your phone can “think” faster, meaning tasks are completed quicker, multitasking is zippier, and your phone will perform well for longer. Longevity is important here: A phone with a sub-par processor might be perfectly fine at handling the apps of today, but that may not be true of the apps being released in two years.

There are a few companies developing processors for smartphones. Apple develops its own processors in-house, but the likes of Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and more, all develop processors for Android phones. In the U.S., Qualcomm chips are most common, and in 2018, the flagship Qualcomm chip is the Snapdragon 845. The higher the number here, the better.

If you want more powerful processors, you’ll want processors with multiple “cores.” Traditional processors can only perform one task at a time, but a dual-core processor can process two, and a quad-core processor can process four.


Storage is perhaps the most important thing for most people to consider. The more storage you have on your phone, the more files, apps, photos, video, etc., that you can keep on there at a time. These days, it’s a little easier to get by with less storage if you use cloud storage like Apple Photos or Google Drive, but some things simply can’t work without being stored on your phone. We recommend getting a phone with at least 16GB of storage (for light users), though 32GB is going to be much better, and 64GB or more should be enough for heavy users.

Some phones also allow for external storage, usually through a MicroSD card slot. With this slot, you can buy a small card about the size of a SIM card, which can be used to store files on. MicroSD cards start at around $10 for low-capacity ones and range up from there.


The camera has become one of the most important aspects of a phone. After all, when a phone has a great camera it means you can quickly capture a moment without having to carry around another camera.

There are a few things that make a great camera, but the most important is the software behind it. Two phones with identical camera specs can yield vastly different results, so, unfortunately, it’s near impossible to shop for a phone with a great camera by only looking at specs on paper.

Still, there are a few specs to consider. For starters, the resolution of the camera is important to many people. Resolution determines the number of pixels that make up a photo or video—and a higher number of pixels means the photo will look good on higher resolution displays. As displays continue to go up in resolution, that can be very important.

 Lifewire / Claire Cohen

You’ll also want to think about aperture, which is basically the size of the hole that light goes into before it reaches the camera sensor. The larger the hole, the more light that’s let in—which can be helpful for low-light situations. Aperture is expressed as an f-number—like, for example, f/2.0. Larger apertures, however, are represented by smaller numbers—which is confusing, but unfortunately the way it is.

We recommend looking at reviews for a phone to determine whether the camera is good or not. As mentioned, simple specs don’t mean a whole lot when it comes to camera quality, here are a few phone cameras we highly recommend.


RAM, or Random Access Memory, is another form of storage, but instead of using it to save files, its used by your system to save things that it might want to pull up quickly. Most commonly, open apps are saved in RAM so that when you close them and open them again, they can show up on the screen without having to completely load again.

Generally speaking, more RAM is better when buying a smartphone, but phones with more RAM also often cost more. For a mid-range phone, you’ll probably find phones in the 2GB of RAM range, but for most users, a device with 3GB or more is recommended.

Display Type

When it comes to phones, a screen isn’t just a screen. There are a few different types of displays, and they’re not all created equal.

The most common type of display type in mid-range and low-end phones is the LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display. LCDs are inexpensive to produce, which is why they’re used so often, but the trade-off is that they’re not the best at conserving battery life and they generally don’t produce the deepest blacks or brightest colors. There are two types of LCD’s though: TFT-LCDs, which are cheaper and the worst at color reproduction, and IPS-LCDs, which are a little better at color reproduction and wider viewing angles.

These days, high-end phones are doing away with LCDs in favor of OLED displays. Because OLED displays light up individual pixels rather than the display as a whole, it saves on battery life. On top of that, when black shows up on the screen, OLED displays simply don’t light it, meaning that blacks look deeper, and contrast ratios are higher. You might see “Super AMOLED” displays out there, which is basically Samsung branding for its OLED displays.

You’ll probably only notice the difference between LCD and OLED displays if you have a truly sharp eye, although you might find the battery improvements that come with OLED displays to be worth the extra cash.

Screen Size

Phone display sizes have gotten a whole lot bigger over the years, and that might be important to you. Smaller displays come in at four inches, while larger displays can range up to seven inches. Phone displays are likely to continue to get bigger, too. That’s because of the trend of edge-to-edge displays, which minimize the amount of space between the screen and the edge of the phone and make for phones with larger displays, but the same overall size.

If you like to watch videos, look at photos, or play a lot of games on your phone, you might want to consider buying one with a larger display size.

 Lifewire / Claire Cohen

Biometric Authentication

Gone are the days when you had to enter a PIN code to access your phone. These days, most smartphones have a fingerprint sensor built into them, ensuring you can get into your device quickly and easily, and at the touch of a sensor. Some higher-end phones also have other forms of biometric authentication, like iris scanning or facial recognition.

Many consider fingerprint sensing to be the easiest way to authenticate, especially depending on its placement. While some phones mount a fingerprint sensor on the front of the device, others have a sensor on the back, making it easy to quickly scan your fingerprint as you take your device out of your pocket.

These days, some phones also have facial recognition, which is both safer, and sometimes easier to use. All you have to do to authenticate yourself with facial recognition is look at your phone, which does present some difficulty if your phone is on your desk, for example.

Some other high-end phones also offer iris scanning, which presents its own advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that iris scanning is highly secure and relatively easy to use, but the disadvantage is that iris scanners are expensive to make and implement.

We recommend a phone with at least a fingerprint scanner, though any other methods of authentication can be useful, too.

Battery Capacity

Not all batteries are the same size, and a smaller battery can have a serious impact on how long your phone lasts on a single charge. Battery capacity is measured in milliampere-hours, or mAh—where a higher number represents a larger capacity. Of course, it’s not always as simple as “larger batteries make your phone last longer.” A phone with a larger battery but an equally high-resolution display and power-hungry processor may not last as long as a phone with a smaller battery, lower-resolution display, and less intense processor.

Most phones that you come across should last at least a day of normal use on a single charge, but the fact remains that bigger batteries are helpful, and battery capacity is definitely something you should consider. We recommend getting a phone with at least a 2,500mAh capacity—though again, how long that lasts will depend on a lot of different factors.


While battery capacity is important enough, for many, how you charge up that battery is equally as important. Many devices simply charge through their charging port, and most low-end and mid-range phones don’t have any fancy fast-charging tech. Some phones, however, have ways to accelerate how fast their battery is charged, at least when coupled with the right charger. This fast-charging tech varies from company to company, but whenever present, it can be very helpful to have.

There’s another charging tech that can be helpful, and that’s wireless charging. Wireless charging has been around for some time now, and some Android manufacturers have been making use of it for years. Just recently, Apple introduced wireless charging on its phones, so the tech has quickly become a whole lot more popular. Wireless charging essentially allows you to charge your phone by popping it onto a charging mat or dock, without having to plug it in. It’s very convenient, but something largely reserved for high-end devices. If you are buying a high-end device, wireless charging is definitely something to consider.

 Lifewire / Claire Cohen


You’ll likely want your phone to be durable, and there are a few ways to make sure it is. The most common rating for durability is an “Ingress Protection” rating, which covers water-resistance and dust-proofing. Most phones that have an IP-rating have at least IP67, which means that a phone is dust-tight and can withstand being immersed in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. A rating with numbers higher than that is always battery.

Some phones also have military drop-test ratings, which means they’re testing to be able to withstand drops and bumps. Phones that have this aren’t common, but they should be able to withstand a whole lot more abuse than the standard phone. Most commonly, you’ll see the MIL-STD-810G standard, which means the phone has been tested to withstand a total of 26 drops on each face, edge, and corner. The standard is a little misleading because manufacturers can test with up to five samples, meaning each sample is only dropped five or six times, but it still means that the phone should withstand the odd drop perfectly fine.


As you can tell, there are quite a few things to consider when buying a new smartphone. You’ll then want to decide between Android or iOS. And of course, you still need to figure out a budget, and decide on the specifications that are most important to you (whether they be power-related, display-related, or otherwise). Find the best phone with those specs in your price range, and voila, you have yourself a new phone.

No matter what’s important to you, there’s almost certainly a smartphone that will be perfect for your needs. There are dozens of phones out there, after all, and more are being released every single week.