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If you're a Verizon customer, you're going to need one of the best Verizon phones. These devices encompass a broad range of performance and capability, as well as price points.
The same rules apply when shopping around for any smartphone, but the first big question to ask yourself is Apple or Android. Apple tends to be a little more user friendly and an unprecedented library of apps. Android, on the other hand, is slightly more open to tinkering and is available on a greater variety of hardware.
Regardless of where you pledge your allegiance, make sure to check out our guide to iPhone vs. Android before making your decision.
Incredible AMOLED display
Spotty in-screen fingerprint sensor
A big price jump from the Galaxy S9
For the Galaxy’s 10th anniversary, Samsung has really brought the big guns. The Galaxy S10 is as powerful as it is beautiful, and even though the brand's past few installments have been amazing futuristic phones, they’ve somehow managed to step it up even further for the S10. The 3040 x 1440 pixels in the 6.1-inch Quad HD+ AMOLED display gives us arguably the best screen we’ve ever seen on a smartphone. That’s further bolstered by the fact that Samsung has virtually done away with bezels by including a “hole punch” on the top right corner of the screen to accommodate the front-facing camera. (And if you opt for the S10+ model, that camera turns into a dual lens setup, which features a dedicated wide-angle lens for wider selfies.) The triple rear-camera system is remarkable because it sports three different dedicated lenses and sensors, with a 12MP wide-angle system that allows you to change the physical aperture.
Our testing showed that there’s a lot of power under the hood, too. With 8GB of RAM and a 2.73GHz, Octa-Core processor, this phone can handle it all with impressive speed. The S10 gives you up to 512GB of storage and the S10+ allows you to increase that to up to 1TB — a capacity that was virtually unheard of on a smartphone even two years ago. Plus, with half a dozen colors to choose from, including the stunning Prism White and Flamingo Pink, you’ve got a really amazing entry into the flagship field.
"We actually preferred the hole-punch design and found it a lot less obtrusive than the notches seen on other phones." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Best in class camera
Fast wireless charging
Haptics feel great
No headphone jack
One of the very best phones you can run on Verizon’s network is the Google Pixel 3, a powerful and versatile Android device that runs the latest Google software and has one of the best phone cameras on the market. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch OLED screen that can show a mind-boggling 16.77 million colors and looks great for videos, games, and your Instagram feed.
Our tests showed that this phone is a multitasking powerhouse as well, with 4GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. For charging, you’ll have the option to physically charge via its USB-C port or wirelessly charge via Qi wireless charging. Battery life on the Pixel will last you roughly a day thanks the large 2,915 mAh battery inside. As for the aforementioned camera, it shoots 12.2-megapixel photos and it has dual-pixel phase detection, optical and electronic image stabilization, and a flicker sensor — all of which lead to some of the best photos you’ll find taken on a smartphone.
"The sound quality is almost as good as what you would expect from a smart speaker." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester
If you love big screens, the Google Pixel 3 XL treads a fine line between smartphone and full-on tablet. It has a gargantuan 6.3-inch OLED screen and measures 6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches, meaning that it’s perfect for watching videos and playing games. It has a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB of RAM for fast performance even when multiple apps are open. The 3,420 mAh battery can last for more than a day at a time, and when it is time to charge, you have the option to use a cord via the phone’s USB-C port or Qi wireless fast charging via the optional Pixel Stand (sold separately). Just like its smaller sibling, the Pixel 3 XL also comes in white, black, and pink colors for the discerning customer. The only design drawback for some will be the large “notch” that is present on the top middle of the screen, which can be a little distracting.
Huge, stunning OLED screen
Incredible battery life
Plenty of processing power
Niche upgrades over Galaxy S9+
With a network like Verizon, offering coverage and speeds that stand pretty far ahead of the pack, you need a phone that can take that coverage and run with it. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 steps up the previous generation in a few really amazing ways. First off, their new S Pen, though still a great sketching tool, is now a full-on Bluetooth expression device (you can even use it as an external camera shutter). The 6.4-inch screen has also been taken to the next level, sporting a Quad HD+ resolution (2960 x 1440, 516 ppi) brightened up with the Super AMOLED tech. Our testing revealed that the selfie cam is 8MP, while the rear cameras are 12MP wide-angle and 12MP telephoto. Plus, the wide-angle lens offers an amazing variable aperture (f/1.5 or f/2.4). The camera will shoot up to 4K video at up to 60 fps, and Samsung has equipped the system with some interesting AI features.
Another standout feature here is the battery: At 4,000 mAh, Samsung is giving you a truly massive power bank that's further bolstered by fast-charging capabilities. The processor is a 64GB Octa-Core running at speeds up to 2.8GHz. You can pick up the phone with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of space or 8GB of RAM and 512GB of space, but in either case, you can expand it up to 512GB more with a micro SD. Even the speakers are upgraded with high-quality, AKG-tuned, Dolby Atmos sound. If you’re a Samsung fan, it’s really hard to go wrong with this offering.
"The upgraded polish and power of the Note 9 makes this the big-screen phone of choice for people who need to be productive from anywhere." Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Three excellent cameras and Night mode
Amazing Super Retina XDR display
Awesome A13 Bionic power
A little heavier than the last models
Not cheap, especially for 64GB of storage
Apple returns to normal numbers with the 2019 iPhone lineup, ousting the prior iPhone XS Max for the new iPhone 11 Pro Max. While the name is a bit of a mouthful, both the "Pro" and "Max" monikers are well-deserved, with performance that runs circles around most other smartphones and an impressive 6.5-inch OLED display that provides rich color and obsidian-deep blacks.
With the new triple-lens system, Apple has added a 13mm ultra-wide-angle shooter to the previous combo of standard wide-angle and telephoto lenses, meaning you can now capture stunning nature vistas without worrying about backing off the edge of a cliff to fit everything in. Our tests showed that the A13 Bionic CPU is the fastest chip ever put into a mobile phone, and while it’s more than you’ll need simply for playing games, the real benefit is the advanced photography. Night Mode lets you take visible and highly detailed photos in near-darkness while "Deep Fusion" introduces pixel-level photo blending.
The "Super Retina XDR" OLED display shows off your photos, videos, and movies with incredible color accuracy, thanks to a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 458 PPI pixel density, and True Tone ambient light matching. Dolby Vision and HDR10 mean even feature films look great on the expansive 6.5-inch screen. And with five hours more battery life than the prior "Max" model, you can also keep the movies playing for up to 17 hours on a single charge.
Great price for great performance
Two cool cameras and Night mode
Excellent battery life
No 2X optical zoom camera
You don’t have to suffer from a fear of missing out if you opt for Apple’s standard iPhone 11, as it has the same A13 Bionic CPU, the same 4GB of RAM, and all of the same iOS features as its more expensive "Pro"-branded counterparts. The machine learning Neural Engine on the A13 powers some pretty cool photography features, too, such as Night Mode and Deep Fusion, which make your photos shine in just about any lighting condition.
Our testing was pleased to find a dual-camera system employs wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses that let you capture large groups and scenery without having to take a long walk away. The front TrueDepth camera has also gained an upgrade to 12 megapixels in addition to a slightly wider field of view — perfect for group selfies. While you don’t get the fourth telephoto lens that the higher-end models offer, the three cameras that the iPhone 11 does have are identical to those found on the Pro models.
The only catch is its LCD screen. Rather than an OLED, Apple has equipped the iPhone 11 with a 6.1-inch, 326 PPI "Liquid Retina" display featuring a wide color gamut and Apple’s True Tone color accuracy. The iPhone 11 also boasts an incredible battery life, allowing for 17 hours of video playback on a single charge.
"This Performance gave me the confidence to do everything from editing 4K video to playing graphically intense video games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Asphalt 9: Legends. This is the beauty of a $699 iPhone 11: All the raw power without the expense." — Lance Ulanoff, Editor-in-Chief, Lifewire.com
Sleek, premium build
Gorgeous Quad HD screen
Design is a little dated
The first flagship smartphone to feature the Snapdragon 845 processor, the Galaxy S9 is a speedy Android device that captures excellent photos. With 4K video recording (at 30 fps or 60fps) on board, the 12-megapixel rear camera immediately stands out for its optical image stabilization, 8x digital zoom and dual aperture for capturing more light in every photo. For video playback, our tests found that the Galaxy S9 adds Dolby Atmos technology and stereo speakers tuned by AKG that feature 40 percent more sound than the previous Samsung Galaxy S smartphone. Samsung’s intelligent Bixby system, a smart personal assistant, is built right into the camera and learns to tell you the number of calories in your mal or translate foreign languages so you can read a menu. Add in water-resistance, a 3,000mAh battery and 64GB of storage and the Galaxy S9 is one of the most versatile smartphones Verizon customers can choose from.
"Samsung often has the best-looking smartphone screens on the market, and that's true again with the Galaxy S9." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Upgradeable to 5G
Moto Mod design is innovative
Great display for the price
5G module sold separately
Moto Mods are expensive
Good news, Verizon users. With the Motorola Moto Z3, you have access to the first smartphone to promise 5G capabilities thanks to the phone’s 5G Mod. Available in early 2019, the mod will connect to Verizon’s millimeter-wave 5G network to allow for speeds that are up to ten times faster to what users currently get. Containing its own modem, it will also function as a Wi-Fi hotspot and a USB-C modem for a PC.
While you might have to wait to take advantage of the new network, the device itself is a strong competitor among other mid-priced smartphones. Its Snapdragon 835 processor, 64 GB of storage, and 3,000mAh battery make it reliable throughout our testing process, and Moto Actions allow you to make gestures — like twisting or chopping motions — to launch different apps. The fingerprint sensor has been moved to the right, and though the phone no longer has a 3.5mm headphone jack, the USB-C dongle provides the option of wired audio. Visuals are dynamic and bright thanks to the six-inch, 2160 x 1080 AMOLED screen that offers 402 pixels per inch.
"No other phone in this price range comes close to the quality of the Z3's screen." — Brittany Vincent, Product Tester
Camera is packed with options
SD card compatibility
If you’re tired of every smartphone manufacturer claiming to have the best camera, get ready for one more. Except this time, the LG V40 ThinQ actually brings something truly new to the table. With a total of five cameras onboard, LG’s newest flagship offers unparalleled flexibility.
The rear of the device is decorated with three cameras that capture standard photos, wide-angle shots, and close-ups. The two front cameras are perfect for video calling and selfies — they can even capture extra-wide views for group shots that fit all your friends. The addition of these different fields of view makes the V40 truly stand out from the flagship pack.
The 6.4-inch OLED display adds 3120 x 1440 resolution for vibrant colors that are really impressive. Our testing was pleased to find that the V40 also keeps its headphone jack in an age when most manufacturers are eliminating them (a boon for those who’ve been reluctant to go all Bluetooth). There’s also IP68 ruggedization for extra durability, wireless charging for doing away with cords and Android 8.1 software for the latest Android goodness.
Add in a 3300mAh battery for all-day use and the LG quickly becomes the only smartphone — and camera — you need.
"You'll be hard-pressed to find a better phone for selfies." — Brittany Vincent, Product Tester
This device brings some freshness to Samsung's familiar feature-packed approach to flagships. It's a gorgeous phone with the most impressive screen on the market, the triple-camera setup is versatile yet easy to use, and it has plenty of power within. If you can handle the high-end price tag, it doesn’t get much better than this.
To test Verizon phones (and all smartphones in general), our expert reviewers and testers use a variety of methods. Firstly, we look at design, weight, and portability, to see how easy a phone is to tote around. If it's a foldable phone, we can take that feature into consideration for both portability and productivity. We also evaluate the screen size and resolution with a view to streaming video, looking at images, and multitasking. Audio plays an important part in determining multimedia quality, but we also make phone calls to evaluate call quality and noise cancellation.
To test camera quality, we do a comparison shootout with a similar phone. We take pictures of the same setting and environment with each phone side-by-side, then we compare and contrast the images on a separate monitor.
For objective performance measures, we use common tests like Geekbench, PCMark, and 3DMark, and also try to download some demanding games to see if it can handle it. We use Ookla Speedtest to measure connectivity on both Wi-Fi and mobile data. To test battery life, we stream video at maximum brightness to measure runtime, along with general usage over the course of a day. Finally, we look at the value proposition and competition, to see how the phone stacks up against rivals in a similar price range. Most of the phones we test are purchased by us; sometimes newer releases are provided by a manufacturer, but it has no bearing on the objectivity of our evaluation.
Lance Ulanoff is a 30-plus year industry veteran and award-winning journalist who has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” Previously, Lance served as a columnist for Medium, Editor-in-Chief of Mashable, and Editor-in-Chief of PCMag.com.
Brittany Vincent writes for a variety of publications including Complex, IGN, Tom's Hardware, CNN Underscored, Mic, Mashable, GamesRadar, Destructoid, Kotaku, and GameSpot. She has also gained experience working with PR representatives to build relationships and obtain review products for her work.
Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. His areas of expertise include smartphones, wearable gadgets, smart home devices, video games, and esports.
Jeremy Laukkonen attributes his success in writing to past experiences that taught him the importance of breaking down complex technical subjects in understandable ways. As a tech writer for trade publications and Lifewire, he has endeavored to do just that for readers at all technology levels.
Apple vs. Android - The first decision you’ll likely make when choosing a smartphone is whether you want an iOS or Android device. While iOS smartphones are generally more popular, there are many more Android options; the most high-end of these are more advanced than Apple’s offerings.
Camera - Many of us have ditched traditional point-and-shoot cameras in favor of the ones on our smartphones. If you plan to use your phone’s camera often, it’s important to make sure that the model you choose has one that’s capable of taking great pictures. Some phones even allow you to shoot 4K video.
Durability - Many phones have glass on both the front and back, which looks gorgeous but is also more fragile; a simple drop can leave you stuck with a pricey repair bill. If you’re fairly accident-prone, or if you like to carry a phone without a case, it’s worth keeping durability in mind before you make a purchase.