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As one of the two biggest providers of wireless communication services in the United States, Verizon is the choice of millions of customers (both new and existing) across the country. That said, nationwide cellular coverage is just one of Verizon’s advantages. The “Big Red” also offers its customers a huge selection of smartphones to choose from, across all price points, everything from the Apple iPhone 11 Pro at Amazon, to the Moto G7 at Amazon.
While it’s true that the choice essentially depends on one’s preferred platform (iOS or Android), there’s no denying the fact that Verizon’s vast line-up of compatible smartphones has something for everyone. So if you’re a “Big Red” customer planning to get a new device, this curated listing of the best Verizon phones is exactly what you need.
Premium glass & stainless steel construction
No 5G capability
Having the perfect blend of top-tier hardware and amazing software, Apple's iPhone 11 Pro is hands down the best iOS-running smartphone you can get for Verizon's network. It's driven by Apple's A13 Bionic SoC, which comes with a third-generation Neural Engine and uses advanced technologies such as Machine Learning accelerators to deliver blazing-fast everyday performance that no other mobile device can match. Sporting a resolution of 1125x2436 pixels and a pixel density of 458ppi, the smartphone's 5.8-inch "Super Retina XDR" display is a treat to look at. The OLED panel features deep black levels and improved contrast ratio, as well as support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) content and DCI-P3 wide color gamut. For connectivity, there's Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, and Gigabit LTE included in the mix.
As far as cameras are concerned, the iPhone 11 Pro boasts an incredible triple-lens rear camera system with one 12MP wide-angle sensor, another 12MP ultra-wide module, and a third 12MP telephoto unit. It's further complemented by features like dual Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), Smart HDR, Portrait Lighting, Night mode, and 4K video recording (with goodies such as audio zoom and cinematic stabilization) at up to 60fps. The front-facing 12MP "TrueDepth" camera - which makes "Face ID" work its magic - also supports features like Portrait mode, Animoji & Memoji, and 4K video capture at up to 60fps. Among other highlights are wireless charging, Apple Pay support, and IP68 certification for enhanced water and dust resistance.
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
Reverse wireless charging
No MicroSD card slot
Crammed with more features than you can shake a stick at, Samsung's Galaxy S20 5G is one of the finest Android-based smartphones out there. Under the hood, it includes Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 SoC, along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. Having a resolution of 1440x3200 pixels and a pixel density of 566ppi, the smartphone's 6.2-inch "Dynamic AMOLED" display looks stunning. The panel also supports "Always On" functionality and HDR10+ standard, and its 120Hz refresh rate - albeit restricted to Full-HD resolution - makes interacting with on-screen elements a delight. In terms of connectivity options, everything from Wi-Fi 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.0, to GPS and NFC is included. And of course, integrated 5G support means you can enjoy super-fast connectivity on Verizon's cellular network.
The Galaxy S20 5G comes with an advanced triple-lens primary camera array, comprising a 12MP wide-angle module, another 12MP ultra-wide sensor, and a 64MP telephoto lens. It boasts features such as 3x Hybrid Optical zoom, Single Take AI (which lets you capture multiple still/video formats with a single tap), and 8K video recording at up to 24fps. The front-facing camera is a 10MP unit with Auto-HDR support, and it can also capture 4K videos at up to 60fps. Other noteworthy features include an under-display fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers with AKG-tuned audio, IP68 certification for better water and dust resistance, and a 4,000mAh battery with both fast and wireless charging capabilities.
“Featuring everything from an ultra-responsive display to the latest in wireless connectivity, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 5G is easily the best Android smartphone you can buy today.” — Rajat Sharma, Tech Writer
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
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
Extremely compact & lightweight
Apple's unparalleled software support
Battery life isn't great
On the face of it, Apple's iPhone SE (2020) appears to be a dated-looking smartphone that doesn't offer much, except for refreshed internals. But that's most definitely not the case, because what it really offers is an insane value for money that no other smartphone can possibly match. Helmed by the same top-shelf A13 Bionic SoC that powers Apple's flagship iPhone 11 series, the new iPhone SE decimates just about every other smartphone out there in terms of raw performance. So whether you're playing graphics-heavy games or juggling between multiple apps, everything runs flawlessly. Its 4.7-inch "Retina HD" display - having a resolution of 750x1334 pixels and a pixel density of 326ppi - may not seem like much, but it still supports features like Haptic Touch and DCI-P3 wide color gamut. Being an LCD panel, it also boasts great viewing angles and class-leading color accuracy. The smartphone cuts no corners in terms of connectivity features either, with everything from Wi-Fi 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.0, to Gigabit LTE and NFC included onboard.
For photos & videos, the iPhone SE (2020) sports a single-lens rear camera system with a 12MP wide-angle sensor. However, this is still a very capable shooter that comes with goodies such as Portrait Lighting, Smart HDR, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and 4K video recording at up to 60fps. The 7MP front-facing camera also supports features like QuickTake Video and Full-HD video capture at up to 30fps. For securing data and authenticating payments, you get "Touch ID" - which uses the fingerprint sensor built into the Home button - and is as reliable as ever. Other features worth mentioning are Apple Pay support, stereo speakers, and wireless charging.
“Ridiculously affordable yet packed with premium features such as wireless charging and an industry-leading mobile SoC, Apple’s iPhone SE (2020) is truly the biggest small phone available out there.” — Rajat Sharma, Tech Writer
Clean & bloat-free Android experience
"Active Edge" squeeze gesture support
Somewhat bland design
If camera is the primary deciding factor for you when getting a smartphone, look no further than Google's Pixel 4. Powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 SoC, it comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB/128GB of internal storage. Up front, there's a 5.7-inch "P-OLED" display having a resolution of 1080x2280 pixels and a pixel density of around 444ppi. The panel supports both HDR content and "Always On" functionality, with the refresh rate capable of going up to 90Hz (in accordance with system optimizations) for smooth interactions with UI elements. Major connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, and LTE. You also get IP68 certification for increased water and dust resistance, as well as dual-SIM (one Nano-SIM & one eSIM) support.
Just like all its predecessors, the Pixel 4 boasts outstanding photography chops. The smartphone's dual-lens rear camera setup - with one 12.2MP wide-angle sensor and one 16MP telephoto unit - includes features like Portrait Mode, Night Sight, a new Astrophotography Mode (which lets you capture breathtaking photos of celestial objects such as the Milky Way galaxy), and 4K video recording at up to 30fps. The front-facing 8MP camera can also record Full-HD videos at up to 30fps, and it's flanked by a "Motion Sense" sensor that allows you to control the smartphone without even touching it. Among other notable additions are stereo speakers, face unlock, and a 2,800mAh battery with wireless charging support.
Extensive video editing features
Great battery life
A tad unwieldy
Smartphones with big screens aren't just ideal for content consumption (e.g. watching movies and TV shows), they also work great for productivity-related scenarios (e.g. split-screen multitasking). If that's something you want, Samsung's Galaxy Note10+ 5G is for you. Powering the flagship phablet is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 SoC, coupled with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. If that's not enough, there's also a dedicated expansion slot with support for microSD cards of up to 1TB in size. The smartphone's massive 6.8-inch "Dynamic AMOLED'' display covers almost the entirety of its front panel, thanks to minimal side bezels. With a resolution of 1440x3040 pixels and a pixel density of about 498ppi, the panel also supports "Always On" functionality and HDR10+ standard. Apart from built-in 5G (perfect for Verizon's high-speed cellular network), Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and USB Type-C are included as primary connectivity options. The new S-Pen is better than ever, having features like an integrated battery, Bluetooth connectivity, and "Air Actions" that can be used to control the smartphone using hand gestures.
The quad-lens camera primary camera array of the Galaxy Note10+ 5G includes a 12MP wide-angle sensor, another 12MP telephoto module, a 16MP ultra-wide unit, and a 0.3MP unit for capturing depth-related information. Backed by features such as Dual Aperture and Scene Optimizer, it allows you to shoot some really fabulous photos. Not only that, you can capture gorgeous 4K videos at up to 60fps and edit them directly on the smartphone. The 10MP front-facing camera also supports 4K video recording at up to 30fps. Some other highlights include AKG-tuned stereo speakers, an under-display fingerprint sensor, reverse wireless charging, and a 4,300mAh battery.
Programmable function keys
Average hardware specifications
With protruding camera lenses and wafer-thin bodies made of glass, most smartphones today are just one accidental drop away from going kaput. Thankfully, with Kyocera's DuraForce Pro 2, you have nothing to worry about. Compliant with the United States Military's MIL-STD-810G standard, this rugged smartphone can survive even the toughest of usage conditions without breaking a sweat. It's surrounded by a durable outer shell, while the screen - a 5-inch TFT IPS panel having a resolution of 1080x1920 pixels and a pixel density of 441ppi - is protected by a layer of impact-resistant "Sapphire Shield" glass. Powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 630 SoC, the smartphone includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage, in addition to a dedicated expansion slot that can take up microSD cards of up to 512GB in size. As far as major connectivity options go, you get Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, 3.5mm audio, and USB Type-C.
Boasting a unique dual-lens rear camera system, the DuraForce Pro 2 comes with one 13MP sensor and another 8MP ultra-wide module that's used exclusively for recording 4K action videos. There are a variety of shooting modes to choose from (e.g. Underwater, Scene Select), and both cameras are protected with the above-mentioned "Sapphire Shield" glass. There's also a 5MP front-facing camera for selfies and video calls. Since it's designed to be used in loud environments (e.g. construction sites), the smartphone features an advanced echo and noise cancellation system, which uses four microphones to boost audio quality. Among other noteworthy features are a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers, and a 3,240mAh battery with wireless charging support.
“It may not have the latest hardware specs or flashy features like bezel-free displays, but Kyocera’s DuraForce Pro 2 is an all-weather smartphone that can withstand just about anything you throw at it.” — Rajat Sharma, Tech Writer
Perhaps the best thing about Verizon’s expansive line-up of smartphones is that customers have no dearth of options, regardless of the software platform (iOS or Android) they prefer. For those who prefer the security and convenience of Apple’s ecosystem, the iPhone 11 Pro is an easy recommendation. The top-tier iPhone offers everything from pro-grade camera performance to seamless hardware-software integration, all in a package that’s both premium and powerful. On the other hand, those who like the open nature of Google’s world are going to love the Galaxy S20 5G. As Samsung’s latest flagship, it includes a boatload of features such as 5G connectivity, and reverse wireless charging.
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.
Rajat Sharma has been in the field of technology journalism for over six years now and has tested and reviewed hundreds of smartphones (among other gadgets) over the course of his career so far. Before joining Lifewire, he worked as a senior technology writer/editor with The Times Group and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, two of India’s biggest media houses.
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.