Best Smartphones of 2020
Samsung Galaxy S20 PlusSuper-fast performance and 120 Hz displayPricey
iPhone 11 ProThree incredible cameras and overall functionalityNot cheap
Best Budget Android
Google Pixel 3aAffordable with great overall performanceMinimal local storage
Best Budget iPhone
iPhone SE 2020Cheap iPhone with top-tier processorBattery could be better
The future of smartphones is here. There are foldable, flippable, and dual-screen devices coming out left and right. The rollout of 5G-capable devices is changing the market. It can be hard to keep up.
In this review we’ll cut through all the hype and gimmicks to tell you what the best phones really are for every kind of user. We’ll do a deep dive on four great devices. But here’s a quick breakdown upfront for the TL;DR crowd.
Best smartphones of 2020
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: This phone is a powerhouse. Its lightspeed processing, fantastic camera, and outstanding 120 Hz display will please even the pickiest of users.
- iPhone 11 Pro: The wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses on this phone aren’t to be underestimated. Paired with Apple’s state-of-the-art HDR and Deep Fusion technology, these cameras can compete with those used by professional photographers.
- Google Pixel 3a: This stripped-down version of the Pixel 3 offers great performance, a good camera, and a low price tag. It’s the perfect phone for Android users who want it all without draining their savings account.
- iPhone SE 2020: Finally, a truly affordable iPhone that still packs in everything we love about Apple. The SE 2020 uses a lot of the same basic technology as the iPhone 11 but cuts a bit of the fancier stuff to keep the cost down.
If you’re looking for the best deals on these incredible phones, check out our weekly roundup of the best phone deals.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: Best performance
The phone that has it all
- Super-fast performance
- 120 Hz display
- 5G capable
- Good camera
- Blocky design
What we like
The Galaxy S20 Plus is setting the new standard when it comes to flagship devices. This phone pushes the boundaries of performance with its 120-hertz display, incredibly fast processing speeds, and nice trio of camera lenses for different kinds of photos.
If you’re willing to drop top dollar for a phone that will make your friends jealous, the S20 Plus is the way to go.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is the ideal phone for gamers, influencers, photographers, and everyone who relies on their phone for essential tasks. With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor and an amazing 12 GB of RAM, this phone is fast.
You won’t have any issues with lag or latency in the middle of a PUBG Mobile game, and you won’t have to worry about losing your work from an app shutting down unexpectedly (unless the app itself has issues). Teamed up with AT&T‘s or Verizon‘s super fast data speeds, this phone is unstoppable.
To put it simply, this phone probably has more processing power than your home computer. And when you combine this speed with the S20’s 120-hertz display, some real magic happens.
120 Hz display
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus’s 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display is about as good as it gets. With 3200×1440 resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio, it’s kind of like having a mini-IMAX screen in your hand.
Let’s talk about those numbers a bit more: your laptop probably has a resolution of 1280×1024 or less, meaning that this phone packs twice the image quality into a 6.7-inch display. You’ll have no issues watching videos in HD, 4K, or any other fancy high definition resolutions that come out.
While some might prefer a slightly smaller device, the S20 Plus shouldn’t feel clunky for most people. It’s definitely more nimble than the gargantuan S20 Ultra model.
While the standard Galaxy S20 is technically “5G capable,” it won’t actually connect to every form of 5G, leaving many users stuck with 4G speeds. But the S20 Plus can connect to both the broad-coverage sub-6 GHz 5G signal and the mmWave network as well.
While the S20 Plus’s phone doesn’t quite match the iPhone 11 Pro’s, it shouldn’t be dismissed. Its three cameras (two 12megapixel and one 64-megapixel cameras) can take photos with wide and ultra-wide angles for stellar selfies and panoramic shots. The 64-megapixel telephoto lens can zoom up to 30x!
What we don’t like
The S20 Plus is a superbly well-rounded phone that will please most every user. But there are a couple of drawbacks to consider before purchasing it.
If you’re looking to buy the S20 Plus outright, it will cost you well over a grand. Shelling out $1,200 for a phone is a luxury most of us can’t afford.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to pay for the phone in installments when you sign up for a phone plan. For example, this is what it would look like to have an unlimited data plan from Visible Wireless and a new Galaxy S20 Plus 128 GB phone.
That $89 a month for 24 months looks a lot better than $1,200 up front. Be sure to keep an eye on our deals page to see if any awesome discounts on the S20 Plus pop up in the coming weeks.
Samsung has never been able to match the sleek and simple design of Apple. And while the S20 Plus does have a beautiful display that takes up the whole front of the phone, the back leaves something to be desired.
Many have complained about the blocky style and boring color choices for the S20’s back cover piece.
Image source: Samsung
This clunkier design can make this Galaxy phone feel a bit less premium.
One other issue with the phone’s design is that there’s no headphone jack. The headphone jack seems to be going the way of those tricolored AV cables you used to plug your N64 into the TV, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
iPhone 11 Pro: Best camera
This phone is fantastic all around, but the camera really shines.
- Triple 12 MP ultra wide, wide, and telephoto cameras
- Great overall performance
- Sleek design
- Not cheap
- Baseline storage is just 64 GB
What we like
There’s a lot to like about the iPhone 11 Pro. It sports a 5.8-inch OLED HDR display, a powerful A13 Bionic chip, and a battery that supports up to 18 hours of video playback. It is, quite simply, the best iPhone ever made.
But what we really want to focus on here are the iPhone 11 Pro’s incredible cameras. The phone’s trio of cameras have ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses for all kinds of shots. Even the front facing camera can record 4K video and boasts a full 12 megapixels for stellar selfies.
Here’s a deep dive into some of our favorite camera features on the iPhone 11 Pro.
Unlike the regular iPhone 11, the 11 Pro comes with an ultra-wide camera. (if you want to learn more about why the 11 Pro is better than the standard iPhone 11, check out Tshaka’s video).
The ultra-wide lens is perfect for those “larger than life” shots. This will be your go-to lens you want to capture the epic size of the landscape or the obscure beauty of a tiny alleyway. It’s also great for taking artistic pictures of, well, anything at all.
One notable issue that people had with previous iPhones was the lackluster low-light photo quality. The iPhone 11 Pro remedies this with an incredibly effective Night Mode.
Night Mode can reduce the “noise” that you get in your photos at night. It can also brighten them up a surprising amount. And it does this automatically, meaning you don’t have to mess around with a bunch of settings. Just open the app and snap away, no matter what time of day.
Deep Fusion and Smart HDR
We’ll try not to get too technical here, but these are complicated technologies that will make your pictures look like they were taken by a professional photographer.
Basically, with Smart HDR and Deep Fusion the iPhone 11 Pro actually takes several photos in very rapid succession and then blends them together. In that blending process, the phone’s super-smart chip looks for common things like faces and hair and sharpens the detail in those parts of the image.
This means you’ll end up with less static in the background of your images, more detail and focus on faces, and better lighting ratios. The net effect will be that your images look more natural, not less.
The iPhone 11 Pro’s awesome cameras can do more than just photos. They can shoot video in 4K quality. That’s an incredible feat for a slim little phone. You could pay several hundred dollars (or even several thousand) for a standalone 4K video recorder.
What we don’t like
We really don’t have many complaints about the iPhone 11 Pro, and we’re normally full of complaints. But the device will simply be too pricey for some.
The iPhone 11 Pro does sell at a cheaper up-front cost than the Galaxy S20 Plus. But it will still cost you about a grand (it’s often priced at $999). That’s a lot of dough for a phone that you might want to replace in a couple of years anyways.
But there are usually some great deals on the iPhone 11 Pro, if you’re willing to sign up for an unlimited data plan. And you can always pay for the phone in installments with your phone carrier. Here’s a look at the cost of an unlimited data plan and iPhone 11 Pro with AT&T.
Only 64 GB of baseline storage
If you go with the cheapest version of the iPhone 11 Pro, you’ll only get 64 GB of local storage. That will be used up mighty fast if you’re shooting a bunch of 4K video with that incredible camera.
We expect more local storage from a premium device like this. Sure, you can shell out some extra money to get 256 or 512 GB models, but you shouldn’t have to pay extra for such a basic feature.
Google Pixel 3a: Best budget android device
This reworked Pixel 3 gives you everything for less.
- Powerful overall performance
- Great camera
- Decent battery life
- Baseline model only has 64 GB of local storage
- No wireless charging
What we like
Who says you can’t have a high-performing phone with a great camera, good battery life, and an affordable price tag? Seriously, whoever is saying that needs to stop because the Google Pixel 3a is here, and we love it. It’s definitely the best Android device on the market for under $500.
Let’s dive into the best features of this device.
Powerful overall performance
This may be a midtier phone, but you can expect to get basically top-tier performance from the Pixel 3a. With a Snapdragon 670 processor and an Adreno 615 GPU, you should breeze through almost any basic task, from posting to Instagram to editing video.
This performance is good news for those who want to play AdventureQuest 3D without shelling out for a flagship device (just make sure your phone’s network is fast enough to keep your game from lagging).
Speaking of gaming, you’ll enjoy watching your avatar (or anything else) on the Pixel 3a’s 5.6-inch OLED display with 2220×1080 resolution. That’s better resolution than the standard iPhone 11.
A lot has been said about the high quality cameras in the Google Pixel lineup. The Pixel 3a is no exception.
While most companies will nix expensive technology for their budget devices, Google is still equipping the 3a with a rear 12.2-megapixel camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. These cameras can utilize plenty of great features, like Night Sight and slow motion.
The Google Pixel 3a sells for about the quarter of the cost of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. While the exact price fluctuates, it usually hovers between $300 and $400. That’s an incredible deal for such a powerful device.
If you’d like to spread the price out over a few months, you can get the Pixel 3a for just a few bucks a month. For example, here’s a peek at the cost of an unlimited data Visible Wireless plan with a brand new Pixel 3a.
Decent battery life
With a 3,000 mAh capacity, the Pixel 3a’s battery should last the entire day without needing a charge.
The exception to this would be those who really like to take advantage of their unlimited data plan by watching five or more hours of video a day. Those folks might want to consider the Pixel 3a XL, which comes with a larger battery.
The 3a comes with a standard 18-watt fast charger that should help you get back up to full battery in no time.
What we don’t like
The Pixel 3a is a phenomenal phone, especially when you consider its price. But there are a couple of features that we still find frustrating about the device.
Only 64 GB of storage
If you get the most basic model of this budget phone then you’ll only get 64 GB of local storage. A few hours of HD video and a few hundred songs will easily fill that space up. For a lot of folks that’s simply not enough.
While this minimal storage capacity is less offensive on a budget phone like the 3a than it is on the iPhone 11 Pro, it’s still an annoyance.
No wireless charging
Wireless charging is a relatively new feature on smartphones, but it’s quickly becoming a standard. Unfortunately, you’ll still be stuck to a cord with the Pixel 3a.
iPhone SE 2020: Best budget iPhone
Everything you love about the iPhone, but cheaper
- Seamless overall performance
- Great price
- Good camera
- Battery is a bit weak
- No headphone jack
What we like
Ever since it hit the market in 2007 the iPhone has set the bar for smartphone performance. But the phones have never been particularly affordable. Until now.
The iPhone SE 2020 gives you all of the great design, functionality, and features of an iPhone for less than $400. It’s a great gift to go along with your teenager’s phone plan.
Let’s get into the details.
Seamless overall performance
At the heart of the iPhone SE is the same processing technology as the iPhone 11 Pro. The A13 Bionic chip will keep everything running smoothly, from your games to your video recording. It’s a powerful system for a budget device.
The SE 2020’s 4.8-inch LCD liquid retina display is a step down from the iPhone 11 Pro’s OLED Super Retina XDR display, but most users will hardly notice the difference in the quality. Meanwhile, the re-introduction of the home button (and touch ID) will be a welcome change for many.
Aluminum casing and custom glass make this phone durable for everyday use and resistant to water.
It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of having a truly affordable, brand new iPhone on the market. This phone sells for less than a new iPhone 8, which was released in 2017 and runs on less advanced hardware. In many cases, it’s also cheaper than alternative midtier phones from Samsung and OnePlus.
This Apple device rocks a 12-megapixel camera plus a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. While that’s pretty impressive in its own right, these cameras are also equipped with some advanced image processing that’s similar to the iPhone 11 Pro’s.
Most people will have a hard time seeing any difference between pictures taken on this phone and those taken by phones that cost three times as much. The major exceptions are shots taken at night. The SE 2020 does not come with Apple’s great Night Mode feature. It also lacks the amazing wide-angle lens of the iPhone 11 Pro.
What we don’t like
No phone this cheap can have everything. The iPhone SE 2020 has had to cut some corners to make a product this affordable. In most cases, they cut fat in places that won’t bother most casual phone users. However, there are a couple of issues that are harder to swallow.
Battery isn’t the best
The iPhone SE 2020 has fine battery life. Most people will be able to get through the day without needing a charge. But a few hours of heavy use or a night without a charge will definitely leave you battery starved.
Thankfully, you can charge this phone wirelessly, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to give it a power boost in the middle of the day.
No headphone jack
While all of the flagship phones out there seem to be ditching the headphone jack, we’d like to see it stay for cheaper devices like this. Those who are buying budget phones don’t want to shell out $100+ for a pair of AirPods. They want to use the perfectly good headphones they bought three years ago.
Recap: What’s the best smartphone for you?
Let’s cut to the chase: which of these phones is best for you? Here’s a cheat sheet to help you figure it out.
- Best performance: The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus goes above and beyond when it comes to hardware performance and top-notch features. This phone leads the pack with 12 GB of RAM, a 120 Hz display, and a trio of high-powered cameras.
- Best camera: There’s a lot to love about Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro, but what makes the phone truly special is its cameras. These ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses can capture every detail with crisp clarity. Apple’s amazing Deep Fusion and Smart HDR will help make every photo look like it was taken by a pro.
- Best budget Android phone: The Google Pixel 3a gives you premium performance for a budget price. You’ll get plenty of processing power for gaming, browsing, and editing the photos you take on the Pixel 3a’s fantastic camera.
- Best budget iPhone: The iPhone SE 2020 is a truly affordable phone from Apple that doesn’t skimp on the important stuff. It runs on the same processor as the iPhone 11 Pro but costs less than half as much.
These are the best phones on the market right now. For the best deals on these and other devices be sure to check our weekly deals page.
Get the most out of your new phone
So you’ve got a brand new phone with a powerful camera, a beautiful OLED screen, and a powerful processor for gaming. But will your home internet connection hold your phone back from reaching its full potential?
Here’s a look at some great internet carriers that will help you game without a hint of lag and upload video at lightning fast speeds.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Learn more|
|Xfinity Internet||$24.99–$299.95*||15–2000 Mbps||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$49–$65†||15–940 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Internet||$49.99–$50‡||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Viasat Internet||$30–$150^||12–100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios||$39.99–$79.99°||200–940 Mbps||View Plans|