Best phone overall
With its stunning design, immaculate fit and finish, super powerful internal hardware and top-rate camera system, the Apple iPhone 11 is the best phone in the world in 2020. Very strong rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and OnePlus 7T come close but, if you can stretch to it, the iPhone 11 should be right at the top of your list of potential upgrades.
These are the very best phones to buy in 2020. The expertly curated T3 best smartphone guide has been put together with just one aim in mind, to help you find the perfect handset, and as T3 reviews every mobile phone of note, the hardware that follows is not only quality but wide-ranging, too.
As such, in this best phone guide we've got fantastic selection of top-tier mobiles that deliver style, performance and a whole host of features. Whether you need a powerhouse phone that excels at photography, or a phone with battery that will run two days straight, you're well covered.
Shopping with a loaded wallet? No problem, we've got plenty of premium choices in our best phones guide. On a tighter budget? No problem there either, as we've got brilliant handsets that don't break the bank. Want mid-range flagship killer? We've included those, too. We've got great phones for every intended usage scenario. Read on for our top recommendations.
- Check out the best Android phones
- And here are the very best cheap phones
- These are the greatest gaming phones
- Read up on the latest phone news
These are the best phones available today
The best phone for most people
Reasons to buy
If you're an Apple fan and can't stretch financially to the tri-camera-toting awesomeness that is the iPhone 11 Pro, then the iPhone 11 makes a great case as a cheaper alternative – and its balance of power and price makes us think it's the best phone for most people in 2020.
The iPhone 11 comes in a variety of attractive, bright colours, and features a quality 6.1-inch HDR Liquid Retina display, Apple's latest and greatest A13 Bionic chipset, 3GB of RAM, a 3,110 mAh battery, and 64GB of storage space in the entry model (which can be taken up to 256GB with extra spend).
It is, across the board, a well-equipped and very well made phone that, straight out of the box, feels great in the hand. Apple has really caught up and gone past its rivals with the iPhone 11 series, though admittedly these are still pricey phones.
- Read: Apple iPhone 11 review
What you don't get in the Apple iPhone 11 is the same flexibility of camera that you get in iPhone 11 Pro – and that's because it has a dual-camera, rather than a tri-camera. Plus, the screen (while large and clear) is also trumped by the Pro range and some other, equally-priced devices.
Regardless, though, as T3 concluded in our official review of the phone, the "iPhone 11 strikes a brilliant balance between features and price. You wouldn't know it's the cheaper of Apple's phones from its build, camera and speed. If only it had an OLED screen…"
As such, we feel the iPhone 11 is the best phone Apple currently makes in terms of bang for your buck, and as such is an easy recommend for most users (unless you have to have Android as an operating system on your phone).
The best premium phone
Reasons to buy
OnePlus' ascension to the top smartphone table is complete with the OnePlus 8 Pro, which is a simply jaw-dropping handset that delivers across the board. It is, simply put, the best phone on the market for those shopping for a premium Android handset.
There are so many reasons why the OnePlus 8 Pro is so special, but first among them is its simply astonishing 120Hz, QHD+, HDR10+ screen, which is the best display ever seen on a mobile phone. Other premium phones have delivered part of that holy trio of screen features, but none has managed to do them all at once.
- Read: OnePlus 8 Pro review
The OnePlus 8 Pro also comes with a simply rapid suite of top-shelf internal hardware, next-gen 5G connectivity and a selection of advanced phone features like reverse wireless charging and IP68 water and dust proofing. Naturally, as this is a phone from OnePlus, the design and ergonomics are also fantastic.
With super benchmark scores and a battery that goes the distance to back it up, as too the best camera system OnePlus has put out to date, there is simply no reason why those shopping at the premium end of the smartphone market shouldn't consider the OnePlus 8 Pro first and foremost. It is a true flagship phone in every sense of the word and the best Android phone (and best premium phone full stop) available today.
3. Apple iPhone SE (2020)
The best budget phone
Reasons to buy
It is fair to say that Apple's iPhone SE (2020) handset has taken this year by storm in terms of praise, with the hot new handset winning critics over worldwide with its brilliant balance of features, quality and performance for a very attractive price point. Retailing for under half what Apple's flagship phones do, this is easily the best budget handset we've ever seen from the American maker.
And, be under no illusion, this phone delivers. It's CPU, for example, is the exact same A13 Bionic chipset that sits in all of Apple's flagship phones, while it comes running Apple's iOS 13 operating system just like those phones do, too. It is in many respects a full fat new iPhone experience but for a shockingly low price point.
- Read: Apple iPhone SE review
Now, of course, you don't get all the bells and whistles that you do with a true flagship iPhone, and the camera, battery and display isn't quite as good as those on the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, but they all work and deliver strong results, so at the iPhone SE's bargain price we feel that is a very fair trade-off.
If you are an Android user and are looking for a great new budget phone then, sure, there are even cheaper Android options on the market, but if you sit on the iOS side of the ecosystem divide and want a brand new phone upgrade for cheap, then the 2020 iPhone SE is an absolutely not brainer purchase.
This is the best Galaxy phone Samsung has ever put out
Reasons to buy
It's hard to know where to start with the Galaxy S20 Ultra, because Samsung has really gone to town here, from the 100x digital zoom on the rear camera to the huge 6.9-inch AMOLED display you get around the front. It's the priciest of the S20 models, and it shows.
Of course it's a stunning phone to look at, something you would expect from Samsung at this stage. Inside you have some of the best internal components you're going to find in a handset in 2020. And then around the back is one of the best and most versatile cameras on the market.
- Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Don't forget the hefty 5,000mAh battery here either, ensuring the phone will be able to run and run no matter what you put it through. It's hard to find any fault in what the S20 Ultra offers, and it's hard to find a phone in 2020 that's able to beat it in any of the key departments that matter.
The only real downside is the price, which is undoubtedly top tier. As we said in our review, though, "if you are a tech enthusiast and have pockets deep enough to wield it, then the S20 Ultra is impossible not to recommend".
The best phone with digital stylus functionality
Reasons to buy
With its absolutely stunning 6.3-inch Super AMOLED screen, powerful internal hardware suite, and advanced S Pen digital stylus, the Note 10 is undeniably one of the best Android phones available today. There isn't an area where it doesn't punch hard and, despite lacking a few features of the larger Galaxy Note 10 Plus, it is the model to plump for due to its more reasonable price point and sensible dimensions.
The new S Pen with a 10-hour battery life and air gestures remains a unique, unmatched accessory, too, making the Note a singular proposition on the market. It is a hyper-flagship that transitions from productivity powerhouse, to essential creative tool in seconds.
Things that could make you look at the Note 10 Plus over this phone are the former's 5G variant, which allows it owner to tap into the super-fast new network connections available in most of Britain's major cities, its humongous 6.8-inch AMOLED screen, and slightly better camera system, which comes with a Time-of-Flight sensor.
As T3 noted in its Note 10 review, though, "the more compact design of the Galaxy Note 10 just feels right", with "the smaller footprint infinitely more manageable and enjoyable". It is also cheaper, too, by quite a lot, and delivers 90-95 per cent of the functionality of the bigger phone, so for our money, the Note 10 is the model to choose, and especially so if you live in an area where 5G is not a thing.
The best smartphone for Apple users shopping at the premium end of the market
Reasons to buy
We'll cut to the chase: the Apple iPhone 11 Pro is one of the best smartphones money can buy if you're shopping at the premium end of the market.
It's also the most advanced iPhone the Apple has ever released, driven by a brand new A13 Bionic processor. Pair this with a larger battery and several power optimisation smarts baked into iOS 13 itself, and you have an iPhone that can last all day without having to be hooked up to a power outlet – and that's with heavy usage. Be frugal with the device, and you could easily squeeze two days out of it.
But the headline act is the tri-camera. Notably, the third sensor is a wide-angle lens, bringing a 120-degree field of view, which is ideal for landscapes. The other two remain largely unchanged, with two small but impactful updates – the telephoto lens now has a larger aperture, letting in 40% more light, and the wide-angle sensor now has 100% focus pixels, which essentially means it's better at focusing in low-light.
- Read: iPhone 11 Pro review
Mix that all together and throw in an OLED screen for good measure and you come out with a versatile smartphone that will handle just about every task you throw its way, without stopping to take so much as a single breath. However, that's not to mean it isn't without its fair share of faults – the biggest of which is the lack of support for 5G. Although, that's not as big of a deal as one would have thought.
5G is still a long way off being the nation's standard. In fact, it's only available in a handful of cities nationwide at the moment and even then, only in really small surface areas within. Even if the iPhone 11 Pro supported 5G, you probably wouldn't be able to use it. And let's not forget that 5G tariffs are about as expensive as can be, so the fact it doesn't work with the network actually brings the price down.
The Apple iPhone 11 Pro also comes bundled with an 18W charger for fast-charging. The fact of the matter is, it doesn't get much better than the Apple iPhone 11 Pro right now, and for anyone looking to upgrade their phone right now, its quality mandates that it is one the very first devices to be considered.
The Pixel phones get better with each passing year
Reasons to buy
The Google Pixel flagship phones have a lot going for them and easily make it on to our best smartphones list. Leading the way again, of course, is the camera: Google has added a second lens this time around, meaning even better shots (and even pictures of the stars).
Elsewhere you've got a modest specs bump over last year and the pure stock Android experience that the Pixel phones are known for. Sometimes the strength of a phone lies in what it doesn't have, rather than what it has.
- Read: Google Pixel 4 review
A couple of cool features worth mentioning are Face Unlock, which makes it easier than ever to get in your phone, and Motion Sense, which lets you control music playback, silence alarms and more with a wave of your hand.
With wireless charging and full waterproofing included too, there aren't many marks against the Pixel 4 (and its bigger sibling the Pixel 4 XL). Battery life could be improved, but there's so much that's good here, it's not too much of a problem.
Still one of the best Android phones in the world
Reasons to buy
The Galaxy S10 phones remain on sale, and even though they've been replaced by the Galaxy S20 range, they're still excellent choices – and better value than ever. The Galaxy phones are also doing something truly different from the iPhone and other rival flagship handsets. Whereas competitors have rushed to clone the notched screen design that first gained prominence with the iPhone X, Samsung has taken a dramatically different approach with its Infinity-O design.
Admittedly, that Infinity-O design isn't the prettiest thing to leave the Samsung R&D lab and definitely takes some getting used to. However, it has allowed Samsung to fit the S10 Plus with an expansive 6.4-inch AMOLED panel – that's the same size as the Galaxy Note 9 – while simultaneously shrinking the physical size of the smartphone compared to the Galaxy S9 Plus, which sports a 6.2-inch screen.
Elsewhere, Samsung has included dual-front facing cameras so you can shoot Live Focus photographs brimming with artificial bokeh-style blur. There's also some fun new depth effects with the Galaxy S10 range, including the ability to turn the background greyscale to make the subject of the image really pop. These can also be shot using the triple-camera on the back of the handset.
The rear-mounted camera also boasts an ultra-wide angle camera, which produces some incredibly dramatic shots. It also has less of the unsightly distortion we've seen from rival ultra-wide angle cameras in the past.
Finally, the new One UI operating system, which is based on Android Pie, is infinitely better than anything from the likes of LG or Sony. One UI has been designed from the ground-up to acknowledge that while we all want massive screens on our phones, massive smartphones are really annoying to use, especially one-handed while squished into the train carriage during a morning commute. To solve this headache, One UI shifts all the elements of the user interface that you’ll actually need to tap into the lower-third of the touchscreen where they are within easy reach.
The Galaxy S10 Plus isn't perfect. There are some really gimmicky new photo modes (who wants the background to look like it's spinning?!), the Infinity-O cut-out is a little bit unsightly and it can cost up to an eye-watering £1,399 for the maxed-out model with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of built-in storage.
However, these are nitpicks, and don't stop this from becoming our new go-to recommendation for anyone who wants the best phone on the market.
The best phone in the world for watching movies
Reasons to buy
As you can probably see, the biggest thing – literally – about this phone is it's 6.5-inch 21:9 4K display which, for the uninitiated, is the preferred aspect ratio for watching films (or movies, as the Americans call them) and TV. If those are two things that you like to do, then look no further than this beast of a handset.
The issue is, as we said in our review, is that while this display is a thing of beauty – crisp, huge, vibrant – the phone has a rather underwhelming battery, which means the screen appears dim unless cranked right up to near maximum. Crank that brightness up though, and the viewing experience is truly superb. Just don't expect that battery to run for days on end.
- Read: Sony Xperia 1 review
The phone's super tall size also makes it somewhat unwieldy, especially when it's in a normal-sized pocket. Now, of course, this applies to many big phones (Galaxy Note, we're looking at you), but the pure length of this handset – combined with its above-average weight – exacerbates the problem.
If this doesn't seem like an issue to you, and it could easily not be, there's a lot to love here: 128GB of storage on board as standard, the latest Snapdragon chip is lightning fast, the display, as mentioned, is stunning, and the sound system – provided by Dolby – is top notch. There really isn't a better phone for the cinephiles among us.
The best phone for photography lovers shopping on a budget
Reasons to buy
The Google Pixel 3a is the best smartphone going in 2020 if you prioritise value for money, camera quality and also want a vanilla software experience that comes straight from Google.
Indeed, the Pixel 3a's super-low retail price of only £340 ($399) makes an absolute mockery of max-spec flagships that cost over £1000 more when you factor in the performance and experience it delivers.
Not only do you get the phenomenal camera that debuted in the much more expensive Google Pixel 3 XL, which is one of the very best systems going today, but you also get a fast and pure Android 9.0 Pie experience as well as a very solid mid-range hardware spec, too.
- Read: Google Pixel 3a review
Internals consist of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage space, and a 3,000mAh battery. The phone also comes with a compact but sharp 5.6-inch, FHD+ (2220 x 1080) OLED screen which delivers 441 ppi.
Throw in the phone's low weight (147 grams), understated and stylish design, and the fact that it comes with a guaranteed three years of Android OS updates and unlimited Google Photos cloud storage, and it is easy to see how the Google Pixel 3a has lodged itself into T3's best phones 2020 buying guide.
Best phones: extra information
Down the years we've become very good at reviewing and rating the best phones around – from the Apple iPhone 11 Pro to the Google Pixel 4, from the OnePlus 8 Pro to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, you've got a mouthwatering selection of the best the smartphone industry has to offer right here.
5G smartphones are now appearing on the scene, although for the moment our list of best phones includes both 5G and 4G models: if you live in an area that already has 5G coverage, and just want to shop 5G phones, then be sure to scope out T3's best 5G phones guide.
Every quality phone you need to weigh up can be found in our best phone 2020 guide. We've tested every aspect of each phone, from how long the battery lasts to how good the screen looks, from internal specs to camera quality – that way we can make very clear recommendations of what each phone's strengths are and who they would be perfect partners for.
As phones are very important tools in our everyday lives, we've also spent some serious time with each handset in our best phones list as well, so we can let you know exactly what, say, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or Apple iPhone 11 is like to live with on an extended daily basis.
We've only included the absolute best phones in this list, and we've listed them in order of preference too, so the decision-making process for picking up your next premium handset should be made much easier.
So whether you're currently after the most powerful Android smartphone money can buy, or a shiny new iPhone upgrade from Apple, we've seen and extensively tested all the best phones on the market so you don't have to. Take a look above and we guarantee you'll find the best phone for your needs.
11 May, 2020 — A benchmark for next-year's Samsung Galaxy S30 flagship phone has leaked and the results are great news for Android phone users. That's because the Exynos 1000 system on chop (SoC) that is set to power the handset has shown to be, across the board, almost twice as powerful as Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 in terms of graphical performance and, in some tests, almost three times as fast.
The news will be especially welcome for Android phone users as, recently, the Apple iPhone 12 has be dominating headlines with its extraordinary A14 Bionic SoC performance, which has also been shown through leaked benchmarks to be twice as powerful as the Snapdragon 865. This had caused concern within the Android community that Apple was increasing its lead in terms of SoC performance even more, however this Exynos 1000 development will no doubt help quell concerns.
The Exynos 1000 SoC isn't scheduled to launch until the end of this year, meaning that we won't see it in Samsung's incoming Note 20 series of phones, however that does though mean we should see it debut in the Galaxy S30 series in late February 2021.
As for Qualcomm, it is set to launch its Snapdragon 875 SoC by the end of the year, too. Reports have indicated that this could be the maker's first 5nm process chip, too, which bodes well in terms of power and energy performance.
23 April, 2020 — Apple's much wanted new iPhone, the Apple iPhone SE, has been reviewed by a few publications and the scores are impressive. T3's official review is incoming. The price for the Apple iPhone SE is £419 in the UK and it hits store shelves on April 24, 2020. In the US, the phone retails for $399 and also releases on April 24, 2020.
The iPhone SE is Apple's new budget handset, but despite this it comes loaded with the same processor as last year's Apple iPhone 11 range, the mighty A13 Bionic. This 7nm chipset has racked up some remarkable benchmark scores and leads the best Android SoCs right now by quite a way. This flagship processor is partnered with 3GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage space.
In terms of screen, the Apple iPhone SE packs a compact 4.7-inch Retina IPS LCD, while in terms of camera it comes with a single 12MP camera at the rear and a single 7MP selfie camera at the front. Up to 1080p video can be recorded. A non-removable Li-Ion 1821 mAh battery powers the handset. Finally, the phone is available in Black, White and Red colourways.
It all sounds very promising to us here at T3, seemingly delivering the compact, budget iPhone experience so many people have been crying out for. As soon as we can get our hands on a phone we'll bring you our full impressions of the Apple iPhone SE.
31 March, 2020 — Quality Chinese phone maker OnePlus has published a deep dive on its incoming OnePlus 8 handset. Previously the manufacturer had revealed that the OnePlus 8 is going to ship with a 120Hz Fluid Display and 5G connectivity, and now in the deep dive it has let it be known that the handset is also going to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 System on a Chip (SoC), LPDDR5 RAM, and UFS 3.0 storage.
According to the information released, the phone's SoC is 25% more power efficient, as well as 25% better in both CPU and GPU performance, while its LPDDR5 RAM can reach a bandwidth speed of 51.2GB/s and the UFS 3.0 storage hit read and write speeds of around 1,700MB/s. In layman's terms, OnePlus is letting it be known their incoming new phone is incredibly fast.
Speed has always been central to OnePlus' offering, so this emphasis on hardware speed makes sense — after all, the firm's mantra is "fast and smooth". From our perspective here at T3, while this seems business as usual for OnePlus, coming as it does of the maker's excellent showing with the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T late last year, and with the adoption of 5G, the OnePlus 8 could, actually, end up being phone of the year. For this to happen, though, then OnePlus really needs to step up with its camera offering, though, in the fact of strong 2020 competition.
- And the best cheap smartphones