2019 was a vintage year for phones. We saw the usual battle between Apple and Samsung play out, OnePlus break new ground in what’s possible for a – relatively – affordable phone, and truly innovative camera tech.
Let’s take a look at our favourite 10 handsets of the year and find out if yours made the cut.
1. iPhone 11
“How is this the best phone of the year?” you might cry. “It’s not even the best iPhone of the year.” And that’s true. Both the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max trump the 11 in terms of pure power. But the 11 is the better all-rounder.
For £729 you get a handset which, while lacking the super advanced camera of its bigger brothers, is a decent upgrade on the iPhone XS. The dual camera combines wide and ultra-wide lenses to let you capture more than what’s in the frame.
It also comes in six bright colours: purple, white, yellow, green, red and black. Which is a lot more fun than its rather muted siblings.
See the best iPhone 11 deals
2. Samsung Galaxy S10/S10 Plus
The S10’s AMOLED screen is widely viewed as one of the best around, combining excellent colours with a great dynamic range. Plus the fingerprint scanner built into the display makes unlocking your phone as easy as tapping the screen.
There’s more battery life than the S9 family, meaning you’ll make it to dinner without having to juice up. And you can even charge another device just by placing it on the back of the S10. Can your iPhone do that?
If pushed, we would go for the S10 over the S10 Plus. The latter’s 6.4-inch screen is a little too big and unwieldy for our tastes, though the S10’s 6.1-incher isn’t exactly small.
See the best Samsung Galaxy S10 deals
3. Huawei P30 Pro
Huawei might not be a household name in the UK, but it’s a real rival to both Apple and Samsung. Don’t believe us? Take one look at the P30 Pro.
It’s one of the best camera phones around, with awesome zoom capabilities and excellent low-light performance – especially useful during the long nights of the winter months. The camera tech comes from Leica, which has a long heritage of making amazing standalone cameras. The front camera also packs an insane 32 megapixels, giving you some of the best selfies around. So unlike some phones, it’s far from an afterthought.
The screen is a large 6.47 inches, and is bright and colourful, while the handset comes in an eye-catching array of paint jobs.
See the best Huawei P30 Pro deals
4. iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max
The iPhone 11 Pro is actually a little smaller than the standard iPhone 11, though starting at £1,049, it is considerably more expensive. Still, what it lacks in stature it makes up for in power.
The camera is something to behold, with a triple lens arrangement giving you more shooting options than ever. And it comes in more demure colour options: midnight green, silver, space grey or gold.
The 11 Pro Max is exactly the same, but stands 6.5 inches large, as opposed to the 11 Pro’s 5.8.
See the best iPhone 11 Pro deals
Want to go big? See the best iPhone 11 Pro Max deals
5. Motorola razr
This year saw the Motorola RAZR return 15 years after its debut. And this time, it’s written in lowercase. Goodbye Motorola RAZR, hello Motorola razr.
It takes the same clamshell form factor as its predecessor, but inside is a folding screen with no visible seam whatsoever. That means you get big screen action from a device small enough to slip in the pocket of your skinny jeans.
The second screen on the outside is great for seeing notifications without opening the handset.
Admittedly it won’t go on sale until 2020, so technically it’s not a 2019 phone. But it was announced this year, and pre-orders opened in 2019 too. So we’re going with it.
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Note 10 Plus
Samsung’s Galaxy Note range was a bit of a laughing stock when it came out. “It’s too big,” analysts cried. “No-one will use a phone that size.” Ten years on, they’re not laughing: big phones are now the norm, with anything under 6 inches considered tiddly.
The latest Note boasts a huge 6.8-inch screen with an Infinity-O cutout – basically a small notch that houses the front-facing the camera without intruding too much on the screen. And the S Pen stylus is smarter than ever – it can turn your handwritten notes into shareable text, and control the phone’s camera and volume with just a click. Think of it as activating the shutter on your selfie camera.
See the best Samsung Galaxy Note 10 deals
Want to go big? See the best Samsung Galaxy NOte 10 Plus deals
7. OnePlus 7T/7T Pro
OnePlus specialises in making flagship phones without the price tag. While it started as a niche brand for internet fanboys – you needed an invite to buy its earliest handsets – it has since gone mainstream, appearing on the shelves in high street outlets like Carphone Warehouse and John Lewis. And the 7T Pro is its most compelling proposition yet.
It has its own version of Android with a few neat tweaks you won’t find anywhere else. There are three camera lenses on the back, and a battery that lasts all day. If you want a change from the usual Apple/Samsung lookalikes, give it a whirl.
See the best OnePlus 7T Pro deals
8. Samsung Galaxy S10e
The S10e is the most affordable of the S10 family. The compromises include no in-screen fingerprint scanner, a more basic design and a smaller screen. But it still has some the S10’s best features, including wireless charging, the ability to use it as a wireless charger for another handset, and of course the latest version of Android. Plenty to like.
See the best Samsung Galaxy S10e deals
9. Google Pixel 4/Pixel 4 XL
Google’a handsets have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, especially in the camera department. The latest Pixels produce stunning low-light shots, and are among the simplest cameras to use.
The screens are absolute beauts, while there’s plenty of power under the bonnet to keep things moving. And because it’s made by Google, you’ll be first in line for the latest Android updates.
See the best Google Pixel 4 deals
Want to go big? See the best Google Pixel 4 XL deals
10. Samsung Galaxy Fold
A controversial one, considering the early units broke so Samsung had to issue a recall. But you’ve got to admire the ambition of launching a folding phone, especially in the face of such adversity.
And there’s reportedly a second Fold in the works for next year, with a much lower price tag.
Remember, everyone laughed at the Galaxy Note when it launched back in 2010. Could the Galaxy Fold be similarly ahead of the curve? Watch this space…
Samsung Galaxy Fold on EE: Five things you need to know