Nokia 9 PureView
Nokia’s comeback as an Android vendor has been a bit of a slow rollout, but 2019 is ready to deliver one of the most anticipated flagship devices in recent memory: the Nokia 9 PureView. Rumored for months and dreamed about for years, Nokia’s legendary mobile photography skills have been put to the test and have generated one of the most interesting concepts in mobile photography that we’ve ever seen. A 5-camera array sits on back, providing a uniquely detailed and color-accurate view of the world, touting the ability to create significantly more accurate “bokeh” effects as well as the ability to refocus the entire scene after taking a picture.
At a special $599 price the Nokia 9 PureView represents the most advanced mix of computational photography and hardware prowess in the industry, and there’s plenty of processing power left over for every day tasks too. It’s also part of the Android One ecosystem which means that it gets all the latest updates as soon as they’re available from Google. Nokia’s support of its Android One-powered phones over the years has been phenomenal, to say the least, and they’re still providing major OS upgrades for phones that are several years old without delay. Looking for an affordable, pure Android experience with one of the best cameras in the business? Look no further but be sure to act quick, as this is a limited edition phone.
There’s no doubt that camera technology has been a huge selling point of phones lately, somehow even more so than years past, but there have been some significant technological achievements to create this extra buzz. The HONOR View20 is the first phone to launch with Sony’s latest generation IMX586 sensor, the first 48-megapixel camera sensor ever equipped on a smartphone. This, combined with HONOR’s truly excellent camera software and image processing makes the View20 one of the very best cameras you can buy, especially when considering the price of the View20.
At $499, the HONOR View20 undercuts most flagship phones by selling at half the cost, all while delivering an identical (or better) camera experience and even packing Huawei’s latest-generation flagship SoC, the Kirin 980. It also ships with a heavily modified version of Android 9 Pie, dubbed MagicUI 2, and bears a striking resemblance to Huawei’s EMUI 9. HONOR has created a design that’s incredibly attractive, including unique colors and a pattern that catches the eye immediately. The HONOR View20 isn’t just a great value, it’s also an unmatched camera experience at the price.
Razer Phone 2
As a brand, Razer has long been a staple for gamers that want both style and performance. This DNA has been brought over to Razer’s second generation Android-powered smartphone, which features all the performance you want, coupled with that glowing RGB style that you know and love. Razer just dropped the Android 9 Pie update, as well as a huge drop in the price. Retailing for $499 for the month of March, the Razer Phone 2 is an easy recommendation for folks who want a snappy OS, liquid smooth 120Hz screen, the loudest stereo front-facing speakers on any phone, and some notable enhancements for mobile gaming.
Sony Xperia XZ3
Sony’s mobile division is known for pumping out many similar-looking flagship devices several times per year, but the past few releases have curbed this idea for a more dramatic approach. The Sony Xperia XZ3 represented a big shift in design language from past Xperia flagships, including the inclusion of Sony’s first-ever OLED panel on a smartphone, as well as the company’s first curved display. This without detracting from any of what made the Xperia XZ2 incredible, such as stereo front-facing speakers and an amazing selfie camera, all while shrinking bezels and slimming down the build.
The rear camera is no slouch either, and while it’s not quite as impressive in every situation as some other smartphones, Sony’s got plenty of tricks up its sleeve. 4K HDR video recording is something that only LG offers on the V40, while Sony now has two flagship phones with this ability. It’s also got the best super slow-motion video recording in the business and a unique way of predicting when a picture needs to be captured, offering ways to select the best picture taken from an automated burst. Our review below will fill you in on all the details if you’re interested in Sony’s latest.
LG V40 ThinQ
LG’s V-series has earned a name for itself in many ways, and the V40 ThinQ has caught plenty of attention since its launch back in the Fall of 2018. Since then the phone has seen a handful of updates that addressed a few issues at launch, including the addition of a bunch of new features specifically related to the camera experience. As is the case with many flagship phones, the LG V40 ThinQ places a heavy emphasis on the camera experience, but LG does it a little differently by offering up a more versatile camera experience than most OEMs could dream of having on their phones.
3 cameras on back and 2 cameras on front, all offering a wide range of focal lengths and manual settings controls for each and every one. These manual settings aren’t just for pictures either, they’re also for video, which is something no other smartphone line on the market does. It’s also got the highest quality audio output on any smartphone, with a quad-DAC that reduces white noise and provides a significant increase in overall quality and balance when compared to other phones. Check out the links below to find out more, particularly our reviews for LG’s latest.
OnePlus’s ascent in the market is nothing short of extraordinary, coming from an invite-only smartphone OEM to one of the largest OEMs in quite a few parts of the world. With the OnePlus 6T the company officially expanded to the US, thanks to T-Mobile, and can now be bought in any T-Mobile store as well as the usual online retailers. The OnePlus 6T represents one of the best values in the smartphone industry, which is something OnePlus has been doing since its original OnePlus One smartphone. Offering one of the fastest experiences on any Android phone, the OnePlus line is also marked by an excellent update schedule that’s faster than most other OEMs, all while continually offering meaningful feature updates and additions over the years.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro heralded in the era of reverse wireless charging and brought a gorgeous curved OLED screen, an in-glass fingerprint scanner and a sleek curved body design to Huawei’s already incredible line of flagship devices. The Mate 20 Pro packs an award-winning triple camera system around back, making this the single best smartphone photography experience on the market without a doubt. This system provides a brand new ultra wide-angle camera around back, which doubles as a super macro camera, as well as a 5x optical zoom telephoto lens too. Be sure to check out our in-depth camera review below to find out why it’s such a great experience and why Huawei’s phones have been so lauded for their abilities.
Much like the other phones on our list that primarily focus on the camera, the rest of the experience isn’t lacking in any way. A full-featured EMUI 9 OS that’s built upon Android 9 Pie powers the experience alongside a huge 4,000mAh battery which reliably delivers 2-day battery life for the average user. It’s also got a super-fast Kirin 980 SoC and plenty of RAM to keep the experience smooth without compromising on everything else. Aside from the price being a deterring factor, it’s nearly impossible not to recommend Huawei’s latest, especially if taking photos is an important part of your life.
Xiaomi Mi MIX 3
Xiaomi’s Mi MIX line has been incredibly innovative from the beginning, launching the whole “no bezel” craze back in 2016 when the original Mi MIX launched. Since then we’ve seen a further reduction in bezels, specifically with the Mi MIX 3 which has virtually no bezel around the entire phone. This is achieved by using a sliding mechanism to reveal the front-facing cameras, which are hidden behind the screen normally, and makes for not only an interesting phone, but a beautiful one too. To further enhance this look, Xiaomi has kept the ceramic build across all three generations of Mi MIX phones, giving the MIX 3 a unique look and feel when compared to other smartphones.
Xiaomi’s own MIUI 10 is a brilliant OS that’s build upon Android 9 Pie and brings about some significant visual and navigational changes from Google’s own. The Overview/Recents screen, for instance, looks completely different from stock Android which, in this case, is a very good thing since it not only allows for more information on the screen at once, but also makes multitasking a far easier and quicker process. Couple this with fantastic battery life, the best camera Xiaomi has ever put on a smartphone, and frequent updates on a regular schedule and you’ve got a phone that’s well worth taking a look at. Oh, and don’t forget the price, which is regularly half the price of similarly specced flagships from companies like Samsung or LG.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 may have launched before every other phone on this list, but that just goes to show how much of a powerhouse phone it was back in early Fall 2018. Samsung held nothing back with the Note 9 and it feels just as good today as it did over half a year ago. Sure, it seems ridiculous to think that half a year sounds old for a product, but given the rate of change in the smartphone industry, 6 months can be a very long time in making a product look or feel old. That said, the Galaxy Note 9 remains the single most well-rounded device on the list, especially at the reduced prices you can find it for across the globe.
What makes the Galaxy Note 9 so good? Everything, really. There’s no real shortcomings to the Note 9 as a product that’s purpose-built to fulfill every need you could have for a smartphone. Industry-leading display, fantastic audio output quality, a 3.5mm audio jack with great audio reproduction, huge battery with full-day battery life, wireless charging, IP68 water and dust resistance. Basically, you name it, the Note 9 probably has it, and the venerable S-Pen was an industry-changing idea when it launched and remains the best built-in stylus on any device. Need a phone that does it all and does all of that very well? The Note 9 is a perfect choice.
Samsung Galaxy S10
Samsung is changing things up in big ways with the Galaxy S10 family, which now comes in four different sizes and prices. Available this month are the Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and the Galaxy S10+. Two of these devices are nearly identical aside from size, while the Galaxy S10e packs similar components in a smaller, less expensive package. The experience is largely the same, no matter which model you pick, and the choice in the end revolves around how capable you need your smartphone to be on a daily basis. All three have brilliant screens, big batteries, fast processors and plenty of RAM, and the S10e even changes out that curved display for a flat one, giving users a choice if they don’t like curved displays.
The biggest differences will be found in the camera experience, where the Galaxy S10 and S10+ both feature three cameras around back, while the S10e only features two. These cameras brings about the widest focal length on any Galaxy series phone to date, and the widest ultra-wide angle camera on any smartphone as well. It’s not just about cameras though, as OneUI brings a fresh new look to Samsung’s software experience, as well as a brand new ultrasonic in-glass fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S10 and S10+. That fourth model, the Galaxy S10 5G, won’t be available for a while yet, but when it launches it’ll bring about a faster wireless experience and even more premium features than the already top-specced Galaxy S10+. Take a look at all your options below to see what fits best for you, but know that whichever you choose, it’s likely the very best experience you’ll find on an Android-powered device without fail.