2019 has been a great year for the mobile phone industry, but it’s seen a lot of turmoil too, including trade wars, delayed-releases and the race to the highest megapixels in a smartphone.
I’ve tested more smartphones this year than in previous years and there are some that stand out more than others, so here are my top picks from the ones I’ve used this year, in no particular order.
Huawei P30 Pro
Part of the reason I enjoyed using the P30 Pro was down the Breathing Crystal colour on the back. This looks stunning and it felt like a shame to put a cover on it. Thankfully, it was able to find a transparent cover, so at least I could still see the colour.
The cameras on the back are some of the best this year with a triple-lens layout, featuring a staggering, 50x zoom and an ultrawide angle lens for the ultimate in any smartphone camera. Battery performance is another great reason why the P30 Pro makes this list and only a few other phones this year manage to come close to its performance.
OnePlus 7 Pro
Although the 7 Pro is a massive phone in the hand, I loved using it for its gorgeous screen. Not only is the display super slick and buttery smooth thanks to the 90Hz screen refresh rate, but the OLED panel can get super bright and has amazing contrast levels.
The 6.67-inch display is a joy to use and it was the first phone I’ve used that has such a high screen-to-body ratio of 94%. This is down to the fact the front selfie camera pops-up from the top edge of the phone instead of being housed at the top of the display.
The 7 Pro also features the fastest in-display fingerprint scanner, which makes unlocking your phone hundreds of times a time far more seamless.
iPhone 11 Pro Max
There’s something about iOS that’s hard to appreciate until you’ve been away from it for a while and then go back to it again as your main device. I’ve kinda fallen in love again with the iPhone and that’s down to the Pro Max.
If video is your thing, then the iPhone 11 is hard to beat. It can capture super steady footage and crisp details that look professional. The triple cameras are also fantastic this year with a versatile focal range from super-wide to telephoto.
I love the vivid and bright Super Retina XDR display and the loudspeakers for their expansive sound making this one of the best phones for media consumption.
And finally, the battery performance is right up there with the best of them plus, you now get a fast charger in the box.
Google Pixel 3a XL
In part, this makes the list due to the price to performance ratio. It’s one of the few phones this year to have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but what makes this phone special, other than the price is the camera. Although you only get one rear camera it’s still one of the best. It also takes excellent selfies - as long as you don’t mind lots of detail and sharpness! It has all the same features as the more expensive Pixel 3 XL including Night Sight, Portrait Mode, Top Shot, Super Res Zoom, and the AR-powered Playground mode.
Huawei Mate 20X 5G
I’ve been testing this phone for the last couple of months including 5G on the Vodafone network (review to come next year). The massive 7.2-inch display won’t be for everyone but I love it. It’s great for watching movies or YouTube videos and I can see what’s on the screen when I can’t find my reading glasses.
5G is here now and this is one of the few phones you can buy in Ireland that can receive a signal. However, it’s far too early in the 5G game to start recommending people to go out and buy a 5G phone just yet unless you really want the bragging rights.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10
It’s smaller than the Note 10+ but is also cheaper and has most of the same features. The Note 10 is one of the best all-round phones this year with a class-leading 6.3-inch display that is second to none. The SPen is still one of my favourite things about the Note series and this year’s offering is even better than ever. I love the design and form factor and of course the impressive results you can get from the versatile camera system.
The 7.2 offers excellent value-for-money despite not having anyone particular standout feature.
It’s the sum of all its parts from its design, specifications and camera quality that makes it a compelling offering that’s value for money.
It has decent battery life that should see you into a second day, a large 6.3-inch display that’s excellent for watching movies, and it’s part of the Android One program with guaranteed updates for two years.