Are you looking for the best mobile for sale that you can get hold of today? Or perhaps the best value for money with a budget smartphone? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We have tested all the latest mobile phones to bring you our expert in-depth reviews. The best in our unbiased test was the Oneplus 7T, which combines lightning speed with lots of useful functions at a relatively cheap price.
We carried out all of our smartphone tests ourselves and tested all products in real everyday situations. We used the mobiles for everyday tasks just like the consumers themselves would use them. And as we use them, we note both major and minor issues that could be important to anyone buying a mobile phone. Some of the most important factors we took into account were:
Performance: How fast is the mobile phone’s interface? Can it handle demanding game apps? How does it react when running lots of apps at the same time?
Ease of use: Is the interface easy to learn? Are there smart solutions for shortcuts to the most common functions? Can the interface, functions etc. be personalised for each unique user?
Camera: How well does the camera perform under normal light conditions? How does it perform in poorer light conditions? How good is the colour reproduction? Is there "noise" on the images? How does the camera handle contrast? How sharp are the images? Is it easy to find the focus?
Operating time: How long does the battery last before the mobile must be charged again under normal conditions? How does this change when we work the smartphone hard? How quickly does the battery charge again?
Other factors we included in our analysis are material choice, build quality, whether the manufacturer has discarded important functions/hardware - and how much value for money the mobile offers. These judgements were made in terms of what you get for your money and how it compares to competitors. For example, we had lower camera expectations for phones under 250 pounds than we did for mobiles under 600 pounds. The final score then reflected each smartphone’s value for money.
A major smartphone upgrade is here!
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.5 inch Oled 90Hz - 1080 x 2400 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ (1x2.96 + 3x2.42 + 4x1.78 GHz) Camera: 48+12+16 megapixel (wide, tele ultrawide), selfie camera 16 megapixel Battery: 3800 mAh Dimensions: 160.9x74.4x8.1 mm Weight: 190 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, stereo speaker
The T series, which is released at the end of every year by Oneplus, is normally a “same but better” version of the letter-less models released in the spring. But given that this spring’s releases produced a Oneplus 7 and a 7 Pro, the usual pattern appears to have changed somewhat. In fact, the Oneplus 7T feels like a real bargain, just like getting all the positive aspects of the Oneplus 7 Pro for a much cheaper price.
The Oneplus 7T gives us a large but still manageable 6.55-inch screen – manageable because of the thin frame.
The screen is completely flat, unlike the curved edges of the Pro model, which we actually think is an advantage. At the top of the screen is a selfie camera in a tear-shaped notch. There’s no pop-up camera like the Pro model, but it can be used for simple unlocking of the phone through facial recognition.
From this spring’s Pro model, we also benefit from a 90Hz refresh rate screen, which gives a noticeable difference in how soft all the movements appear. We also get UFS 3.0 storage. That may sound like technical mumbo-jumbo, but one of the reasons why Oneplus’s phones are the fastest Android mobiles on the market is this hugely fast RAM.
The Oneplus 7T continues the tradition of racing past all of its competitors except for Apple, as this fast RAM has been paired with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855+ chip, which gives more than enough power for anything you’re likely to want or need to do.
Oneplus’s own shell over Android also gives a number of meaningful extra settings, and even a promise of durability, as the smartphone will get Android updates for two years and safety updates for three.
The camera occupies a circular bump on the back of the camera. Technically, it’s comparable to the camera in the 7T Pro, which in turn is a slight improvement over the 7 Pro from the spring. Above all, you have more opportunities to use the different lenses for both photo and video. You also get a slightly better image quality than the already decent images the Oneplus 7 Pro produced when we tested it.
They aren’t the best photos in the industry, but there’s certainly nothing to scoff at.
The battery lasts well for a day’s play, even with many apps running and quite heavy use. As is now traditional, the phone includes Oneplus’s Warp charger, which gets a shortening battery life to respectable levels pretty quickly.
While this spring’s Oneplus 7 was rather boring compared to its bigger sibling Pro, the opposite is the case here. The Oneplus 7T has everything you need packed into a quick mobile for a reasonable price. So it’s no surprise that we named it our best in test.
Finally everything’s right
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.9 inch AMOLED – 1440x3088 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (1x3 GHz, 3x2.42, 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 108+12+12 megapixel (wide, telephoto/periscope, ultrawide), selfie camera 10 megapixel Battery: 4500 mAh Dimensions: 164.8x77.2x8.1 mm Weight: 208 g Android version: 10 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, wireless charging (+reverse), water resistant, pen
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is something of a double comeback for Samsung. Firstly, they’ve learned from the relatively unsuccessful S20 Ultra. And secondly it makes the Note series interesting again, which it hasn’t been for a few years. In other words, it’s a worthy winner of the Best Premium Choice title.
The Note series have always been enormous phones, which has made them rather tricky to handle. With the Note 20 Ultra, Samsung have succeeded in making even an enormous telephone feel well balanced and relatively ergonomic. It’s light years from the equally large S20 Ultra, which just wasn’t at all comfortable to use.
The new colours – bronze in our case – are also really gorgeous, which contributes to the premium feel. As usual with a Note, the pen's the star here. As well as providing more functions than you’d ever remember to use, there’s one major update here. The delay between moving the pen on the screen and something happening has been almost entirely eliminated. Not that it bothered us particularly on previous versions, but it does make you realise that this is how it ought to have been the whole time. All of your notes, sketches and so on can be done with a much better feel than before.
On the inside, there’s a lot that’s familiar from the S20 telephones, which by 2020 standards definitely isn’t a bad thing. Although it’s not exactly top of the class when it comes to speed.
One new feature is that the screen now has a dynamic refresh rate. This means the screen can reach 120 Hz when it’s necessary, but automatically reduces the refresh rate, for example if you’re reading static text. This saves on the battery, which is actually really good, but unfortunately you still can’t run full resolution combined with a high refresh rate.
On paper, the camera may look like a step down from the S20 Ultra, as it “only” offers 50 times hybrid zoom. But in fact it’s enough and more besides, and we can now actually see what the zoomed-in photos depict.
Samsung have also included laser auto focus in the camera package, which eliminates all the focus issues that previous Ultra models had. Even though it’s not an enormous jump between models, the Note 20 Ultra is still a touch better than its predecessor when it comes to image quality. As is always true for the Note series, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra isn’t the right phone for everyone. You have to see the point of the pen and all of its functions for it to be worth the price. But at the same time, the Note 20 Ultra has the same price tag as the S20 Ultra, and if you're choosing between the two models it’s definitely the Note 20 Ultra you should be going for. If you want ultra luxury and are happy to pay for extra functions, there’s actually nothing to beat it just now, which makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra our Best Premium Choice.
Amazingly good value for money
Price class: Budget Screen: 6.53 inch IPS, 1080x2340 pixels Processor: Mediatek Helio G90T, 2x2.05 GHz+6x2 GHz Camera: 64+8+2+2 Megapixel (wide, ultrawide, macro, depth), selfie camera 20 megapixel Battery: 4500 mAh Dimensions: 161.4x76.4x8.8 mm Weight: 200 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader
Xiaomi seem to work to Samsung’s plan of releasing so many mobile phones that it’s hard to distinguish between them. This includes having two “Note” series. While the Mi Note is a slightly more high-quality product, the Redmi Note has always offered almost ridiculous levels of bang for the buck. And the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro is definitely not an exception to this rule.
It’s difficult to find a Xiaomi phone that gives a poor impression in terms of build quality, except perhaps their very cheapest models. And the Note 8 Pro doesn’t disappoint, with the exception of the enormous protruding camera housing.
This is a fast mobile phone given its price. Even though the processor in the phone doesn’t come from Qualcomm like the majority of top models, it’s still one of budget rival Mediatek’s faster chips and this makes a big difference to the performance. Consequently this is a mobile phone with medium class performance for a budget price. For everyday use it’s not likely to appear slow.
And the same applies to other parts of the innards. 64 GB of storage is generous for the price class and can always be expanded with an extra memory card if you sacrifice the second SIM card slot. The battery also lasts really well – a whole day, or even more depending on how much you use the phone.
The only thing that’s a slight negative is the LCD screen, where competing phones in roughly the same price class from Samsung have AMOLED screens, with correspondingly better colours. But at the same time it’s not a bad screen in any way.
What really stands out for this price class is the camera. There are four sensors on the back, one of which is 64 megapixels. The number of megapixels doesn’t actually tell you much, but you do get really good detail in images taken with the Redmi Note 8 Pro. In fact, the camera performs better than expected in most conditions.
One thing that’s got a lot better over the years is Xiaomi’s own MIUI interface. This sits on top of the normal Android interface and provides a whole load of extra settings and tools that don’t come as standard. It includes a number of extra settings for the screen when you’re using it at night or for reading, and these are better than Android's normal ones.
The telephone also keeps up with Android 10 updates.
For the price tag, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro is a really good buy. It performs far above what you’d expect in this segment and even beats many medium class mobiles.
A giant upgrade
Price Class: Premium Screen: 6,1 in. Oled - 1170 x 2532 pixels Processor: Apple A14 Bionic (6 cores) Camera: 12+12 Megapixel (wide, ultrawide), selfie camera 12 megapixel Battery: 2 815 mAh Measurements: 146,7x71,5x7,4 mm Weight: 164 g Operating System: IOS 14 Misc.: Facial recognition, water resistant, stereo speakers
There is a lot of news in this year’s iPhone-lineup and if we disregard the Mini-model it is undoubtedly the iPhone 12 that has had the biggest upgrade since last year. In fact, all the downsides with the iPhone 11 have been addressed in what is a really sharp upgrade. But at the same time new problems have surfaced.
Naturally the new design is what we first notice. Gone are the rounded edges instead you have sharp (but surprisingly comfortable) edges, much like what we saw with iPhone 4 and 5 many years ago. The screen size is the same as last year, albeit on a smaller phone but with a thinner frame it makes for a more pleasant design. At the same time we would have loved to have kept that extra millimetre in depth, which last years model sported, if it meant having a more powerful battery. iPhone 12 has, if you use 4G or WIFI, a somewhat shorter battery life than last year. You can make it through the day with out much difficulty, but you’ll feel the anxiety creeping in slightly over the battery life. What will affect the battery life is 5G. It comes with all the phones and is available today with certain operators in the UK. With every new generation the early versions are more power-hungry and that seems to be true so far for this model. The phone automatically jumps down to 4G when the extra speed isn’t needed, but it undoubtedly takes full advantage of the 5G function. This is where a little bit more battery would’ve been nice.
Speaking of the screen, which nowadays is exactly like the iPhone 12 Pro one. Meaning it has significantly higher resolution, Oled with incredible colours and some smart adaptations to adjust colour temperature. That in itself makes it a worthy upgrade, even if you do have last year’s model. On the back we find more exciting news, Magsafe. It is a regular wireless QI-charger, like all the others, but with a magnet around it to help it attach to the wireless charger. If you buy a Magsafe-charger you will have the easiest solution for wireless charging the industry has to offer. At the same time it’s a clever way for Apple to keep a sort of proprietary charging solution whilst transitioning to USB-C in iPhones next year (iPhone 12 still uses Apples Lightning- Plug.) And while we’re on the subject. AC Power Adapter’s and headphones are both missing from the box. Partially for environmental reasons, as Apple wants to make very clear, partially of course to aid additional sales. A charging cable with Lightning on one end and USB-C on the other, is included. On the inside we find our next news, A14 Bionic. Apples new system chip is twice as fast as today’s top models with Android and will most likely go strong for many years to come. The big advantage however lies in the background and AI-functions. The chip makes facial recognition through FaceID notably faster and also helps a great deal when analyzing and sprucing up pictures. As always we get very nice and consistent image quality from the camera. The sensors have been updated, but we’re guessing that the majority of the elevated image quality comes from the new chip’s image improvement. Regardless if you use the front or rear camera, in a light or dark setting you will get really great pictures and videos from the iPhone 12. The only thing really missing is the zoom, which the Pro-model has. iPhone 12 is basically the upgrade of the “regular” iPhone that we’ve been waiting for since iPhone X was launched a few years ago.
More of a Pro-upgrade
Price class: Premium Screen: 6,1 in. Oled - 1170 x 2532 pixels Processor: Apple A14 Bionic (6 cores) Camera: 12+12+12 Megapixel (wide, ultrawide, tele), Lidar for depth, selfie camera 12 megapixel Battery: 2 815 mAh Measurements: 146,7x71,5x7,4 mm Weight: 189 gr Operating System: IOS 14 Misc.: Facial recognition, water resistant, stereo speaker.
Iphone 12 Pro feels a bit caught between the big updates of the regular iPhone 12 and the new features of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Not to say that there is a lack of new features in this year’s regular Pro-model, but you do to some extent need to know what you’re looking for in order to find what makes the Pro-model, Pro.
All 2020 iPhones have received a new, more rectangular design which reminds us of the iPhone 4 and 5. The Pro-models frame is made of stainless steel instead of aluminum, which increases the weight ever so slightly but also gives a feeling of higher quality. The edgier design is at the same time surprisingly comfortable to hold for a longer period of time. The measurements are more or less the same as last year, with a somewhat larger screen. 6,1 in. vs last years 5,8 in. all thanks to a thinner frame around the screen. In general it is the same screen that is on the regular iPhone 12. A really nice Oled screen, but unfortunately without a 90 or 120 hertz update frequency. We would have liked to seen it included to set it apart a bit more from the regular iPhone. The camera has just about the same setup as last year, but with some fine tunings. The main difference with the iPhone 12 is the third lens, that will give you a 2x zoom. The main difference from last year’s model is the Lidar-sensor. In terms of the camera, it helps it to auto focus in all lighting conditions, even portrait mode. The latter also works in poor lighting conditions and even more close up than before. Lidar is also used for AR (Augmented Reality/ Enhanced Reality), where it offers a more exact positioning via the camera. Overall the pictures are great in all lighting conditions, which is probably mostly due to the extra power in the new A14-chip. Less obvious is that you are always filming in Dolby Vision HDR. On screens that support HDR it creates extra depth in the darker sections, but on screens that don’t support it a non-HDR version is created simultaneously. Something which you will quickly notice if you know to look for it. The camera also films in 10-bit colour depth, but the screen unfortunately only shows 8. Again, something that would have made the iPhone Pro-model stand out even more from the regular model.
The reason why we haven’t received the latest within screen technology is the battery. It is smaller than in the iPhone 11 Pro and not as impressive. You will get a solid day’s use out of it. Just as with the iPhone 12 we would have liked to have seen a deeper phone with a larger battery. The new 5G feature is undeniably faster, but it comes at a cost, it requires a lot more power. iPhone will however only tap into the new technology when it needs to, but so far it seems that a larger battery would have been appropriate in this case as well. The new accessory Magsafe is supposed to be somewhat of a redeeming factor, and the fact that it makes charging easier. Plainly speaking it’s a regular wireless charger, but with a magnetic ring to ensure that the wireless charger always connects to the right spot. Regular wireless charging still works, likewise does charging other phones wirelessly on a Magsafe-pad (of course without the magnet-magic in that case). It can be seen as the first step towards ditching Apples classic Lightning-plug in benefit of USB-C for the next generation, or going completely wireless, while still maintaining their own technology. Just as with the iPhone 12 on the inside we find the A14 Bionic, a chip that runs circles around its competitors on all levels. Its main functions however are within its various AI-functions, that among others makes for better image processing. The significant upgrades we got with the iPhone 12 should suffice for most. The zoom lens and the high-quality feel are the main features of the iPhone 12 Pro. More advanced photographers and filmers that have previously used iPhones would most definitely benefit from the iPhone Pro.
The real top model
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.78 inch AMOLED - 1440x3168 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (1x2.84 GHz, 3x2.42, 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 48+8+48+5 megapixel (wide, telephoto, ultrawide, colour filter), selfie camera 16 megapixel Battery: 4510 mAh Dimensions: 165.3x74.4x8.5 mm Weight: 199 g Android version: 10 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, wireless charging, water resistant
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus may be the middle option in Samsung’s flagship trio for spring 2020. But it’s not at all misplaced between its siblings, unlike last year’s S10. If you want a top model Samsung phone in 2020, it’s this one you should go for, no question about it.
It’s bigger brother, the S20 Ultra, had as its selling points a larger screen and more functions linked to the camera... And it failed on both of them. Here the S20 Plus has a slightly smaller screen, the same great resolution, the same fantastic colour reproduction and contrast, but also a format that sits much better in your hand. Both are large telephones, but the S20 Plus fits perfectly while the Ultra was just bulky.
But we are seeing the same trend from Samsung as other players this year, which is that the horrible lumpy camera on the back has grown in both length and width. Fortunately, Samsung have started to include shells with their phones, which reduces the bulge on the back somewhat – but it’s not exactly a 100% solution.
When it comes to hardware, Samsung’s top trio are more or less identical, which means you get all the power and functions you could want for this price range. At the same time, Samsung aren’t exactly best in this area, which is currently being led by Motorola or Oneplus when it comes to sheer speed.
The camera may look worse on paper in comparison with the S20 Ultra, primarily as it only has 30 times hybrid zoom instead of 100. But the S20 Ultra’s problem with getting sharp enough photos to pick out anything despite its 100 times zoom is well documented.
The S20 Plus has no problems with either autofocus or zoom, which means the camera is much less problematic. Along with Huawei's top models (which have their own specific issues), Samsung continues to be at the top of the mobile camera market.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is quite simply the top model you should go for if you're considering a new Samsung phone. The price tag is a bit high for us to give it an award, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the functionality.
Decent medium-class phone with good battery
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.3 inch LCD - 1080 x 2280 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 (2x2 GHz + 2x1.8 GHz) Camera: 48+16+5 Megapixel (wide, ultrawide, depth), selfie camera 25 megapixel Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: 158.4x75.8x9.1 mm Weight: 188 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, stereo speaker
The Moto G was a perfect example of how a fully functional smartphone doesn’t need to cost the Earth. Roughly 300 models later in the series, we have reached the Moto G8 Plus, and an entirely different mobile market. Fortunately, at least Swedish manufacturer Motorola has understood that nobody could keep track of all the different versions of the G mobiles. This time around, the Moto G8 Plus is the "premium" version of the G series, while other versions are more budget oriented and with particular specifications.
The price tag, around £300, is where you find the really tough competition nowadays, and is in the upper bracket of what we'd call budget. But in this smartphone, you still get a stable mobile package with a great deal to offer given the price.
The best feature is arguably the stereo speakers, which add a great deal when you're watching videos. Even if the sound isn't hi-fi class, it's still a big improvement over the single speaker that even some of the more expensive models can only boast today.
The actual construction is stable without being brilliant, but it does the job. The mobile is splash-proof and is stated to be able to cope if you spilt a glass of water over it. But it can't handle tougher challenges, such as underwater photography.
And on the subject of photography, this phone provides a pleasant surprise. The camera part is pretty much the only bit that Motorola have made themselves in an otherwise pure Android phone; and the app together with the lenses produces a noteworthy result in most conditions. Of course, it doesn't compare with the top models’ photos and video capabilities, but in daylight the difference isn't that enormous either.
On the back (which is still the optimum position) is a quick fingerprint reader for privacy.
This phone is similar to its little brother, the Motorola One Macro, but it's clear where the extra money has been spent. Everything seems to have gone into creating a quicker system chip. While you don't exactly get lightning speeds, the G8 Plus is very stable for pretty much everything but graphics-heavy games.
At the same time, the content of this phone is rather energy-efficient, which in combination with a larger-than-average battery leads to a longer battery life. If you're a minimal user you’ll easily get two days from it, but even if you use it more frequently, it’ll manage an entire day without running out of juice.
The Moto G8 Plus may be in the upper end of this price category, but at the same time it's really competitive and has everything a normal user would need from a mobile phone. And for this reason, we name it as our best budget mobile phone.
Top model but not outstanding
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.78 inch AMOLED - 1440x3168 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (1x2.84 GHz, 3x2.42, 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 48+8+48+5 megapixel (wide, telephoto, ultrawide, colour filter), selfie camera 16 megapixel Battery: 4510 mAh Dimensions: 165.3x74.4x8.5 mm Weight: 199 g Android version: 10 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, wireless charging, water resistant
Oneplus started out producing telephones with top model performance for a price tag you'd expect in the mid-price segment, and have consequently also built up a loyal group of fans. With previous phones, the performance was there, but you had to do without the frills. When Oneplus divided their models into a normal and a Pro version last year, it marked the beginning of the end of this tactic, which has now completely fallen by the wayside.
If you only look at the specifications, the Oneplus 8 Pro is still “cheap” compared to its competitors’ top models, which are up to several hundred pounds more expensive. At the same time, this is the first time you’ve had to pay so much for a model, relatively speaking.
Then again, the old no frills approach has also gone. In fact, there's really nothing missing from this phone. Entirely new features for Oneplus are water resistance and support for wireless charging. The latter is available via separate accessories through a turbo variant, in line with the company's wired Warp chargers.
Other than that you get Qualcomm's latest system chip, plenty of RAM and very fast storage. Just like the previous generation, and the one before that, the Oneplus 8 Pro is the fastest Android phone you can buy, despite other manufacturers using more or less the same hardware.
You also get a substantial OLED screen with a maximum 120 Hz refresh rate. Unfortunately it can only switch between 60 and 120 Hz, not the 90 Hz mode that its predecessor had, which worked well as an intermediate solution. If it's resolution you're after, you’ll do away with the faster refresh rate to save your battery. A battery which otherwise lasts a full day and more besides.
The speed largely comes from Oxygen OS, the Oneplus shell that overlies Android. The rule here is still that graphic frills are trimmed down in favour of speed, but at the same time you have a large number of settings that feel meaningful, and extra functions to play with. Oneplus are also known for updating their telephones for a long time, and for being amongst the first to release new Android versions.
The pop-up camera from last year's 7 Pro is gone – instead the selfie camera sits in a hole cut out of the screen (which was also the case with the 7T Pro). This is obviously a more sustainable option than moving parts.
The camera on the back consists of four lenses (telephoto, wide, ultrawide and colour filter) and is quite clearly a step up from Oneplus’ previous mobile cameras. While earlier cameras were good, they were never excellent, and often produced a kind of yellow tinge. The Oneplus 8 Pro moves significantly closer to the top models, at least when it comes to details in daylight. But now we often see a slightly blueish tone instead of yellow. It manages fine with evening and night photography, even if the results aren't amongst the very best.
The Oneplus 8 Pro is a phenomenal telephone in many ways, and finally has the things previous models have been lacking while the speed is still excellent. On the other hand, the price has increased quite a lot in just one year. If you can live without the wireless charging and don't mind a slightly less flashy camera, the normal Oneplus 8 is still really good value for money.
(Unlocked, Glacial Green) OnePlus 8 Pro Dual Sim | 256GB | 12GB RAM
(Unlocked, Ultramarine Blue) OnePlus 8 Pro Dual Sim | 256GB | 12GB RAM
OnePlus 8 Pro 5G 12GB RAM 256GB UK SIM-Free Smartphone with Triple Camera, Dual SIM and Alexa built-in Glacial Green - 2 Years Warranty
Neat challenger to the Galaxy S20
Price class: Intermediate Screen: 6.1-inch OLED (1 080 x 2 340 pixels), 60 Hz Processor: Kirin 990 5G (Octa Core 2.86 GHz) Camera: 50 + 16 + 8 megapixels, selfie camera 23 megapixels Battery: 3800 mAh Operating system: Android Open Source Miscellaneous: IP53 rated, fingerprint reader, stereo speakers
You probably already know about the elephant in the room – i.e. that the Huawei P40 and the company's other new phones don’t come with Google's framework and services. That is, undoubtedly, a problem. And so whoever buys a new Huawei phone needs to be at least moderately interested in the jigsaw puzzle involved in putting together a fairly normal Android experience on the Chinese manufacturer's devices nowadays. It's possible, but it's time consuming and even then some apps and services simply can’t be replaced, such as Google Maps.
We can’t ignore any of that in our assessment, but nor should we let it have too much of an impact, because there are actually lots of users who do really well without the Google Mobile Services package. And for them, this is a great alternative to many mid-range phones on the market.
The specs are impressive for the class. You get the same powerful system chip that the P40 Pro comes with, – an eight-core Kirin 990 5G chip. And you also get a fairly high-resolution OLED screen, albeit at 6.1 inches, which is a bit smaller than what a flagship phone normally boasts these days. Though, on the other hand, that also makes the phone a little easier to handle. The premium feel of the P40 Pro also comes from the body, with a glass-covered front and back and a metal frame.
On the camera side, this phone – as always when it comes to Huawei's smartphones – is really impressive. You get a triple camera with a main sensor of 50 megapixels, an ultra-wide angle lens of 16 megapixels and a telephoto lens of 8 megapixels. Images are clearly better than those taken with both the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus, with an impressive dynamic range. The videos in 4K are also of exemplary quality.
22.5-watt fast charging ensures that you can charge a 3800 mAh battery relatively quickly. Charging wirelessly, however, is not an option with this phone, which is part of the reason the price is so wallet-friendly. But Huawei compensates for this by offering a truly impressive battery life. You’ll usually get a full day of use without having to charge it.
Another area where ambitions have been lowered is IP classification. The P40 Pro is IP68-rated, while the regular P40 has to settle for IP53. This roughly means the phone isn’t 100% dust tight, but is still dustproof, and that it can withstand a hefty shower, but you shouldn’t drop it in the bath.
So who is this phone for? If you're completely attached to Google services, you should probably look elsewhere. But if that doesn’t feel so important, and you’re fine without, then this phone is a really good alternative to the Galaxy S20 or new iPhone 11. Particularly if photos are important to you, because this is a phone with a very good camera. The price is in the region of £700.
The best phone you probably won’t buy
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.58 inch 19.8:9 OLED (1200 x 2640 pixels), 90 Hz. Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G (Octa Core 2.86 GHz). Camera: 50.3 + 40 + 12 + 5 megapixels. 32 megapixel selfie camera with depth sensor. Battery: 4200 mAh. Dimensions: 15.8x7.2x0.9 cm. Weight: 209 g. Operating system: Android Open Source. Miscellaneous: IP68 classified, wireless charging in two directions, fingerprint reader in screen
There’s no doubting that the Huawei P40 Pro is one of the best phones of the year if you’re talking the hardware side of things. But there’s a very large elephant in the room, and that’s Google's framework and services, which due to the American blacklisting of Huawei aren’t supported by this phone. Android is still being used as the operating system, but everything else is based on open source versions of the software, although users can still enjoy Huawei's own app store, App Gallery.
Not having Google isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a real shortcoming and a deal breaker for most. In practice, life without Google services isn’t actually as tough as you might think. Many services work fine as web shortcuts and lots of popular apps can be downloaded and used via APK Mirror (Editor’s note: a site where you can legally download the program files from the Google Play Store as individual files), Amazon's app store or directly from the developers' sites. The only service that feels really difficult to replace is Google Maps, which is an increasingly integral part of the Android experience as a whole. But if you’re willing to give up that particular service, most other things can actually be fixed, provided you think the phone is worth all that effort.
We’d love to say the P40 Pro is definitely worth the effort, but, in fact, we can’t. It is a fantastic phone, with a lovely design and really good specifications, but there are a number of competitors who have released extremely powerful and affordable alternatives, not least Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Oneplus 8 Pro.
The P40 Pro is more attractive than both of those phones, there's no denying it. The glass screen curves around all four sides, giving the phone an extremely futuristic look. The camera island in the upper left corner doesn’t get in the way and the shiny finish on the back has a premium feel, which combined with the metallic frame gives the phone a kind of stylishly restrained luxury profile.
The same camera island is undeniably quite large and protrudes a fair bit, but it does the same on all new flagship phones with a camera solution worth mentioning. And the P40 Pro's camera definitely warrants a closer look. Better zoom (up to 50x), larger sensors, higher light sensitivity and adjusted optics means that you’re at the absolute top of the field when it comes to photography. 50.3 + 40 + 12 + 5 megapixels and a 3D depth sensor on the back are combined with a selfie camera of 32 megapixels and a 3D sensor on the front. This is definitely not a toy, and your pictures will be excellent regardless of lighting conditions. Here, once again, Huawei is really leading the way.
The screen is of the OLED type, with an aspect ratio of 19.8:9 and a resolution of 1200 x 2640 pixels. Unlike many of the competition, Huawei are content with a screen refresh rate of 90 Hertz, which honestly doesn’t really make much of a difference compared to 120 Hz. But in combination with the screen feeling a little dim compared to its competitors, the overall impression is somewhat tarnished.
This is an incredibly fast phone, thanks to the system chip Kirin 990 5G, which despite working at a furious pace doesn’t seem to drain the 4200 mAh battery, meaning the most you’ll need to charge is once a day. That’s incredibly good. Huawei's fast charging also holds its own well, and now the phone also has wireless fast charging of up to 27 watts.
Anyone who really likes Huawei won’t be disappointed. Anyone choosing between a P40 Pro, a Galaxy S20 Ultra or a Oneplus 8 Pro definitely needs to ask themselves how important the Android framework is, and whether they’re willing to spend a bit of time creating a comfortable user environment without it (it’s possible, but requires a lot of fiddling and a hefty dose of interest in doing exactly that). If your answer to that question is yes, then this is a great buy. Without a doubt, this is one of the best phones on the planet right now in terms of hardware. But that lack of support for Google's services means that we can’t give it as high a score as as we’d like to.
Super fast medium class phone
Price class: Medium Screen: 4.7 inch IPS – 1334x750 pixels Processor: Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core (2x2.65 GHz + 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 12 megapixel, 7 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 1815 mAh Dimensions: 138.4x67.3x7.3 mm Weight: 148 g iOS version: 13 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, wireless charging,
The first iPhone SE was a big success, both for Apple and for customers who wanted a modern phone just that little bit smaller than usual. And by all accounts, the iPhone SE 2020 edition will be exactly what many of us have been waiting for.
Outwardly, the new edition of the iPhone SE is an exact copy of the iPhone 8. The size, screen, resolution, battery and most other features are identical.
Unlike the iPhone 8, the iPhone SE no longer supports Force Touch, the app where you used a different pressure for different functions… and that no one used. But you do get the same system chip as in the company's top model iPhone 11, the A13 Bionic. This chip means the iPhone SE runs rings around all its competitors in the same price range and even around some of the more expensive Android phones, just as the iPhone 11 still does in most cases.
The A13 chip also makes a big difference to image processing of photos taken with the camera, which are otherwise largely the same as with the iPhone 8. In daylight, the image quality is clearly better, even if you get brighter colours and more options with the iPhone 11.
It’s not so good at dusk, where it’s more like the old camera. While the iPhone SE runs rings around its competitors in terms of performance, the opposite is pretty much true of the camera, even among other medium class phones. Night images lose a lot of detail and become grainy.
The battery in the iPhone SE is much the same size as the one in the iPhone 8. Even though Apple have streamlined power management with the much more powerful A13 chip, it still ends up with about the same battery life as its predecessor. In other words, one day if you don’t use it too much. That’s noticeably worse than the average today and worse than the same-sized iPhone 11.
Because size is the big thing with this phone – or rather the lack of it is. Today's big screens on mobile phones mean that Apple are almost playing in a league of their own when it comes to smaller phones. The edges and home button mean the iPhone SE isn’t an extremely small phone, but it’s much easier to use with one hand than pretty much all other phones currently on the market. The iPhone 11 is about the same size, but the larger screen makes single-handed use a little more difficult... and it's twice the price.
At the same time there’s one thing the iPhone SE is unique for in the medium price class, and is almost guaranteed to be better at than the majority of flagship Android phones. And that’s updates, because Apple are famous for updating their phones for a long time. The first generation iPhone SE still gets updates, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that today’s iPhone SE will get the same for 4-5 years. This is compared to Android, where two years (for major updates) and perhaps three years (for security updates) is more usual.
The battery may need to be replaced after a while, but the current iPhone SE will keep up for a long time.
The 2020 version of the iPhone SE is familiar in every respect, while simultaneously being incredibly fast and likely to last for a long time. The screen was a bit outdated when the iPhone 8 was released, and it's hardly a prize winner now. Nor are the battery or camera on the same level as other medium class phones, although they’re not terrible either. The Apple iPhone SE is incredibly good value for money for an Apple phone, but at the same time it’s not exactly a wonderful mobile.
Excellent budget challenger without Google services
Price class: Budget Chip: Kirin 810 (2 x Cortex A76 and 6 x Cortex-A55) Graphics: Mali-G52 MP6 RAM: 6 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM (support for NM card) Screen: IPS 6.4 inch (1080x2310 pixels) Camera: 48+8+ 2 and rear depth sensor, 16 MB selfie camera. Battery: 4200 mAh Weight: 183 grams
Of course you can’t ignore the fact that Google’s services are no longer available on Huawei's telephones, including on the Huawei P40 Lite. And yes, we do have to mention it every time we review what’s often an otherwise excellent Huawei product – because it really is a big deal. You can do a lot with Huawei's own App Gallery, and many of Google’s services work as web versions. But if you're firmly bound to Google’s services and apps (and you can be without even realising it), this is undoubtedly a problem. You have to forget Google Maps, for example.
With that said, this is a fantastic phone given what it delivers in terms of the price. It’s all but impossible to get as impressive a “light” variant of a flagship phone for anything like this low a price. It may be a budget version of the P40, and it feels a bit more plasticky, but it still looks premium.
The Kirin 810 chip delivers a performance that’s more reminiscent of the medium segment than budget telephones, and with 6 GB of RAM to work with, it copes with pretty much whatever you throw at it. It’s primarily the screen resolution, contrast and backlighting that tells you you’re holding a slightly less expensive phone. It doesn’t give a real AMOLED impression when it comes to image quality.
Huawei are famous for their generous batteries, which mean their phones need to be charged less often than almost all of their competitors’ products. This is a luxury you quickly get used to as a Huawei user, and one that can make it tough to change to another brand. The P40 Lite also has a really big battery, of 4200 mAh, and you’d be forgiven for thinking this should offer an amazing operating time. But that isn’t the case. Instead, it’s on a par with normal medium segment phones, and quite why is hard to say.
The rear camera is much better than the ones on other phones in this price segment, however. It houses four sensors in the reasonably discreet camera module (a 48 megapixel main sensor, a wide-angle lens of 8 megapixels, a 2 megapixel macro lens and a depth sensor). Images don’t achieve flagship quality, but aren’t far off. It’s primarily the dynamics and performance in dark conditions that leave something to be desired.
If you’re looking for maximum performance for your money, this is without doubt one of the top candidates, but of course that assumes you can cope with the Google elephant in the room. And only you know whether that’s true.
Best in the world...but there’s a problem
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.58 inch AMOLED – 1200x2640 pixels Processor: Hisilicon Kirin 990 (2x2.86 GHz, 2x2.36, 4x1.95 GHz) Camera: 50+8+8+40 megapixel (Wide, telephoto, ultrawide, depth) + TOF, selfie camera 32 megapixel Battery: 4200 mAh Dimensions: 158.2x72.6x9 mm Weight: 226 g Android version: 10 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, wireless charging +reverse wireless, waterproof, IR port
Good things come in threes, according to many mobile phone manufacturers. A top model, a plus model above that and then a really amazing one on top of that just because they can. The Huawei P40 Pro+ belongs to the latter category. Happily, the phone isn’t any bigger just because it’s had a plus sign added to its name, unlike the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
On the outside, the Pro+ is actually identical to the normal P40 Pro, with the same dimensions and the same screen. It’s still not exactly a small phone, but it’s definitely manageable. The more expensive model differs in three ways: the camera, charging and the back.
The back and edges are made from ceramic material instead of glass; a rather uncommon choice that tends to turn up on those very special models. It reinforces the impression of the phone as an expensive item of jewellery even more than the P40 Pro, and it’s certainly nothing you’d complain about.
Charging is done wirelessly. With the right wireless charger, you can fast charge the phone with 40 W either wirelessly or wired. The charger is sold separately, but when we tried it out it does indeed do a very quick job. It’s difficult to position the phone so the charger can react, however, and once it does it also triggers a powerful fan that you'd really rather not have running if the charger is on your desk.
So what about the camera? Well, there’s an additional lens (telephoto) that brings the total up to five. This gives you 10 times optical zoom instead of 5, and 100 times zoom in hybrid mode.
It’s also the camera that’s the whole point of this phone. It produces sharp, lively (occasionally a bit too lively) and consistently fantastic photos, particularly at night or in poor light. No other manufacturer today comes anywhere near Huawei when it comes to photos in dark conditions, and the camera is unquestionably the best one you can get in a mobile today.
Otherwise, we get one of the fastest Android phones, built-in IR remote control (still the world's best function), good battery life and more than enough storage. The only minus point is that the telephone gets very warm around the camera for short periods, for no obvious reason and regardless of what we do. But that’s a minor concern.
A major one is the lack of Google services. Huawei's own App Gallery provides many alternative apps, but there’s still a lot missing. Huawei have many ways of counteracting this, and after a couple of weeks of using the phone we have no less than seven ways of looking for apps that Huawei recommend. This makes things easier, but it’s still a major security risk... And a bit of a headache. Give them a year and Huawei will undoubtedly have sorted this out, but as things stand you have to be prepared for a lot of fiddling before you can get everything to work.
We primarily notice the lack of a built-in map service. Without it, the pulse meter’s map uses a Chinese equivalent where other countries’ borders are barely included, let alone greater detail.
In terms of the hardware, the Huawei P40 Pro+ is the best Android telephone right now, bar none. But it'll take a while before the software stops feeling wrong.
Huawei P40 Pro+ ELS-N39 8GB Ram 512GB Rom 5G Dual Sim - Black Ceramic
Huawei P40 Pro+ - Smartphone 512GB, 8GB RAM, Dual Sim, Black Ceramic
Huawei P40 Pro+ Dual 5G 512GB 8GB RAM No Google Play (GSM only, No CDMA) International Version No Warranty (Ceramic White)
Large mobile that’s easy to operate
Price class: Medium Screen: 16.69 cm OLED – 2400 x 1080 pixels Processor: 8-core QUALCOMM 2.4 GHz Snapdragon 765G Camera: 48 megapixels (wide, telephoto, ultrawide), selfie camera 16 megapixel Battery: 4160 mAh Dimensions: 163.71 x 74.77 x 7.88 mm Weight: 192 g Android version: 9 Launch year: 2020 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, stereo speaker
Xiaomi launched their Mi 10 Lite 5G in 2020, and it’s a phone that offers both surprises and questions. The Mi 10 Lite 5G isn’t a small phone. But for a large phone it still sits nicely in your hand. And the large screen gives a pleasant viewing experience when you're watching films or streamed video.
The selfie camera takes reasonable photos. But if you’re shooting something other than selfies, you should stick to the rear camera, which performs better. The Mi 10’s rear camera is based on four lenses that have different purposes, and range from 16 to 48 megapixels
When you use the nicely sharp 48 megapixel camera, you get crisp images, and it’s incredibly good at picking out edges and so on. The only negative comment is that on close-ups you get a little white line at the transition between sharp edges and blurred areas, although you can only see this if you look very carefully. It’s probably there to enhance the transition from blurred to sharp.
However, using the zoom on the Mi 10 isn’t an uplifting experience. The images quickly turn out blurred and grainy.
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G’s menu system is impeccable. The menus are easy to bring up and everything feels very logical. There’s a clear flow in the menus that makes it both easy and enjoyable to use them.
The battery easily lasts an entire day without having to be recharged. Even if you’re streaming videos the battery indicator goes down relatively slowly – you simply get a lot of battery for your money.
During our test, we discover that it can be difficult to find a good position for your ear if you’re talking on the phone. It feels like the phone speaker is struggling to spread out the sound, which is frustrating and means you're constantly having to adjust your ear position. Once you've got it right, the sound is fine.
This is a mobile for anyone who doesn’t want to spend too much on their phone and who wants a larger screen so they don’t need a computer or TV to stream films or watch videos.
Small phone with lots of power
Price class: Medium Screen: 5.8 inch - 1080 x 2280 pixels Processor: Exynos 9820, 2.73 GHz Camera: 12+16 megapixel, selfie camera 10 megapixel Battery: 3,100 mAh Dimensions: 142.2x69.9x7.9 mm Weight: 150 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, IP68 classified, wireless charging in two directions
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is one of the best mobile phones of 2020 because it succeeds in combining a good-value price with the specifications for a 2019 top model and a really neat format. The Galaxy S10e is the smallest model in this year’s flagship trio from Samsung. Both the price and size have fallen slightly, while much of the important stuff remains.
Calling the S10e a small mobile phone is actually inaccurate. The 5.8-inch screen is larger than those on the first three mobiles in the company's Note series. At the same time, the edges around the screen are more or less non-existent, something which makes the phone really neat compared to the majority of other phones today. In a world where the top models are increasingly approaching 7-inch screens, the S10e feels really small.
The screen lacks its big sister’s curved edges, but it is still boasts a phenomenal screen in general. Blacks, sharpness and colours are unbeatable, and the smaller screen size means the lower resolution isn’t noticeable.
Nor is the fingerprint reader in the screen – instead it has been moved to the power button. The actual fingerprint reader works lightyears better than the screen-based solution in the S10 and S10+. It’s a great inclusion for privacy. But the power button is at the top on the right-hand side, which is an irritating position even on a small phone.
Another noteworthy change is that the number of rear cameras has been reduced to two from three. In purely practical terms, it’s the zoom camera that’s had to go, while the wide-angle and normal cameras remain. It actually produces pretty much the same great images as the S10, because these are the same cameras, and the only difference is that you’re missing a bit of the zoom functionality.
On the front, the selfie camera is in a hole cut out of the screen, just like on the sister models. It does the job really well, even in poor light conditions.
Otherwise there really isn’t much that you're missing with the S10e compared to the other members of the family. The Exynos chip is the same, with enough power for anything you could possibly want to do. It even has wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. The phone also still has a headphone jack and pretty much all the software is the same (minus a few camera settings).
The smaller screen size helps out with reducing battery consumption. It isn’t outstanding, but lasts a full day without any problems. At the same time, the S10e has the same reception abilities as its siblings – in other words slightly worse in tougher environments.
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is actually the most impressive smartphone in the S10 family. Almost all of the functions are included and we can live without the ones that have been done away with. Simultaneously, this is a neat phone for a competitive price and, depending on your taste, a offers a range of snazzy shell colours to choose between. A combination that’s hard to beat?
Extra everything, as usual with a Note
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.5 inch Amoled - 1440 x 3040 pixels Processor: Samsung Exynos 9825 (2x2.73 GHz + 2x2.4 + 4x1.9 GHz) Camera: 12+12+12 megapixel (wide, tele, ultrawide), selfie camera 10 megapixel Battery: 4300 mAh Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm Weight: 196 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, ANT+, wireless and reverse wireless charging
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ represents this year’s model with “extra everything” in Samsung's Note series. And in this year, it has company in the form of a slightly smaller model, but the Note 10+ is the true flagship.
This year’s model still has the same square corners as previous models, but it’s a little more rounded along the edges. This makes it more comfortable to hold, which is important for a mobile that’s intended for you to use as a notebook.
The colour shifts in the back of the mobile feel like they’ve been taken directly from Huawei's P series, but emphasised still further, making it rather reminiscent of the read face of a CD. Whether or not this is attractive is down to personal preference.
At the same time, it’s an well-built smartphone with a luxurious feel. The same applies to the large screen that, true to form, is top class in all modes. The fingerprint reader under the screen glass has improved since the S10 series in the spring, but it can still be rather frustrating to use as an unlocking method for privacy.
Even the inside, with Samsung’s latest chip, leaves very little to desire in the form of speed. Disappointingly, we have to wait for an upgrade to Android 10 as Samsung tend to be rather slow on this front.
And we can continue across the board. Everything in this phone is a little bit better than the already really good S10 series. The camera is one of the best you can find in a mobile today and now you can also film with bokeh around objects if you want.
You can focus the sound during videos, which works really well. Sound during playback through the mobile’s speaker is also very good, even though it doesn’t quite equal our experience with the iPhone 11 Pro, for example.
And the battery life is also decent. If you use lots of the functions it does drain constantly, but despite quite hard use and the large bright screen, it lasts an entire day. It’s also really useful to be able to charge your headphones wirelessly directly from the smartphone if you need to.
The pen is the flagship quality of this smartphone. If you’re not interested in this function, the Note series is unnecessarily expensive. The myriad of functions that were linked to the pen are still here. There are special new ‘Air Actions’ to control changing tracks, the camera and many other things. These are fun, but mostly a gimmick.
A more useful function is the translation between handwriting and digital letters. This isn’t new and it’s still far from perfect, but Samsung have made huge progress with this feature.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is premium in every way you can think of, and stuffed full of functions. If it’s in your price range and you enjoy drawing or taking notes, it's a really good option. At the same time, it’s really large (still larger with a shell) and tied to the pen and its functions. Without the pen, the Note feels too expensive, despite all its other positive points. But if you consider the pen useful to you, it's hard to find a better mobile phone today.
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.7 inch AMOLED – 1080x2340 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (1x3 GHz, 3x2.42, 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 108+8+16 megapixel (wide, telephoto, ultrawide) +TOF camera, selfie camera 25 megapixel Battery: 5000 mAh Dimensions: 161.1x71.4x9.6 mm Weight: 203 g Android version: 10 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, wireless charging (+reverse)
The fastest phone in the world. That was Lenovo’s boast when its subsidiary Motorola entered the flagship battle with the Moto Edge+ after a few years’ absence. And at the time of writing it is indeed the fastest Android phone – with the Oneplus 8 Pro. But that probably doesn’t sound as good in the marketing materials.
Alongside its Razr concept telephone, Motorola has also produced budget and medium class phones for a couple of years now. So it's fun to see what they’ve created for the premium market.
The most obvious thing is, of course, the screen, which has much more curved sides than its competitors. It looks really nice, and the AMOLED screen is beautiful. Unfortunately the curved screen often means you can’t hit the right key at the edges of the keyboard. You get used to it, but it takes a while.
The mobile phone is a bit thicker than average. That may sound like a disadvantage, but it actually makes the ergonomics really good. Despite the thickness of the phone, however, the camera still sticks out on the back quite a long way. But it does mean there’s space for a proper headphone jack, which makes Motorola and Sony the only manufacturers to have one on their current top models. At the same time there’s no memory card slot, which seems really odd.
So what about the speed? Well, thanks to a relatively low resolution screen and what’s pretty much pure Android (something of a trademark for Motorola), it’s actually level pegging between the Edge+ and the monster Oneplus 8 Pro when we push them hard. At the same time the phone has both 5G support and a huge battery that’ll easily get you through a full day’s frequent use.
Unfortunately the camera is a bit of a “meh” experience. In daylight it works just as well as other top models. But the colour rapidly becomes yellowish in darker conditions, and the photos aren’t at all sharp.
Confusingly, it only supports 6K resolution video, when the standard for 2020 is 8K. But it does provide exemplary movement compensation for video.
It’s great to see Motorola attacking the top segment again, just because they want to and can – and because they have ideas that are both interesting and fun. The Moto Edge+ is a good top model, but the company still needs to get its act together a bit more before it will really hit all the high notes.
Invests everything in the camera...and pulls it off
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.47 inch - 1080 x 2340 pixels Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 980 (octa core, 2.6 GHz Camera: 40+20+8 megapixel, selfie camera 32 megapixel Battery: 4,200 mAh Dimensions: 158x73.4x8.4 mm Weight: 192 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, IP68 classified, wireless charging in two directions
The Huawei P30 Pro is the best mobile phone just now, even if it's partly a copy of a smartphone that already exists, and partly a completely new step for mobile phones. This may seem paradoxical, but it's what Huawei is aiming at with this year’s selection of P mobiles.
So let’s start at the end, with the “negative” things. If you compare the P30 Pro with the company's top model from last autumn, the Mate 20 Pro, you're looking at two almost identical smartphones. Even if the P series primarily focuses on the camera, there are normally some new functions in addition to that. But they're pretty well absent here.
Which isn’t to say this is a bad phone. The enormous screen is stunningly beautiful, and this time Huawei seem to have improved the curved long edges. The battery is enormous, and together with Huawei's competent optimisations, we actually managed without charging the phone for two days and didn’t have to limit our use too much.
As for its limitations, the majority of Huawei smartphones now have a limited mode that alerts you and removes the colours from the screen after a certain time, which is an easy but effective way of mitigating your hours online.
The Kirin 980 chip gives you all the power you could possibly need. We feel that it's a bit better in terms of reception than its competitors, and you have plenty of storage space and room for double SIM cards. It also has wireless charging and reverse wireless charging (to charge other phones or accessories wirelessly). This is together with IR ports to act as a remote control, and a fingerprint reader in the screen – which is a bit slow but still the best in its class.
All of this comes in a package that feels neat despite the boisterous large screen. But, we wrote pretty much the same thing about the Mate 20 Pro when it came out.
So it's a phenomenal mobile in all respects, but it's the camera we came for. Particularly after last year's P20 Pro, which was a real smartphone evolution. And this is also where all the new features are.
The selfie camera – which is in a drop-shaped insert at the upper edge of the screen – has a respectable resolution and works well, but it isn’t exactly dazzling.
But the main cameras on the back can only be described as stunning. It includes a separate depth sensor, double optical image stabilisation and a periscope on the third camera. Yes, the third camera is actually fitted lengthways inside the phone, with an angled lens at the top to get it to look in the right direction.
In addition to slightly better image quality than its predecessor, this means you can benefit from 10 x hybrid zoom without losing image quality. You’ll ideally need to keep the camera steady on a table or tripod to benefit from this, but even when handheld, we could achieve a sharp image of extremely small text from several metres away.
Taking relatively close up photos of birds from a reassuring distance is also possible – something we’ve never seen in a mobile phone before.
Add to this a new night mode, which after a few seconds delivers an image lighter than what the human eye perceives, and we find it difficult to see how any competitor could deliver the same quality and comprehensive package in a mobile camera.
The Huawei P30 Pro invests everything in the camera...and pulls it off. It’s primarily a top-class smartphone, but it's the new camera that makes it stand out and wins it our best mobile phone of 2020 accolade.
A top mobile in the top league
The P20 Pro has a lot of what you want from a phone, and it's a good buy for anyone looking for a top level mobile phone.
Screen: 6.1 inch - 2240 x 1080 pixels Processor: Huawei Kirin 970, 4 x 2.36 Ghz 4 x 1.8 Ghz Camera: 40 + 20 + 8 megapixel, selfie camera 24 megapixel RAM: 6 GB Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: Dimensions Weight: Weight Android version: Android version Miscellaneous: Miscellaneous
The Huawei P20 Pro is a slim and stylish mobile phone with a really good camera.
The main camera - or rather the three main cameras - on the back even beat the Samsung S9 Plus’s cameras. The colours, details and handling of different light conditions are all excellent. The optical zoom magnifies objects up to five times, and the resolution of a full 40 megapixels is nothing to be overlooked either. It has an interesting ultra-fast mode. With this activated, you can film at 960 frames a second, which creates really great effects when you're trying to capture something. However, it can be difficult to capture the moment when the timeframe for the effect is only a quarter of a second. Theis function also requires good light conditions so it's not often useful. The camera app itself has a user-friendly design. One nice detail is that the function wheel looks like a focus ring on a digital camera. There are lots of options for both experienced and less regular mobile photographers. The mobile phone's selfie camera provides a full 24 megapixels of resolution - and does an excellent job might we add. One interesting detail of the P20 Pro is that the mobile phone exploits the whole of the upper part of the screen - what's known as the sensor panel. But you can choose to keep this area black if you prefer a more traditional appearance.
The Huawei P20 Pro is impressive when it comes to battery life, even during demanding use.
We didn't need to charge it once during the daytime. Simply charging it overnight was sufficient. The operating system runs well, apps open quickly and there's no lag. What's most impressive is the swift and faultless facial recognition that unlocks the phone. You have to be really picky to find anything to complain about with the Huawei P20 Pro, but we’re just that and there is actually room for improvement. The screen, which is excellent when it comes to colour reproduction and brightness, doesn't really have the same resolution and DPI (pixels per inch) as some of its top competitors. However, this is only noticeable if you really strain to see. The phone is always missing a proper "Always on" display function so that you can get information even when the lock button's on. It's there, hidden at the bottom of the settings menu, but it only shows basic functions such as the clock or which track you have playing. Unfortunately, there's no preview of messages and you can't control the music when the screen is off. You might feel the lack of a 3.5 mm jack or the possibility of wireless charging is a let-down too. But the fact that the mobile doesn't have a memory card slot is less important as there's a full 128Gb of internal storage. With the Huawei P20 Pro, the Chinese mobile manufacturer has easily established itself in the upper segment of the premium class.
Stable top model for a reasonable price
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.41 inch - 2340 x 1080 pixels Processor: Snapdragon 845 2.8 GHz Camera: 16 + 20 megapixel, selfie camera 16 megapixel Battery: 3,700 mAh Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm Weight: 185 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, facial recognition
Right from the start, Oneplus have made smartphones with top specifications for a reasonable price. The 6T is the latest model in the family, and even though the price has gone up quite a bit between versions, it's still pretty good compared to the very latest phones. Smartphone that are six or more months old have come down to similar prices.
But the Oneplus 6T is still "cheap" compared to its competitors. It has quite generous basic functions. Up to 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB for storage is still relatively uncommon even in top models (and even the slightly cheaper entry model is sounding generous with its 6GB and 128 GB for RAM and storage respectively. This is the only thing that distinguishes the two models.
This much RAM means that several apps can be kept in memory without it becoming full or sluggish. And the speed is increased still further by the latest Snapdragon chip, which won't disappoint anyone in terms of performance.
Via its overlying Oxygen OS interface, the Oneplus 6T has a number of extra functions to help apps remain in memory and to give a little extra boost to games. To be honest, we couldn't really tell the difference with the functions on or off, because the phone is quick either way.
Together with the latest version of Android, you get both the latest functions from Google and a number of extra options from Oneplus, creating a good overall experience.
The screen too is one of the better quality AMOLED types, with much sharper blacks. It doesn't quite reach Samsung's stellar levels, but there's nothing to complain about. The same applies to the resolution, which perhaps isn't the very best but perfectly sufficient.
The screen also conceals the biggest innovation in the phone – a fingerprint reader directly on the screen. This works really well for identifying yourself in apps, but for some reason when it comes to unlocking the phone it lags slightly behind competitors, such as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro with similar technology.
As a backup, you can turn on facial recognition to unlock the phone - and the two complement each other well.
The cameras are high quality. In daylight, the rear double camera can hold its own with the best, and in slightly poorer lighting it's still pretty good. However, in darker images you can see the class difference from something like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which produces much sharper images. The Oneplus 6T has a special night mode, but for this to work well the subject has to be completely still (for example if you're photographing a building at night). The camera is meant to detect the difference between different subjects and adapt the image accordingly. This isn't something that's obvious in the app and we get the impression that it's not as good as other camera AI solutions.
So what's the catch? Actually there isn't much wrong with the Oneplus 6T, but it feels more like a really good basic model than many other manufacturers' top models. For example, the camera should be able to recognise document scanning automatically, and we'd have liked to have seen different alternatives for screen resolution to save on the battery (not that the battery life is particularly bad; you can easily get it to last a day with normal use). There aren't any fun or useful extra functions such as wireless charging or an IR port (to work as a remote control).
In many cases, these are things you can live without, but other than the fingerprint reader this phone is a bit short on bells and whistles.
The Oneplus 6T has lots of memory and is a really quick alternative to the often more expensive top models, without feeling like you're missing out on any essential functions.
Extra everything, great camera and battery life
The gap between the autumn Mate telephones and the spring P models has shrunk a bit, but the Mate 20 Pro is phenomenally impressive for anyone looking for a cutting-edge mobile phone.
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.39” - 3120x1440 p Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 980 Octa core 2.26 GHz Camera: 1x40 MP + 1x20 MP + 1x8 MP, selfie camera: 24 MP Battery: 4200 mAh Dimensions: 157.8x72.3x8.6 mm Weight: 189 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: IP68 classified (water and dust resistant), fingerprint reader in screen, iris scanner, wireless charging (two-way)
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is without doubt one of the year's most well-built phones, which despite its size, is really comfortable in your hand. The body is made of glass with an aluminium frame, and the front has a slightly curved screen, although this doesn't impair writing as is sometimes the case with other manufacturers.
The screen is sharp and colourful. Unfortunately some examples, including ours, suffer from a production fault that gives a greenish shimmer along the edges of the screen. This is something that can be remedied through the guarantee, but it's still unfortunate.
The Mate 20 Pro has wireless charging as an addition to the very quick charging via cable. It also includes reverse wireless charging so that you can wirelessly charge other gadgets. This is most useful if your earphones or watch support wireless charging, but we also got it to work with other mobile phones with varying results.
In addition to the facial recognition, it has a fingerprint reader beneath the glass of the screen. Both work well and complement each other, so it's always easy to unlock the phone.
The battery life isn't on the same exceptional level as last year's Mate 10 Pro, but it's still impressive for two days of lighter usage. The same applies to reception, which is better than many other smartphones in problem areas, but not quite as good as its predecessor.
Since the P20 Pro, Huawei are seen as one of the best manufacturers of camera mobiles, and the Mate 20 Pro is no exception. The lenses work together, above all to create lossless zoom of up to x5, but also to create better pictures overall.
The camera contains the majority of AI functions you'd expect from a Huawei phone. It adapts the picture to the subject better than previously, and also has Hivision. This is a mode where you can translate text in real time using the camera (although not all languages!), identify products and also calculate the calories in your food, which is really cool, even if there's currently a limited food database. The AI functions are all thanks to Huawei's own Kirin 980 chip, which stands up well against the competition.
You also get the very latest version of Android with Huawei's own EMUI interface over the top. This includes a number of practical extra functions and settings, but unfortunately quite a lot of annoying advertising apps too. The Mate series grew up with last year's model, and the Mate 20 Pro has now taken the lead in many areas.
(Unlocked, Twilight) Huawei Mate 20 Pro Dual Sim | 128GB | 8GB RAM
HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro 128 GB 6.39-Inch 2K FullView Android 9.0 SIM-Free Smartphone with New Leica Triple AI Camera, Single SIM, UK Version - Twilight
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 128 GB Smartphone - 16.2 cm (6.4inch ) OLED3120 x 1
A really good camera phone
Price class: Premium Screen: 5.5 inch - 1920x1080 pixels Processor: A11 Bionic with 64-bit architecture, embedded M11 movement processor Camera: Double 12 MP with wide angle and telephoto lens, selfie camera 7 MP Width: 78.1 mm Height: 158.4 mm RAM: 78.1 mm Weight: 202 Capacity: 64/256 GB Miscellaneous: IP67 classified (resists water, splashes and dust), biometric login, lightning contact, support for wireless charging
The Apple iPhone 8 Plus is a large and relatively heavy mobile phone that's simultaneously thin and stylish. The size combined with the fantastic screen makes it great for looking at videos and images. The screen is knife sharp and has a very wide viewing angle. But the best thing about the iPhone 8 Plus is the camera. The images don't look processed as they tend to on the majority of smartphones. The camera has a portrait mode where the background and foreground around the subject are blurred while the subject remains sharp. This type of function can be found in the majority of premium mobile telephones today, but Apple only offers it on its two latest Plus models. Unfortunately portrait mode often causes problems when there are lots of details in the image. For example, we tried photographing a dog against a field, and the camera found it difficult to determine which areas around the dog should be sharp or blurred respectively. It can have the same problem when a subject has bushy hair. But in 8 out of 10 cases it performs well and it's almost as if you'd taken the photos with a top-of-the-range camera. The colours are realistic, it can cope well with major light differences and produces good photographs even in dark environments. Unfortunately, the camera is a bit sluggish when you use it in portrait mode. It takes half a second from you pressing the button until it takes the photo, so you have to bear this in mind if you don't want to say cheese at the wrong time. We don't encounter this problem when taking photos in normal photo mode.
The iPhone 8 Plus has an acceptable battery life given its size, but you should expect to recharge it at least once a day. If you use it intensively, you'll need to charge it once more during the day. The iPhone 8 Plus has support for wireless charging and for quick charging, but Apple only supply it with a normal charger, which seems unnecessarily stingy. When it comes to performance, we don't see any great difference from either the iPhone 7 Plus or a premium mobile from one of the Android manufacturers. It's possible that the performance improvements that have already been made will become more noticeable under specific conditions, such as in VR apps. If you're already a dedicated iPhone user and you're looking for a large mobile phone with a really good camera, the iPhone 8 Plus is a good purchase. But the iPhone 8 Plus isn't revolutionary compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 7 Plus, particularly given the price difference. The only thing that separates them in terms of performance is the support for wireless charging. Otherwise they have around the same battery life, functions and appearance. That's not to say that the iPhone 8 Plus is a poor choice. After all, the iPhone 7 Plus is one of the very best mobiles on the market today, so a successor with even a slightly improved performance is, of course, also a good buy.
Xiaomi competing with themselves
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.47 inch AMOLED, 1080x2340 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730, 2x2 GHz+6x1.8 GHz Camera: 108+12+20+5+2 megapixels (wide, tele, ultrawide, tele, macro), selfie camera 32 megapixels Battery: 5260 mAh Dimensions: 157.8x74.2x9.7 mm Weight: 208 g Android version: 10 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 boasts of having high megapixel cameras. 108 megapixels in one sensor, to be exact. But does that actually make any difference, and does Xiaomi's strategy of having lots of mobiles mean they’re competing against themselves? (In other words, exactly like Samsung.)
The main feature of the Mi Note 10 is on the back, in the form of the almost provocatively protruding camera package. The manufacturer has squeezed in five cameras: a 2 megapixel macro camera, a 5 megapixel 5x zoom telephoto lens, an additional 12 megapixel telephoto lens, a 20 megapixel ultrawide angle and the main 108 megapixel camera. Different cameras for every occasion, in fact, making it very versatile.
The 108 megapixel camera isn’t generally used at full resolution, but primarily for zoom functions without quality loss and for downscaling. You can switch on a mode where all of the megapixels are used for an image. This generates images of roughly 50-60 Mb a piece, and a lot of area to play with.
But is it a good camera? Lots of megapixels doesn’t necessarily mean good pictures. But overall, the answer is ‘Yes, absolutely’. Regardless of mode. In fact, we’d say that in this price class you won’t find a phone that will take better photos in both dark and light conditions, with really good detail. The Mi Note 10 doesn’t quite beat the Huawei P30 Pro when it comes to sharpness in zoomed images, but almost.
The video function also works really well, and the optical image stabilisation is very useful. On the front of the phone there’s an equally over-dimensioned 32 megapixel selfie camera which also does its job well.
The rest of the phone is at least as stable. The Snapdragon 730 processor is obviously not as fast as the top mobiles’ chipsets, but it’s good enough for most tasks.
The build quality is as good as it usually is, with clear influences from Huawei in the colour choice.
But you can get Xiaomi’s own Redmi Note 8 Pro phone for half the price of this one. This also has a high quality camera which is nearly as good, together with performance that’s only very slightly less convincing, and half the storage (although with a memory card slot, which the Note 10 lacks). The Mi Note 10 has a slightly brighter screen with significantly better colours (the 8 Pro has an LCD screen instead of AMOLED), but otherwise the two telephones are extremely similar – but with completely different price tags.
This puts the Mi Note 10 in a difficult position, where it doesn’t reach Oneplus levels in the medium class (which is more expensive) but has its half price sister model nipping at its heels.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is a really good phone with an excellent camera, but at the same time faces tough competition from every direction.
Apple’s best iPhone yet
Price class: Premium Screen: Oled 5.8 inch - 1125 x 2436 pixels Processor: Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core (2x2.65 GHz + 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 3x12 megapixel, selfie camera 12 megapixel Battery: 3046 mAh Dimensions: 144x71.4x8.1 mm Weight: 188 g iOS version: 13 Miscellaneous: Facial recognition (Face ID), wireless charging
The Apple iPhone 11 Pro is Apple’s best iPhone yet and one of the best 64GB devices. If you're an iPhone fan looking for a new phone, this is absolutely worth considering, despite its relatively high price.
The iPhone 11 Pro’s major advantages are its size and battery life. If you’re looking for a small, neat smartphone you don’t have many choices today. But the iPhone 11 Pro is actually one of the smaller models on the market, yet still bragging top class performance. However, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is a competitor among smaller mobiles with top performance and significantly lower price tags.
And Apple have also succeeded in squeezing more out of the battery. Previously, frequent users have needed to recharge the phone up to twice a day, while normal users have just about managed to last a day on one charge. But now a whole day isn’t a problem. It still has a good way to go to match the best Android models, but it’s standing up to the competition.
The build quality is good too. The back is attractively frosted, and you don’t need to worry about getting visible fingerprints on it.
The best new feature in both the iPhone 11 Pro and its big brother, the Pro Max, are the cameras – of which there are now three. The way they’re arranged makes the mobile phone remind us of an electric razor. But apart from that they give the camera extra range, from telephoto to ultra-wide angles.
The images are definitely top class, with vibrant colours in all modes, which other manufacturers are still struggling with. The new night mode – more of an evening mode really – produces impressive results. But it still has problems finding the right focus in the image when you’re trying to take portraits with tricky edges that blur into the background, such as frizzy hair or animals in a meadow.
For videos, there are both slow motion and time lapse filming for the cameras on the front and back, and the rear cameras can film in up to 4K resolution with 60 images per second. Here too the results are premium class, if just a hair’s breadth from the very best mobile cameras around.
We also get the latest Wi-Fi 6 built into the smartphone. At the same time, it’s mobile internet use that throws a spanner in the works. All other phones begin loading websites and so on slowly when the network is busy (like at rush hour). Our iPhone ignores this and instead refuses point blank to load the page at all. This is probably just one of those things that can be fixed through software updates, but it's still unusual and annoying. Not clear what makes it Pro
Unfortunately the iPhone 11 Pro comes neither with USB-C (despite the fact that the quick charger partially does) or reverse wireless charging. The technology for the latter should be built in, but for some reason isn’t switched on. Which we find surprising.
Overall, this feels more like an iPhone XS-2 than a completely new Pro model. If you're an Android user, you won’t be casting envious glances at the iPhone 11 Pro. The same thing applies if you already have a reasonably new iPhone and are wondering if it’s worth upgrading (nope!).
But despite this, the iPhone 11 Pro is still Apple’s best smartphone yet. The improved battery life is more than welcome, and the phone has a long lifetime thanks to ongoing software updates for a long time to come. You get first-class performance in a small neat package. Of course, the price isn’t very appealing, but if you like iPhones you’re not likely to let that put you off. If you’re looking to buy a phone and want the current best iPhone model, this is the one you should look at. There’s no debate to be had.
A reasonable smartphone with a niche market
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.3 inch - Full HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 19:9 (2280 x 1080) Processor: Octa-core (up to 2.7 GHz) Camera: 12+12+16 megapixel, selfie camera 10 megapixel Battery: 3500 mAh Dimensions: 151 mm x 72 mm x 7.9 mm Weight: 168 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, facial recognition, wireless powershare, DeX, Bluetooth S-Pen, IP68 classified, Samsung Knox
The Samsung Note 10 is one of the best mobile phones on the market right now. Yes, the Galaxy S10 is still a touch tougher, but with its unique pen the Note 10 has a market all to itself.
For example, you can write with the pen and your handwriting style will then be converted into computer text. This works incredibly well, and the result is almost always right even if you have doctor’s handwriting. Another cool function is that you can use the pen to control things by making movements with it in the air above the screen. You can also push out the pen and note directly on the screen without unlocking it first.
And on the subject of unlocking, the fingerprint reader can be a little sluggish, but the facial recognition is lightning fast.
The screen is a curved model with crystal-clear sharpness. And it’s top quality when it comes to both colour richness and blacks. In addition, it rarely reacts incorrectly when we’re holding the phone. Some other models with curved screens start up a load of unwelcome processes, but not the Note 10.
In terms of size, this Note feels quite small. But given that it was launched at about the same time as the company’s tablet, the size has been carefully chosen. They make a good kit together, but the smartphone is a slightly neater alternative to both the tablet and last year’s Note.
The camera is good but no test winner. We particularly liked Live Mode as the software feels well-designed and intelligent. It rarely fails to insert bokeh in the right places even in complex environments. But at the same time, the camera is a little weak on images in contrasting environments, finding it difficult to capture details in both dark and light parts. For example, if you’re walking in the forest and the sun’s rays are streaming down through the tops of the trees.
The Bixby voice assistant also tends to suddenly appear when we switch between portrait and landscape mode, which meant that we missed out on capturing a few good photos.
The battery life is good but perhaps not as good as we've come to expect in Android mobiles. We can use it normally for about 1.5 days before we have to charge it. But if you normally charge your telephone in the evening, this means you have to charge it once a day if you don’t want to have to charge it during your lunch break.
The smartphone has good sound with a lot of clarity, but of course not much in the way of bass.
The call quality is excellent as long as you have good coverage, but our experience is that this phone performs slightly worse than its competitors in difficult reception areas.
The Samsung Note 10 is a mobile phone that seems to be in a class of its own. If you’re looking for a mobile phone with a pen, this is the most no-brainer choice you will ever make.
Stingy for a top model
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.1 inch LCD - 828 x 1792 pixels Processor: Apple A13 Bionic (2x2.65 GHz + 4x2.24 + 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 12+12 Megapixel (wide, ultrawide), selfie camera 12 megapixel Battery: 3110 mAh Dimensions: 150.9x75.7x8.3 mm Weight: 194 g Operating system: iOS 13 Miscellaneous:** Facial recognition, water proof, stereo speaker
The Apple iPhone 11 is the obvious bestseller in Apple’s current trio of telephones. At the same time, it’s rather confusing, extremely stingy... and paradoxically a really good deal.
Confusingly – because it’s the “cheap” iPhone model – it’s the middle of the three models in terms of size. In other words, you have to pay more for a smaller telephone (the iPhone 11 Pro). That’s really stingy, not primarily because of the smartphone (although we’ll come to that), but instead because of the charger. A mobile costing this much should come with a quick charger, and anything else is indefensible.
Yet, it’s a really good deal because you actually don’t lose anything. The Pro models have an extra camera and a nicer screen. But the iPhone 11 has the same processor and, other than being short one camera lens, the same camera. If you want the latest iPhone model, it really does feel like you’re not losing anything here. Apple’s A13 chip is still the quickest you can get in a mobile telephone today.
The iPhone 11 is about the same size as many other current mobile telephones. The difference lies in the weight; it’s a bit heavier than average. This can be attributed to the build quality, which of course is Apple class and won’t disappoint.
To distinguish it from the Pro models of iPhone, this one has an LED screen instead of an Oled one. In addition, the resolution is significantly lower. While it’s a really good screen overall, with decent sharpness and fantastic vivid colours, it still feels stingy that smartphones for a fifth of the price of this one have higher resolution – and mobiles at half the price can boast an Oled screen.
But then again, this (and the slow charger) are the smartphone’s only two major negative points. Pricing for iPhones is always something of a discussion point, but if you want an Apple phone, the standard iPhone 11 model is perhaps the best choice.
As we mentioned above, the mobile as a whole is very fast. The new A13 chip is less power hungry, which means the iPhone 11 has a battery life that lasts the entire day. The increase isn’t as dramatic as with the Pro models, but much better than any iPhone before this one.
The camera has the same great quality as its bigger siblings. You don’t have a wide-angle lens, but otherwise it’s the same camera setup and the same software. It gives an incredibly even result and the image quality is amongst the best you can find on the market – if not the best.
An iPhone is an iPhone is an iPhone, so if that’s what you want and you’re looking for the latest one, the iPhone 11 is perhaps the best choice. In the Apple world it’s very good value for money and it feels a bit pointless to pay more for a slightly smaller model (11 Pro) or much more for a slightly larger one (11 Pro Max).
The iPhone 11 is quite simply best in test among iOS smartphones right now.
Wins on battery life!
Price class: Premium Screen: Oled 6.5 inch - 1242 x 2688 pixels Processor: Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core (2x2.65 GHz + 4x1.8 GHz) Camera: 3x12 megapixel, selfie camera 12 megapixel Battery: 3969 mAh Dimensions: 158x77.8x8.1 mm Weight: 226 g iOS version: 13 Miscellaneous: Facial recognition (Face ID), wireless charging
The Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max has one major advantage over all of its predecessors. It runs rings around them when it comes to battery life. But this is only a modest upgrade from the previous generation.
Just like its little brother, the iPhone 11 Pro, we encounter luxurious build quality when we unpack this year’s top Apple model. It’s much heavier than the competitors in the same size class, which is particularly obvious when you’re using it for a while.
The weight comes partly from the battery, which provides very nearly 4000mAh, not an uncommon figure in the mobile world these days, but the largest yet for an iPhone.
Together with the energy efficient nature of the A13 chip inside it, this battery means that we’re constantly amazed by the smartphone’s longevity. A day’s heavy use poses no problems, and for the first time ever we can use an iPhone for two days with normal use without having to charge it.
The battery is also what makes it stand out from the smaller Pro model, even though that doesn’t actually have a bad battery life either. The other differences are the larger screen and slightly higher resolution. The sharpness and image quality are the same as in Apple's smaller Pro model.
The same applies to the camera, which looks rather like a set of three induction hobs on the back of the phone. During the autumn, iOS 13 was updated with what Apple call Deep Fusion. This means the camera takes a whole load of images and combines them for even better results. This is a small step up since we tested the iPhone 11 Pro when it was released, and it produces good results overall.
When it comes to performance and functions, everything else is identical to the iPhone 11 Pro. In other words, a modest update from last year, but still really fast and well implemented.
At the same time, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is one of the most expensive phones you can buy today. In recent years, Apple have put themselves in their very own eye-wateringly expensive price class. If you're just looking for a larger screen, there are significantly cheaper options than the iPhone 11.
On the other hand, if you're looking for three cameras, the price difference between the 11 Pro and the Max isn’t enormous. But both are a lot more expensive than the corresponding flagship Android phone.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is a really good phone with a great battery life. But Apple sell two cheaper variants of the iPhone 11, which feel like a more logical choice. This puts the iPhone 11 Pro Max in something of a class of its own – attractive to the most devoted Apple fans but a bit too expensive for everyone else.
A colossus that combines new and old
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.39 inch - 1080 x 2340 pixels Processor: Name Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 4x2.8 GHz Camera: 12+12 megapixel, selfie camera 24+2 megapixel Battery: 3200 mAh Dimensions: 157.9x74.7x8.5 mm Weight: 218 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is the latest release in the company’s luxury series. It’s not luxurious in terms of price, which as usual is very low. Instead, the Mix smartphones have always presented slightly different ideas and solutions with luxury format build quality and performance.
This primarily involves the screen, which has been a significant part of the front since long before it became standard across the industry. In the prevailing “competition” between manufacturers for screen to body ratio, the Mix 3 continues the tradition of being a long way ahead.
The screen itself is an Amoled variant, but it doesn’t have the highest resolution. Overall, it’s a really good screen in all respects but some way below Sony or Samsung’s top models.
The enormous screen covers pretty much the entire front, and at first glance it looks like the telephone doesn’t have any front cameras. But this conceals the “trick” with the Mix 3, because you can slide the whole screen down a few centimetres to access the front cameras. It’s been a long time since we saw a good sliding design, even though they do turn up here and there.
Here the design feels really stable (and with fun sound effects too), if a little bit stiff in some cases. The sliding function is probably the reason why the smartphones isn’t water or dust tight in any way.
The enormous screen combined with the moving parts also contributes to its size. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is a colossus, not only in terms of the screen but also when it comes to thickness and weight. But despite this, the battery is relatively small. We get a day’s use out of it without problems. But given the size, we would have expected a longer operating time.
On the inside, we find everything we could wish for. Last year’s fastest Snapdragon chip runs the entire unit, together with generous amounts of RAM and storage. The latest Android lies beneath Xiaomi’s own interface, which adds a number of extra functions and settings. However, the majority of manufacturers do the same thing now – so to a large extent this just involves different designs rather than different functions.
The cameras work well most of the time, particularly the front camera which produces really good images. The rear cameras do very well in normal light conditions and leave very little to be desired. But as soon as it gets a bit darker, they can’t manage the same results in terms of sharpness and noise reduction, although they still get our nod of approval.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is a top model for a relatively modest price, while simultaneously being unlike anything else on the market. If you’re happy with a really big smartphone, it’s as interesting an alternative as anything else.
High-performance and plenty of functions, but not entirely faultless
Screen: 6.2 inch - 2960x1440 pixels Processor: Samsung Exynos 9 Octa 2.3 Mhz Camera: 12 megapixel, 8 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 3500 mAh Talk time (3G): 24 h Dimensions: 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm Weight: 173 g Android version: 7.0 (Nougat) Miscellaneous: IP68 classified (water and dust resistant), biometric log-in, 3.5 mm audio contact, USB-C, Micro SD card slot
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is bursting with technology and has an attractive design and impressive specifications. It might just be one of the best 64GB devices on the market now. Let’s start with the login options. You can choose between a pin code, a pattern, face recognition, iris recognition or fingerprint recognition. It has everything.
Unfortunately, we discovered that it’s primarily the pin code or pattern alternatives that perform best, as the others don’t always work satisfactorily. For example, the fingerprint solution is quick but the positioning is badly chosen. Once you have access to the S8+ for your first exploration, there's a continuing array of different functions and options. Fortunately, you get used to these over time, but for a new user it can feel overwhelming. You can switch off the majority of the alternatives, but one function that you can’t stop is Bixby, which is Samsung’s extremely inferior version of Google Now. But regardless of what you think about the surplus of functions, you can’t complain about the Galaxy S8’s hardware or performance. The handset is, after all, hardware – and everything works extremely quickly. Apps open at lightning speed and we couldn’t find any game that made the mobile pause for breath. The 6.2-inch screen (with the slightly odd 18.5:9 format) is among the best we’ve ever encountered, particularly in direct sunlight.
One hardware function that’s missing is the physical “home” button. This has been replaced by a pressure sensitive digital variant, which is part of the screen. It takes a while to get used to pressing it, but with time it feels natural. You can also set how sensitive it should be.
The mobile phone’s camera is excellent, particularly when taking photographs in poor light conditions. Colour reproduction is very good and there’s no shortage of settings to change if you want more manual control. The battery time is good without being noteworthy. In general, we had about 30% left when it came to hitting the hay. In terms of audio, we appreciated Samsung including a 3.5mm contact on the mobile. However, we thought it was a bit of a shame that the handset only has one external speaker. Overall, Galaxy S8+ users won’t lack much when it comes to performance and functions. But the flagship mobile isn’t entirely faultless, as illustrated above, so it doesn’t get a perfect score.
Reasonable phone with good camera and screen
Price class: Premium Screen: 5.8 inch - 2240 x 1080 pixels Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 970 2.4 GHz Camera: 2x12 megapixel, 24 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 3400 mAh Dimensions: 149.1x70.8x7.7 mm Weight: 165 g Android version: 8.1 (Oreo) Miscellaneous: IP53 classified (water and dust resistant), biometric log-in
The Huawei P20 is a premium telephone with a good camera and great battery life. Despite the fact that we used the phone intensely, the battery lasts a whole day, and with normal use 1.5-2 days is no issue. The P20's screen is good but not top quality. The colour reproduction and contrast are fine, but the colour reproduction isn't really up to the level of an OLED screen. The phone has good resolution and it does a lot for the overall image quality. The fingerprint reader is fast, as is the facial recognition system. The mobile’s watertight properties are below average, and can only cope with things like sweat, spilled drinks and moderate rain. Inside, it has the latest version of Android with Huawei's own EMUI software skin over the top. This is a little different from normal Android, primarily through the absence of the app drawer. You can turn this on together with a load of extra settings such as night mode for the screen. It's actually a really nice skin, but you have to count on uninstalling a load of free apps that are pre-installed on the system. The entire model is run by the same fast Kirin 970 chip - Huawei's own – as is its big brother, the P20 Pro, and we never felt that it was running slow.
The cameras in the P20 perform well, but don't achieve the same phenomenal level as the P20 Pro. The P20 sits in a slightly awkward position between the company's cheaper models and the P20 Pro, which has a full three cameras on the back. But that doesn't mean the P20 is a bad phone. Photos taken in dark conditions - Huawei's long-running Achilles' heel - are actually pretty good with the P20, and photos in other environments are slightly better than with the Mate 10 Pro, the previous top model. This is also where the dedicated chip for artificial intelligence is most visible; it automatically adapts the image to the subject. In many cases, as in "Blue Sky" mode, or for automatic identification of documents for scanning, it works really well. Vegetation tends to have a slightly exaggerated colour but you can turn the effect off. One fun detail is that the phone identifies every dog you photograph as a cat! If you want a phone with the best battery life that's a bit cheaper than the P20 Pro, or one that is a lot cheaper than many other top models and has easy-to-use format, the Huawei P20 isn't going to disappoint.
Huawei P20 UNLOCKED Android Smartphone | 5.8 - 128GB Black 4G
Huawei P20 UNLOCKED Android Smartphone | 5.8 - 128GB - 4G | Black
Huawei P20 128 GB 5.8-Inch FHD+ FullView Android 8.1 SIM-Free Smartphone with Veho Headphones, Single SIM, UK Version - Black
Fun camera and phenomenal screen
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.67 inch - 1440 x 3120 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, 2.84 GHz Camera: 48+8+16 megapixel, selfie camera 16 megapixel (popup) Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: 162.6x75.9x8.8 mm Weight: 206 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, IP68 classified
The Oneplus 7 Pro is a major departure from the company's usual smartphones. For the first time they're releasing a ‘normal’ and a Pro version of their spring mobile, with the latter not being aimed at the cheaper market that the company usually targets. That’s not to say that the Oneplus 7 Pro is expensive, however. In fact it's cheap compared to other flagships, but it’s not in the same ballpark as the Oneplus 7.
What you get for your money is a smartphone with a large screen, namely 6.67 inches. Despite this, it feels really neat because of its almost non-existent edges and slightly curved screen along the longer sides. Oneplus call the screen ‘Fluid Amoled’, which doesn’t really mean anything. But it’s a good screen with vivid colours, blacks and excellent brightness. The screen is also updated at 90 hertz, in other words, 90 cycles per second. This gives it an extra boost of speed, particularly when you scroll through websites and so on.
Built into the bottom part of the screen is the fingerprint reader. It works much better than the one in the Oneplus 6T, and better than Samsung's equivalents. At the same time, it’s got some way to go to match Huawei's version - and we often got a message that the fingerprint hadn’t been recognised.
It’s worth mentioning the stereo speakers, which are labelled Dolby Atmos. We experienced really good sound when we watched videos using the smartphone’s speakers.
What this phone doesn’t have, however, is the option of unlocking it with facial recognition. This is because there's simply no camera in a ‘drop’ or hole in the screen. Instead, the front camera slides up out of a hole in the upper part of the phone when you activate it. This is a relatively unique approach (here in the West, anyway) that gives the smartphone a lot of character.
One cool function is that the camera automatically retracts again if you close the camera app or happen to drop the telephone. This is to protect the entire construction. At the same time, the selfies it takes are nothing to scoff at.
The three rear cameras – wide angle, normal and x3 zoom – work really well. Colours and sharpness in daylight are clearly top class. Oneplus’s own system for image improvement gives unobtrusive and ‘normal’ colours compared to its competitors, which creates good pictures, but perhaps not eye-catching ones. Even though the special night mode has improved, it’s still a bit of a weakness (regardless of whether or not you use night mode). The images are quite dark and even a small amount of movement leads to blurring. As well as being able to boast this year's top chip from Qualcomm, there’s another nice aspect, which is faster ROM. This isn’t obvious during everyday use (the phone is quick enough as it is) but should mean that it doesn't feel slower over time. In our performance tests, it was exactly this speed that stood out. It's almost twice that of this year's other flagship models.
There's a great deal to like about the Oneplus 7 Pro. We'd have liked to see watertightness, wireless charging and a headphone jack, but if you want a large, fast mobile, this feels like a real bargain compared with competing manufacturers’ top models.
Fast with a really big screen
Price class: Premium Screen: 5.8 inch - 2436x1125 pixels Processor: A11 Bionic with 64-bit architecture, embedded M11 movement processor Camera: Double 12 MP with wide angle and telephoto lens, selfie camera 7 MP with true depth Width: 70.9 mm Height: 143.6 mm Depth: 7.7 mm Weight: 174 g Capacity: 64/256 GB Miscellaneous: IP67 classified (resists water, splashes and dust), facial recognition, lightning contact, support for wireless charging
The Apple iPhone X is a mobile phone with a good camera and a really great screen. It's also the first Apple mobile phone that exploits the entire telephone surface for the screen rather than limiting it at the top and bottom edges. The larger screen area, together with the very bright, responsive and colourful OLED screen, affords an exceptional visual experience, both in a maximised reading area when you're online and when you're watching films or playing games. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't provide split-screen technology. We'd have liked it to be possible to run two apps side by side in horizontal mode. But the interface is fast and we don't experience any lag. In the iPhone X, the fingerprint reader has completely disappeared. The phone is only equipped with facial recognition. This is fast and works well, but we'd have liked the fingerprint reader too because you always have to lift the phone up to your face to unlock it. Moreover, the facial recognition doesn’t work as well in the dark.
The Apple iPhone X has a normal battery life, lasting about one day. We think that given the price, Apple could have supplied a fast charger with the phone, but you have to buy that separately. And Apple boasts that it supports wireless charging, but there's no charger for that either. A standard charger takes a full 2.5 hours to completely charge the battery. If Apple had chosen a USB-C port, it would have been significantly faster, but unfortunately the iPhone X uses the company's own lightning port. Overall, this feels unnecessarily stingy given the phone's lofty price tag. The camera in the iPhone X is really good. The colours are natural and quite bright, and the contrast is nice. But the camera struggles when there's a lot of contrast in its surroundings. Parts of the photo turn out slightly over or underexposed. The iPhone X has a portrait mode that makes the subject sharp and the background blurred. This gives excellent pictures when it works, which it does 8 out of 10 times. When it doesn't work, the blurred or sharp areas end up in the wrong places. For example, the phone tends to have problems with frizzy hair, large fields etc. But overall this is a premium smartphone with a great camera and high performance. However, it's expensive compared to the few competing models at the top of the market, and so it isn't such good value for money. If you're a loyal Apple fan, you'll probably be very satisfied with the iPhone X.
Well-built and responsive medium class mobile with an inviting screen
Screen: 5.2 inch - 1920x1080 Super IPS+ screen with 600 cd/m2 brightness Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Camera: 16 megapixel, 8 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 3000 mAh Dimensions: 147 x 74 x 8 mm Weight: 144 g Android version: 7.0 (Nougat) Miscellaneous: Double SIM card (or alternatively 1 SIM card and 1 Micro-SD card), biometric log-in, 3.5 mm audio contact, USB-C
The Asus Zenfone 3 mobile has a crystal-clear screen with very good contrast and colour reproduction regardless of whether you're indoors or outdoors in strong sunlight. In this price category, it's the best screen we’ve seen. The screen is also extremely quick to respond. In fact, the entire phone feels responsive when we move through the interface and apps, even if it doesn’t have the best processor on the market. However, the camera is no more than just okay. The images are acceptable in good light conditions, but it has problems as soon as there’s more contrast in the environment, such as if the camera is in direct sunlight but aimed at an area of shade. In poorer light, the images can very easily be blurry, and the camera finds it difficult to focus. The images also feel overprocessed. Video clips tend to be extremely dark with the consequence that many details disappear if you don’t have good uniform lighting. Given the price class the camera is just acceptable, but don’t expect wonders.
But there are other things that are good about this smartphone. It’s well constructed without any play in the buttons. A small LED on the front indicates if you’ve received new messages without hearing them. The material is rather slippery, so it’s a good idea to buy a protective shell so it doesn’t get damaged if it falls out of your pocket. This is also the reason that we would have liked the fingerprint reader to be on the front instead of high up on the back. It would be a better position from a purely ergonomic viewpoint. The battery life is good despite a relatively small battery. The phone does a solid job of keeping energy consumption down and never gets particularly hot even if we play games and push the hardware to its limits. It obtained very high scores in the performance tests we put it through. All in all, this is a good choice in the medium price class, even if Asus could still improve several things prior to the next version of the Zenfone 3.
High quality throughout but the screen size isn’t optimised
Screen: 5.5 inch - 3840 x 2160 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 4x 2.45 Mhz - 4 x 1.9 Mhz Camera: 19 megapixel, 13 megapixel selfie camera Price class: Premium Battery: 3230 mAh Dimensions: 156 x 77 x 7.9 mm Weight: 195 g Android version: 7.0 (Nougat) Miscellaneous: IP65/IP68 classified (water and dust resistant), biometric log-in, 3.5 mm audio contact, USB-C, Micro SD card slot
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is a mobile telephone that literally breathes quality, with its glass back and metal frame around – an impression that is reinforced by top-class hardware on the inside. If we were to criticise one thing it would be that it has obvious screen edges, which many other manufacturers have abandoned. This may be perceived by many people as old-fashioned, and simultaneously creates dead space that could have been used to give the phone more screen. According to Sony, it's the 4K HDR screen and the possibility to take ultra-rapid video at a full 960 frames per second which are the features of the phone. These are pretty cool features, it’s true, but both currently suffer limitations. For the screen, there are only a few apps that support 4K at the moment, so you rarely experience the benefit. However, in the future things will be different. The ultra-rapid function isn’t so good. You can only take a short video clip at top speed and both the light conditions and subject must be ideal to get a good end result. With a bit of practice and a spot of luck, you can produce good results, but it’s a bit too fiddly for us to really sing and dance about.
Otherwise, the camera is very good and particularly the colour reproduction. It takes high-quality images in poor light conditions, but there are premium priced class mobiles that perform better in this regard. The functional interface contributes to making this camera a straightforward experience. This is largely because the system is the quickest and most lag-free that we have experienced on an Android mobile. The fingerprint reader, which is set into the on/off button on the side of the mobile, is also responsive and functions faultlessly. The Xperia XZ Premium has stereo speakers, which is awesome. And of course, it’s water and dustproof, which has been one of Sony’s showpieces for a long time now. There are a number of clever AI functions built into the system, such as the mobile reminding you when you should charge it based on your general charging habits. Over time, the AI will learn a number of your user habits and give you recommendations based on them. We think this could be useful, but it’s difficult to say whether that perception would change depending on how insistent the XZ Premium becomes over time. Sony has achieved considerable success with the Xperia XZ. If you like the design and think that the price is reasonable for a top mobile phone which doesn’t have an “edgeless” screen, you probably won’t regret your purchase.
Flagship mobile that falls between two stools
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.1 inch - 1440 x 3040 pixels Processor: Exynos 9820, 2.73 GHz Camera: 12+12+16 megapixel, selfie camera 10 megapixel Battery: 3400 mAh Dimensions: 149.9x70.4x7.8 mm Weight: 157 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, IP68 classified, wireless charging in two directions
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is a high-performance mobile phone with a great camera and well-thought-out design. It’s clear that Samsung have taken onboard the criticism they’ve received for earlier models, as the Galaxy S10 feels like it’s a lot more on the ball.
The entire smartphone is built around a metal frame with the front and back consisting of glass sheets with curved edges. Samsung aren’t alone in this type of design, but the entire phone really exudes a premium feel and high build quality.
The front is where most of the new features can be found. The screen now takes up almost the entire front. Samsung have succeeded in this by simply making a hole in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. The camera sits in the hole, and the screen goes around it – a different alternative to the “notch” that many mobiles have today.
With only space for the camera, the iris scanner from earlier models has disappeared (the phone has simpler facial recognition for unlocking). Instead, the focus is on the front’s other major new feature, the fingerprint reader under the screen glass. We’ve seen this on a couple of earlier models, but unfortunately we have to say that Samsung’s version is one of the less impressive ones. As long as you press sufficiently hard, it identifies the fingerprint more quickly than the Oneplus 6T, but it’s really slow to unlock the smartphone.
Samsung makes some of the industry’s best screens, and the Galaxy S10 is exactly what we’ve come to expect. It’s worth noting that the smartphone is essentially the same size as last year’s Galaxy S9, but has almost as big a screen as the Galaxy S9+.
Together with this, we get the company's latest Exynos chip, which runs the entire phone and provides more than enough power for everything we threw at it.
The chip, the screen and Samsung’s own optimisations work well together with the battery, which now lasts for an entire day even with slightly heavier use. Not as long as some other marathon smartphones with the same battery strength, but a clear improvement over the previous years’ models.
On the back, we find more new features in the form of three camera lenses. These correspond to telephoto, wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses that give optical zoom and a number of exciting image options.
Just like their screens, Samsung make really good cameras for mobile phones and the Galaxy S10 is no exception. The image quality is better than previous years, but only slightly. Instead, it’s the three lenses that make a new photographic experience out of the whole thing.
The Galaxy S10 is a worthy flagship model with improvements on every level. At the same time, you can’t avoid noticing that it’s slightly pinched between the small and cheaper S10e and the larger S10+, which has more battery power. The hardware is almost identical and it’s largely the battery size, screen size and number of cameras that distinguish them. From this point of view, the standard Galaxy S10 occupies an awkward position between the “real” top model and the mini model.
Rounded shape with very good sound
Screen: 5.7 inch - 2160 x 1080 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 2.8 Ghz Camera:19 megapixel, 5 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 3180 mAh Dimensions: 153x72x11.1 mm Weight: 198 g Android version: 8.0 (Oreo) Miscellaneous: IP65/IP68 classified (waterproof), biometric log-in, USB-C, Micro SD card slot
The Sony Xperia XZ2 has an inviting and useful design for calling, snapping photos, browsing the web and for music. The square-like design from the previous Xperia series is finally gone. Instead the Xperia XZ2 boasts curvy shapes and an 18:9 screen that reaches right out to the edges. The rounded corners mean that the mobile sits nicely in the hand. It’s not so definite that it suffers from other rounded screens' tendency to refuse to detect the user's fingers at the outer edges. However, there is one disadvantage, which is that it's very reluctant to lie still on flat surfaces. For example, if you're charging the mobile wirelessly and the underlying surface slopes in the slightest it's likely to slide off towards potential oblivion – or are we overreacting? Of course, you can fix this with a suitable shell. The Xperia XZ2's performance is top class, and the operating system is really quick. This is most obvious when we have lots of apps running and change between them, but also in more demanding applications. It runs smoothly regardless. The camera is good, but there's a question mark here. It’s not going to be awarded the phone with best camera anytime soon. Given that the competitors have two or even three primary cameras, it's a little surprising that Sony insist on only one. This means that you have neither optical depth effects or zoom, and thus it can't measure up to the top models in dark environments. However, the camera does an excellent job when the light conditions are advantageous, and it can film in 4K HDR, which is useful if you have a TV that supports the format.
The Xperia XZ2 has a fingerprint reader in the standard position, on the back below the camera lens. The reader is fast and takes you directly into the system. The problem with the size and positioning of this is that users with longer fingers can easily mistake the camera lens for the reader before they get the hang of it. The unique 3D scanning function from the previous model is still present, but it has been updated and is even better. The results are more reliable. When it comes to sound, the XZ2 is one of the best mobile smartphones on the market. Sony's digital sound improvement works very well, and the same applies to the stereo speakers. However, the dynamic vibration function, making the mobile vibrate with the bass tones in films, apps and music, is only interesting in theory. It only works when the screen is on, which means that it's only active when you're holding the mobile. And the function is pretty thirsty in terms of battery power. The battery lasts for about a day if used frugally. We'd have liked to see a 3.5 mm outlet on the phone. But overall, this is an interesting choice if you're looking for a mobile phone with good sound and excellent performance.
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.4 inch - 3040 x 1440 pixels AMOLED Processor: Exynos 9820, 2.73 GHz Camera: 12+16+12 megapixel, selfie camera 10+8 megapixel Battery: 4100 mAh Dimensions: 157.6x74.1x7.8 mm Weight: 175 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, facial recognition, headphone socket
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is the extra-large version of the manufacturer’s flagship model S10. Given how big mobile phones are today, it doesn’t feel too big for a plus-sized phone. The format is perfect if you spend a lot of time watching films or working on your phone.
The curved screen senses contact right out to the edge. For many manufacturers’ phones, teething problems make this type of phone more difficult to use, but Samsung have judged it well. It rarely registers unnecessary contacts, and you quickly learn to handle it.
The screen is crystal clear and incredibly sharp, with a wide spectrum of colour. Not the very best we’ve seen, but close to it. The phone is also one of the fastest on the market.
The S10+ has the best battery life, particularly in standby mode. If you use the phone sparingly, the battery will last for several days. With normal use, we got it to last for around two days. However, this has an effect on the charging time. To fully charge it takes almost two hours.
You unlock the phone via facial recognition or the fingerprint reader built into the screen. The fingerprint reader is rather slow to react. But the facial recognition is extremely quick.
The camera does a good job. The colours are natural and attractive. In good light conditions, the photos turn out extremely well. But it's when we subject the camera to darker conditions that we began to notice a few minor problems. It is not with best camera capabilities, but it’s by far not the worst.
Just like many other manufacturers’ models, the digital depth of field sometimes struggles with details. What does this mean? It means that things like hair, messy backgrounds and so on tend to be unevenly sharp or blurred. You need to bear this in mind when you're using portrait mode.
The camera does a decent job of compensating for back light, but seems to struggle with big contrasts. Dark areas tend to lose details when there’s a lot of contrast in what you’re photographing, for example a bright summer’s day with areas of deep shadow. It generally copes with contrast well under more normal conditions, and the majority of the images turn out looking great.
AKG headphones are included with the phone (which has a standard headphone jack, something many people still appreciate). The headphones are of relatively good quality. The noise is a little distorted at high volume, but generally has a nice full sound and decent balance.
The price for the S10+ is what you'd normally expect to pay for a plus model. Just like with other manufacturers, we think prices have suffered from inflation, but given what you get for the money we still think it’s an acceptable smartphone purchase.
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is ideal for anyone seeking a slightly larger mobile phone with the latest technology. Particularly if you want to read and watch films on a larger screen. The big screen has a small impact on the battery life, and there are good built-in energy-saving functions. Overall? The S10+ is a worthy buy.
Top model for a lower price
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.4 inch - 1080 x 2310 pixels Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 980 2x2.6 GHz Camera: 48 megapixel, 25 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 4,000 mAh Dimensions: 156.9x75.4x8.1 mm Weight: 180 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, IR port
The Honor View 20 sticks to Honor's usual template for smartphones, but also adds its own ideas. As a sister company of Huawei, many of Honor's top mobiles are easily recognisable. The View 20 is their version of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but there are bigger differences this time than there usually are with the cheaper Honor models.
The View part of the name comes from the selfie camera, which sits in a hole cut out of the screen. This means that you don't have the “notch” that many smartphones use today to gain screen space. This isn’t a design choice that suits everyone and can be perceived as irritating.
Another difference is that the fingerprint reader is positioned on the back of the phone instead of integrated into the screen. Even if Huawei's solution for fingerprint reading in the screen is undoubtedly the best on the market just now, the solution on the back is still much quicker and more accurate.
The screen is almost identical in size with the Mate 20 Pro and is a really good Amoled variant. The resolution is a tad lower, but nothing you’ll notice in everyday use.
Something that is missing is any form of wireless charging. Both to charge the phone and even the reverse version that the Mate Pro 20 has where you can charge other units wirelessly from the unit. But the battery is still just as substantial and lasts for a day without any problems – even two if you're careful.
The biggest similarity with the Mate 20 Pro is on the inside, with the same system chip, support for double SIM cards and plenty of RAM and storage space. This gives ample power for everything you want to do, and you don’t have to worry about lag or slowness. There’s no support for a memory card, but regardless of the model you choose you're not likely to run out of storage space in a hurry.
The similarity with Huawei phones is also present in terms of reception, and our subjective assessment is that Huawei phones in general (and particularly the top models) are slightly better at maintaining a connection for both calls and on the internet, even in more challenging regions.
The camera part has a slightly unusual configuration. The front camera with the hole in the screen stands out in visual terms and is perfectly fine for selfies. Instead of the two or three cameras that are standard today, there's only one rear camera (without the Leica brand that Huawei's smartphones have), plus a dedicated depth sensor. This doesn’t actually do much for the end result, however, but you can still get bokeh effects in portraits. The camera works really quite well overall. It’s a bit less accomplished than the top models, particularly in details and sharpness in dark conditions, but still does a really good job.
In many ways, the Honor View 20 is a cheap way of getting top model performance, even if it does come without many of the fun extra functions that higher priced phones usually include.
Honor 10 Glacier Grey 5.84 128GB 4G Dual SIM Unlocked & SIM Free
Honor 10 Glacier Grey 5.84 128GB 4G Dual SIM Unlocked & SIM Free
Honor 10 Dual SIM, 128 GB storage, 24 MP Dual Camera and 5.84 Inch Full View Display, UK Official Device - Glacier Grey
Still unique of its kind
Screen: 4.6 inch - 1280x720 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 2.45 GHz Camera: 19 MP, selfie camera 8 MP Price class: Premium Battery: 2700 mAh Dimensions: 65 x 129 x 9.3 mm Weight: 143 g Android version: 8.0 (Oreo) Miscellaneous: IP68 classified (water and dust resistant), fingerprint reader
For many years, the Sony Xperia XZ Compact has been unique simply because of its size. While the majority of other high-performance mobiles are increasing in size, the Compact series has remained a neat format with a screen size less than five inches. And the same is true in this version, despite it sharing many of the characteristics boasted by its full-sized sibling model, the XZ. The screen size is good if you're looking for something a bit more compact than the current standard. But it must be said that Sony hasn't exactly been imaginative with the design. It's hard to see any difference between this and its predecessors. Another disadvantage is the sharp edges, which makes it less comfortable to hold.
The Xperia XZ Compact's camera delivers good results. Details tend to appear digitally compressed, but overall the smartphone produces really good images even in darker environments. One cool additional function is an app that makes the camera a 3D scanner. In terms of performance, the XZ Compact is a positive experience. Everything works quickly and even a bit faster than many of its competitors. One advantage is that the small screen has significantly fewer pixels to handle, partly because it's small and partly because the resolution is lower. But you don't actually notice the latter because of the screen size. The lower resolution also means that the battery lasts longer, and you'll get a full day's use from it without any problems. If you're looking for a relatively compact mobile phone, the XZ is an obvious choice, partly because you won't be losing anything in terms of speed, but also because it's the only phone available in this size class.
Simultaneously a real monster and a rather pale update
Screen: 5.8 inch - 2436 × 1125 pixels OLED Processor: A12 Bionic Camera: 12 + 12 + 7 MP with wide angle ƒ/1.8, tele ƒ/2.4, true depth-camera ƒ/2.2 Width: 70.9 mm Height: 143.6 mm Depth: 7.7 mm Weight: 177 g OS: iOS 12 Miscellaneous: IP67 classified (waterproof), facial recognition, 3D Touch, dynamically set depth of field, double SIM cards (1 nano, 1 e-sim)
The Apple iPhone XS is a mobile phone with a really good screen and a number of exciting functions. One of the things we like best is the possibility of setting the depth of field retrospectively when you've taken portraits. This means that you can touch up the background if the effect is too strong, or make the bokeh stronger if you want more. Unfortunately, you can't fix incorrect depth of field, which is what we'd been hoping for from the outset. Because just like earlier models, the iPhone XS tends to have problems working out where to put the bokeh in the image (see our test pictures for examples). This is particularly clear on images with lots of details, such as frizzy hair or flowering fields. And retrospectively changing the depth of field sadly can't save this. But it's useful when you've taken a picture where you've got the depth of field right, but it's just a bit exaggerated in one direction or another. The camera has been improved in other ways. It clearly performs better in dark conditions, both with more detailed images and with more brightness. But there are other mobiles on the market that are slightly better in terms of depth of field and for photos taken in difficult light conditions. However, the new intelligent HDR mode produces really good quality photos. The iPhone XS has a battery life that lasts for about a day, in other words no great difference from its predecessor. But the phone doesn't include a fast charger. Yet on the other hand, it charges quickly anyway. It also lacks USB-C, which is even standard on Macs these days. Instead you have to carry on working with the lightning contact, which means that you're pretty well locked into Apple-specific accessories. Although of course you can use Bluetooth accessories of any brand if you wanted to.
The Apple iPhone is fast in terms of interface, has relatively quick facial recognition and gets high marks in the benchmark test. But if you already have one of last year's models the difference won't be noticeable in practical terms. You have to be switching from an iPhone that's several years old before you'll really notice the difference. However, the performance is really good, even compared to its top competitors. Particularly on the graphics front, where it has lots of muscle that promises top-class gaming experiences. The smartphone gets quite warm even when carrying out less-demanding tasks, but that's true for the majority of flagship phones these days. The iPhone XS is undoubtedly a mobile phone with top-level performance. On one point after another, it scores well or very well. But there are still a few competitors that perform a little better on a couple of crucial aspects, particularly the camera and its cost. In other words, the XS isn't significantly better than its predecessor, but it's more of a minor upgrade. At the same time, the price is still expensive, and Apple aren't ashamed of charging a lot despite being really stingy with the accessories. So despite the iPhone XS being among the top bracket of the mobile market, the score isn't as good as it could be. But that probably won't stop iPhone loyalists changing. And if you have a slightly older model you'll really notice the difference. If you already have an iPhone X or an iPhone 8 Plus with the latest iOS, an XS will be far from revolutionary, but you probably won't be disappointed either. The Apple iPhone XS is most suitable if you want an easy-to-use mobile phone with really good performance, with good camera functions and an excellent screen - and if you're ready to pay a steep price tag for it.
Offers a lot for the money
Price class: Budget Screen: 6.21 inch - 1080 x 2340 pixels Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 710 4x2.2 GHz Camera: 13+2 megapixel, selfie camera 16 megapixel Battery: 3400 mAh Dimensions: 155.2x73.4x8 mm Weight: 160 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader
The Huawei P Smart brings back memories of the manufacturer’s entry onto the market a few years ago. Then they made extremely cheap smartphones that offered a great deal despite the low price. And the same is true of the P Smart, which on paper has a lot of specifications strikingly close to those of top models.
The mobile itself shows no signs of being as cheap as it is, even if the design is slightly anonymous. The build quality is good. The screen has a little drop shaped notch, and on the back we find the fingerprint reader and double camera.
The screen is a reasonable size with relatively small edges. Neither the screen resolution nor the performance in general stand out, but it does the job.
The fingerprint reader works well, but can take a few moments longer to react than those of top models.
The cameras give amazingly good results in daylight, given the price. The software is very similar to that in Huawei's more expensive models, so you aren’t missing out on much when it comes to photography. However, it doesn’t have to get very cloudy or dark before the quality of the results declines substantially.
There’s plenty of storage space for this price class, together with generous amounts of RAM. The Kirin 710 chip that runs the entire phone usually works fine and copes with managing everyday tasks without serious problems. However, we noticed that bigger games slow the phone down significantly, while the memory management is so aggressive that we can scarcely change between apps without them having to reload.
The smartphone seems to work best if it’s restarted several times a day or at least once a day; it gets a bit sluggish if it’s running for too long. You’re probably conscious of this type of limitation when you buy a Huawei P Smart. But for the money, you still get an incredibly solid phone. This makes the Huawei P Smart a really great choice amongst budget smartphone buyers, and a good alternative in its class or as a first mobile.
Huawei P Smart 2019 64 GB 6.21-Inch 2K FullView Dewdrop SIM-Free Smartphone with Dual AI Camera, Android 9.0, Single SIM, UK Version - Black
Huawei P Smart 2019 64 GB 6.21-Inch 2K FullView Dewdrop SIM-Free Smartphone with Dual AI Camera, Android 9.0, Single SIM, UK Version, Aurora Blue
Huawei P Smart 2019 Midnight Black 6.21 64GB 4G Unlocked & SIM Free
The perfect mobile for watching films? It’s here!
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.5 inch oled - 1644 x 3840 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (1x2.84 GHz + 3x2.24 + 4x1.78 GHz) Camera: 12+12+12 Megapixel (wide, tele, ultrawide), selfie camera 8 megapixel Battery: 3330 mAh Dimensions: 167x72x8.2 mm Weight: 178 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader.
The Sony Xperia 1 is a new approach for Sony’s mobile division in more ways than one. For one thing, they’ve moved away from the unnecessarily fiddly product names. And another, they've chosen to fiddle with the screen instead.
Because it's the screen that’s the big talking point about the Xperia 1, film fans have long been familiar with the 21:9 format, but it’s not often been used for mobile screens. This is following the trend of the last year of making the screen larger by making it longer.
The choice of 21:9 is great for anyone who wants to watch films on their phone, as it’s the ratio that many films are made in. Which means you don’t end up with black edges when using Netflix or other streaming services.
But we do think that the sound from the built-in speakers could have been improved if the phone is intended for watching films. It’s good, but hardly exceptional.
We’ll come back to the format in a moment, but in the meantime, we have to acknowledge that the screen itself is really good. The unusual shape means that the resolution is classified as 4K and it supports both HDR and Sony’s own image enhancements, taken from their film division. It looks fantastic overall with natural colours and solid blacks.
According to Sony, the elongated screen means that you see more of your social media flows, or more of the text on a website. And this is true, but the difference between this and a “normal” mobile is not that big in reality.
However, it does make the phone narrower, and it's really comfortable to hold. The build quality is just as substantial as we’ve come to expect from Sony. Unfortunately, it’s just as slippery as we’ve also come to expect. The tiniest slope on a surface and the smartphone just slides off.
The buttons on the right-hand side aren’t very impressive either. Previously, Sony has had the fingerprint reader built into the power button, but now it’s separate. If we count that as a button, we have volume, fingerprint reader, power and the camera button in a long row, and let’s be honest, that’s just a pain.
The camera button is useful. But we’d have liked to see more power in the camera. It has no problem with daylight, and if you're filming video there’s a really good pro mode to play with. But details and sharpness disappear quickly in poorer light conditions, and this phone is far behind its competitors on that front.
The smartphone itself isn’t a disappointment, but other than the screen it doesn’t really stand out. The performance is top of the range - as we’d expect. The battery lasts for a day without major problems but isn’t exceptional. The most distinguishing feature is what Sony call “side sense” – a quick menu that you can reach by pressing the side of the screen. This is a handy thing if you have the need for it, but often it’s hardly any quicker than searching for apps.
The Sony Xperia 1 is pretty unique with its 21:9 4K screen, and for film buffs it's a good choice. But it is only the screen that stands out here in what’s a decent but relatively average mobile.
A budget choice with surprising functions
Price class: Budget Screen: 6.2 inch LCD - 720 x 1520 pixels Processor: Mediatek MT6771 Helio P70 (1x2 GHz + 4x2 GHz) Camera: 13+2+2 Megapixel (wide + macro + depth), selfie camera 8 megapixel Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: 157.6x75.4x9 mm Weight: 186 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader.
With budget smartphones, you either get what you’re given or you’re surprised by how much you get for the price. The Motorola One Macro wants to take the latter one step further with an amazing complete device that still does its own thing.
A smartphone in this price bracket can’t measure up to the top models. But for the price you do pay, the camera performs well at both close-ups and in bright environments. Dark environments are the camera’s Achille’s heel, but overall, we’re happy with the camera’s capabilities.
The macro function is interesting. On more expensive mobiles, you normally never think about how close-ups work. They simply do and we’re happy. Perhaps the camera does some thinking for itself and displays the little flower symbol, which is the photography world’s icon for macro images. But picking up details close by is something that not all mobiles can do perfectly – particularly when you move down the price classes. Here you get a special macro mode in the camera app for both video and photo mode, and that’s a surprise for the amount you pay.
The smartphone feels like it has a lot of functions for its price too. The screen is large and performs well in showing vivid colours and striking blacks. The resolution isn’t the best, but providing you don’t do a direct comparison with a more high-resolution mobile, you won’t really notice it.
The battery provides a generous 4000mAh, which in combination with relatively frugal hardware gives a solid battery life. Furthermore, it has 64Gb of storage, which should be enough for most people.
But the device is noticeably slow. Right from the start it’s hardly running at lightspeed, and with a couple of dozen apps on board some things take a while to start or load. It never gets worse during our first weeks with the phone, but mobiles tend to get slower over six months, and if this phone gave us a sluggish impression from the outset - that’s a warning signal. But for lighter use it probably won’t be a problem down the line.
The Motorola One Macro is simply an interesting alternative in the budget mobile department. The macro lens means that it stands out from the crowd, even if we’d rather have seen money being invested into quicker hardware.
Motorola One Macro (6,2 Inch HD Plus Display, Macro Vision Camera, 64 GB/ 4 GB, Android 9.0, Dual SIM Smartphone), Space Blue
Motorola One Macro (6,2 Inch HD Plus Display, Macro Vision Camera, 64 GB / 4 GB, Android 9.0, Dual SIM Smartphone), Ultraviolet
Motorola Moto One Macro - Ultraviolet
Film screen in a neat format!
Price class: Premium Screen: 6.1 inch oled - 1080 x 2520 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (1x2.84 GHz + 3x2.24 + 4x1.78 GHz) Camera: 12+12+12 Megapixel (wide, tele, ultrawide), selfie camera 8 megapixel Battery: 3140 mAh Dimensions: 158x68x8.2 mm Weight: 164 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader.
The Sony Xperia 5 feels a bit like a continuation of Sony’s previous Compact models. While the Xperia 1 is the large luxury phone, the Xperia 5 has a slightly smaller screen and almost identical specifications. At the same time, the smaller screen makes this format neater.
With a screen of 6.1 inches, this can’t be called “Compact” anymore, particularly as those compact phones were at most five inches - and thus significantly smaller.
But the format does make it easier to type with one hand, even though it also means that the buttons that are higher up on the screen are more difficult to reach.
But at a time when most smartphone screens are getting bigger, and screens over 6 inches are pretty much standard, the Xperia 5 still tricks us into thinking it is a compact mobile. Just like its big brother, it has a 21:9 screen format, which makes it very elongated and therefore easy to hold.
Simultaneously, it shares the same advantages and disadvantages as the Xperia 1. Very well built but an extremely slippery surface making it prone to sliding off tables and alike. It also has a messy button layout, together with the fingerprint reader on the right-hand side of the phone.
But then again, it's the screen that’s the big talking point on this phone. It doesn’t have 4K resolution like its big brother - the Xperia 1 - but it's still perfectly sufficient for all purposes. The screen is actually based on specifications from Sony's film division, which means that it looks great and boasts natural colours.
A smaller screen with a lower resolution is also the only difference between the Xperia 5 and the earlier Xperia 1. The Android version, processor, camera and so on are the same.
For the camera, this means that we get a cool pro mode for filming and a camera that takes decent pictures in lighter environments, even when the sun’s shining awkwardly. However, as soon as it gets dark, it becomes clear that Sony is some way behind the competition at providing details and sharpness.
But if you want a smartphone that fits the modern label “compact top model”, you really only have three choices today: the Xperia 5, Samsung Galaxy S10e and the iPhone 11 Pro. They're all a bit smaller than standard, but not exactly small phones as such. If you're looking for an Android, we’d probably nominate the S10e as the best of the smaller devices. There’s nothing wrong with the Xperia 5 as such, but other than the screen it doesn’t really grab our attention. The neat format is the primary strength of the Xperia 5.
Sony Xperia 5 - 6.1" FHD+ HDR OLED 21 9 Display, Triple-Camera-System with Eye AF, 6GB RAM, 128GB Memory - Black
Sony Xperia 5 - 6.1” FHD+ HDR OLED 21:9 Display, Triple-Camera-System with Eye AF, 6GB RAM, 128GB Memory - Black
Sony Xperia 5 Black 6.1 128GB 4G Unlocked & SIM Free
Great screen that’s perfect for film lovers
Price class: Premium Screen: 6 inch - 2880x1440 pixlar Processor: Snapdragon 845 2,8 GHz Camera: 19 MP, selfie camera 13 MP Battery: 3330 mAh Dimensions: 158x73xX9.9 mm Weight: 193 g Android version: 9 (Pie) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader (back), IP65 classified
The Sony Xperia XZ3 is a premium smartphone with an elegant curved P-Oled screen that gives top image quality. The sharpness is excellent, and the colours are very rich with accurate colour reproduction. The app icons are so clear on the screen that we could almost be fooled into thinking they’re stuck onto the screen surface.
The curved edges on the screen give the entire phone an elegant appearance. It sits nicely in the hand, and the build quality feels solid. In other words, in terms of appearance, Sony have succeeded here.
But all that glistens is not gold. Even if we prefer the curved screen from a design perspective, it also leads to a slight disadvantage. It’s very sensitive on the sides, which means it’s easy to access functions by mistake by simply holding it. So, for example, if you’re holding the phone to watch a film, play a game or read an article, it’s easy to press a shortcut menu or start another function.
Otherwise, the shortcut menu is a really great addition. By quickly tapping on the side of the phone, you get your most used apps so that you can easily access them.
You can see the fingerprint reader located on the back of the phone as a matter of taste, but this smartphone also has a camera sensor immediately above the fingerprint reader, so it’s easy to put your finger in the wrong place and get your lens messy instead.
The Xperia XZ3 is a very quick mobile phone with an interface that you’ll recognise but which has also had an injection of exciting new functions and apps.
One such app is AR Effect, which is a mixture of a gaming app and Snapchat. This lets you both play with a range of AR worlds on the screen and also take pictures of yourself in fun outfits. Another app is Bokeh, which enables you to set the depth of field of photos retrospectively. Both of these can be accessed directly from the camera app or through the app menu. We would have preferred Bokeh to be a built-in function in the camera app instead though.
The camera is pretty good. It’s not really up to the premium phones on the market in terms of colours, sharpness and image processing, but for anyone who doesn’t make the camera as a top priority when buying a mobile phone will be happy.
The biggest problem is that there’s a bit of a delay between pressing the shutter and when it takes the picture. So this risks making images blurry. You have to get used to waiting for the right moment.
One better aspect of this mobile is the battery. The battery life is very good, both when it’s being used and when it isn’t. If you're a light user, it will last 3-4 days. If you use it a great deal, the battery lasts about a day. In other words, about as long as many other smartphones perform under normal use.
This mobile phone isn’t ideal for anyone looking for a top camera phone. Instead it's best if you're looking for a mobile phone with good battery life and a quality screen so you can watch films, play games and read articles. That’s when it’s at its best.
Extra everything, but some compromises
Screen: 6.3 inch - 2560x1440 pixels Processor: Samsung Exynos 8895 Octa 4x2.3 Ghz Camera: 2x12 MP, selfie camera 8 MP Price class: Premium Battery: 3,300 mAh Dimensions: 162.5x74.8x8.6 mm Weight: 195 g Android version: 7.1.1 (Nougat) Miscellaneous: IP68 classified (water and dust resistant), fingerprint reader, pen, iris scanner
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a mobile phone that comes with a great camera and a giant of a screen. The format is quite rectangular, though, so it's never difficult to hold. However, it is very long which means it's not always easy to fit into your pocket. The screen has curved sides as a design feature and performs well in terms of image quality, regardless of whether you're just browsing the internet or watching a high resolution film. The same applies to its performance as a whole, which is definitely top class. A new feature for the Note series that arrives with the launch of the Note 8 is the double camera. This gives a kind of simulated zoom without quality loss and the ability to achieve short depth of field. The image results are among the best you can get from a mobile phone today, with good contrast, image processing and a decent colour spectrum. Alongside the camera is the fingerprint reader, which is unfortunately not very well located because you keep poking the camera lens when you're trying to find it with your finger. Also, with a shell on the phone it becomes difficult to reach the reader. The biometric login process could have been rescued by the iris scanner or facial recognition. However, the former doesn't work if you're wearing spectacles and the latter is incredibly slow. This means that the Galaxy Note 8 currently underperforms on every front when it comes to biometrics.
The Galaxy Note 8 comes with a pen and its own storage slot in the phone. This is incredibly accurate compared to a finger. The pen is perfect for handwritten notes, sketches and working with spreadsheets. If you often need to do these type of tasks with your phone, the pen is an invaluable aid. The only thing about it that we don't like is that writing on the screen feels a bit slippery. But there are loads of extra functions for smart screen capture, gif animations, translation and other things directly linked to the pen, which gives it more added value. Disappointingly for a unit that's meant to offer extra everything, six months after release, the phone still hasn't been upgraded to the latest version of Android. And the battery is equally unencouraging, barely managing a full day's use despite its power saving modes. The fingerprint reader, Android version and the battery life leave an unpleasant aftertaste for a mobile phone that shouldn't have these type of shortcomings. But the pen is great and if you need it, this smartphone really does offer almost extra everything. If you want a phone with a large, inviting screen, pen functionality and a great camera, this is a good buy. And it's the only premium mobile to include a pen.
Refined but not revolutionary
Screen: 5.2 inch - 1920 x 1080 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 4x 2.35 Mhz - 4 x 1.9 Mhz Camera: 19 megapixel, 13 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 2700 mAh Dimensions: 148 x 73 x 7.4 mm Weight: 156 g Android version: 8.0 (Oreo) Miscellaneous: IP65/IP68 classified (waterproof), biometric log-in, 3.5 mm audio contact, USB-C, Micro SD card slot
The Sony Xperia XZ1 is an energy-efficient mobile phone with an exciting 3D scanning function and an interesting positioning of the fingerprint reader. Sony's genius idea to build the fingerprint reader into the power button on the mobile's long side makes the phone extra energy efficient. Some people may find it irritating that you have to first press the power button before the fingerprint reading works, but it saves on battery life. The Xperia XZ1 also has advantages in terms of its AI learning and other built-in power saving functions. It's fortunate that Sony have been so innovative with energy saving. The battery is really not great. The energy saving functions mean that despite this, the battery lasts for a whole day in most cases. But it may not if you use many power-hungry apps and functions or use the mobile a lot during the day.
The Sony Xperia XZ1 has a camera that performs well in daylight. There are competitors with sharper cameras, particularly in more difficult light conditions, but the XZ1's is definitely among the best. The fun 3D scanning function and the opportunity to film in what Sony calls super slow motion (although only for 6 seconds) is entertaining and unique. It isn't easy to find suitable occasions on which to use them, but when you do, the end result was well above our expectations. We also award plus points for the mobile's sound, particularly the alternative that makes high-resolution sound possible. In terms of appearance, there's not a lot to distinguish the XZ1 from previous Sony mobiles. The slightly sharper corners make it easy to hold the mobile comfortably in your hand. Details that give the feeling that the Xperia XZ1 is behind its competitors include the fact that the screen doesn't go right out to the edges with metal above and below the screen. But if we look inside, this "old fashioned" style has its advantages. For example, you get a pair of stereo speakers that sound much better than the single one in competitors’ phones. The Xperia ZX1 is good in many ways. It has a nice screen, intelligent software functions, delivers great sound, includes a competent camera, a dedicated camera button and the mobile looks perfectly fine, even if it lacks that touch of luxury. It's best for those who don't use their mobile phone too often during the day and who therefore don't need a more powerful battery.
User-friendly mobile phone with great camera but rather short on battery life
Price class: Premium Screen: 4.7 inch, 1334x750 pixels Processor: A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, embedded M10 movement processor Camera: 12 megapixel, 7 megapixel selfie camera Battery: 3500 mAh Width: 138 mm Height: 67 mm Depth: 7 mm Weight: 138 g Miscellaneous: IP67 classified (resists water, splashes and dust), biometric login, lightning contact
The Apple iPhone 7 is an easy-to-use mobile phone with a slim design and a really good camera. Apple’s iOS operating system has an interface that even the most unfamiliar users will quickly get to grips with. This is a major advantage.
The operating system has a phenomenal range of apps and is really fast. For example, the camera is open and ready to take photos pretty much immediately we’ve tapped the camera icon.
The camera performs really well in both good and poor light conditions. Even when the light really starts to fade, the mobile camera succeeds in taking very reasonable photographs. In better light conditions, the depth of colour is great, the contrast is excellent and the sharpness sublime.
As mentioned above, the actual phone is rather slim, and the size feels just right both for making calls and watching videos. It’s waterproof, which is another positive point. It’s worth noting that the iPhone 7 has no headphone socket. In other words, you need wireless headphones if you want to listen to music or use a headset during phone calls – or alternatively wired headphones with a Lightning contact or adapter. This is a disadvantage if you already have a pair of good headphones that won't be applicable with this device.
Another disadvantage is that Apple is still using their own special port for charging – what they call a Lightning contact – instead of micro USB which is now standard across the rest of the industry. This restricts users somewhat. On the other hand, there’s a wide range of accessories available today. The phone also gets a negative mark for lacking a micro-SD card slot; you can never expand the mobile’s storage in line with your needs.
The iPhone 7 has an excellent screen. The colour reproduction is great, as are the viewing angle and contrast. There’s a small depression on the screen that acts as a virtual home button, combined with a fingerprint reader. It’s easy to reach and reacted immediately when we touched it. The battery life is relatively short and lasts for about a day with minimal use, but it runs out after just a couple of hours when you use a single app continuously. Charging is very quick, however, and the battery goes from flat to half charged in just half an hour or so.
There’s no doubt that the iPhone 7 is a good mobile phone, particularly if you appreciate nice cameras and a user-friendly interface. With a longer battery life, in a less Apple-specific version and a slightly lower price, it would have received a much higher score from our tech testers.
The price is an even greater disadvantage given that new iPhone models have come out since we originally tested the iPhone 7. The competitors it was compared to then have better specifications and in many cases better performance.
But this is still a mobile that we have no problems recommending. It’s fast, attractive, user-friendly and performs really well in the most important categories.
Very budget phone!
Price class: Budget Screen: 5.99 inch - 1080 x 2160 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 8x1.8 Ghz Camera: 12+5 megapixel, selfie camera 20 megapixel Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: 158.6x75.4x8.05 mm Weight: 181 g Android version: 8 (Oreo) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, IR transmitter
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is one of the oldest telephone series from Xiaomi, a company that's long been known for lower prices and a surprising amount of smartphone for the money you pay. However, the Note part has nothing to do with advanced stylus of the Samsung Note phones.
Instead it's the name that phones with slightly larger than average screens were given a few years back. But at not quite 6 inches, the Redmi Note 5 is hardly a giant; these days it's just standard.
The screen doesn't let itself down in terms of quality, despite the low price of the phone. But of course, the colour reproduction and so on are usually better in more expensive smartphones.
The mobile's metal shell provides the stable impression that was once reserved for more expensive phones. On the back there's a reasonable, though not very fast, fingerprint reader. And on the upper short side there's an IR eye so you can use the phone as a remote control, which is an unexpected nice touch.
On the back near the fingerprint reader, are double cameras. The portrait mode that they give needs really simple subjects to be any good, which also applies to photos taken in the dark. In daylight the camera gives reasonable photos, surprisingly good for the price but nothing revolutionary.
It's inside the phone that we find the majority of the savings where they have kept the price down. The hardware works reasonably well in the majority of situations, but struggles a bit when there's a lot going on at the same time.
Over Android, the phone also has Xiaomi's own MIUI interface, which gives a number of extra functions, primarily extra settings and the company's own apps. None of these are phenomenal, and many parts of the graphics in the interface feel a bit dated, but overall it works quite well.
The Redmi Note 5's main advantage is its cheap price, even if it's clear where the savings have been made. But at the same time, you don't need to spend a lot more, particularly among Xiaomi's own smartphones, for the savings to feel a lot less obvious. Despite that, this model is really good value for money.
Good hardware, but an impersonal mobile
Screen: 5.3 inch - 2560 x 1440 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (4 x 2.5 GHz + 4 x 1.8 GHz) Camera: 2 x 13 megapixel, selfie camera 13 megapixel Battery: 3090 mAh Dimensions: 151.5 x 73.7 x 7.9 mm Weight: 160 g Android version: 7.1.1 (Nougat) Miscellaneous: Biometric login, 3.5 mm audio contact, USB type C, splash proof (IP54)
The Nokia 8 is an interesting mobile phone, at least on paper. It has a modern, fast processor, despite the slightly cheaper price, double rear cameras with a respectable Zeiss label and a bright screen that's nice and sharp. But other than the highly capable sound recording solution, the Nokia 8 doesn't make the most of its hardware. The manufacturer, HMD, has pretty much left Google's operating system intact. There's hardly anything that says that you're holding a Nokia 8. This makes the mobile phone anonymous and far from as function-rich as we're used to when it comes to premium smartphones. We would like to have seen an individual interface overlaying Google's basic Android. The only unique touch is in the camera app. Using this you can take pictures and record video with the selfie camera and the main camera at the same time. The screen is divided into two halves, with each camera's field of view displayed. In marketing terms this is called a "bothie" instead of a "selfie". If you're taking a video, "bothie" material can be direct streamed to YouTube or Facebook. Unfortunately, the two main cameras - one colour and one black and white - can't be used to create or manipulate depth of field. Instead, the system is intended to help create more detail in images in poor light conditions. But it doesn't really succeed with this. The Nokia 8 also sometimes has problems with autofocus which can't choose the focal point quickly enough. In ideal conditions, the images are perfectly fine, but given how much emphasis the Nokia 8 places on its cameras, we'd have expected more.
In terms of appearance, however, it's hard to complain about the Nokia 8. It's stylish, and the mobile is generally relatively thin. The screen is sharp and bright, and the mobile has an SD card slot to boot. It’s no problem going a whole day without having to charge the mobile. What is perhaps the Nokia 8's best feature is the relatively competitive price. The question is whether this is enough. Several competitors have more unique solutions, more or less equivalent hardware and some of them are even more affordable. In comparison, the Nokia 8 is a mobile phone with few faults but still doesn't feel completely right. Nor is the mobile watertight like its competitors in the same price bracket; it's only water resistant. It's a shame that the manufacturer hasn't made more use of the hardware, because the Nokia 8 is interesting both in terms of its price and exciting heritage.
Pure Android for a great price
Price class: Budget Screen: 5.99 inch - 1080 x 2160 pixels Processor: Name Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 4x2.2 GHz Camera: 20+12 megapixel, selfie camera 20 megapixel Battery: 3000 mAh Dimensions: 158.70 x 75.40 x 7.30 mm Weight: 168 g Android version: 8.1.0 (Oreo) Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, IR port
The Xiaomi Mi A2 is good value for money with no frills. Xiaomi have largely made themselves known for their value mobiles with flagship performance. Yet, they do have a strategy of making phones in all the other price classes too, and the Mi A2 is a good example of that.
Unlike the majority of the other phones from Xiaomi – or any other manufacturer for that matter – there's no manufacturer-specific interface on the phone. Instead it has Android One, which is Google's attempt to provide a pure Android experience for slightly cheaper models.
Even if many manufacturers' additions provide beneficial functions and extra settings, Android One means that you avoid unnecessary extras and get updates even more quickly. During our test period, the phone has Android 8, but an update was on the way.
Xiaomi have only added a couple of their own apps, including to control the IR transmitter on the top of the phone (so you can use it as a remote control for your TV, for example), which means that it's kept nice and clean right from the start. It also makes the phone really quick to use, at least compared to what we'd normally expect for this price.
The phone feels unexpectedly well-built, with a nice if somewhat slippery metal shell. A plastic shell is included in the packaging, and this is recommended both to counteract the slipperiness and also to reduce the impression of the huge lumpy camera on the back.
Even though the battery life lasts a full day, we'd have liked to see a thicker phone, both for a bigger battery and for a smaller camera on the back. Camera with both advantages and disadvantages
The camera has two lenses, including one for taking portraits with background blur. The portrait part requires good light on the subject and not too many details in the edges of the shot to give a nice result.
As a standard camera, it gives reasonable images in daylight, although with slightly peculiar colour reproduction in certain modes. In darker environments, photos soon get noisy, which is an Achilles' heel for many mobile phone cameras.
At the same time, you have to take the price tag into account, and the Mi A2 really does give you a lot for your money, regardless of whether you're looking at the phone, overall performance or build quality. If you have a limited budget, this is quite clearly a good choice without too many major compromises.
Samsung are starting to get to grips with budget mobiles
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.4 inch - 1080 x 2340 pixels Processor: Samsung Exynos 9610 (4x2.3 GHz + 4x1.7 Ghz) Camera: 25+8+5 megapixel, selfie camera 25 megapixel Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: 158.5x74.7x7.7 mm Weight: 166 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, ANT+
The Samsung Galaxy A50 is quite a big step up from the A series’ smallest models. Big as in a bigger screen and battery, more cameras and a better processor. The fingerprint reader has been moved underneath the screen too.
But it's exactly this fingerprint reader that was agreed to be the worst feature of the Galaxy A50. Samsung still haven’t got to grips with the technology, not even in the top models’ ultrasound readers (this one is optical), and unlocking the phone with your finger is always an exercise in frustration (but one that never works when you're using your finger to identify yourself with your bank!).
Otherwise it's a reasonable mobile in a slightly tricky price class. Just like the budget segment, the medium segment has undergone incredible improvement in recent years, particularly from Chinese manufacturers competing strongly. The A50 gives you a substantial Amoled 6.4-inch screen for really vivid colours and blacks. The screen size also affects its size as a whole, which you need to bear in mind. The built-in storage of 128Gb should be enough for most people, and there is of course, space for two SIM cards. The processor too has been sped up compared with its smaller brother - the A40 - even if this isn’t exactly a top performance device. However, the combination of a slightly restricted system chip and a big battery affects the battery lifetime. The battery life easily extends to a day, and subjectively it feels like one of Samsung’s best battery performances overall.
The back of the phone houses three cameras so you can take wide-angle photos and also get the depth of field as you need it. Given the price, the camera puts on a good performance, and can even produce reasonable pictures in poorer light.
On the whole, there's no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy A50 is a good mobile. However, it's not exactly alone in its price segment. The majority of major manufacturers have at least one model here, and they're all impressive with their “almost top model” specifications. However, the Galaxy A50 does very well because of its large high-quality screen, better battery life and substantial memory. It's ideal for anyone looking for these characteristics for a reasonable price.
Competing with itself
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.7 inch - 1080 x 2400 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 (2x2.0 GHz + 6x1.7 GHz) Camera: 32+8+5 megapixel, selfie camera 32 megapixel Battery: 4500 mAh Dimensions: 164.3x76.7x7.9 mm Weight: 183 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, ANT+
The Samsung Galaxy A70 is a good phone with a really big screen. Samsung are continuing along the same lines as in previous years, in that they've released so many phones they're actually competing with themselves.
The main feature of the A70 is clearly its large Super Amoled 6.7-inch screen. This makes the phone pretty substantial and larger than many other manufacturers’ top models.
By definition, the fact that it's an Amoled screen means it offers good colours and blacks, but it can't really measure up to the very best screens. Like the other phones in the A series, the shell is made of plastic. This makes for a substantially lighter phone, but also gives a rather cheaper feel overall. Just like its smaller brother, the A50, this phone has the fingerprint reader set into the screen, and it's just as frustrating to use. This one has the problem that it only seems to work sporadically.
You have to look to more expensive phones to find other innovations, such as wireless charging or watertightness.
The double SIM card slots and 128Gb memory are unchanged from the somewhat cheaper A50. But it has a new Qualcomm processor instead of Samsung’s own. The Snapdragon 675 is slightly more powerful than the Exynos chip in the A50, but not by much. At the same time it and the slightly larger screen make more demands on the battery, which means for this section of the test it received a pass mark - but no more. You can count on getting a day out of it if you don't use it too much.
The camera is quite good, both the one on the front and the one on the back. It’s primarily detail and sharpness that have been improved compared to little brother, and the camera on the A70 can actually be considered to be really good for the price tag.
As we've already mentioned, there are relatively minor differences between the A50 and the A70. The prices don't differ enormously, and what you're choosing between is a big screen and good battery life (A50) compared to a really big screen and slightly better performance. Ultimately it really just comes down to screen size. If you want the biggest possible screen for a low price for web browsing and watching films, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is a really good choice. Yet, this model – just like the entire A series – faces tough competition from other manufacturers.
Samsung are starting to get to grips with budget phones
Price class: Budget Screen: 5.9 inch - 1080 x 2340 pixels Processor: Samsung Exynos 7904 (2x1.7 GHz + 6x1.59 GHz) Camera: 16+5 megapixel, selfie camera 25 megapixel Battery: 3100 mAh Dimensions: 144.4x69.2x7.9 mm Weight: 140 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, ANT+
The Samsung Galaxy A40 is the company’s way of aligning itself with the current mobile market. Fewer consumers are buying the increasingly expensive top models, and mobiles in the medium and budget classes are getting better, while Chinese manufacturers are also pushing prices down.
It's not many years since all of Samsung's smartphones – top models included – were made of plastic. Given the price tag, it's hardly surprising that the A40 is too, but it gives a nostalgic reminder of how things used to be.
But the plastic feels quite solid and contributes to the low weight.
Pleasingly, the screen is an Amoled type, which provides better colours and contrast. It’s far from the level of the more expensive models, but very reasonable given the price tag. The screen is 5.9 inches, which would have been gigantic a few years ago. Today the screen, and the dimensions of the mobile as a whole, makes it one of the neater versions on the market.
In the Galaxy A40’s price class, you’ll encounter a number of compromises, so the big question is where savings have been made. Other than the choice of material and the screen, this means lower performance pretty much across the board. The camera works well in daylight, with good sharpness and colours, but without being exceptional. It’s worse in darker conditions, as the colours quickly become muddy and there’s a lot of noise. The double camera lenses afford normal and wide-angle images without any bells or whistles.
The fingerprint reader is on the back instead of the screen, but is also very fast. The phone performs fine when web browsing, opening apps or playing games, even though it’s clearly not as fast as more expensive models. You notice the delay but it's not particularly bothersome. The built-in 64Gb storage is enough for most people, but there’s also space for both a memory card and double SIM cards if ever needed.
In terms of performance, camera and material choice in this price range, the Chinese brands such as Xiaomi are a touch better. But Samsung does well in terms of its software, with everything from pay services to health functions taken directly from the company's more expensive models.
The Samsung Galaxy A40 is a budget phone that has good functions and is exceptional value for money. It perhaps doesn’t have the same WOW factor as some other cheaper models, but nor does it embarrass itself.
Unique camera and large screen
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.7 inch - 1080 x 2400 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 (2x2.2 GHz + 6x1.8 GHz) Camera: 48+8 megapixel, same camera for selfies Battery: 3700 mAh Dimensions: 165.2x76.5x9.3 mm Weight: 220 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, ANT+, rotating camera
The Samsung Galaxy A80 is, to a large extent, a quicker version of the Galaxy A70, but with a twist... literally. There’s no camera at all on the front of the phone. Instead it’s the rear camera that is rotated with a motor to become a selfie camera. Intrigued? So were we…
Unlike the Galaxy A70, this phone only has two cameras instead of three, but the main camera is a slightly more modern version. Yet as usual with rear cameras, it behaves roughly like the one in the sister model. You notice the absence of the really wide angle, but the pictures are generally good if lacking something of the sparkle of more expensive models.
But the talking point on this phone is the motor for the camera. As we said above, there’s no front camera. If you press the button for the front camera, a little motor is activated that simply turns the entire rear camera to face the front. Of course, this is a cool gimmick, but it also feels a much less sturdy construction than, for example, the pop-up camera on the Oneplus 7 Pro.
The motor is rather underpowered and it’s unable to rotate the camera when the phone is lying on a table. The motor also means that the smartphone is significantly heavier than its sister model, the A70.
Paradoxically, it was a while after release before the same software was used for selfies and normal photographs, despite it being the same camera. Now you get the same functions on the front as on the back, but it doesn’t feel entirely satisfactory as a solution.
Comparisons with the Galaxy A70 are inevitable. The screen is identical on both devices and many of the dimensions are strikingly similar.
The screen is of a decent size and performs well for its price, even if the colours aren’t at the same level as the company’s own S10 series. And with such a large screen, you have to be prepared for a bulkier smartphone.
Just like on the A70, there’s a really slow fingerprint reader built into the screen.
But the phone contains a slightly quicker processor than the one in the A70. This is something that was most obvious during our performance test. During normal use, there’s very little difference between the two. At the same time, the camera motor means that the battery is smaller here than in the A70, which is also reflected in the battery life. It wasn’t wonderful in the A70, and it’s scarcely better here.
The Samsung Galaxy A80 is a one-trick phone with its gimmicky motorised camera. If you’re looking for a telephone with a really big screen for a slightly cheaper price, we think you’d be better off with the A70. That’s because you get a minimal update for a higher price with the Samsung Galaxy A80.
Slow screen on a bland mobile
Price class: Medium Screen: 6.5 inch LCD - 1080 x 2340 pixels Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 (2x2 GHz + 6x1.7 GHz) Camera: 64+8 Megapixel (wide, ultrawide), selfie camera 32 megapixel Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: 161.8x76.6x8.9 mm Weight: 210 g Android version: 10 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader, motorised selfie camera
When they launched the Moto G8 Plus, Motorola promised that they'd reduce the number of versions of the G8 to avoid confusion. Clearly they didn’t include other models in this promise, because the Motorola One Hyper feels like a more expensive G8 with few benefits.
The important thing to note about this phone, and the reason for the slightly higher price tag, are the cameras. On the back is a main 64-megapixel camera, closely followed by one of eight megapixels.
Oddly, the front has no camera. Instead it's concealed in the top of the smartphone and slides out when required. This is a gimmick we've seen before to give a bigger screen area, but which also raises questions of sustainability over the longer term. It’s probably also the camera that increases the weight to a substantial 210 grams in a mobile where the weight in general doesn't give the same quality feel as other heavier devices.
The problem is that the large number of megapixels on both the back and front cameras doesn’t translate into quality. The comparison with the Moto G8 is inevitable, because the image quality is the same except that the G8 has an extra lens for you to toy with.
The comparison continues here too, because the smartphones are almost identical. The One Hyper has a faster chip on paper, but a smaller screen and lower resolution. But the batteries are the same, which together with the smaller and less energy-sapping screen means it has a strong battery life.
The screen is the smartphone’s biggest headache. Whether it’s the refresh rate in the screen itself or the touch sensor, we can't decide – but it constantly feels like there's a slight delay between pressing or swiping and what actually happens on the screen. Not to the point that it makes the phone difficult to use, but sufficient to make the entire experience a bit laggy.
On the whole, the Motorola One Hyper is a phone with good battery life but a sluggish screen. The differences between this and its significantly cheaper cousin, the G8 Plus, are almost negligible, which makes this one an uninteresting purchase.
Samsung can do better than this
Price class: Budget Screen: 6.5 inch LCD - 1080 x 2400 pixels Processor: Exynos 9611 Camera: 48+12+5+5 Megapixel (wide, ultrawide, macro, depth), selfie camera 32 megapixel Battery: 4000 mAh Dimensions: 158.5 x 73.6 x 7.9 mm Weight: 172 g Android version: 9 Miscellaneous: Fingerprint reader in screen, headphone jack
As the name implies, the Samsung Galaxy A51 is both a successor and very close relative of its predecessor, the A50. You actually need a magnifying glass to see the differences between the two on a list of specifications.
But in reality they differ in a couple of important ways – and not always to the successor’s advantage.
A slightly larger screen and an extra camera are the main new features on the outside of the A51; that and the fact that the back, with its rectangular camera area, is clearly designed to resemble this spring’s top models in the S20 series.
The camera has been updated slightly since the previous model, primarily with the addition of a macro camera to take pictures at close range. These are found on more expensive models without requiring an extra lens, but this one works very well.
The camera doesn’t have image stabilisation, so both you and the subject need to be still for the photo not to come out blurry.
The same thing applies to the three other cameras and the selfie camera. In daylight they generally produce really good images. The image processing makes them a little blurry when it comes to irregular details such as bushes, but overall they’re fine.
Things are worse at night, however, and you notice the lack of image stabilisation here too. The photos easily turn out blurred, so the subject has to be completely still for a longer period if you’re going to avoid this.
The best thing about the A50, which remains in this later phone, is the Super AMOLED screen which is a great feature in this price class with very good colours. It also has the latest version of Android and of Samsung's own interface.
But this is also where major problems become apparent. Even though the Galaxy A50 wasn’t exactly a greyhound, the speed never bothered us during everyday use. But the Galaxy A51 frequently hangs when you swipe between start screens, when apps are opening or closing and in fact pretty much whenever it feels like it. It happens often enough to be a problem, and one that doesn’t go away despite a system update and restore. This is probably due to a poorly optimised Android installation and/or Samsung's own interface, but regardless of the cause it’s very irritating.
The price class around the £300 mark is a really tough one now and releasing a phone that can’t really cope while the competitors are very fast just doesn’t work. So it feels like you’ve got significant better choices than the Samsung Galaxy A51 – including its predecessor.
The mobile phone has become an essential product for most people today. We use it for advanced tasks in our working lives. But also for things as simple as keeping an eye on the clock, passing the time, entertainment, socialising via social media, news, email etc. – and of course to make phone calls with.
The aspect that primarily distinguishes mobile phones from each other today is the mobile operating system they use. Apple has its own mobile operating system, which is called iOS. Google also has its own (Android), but they manufacture relatively few mobile phones themselves. The Android OS is primarily used by a number of other manufacturers, such as in mobile phones made by Sony, Samsung, HTC, ZTE and LG. However, Google sometimes chooses to produce a mobile phone in collaboration with another manufacturer. Microsoft also had its own mobile operating system, Windows Phone. It was quite popular a few years ago, but Microsoft chose to drop support for their smartphones with Windows 10 in the summer of 2017. Recent figures show that slightly more than 90 percent of the mobile phones sold today have either Android or iOS as their mobile operating system.
As well as these mobile operating systems for smartphones, there are also simpler models for seniors. These mobile phones are often suitable for elderly people and have fewer functions. They include a scaled-down interface and big visible buttons for elderly people to see easier. Some even come with panic button functions and apps in case of an emergency. Doro is an example of a manufacturer that makes mobile phones for older people. There are also a number of really cheap mobile phones of the simpler type that aren't specifically aimed at older people. These are smartphones that are almost exclusively intended to communicate with, not for things such as entertainment, internet use and so on.
Today's smartphones all have touchscreens and are quick and easy to use. They also have GPS navigation, good integration with social media and access to an app shop with hundreds or thousands of apps and games that you can download to expand your device’s functionality. The Android app shop is called Google Play, and the Apple one is called App Store. In these digital shops you can find apps for everything from social media, games and videos to word processing, exercise trackers and measurement tools for DIY. There are many essential – and non-essential – (free) apps available.
What primarily distinguishes mobile phones from each other today are their interface and performance. iOS has a unique interface that distinguishes Apple phones from the crowd. Equally, many mobile phone manufacturers choose to create their own interface on top of Android, where they give the user a number of extra functions that they wouldn’t have had with the straight Android OS. However, some manufacturers choose not to do this to create their own unique view of the interface. This interface is then called Android Vanilla, and the consumer gets a less well-developed and unique experience.
Mobile phones also have different performance levels. Performance depends on the hardware the manufacturer chooses to squeeze into the shell of the mobile, but is also a function of the software that is intended to make the best of the hardware. Almost all mobile phones are quick and have no lag in their interface today, and that applies to the majority of budget phones as well. This wasn't the case a few years ago. However, performance can vary when you run lots of apps at the same time, or when you run a particularly demanding app or a game that tests the latest hardware to its max.
When buying a mobile phone, it's therefore important that you know what your needs are. What do you intend to use the phone for? Do you need the best hardware, or will a mobile phone from the other end of the scale perhaps suffice? Will you do just fine with a budget mobile?
You should always be careful when buying older mobile phones that can't be updated to the latest version of the mobile operating system. Operating systems are updated at regular intervals. Manufacturers fix security vulnerabilities that could otherwise cause problems for the consumer through hacking attacks, for example in the form of data loss or even financial loss. When operating systems are updated, the apps are also often updated too. It can also be the case that some apps are adapted to the new version of the operating system and stop working in older versions. So if you buy a mobile phone with an older version of the operating system that can't be updated to a newer version, you will have a mobile phone where some apps don't work. And in the worst case, you may have security vulnerabilities in the operating system that can be exploited by hackers. So, you should therefore always choose a relatively newer mobile phone model, regardless of whether you're looking for a budget, mid-range or premium device.
Through the links under our tests, you can find the best prices for mobiles, both with and without subscriptions or prepaid. We continuously update the test with new mobile phones so that we can give you the best information about the latest mobile phones - and to help you buy the right phone for your needs.
For your reference, we divided mobile phones into the following price brackets:
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