In our series of best product guides, here’s the latest update to our recommended Android Smartphone list. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect pricing at the time of writing (April 28th).

We’ve nearly completed the spring release cycle of devices, and this means that most vendors have now released their flagship devices for 2020, introducing brand new phones with the newest technologies to the market.

The new device generation significantly mix up the competitive landscape, and it looks like 2020’s flagship phones are all about high refresh-rate screens as well as new complex camera setups.

Samsung was amongst the first to release their products in 2020, with the Galaxy S20’s showcasing the company’s new camera generation, and trying to one-up the ecosystem with the super high-end Galaxy S20 Ultra. Over weeks following that we saw outstandingly good devices from Xiaomi, Huawei, LG, and in particular OnePlus. The new OnePlus 8 Pro really changed things up for the company as the new device can no longer be called a “flagship-killer”, but rather an outright flagship – with no compromises in features, but also with a higher price tag.

Let’s review which devices make most sense at this point in time in the year, across different price segments:

AnandTech Android Smartphone Recommendations: Q1 2020
Segment Option #1 Option #2
High-End OnePlus 8 Pro Galaxy S20/S20+
Mid-Range Galaxy A71 Galaxy A51
Best Low-End Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro

At the top-end, it looks like OnePlus’ choice of actually delivering a flagship this year has paid off, as it’s our top choice in terms of the best no-compromise Android phone out there. Samsung’s S20 series are still respectable, and the smaller S20 is still the only viable option in its form-factor.

On the mid-range, ever since the new 2020 upgraded A-series, Samsung competitiveness in this range has drastically improved over past iterations, and the new A71 and A51 seem extremely well-balanced phones sporting a ton of features for reasonable prices.

Best Flagship Devices:  OnePlus 8 Pro & Galaxy S20/S20+

The high-end flagship market is where things have changed the most over the last few months. There had been some really big expectations with this generation of phones, but the one vendor that personally surprised me the most in terms of seemingly being able to deliver the best all-round package was OnePlus, in the form of the new 8 Pro.

 

The OnePlus 8 Pro essentially checks every single feature box in a phone today, ranging from a new generation 1440p 120Hz to a new Snapdragon 865 that offers the best performance and power efficiency amongst Android devices today.

The phone’s new design – although some would call it maybe boring or uninspiring, is in my view an excellent evolution over last year’s 7 Pro as it’s now more lightweight and thinner.

Particularly on the camera side we saw OnePlus surprise us with a camera setup that not only keeps up with the competition, but arguable is amongst the best implementations this year so far.

The biggest argument for the OnePlus 8 Pro is that even at a higher price point than usual, starting at $/€899, it’s a much better value phone than anything else out there as essentially it has no obvious weakness. Particularly European and other markets where Samsung offers the Exynos 990 S20’s, the OnePlus 8 Pro with its Snapdragon chip seems a much better choice.

 

Samsung this year made a big kerfuffle with its new S20 series, particularly the ultra-high-end Galaxy S20 Ultra and its camera capabilities. Unfortunately, I don’t really think the Ultra was able to carve itself any place in the market, especially at its $1399 price point.

The S20+ and S20 on the other hand seem quite reasonable devices. From a hardware perspective, these are excellent phones, but Samsung’s camera software processing this year really held their potential back. Especially the Exynos 990 based variants of the S20 series are worse devices, incurring performance and efficiency compromises compared to the Snapdragon 865 models in markets such as the US.

Still, they’re good phones, even if outshone by the OnePlus 8 Pro. The smaller Galaxy S20 particularly remains quite a rare device in the market as there’s not many vendors left putting out flagship phones in such form-factors, and prices have already started dropping as the S20 can be had for 777€ if you opt for the 4G version.

Best Mid Range Smartphones: Galaxy A71 - Keep eye out for 5G variant

In the mid-range, usually it’s always been one of the Chinese vendors who held the top position here in terms of offering the best value proposition smartphones. Samsung’s latest 2020 iterations of the A-series seemingly changes this situation, and the new Galaxy A71 is uncharacteristically a quite competitive phone for the company.

 

Sporting a Snapdragon 730 SoC in the 4G variant, the phone still offers plenty of performance for every-day tasks as well as light gaming. What’s really convincing about the A71 is the rest of the features of the phone. The 6.7” OLED screens with a 2400 x 1080 resolution delivers on what you’d expect, and there’s a correspondingly large 4500mAh battery for a phone this size.

The camera setup is powered by a 64MP main sensor that seemingly is of the same large 1/1.72” size and capabilities as the secondary wide-angle of the Galaxy S20, able to capture excellent daylight pictures as well as low-light, augmented by computational photography Night Mode. A 12MP ultra-wide is the secondary proper camera unit, and we see two additional 5MP sensors for limited use-cases such as macro photography and depth sensing.

The biggest draw-back of the A71 right now is that seemingly it’s not currently officially available in the US, and that means you’re relegated to buying the international models (with no support for Verizon networks) – at around $399. In Europe, it’s currently available for 369€.

The recently announced 5G variants of the A71 and A51 upgrade the SoC from the Snapdragon 730 to a newer Exynos 980 which should bring a very big performance boost as well as obviously 5G connectivity. We’ll have to wait a few more months for availability of these models, but they seemingly will offer the same kind of value than the 4G variants.

 

Best Budget Smartphone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro

This category of devices is very hard for me to write about due to the sheer size of the market and particular regional segmentation. In particular the US market is absolutely barren of viable options due to the fact that many OEMs don’t officially release their products in this region. This is incredibly frustrating as it’s in this budget segment where we see the vast majority of competition from Asian vendors, providing some of the more incredible value propositions.

Users who are on CDMA carriers (Verizon, Sprint) are just pure out of luck. It’s a tough situation and unfortunately due to the geopolitical as well as bad US carrier situation I think the best sub-$200 phones are probably refurbished previous generation flagship devices.

 

This quarter, our recommendation remains the same as Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note 8 Pro is still able to steal the crown as the absolute best low-end/value smartphone. The phone is able to sport a new more modern design compared to past Redmi iterations, but where it shines is in terms of its hardware specifications. While the display is still an 1080p LCD – it’s an understandable compromise given the phone’s $224 / 209€ current price tag. It’s one of the rare MediaTek powered phones, and the new G90T is seemingly able to offer excellent performance and power efficiency.

The camera system is dominated by a new 64MP main camera sensor that punches far above its weight in this price segment. There’s also an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens as well as a 2MP macro lens; these latter two aren’t of the best quality but hey, at this price we won’t complain. Finally, the 4500mAh battery rounds this phone off as a quite outstanding value proposition and Xiaomi really steals the spotlight yet again also in this segment. The best thing about the Note 8 Pro is the fact that’s it’s readily available in the US and Europe on Amazon which makes it a straightforward purchase.

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  • boozed - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    May I humbly suggest breaking down these categories by screen size? Reply
  • hildegardrdungan - Monday, May 11, 2020 - link

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  • patel21 - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Is it too much to hope for Samsung A71 review on anandtech.

    I know it only has SD730 but it can be a great insight on how capable are mid-tier chipsets of today w.r.t the flagships of yester years.
    Reply
  • sonny73n - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Best phone would be one without: curved screen, punch hole, notch, chin, protruding camera, fat bezels. Reply
  • 3ogdy - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Out of all those requirements, the ones the ZS630KL doesn't meet is the chin and I suppose the "protruding camera" one, although that's more subjective. Reply
  • FenCPH - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    You Should reveiw Samsung Galaxy XCOVER pro.
    Also a 2020 phone with user replaceable battery and mil 8002 protection.
    Reply
  • FenCPH - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Mil 810 protection Reply
  • abufrejoval - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    I can’t help thinking that the best phone to buy is last year’s high-end. And then you can go back another year or two for mid-range and entry level.

    Of course all of that requires that custom ROM support be available and that’s where I see issues with anything mid-range or below: Nobody does custom ROMs for these devices, which generally means they become too easy to infect and hijack when security patches run out.

    Worse, even rooting may be impossible, not because of vendors blocking that, but because nobody is even working on a matching TWRP for the device. Without that it’s impossible to clean out the factory bloat- and malware, another showstopper for my family and friends.

    I had six LeEco Le Max 2 (820 SoC) running in my ‘herd’, two of which are still in daily use and now on LinageOS 17.1, when they launched with Marshmallow in 2016.

    A OnePlus 1, Galaxy Note 3 (800 SoC) launched on Lollipop 7 years ago and are still on LineageOS, but they get all Android patches and may well make it to 17.1 soon. And both are still pretty good phones, especially the OnePlus 1, which feels quite snappier than the Note 3 for some reason, even if the SoC is the same (the Note can counter with SDcard storage, through). I took one of those with me as backup phone when I was still flying around before Corona, equipped with all those travel management apps and virtual credit cards and of course the contacts and the dual SIM, because I just hate to operate without a backup when it comes to IT.

    I retired a Galaxy Note (1) launched 2011 on Jelly Bean, simply because it was getting too slow to be usable, but somebody is still maintaining a Pie (LineageOS 16) on it. It’s still working, btw. thanks to a replaceable battery. What I really liked about that phone was the 16:10 screen, which was much better for reading stuff. The size never bothered me, because I needn't even strech to get an octave on the piano.

    I just had to give my darling OnePlus 5 (835 SoC) away (also LineageOS 16), because a son’s Le Max 2 got forcefully retired. It was very hard to replace with something sane (no curved screen, NFC, 6GB+ RAM, 128GB+ flash, something DeX would be nice). Either devices no longer sold, or they were not supported by LineageOS or NFC (payment) was missing.

    I actually wound up getting a OnePlus 7 Pro (8/256) for €600, because the 7 (non-Pro) or 7T (any) are not on the LinageOS support list, even if the non-Pros are (to me) the much better phones without this curved screen insanity.

    At least the curve isn’t as bad as I thought when reading stuff straight from the front, but it’s still much easier to catch a disturbing glare from those edges. And unfortunately none of the silicon cases really can do anything to protect the front.

    For the last ten years I’ve been accustomed to put my phones screen down on tables when working and wrap-around sleeve edges kept the screen away from dust, crumbs or worse, while the back was even better protected from stuff that might get dropped on top (including coffee or the cup).

    With the curves, top and bottom wrap-around could in theory achieve something similar, but I’ve seen nobody selling that, nor did I see anyone offering something wrap-around on all sides and transparent....? I guess that’s because the results aren’t good.

    I’m not sure how long it will last then: Can’t tell how often I dropped my phones or even got it slapped out of my hand in a crowd (yeah, those were the times!).

    I can’t wait to see the curved edges go the way of the tail fins.
    Reply
  • Kangal - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    I agree but for different reasons.

    The smartphone industry is a Trillion Dollar market, with lots of vested interest from consumers, oems, chipset designers, photographers, ecosystem maintainers, and hackers. That means there is a lot of White Noise, especially when it comes to a popular device model: hype, pre-leaks, unveiling, paper launch, paid reviews, fanboyism, and hardware issues that are blown out of proportion. All that starts a few months before unveiling and lasts at least 6-months after launch.

    So if you buy a phone that is 1.1 years old, you can make a MUCH more informed decision.
    - Price has crashed (eg USD $800 to USD $400)
    - Hardware issues were realised to be false, and/or fixed. Otherwise avoided.
    - Software bugs have been ironed out.
    - Accessories have been released by many Name Brand and No Name products
    - Community Support has been established (root, bootloader unlock, Custom Recovery, Custom Kernel, Custom ROM, Custom Rom OTA updates, MODs, etc etc)

    ...in many cases, the established device is BETTER than the new device. The new device might have some Software Bugs and Hardware QC issues. It would lack many accessories, and the Overall Experience would be worse. All at double the price!!

    The slight increases in Processor Performance, Camera Performance, and Screen Quality are again not very large increases, and thusly not worth the premium price (ie Bad Value). You now need to go between several year models to notice the differences.

    Things were different back in 2009-2014, huge-notable improvements yearly:
    Just recall the (2009) HTC Magic > Nexus One > Samsung Galaxy S > Samsung S2 > Samsung Note > Samsung Note 2 > Samsung Note 3 (snapdragon) > Samsung Note 4 (2014).

    ...that's the point, we hit the plateau, phones became less practical, durable, and affordable.
    Best phones of 2016: LG V20, ZTE Axon 7, Samsung S7 Edge (exynos).

    Heck, compare the latest 2020 Samsung S20 (small/standard model), without much accessories, running the Stock OneUI SkinnedOS firmware. Compare that to the 2016 Samsung S7 Plus (it's actually smaller!!), with all the best accessories, running the best Custom Firmware (EvolutionX OS ?). The overall experience between the two are not that different when it comes to smoothness, battery life, with only differences noticeable on screens when up-close AND with the camera when you start pixel-peeping.
    Reply
  • technewsdaily - Saturday, May 9, 2020 - link

    With respect to contenders, there aren't many. Most PC producers abandoned separable scratch pad years prior, which leaves Microsoft for all intents and purposes in its very own classification. The most grounded choices are Apple's $329 iPad and $499 iPad Air. The less expensive model will in any case offer preferred tablet applications over the priciest Surface Go 2. The iPad Air is an extraordinary choice in the event that you need more force however would prefer not to hop up to Apple's Pro tablets. Both iPads can likewise be furnished with console cases like Logitech's Combo Touch, so you can at present be quite gainful.

    Website: https://techcrunch.com
    Reply

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