Best phone in the US for 2019: the top 15 smartphones we've tested

best phone 2019 collection of smartphones

The best phone of 2019 in the US is an expensive investment, whether it comes from Samsung, Apple or Google. A lot of these smartphone prices start at $1,000, so you'll want to take your decision seriously. That's why we're here to help guide you.

Today's best phone has a big screen, yet is easy to handle, a camera capable enough to replace a point-and-shoot, and enough horsepower and battery to get work done while you're mobile. You won't find smartphones with slowdown and anything less than all-day battery life on this list.

Tomorrow's top smartphone? That'll probably be a 5G phone, like the Galaxy S10 5G, and then, eventually, a foldable phone with 5G, starting with the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold. But foldable phones are unproven and 5G in the US isn't in enough cities around the country to recommend. Our list will remain practical.

Why we have more than a No. 1 pick: We have a top pick, but not everyone looks for the same smartphone features. Some will demand iOS 13 and cling to Apple's iMessage, while others will want customizations and Google Assistant tools available in Android Q beta. Our phone reviews and best phone list reflect that diversity. 

Likewise, your contract with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile is a preference. The best phone for AT&T may not be available on-contract on Verizon, and vice-versa. While we've seen more unlocked phones in the US in 2019, not all are available for every carrier. We have to take that into account when recommending phones, and we favor those that are completely unlocked or available on the four major carriers.

Our pick for best phone isn't just crowning the newest iPhone and calling it a day, though our list does have a lot of familiar names: Apple, Samsung, Google and LG, all in the top 15. Newer companies in the US like Huawei and OnePlus make the list, too, though their limited availability is noted.

The best phone on our list on sale right now

Before we get to our official best phone list below, we mentioned that phones are expensive, so we're updating our list of the best prices for each of the top phones mentioned among the 15 – when they're lower than usual. The iPhone sits at a constant price, typically. Here's how you can save on your purchase.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ (128GB, unlocked) $999 now $799 at Amazon
This is the version of Samsung's best phone of the year that you should go for. 128GB is more than enough for most, and the camera, screen, speed and battery quality are a snip at this price.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S10 (128GB, unlocked): $899 now $699 at Amazon
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is the smaller version of the phone from the brand, with a 5.8-inch display and the under-display fingerprint scanner making it a little more palatable in the palm.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S10 (512GB, unlocked) $1,149 now $849 at Amazon
The cinematic display on the Samsung Galaxy S10 is something you'll want to consume loads of movies on - and if you've got 512GB then you'll able to fill it to the brim and get a lovely camera and strong battery too.View Deal

Google Pixel 3 (64GB, unlocked) $799 now $669 at Amazon
The Google Pixel 3 has the best camera on a smartphone – if you want to avoid the hoops of buying one from Huawei. It's also easy to handle with one hand, which we appreciate. View Deal

Huawei P30 Pro (128GB, unlocked) $749 now $559 at Amazon
Warning:
This is technically the camera phone, but two things you should know: there's an ongoing Huawei ban in the US that could affect future updates, and the price on Amazon tends to fluctuate. View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S10e (128GB, unlocked): $749 now $549 at Amazon
The S10e brings all the key parts of the S10 range that launched earlier in the year, but adds in one key element: a cheaper price without scrimping too much on spec. This is Samsung's iPhone XR, and it's a darn sight cheaper with this saving.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus 64GB Unlocked $699 $449 on Amazon
Get the older but still solid Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus for the retail price. This deal is for the 64GB model, but you can easily increase storage with a MicroSD card up to 400GB. Choose from Coral Blue, Midnight Black, and Lilac Purple.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S9, 64GB Unlocked $599 $449 on Amazon
While it's not the fastest phone on the block anymore, the venerable Samsung Galaxy S9 is still a speedy handset from 2018 that is a steal, easily outpacing other phones at this price point.

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1. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

A big phone with a few new features

Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 175g / 198g (ceramic) | Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm | OS: Android Pie | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 3040×1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128/512GB/1TB (up to 1.5TB with card) | Battery: 4,100mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 10MP + 8MP

Latest and greatest specs
Good cameras and software
New features are fun, but not must-have
Pricey, as expected

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is the best phone you can get for Android right now, if you're just going by specs. Naturally, as the first flagship of 2019, its new Snapdragon 855 processor is the big standout here with even better performance than the phones that closed out 2018. Add in a few cool new (but not essential) features, Samsung's stunning-as-ever display and design as well as top specs and you have a true flagship – for a true flagship price, of course, starting at  $999 / £899 / AU$1,499 / AED 3,599.

Screen: The 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display is gorgeous, but that's not surprising. it's the same size as the Galaxy Note 9's screen, and far larger than the Galaxy S9 Plus' 6.2-inch display. The 'Infinity O' display ditches the notch for a punch-hole in the top right corner. Yes, it's twice as wide as the hole in the S10 and S10e, but how else will you fit in the extra selfie camera? This choice (and thin bezels) enable a stunning 93.1% screen-to-body ratio, which keeps the phone as slim as possible.

Battery Life: The S10 Plus' 4,100mAh battery is Samsung's largest yet, just nudging past the Note 9's 4,000mAh and far beyond the 3,500mAh one in the Galaxy S9 Plus. While that didn't lead the new phone's battery life to outpace its predecessors, it still kept it going through the full day with 10%-30% to spare in our casual testing. This is, of course, with standard settings: bump up the resolution from Full HD+ to QHD+, brighten the display or keep it on longer, and the battery will drain faster.

Camera: The S10 Plus has three cameras on the back: a 12MP regular lens, a 12MP optically zoomed telephoto lens, and a new 16MP ultra-wide lens. We found the photo quality to be a bit variable – perhaps due to the dual-aperture main lens – with good but not consistent low-light performance. It's not quite up to par with the Google Pixel 3's Night Vision mode, but it still outpaces most other phone cameras on the market. The two front-facing cameras allow depth for Portrait mode-style photos, which is worth the wider punch-hole gap in the display.

Mini verdict: After some time with the standard Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10e, we can say for sure that the S10 Plus beats them out. It has the best specs, cameras and battery life of the whole set, and it's not too much more expensive than the other models. If you want a phone that will blow every other device out of the water in early 2019 – as well as its in-screen fingerprint sensor and reverse charging – this is your only real option. 

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review