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

The best phone in 2019 in the US has a decent price, fast performance, a versatile camera and, crucially, long-lasting battery life. Foldable and 5G phones are more a 2020 thing, so this may be your last 4G LTE purchase – so it's gotta be meaningful.

We've tested all of the latest (and occasionally) greatest phones in comprehensive phone reviews. That's our job. As we chiseled down a list of our favorites in the US, we based our newly updated rankings system on geeked-out factors: design, performance, battery life, camera quality, and consistent software updates.

Why we have more than just a No. 1 pick: The truth is almost all new smartphones are impressive, but you want to walk away with the greatest phone for you. Personal preferences for features coming in iOS 13 or Android Q may sway you. No iPhone user in the US wants to get rid of iMessages, and we understand that. Likewise, Android is better for people who like to tinker with settings – that's Google's specialty.

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. We have to take that into account when recommending phones, and we favor those available on more carriers.

The best phone isn't simply the newest iPhone, although 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 low availability is noted.

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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