Best Phones of 2019

Product Use case Rating
iPhone XS Max Best Phone Overall 4.5
Galaxy S10 Plus Best Android Phone 4.5
Google Pixel 3 Best Camera Phone 4.5
OnePlus 6T Best Value 4.5
iPhone XR Best iPhone Value 4.5
Galaxy Note 9 Best Big-Screen Phone 4
Moto G7 Best Phone Under $300 3.5
Galaxy S10e Best Small Phone 4
Asus ROG Phone Best Phone for Gamers 4
iPhone 7 Best Phone for Kids 4.5



Update March 18: We've updated this guide with our review of the Moto G7, our new pick for best phone under $300.

The new Galaxy S10 phones add another chapter to the long-running battle between Samsung and Apple for best smartphone. And though we're very impressed with what we've seen from the S10 so far, Apple retains its edge over the competition with the iPhone XS Max.

With a 6.5-inch OLED screen crammed into a phone that's not much larger than the iPhone 8 Plus, the XS Max commands a staggering $1,099, but in return you get improved cameras and a processor that blows away many its rivals.

However, if you want a big screen and don't want to pay a premium, the $749 iPhone XR is a great option for most people. You get a big 6.1-inch display, the same great camera and processor and lots of fun color options. And it lasts longer on a charge than the iPhone XS Max, but you don't get an OLED display or 2x optical zoom.

As for Samsung's latest phones, the Galaxy S10 Plus benefits from a powerful processor, much-improved camera and the best battery life you'll find in a current flagship phone. It's the phone to get if you want the very best Android handset. If you'd like a smaller phone, the Galaxy S10e offers a more compact 5.8-inch screen and a lower starting price than the other S10 models. You get dual rear lenses instead of the three camera setup on the other S10s, but the S10e runs on the same top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 processor as its siblings. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S10 is nearly as good as the S10 Plus and $100 less expensive; the phone doesn't last as long on a charge, though, and its front camera isn't as good as the dual lens setup on the S10 Plus.

Android purists should turn to the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL. Based on our testing, the Pixel 3 is the best camera phone on the market. Other highlights include AI features like screening robocalls and Android 9 Pie.

Even with the arrival of the 6.4-inch S10 Plus, Samsung's just-a-large Galaxy Note 9 remains the big-screen phone to beat, thanks to the capabilities of its S Pen and a camera boosted by AI-powered enhancements.

If you want to avoid paying top dollar for a phone while still enjoying premium features, the OnePlus 6T is a fantastic value. It offers a speedy in-screen fingerprint reader, an immersive 6.4-inch OLED screen and flagship specs for just $549. If you’re on a tighter budget, check out the Moto G7, which gives you a phone with a colorful display and strong performance from a Snapdragon 632 for $299. (If battery life is important to you, though, hold off until we've had a chance to test the Moto G7 Power to see if it lasts longer on a charge.)

Tom's Guide reviews dozens of new smartphones, and we evaluate them in our lab and in the real world based on design, features, performance, camera quality and battery life. Check out our top smartphone choices in multiple categories, along with new and notable phones we're planning on reviewing shortly and the latest rumors about upcoming handsets.


News and Updates (March 2019)

Smartphone Rumors

  • Pixel 3 Lite: Google may be working on a phone called the Pixel 3 Lite, which will presumably be more affordable than the Pixel 3. Rumored specs include a 5.5-inch display and Snapdragon 670 processor. The Lite version of the Pixel would come out prior to this fall's expected release of the Pixel 4.
  • OnePlus 7: The OnePlus 7 promises a full-screen design with a pop-up selfie camera and Snapdragon 855 power for hundreds less than the Galaxy S10. Get up to date on all of the latest OnePlus 7 rumors.
  • iPhone 2019: iPhone rumors have already started circulating about what Apple has planned for its next models. One secret weapon could be advanced 3D cameras.
  • Motorola Razr 2019: The next Motorola Razr is expected to sport a foldable clamshell design that's more compact than the Galaxy Fold with mid-range specs.
  • 5G Phones: Phones that take advantage of the soon-to-launch 5G networking standard are expected in the first half of 2019. See our roundup of all the 5G phones to expect (though you won't need to wait much longer for the 5G Galaxy S10).

Buying options for the best phones of 2019:

The iPhone XS Max is the best smartphone money can buy. Granted, $1,099 is a lot of money, but for that price you’re getting a ginormous and gorgeous 6.5-inch OLED display, much improved cameras (especially in low light) and the fastest processor ever in a phone. The regular iPhone XS has all of the same upgrades, but we prefer the Max for its larger canvas for watching video, split-screen view within certain apps and longer battery life.  If you’re going to splurge on a phone to own for the next 2 to 3 years, this is it.

MORE: iPhone XS Max Full Review

Samsung marks the tenth anniversary of its Galaxy S lineup with some noteworthy innovations. An ultrasonic fingerprint sensor lives under Galaxy S10 Plus' 6.4-inch display, letting you easily unlock the device, and the phone's Wireless PowerShare feature lets you charge other devices wirelessly. But the S10 Plus also does a superlative job with more standard features, such as its 12.5-hour battery life. The Snapdragon 855 chipset powering Samsung's phone delivers the best performance we've seen yet on an Android device and even approaches the iPhone's pace-setting A12 Bionic processor. The three rear cameras on the S10 Plus also produce some stellar photos that give the Pixel 3's camera a run for its money. Get the Galaxy S10 Plus if you want the best total Android experience.

MORE: Galaxy S10 Plus Full Review

The Pixel 3 is the best camera phone and best pure Android phone we have ever tested, and it’s not because of the hardware. Google has found amazing ways to leverage AI on this 5.5-inch handset, including a Top Shot feature for the camera that automatically picks the best photo and a screen calling feature that uses Google Assistant to transcribe calls as they come in on the fly. The photo quality here is just stunning; you can even get optical zoom results without a second lens. Add in the equally smart and helpful Android Pie OS and an improved OLED screen and you have one heck of a phone.

MORE: Google Pixel 3 Full Review

The OnePlus 6T delivers a couple of key firsts at a great price. It’s the first phone sold in the U.S. with an in-screen fingerprint reader--and it works almost instantly. The 6T is also the first phone from OnePlus sold through a U.S. carrier in T-Mobile. Whether you go that route or buy it unlocked, you’ll be happy with the OnePlus 6T’s strong performance, stunning 6.4-inch OLED display and improved dual cameras. You get great specs for the money: a Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for just $549 (£499, €549) or you can upgrade that to 8GB of RAM for just $20 more at $579 (£529, €579).

MORE: OnePlus 6T Full Review

The iPhone XR costs $250 less than the iPhone XS and Galaxy Note 9, and yet this phone delivers pretty much everything you’d want from a big-screen flagship. That includes a bright and colorful 6.1-inch LCD display, the fastest processor you can get in a phone (A12 Bionic) and great camera quality. No, you don’t get dual rear shooters for 2X optical zoom, but otherwise this phone is top-notch in every way. The best part is the battery life, as the iPhone XR lasted 11 hours and 28 minutes on our web surfing battery test. That beats most flagship phones.

MORE: iPhone XR Full Review

With the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung has joined the iPhone X in the pricey $1,000 phone club. But this handset is worth the premium if you want the best big-screen phone around. The 6.4-inch display is gorgeous, and you get a new AI-assisted cameras for automatically recognizing various scenes to get the best photo. Other highlights include a Bluetooth-enabled S Pen, which makes it easy to remotely control the phone for shooting selfies, changing music tracks and more. Add in more than 11 hours of battery life, and the Note 9 is worth the splurge for power users.

MORE: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Full Review


The latest entry to Motorola's G Series of budget phones delivers a much-improved 6.2-inch LCD screen and better performance than you might expect from a less expensive handset. The Moto G7 also runs Android 9 Pie out of the box, with Motorola making few changes to the stock Android interface. The few tweaks that are there, like custom gesture controls, are welcome additions. Budget phones often require some trade-offs for a lower price, and the G7's battery life is nothing to write home about. But if you don't want to spend more than $300 on a phone, this is the model to get.

MORE: Moto G7 Review


Smartphone screen sizes have been creeping upward. But the Galaxy S10e proves that you don't need a big screen (or a big price tag) to get a superior phone. This 5.8-inch addition to Samsung's Galaxy S lineup gives up the in-display fingerprint sensor and third rear camera lens found on the other Galaxy S10 models. But it's got the same powerful Snapdragon 855 processor, so you're not having to sacrifice performance if you want a more compact phone. And with a starting price of $749, you don't have to pay up for the privilege of carrying around the smaller-sized phone you prefer.

MORE: Galaxy S10e Review

For those serious about gaming, the Asus ROG Phone is tailor-made for you. This beast packs a gorgeous 6-inch OLED display, a Snapdragon 845 processor with four cores that run at overclocked speeds and 8GB or RAM. In addition to impressive performance, the ROG Phone sports a head-turning design with a logo that can glow 16.8 million colors. Other highlights include a vapor cooling system and even an included active cooling attachment with its own fans. Add in a bunch of accessory options and you have the best gaming phone yet.

MORE: Asus ROG Phone Full Review

With the iPhone SE gone from Apple's iPhone lineup, the iPhone 7 takes its place as the best smartphone you can hand over to your kids. At $449, it's now the cheapest iPhone Apple has to offer. And while you're getting 2016's A10 Fusion chip, only 32GB of storage and a 4.7-inch LCD screen, you're not making too many other trade-offs. The iPhone 7 has IP67 dust- and water-resistance, meaning a splash of water won't wreck your kid's phone. Access to Apple's App Store means your kids can download a great array of games and social networking apps, while the phone's support for iOS 12 puts you in control of just when they can use those apps.

MORE: iPhone 7 Full Review

What Smartphones Cost

The best premium phones like the Galaxy S10, Pixel 3 and iPhone X cost anywhere from $700 to as much as $1,000. However, there are great values with flagship-level specs under $500. On a budget? You can get a very good Android phone for less than $250.

How We Rate Phones

We rate smartphones using a combination of subjective criteria (including design and ease of use); our own benchmarks (e.g., our battery, audio and display tests; and synthetic benchmarks (Geekbench 4 for speed, 3DMark for graphics). We also do real-world speed tests (such as video editing) and take photos in different lighting conditions to compare the results.

After we've conducted all of our testing, we rate each device based on its features, performance and overall value. Only the top-performing devices make our Best list.

Create a new thread in the Cell Phone General Discussion forum about this subject
44 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • PhilipMichaels
  • Niaz__
    The Best Upcoming Smartphone in 2017 is Doogee Mix because of Super Small design Looks very Beautiful And Doogee Mix Price is Much better than Xiaomi Mix Also 4Gb And a 6Gb ram version Available .
  • Lkaos
    Sony Xperias are better than any Samsung and Apple of their respective generations, it's funny how you never test them...
  • nunnuuhamnaar
    Good work continue
  • sebastherrien81
    Well you should add the repair cost in your review as "combination of subjective criteria" because for most peoples theirs life are on that things they bring in their pocket who look like a big and fragile glass, I told you this as a owner and a technician in cell phone/tablets/computer...etc repair. And in that category Samsung could fall above the average because this compagnie sold theirs parts a way over the price juste the screen assembly cost half the price of the phone "super AMOLED" cheap and stupid technology micro led connected in series like the light we put in our Christmas tree one blow nothing turn on anymore, yeah sharp and crisp screen but easily breakables and over priced... so people have the choice to do the repair for 400$ or buy another one and this is what Samsung want and peoples a willing to have more debt because in 2017 they just cannot live without a stupid smart phone !! Dont just test those phone do a background check before doing a review because even if your tests tell us that Samsung is the best smart phone every year its still a piece of shit who have all problems that other phone don't like network, charging port, wifi, bootloop, amoled screen, fake waterproof or not working at all....
  • jlovebites
    Wonder when or where you can ever find actual subjective views of phones, without the authors kissing the arse of Apple and Samsung. How I wish for a real review. I guess I can always LOL.
  • Ramachandran_3
    you have every criterion. but phone is a phone and it most essential use is TALKING. which is the best phone for TALKING., particularly for moderately hearing impaired and not using hearing aids. It is absurd to talk about camera, internet use etc etc.
  • ellwoodd
    The LG V20 is there best phone for music, and it isn't even close. I'm an audiophile and I have had very high end components and this sound quality from this phone and its capabilities deliver incredible sound, and can drive high-end headphones like the HiFiMan 400i's.
  • gabriel.morales41
    Nope, the Note is the best overall phone and camera phone. The iPhone the best camera phone?!? I don't think so!
  • King Dranzer
    XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is performance king has best and first 4K HDR display with most accurate colors possible. It has most natural camera with best stabilization. It also has best secondary cam with ultimate stabilization. Best speaker setup. One of the top 5 phones for battery backup on 100%charge(iPhone 8 or 8Plus not tested but don't think they will be in top 5 positions).

    XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is presently holding the throne of best all round smartphone.

    @MARK SPOONAUER please get you info correct and please do more research before posting.
  • kcgoat26
    is anybody else tired of cell phones being pushed at you week after week
  • rgd1101
    94170 said:
    is anybody else tired of cell phones being pushed at you week after week


    Usually I just don't read them.
  • jkinabru
    I'll stick with HTC..They have always treated me well and I like supporting the underdogs..
  • ihab666
    SONY, THE ONE AND ONLY........for battery life, camera, user friendliness (home screen and app config), ergonomics (buttons on correct side of phone), display, looks, reliability and well made. Pity Tom is guide only to crApple and Samdung ( yes I know crap and dung is found in toilet or on soles of shoes)
  • blueprintsrecords
    Where was LG V30?
  • Lkaos
    2309201 said:
    XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is performance king has best and first 4K HDR display with most accurate colors possible. It has most natural camera with best stabilization. It also has best secondary cam with ultimate stabilization. Best speaker setup. One of the top 5 phones for battery backup on 100%charge(iPhone 8 or 8Plus not tested but don't think they will be in top 5 positions). XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is presently holding the throne of best all round smartphone. @MARK SPOONAUER please get you info correct and please do more research before posting.


    Right? But all people want are Samsung (One of Android's worst makers!) or iPhone (idiot's Phone)...

    And after the S7 debacle, i wouldnt touch a Samsung phone without a 10 foot pole...
  • Lkaos
    2553765 said:
    Wonder when or where you can ever find actual subjective views of phones, without the authors kissing the arse of Apple and Samsung. How I wish for a real review. I guess I can always LOL.


    You can try GSMarena, but treat it with a grain of salt...

    www.gsmarena.com
  • whill2179
    So much slamming of phones and phablets. What's the best phone you have is the one in your hand. Deal with it.
    I personally like more ram like people like to have in their computers so 6 gigs is fine right now. Being able to input with a stylus is also a plus.
  • lzaiken
    I think a cell phone should provide phone service as a high priority. It would be nice see that feature addressed.
    Many folks live outside the center of a large city..
  • Ramachandran_3
    main function of a cell phone is for talking and messaging with loud and clear voice without distortion at any audio volume. you should give the best phone in this category
    obviously those who need this type of phone may not high end phones. so your list of best phone should be moderately price.