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


The best phone in 2019 in the US doesn’t come cheap, but that’s inevitable when many of the latest flagship smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and others now start at around $1,000. Thankfully, you can find some discounted during the year, especially during deal seasons like Amazon Prime Day coming on July 15.

We’re still comparing phones designed in the ‘black rectangle, full touchscreen’ style we’ve gotten used to over the last several years, as foldable phones like the Huawei Mate X and 5G phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G aren’t quite ready for the mainstream. Until 2020, we’re mostly considering at phones that push the limit of the current tried-and-true form factor.

We’ve conducted comprehensive phone reviews of all the top phones from smartphone manufacturers big and small. For each, we’ve examined key factors like  design, performance, battery life, camera quality, price, and ongoing software support. Taking all this into account, we’ve picked the best.

Why we have more than just a No. 1 pick: Even though we have a top pick, we understand that not everyone looks for the same thing from a smartphone. Some will demand the features coming in iOS 13 and ongoing support of iMessage, while others will want the customization and Google Assistant tools available in Android Q. With that taken into account, we’ve provided extensive rankings so you can see how all the best phones compare and what highlight features they offer.

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.

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.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Samsung Galaxy S10 (128GB, unlocked): Was $899 now $599 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. This offer is sold by Amazon directly too, for greater peace of mind.View Deal

(Image credit: Amazon)

Samsung Galaxy S10 (512GB, unlocked): Was $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

(Image credit: Amazon)

Samsung Galaxy S10e (128GB, unlocked): Was $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

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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

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Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (Lease 128GB)

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (Instalments 128GB)

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (Instalments 128GB)

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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

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