12 Best Smartphones Consumer Reports 2019 – Top Rated

12 Best Smartphones Consumer Reports 2019 – Top Rated

We’re a smartphone-dominated nation, with 4G LTE networks beating many home internet connections in terms of speed, and 5G just beginning to launch in select cities. We have more good wireless carrier options than we’ve had in years, thanks to vigorous competition between the four major carriers and smaller virtual carriers like Google Fi and Visible. But some of our choices have constricted a bit: The smartphone OS marketplace is basically down to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, and it’s hard to find a really good simple voice phone nowadays.

Top 12 Smartphones

Bestseller No. 1
LG G8 ThinQ with Alexa Hands-Free - Unlocked SMARTPHONE - 128 GB - Aurora Black (US Warranty) - Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Boost, Cricket, & Metro
  • Pre-installed selection of Amazon apps, including Amazon Shopping, Amazon Music, Audible and Amazon Alexa
  • Amazon exclusive version with Amazon Alexa built-in: Simply say "Alexa" or double press the power button...
- $4.02Bestseller No. 2
Google - Pixel 3a with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) - Just Black - G020G
277 Reviews
Google - Pixel 3a with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) - Just Black - G020G
  • Capture stunning photos with features like night sight, portrait mode, and HDR+.
  • Save every photo with free, unlimited storage at high quality through Google photos [1].
- $35.00Bestseller No. 3
Samsung Galaxy A10 32GB (A105M) 6.2' HD+ Infinity-V 4G LTE Factory Unlocked GSM Smartphone - Black
13 Reviews
Samsung Galaxy A10 32GB (A105M) 6.2" HD+ Infinity-V 4G LTE Factory Unlocked GSM Smartphone - Black
  • HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 - LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 20(800),...
  • (6.2") HD+ Infinity-V 720 x 1520 pixels, 19:9 ratio (~271 ppi density) - Front glass, plastic body
- $163.10Bestseller No. 4
Samsung Galaxy A70 128GB/6GB SM-A705MN/DS 6.7' HD+ Infinity-U 4G/LTE Factory Unlocked Smartphone (International Version, No Warranty) (Black)
160 Reviews
Samsung Galaxy A70 128GB/6GB SM-A705MN/DS 6.7" HD+ Infinity-U 4G/LTE Factory Unlocked Smartphone (International Version, No Warranty) (Black)
  • 3G UMTS, HSPA+: 850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz - LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 28, 66 Bands >...
  • 6.7 inches 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) Super AMOLED - Android 9.0 (Pie) - On-Screen Fingerprint Reader
Bestseller No. 5
BLU Vivo XL4 6.2' HD Display Smartphone 32Gb+3Gb RAM, Black
853 Reviews
BLU Vivo XL4 6.2" HD Display Smartphone 32Gb+3Gb RAM, Black
  • 6.2" HD+ 19: 9 All Screen Design with Curved Glass Display
  • Dual A.I Camera's: 13MP + 2MP with flash, and Front Camera: 13MP with flash; Your device will be fully...
Bestseller No. 6
TracFone Samsung Galaxy J7 Crown 4G LTE Prepaid Smartphone (Locked) - Black - 16GB - Sim Card Included - CDMA
  • 5. 5" HD Screen; 1. 56 GHz Octal-Core processor; Android 8. 0 Oreo
  • 4G LTE; Wi-Fi Capable; Bluetooth 4. 2 wireless technology; MP3 Player
- $65.20Bestseller No. 7
ZTE BLADE Z MAX Z982 (32GB, 2GB RAM) 6.0' Full HD Display, Dual Rear Camera, 4080 mAh Battery, 4G LTE GSM Unlocked Smartphone w/ US Warranty (Black)
10 Reviews
ZTE BLADE Z MAX Z982 (32GB, 2GB RAM) 6.0" Full HD Display, Dual Rear Camera, 4080 mAh Battery, 4G LTE GSM Unlocked Smartphone w/ US Warranty (Black)
  • 6.0" Full HD IPS LCD with 2.5D Dragontrail glass, Android 7.1.1 (Nougat), 4080 mAh Battery
  • RAM: 2GB, ROM: 32GB, Expandable microSD support up to 128 GB, 1.4 GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon...
- $30.99Bestseller No. 8
Moto G7 Power - Unlocked - 32 GB - Marine Blue (US Warranty) - Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Boost, Cricket, Metro
  • Max Vision display. Immerse yourself with ultra wide views on the 6. 2" Hd+ display featuring a 19: 9...
  • Responsive performance. Work and play without delay thanks to an octal-core processor and up to 3 GB of...
Bestseller No. 9
Huawei Honor 8X (64GB + 4GB RAM) 6.5' HD 4G LTE GSM Factory Unlocked Smartphone - International Version No Warranty JSN-L23 (Black)
135 Reviews
Huawei Honor 8X (64GB + 4GB RAM) 6.5" HD 4G LTE GSM Factory Unlocked Smartphone - International Version No Warranty JSN-L23 (Black)
  • 4G LTE bands 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 28(700), 4G LTE TDD: B41, 3G...
  • 6. 5-inch Borderless full view display 1080 x 2340 pixels, 19. 5: 9 ratio (~397 pip density) - Glass Body...
Bestseller No. 10
Samsung Galaxy A20 32GB A205G/DS 6.4' HD+ 4,000mAh Battery LTE Factory Unlocked GSM Smartphone (International Version, No Warranty) (Deep Blue)
4 Reviews
Samsung Galaxy A20 32GB A205G/DS 6.4" HD+ 4,000mAh Battery LTE Factory Unlocked GSM Smartphone (International Version, No Warranty) (Deep Blue)
  • 3G Bands HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 - 4G LTE Bands LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900),...
  • Super AMOLED 16.20cm (6.4") HD+ Infinity-V Display (~268 ppi density)
Bestseller No. 11
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 N950U 64GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Android Smartphone w/Dual 12 MegaPixel Camera (Renewed) (Midnight Black)
113 Reviews
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 N950U 64GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Android Smartphone w/Dual 12 MegaPixel Camera (Renewed) (Midnight Black)
  • See more, scroll less. Do more on the go with Galaxy Note8 beautifully spacious 6.3-inch QHD Super AMOLED...
  • Say it your way. Write texts, crop photos and create animated GIFs with Samsungs most advanced S Pen to...
- $10.00Bestseller No. 12
Unlocked Smartphone, Ulefone Note 7 (2019) Android Phones Unlocked, Triple Rear Camera, Triple Card Slots, 6.1" IPS Full-Screen, 3G Dual SIM Cell Phone Unlocked, 16GB, 3500mAh, Face Recognition - Gold
  • ★ Triple Camera ★ As a cheap smartphone that everyone can use, Ulefone Note 7 equipes triple camera...
  • ★ Waterdrop Design ★ Ulefone Note 7 inserts a 6.1-inch 19.2:9 waterdrop Incell full screen. The...

But what should you be looking for when buying a cell phone? Here are some key points to consider:

Which Cell Phone Carrier Should You Choose?

Despite all the recent hardware and mobile software innovation, your wireless service provider remains your most important decision. No matter what device you buy, it’s a doorstop unless you have solid wireless coverage. Maybe you have friends and family on the same carrier that you talk to for free, and you don’t want that to change with your next phone. Maybe you’re lusting after a certain device—say, an unlocked smartphone for international travel. And of course, you want to choose a carrier that offers fair prices and provides the best coverage in your area. These are all good reasons to put the carrier decision first.

Do You Need a 5G Phone?

5G is if officially here. And while 5G may change everything, it’s not going to happen immediately. 5G is a much faster wireless system that will not work with current phones. In 2019, 5G rollouts will be limited and devices will be expensive, so don’t worry too much about waiting if you want to buy a phone this year.

The 5G networks and devices will get much more interesting, and more widespread, toward the end of 2020. The real differentiating coverage and speeds will initially be in large cities. If you consider yourself an early adopter, you live in a large city, and you want the ultimate in connectivity, you should assume you’ll probably want a 5G phone next year. By 2021, the 5G situation will be even better.

Locked vs. Unlocked Phones

As carriers have moved to increasingly more confusing service and pricing plans, the value of unlocked phones has been rising accordingly. Unlocked phones are bought from a third-party store or directly from the manufacturer, and aren’t tied to any specific carrier. Usually, you can use them with AT&T or T-Mobile. But some popular unlocked phones work on all four major carriers. If you want the best flexibility, look for a recent Apple, Google Pixel, or Samsung flagship, or a Motorola phone.

If you buy an unlocked phone, you’ll be able to move it freely between compatible carriers. But even if you don’t intend to ever change your carrier, unlocked phones are free of carrier bloatware and (with Android phones) often receive software and OS updates more quickly than the carrier versions do.

What Is the Best Smartphone?

As more people become accustomed to instant email, web, music, and messaging access at all times of the day, regardless of where they are, smartphones have become almost indispensable. That said, there’s plenty of variety out there—not to mention devotees of specific OS platforms. That makes sense, though; sometimes, a platform’s user interface or app selection just speaks to you, and that’s all there is to it. With that in mind, and at the risk of attracting flames, let’s break it down as well as we can for those who aren’t so fully vested.

The Best Feature Phones

A good portion of the US population is still using simpler phones, but there are surprisingly few current choices out there. There are still reasons to get a simple, less-expensive device: They’re easier to use, and they charge much lower monthly fees because data isn’t involved. There are some killer deals for voice-only usage on virtual carriers like TracFone and Consumer Cellular.

There’s a big problem with voice phones and current networks, though. Because all of our carriers are eliminating or reducing the quality of their 2G and 3G networks, voice phones must be verified by the carriers for 4G voice-over-LTE coverage to get good quality and connectivity in the future. Older voice phones don’t have that, and there aren’t many voice-over-LTE voice phones, period. It’s frustrating.

The Best Budget Phones

This story tends to be headlined by very expensive phones, but you can get a perfectly good smartphone for between $200 and $300 upfront. We’re big fans of Motorola’s low-end and midrange phones. They’re unlocked and compatible with all US carriers, and they use a fast, clean version of the Android OS. The Moto E series is available from carriers for under $100, and the Moto G7 Power is available online for $250; they’re great deals.

 

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