Electronics & Gadgets

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
Google Pixel 4a - New Unlocked Android Smartphone - 128 GB of Storage - Up to 24 Hour Battery - Just Black
  • New, unlocked Android phone gives you the flexibility to change carriers and choose your own data plan;...
  • Capture great photos using your cell phone on the 12 MP dual pixel rear camera with features like Live...
Bestseller No. 2
Nokia 2 - Android - 8GB - Dual SIM Unlocked Smartphone (AT&T/T-Mobile/MetroPCS/Cricket/H2O) - 5' Screen - Black - U.S. Warranty
620 Reviews
Nokia 2 - Android - 8GB - Dual SIM Unlocked Smartphone (AT&T/T-Mobile/MetroPCS/Cricket/H2O) - 5" Screen - Black - U.S. Warranty
  • Durability by design: precision machined frame from a single block 0F aluminum Plus Corning Gorilla glass...
  • Trusted technology: Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor for trusted performance.
$93.00Bestseller No. 3
TCL 10L, Unlocked Android Smartphone with 6.53" FHD + LCD Display, 48MP Quad Rear Camera System, 64GB+6GB RAM, 4000mAh Battery - Arctic White
  • 6.53” FHD+ Dotch LCD display, powered by NXTVISION, will upgrade your visual experience with the...
  • Quad rear cameras with dual LED flash: 48MP (high-res) + 8MP (118° super wide-angle) + 2MP (macro) + 2MP...
Bestseller No. 4
Google Pixel 3 (2018) G013A 64GB - 5.5' inch - Android 9 Pie - (GSM Only, No CDMA) Factory Unlocked 4G/LTE Smartphone - International Version (Clearly White)
45 Reviews
Google Pixel 3 (2018) G013A 64GB - 5.5" inch - Android 9 Pie - (GSM Only, No CDMA) Factory Unlocked 4G/LTE Smartphone - International Version (Clearly White)
  • For USA Buyers : This Smartphone is compatible/will work with any GSM Networks such as AT&T, T-Mobile....
  • Network Compatibility : 2G GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 and/or 3G UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA 850(B5) / 900(B8) /...
Bestseller No. 5
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, Factory Unlocked Smartphone, Android Cell Phone, Water Resistant, 64MP Camera, US Version, 128GB, Black
15 Reviews
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, Factory Unlocked Smartphone, Android Cell Phone, Water Resistant, 64MP Camera, US Version, 128GB, Black
  • Game, Stream & Binge On: Watch your favorite shows, work on your gaming, and keep your playlist blasting...
  • When you do need a power boost, Super-Fast Charging will have you back up in no time
Bestseller No. 6
Unlocked Smartphones, Blackview A80, 4G Dual sim Unlocked Cell Phones, Bundle Android 10 OS 2GB+16GB ROM, 6.21" HD+, Fingerprint Face Detection, 4200mAh high Capacity Battery, at&t Phone on Cricket
  • 【13MP Quad Cameras】To be a cheap att & cricket phones that suitable for everyone use. Blackview A80...
  • 【19: 9 Ratio 6.21 inches & Fingerprint/Face ID Unlocked】Telefonos desbloqueados baratos A80 unlocked...
$465.00Bestseller No. 7
SAMSUNG Galaxy S9 Factory Unlocked Smartphone 64GB - Lilac Purple - US Version [SM-G960UZPAXAA]
3,469 Reviews
SAMSUNG Galaxy S9 Factory Unlocked Smartphone 64GB - Lilac Purple - US Version [SM-G960UZPAXAA]
  • Super Speed Dual Pixel Camera
  • Infinity Display: edge to edge immersive screen, enhancing your entertainment experience*
Bestseller No. 8
Unlocked Cell Phones,aderroo R4,Android Smartphone ,6.53 inch IPS Full-Screen, 3GWCDMA: 850/2100/1900/MHZ SIM Card Band, 1GB RAM 16GB ROM, 2MP+5MP, 2800mAh ,Unlocked Phones (red)
17 Reviews
Unlocked Cell Phones,aderroo R4,Android Smartphone ,6.53 inch IPS Full-Screen, 3GWCDMA: 850/2100/1900/MHZ SIM Card Band, 1GB RAM 16GB ROM, 2MP+5MP, 2800mAh ,Unlocked Phones (red)
  • Please note before buying This phone supports all 2G (GSM cards),and only supports 3G (WCDMA):...
  • Frontand rear Camera As a cheap smartphone that everyone can use,It equipes one 2MP front Camera and...
Bestseller No. 9
Razer Phone 2 Unlocked Gaming Smartphone - 120Hz QHD Display - Snapdragon 845 - Wireless Charging - Chroma - 8GB RAM - 64GB - Mirror Black Finish (Renewed)
117 Reviews
Razer Phone 2 Unlocked Gaming Smartphone - 120Hz QHD Display - Snapdragon 845 - Wireless Charging - Chroma - 8GB RAM - 64GB - Mirror Black Finish (Renewed)
  • LIMITED TIME OFFER: Promotional discount available for a limited time.
  • 120Hz ULTRAMOTION QHD DISPLAY: the fastest mobile gaming display, now brighter
$170.92Bestseller No. 10
Motorola G6 32GB Smartphone
5 Reviews
Motorola G6 32GB Smartphone
  • Use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot

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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