Phone-makers are evolving and innovating faster than ever and 2020 has been big for phones with 5G, affordable midrange phones and phones with high refresh rates. Apple and Samsung still dominate the market — their newest models, including the iPhone SE and Galaxy Note 20, respectively, still offer screens with high refresh rates and flexible displays, along with a better rear and selfie camera. Samsung included many of these premium features in the Galaxy S20 devices and the foldable Galaxy Z Flip phone, which were announced earlier this year.
Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy lines are the top smartphone choices for many, but other phone-makers like Motorola and OnePlus sell great mobile phone handsets of their own with fast refresh rates, amazing displays and impressive security features, like a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition. The sheer amount of solid competition gives us excellent options to choose from at a range of prices. We took into consideration factors like internal storage, camera performance, inclusion of a headphone jack, if it supports wireless charging, whether or not it needs a SIM card and more. We update this list regularly to ensure the best phone is always represented.
For more like this
Subscribe to the Mobile newsletter, receive notifications and see related stories on CNET.
Read our guide to help find the best phone for your needs and take a look at our tips on how to buy a new cell phone.
Now playing: Watch this: What to look for when buying a phone
Starting at only $399, the 2020 version of the iPhone SE is the best budget phone you can find right now. With an A13 processor (the same as the iPhone 11) and an amazing camera, the iPhone SE is way more powerful than it has any right to be. Old-school iPhone fans will also appreciate the return of TouchID and the home button. Read our Apple iPhone SE (2020) review.
The Note 20 Ultra, along with its smaller counterpart the Note 20, is a pricey, ultrapremium Android phone with an expansive screen, an embedded S Pen stylus and 5G. The Note 20 Ultra also has a triple-rear camera array, the high-powered Snapdragon 865 Plus processor and reverse wireless charging. It comes with either 128GB or 512GB of internal storage. Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review.
While OnePlus isn’t as well-known as Apple or Samsung, the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro smartphone offers a premium experience at a relatively more affordable budge phone price than its rivals. As the more advanced Android smartphone, the OnePlus 8 Pro has a 120Hz display and a telephoto camera. But the OnePlus 8 is more affordable and still has 5G, a fast 90Hz display and the same top-of-the-line processor. Read our OnePlus 8 review.
As Samsung’s flagship phone for 2020, the Galaxy S20 features a brilliant 6.2-inch AMOLED display with an ultra-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, reverse wireless charging, a water-resistant design and three rear cameras (in addition to its pretty good front camera). This Android device a fantastic daily driver for an Android user and if you have more to spend, there’s also the Galaxy S20 Plus and Ultra. Read our Samsung Galaxy S20 5G review.
The Motorola Edge Plus has pretty much everything you’d hope for in a premium 5G phone: A Snapdragon 865 chipset, a giant battery, an OLED screen with a high refresh rate and multiple rear cameras with heavy-duty specs. Motorola took features found on other top-of-the-line Android phones, put its own Moto spin on them and built them all into one of our favorite Android phones of the year. Read our Motorola Edge Plus review.
Starting at $700, the iPhone 11 is the best midtier model Apple has ever made of its flagship phone. Its cameras get an excellent new Night Mode and an ultrawide-angle camera adds extra detail in photos. Video is fantastic, too. Just be aware, though, that there isn’t a headphone jack. Read our Apple iPhone 11 review.
Read more: Best iPhone apps of 2020
Pixel phones have a loyal following and with good reason. Without considering its price, Google’s Pixel 4A has a top-notch camera performance that takes brilliant photos. But it’s even better that the budget smartphone costs $349 (£349, AU$599). The 5.81-inch handset also features a headphone jack, 128GB of storage out of the box and a better battery life than last year’s Pixel 4. Read our Google Pixel 4A review.
In addition to its main Galaxy S flagship phones, Samsung has a more cost-conscious A series line of phones. This year it launched the Galaxy A51 for $399 (£329, AU$599) — though there is a 5G variant that costs $499. The device has four cameras, an in-screen fingerprint reader and expandable storage. Read our Galaxy A51 review.