In our series of best product guides, here’s the latest update to our recommended Android Smartphone list. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect pricing at the time of writing (May 28th).

We’ve nearly completed the spring release cycle of devices, and this means that most vendors have now released their flagship devices for 2020, introducing brand new phones with the newest technologies to the market.

The new device generation significantly mix up the competitive landscape, and it looks like 2020’s flagship phones are all about high refresh-rate screens as well as new complex camera setups.

Samsung was amongst the first to release their products in 2020, with the Galaxy S20’s showcasing the company’s new camera generation, and trying to one-up the ecosystem with the super high-end Galaxy S20 Ultra. Over weeks following that we saw outstandingly good devices from Xiaomi, Huawei, LG, and in particular OnePlus. The new OnePlus 8 Pro really changed things up for the company as the new device can no longer be called a “flagship-killer”, but rather an outright flagship – with no compromises in features, but also with a higher price tag.

Let’s review which devices make most sense at this point in time in the year, across different price segments:

AnandTech Android Smartphone Recommendations: May 2020
Segment Option #1 Option #2
High-End OnePlus 8 Pro Galaxy S20/S20+
Mid-Range Galaxy A71 Galaxy A51
Best Low-End Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro

At the top-end, it looks like OnePlus’ choice of actually delivering a flagship this year has paid off, as it’s our top choice in terms of the best no-compromise Android phone out there. Samsung’s S20 series are still respectable, and the smaller S20 is still the only viable option in its form-factor.

On the mid-range, ever since the new 2020 upgraded A-series, Samsung competitiveness in this range has drastically improved over past iterations, and the new A71 and A51 seem extremely well-balanced phones sporting a ton of features for reasonable prices..

In terms of this month’s update, we’ve replaced the low-end choice with Xiaomi’s brand-new Redmi Note 9 Pro which was only released a few weeks ago.

Best Flagship Devices:  OnePlus 8 Pro & Galaxy S20/S20+

The high-end flagship market is where things have changed the most over the last few months. There had been some really big expectations with this generation of phones, but the one vendor that personally surprised me the most in terms of seemingly being able to deliver the best all-round package was OnePlus, in the form of the new 8 Pro.

 

The OnePlus 8 Pro essentially checks every single feature box in a phone today, ranging from a new generation 1440p 120Hz to a new Snapdragon 865 that offers the best performance and power efficiency amongst Android devices today.

The phone’s new design – although some would call it maybe boring or uninspiring, is in my view an excellent evolution over last year’s 7 Pro as it’s now more lightweight and thinner.

Particularly on the camera side we saw OnePlus surprise us with a camera setup that not only keeps up with the competition, but arguable is amongst the best implementations this year so far.

The biggest argument for the OnePlus 8 Pro is that even at a higher price point than usual, starting at $/€899, it’s a much better value phone than anything else out there as essentially it has no obvious weakness. Particularly European and other markets where Samsung offers the Exynos 990 S20’s, the OnePlus 8 Pro with its Snapdragon chip seems a much better choice.

 

Samsung this year made a big kerfuffle with its new S20 series, particularly the ultra-high-end Galaxy S20 Ultra and its camera capabilities. Unfortunately, I don’t really think the Ultra was able to carve itself any place in the market, especially at its $1399 price point.

The S20+ and S20 on the other hand seem quite reasonable devices. From a hardware perspective, these are excellent phones, but Samsung’s camera software processing this year really held their potential back. Especially the Exynos 990 based variants of the S20 series are worse devices, incurring performance and efficiency compromises compared to the Snapdragon 865 models in markets such as the US.

Still, they’re good phones, even if outshone by the OnePlus 8 Pro. The smaller Galaxy S20 particularly remains quite a rare device in the market as there’s not many vendors left putting out flagship phones in such form-factors, and prices have already started dropping as the S20 can be had for 777€ if you opt for the 4G version.

Best Mid Range Smartphones: Galaxy A71 - Keep eye out for 5G variant

In the mid-range, usually it’s always been one of the Chinese vendors who held the top position here in terms of offering the best value proposition smartphones. Samsung’s latest 2020 iterations of the A-series seemingly changes this situation, and the new Galaxy A71 is uncharacteristically a quite competitive phone for the company.

 

Sporting a Snapdragon 730 SoC in the 4G variant, the phone still offers plenty of performance for every-day tasks as well as light gaming. What’s really convincing about the A71 is the rest of the features of the phone. The 6.7” OLED screens with a 2400 x 1080 resolution delivers on what you’d expect, and there’s a correspondingly large 4500mAh battery for a phone this size.

The camera setup is powered by a 64MP main sensor that seemingly is of the same large 1/1.72” size and capabilities as the secondary wide-angle of the Galaxy S20, able to capture excellent daylight pictures as well as low-light, augmented by computational photography Night Mode. A 12MP ultra-wide is the secondary proper camera unit, and we see two additional 5MP sensors for limited use-cases such as macro photography and depth sensing.

The biggest draw-back of the A71 right now is that seemingly it’s not currently officially available in the US, and that means you’re relegated to buying the international models (with no support for Verizon networks) – at around $399. In Europe, it’s currently available for 369€.

The recently announced 5G variants of the A71 and A51 upgrade the SoC from the Snapdragon 730 to a newer Exynos 980 which should bring a very big performance boost as well as obviously 5G connectivity. We’ll have to wait a few more months for availability of these models, but they seemingly will offer the same kind of value than the 4G variants.

 

Best Budget Smartphone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro

This category of devices is very hard for me to write about due to the sheer size of the market and particular regional segmentation. In particular the US market is absolutely barren of viable options due to the fact that many OEMs don’t officially release their products in this region. This is incredibly frustrating as it’s in this budget segment where we see the vast majority of competition from Asian vendors, providing some of the more incredible value propositions.

Users who are on CDMA carriers (Verizon, Sprint) are just pure out of luck. It’s a tough situation and unfortunately due to the geopolitical as well as bad US carrier situation I think the best sub-$200 phones are probably refurbished previous generation flagship devices.

 

In the month of May, we’re replacing our low-end recommendation from the Redmi Note 8 Pro to the newly released Redmi Note 9 Pro. Like its predecessor, it brings to the table some incredible value at a price point of currently only 249€. The new phone upgrades the SoC to a Snapdragon 720 which houses two Cortex-A76 cores as its performance cores, paired with 6GB of LPDDR4X. The only real thing really betraying the phone as a low-end unit is the fact that it still houses an LCD IPS display in a time where most have transitioned to OLED screens.

The camera system is dominated by a new 64MP main camera sensor that punches far above its weight in this price segment. There’s also an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens as well as a 5MP macro lens; these latter two aren’t of the best quality but hey, at this price we won’t complain. Finally, the 5020mAh battery rounds this phone off as a quite outstanding value proposition and Xiaomi really steals the spotlight yet again also in this segment. The best thing about the Note 9 Pro is the fact that’s it’s readily available in the US and Europe on Amazon which makes it a straightforward purchase.

POST A COMMENT

53 Comments

View All Comments

  • lightningz71 - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    I agree that their storage system up to the Moto G7 power has been lackluster, but I have found the G7 power version to be, overall, quite usable for day to day tasks. Neither my wife, nor my kids ever complain about it being slow or laggy. I still use an older model, the E6 + and, yes, it's very pokey. Reply
  • Drake H. - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    It's pretty weird to call the Note 9 pro "low-end". Just because most smartphones use OLED doesn't mean that an LCD IPS display isn't decent. :P Reply
  • devione - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    I know Anandtech is a more US-centric website hence content leaning towards products that are available in NA / EU. That said I've been using a Redmi K20 Pro Premium (China "special edition" with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage) purchased for only RM2,200 including shipping (you can Google what that is in USD). Was originally going to purchase a OnePlus 7T Pro.

    Bootloader unlocked (it was immediate, funnily enough. No 7-day wait or cooldown), running LineageOS 17.1, Magisk, AdAway, and Burial's GCam. Runs everything smoothly and honestly more than enough power for anything today. Gives me around 9 hours of screen on time on an average day's usage.

    Can't beat any of that for value imho
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    Very poor carrier support in the US, and good luck getting many to buy a "china special" anything right now. Reply
  • airdrifting - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    Will still probably beat any LG phone when it comes to support. I remember my LG phone was like one generation behind the latest version of Android when everyone else got the newer 5.0 Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    ^ on slow or no updates for LG. Has put me off their phones, even though their V60 is attractive, especially if it's on sale with the second screen thrown in for free. But, their OS and security updates either come late or not at all. Shame, really. Reply
  • timecop1818 - Friday, May 29, 2020 - link

    Carrier support means supported LTE bands. Only having 2100MHz band1 or whatever when your carrier has 3-4 other bands severely limits your coverage and speeds. Reply
  • devione - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    I'm not from the US / NA, so I'm not as familiar with the carrier situation. I bounce regularly between SEA countries and Oceania, very occasionally NA and Europe. I guess I'm fortunate to spend most of my time in nations that don't have this issue, however I'm not so sure if the upcoming 5G implementation (regardless sub6 or mmWave) will change this.

    I do however think though value for money relative to what you're getting spec-wise anything from Xiaomi or Redmi is hard to beat. I'm not going to be drawn into political nor privacy debates, but the fact that Xiaomi phones are mostly bootloader unlockable and end-user customisable is a boon for the lifespan and utility of the device (although measures and decisions made by Google for future Android releases again makes this debatable).

    I used to be a pretty big OnePlus fan (had the 3/T, 5/T for a while) but it seems that they've lost their way a bit somewhat. I'm glad that Xiaomi has taken up the baton of the "value flagship" or "flagship killer" from OnePlus.
    Reply
  • DirtyLoad - Thursday, May 28, 2020 - link

    Take a look at the UmiDigi S5 Pro, that's a great value. And stock Android. Reply
  • sonny73n - Friday, May 29, 2020 - link

    The UmiDigi S5 Pro definitely has the best value, along with the Honor X10 5G. The latter has better processor but with IPS display. I wish they did not employ the chins at the bottom of the displays. They just look unrefined especially in landscape mode. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now