2019 Gift Guide: The 10 Best Smartphones of the Season

By on November 15, 2019

Smartphones are the most rapidly evolving space in the consumer tech world these days. It’s always, but…what’s around the corner?

2020 will be the year of the foldable phone (for reals this time), so you’ll need to wait a little longer. Sure, the $1,980 Galaxy Fold crashed and burned, but smartphone makers seem determined to get it right. The just-announced next-gen Motorola Razr is on the horizon at a cool $1,500 (pre-orders begin December 26), and yes, shockingly, the Galaxy Fold 2 is rumored to appear next year. Even Apple may join the fold (sorry).

5G is also on the near horizon, with the next slate of iPhones rumored to have it. The soon-to-be-announced Samsung Galaxy 11 is expected to have a screen with no bezels. That’s right, just a floating display in your hand! Plus, you will see crazy high display resolutions on flagship phones across the board.

For now, we must make do with the current technology in smartphones, and we’ve seen some great advances, especially on the camera side. Black Friday will make that “bitter” pill easier to swallow since it’s definitely the best time to buy a phone.

As in previous years, many retailers, like Walmart, Target and Costco, will be offering huge gift cards for popular phone purchases. Walmart will give away $450 gift cards for the Galaxy S10, S10+ or Note 10+ and $300 gift cards for the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. See our Black Friday ads for more details!

Now let’s check out what smartphones wowed us in 2019… and won’t go obsolete in 2 months. Watch for price drops and deals on Ben’s in the coming weeks (set deal alerts here)!

The Big Kahunas

1. Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 6.5-inch iOS Phone

Display: 6.5″ OLED (2688 x 1242)

Cameras (Back | Front): Triple 12MP | 12MP

Under the Hood: Apple A13 Bionic Hexa-Core processor, 4GB RAM, Apple GPU (4-core).

Storage Options: 64GB, 256GB or 512GB.

Release date: September 2019.

Pros: Apple hit it out of the ballpark with these three cameras, making the 11 Pro Max the camera phone to have. Night Mode is fantastic. Plus, all the other good stuff you expect, like wireless charging, nearly 12 hours of battery life and super fast CPU. Available in 5.8-inch form factor for $100 less as the iPhone 11 Pro.

Cons: Price!! Entry level storage is skimpy in this day and age.

$1,100 (Unlocked 64GB) | Best Buy Check Deals on Ben’s

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 6.8-inch Android Phone

Display: 6.8″ OLED (3040 x 1440)

Cameras (Back | Front): 16MP+12MP+12MP | 10MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-Core processor, 12GB RAM, Adreno 640 GPU.

Storage Options: 256GB or 512GB. microSD slot up to 1TB.

Release date: August 2019.

Pros: Gigantic display. Included S-Pen supports Air Gestures. Battery life up to 12 hours. Aura Glow color option (pictured) is cool.

Cons: No headphone jack.

$1,050 (Unlocked 256GB) | Best Buy Check Deals on Ben’s

3. Samsung Galaxy S10+ 6.4-inch Android Phone

Display: 6.4″ OLED (3040 x 1440)

Cameras (Back | Front): 16MP+12MP+12MP | 10MP+8MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-Core processor, 8GB or 12GB RAM, Adreno 640 GPU.

Storage Options: 128GB, 512GB or 1TB. microSD slot up to 1TB.

Release date: March 2019.

Pros: Fingerprint sensor under display. Wireless PowerShare lets you share power with another phone, watch or Galaxy Buds. Long battery life (over 12 hours). Triple camera array.

Cons: Front dual camera “hole-punch” cutout in display.

$680 (Unlocked 128GB) | B&H Photo Video Check Deals on Ben’s

People Pleasers

4. Apple iPhone 11 6.1-inch iOS Phone

Display: 6.1″ IPS LCD (1792 x 828)

Cameras (Back | Front): Dual 12MP | 12MP

Under the Hood: Apple A13 Bionic Hexa-Core processor, 4GB RAM, Apple GPU (4-core).

Storage Options: 64GB, 128GB or 256GB.

Release date: September 2019.

Pros: Same CPU as the Pro models. Good camera (though not as good as the Pros) and has Night Mode (like the Pros). Over 11 hours of battery life in real world conditions. Six color options.

Cons: Display not as sharp as the Pros and has a thick bezel. Entry level storage is skimpy.

$700 (Unlocked 64GB) | Best Buy Check Deals on Ben’s

5. Samsung Galaxy S10e 5.8-inch Android Phone

Display: 5.8″ AMOLED (2280 x 1080)

Cameras (Back | Front): 12MP+16MP | 10MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-Core processor, 6GB or 8GB RAM, Adreno 640 GPU.

Storage Options: 128GB or 256GB. microSD slot up to 1TB.

Release date: March 2019.

Pros: The right size phone for a lot of people. Same CPU as the bigger Galaxy S phones. Wireless PowerShare lets you charge other devices. Good battery life, around 9.5 hours.

Cons: No fingerprint sensor under display.

$750 (Unlocked 128GB) | Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

Penny Pinchers

6. Google Pixel 3a 5.6-inch Android Phone

Display: 5.6″ OLED (2222 x 1080)

Cameras (Back | Front): 12MP | 8MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 Octa-Core processor, 4GB RAM, Adreno 615 GPU.

Storage Options: 64GB.

Release date: May 2019.

Pros: Outperforms its price point. Fantastic camera. Battery life is up to 12 hours in real world conditions.

Cons: No wireless charging. Not water resistant. Skimpy internal storage (it’s all about the Google online storage).

$400 (Unlocked 64GB) | Best Buy Check Deals on Ben’s

7. Motorola Moto G7 6.2-inch Android Phone

Display: 6.2″ IPS LCD (2270 x 1080)

Cameras (Back | Front): 12MP+5MP | 8MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 Octa-Core processor, 4GB RAM, Adreno 506 GPU.

Storage Options: 64GB. microSD slot up to 1TB.

Release date: March 2019.

Pros: Good value. Solid performer. Nice bright display for the price (and bigger than last year’s G6). Headphone jack.

Cons: Battery life is around 8 hours. If you want more battery life, like twice as much, pick up the cheaper Moto G7 Power (with lower res display).

$300 | Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

8. OnePlus 7T 6.55-inch Android Phone

Display: 6.5″AMOLED (2400 x 1800)

Cameras (Back | Front): 48MP+12MP+16MP | 16MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ Octa-Core processor, 8GB RAM, Adreno 640 GPU.

Storage Options: 128GB or 256GB.

Release date: October 2019.

Pros: Fast, high-powered processor. 90Hz refresh display. Good price for flagship-type phone.

Cons: Battery life is nothing special (around 8 hours). No wireless charging. Not water resistant. No headphone jack. Front camera notch may not appeal to everyone.

$599 (Unlocked 128GB) | OnePlus Check Deals on Ben’s

Niche Bros.

9. ASUS ROG II 6.6-inch Android Gaming Phone

Display: 6.59″ 120Hz HDR10 AMOLED (2340 x 1080)

Cameras (Back | Front): 48MP+13MP | 24MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ Octa-Core processor, 12GB RAM, Adreno 640 GPU.

Storage Options: 512GB.

Release date: September 2019.

Pros: Powerful gaming performer and awesome display. 3 USB-ports. AirTriggers L/R touch sensitive side buttons. Fingerprint reader under display.

Cons: Accessories, such as a dock, fan attachment and gamepad, are expensive (totaling up to additional $1,100). Bulky (0.37″ thick and 8.47 oz.).

$900 (Unlocked 512GB) | B&H Photo Video Check Deals on Ben’s

10. LG G8X ThinQ Dual Screen 6.4-inch Android Phone

Display: 6.4″ OLED (2340 x 1080) + Detachable 6.4″ OLED (2340 x 1080)

Cameras (Back | Front): 12MP+13MP | 32MP

Under the Hood: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-Core processor, 6GB RAM, Adreno 640 GPU.

Storage Options: 128GB. microSD slot up to 1TB.

Release date: September 2019.

Pros: Claim to fame is the detachable case with 2nd screen + monochrome notification display on back. Easy to attach/detach case. Up to 12 hours of battery life. Rugged, water-resistant build. 3.5mm headphone jack.

Cons: Thick with the 2nd screen attached (0.59″ thick—thicker than some laptops!). Gap between screens more suitable for running side-by-side apps rather than one giant window.

$700 (Unlocked 128GB) | Amazon Check Deals on Ben’s

About Joe Warner

I'm the senior editor of The CheckOut. I am an aficionado of shiny gadgets and classic Hollywood movies and can also tell you the names of the late '80s Swedish Davis Cup team members.

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