It is that time of the year when we look back at the best that technology had to offer over the past twelve months and choose the best of the best.
Today, we look at the top flagship phones of 2019 that created maximum impact and had something special to offer. When we say impact, we do not mean the quantum of marketing noise but how high the performance bar was raised in the segment. So let’s meet the handsets that made it to the top this year.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
A new flagship iPhone launched by Apple every year is generally the ‘best iPhone ever’, and it’s no different this year. Say hello to the Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, which are pretty much the same phones in two different sizes. There are no wholesale changes from the iPhone XS series but there are improvements on almost every front, the sum of which add up to something significant. You get a faster A13 Bionic processor, a brighter XDR OLED display, better battery life and of course, the third rear camera that brings about improvements in the photography department too. Low light photography, which had been the Achilles heel of the last many generations of iPhones, got a significant shot in the arm with the iPhone 11 Pro series.
While the already impressive image quality has gone up a notch or two, it still isn’t better than some of the Android flagships like the Google Pixel 3 XL, especially in low light photography. But when it comes to video recording, the quality of videos shot on iPhone 11 Pro series remains untouchable in 2019 – no Android flagship can come even remotely close in the video department. The best iPhone ever is also the most expensive iPhone ever, and while it makes no sense in paying a six digit sum for any phone, it makes even lesser sense arguing with Apple fanboys/girls about it. But then, it you have the money, the Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are two of the best smartphones around.
Huawei P30 Pro
Huawei has had a rough 2019 with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over its head pertaining to support for Google apps and services. But that hasn’t stopped the company from releasing some stellar phones, one of which made it to our top list this year too.
The Huawei P30 Pro (Review) builds on the goodness of its predecessors P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro (Review) and takes the performance a few notches higher in almost every department. The design is elegant with some unique colour schemes at the back ranging from Breathing Crystal to Pearl While to Aurora and more depicting the shades of the sky.
The company has opted for a Full HD+ AMOLED display in this handset as opposed to QHD in its predecessors. Though it seems like a downgrade on paper, it is more beneficial in real life. Despite the lower resolution, the display looks equally sharp, but the lower number of pixels that the processor has to crunch impacts the battery life positively, thus improving the battery backup significantly. The Huawei P30 Pro is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC and accompanied by 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage. It runs Android 9 Pie.
The triple camera setup at the back with a combination of 40 MP wide-angle lens with OIS + 20 MP ultra-wide angle lens + 8 MP telephoto lens with OIS help you capture excellent shots in varied lighting conditions. Just like the Mate 20 Pro, you get 5X optical zoom and the ability to capture great shots in low light too. A 4,200mAh battery keeps the phone running for almost a day and a half of moderate usage, but more importantly, you can charge up to 75 percent in 30 minutes and fully in just an hour. For what it’s worth, the Huawei P30 Pro also supports reverse wireless charging.
After a couple of lukewarm releases, OnePlus finally got their act together with the 7T (Review). Unlike its previous two iterations, where you got a faster processor and minor camera tweaks at best, there are many significant improvements over its predecessor in the OnePlus 7T, starting with the screen. You get a 6.55-inch Full HD+ Fluid AMOLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate for a smooth flicker-free visual experience, something that was limited to more expensive phones previously. The design, though not drastically different from the 6T (Review) or OnePlus 7 (Review) up front, is still quite elegant with a metal frame and glass body protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and back.
The next major enhancement is its camera department. You get a triple camera setup with a 48 MP primary camera that supports optical image stabilisation and pixel binning. Giving it company is a 16 MP ultrawide lens and a 12 MP telephoto lens that provides 2X optical zoom. The versatile camera setup shoots some impressive images in different modes and lighting conditions. The OnePlus 7T is powered by Qualcomm’s latest flagship SoC, Snapdragon 855+ and comes with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB or 256 GB of internal storage. Oxygen OS remains arguably the best Android UI around. The 7T is such a well-rounded device that we did not find a compelling reason to opt for the more expensive OnePlus 7T Pro (Review). This is a flagship killer indeed!
Asus ROG Phone II
Asus ROG Phone II (Review), the company’s latest gaming powerhouse was perhaps this year’s biggest sleeper hit in India. This is a dream phone for gamers and power users alike. It competes with the OnePlus 7T on almost every front given their similarities. For starters, the price of their 8 GB RAM/128 GB storage variant was exactly the same at launch, and this phone too is powered by a Snapdragon 855+ chip. If you thought the 90 Hz display on the OnePlus was impressive, the ROG Phone II goes a step further with a 120 Hz refresh rate on its Full HD+ AMOLED screen. It also supports true 10-bit colour gamut with improved HDR performance, thus raising the bar for displays manifold in the budget flagship segment.
That’s not all, the Asus ROG Phone II boasts of a mammoth 6,000 mAh battery for those long gaming sessions. And gaming is something you are bound to do on this phone given its powerful specifications. The phone also has a pair of stereo speakers with dedicated amplifiers along with a second Type-C USB 3.1 port on the side for high-speed connectivity. For those looking for an out and out gaming phone, the Asus ROG Phone II is arguably the best you will get this year. And the company isn’t even making you break the bank with a sub-40K price tag.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Just like the latest iPhones, the newest Samsung Galaxy Notes have consistently featured in our top phones of the year list, barring one explosive release a few years ago. No surprise that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus (Review) is here too. Similar to the iPhone 11 Pro series, there are no drastic changes but significant improvements can be seen on almost all fronts as compared to the Note 9. Be it the premium design, the huge, sharp QHD+ Super AMOLED display, a faster Exynos 9825 SoC or the more than generous 12 GB RAM, they all contribute to making the Note 10 Plus worthy of a spot in this list.
If that wasn’t enough, the image processing has received a boost too along with the addition of a couple of extra cameras at the back that provides you with 2X optical zoom as well as ultrawide angle shots. The signature feature of the Note series, the S-pen, has a bunch of new tricks added to it including more Air Actions and the ability to use it as a camera shutter key. There is a noticeable jump in the battery backup too with a larger 4,300 mAh battery and a bundled 25 W fast charger juicing it up from 0 to 100 in just an hour and a quarter. The ample RAM and powerful hardware results in a smooth all-round experience on the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
That was our list of flagship phones. But if 2019 has shown us one thing, it’s that budget smartphones made all the news this year. So keep an eye out for our list of best budget phones of 2019 that offered excellent all-round performance at a great price.