The 10 best smartphones of 2019 (so far)

The top handsets from a loaded half-year of brilliant launches

Six months in and 2019 has already been an incredible year for new smartphones.

We've seen stellar innovations and evolutions – from gorgeous 90Hz screens to punch-hole cutouts and 10x zoom cameras – packed into all kinds of different configurations, with brilliant flagship phones at the top and nearly-as-compelling handsets for far less cash.

The back end of the year is sure to bring some massive debuts, with Apple, Google, Samsung, and Huawei all expected to launch fresh handsets. But halfway through the year, these are the 10 phones that we've been most impressed by so far.

10) Google Pixel 3a (£399)

Google's own smartphone focus to date has been pricey Android flagship phones with more than a whiff of Apple influence about them, but ones that have sometimes struggled to match up to the high-end competition. Google's new tactic? Aim lower.

Just a little bit, at least. The Pixel 3a looks, acts, and thankfully snaps photos just like a standard Pixel 3, but it uses a mid-range processor, swaps in plastic for some of the glass and aluminium, and thankfully sheds hundreds of quid in the process. The end result is one of the most appealing Pixels to date, and the best camera you'll find on a mid-ranger today. The £469 Pixel 3a XL is just as strong, if you want a larger screen.

9) OnePlus 7 (£499)

You'll have to read a bit further down the list to find the latest and greatest OnePlus. The standard OnePlus 7 isn't quite as mind-blowing; it's essentially a spec-bump update to last year's OnePlus 6T. Even so, we're talking about an enhanced version of one of 2018's best smartphones.

In short, it's still awesome. The OnePlus 7 delivers a great 6.4in AMOLED screen with a teardrop notch, a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 chip, a strong dual-camera setup, and one of the best Android skins around in OxygenOS. It's not the most exciting new smartphone on this list, but it's still a fantastic phone at the £499 price point.

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8) Xiaomi Mi 9 SE (£349)

You can get a super impressive handset today without breaking the bank. Case in point: the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE can be found for about £300, yet it has the polish and many of the perks that you'll find in top-end flagships.

The 5.97in display is sharper than many pricier rivals, the triple-camera setup is the best you'll find in this price range, and the Snapdragon 712 chip (with 6GB RAM) delivers the most power in the mid-range. The standard Mi 9 is a larger, higher-end option, but we're admittedly even more impressed by the smaller SE.

7) Sony Xperia 1 (£849)

The Xperia 1 isn't the flashiest high-end Android around right now, but Sony's latest flagship still has a very distinctive edge: it's incredibly tall. It's also incredibly sharp. This 6.5in display has a 21:9 aspect ratio and arrives at a wild 4K resolution, giving you loads of screen space for multitasking, watching media, or whatever else you please.

The Snapdragon 855 provides loads of power, while near-stock Android is appreciated here and the camera is quite good. We'd say there are still better flagships in this price range, but if you dig Sony's aesthetic and like the idea of an extra-long screen, there's a whole lot to like here.

6) Oppo Reno 10x Zoom (£699)

The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is like a hybrid of the OnePlus 7 Pro and Huawei P30 Pro, a pair of phones you'll find higher up this list. It has the notch-less screen and pop-up camera approach of the OnePlus, and a long-range 10x zoom like the Huawei.

For our money, it doesn't top either of those phones; the screen is better on the OnePlus 7 Pro and the 10x zoom delivers better results on the P30 Pro. But this is still a very impressive handset, especially at £200 less than the P30 Pro; it's an easy recommendation for anyone who wants a bold screen with some stellar camera tricks alongside.

5) Motorola Moto G7 (£239)

The Moto G7 is the cheapest phone on this list by a decent margin, yet it's snuck its way into the Top 5 amidst phones that all costs at least twice as much. How did that happen?

Easy: Motorola's latest budget phone delivers an excellent all-around experience at just £239. No, it can't compete with the flagships on this list, but that's not the point. Using the Moto G7, it's easy to realise just how unnecessary it is to spend several hundred quid on a phone these days, when something this affordable still provides strong overall everyday usage.

4) Honor View 20 (£499)

You don't have to spend £899 to get a bold punch-hole display or a flashy backing design. The value-packed Honor View 20 delivers on both fronts, with a great screen, a stellar camera, excellent battery life, and flagship-level power packed inside.

With the standard OnePlus 7 taking a sleepier approach to this year's upgrade, the Honor View 20 packs more of a punch at this price point – although you really can't go wrong either way.

3) OnePlus 7 Pro (£649)

OnePlus took a risk by smashing past the £499 price point with the OnePlus 7 Pro, the company's first attempt at delivering an uncompromised, truly premium phone. Thankfully, the OnePlus 7 Pro lives up to the hype.

It has one of the absolute best screens we've ever seen on a phone, thanks to the notch-less, full-screen 6.67in Quad HD AMOLED panel – and very importantly, the 90Hz refresh rate that gives everything a silky-smooth finish. Add in a Snapdragon 855 chip and the best in-display fingerprint sensor we've used to date… and a pop-up selfie cam… and you have a heck of an impressive phone that looks like a million bucks. The triple-camera setup isn't the best of the best, but it's still quite good.

2) Samsung Galaxy S10 (£799)

If you were underwhelmed by Samsung's samey Galaxy S9 last year, then maybe the stunning Galaxy S10 will pull you back into the company's orbit. With a gorgeous punch-hole display, the Galaxy S10 trims down most of the bezel to deliver a superb overall look – and the triple-camera setup is powerful and effective indeed.

Elsewhere, Samsung's usual perks apply, between the powerful Exynos 9820 chip and Gear VR headset support. It's pricey, sure, but this is an incredibly well-rounded Android flagship that stands out and doesn't have any fatal flaws (although the in-display fingerprint sensor is a bit spotty).

1) Huawei P30 Pro (£899)

Last year's Huawei P20 Pro was brilliant – and the P30 Pro is even better.

As before, the star here is the camera. Packing in four back cameras sounds impressive on paper, but the real number worth knowing is 10x. Yes, the P30 Pro can hit a hybrid 10x zoom between optical and digital, and the results are frankly pretty astonishing. It's the killer feature that sets this otherwise beautiful and powerful handset apart from the pack.

Of course, Huawei is in a bit of a spat with the U.S. government right now, which could eventually put the brakes on Android updates if Google really is forced to steer clear of the company. We hope that doesn't end up being the case, and until we're totally sure, this is still our favourite phone of the year thus far.