2019. I’M. Your host marques Brownlee and welcome to the show so 2019 was a really interesting year for smartphones in a lot of ways. I think it’s really easy to forget that, and so we’ve got a ton of smart phones almost desks in front of me. As is tradition, all of which came out during near 2019 – and some of these are gon na win some awards today. So for those of you who are new here and there’s plenty of you, the way this works is we have a bunch of categories and each category will get an overall winner which has a trophy associated with it, and if there’s, a worthy one will have a Runner up and possibly some honorable mentions so without any further ado. Let’S just get right into it, so the first award of the night is for best big phone. Now, almost every phone on this desk is probably bigger than every phone from the desk. The way it would have looked five years ago, but this award is for the one that makes the best use of that extra space. That has the best big phone features and I have a certain favorite in mind. The best big phone for 2019 it’s gon na go to the asus rog phone, so this phone absolutely crushed in the spec Department, and that was no surprise. But there also a ton of other big phone features that I loved about it. So obviously snapdragon a 55 12 gigs of ram we’ve all seen that, but then the huge high res 120 Hertz OLED display on the front with no notch.
We got dual front facing speakers. We have a headphone jack in this phone, a dual camera setup on the back and to top it all off, they tossed in a gigantic 6000 milliamp hour battery. You know this is a gaming phone. This is the second generation of the ROG phones that came out this year and a lot of these features and specs that keep saying are to make the gaming experience better. You know the dual front facing speakers is to make for better gaming. The high refresh rate huge OLED display is to make better gaming the huge battery better gaming, but all of these things, like I’ve, said in the review, also contribute to making an awesome media experience and just an overall great smartphone, so best overall big phone for sure. This year, but I have an honorable mention or a sort of runner up, my runner up for best big phone of the year is one that’s. Perennial II been one of best uses of big phone space for a while. Now not a lot of phones can have a stylus and a 4000 million power plus battery. You already know what I’m talking about that’s gon na be the Galaxy Note: 10 huge battery big phone features, big phone design and a stylus on top of it all. They got rid of the headphone jack, but that’s. Maybe the only complaint about the way they put this thing together but, like I said best overall big phone for 2019, that award goes to the asus rog phone, alright.
So the next category is best compact, smartphone and I’ve sort of mentioned this before, but probably every phone on this desk is bigger than every phone from five years ago. There’S. Some phones on here that came out this year, where the screen itself is bigger than the whole phone for previous years, but that hasn’t stopped some manufacturers from still focusing on a relatively compact smartphone experience. This is all about the best use of small space, and so my winner for the best compact smartphone for 2019, is this guy. This is the samsung galaxy s. 10 e, the S 10. He kind of flew on the radar for a lot of us this year. It came out alongside the S 10 and s 10 plus, but this was the less expensive version of that phone that made almost no sacrifices. The things that did leave out were, in my opinion, the less important 3rd telephoto camera, and then it also moved the fingerprint reader from under the glass to the thumb button which, on a smaller phone, is actually much easier to reach. And it was a really really fast one, so it was convenient, didn’t feel like a loss. Of course, you still have that pole punch cut out in the top right hand corner still an awesome display, still high in specs still good battery life and, on top of all that it kept the headphone jack, which was pretty great for a lot of people.
So the Galaxy S 10 II – that’s gon na – be my pick for best compact phone of the year. But there is a runner up as well and it’s a phone that’s perennial II over and over again one of the ones that makes the least sacrifices between the small version and the big version of the phone. You probably already know what I’m talking about that’s the iPhone 11 Pro, really the only difference between the iPhone 11 Pro and the 11 Pro max. The bigger version is smaller battery smaller screen everything else, the same cameras, the same specs, the same software. All the same features are all this on the iPhone. This is a legitimate flagship at a smaller size and a smaller price than the bigger phone. So in a world war, most phones, these days are much bigger than any of their previous and brothers, were we got some good ones, but yes, the overall winner for compact smartphone of the year for 2019 is a samsung galaxy s. 10 II, all right. The next award category is best smartphone camera, and this is probably my favorite category I’m, probably a little biased, because I love cameras clearly, but hey it’s, my show. So I get to be a bit biased. There were a bunch of really good and really interesting. Smartphone cameras that came out this year, we also had our blind smartphone camera test, as I guess tradition now, this one didn’t win that, but it is, in my opinion, the best and most versatile overall smartphone camera and that’s gon na go to the iPhone 11 Pro And iPhone 11 Pro max that’s for two reasons: number one: it has multiple focal lengths.
It has the ultra wide camera as a standard camera and the telephoto and number two for prowess in both photos and videos on all three cameras. It’S kind of funny we’ve always had this thought that iPhones are usually either at the best or some of the best smartphone cameras on the market. The competition definitely caught up, but this year the iPhone 11 pro took some of the biggest steps forward over the previous year and that’s, especially in the image processing department. We’Re talking the new low light mode, we’re talking better portrait mode, the computational photography movement has been LED in the last two years or so, and the iPhone is right near the front of that now, and especially that versatility now I’m gon na give a runner up And it’s one that I actually think typically takes to me slightly better photos than the iPhone 11 pro but that’s in some situations: I’m. Talking about Google pixel, 4 and it’s not going to be my winner, because it doesn’t take very good videos. Doesn’T have the best microphone in the world and it doesn’t have an ultra wide camera, but the photos that it takes for the most part are typically a little bit contrast, e’er punch here, in my opinion, they feel more confident in a way, but either way computational Photography again, a very strong point and one of the best parts of this phone pixel for is my runner up for best smartphone camera of the year and, if I’m, going to give an honorable mention or two here, one to the huawei mate 30 Pro.
I got this one later in the year and it didn’t come to the US and I haven’t even reviewed it, but I did like taking photos with it, often very sharp, very detailed photos. You have a quad camera set up on the back here. Maybe leave a comment below if you think this is worth its own review, but I like this a lot and another shout out to another honorable mention, and that is the blind smartphone camera test winner from this year, which was Samsung Galaxy. Note. 10. So those are your smartphone notables in the camera Department and the winner overall for best camera for 2019 is the iPhone 11 pro okay. So the next up category is battery best smartphone battery for 2019, and this one’s, pretty simple. You just have to have the best battery life or the best combination of battery and fast charging or wireless charging. Whatever the solution is, it’s got to give the best power experience, and I didn’t have much of a choice for this one. My best battery life for 2019 and any smart phone is gon na go to the asus rog phone to this, one, like i said, had a six thousand milliamp hour battery, which is pretty much part one to the recipe for any great smart phone battery. It doesn’t have wireless charging and it has decently fast charging, but also, if you turn the refresh rate of this 120 Hertz OLED down to 90 Hertz, you were getting like a day and a half out of this thing and if you turn it down to 60 Hertz, which you probably never would really want to, but if you had to you could get two days of battery out of this phone easily confidently, which I cannot say about any other phone here.
This had the best battery of any phone that I’ve used in a long time. Now I have a runner up for this category as well, and that’s gon na go to a phone that really takes advantage of having a very low power draw display and just crank and battery and it’s, even better than it was last year. I’M. Talking, of course, about the iPhone 11 successor to the already incredible battery life version iPhone 10 R. This is like the middle child in the iPhone family, great battery life from an iPhone, and we love to see that and I’m gon na give an honorable mention as well to this isn’t, the best battery life in any phone. But this is gon na go to the fastest charging phone that I’ve ever seen that the world has ever seen because it’s the fastest one you’ve ever had, and that is the Oppo Reno ace. They might not have heard of this phone it’s, not the biggest baddest flagship from Oppo this year, but they did include what they’re calling what’s called super vogue 2.0 it’s 65 watt fast charging and that’ll bring this battery from zero dead to a hundred percent full. In about thirty minutes, which is incredible and so there’s a couple over smart phones that had forty five hundred five thousand milliamp hour, batteries, pretty big ones, but those are your winners. Those are your notables in the battery department for this year with the best overall battery going to the asus rog phone, alright.
So the next category is the design award and this sort of has shifted over the past couple years. You know sometimes the design award is the best build quality and a phone, or maybe it should just mean, like the best overall nicest design with the least compromises, maybe there’s some other ways to think about it. But we’re going back to our roots here with a design award, and this is gon na go to what I think is the most important design of this year and that’s this guy it’s the samsung galaxy fold. So this is a fun one and I think I have no doubt in my head. This is the most interesting phone to come out during this year and potentially we’ll look back at it as the most important. So, of course, the first galaxy fold that never actually shipped to customers ended up breaking mine was one of those, but that one ever actually sold the one that actually came out a couple months later. The version two that did actually saw the customers was around. Two thousand dollars it was not very popular, it didn’t sell a whole ton, but it’s, of course, a first of its kind. I think when you look around at the other phones that came out this year, all of which had their own merits for being great in their own ways. This one was one of the only ones that gave you the possibility of putting a bigger screen in your pocket in the same footprint and that concept that I’m looking forward to seeing in generation, 2 and generation, 3 of and looking forward to seeing other companies takes Of was one of the most fascinating parts of looking at smart phones this year, and I think a lot of other people would agree with that, especially when you look at the landscape of phones we have now so I love the concept.
I love the the risk that they took and execution was not bad. I reviewed it. We can go back and watch that but that’s the design Award winner, but I do also have a runner up and that’s a phone that also came out this year and didn’t necessarily take big risks. But was a nice fresh take on something that I really like to see, and that is the smaller version here of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 year we got a note, 10 plus and a note 10. This smaller one is the first note that they’ve made that you can really reach the entire screen at once. It still has that stylus in it. It still has that sweet or a glow look and the awesome display and the boxy shape and the little hole punch cut out so Galaxy. Note: 10. My runner up in the design department so two times Samsung they’re in that category, but the winner overall for design award for 2019 is a Samsung Galaxy fold. Okay, so next up is the budget phone category, the best budget phone of the year now it’s funny. We look at smart phones and yes, one of the themes is they’ve gotten much more expensive over the course of the last year we have thousand dollar phones. We have 1500 2000 phones here, but we’re actually looking at one of the most competitive categories. Yet for this one I think the top two could easily be interchangeable, but my winner for best budget phone for 2019 is gon na.
Go to this guy right here, the redmi k20 pro. So there are a couple different variants of this phone that came out in different markets, but this one started at 2.99 and that was one of the biggest things I raved about in the review and that was sort of a natural feeling was wow. You get some serious high end specs, you get a big notch list display you get a pop up camera. You still get a headphone jack and you get a triple camera setup on the back and a pretty decent sized battery for a such a low price. For a fraction of the cost of a lot of other phones, so a lot of people that bought this phone this year really liked it and it was a sort of a phantom successor to the infamous poco phone from last year, but it’s not alone in this Category for being really really good for the price I’m gon na hang on to this and pick up my runner up almost like their Co winners, because they’re really that close and could go either way. But my runner up for best budget phone of 2019 Google’s pixel. Three a and this was a 400 phone at launch, and this took a very different approach to what the balance was for features for the price. What the pixel really focused on was an incredible camera had the same camera as the pixel three, which one our camera award from last year, and also, of course, the stock.
Google experience had a lot of the same benefits of any other pixel quick software updates. Pure Google experience the build quality, wasn’t necessarily amazing, but you still got the headphone jack. You got a pretty decent battery and it was a lot of what people were looking for and just a simple inexpensive phone. These two phones were great this year and I do have some other honorable mentions, but as far as the best of the best for budget phones, the 300 redmi k20 pro and the 400 are pixel. 3Ei were pretty sweet I’m. Also gon na bring up the 1 7 T, and this was a more expensive phone is’s around the 700 mark. But this was giving you all the same performance and features and speed as those thousand dollar phones and was consistently looked at as some of the best bang for the buck in a smartphone world. For all of this year and I’m. Also gon na give a shout out to the Motorola one hyper. This is actually a late edition came out just a few weeks ago this year, but this is also a really great phone for 400. Bucks has gotten a review yet, but that may also be worth reviewing if you guys are into that in the comments section but that’s been it a lot of great competition in the budget area this year and that sort of stratify as this world. The smartphones. Where now you have stuff going from 300 to 2300 and you start to see the differences more, but the overall winner for budget phone for 2019 was your redmi k20 pro all right bust of the year and you hate to give out a negative award at an Award show right, but there’s always some pillars that stick out about a year, smartphones that are disappointments and that our phones you shouldn’t buy.
So we do have a bust of the year for 2019. Now I will preface this by saying the sentiment about a phone is not necessarily just about how good or bad that phone is. It often also takes to account how good that phone could have been the expectations for what a phone might have been and is capable of being reality. You can probably see where I’m going with this the bus of the year for 2019. It is the Google pixel for see the pixel for is not necessarily at all the worst phone. You can buy it’s, not the worst phone on this desk, but it did have the biggest Delta between what people expected of a new pixel and what she actually got. So with a new pixel, we of course all know to expect a great camera and the latest and greatest of the Google software experience and we did get that, but they started off the bat within pretty underwhelming design with that forehead, and then we started having problems. We had the 90 Hertz issues, we had the battery problems that came with that. We had motion sense, not being very good and then, of course, there was no ultra wide camera. There is no 4k 60 in video mode, there’s, not a very good microphone, and just you combine all these things on top of a launch price, which was around 900, it sort of spoke out to the world that it’s competing against all these other high end flagships, But it didn’t deliver on a lot of the things that we expect from a high end flagship.
So the pixel is a really great camera and it’s sort of a phone that’s gon na go under the radar. Because of the things that it was a let down. On but because of that Delta between what we expected from a new pixel and what we got that’s the bust of the year now, I also do have a runner up for bust of the year and it’s, just a straight up: bad phone it’s, a phone you Shouldn’T buy it’s a phone that almost shouldn’t have existed. I first saw it at CES, where it became very clear that they were just rushing to come out with the first of its kind, the first folding phone – and I finally did come out and it never should have. This is a the Royal flex PI. I kind of feel bad for anyone who actually bought one of these. This phone clearly still looks and feels like a prototype of a folding display that doesn’t necessarily have aimed to be used by real people, but you could get one and that’s about all. I can say about it: is you could get one and it wasn’t very good, not a great battery, not a great camera, not a great OS or software experience, not a great design, not a great look or feel in the hand even putting it in your pocket. Like this is not a comfortable phone to use or hold with one hand or to open or closed nothing good about the Royal flexpay, not even gon na cheer coat that one.
This is my fav runner up for it’s, not like. We expected this to be good but really it’s, just a bad overall phone, so that’s, my runner up, but the bust of the year overall for 2019 is the Google pixel for okay back to the positive Awards. The next up category is the most improved award and I love a Most Improved Player. This is always a story: that’s fun when you see something come out last year and you don’t necessarily have high hopes for the new one and then BOOM big strides forward. Big improvements, you love to see that, and so my winner, for most improved award for 2019, is gon na go to this guy asus rog phone. This is, i think, third, trophy of the night races, so a little mini round of applause there. The reason this is winning the most improved award. This is the second generation in their gaming phones from the ROG phone one. The reason this is most improved is not just because the specs you know, of course, they nailed the specs. You have a huge battery. You have the new hundred twenty Hertz OLED and you have the Snapdragon, a 55 plus and all that fun stuff, but the reason it’s most improved is because they take a legitimate risk with the software experience. Well, some might not say risk. This is a suggestion that I gave to them from the first one, but a lot of people, including me, said that that Zen UI on the first ROG phone was a little bit over the top and they heard us and in this ROG phone you have the Choice between that Zen UI or a much cleaner standard version of Android, and I give you that choice out the box and for the entire life that you use this phone.
You can choose between the two and that was them listening and responding to some real feedback. And that made this phone much better for me, I could use this phone daily and loved it every single day, a camera’s, not that great and maybe the one most improved again and improved the camera, but I really like what they did with the software on the Rog phone too. So that is why it’s gotten the most improved award and its third piece of hardware of the night. But I do, of course, have a runner up for this category and and I think, flies under the radar for the improvements that they typically make. And that’s gon na go to iPhone 11 Pro. The reason this wins the runner up for most improved is because of the cameras, the new camera suite. You get the new lenses, the new perspectives, the new improved quality and the big battery gains from the iPhone 10s to the 11 and the 11 Promax having the biggest battery gains of them all so them getting rid of 3d touch was a big reason for that, But big time battery gains and big time, camera gains are important places to have gains and that’s why they have a most improved runner up, but the of course winner for the most improved award for 2019, is that asus rog phone. So that brings us to the end, which is the big award of the night, the big trophy over there.
This is the MVP it’s, a smart phone of the year for 2019 and those again now some big pillars standing here: there’s important phones, there’s, important designs, there’s improvements being made left and right. We have a big choice to make for smart phone of the year and this doesn’t necessarily go to the best overall smart phone that you should buy right now, but this goes to one that has, I think, the best combination of all its attributes that came out This year, in a bunch of different departments, so I’m talking about my winner, which is the oneplus 7 pro. This phone is my MVP, my smart phone of the year by all accounts, the oneplus 7 pro was the most liked smartphone of the year. It was followed up later in the year by the 70 and a 70 pro which didn’t come to the US, but the oneplus 7 pro that kicked those all off felt like the best most complete smartphone of the year, so had the Snapdragon a 55 top of The line tons of RAM the specs were great. Then you have a full screen high res AMOLED display with no notch. Thanks for the pop up selfie camera, the cameras, I think, being the worst part of the phone is a good thing to say, because they’re not that bad they’re below what you’d find in like a thousand dollar phone, but they’re, pretty, ok and then a solid battery. Very fast charging a great software experience from oneplus and then 90 Hertz 90 Hertz is really where this phone started to separate itself, because now we’re, starting to see a divide between smart phones, don’t have hire fresh rate and smartphones that do and it’s becoming this thing.
To follow how low does it get in price, or where do we see these 90 Hertz displays popping up, and I think next year, you’re gon na start to see a lot of the ones that didn’t get on the bandwagon get on that bandwagon? It might be the year of 90 120 Hertz screens in phones, but this is where that started, and this really proved that that experience does matter and on top of all that this was not a thousand dollar phone. This one dropped in below eight hundred bucks, so it was undercutting them in price, proving you don’t have to spend a thousand bucks to get a really great smartphone experience in a lot of ways. It was a better smartphone experience than some of the more expensive ones. So this is the phone I use for a good amount of this year. I am now using its sequel, the 70 Pro the predecessor or the successor, but that is my MVP that is gon na, be the winner for smart phone of the year for 2019. But I do have some runner ups and that’s the galaxy fold again. One of the most interesting phones in a really long time and sort of proving that this is the beginning of a potentially long line of new form factors, and then I have some honorable mentions. Of course, I want to give a shout out again to the pixel 3a as a potential smart phone of the year.
This for a lot of people is a great reason to buy a phone that’s less than 400 bucks. I hope the pixel for a continues and picks up with a three I left off I’m also give a shout out to the iPhone 11 Pro taking major strides forward in a lot of areas now, I’m still really looking forward to the 2020 iPhone, but the games. We made with camera and battery make this I think the most worthy of a pro name in any of the smart phones. We have that came out this year, so iPhone 11. Pro is gon na get that honorable mention for MVP, but of course, the winner for most valuable player, most viable smartphone is gon na, go to the oneplus 7 pro and so that’s it. Those are your awards for 2019. I think maybe, when we started this and we look back at you know all the phones that came out this year, it’s really easy to see them all as this uniform of all these glass sandwiches, but now it’s more clear than ever that there’s something for everyone. Still there’s something whether you’re interested in cameras or the best possible big phone, or you want to compact phone, where you have to have the best battery experience whatever it is, it’s really hard to buy a bad new phone now in 2019. There are even phones on this desk that didn’t win awards that are still really good in a lot of ways, so I’m happy about the choices, we’ve gotten and I’m pretty happy with the awards, so the tradition lives on if any of the companies that did win Awards want their actual physical trophy.
I am more than willing to ship that out to them over the holidays, but that’s been it for the award show I’m your host marques Brownlee. This has been my Awards for the best smartphones of 2019.