BEST SAMSUNG PHONES
1. Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
The best Samsung phone available
Screen Size: 6.7 inches | Android Version: 10 with One UI 2 | Processor: Snapdragon 865 (US)/Exynos 990 (WW) | Cameras: 12MP, 64MP, 12MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 10MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 12 GB/128, 512 GB
The Galaxy S20 Plus is the standout among the trio of smartphones Samsung released this year, not because it offers the most high-end features — the Galaxy S20 Ultra has a more powerful telephoto lens and main camera — but because it manages to strike the right balance between premium features and price. While the the Galaxy S20 Plus isn’t equipped with a 108MP main camera like the S20 Ultra, the four cameras that are there produce excellent shots that match up well with what the best camera phones produce. You’ll still get excellent pictures — including crystal clear zooms from that 64MP telephoto lens — if you opt for the Galaxy S20 Plus, and you’ll save $200 off the more expensive Ultra.
All the other top features packed into the S20 lineup are on hand with the Plus model. That includes 5G connectivity — the S20 supports both mmWave and low band-based networks — and the Snapdragon 865 processor that delivers the best performance we’ve seen from an Android phone. The Galaxy S20 Plus also enjoys the same 120Hz refresh rate Samsung has given all its new flagships, so you’ll get the smoothest scrolling available (albeit only at lower resolutions). A 4,500 mAh battery keeps things powered up, as the Galaxy S20 Plus lasted just over 10.5 hours on our battery test.
The Galaxy S20 can be had for less money, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra packs in a couple more premium features. But the Galaxy S20 Plus splits the difference to be the Samsung phone you’ll want to get.
2. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
A very good Samsung phone if you can afford it
Screen Size: 6.9 inches | Android Version: 10 with One UI 2 | Processor: Snapdragon 865 (US)/Exynos 990 (WW) | Cameras: 108MP, 48MP, 12MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 40MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 12, 16 GB/128, 512 GB
You’ll find cheaper phones made by Samsung, but you won’t find many handsets that deliver more than the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
At $1,399 for the base model with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Galaxy S20 Ultra doesn’t come cheaply. But you can really see where Samsung packed in all those extra features. The 6.9-inch display can feature a 120Hz refresh rate (at lower resolutions) that really make for noticeably smoother scrolling. Opt to forego that faster refresh rate, and you can enjoy nearly 12 hours of battery life, thanks to the 5,000 mAh battery powering the Galaxy S20 Ultra. And the Snapdragon 865 driving the phone helps Samsung’s ultimate flagship produce the best benchmark scores we’ve seen yet from an Android phone.
The Galaxy S20’s true standout feature is its camera, though, with a 108MP main shooter and 48MP telephoto lens joined by an ultra wide-angle lens and a time-of-flight sensor. These lenses combine to present very crisp, highly detailed shots, even when you zoom in. (The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s beefed-up telephoto lens supports a 10x lossless zoom, after all.) As impressive as that is, we’re bothered by some autofocus issues that emerged as we continued to test the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Samsung has issued a fix and we’ll be retesting soon to see if the S20 Ultra can take its place among the best camera phones.
You don’t have to spend $1,400 to get a very good Samsung phone, especially with prices dropping on last year’s S10 models. But if you are willing to part with that much cash, you’ll get the one of the most feature-packed Samsung phones ever built.
3. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
Still a great Samsung phone, with a lower price
Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9820 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP, 16 MP and 12MP (Rear); 10 MP and 8 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 8, 12 GB/128 GB, 512 GB, 1TB
The Galaxy S10 Plus sets a high bar for all smartphones, let alone devices just from Samsung. The phone’s Infinity-O display creates an immersive experience with apps and videos filling up the screen, with no obtrusive bezels or notches. (Those two circular cutouts for the S10 Plus’ front cameras can be a little distracting, especially on white backgrounds.) And with a Snapdragon 855 processor, the S10 Plus can keep up with any of the Android phones that came out in 2019.
With an ultrawide and telephoto lens joining the S10 Plus’ main rear camera, you can expect excellent photos, though other camera phones outshine the S10 Plus when the lights are low. Still, with a Scene Optimizer feature that adjusts camera settings based on what you’re photographing, you’ll get a great-looking shot more often than not.
The S10 Plus’ high price last year may have scared off some shoppers, but the arrival of the Galaxy S20 lineup has dropped the S10 Plus to $849. You won’t get the new features Samsung added to the S20 models, but at less than $900, the S10 Plus is as affordable and compelling as it’s ever been.
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Best big-screen phone
Screen Size: 6.8 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9825 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP, 16 MP, 12MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 12 GB/256 GB, 512 GB
With the Galaxy S10 Plus offering a 6.4-inch display, is there still room left for Samsung’s line of Galaxy Note phablets? The Galaxy Note 10 Plus makes the case that there is, thanks to its outstanding 6.8-inch AMOLED panel — one of the best displays we’ve ever seen on a smartphone. The S Pen learns some new tricks, too, with Air Actions that allow you to turn the Note 10’s stylus into a magic wand. Gestures don’t always work consistently, but the S Pen remains a feature that sets the Galaxy Note apart from other phablets.
We wish the cameras were a little better on the Note 10 Plus. It’s the same triple lens setup you’ll find on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, along with the addition of a time-of-flight sensor. The Note 10 Plus produces good photos, but nothing that surpasses the best camera phones available right now. Still, with a Snapdragon 855 processor, 12GB of RAM and faster UFS 3.0 storage, this is one of the best-performing Android phones. We also appreciate the Note 10’s above-average battery life and how quickly it charges with the included 25-watt charger.
5. Samsung Galaxy S10e
A great small-screen phone
Screen Size: 5.8 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9820 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP and 16 MP (Rear);10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 6, 8 GB/128, 256 GB
With a price that’s $150 less than the Galaxy S10, the more compact Galaxy S10e requires some trade-offs, though not as many as you might expect. You still get the standout features of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 lineup — a still-powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset, an AMOLED screen and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices through Samsung’s cool Wireless PowerShare feature. The biggest sacrifices you have to make are settling for two rear cameras instead of three and giving up the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor underneath the display of the pricier Galaxy S10 models. (On the the S10e, the fingerprint reader is on the phone’s power button.)
In addition to its high value, the Galaxy S10e will also appeal to people who’ve felt left out as phone-screen sizes surge beyond 6 inches. With a 5.8-inch display, the Galaxy S10e fits comfortably in your hand. And thanks to the Infinity-O display, which places the front camera cutout within the display, you still enjoy plenty of screen real estate.
If the Galaxy S10e was a bargain last year, it’s even more of a value now that Samsung has dropped the starting price to $599 — the same amount Apple now charges for its older iPhone XR.
6. Samsung Galaxy S10
Not to be overlooked
Screen Size: 6.1 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9820 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP, 16 MP and 12MP (Rear); 10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 8 GB/128 GB, 512 GB
The Galaxy S10 finds itself wedged between the S10 Plus and S10e in size, features and price. As a result, you might be tempted to gloss over this 6.1-inch phone, but that would be a mistake. Most of the features you’ll find in the Galaxy S10 Plus are in the S10, including the powerful Snapdragon 855 processor, high-performing triple-lens rear cameras and the ability to charge other devices wirelessly. The S10 even offers decent battery life — 10 hours and 19 minutes on our test — despite having a smaller battery than the S10 Plus.
The biggest difference between the S10 and S10 Plus comes down to the front cameras. Our testing found that the double lenses on the S10 Plus performed a little better than the S10’s lone selfie cam. If you can swing the extra $100, the extra screen space on the Galaxy S10 Plus is worth it. But if you don’t need a supersized phone and still want high-end features, the Galaxy S10 fits the bill. Even better, it now costs $749, as a low cost alternative to the $999 starting price for the Galaxy S20 lineup.
7. Samsung Galaxy Note 10
Samsung’s least-expensive phablet.
Screen Size: 6.3 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 | Cameras: 16 MP, 12MP, 12 MP (Rear); 10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 8 GB/256 GB
There’s plenty to like about the Galaxy Note 10, especially for phablet fans. It’s got the same S Pen as the Galaxy Note 10 Plus and a very big screen (though at 6.3 inches, it’s smaller than what you’ll get with the Galaxy S10 Plus).
The problem is you give up a lot with this phone: there’s no headphone jack or microSD slot, and the resolution on the Note 10 is a downgrade from 2018’s Note 9. We were also disappointed with the Note 10’s battery life, after the phablet lasted an average of 9 hours, 25 minutes on our battery test. That’s below-average for smartphones.
The Note 10 costs less than the Note 10 Plus, and its $949 starting price gives its some headroom from the $1,000 ceiling that scares off so many buyers. That may be a compelling reason for many shoppers to get the Note 10, but they should be aware of this phone’s shortcomings if they opt for this model over the Plus.
8. Samsung Galaxy A51
Samsung’s budget buy
Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Android Version: 10 with One UI 2 | Processor: Exynos 9611 | Cameras: 48MP, 12MP, 5MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 32MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 4 GB/128 GB
Samsung’s Galaxy A phones have been a welcome addition to the midrange market, and there’s plenty to like about the Galaxy A51. Samsung’s phone features an excellent OLED screen and a sleek design. The four rear cameras proved versatile in our testing, and with 128GB of built-in capacity, Samsung didn’t skimp on storage. All of this comes in a phone that costs $399, so you don’t have to pay Galaxy S prices to get a good smartphone.
Still, the Galaxy A51 disappoints in some areas, especially if you’re looking a phone that can rival Apple’s low-cost iPhone SE. For starters, those cameras perform best in ideal conditions — when the lights are low, the quality of photos drops noticeably. And the Exynos 9611 powering the Galaxy A51 underwhelms, especially when you consider that Apple uses its top-of-the-line processor in the similarly priced iPhone SE.
Despite some disappointments, the Galaxy A51 remains a good budget buy if you’re loyal to Samsung phones. Just be aware that there’s a 5G-capable version of the A51 coming later this year.
9. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Kind of pricey at this point
Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 845 (US)/Exynos 9810 (WW) | Cameras: Dual 12 MP (Rear); 8 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 6 GB/128, 512 GB
Older Samsung phones tend to see price drops when the new models appear, and more than a year after its release, the Galaxy Note 9 now costs around $549. It’s available for less at some retailers. Still, given the price discounts on the S10 lineup — and the fact that the screen on the S10 Plus is pretty big — we think a Note 9 purchase is hard to justify at this point, as good as that phone was in its day.
The more recent Note 10 delivers faster performance, thanks to the Snapdragon 855, but at least the Snapdragon 845 inside the Note 9 remains a powerful processor. You forgo the three rear cameras on the Galaxy Note 10 as well, and the gesture-based controls for the S Pen are exclusive to Samsung’s newer phablet.
That said, the cameras on the Note 9 are still very good and benefit from Samsung’s Scene Optimizer. The Note 9’s version of the S Pen also features Bluetooth connectivity, an addition that made the already capable S Pen an even better tool for power users. The Note 9 boasts good battery life, too, lasting nearly 11.5 hours on our battery test.
10. Samsung Galaxy Fold
An interesting first effort for foldable phones
Screen Size: 7.3 inches (open), 4.6 inches (closed) | Android Version: 9 with One UI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US | Cameras: 12MP, 12MP, 16MP (Rear); 10MP (Front, closed) 10MP, 8MP (Front, open) | RAM/Storage: 12 GB/512 GB
The Galaxy Fold is likely to be defined by its ill-fated launch, when troubles with the review units for Samsung’s first foldable phone forced the company to delay the debut of the Fold by nearly five months. That’s unfair, as it would overshadow a truly innovative design that Samsung improved during the phone’s delayed launch by shoring up the Fold’s durability.
There’s plenty to like about the idea behind the Galaxy Fold, which gives you a device with a 4.6-inch external screen for basic activities. But when it’s time to do real work, open up the Fold to reveal a 7.3-inch display that rivals tablet screen sizes.
The problem with the Galaxy Fold is that there are just too many flaws in this phone, especially in light of its $1,980 price. That expanded screen is great for multitasking, allowing you to run three apps at once. But there’s a visible crease in the display that makes this premium device feel unpolished. We also think the cameras — and there are a lot of them — don’t measure up to what the iPhone 11 offers. That notch that dips into the interior display is also a disappointment.
The Galaxy Fold was an important step by Samsung into the world of folding phones. But it’s going to be overtaken by other, more practical designs like Samsung’s own Galaxy Z Flip, which relies on a vertical flip phone-style approach.