Premium Sony phones like the Xperia 5 II are hard to review. They're made for a very specific demographic — one so specific as to comprise roughly zero percent of the market. They're made for people who want both niche features like a physical shutter button and features that used to be common but now aren't, like headphone jacks, expandable storage, and displays without notches or hole-punches.
And that's fine! If you're a member of that subset of a subset of consumers, you'll probably like the Xperia 5 II very much. But the phone costs $950, which, after a barn burner of a year for very competent phones that cost $800, $700, $600, and less, is a bitter pill to swallow.
Two months after the original European launch, OnePlus has officially brought the N10 5G to the US at $300. But this new move downmarket with the Nord brand still doesn't live up to the smash-hit original. Bugs with the touchscreen, connectivity, and performance have been ironed out since our original review, but the phone still doesn't quite earn our recommendation given the lackluster update policy and competition — even with the benefits of 5G.
While Google did release a "flagship" Pixel 5 this year, I think the more budget-friendly Pixel 4a 5G has stolen its thunder. The sleeper-hit is basically a bigger Pixel 5 that's missing a few features, but $200 cheaper. That means skipping out on an IP rating, 90Hz display, a bit of RAM, and a metal (ish) build, but you get a bigger screen and a headphone jack, paired with with the same camera, internals, and the Pixel software experience. At just $500, this is my favorite phone of 2020.
2020 has been a very, very good year for smartphones. We've seen some wild and crazy stuff land, from folding to flipping devices, and the average phone is better than it's ever been. That puts the OnePlus 8T in a tough spot: It's a good phone that adheres to OnePlus' usual formula, but the competition is better than it's ever been, and "good" isn't enough to beat them.
HMD Global has been one of the leaders in budget Android phones for a while now, using the Nokia brand to sell a wide variety of devices. The Nokia 9 PureView was the company's first shot a flagship phone, but it had a few issues and was only available unlocked. HMD has now returned with a new high-end option: the Nokia 8 V 5G UW.
This story was originally published and last updated .
It wasn't long ago that we were lamenting the "5G tax" in high-end devices. As recently as this summer, many phones were launching at astronomical prices, solely because they were able to pull marginally faster mobile data speeds in certain markets (in theory, at least). Today, 5G is still dubiously useful to most consumers, but a series of competent, competitively-priced 5G phones like the Samsung Galaxy A71, Galaxy S20 FE, Pixel 4a 5G, and, to an extent, even the Pixel 5 have changed our thinking about what 5G access has to cost.
The new Verizon-exclusive TCL 10 5G UW pushes the affordable 5G envelope even further.
Phones have gotten boring in the last few years, but things are getting weird again, and thank goodness. I have been doing this long enough to remember the last time phones got weird—I've reviewed phones with spring-loaded keyboards, tablet docks, curved bodies, and all manner of multi-screen configurations. After settling on the flat glass slab form factor, OEMs are finally starting to take more risks. No phone better exemplifies this trend than the LG Wing. While LG has been pushing dual-screen accessories for a while, the Wing is the first modern LG phone that integrates a second screen in the handset.
Over the past few years, smartphones have stopped evolving at a rapid pace and settled into iterative, yawn-inducing update cycles. Just like how a desktop PC from eight years ago can still handle basic productivity tasks in 2020, a flagship smartphone from two or three years ago isn't radically different from what you can buy today, and there’s only so much room for innovation in the flat glass slab form factor. This has sent some manufacturers to go back to the drawing board in search of something more radical and exciting. Samsung has released severalfoldablephones, LG is developing a dual-screen device, and now Microsoft has the Surface Duo.
I've been using the Pixel 5 for the better part of a week now, and it's the first Google phone in years I'm getting a very particular feeling about. It takes great photos, I think the physical design is muted in a very charmingly Google way, and the software is exactly the unfettered Android experience I've come to know and love. But I'm just not sure how long I'm going to keep using it now that this review has gone up.
The Pixel 5 is by its nature an exercise in compromise. A slower chipset, the lack of face unlock, a missing telephoto camera lens, and cost cuts on components like haptics make it a bizarre case of this year's phone being worse in very material ways than last year's.
Xiaomi’s been busy this year. In addition to launching a plethora of Xiaomi and Redmi-branded phones, the company’s turned Poco into its own sub-brand, starting with the Poco X2 in February, followed by the Poco F2 Pro in May, Poco M2 Pro in July, plus the Poco X3 NFC and Poco M2 in September. What started off as a single, $300 handset with flagship specs in 2018 — the Poco F1 (or Pocophone F1) — is now an entire product line.
Granted, Xiaomi’s mostly re-branding Redmi devices here, with Poco handsets getting a few hardware and software tweaks like unique memory and storage configurations, and a bespoke launcher.