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.
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.
Samsung's top-end phones are getting more and more expensive at an alarming rate, as evidenced by the fact that very few people bought an S20 during the series's launch window. Seeing the gap to fill between bargain-bin budget phones and outright luxury devices, this week, Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition. It costs $700 (currently $600 on sale), and it packs a ton of features we're used to seeing in flagships with very few compromises. This might just be the best phone of the year.
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Samsung is best known for its big, powerful, and obscenely expensive phones. But what does $250 buy you in the Galaxy lineup these days? Getting your head wrapped around Samsung's budget offerings is an understandably difficult task given their confusing naming scheme and year over year model refreshes, but the Galaxy A21 is one of the latest price-conscious phones from the Korean manufacturer. It's available on a number of US carriers now, including Boost, which is the version of the phone we reviewed. While the A21 offers a large screen and decent battery life, the phone's overall performance and cameras (for the price) should give budget-conscious big-phone enthusiasts pause.
While flagships are getting ever more expensive, midrange and entry-level phones are giving us ever better hardware at the same affordable prices. The Xiaomi Redmi 9 is no exception and offers great value at €150 (or ₹10,000 as the Redmi 9 Prime in India). If Xiaomi had invested more in a better processor and less in the heavily-marketed but poorly executed quad-camera setup, I could recommend this phone with no reservations. As it stands, this phone is still a good option for some people.
As smartphones have converged on the "flat glass slab" form factor, companies like Samsung and OnePlus have risen to the top. Sony, on the other hand, has not. The $1,200 Sony Xperia 1 II is the company's latest attempt to sell you a phone, but it feels more like a vanity project for Sony than a viable product. It's got dazzling specifications, but that's not enough to make a phone competitive these days.
Motorola took a few years off from making flagship phones, but 2020 was supposed to be its big chance to get back into the high-end. Well, it's a lot harder to sell a $1,000 phone in the midst of a global pandemic, but maybe a somewhat cheaper phone has a shot? The new Motorola Edge is the pared-down version of the Edge+ that launched a few months ago. Unlike that phone, this one is unlocked and has a Snapdragon 765 for 5G connectivity rather than the 865.
It's counter-intuitive, but "budget" phones are harder to compare than flagships: Not only do you have all the models that launched at a specific price to look at, but there's the used market to consider, as well as older devices. You really need to know what your requirements are. But if you're on a strict budget and you need something new — not just new to you — then Motorola's latest E deserves your attention.
We're the Android Police, and Google's mobile operating system is our raison d'être, our bread and butter, the most essential and integral part of our site's very existence. Still, it doesn't exist in isolation. Apple's iPhones continue to dominate the US market, and the new iPhone SE might have some of us wondering if the grass is any greener with iOS these days. That's subjective, and I can't really answer that for you. But I can say that the 2020 version of the iPhone SE pushes its $400 price tag further than any mid-range Android phone, and in the last month, I've grown to appreciate its value even more — though coming from Android, it is a dysfunctional relationship.
Motorola was at the forefront of cell phones for decades, but it never quite found its footing in the smartphone era. Early hits like the original Droid and Droid X bring nostalgia, but are also a brutal reminder: Motorola hasn't really made a standout smartphone in almost a decade, unless you count budget phones like the Moto X and G series. Cut to 2020—it's been several years since Motorola even made a flagship phone, and after the disaster that were Moto Mods, it's taking a real risk with the 5G-equipped, Verizon-exclusive Edge+.