Best older flagship phones:
- Google Pixel 3 series
- Huawei P20 Pro
- LG G7 ThinQ
- OnePlus 6T
- Razer Phone 2
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Sony Xperia XZ3
- Xiaomi Pocophone F1
Google Pixel 3 series
Google’s Pixel 3 is its newest Pixel smartphone, but it’s enjoyed a bunch of killer promotions in the last couple of months ahead of the Pixel 4 release. In fact, as of writing, the device has a $499 starting price at most online retailers.
The phone is still very able on paper, offering a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of fixed storage, and an IP68 design. Google’s standard model offers a 5.5-inch notch-free OLED screen (FHD+) and 2,915mAh battery, while the Pixel 3 XL sports a 6.3-inch QHD+ OLED screen (notched) and a 3,430mAh battery.
Both phones offer dual selfie cameras in the form of an 8MP standard and 8MP ultra-wide sensor. Switch to the back and you’re looking at a solitary 12MP camera — no telephoto or ultra-wide shooters here. Fortunately, Google offers HDR+, Night Sight, Top Shot, and a few other efficient camera features.
Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei’s early 2018 flagship represent a change of sorts for the company, as it arguably signaled the brand’s arrival as the company to beat in terms of photography. More specifically, it was the first triple camera smartphone in the world.
The P20 Pro‘s triple camera setup consists of a 40MP primary camera, 8MP 3x telephoto camera, and a 20MP monochrome sensor. Huawei’s device also sports 5x hybrid zoom capabilities, making it one of the best phones around when it comes to zoom. The phone is a low-light powerhouse too, being the first device with the new generation night mode. The only real downside to the triple camera setup is that it doesn’t offer an ultra-wide shooter.
Other noteworthy specs include the Kirin 970 chipset, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of internal storage, a 6.1-inch OLED screen (FHD+), and a 24MP selfie snapper. The P20 Pro has seen a price drop since the Mate 20 Pro and P30 Pro release, and can now be had for ~$560 on the likes of Amazon and other retailers.
LG G7 ThinQ
G hasn’t had the best of times lately, but it’s tough to argue that the LG G7 ThinQ isn’t a solid flagship phone. The device ticks plenty of boxes for a high-end device in 2018, including IP68 water/dust resistance, wireless charging, and a Snapdragon 845 chipset.
LG’s device also sports 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of expandable storage, a 6.1-inch LCD screen (QHD+), and a dual rear camera setup (16MP+16MP ultra wide). Toss in a 3.5mm port and quad DAC audio and you’ve got a rather compelling package.
The biggest strike against the LG G7 ThinQ is that it only has a 3,000mAh battery, which is rather disappointing even for 2018. LG also has a reputation for being tardy with updates, so don’t expect a brisk Android 10 rollout, if at all. Nevertheless, the phone is available for just $350 via Amazon at the time of writing — an absolute steal when you look at all the features.
The OnePlus 7 series might be out and rumors of a OnePlus 7T abound, but the OnePlus 6T is still a very slick device at ~$500. This late 2018 flagship packs a Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB to 8GB of RAM, and 128GB to 256GB of storage.
The OnePlus 6T also differs from its predecessor by offering a notably larger battery (3,700mAh versus 3,300mAh). The combination of the bigger battery and OxygenOS Android skin means you can expect great endurance as a result.
Other noteworthy specs include a 6.47-inch OLED screen with in-display fingerprint sensor (we thought it was slow and inconsistent, for what it’s worth), a 20MP+12MP rear camera pairing, and a 20MP camera in a waterdrop notch.
Razer Phone 2
The Razer Phone 2 hasn’t actually been succeeded by a new Razer Phone just yet, but it’s regularly available at a steep discount on Amazon.
Razer’s latest (and potentially final) phone continues the tradition of offering a 120hz display (QHD+, IGZO LCD), but adds a Snapdragon 845 processor into the mix. The other major upgrades over the original Razer Phone include IP67 water/dust resistance and wireless charging. Otherwise, you can expect 8GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, a 4,000mAh battery, and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
We weren’t happy with the camera quality from the 12MP+12MP telephoto pairing though, while the lack of a 3.5mm port might irk some. But at a regularly discounted price of $400 on Amazon (from $800), it’s tough to argue that you’re not getting value for money.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Opt for Samsung’s late 2018 release and you’re getting a Snapdragon 845 chipset (or Exynos 9810 processor outside the U.S. and China), 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or 512GB of expandable storage. Samsung’s phone also offers a 4,000mAh battery, wireless charging, and an upgraded S Pen. The latter now uses Bluetooth, enabling its use as a presentation remote, camera shutter button, and more.
The Galaxy Note 9 also offers a 12MP+12MP telephoto rear camera pairing, an 8MP selfie camera, and a 3.5mm port. Of course, the latter is missing on the Galaxy Note 10 series.
Sony Xperia XZ3
The Xperia 1 might be Sony’s 2019 flagship, but there’s still plenty to like about the Xperia XZ3. Sure, the late 2018 phone doesn’t have triple cameras or the Snapdragon 855 processor, but you are getting true 960fps video recording and an OLED screen for the first time in the flagship lineup.
Sony’s older flagship phone offers a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB of RAM, a 6-inch 1440p display, and a 3,300mAh battery with 18w charging and wireless charging.
Other Xperia XZ3 details include a 19MP rear camera, 13MP selfie camera, and a rear fingerprint scanner. You’ll need a dongle to listen to music via your old headphones though, as it lacks a headphone jack. But it’s still a solid deal at ~$560.
Xiaomi Pocophone F1
he Xiaomi Pocophone F1 was arguably the best value for money smartphone of 2018, delivering a top-level Snapdragon 845 processor in a phone that only costs $300 to $350.
Xiaomi’s device is still a great buy in 2019, offering 6GB to 8GB of RAM, 64GB to 256GB of expandable storage, a 4,000mAh battery, and a 3.5mm port. The Pocophone F1 also comes with a 12MP+5MP rear camera combo, 20MP selfie camera, and IR face unlock.
One of the only downsides is that you’re looking at an LCD screen (6.18-inch FHD+) instead of an OLED panel. But it’s tough to feel short-changed when you’ve got this much power and endurance on tap.