Which Samsung phone is best in 2019?
Google may make its own Pixel phones, but Samsung is the king of Android hardware. Ever since the Samsung Galaxy S2, it has consistently made a contender for phone of the year, if not the winner.
But which Samsung phone should you buy in 2019? As usual, Samsung’s brightest stars are its high-end models and we’ve seen plenty of activity as usual. However, let’s take a look at all the top Samsung options, including whether you should consider one of the phones from 2018, or even 2017.
And of course, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has just landed, which will be appearing in this list shortly.
Below is our summary of the best Samsung phones for most people, based on our comprehensive phone reviews. Scroll down to read our in-depth verdicts for the full list.
- Best all-round performance: Samsung Galaxy S10
- Best S10 alternative: Samsung Galaxy S10e
- Best for photography: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
- Best screen: Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Best on a budget: Samsung Galaxy A7
Now read our list of the Best Android phones.
1. Samsung Galaxy S10
- Enthusiast’s phone, accessible design
- Triple view rear camera
- Headphone jack
- UK version not quite as powerful as US
Sometimes Samsung leaves the standard-size S-series phone a little less feature-rich than the XL-side Plus version. Not so this year, for the most part, anyway the Samsung Galaxy S10 is every bit as good as the Plus model.
It has a smaller 6.1-inch screen, but you still get the triple-view camera on the back, and one of Samsung’s new Infinity-O displays. The Galaxy S10’s is better, if anything, as the cut-out is smaller and therefore less distracting when you watch video.
Unlike most flagships, the S10 series phones also have 3.5mm headphone jacks. That’s the best kind of blast from the past.
What does the Plus have that the normal S10 doesn’t? An extra front camera, which adds an extra field of view for selfies and enables clever depth effect processing.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S10 review
2. Samsung Galaxy S10e
- Lower price than the S10
- Some of the same high-end features
- Lacks the curved front of the S10
- Still pricey
New for 2019, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is the lower-cost option in the S10 family. It has elements of the high-end duo, but misses out on a few extras in each area.
The parts it keeps? Glass on the front and back, the Exynos 9820 processor and high-quality rear cameras led by a stabilised 12-megapixel one.
And the snipped-out bits? The Galaxy S10e has a much flatter screen, with clearer surrounds and a less glossy appearance. There’s no zoom lens on the back, the screen is smaller and lower-res at 1080p and 5.8 inches, and the battery shrinks to suit too.
Samsung has tried to avoid this seeming like the “cheap” Galaxy S10, perhaps because the price really isn’t all that low, by giving it some bolder colours. Most are still fairly tasteful, but the highlighter pen yellow is an eye-opener.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S10e review
3. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
- Great cameras
- Sharp, high-quality design
- Still has a headphone jack
- Not class-leading battery life
The Galaxy S10 Plus is a highlight in Samsung’s line-up. In some ways it’s much like the Galaxy S9 Plus it replaces. This is a large OLED phone with curved edges that make even more of the phone’s front appear filled with screen.
Samsung’s new Infinity-O display take this a step further. You get the amazing OLED image quality of previous Samsung flagships, but a punch hole display cut-out means even less of the front is wasted. Yes, there’s a chunky pill of black in the screen, but this is a true 2019 design.
Other highlights include a super-fun triple camera array, with a zoom and wide angle lens. Add an incredible new video stabilisation mode, and the Galaxy S10 Plus starts to sound the perfect phone for travel Instagram’ing.
Complaints? In the UK we get the Exynos CPU, which is not as fast or battery-efficient as the US Snapdragon version. And it’s pricey, but that is nothing new in a top-end Samsung.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Wireless S-Pen stylus
- Great screen
- Pure, notch-free screen
- Last-gen GPU
Is there still reason to buy a Galaxy Note 9? Of course there is.
If you don’t like the look of the S10 series’ screen cut-outs, this phone has no notch at all, just a good old rectangular display. And as we write this it costs £100 less than the Galaxy S10 Plus online.
The Note 9 also comes with the series staple S-pen stylus. This time around the pen isn’t just for doodling. It is also a wireless controller, which can fire off the camera or play/pause music and videos.
This is a 2018 Samsung phone, though, so you do miss out on some tasty extras seen in the S10 brood. There’s no wide angle camera, which is a fantastic addition to the S10. And it uses the last-gen processors: the Exynos 9810 in the US and the Snapdragon 845 in the US.
Be sure to read the full review for more if you hate notches and punch hole screens, love the S-Pen concept or want a large-screen Samsung phone for slightly less cash.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review
5. Samsung Galaxy A7
- Triple rear camera
- Fairly weak GPU
The Samsung Galaxy A7 was a test drive for 2019’s Galaxy S10 range. It has three rear cameras, including a wide and an extra depth sensor, and a fairly large 6-inch screen.
As you might expect, no element, from the screen to the camera to the design, is quite Galaxy S10-level. But you get that Samsung Galaxy look and feel for around a third of the price. And, of course, one of Samsung’s famous bright and colourful OLED screens.
Cutbacks to consider include a fairly weak graphics processor and plastic coated sides, rather than metal ones. You can’t play high-end games like PUBG with the graphics maxed out here. However, we still consider the Galaxy A7 a pretty good phone for gaming thanks to its large display and capacious storage. Can gamers do better for the price? Yes, from a more value-driven series like the Moto G, or an Honor line.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy A7 review
6. Samsung Galaxy A8
- Water resistant
- Looks and feel like a higher-end Samsung
- Camera and GPU performance are just OK
The “A” series is home to Samsung’s mid-range phones. Samsung’s Galaxy A8 is, surprisingly enough, a good half-year older than the Galaxy A7. While we were not bowled over by it at launch, the phone is now significantly cheaper, making it a bit more attractive.
Next to the top Samsungs, the camera is not as good. It struggles at night, like most phones from its year and price class. The GPU is also a little weak, which limits performance in top-end games.
However, it is an IP68 water resistance phone, there’s a fingerprint scanner on the back and the frame is metal and glass. Next to thew A7, this is a much smaller phone, with a 5.6-inch display. Check out the A7 instead if you want a phone made for video streaming and, to an extent, gaming. But the A8 will fit in pockets more easily.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy A8 review
7. Samsung Galaxy S9
- Great screen, great design
- Cheaper that it was in 2018
- Only one rear camera
- Last-gen CPU
Prices of top Samsung phones erode almost as slowly as Apple’s these days. But this shows quite how strong these handsets were in the first place.
That said, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is currently available for less than the Galaxy S10e’s launch price. It’s a tasty option if you are after a great phone, not necessarily the latest one.
Highlights include highly pocketable size, a great rear camera with dual aperture switching and one of Samsung’s characteristic high-quality OLED screens.
Ready for the downsides? Even back in 2018, the Galaxy S9 had a conservative rear camera. There’s just a single sensor, with no “lossless” zoom or wide angle views. This is a less versatile camera than that of any member of the S10 family.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S9 review
8. Galaxy S9 Plus
- Large, bold screen
- Has an “optical zoom” camera
- Price varies online
- Lacks the Note’s stylus
Should you consider 2018’s Galaxy S9 Plus? It’s all about price. At the time of writing, you can get this last-gen phone for as much as £749, or as little as £549. One is not a great deal at all, the other is pretty tasty.
You miss out on three key extras from the newer Galaxy S10 Plus. Our favourite is the wide-angle camera on the back, which adds a layer of photographic fun and enables the phone’s amazing super stabilisation video mode. Here you get a normal camera view and a 2x zoom.
The Galaxy S9 Plus also has an older processor, of course. But its Exynos 9810, or Snapdragon 845 in the US, still holds up well. The S9+ also has a much more conventional screen, a rectangle curved at the sides, not the Infinity-O punch hole display introduced in the S10 series.
Some of you may well prefer this hole-free look. If you find a good deal the S9 Plus is well worth a buy.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review