Editor’s Choice — the winner is…

What a yr 2020 has been. One welcome mild within the darkness of those previous 12 months was the launch of tons of fantastic telephones. But, just one can take dwelling the title of Android Authority’s finest smartphone of the yr.

Even with out the pressured changes as a result of ongoing world pandemic, 2020 was a yr of main change for the cellular trade. We noticed contemporary kind components emerge with the rebirth of clamshells, spinning telephones with two screens, and a tease of what rollables may appear like. A handful of foldables that lastly felt ok (and durable sufficient) to genuinely contemplate shopping for made an look too.

We additionally noticed 5G take heart stage with its continued rollout. There have been even new value tiers of smartphones with $1,000+ ultra-premium telephones, tremendous mid-rangers, and even a really funds iPhone! Cats and canine. Mass hysteria.

2020 was a torrid yr for a lot of, however we no less than had some wonderful smartphones.

2020 was additionally a yr of change for us right here at Android Authority. In the event you’re an everyday, you’ve little question seen us steadily broaden our scope past cellular because the years have passed by. We’ve typically introduced you all the most recent information and evaluation within the audio, sensible dwelling, and computing classes, however we’ve expanded even additional this yr to have a look at gaming, streaming, and far, far more.

Subsequent yr we’ll be reflecting on that change once we come to awards season. Shifting ahead, we wish to present like to the perfect the patron tech world has to supply. In fact, we received’t ever cease bringing you the very best protection of the cellular platform everyone knows and love — Android!

With that mentioned, it’s time to crown our Editor’s Selection smartphone of the yr. As ever, we’re working two awards — one determined by us (Editor’s Selection) and the opposite decided by you, our fantastic readers (Reader’s Selection).

Right here, we’re counting down the highest 5 telephones chosen by members of our evaluations and options groups at Android Authority. You’ll want to head over to our Reader’s Selection voting to solid your individual vote.

How we determined and why

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As with our mid-year award, this yr we mixed uncooked information gleaned from Android Authority‘s goal testing suite with real-world issues to find out an total winner.

Because of our testing workforce, we have been capable of choose by essential information on show accuracy, digicam high quality, audio readability, in addition to sustained efficiency and battery life. This was achieved by a customized model of Velocity Take a look at G designed by our very personal Gary Sims of Gary Explains.

Every telephone represented right here reached or surpassed a threshold in our testing, proving their superiority versus dozens of rival handsets throughout varied value tiers. Nonetheless, we additionally wished to issue within the intangible components that separate good telephones from nice ones. These embody software program help, construct high quality, worth, availability, and extra.

To find out our winner, we balanced our goal testing with seasoned, subjective evaluation.

That’s the place our seasoned editorial workforce stepped in — a workforce with sufficient expertise to look past a specs sheet full of huge, attractive numbers or enticingly low value tags (or certainly each). We solid judgments with a watch on the larger image of the ever-changing smartphone panorama.

The voting was extraordinarily shut this yr. There have been some surprises alongside the best way, however we lastly arrived at 5 telephones that every one deserve the very highest reward. One undisputed champion rose above the remaining.

With out additional ado and counting right down to the general winner of our Editor’s Selection 2020 award, these are Android Authority’s smartphones of the yr.

Fifth place: Sony Xperia 5 II

Sony Xperia 5 II rear panel

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

In our evaluation, we put it on the market that the Xperia 5 II could be the very best telephone Sony has ever made. Contemplating the Japanese OEM’s ailing fortunes lately, that will sound like faint reward. Nonetheless, its presence right here reveals that’s completely not the case. In truth, it narrowly beat out the OnePlus 8 Professional and Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus by only a single vote. That’s some severe competitors.

The Xperia 5 II distilled all that was nice concerning the Xperia 1 II — itself a notable improve over earlier Xperia telephones — lowered it to a extra compact kind issue. It dropped the value to a much more engaging sub-$1,000 tag in addition.

All the things you want to know: Sony Xperia 5 II purchaser’s information

As a {hardware} bundle, the Xperia 5 II is solely improbable. The 120Hz show could also be Full HD+, however the elongated OLED panel delivers an nearly Samsung-level expertise with strong peak brightness, colour accuracy, and really low gamma error. The overall efficiency and triple digicam are equally nice, as is the colossal battery life. It pushed nearly 5 hours even in our most excessive stress check — very almost matching common utilization for a typical flagship smartphone. There’s even a headphone jack.

Sony’s slimline telephone might’ve ranked even greater, however legacy software program points — significantly the complicated digicam app scenario — prevented it from difficult for high honors. If Sony can repair these, then the sky’s the restrict.

Fourth place: Oppo Discover X2 Professional

Oppo Find X2 Pro camera module macro

That is one for the books. The Oppo Discover X2 Professional not solely blew our expectations out of the water in 2020, but it surely additionally ended up besting the OnePlus 8 Professional within the battle of the BBK-affiliated manufacturers.

OnePlus’ flagship (our mid-2020 winner, no much less) remains to be a improbable telephone, however our love affair sadly pale over time. In the meantime, our affection for the Discover X2 Professional grew, capturing a particular place in our hearts.

It’s not laborious to see why both. In contrast to its sister model, Oppo’s tuning of the BBK-exclusive Sony IMX689 sensor proved to be elegant. The telephone constantly ranked close to the highest of our digicam testing. The Discover X2 Professional matched and in some circumstances bested the general chief, the Huawei Mate 40 Professional. That’s fairly an accomplishment.

Our verdict: Oppo Discover X2 Professional evaluation

Throw in spectacular efficiency stats, fast charging (slightly below 45 minutes from zero to 100%), and a cool, color-accurate QHD+ AMOLED show, and also you’ve received your self a high flagship. It might not have the innovation issue of its slider-toting predecessor, but it surely’s nonetheless a looker, particularly the good-looking vegan leather-based mannequin.

If Oppo is ready to proceed delivering aggressive flagships like this, we will’t wait to see what’s in retailer in 2021 with the Discover X3 sequence.

Third place: Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a screen in hand 3

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

The follow-up to 2019’s Editor’s Selection award winner, the Pixel 4a took the blueprint of the beloved Pixel 3a and by some means made it much more engaging.

In comparison with the powerhouse units of 2020, its Snapdragon 730 chipset was by no means going to set the world on hearth. But, elsewhere the Pixel 4a punches properly above its weight. That is significantly true of its stellar show, with very excessive peak brightness (720 nits), glorious colour accuracy, and low gamma error.

All the things you want to know: Google Pixel 4a purchaser’s information

Regardless of gradual charging, battery life can also be respectable and, once more, it’s good to see a headphone jack on any telephone in 2020. Then there’s the 12MP digicam that after once more brings Google’s applauded computational pictures to the funds phase.

Talking of funds, the Pixel 4a hit the market with an MSRP of simply $349. It might not be probably the most flashy telephone of the yr, however its unimaginable worth blows out different comparable telephones just like the OnePlus Nord with an plain pairing of fantastic {hardware} with glorious software program.

Second place: Google Pixel 4a 5G

Google Pixel 4a 5G standard back image

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Coming in only one vote forward of its 5G-less sibling, the Google Pixel 4a 5G supplied a lot greater than its awkwardly affixed moniker would counsel.

Very similar to the Pixel 4a, the show is astonishingly good, however the battery life is even higher. Even our intense stress check couldn’t cease the telephone hitting slightly below six hours of display screen on time. The digicam additionally enjoys a welcome improve with a secondary ultra-wide shooter. Whereas the Pixel 5’s pictures suite faltered somewhat this yr as others caught up, that very same digicam module shines right here. The digicam expertise is leaps and bounds above the rest within the sub-$500 area, together with Apple’s iPhone SE.

All the things you want to know: Google Pixel 4a 5G purchaser’s information

That was the case throughout the board too. Whereas there have been some nice mid-range telephones in 2020 just like the Poco F2 Professional and Realme X50 Professional — toting flagship processors in addition — they couldn’t match the imaginative and prescient of Google’s completely balanced center little one. The truth that our workforce resoundingly shunned Google’s 2020 flagship for the sweet-spot-hitting Pixel 4a 5G speaks volumes.

Silly identify be damned, the Pixel 4a 5G was Google’s finest telephone of 2020. Arguably its finest ever… but it surely nonetheless couldn’t topple the final word winner of our 2020 Editor’s Selection award.

Android Authority‘s Editor’s Selection 2020 winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE in hand 2

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Samsung launched an insane quantity of telephones in 2020, but it surely was its final huge launch of the yr that stole the present.

Launched in an understated style only a month after the headline-grabbing Be aware 20 sequence and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (the very best foldable of the yr, no query), the Galaxy S20 Fan Version was the proper reply to a yr the place the commoditization of smartphones reached fever pitch.

On one hand, you had the Ultras, the Professional Pluses, and the Professional Maxes — eye-wateringly costly luxurious flagships bursting with energy and bloated with extra extras. This, mixed with growing value tags throughout the trade, pushed lots of consumers in direction of the steadily bettering mid-range.

That wasn’t the one choice although. 2020 noticed the rise of a brand new class of tremendous mid-rangers — such because the Pixel 5 and LG Velvet. They eschewed flagship energy however nonetheless delivered premium design and options.

The Galaxy S20 FE would not essentially excel in anybody space, but it surely completely smashes expectations in all of them.

At a look, the Galaxy S20 FE seems to fit properly into this class with its $699 price ticket. However, no, this can be a good quaint flagship killer with bleeding-edge silicon — one which beat out its personal Galaxy S20 members of the family in our collective voting.

With the S20 FE, you don’t must closely compromise in a specific space to avoid wasting just a few {dollars}. Its triple digicam can’t fairly hold with the perfect of the yr, but it surely’s a punchy and splendidly versatile setup. The “glasstic” construct isn’t as premium as glass, but it surely’s way more sturdy. Samsung’s professional craftsmanship nonetheless shines by.

The Galaxy S20 FE is blazing quick, too. The Snapdragon 765G could have risen to prominence in 2020, however the Snapdragon 865 remains to be the place it’s at if you would like true top-tier efficiency. Samsung’s show pedigree is on present with its impeccable 120Hz panel. It drops the decision to FHD+, however delivers on brightness and accuracy. That is topped off with aggressive battery life, wi-fi and reverse wi-fi charging, 5G mmWave help, UFS 3.0 storage, a microSD slot, an IP68 ranking, and Samsung’s One UI pores and skin that continues to mature over time.

The few trade-offs that the Galaxy S20 FE makes are exquisitely balanced towards its approachable retail value. Whereas it doesn’t really excel past the elite units of 2020 in anybody space, it meets and surpasses expectations in all of them.

In a yr the place many telephones appeared laser-targeted on a particular viewers — be it frugal consumers, early adopters, or energy customers — the Galaxy S20 FE was the telephone for everybody. You may most likely even purchase it in your favourite colour, because the telephone broke the monochrome monotony with its vibrant colorways.

Samsung referred to as its inexpensive S20 the Fan Version — and you may rely us amongst them. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is the deserved winner of Android Authority’s Editor’s Selection award.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE All the very best options of the Galaxy S20 sequence at a lower cost

In the event you do not thoughts reducing just a few corners, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (which stands for “Fan Version”) is perhaps the telephone you might be on the lookout for. It affords a lot of the flagship specs and options of the Galaxy S20 household however trims issues right down to hold the value low.

Make your voice heard in our Reader’s Selection award!

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is our choose for the very best smartphone of 2020. Don’t agree with our selection? We wish to hear from you! Head over to our Reader’s Selection survey beneath and vote to crown your favourite telephone.

What was your favourite smartphone of 2020? Forged your vote in our Reader’s Selection survey

Additionally, make sure to try our 2020 retrospective articles beneath for extra on a number of the finest telephones of the yr: