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Editor’s Alternative — the winner is…

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What a 12 months 2020 has been. One welcome gentle within the darkness of those previous 12 months was the launch of tons of wonderful telephones. But, just one can take house the title of Android Authority’s greatest smartphone of the 12 months.

Even with out the compelled changes because of the ongoing international pandemic, 2020 was a 12 months of main change for the cell business. We noticed recent type components emerge with the rebirth of clamshells, spinning telephones with two screens, and a tease of what rollables would possibly seem like. A handful of foldables that lastly felt ok (and durable sufficient) to genuinely think about shopping for made an look too.

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

2020 was a torrid 12 months for a lot of, however we not less than had some superb smartphones.

2020 was additionally a 12 months of change for us right here at Android Authority. For those who’re an everyday, you’ve little question seen us progressively broaden our scope past cell because the years have passed by. We’ve typically introduced you all the most recent information and evaluation within the audio, good house, and computing classes, however we’ve expanded even additional this 12 months to take a look at gaming, streaming, and far, rather more.

Subsequent 12 months we’ll be reflecting on that change once we come to awards season. Transferring ahead, we need to present like to the easiest the buyer tech world has to supply. In fact, we received’t ever cease bringing you the very best protection of the cell platform everyone knows and love — Android!

With that mentioned, it’s time to crown our Editor’s Alternative smartphone of the 12 months. As ever, we’re operating two awards — one determined by us (Editor’s Alternative) and the opposite decided by you, our great readers (Reader’s Alternative).

Right here, we’re counting down the highest 5 telephones chosen by members of our opinions and options groups at Android Authority. Make sure you head over to our Reader’s Alternative voting to solid your individual vote.

How we determined and why

Google Pixel 5 vs Huawei P40 Pro vs Sony Xperia 5 II vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As with our mid-year award, this 12 months we mixed uncooked information gleaned from Android Authority‘s goal testing suite with real-world issues to find out an general winner.

Due to our testing staff, we had been in a position to decide 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 Pace Check G designed by our very personal Gary Sims of Gary Explains.

Every cellphone represented right here reached or surpassed a threshold in our testing, proving their superiority versus dozens of rival handsets throughout numerous worth tiers. Nevertheless, we additionally wished to issue within the intangible components that separate good telephones from nice ones. These embrace software program assist, 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 staff stepped in — a staff with sufficient expertise to look past a specs sheet full of huge, horny numbers or enticingly low worth tags (or certainly each). We solid judgments with an eye fixed on the larger image of the ever-changing smartphone panorama.

The voting was extraordinarily shut this 12 months. 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 remainder.

With out additional ado and counting all the way down to the general winner of our Editor’s Alternative 2020 award, these are Android Authority’s smartphones of the 12 months.


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 might be the very best cellphone Sony has ever made. Contemplating the Japanese OEM’s ailing fortunes lately, which will sound like faint reward. Nevertheless, its presence right here exhibits 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 critical 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 type issue. It dropped the worth to a much more enticing sub-$1,000 tag as well.

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

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

Sony’s slimline cellphone may’ve ranked even greater, however legacy software program points — significantly the complicated digicam app scenario — prevented it from difficult for prime 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) continues to be a incredible cellphone, 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 arduous to see why both. Not like its sister model, Oppo’s tuning of the BBK-exclusive Sony IMX689 sensor proved to be elegant. The cellphone persistently 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 (just below 45 minutes from zero to 100%), and a cool, color-accurate QHD+ AMOLED show, and also you’ve received your self a prime flagship. It could 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 collection.


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 Alternative award winner, the Pixel 4a took the blueprint of the beloved Pixel 3a and by some means made it much more enticing.

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

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

Regardless of gradual charging, battery life can be respectable and, once more, it’s good to see a headphone jack on any cellphone in 2020. Then there’s the 12MP digicam that when once more brings Google’s applauded computational pictures to the price range section.

Talking of price range, the Pixel 4a hit the market with an MSRP of simply $349. It might not be probably the most flashy cellphone of the 12 months, however its unbelievable worth blows out different comparable telephones just like the OnePlus Nord with an plain pairing of fantastic {hardware} with wonderful 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 provided a lot greater than its awkwardly affixed moniker would recommend.

Very like the Pixel 4a, the show is astonishingly good, however the battery life is even higher. Even our intense stress check couldn’t cease the cellphone hitting just 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 just a little this 12 months as others caught up, that very same digicam module shines right here. The digicam expertise is leaps and bounds above anything within the sub-$500 area, together with Apple’s iPhone SE.

All the things you could 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 as well — they couldn’t match the imaginative and prescient of Google’s completely balanced center youngster. The truth that our staff resoundingly shunned Google’s 2020 flagship for the sweet-spot-hitting Pixel 4a 5G speaks volumes.

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


Android Authority‘s Editor’s Alternative 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 12 months that stole the present.

Launched in an understated vogue only a month after the headline-grabbing Notice 20 collection and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (the very best foldable of the 12 months, no query), the Galaxy S20 Fan Version was the proper reply to a 12 months 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 rising worth tags throughout the business, pushed plenty of patrons in direction of the steadily enhancing 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 does not essentially excel in anyone 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 should closely compromise in a selected space to save lots of just a few {dollars}. Its triple digicam can’t fairly grasp with the easiest of the 12 months, 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 knowledgeable 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 continues to be the place it’s at in order for you 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 assist, UFS 3.0 storage, a microSD slot, an IP68 score, 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 worth. Whereas it doesn’t really excel past the elite units of 2020 in anyone space, it meets and surpasses expectations in all of them.

In a 12 months the place many telephones appeared laser-targeted on a particular viewers — be it frugal patrons, early adopters, or energy customers — the Galaxy S20 FE was the cellphone for everybody. You possibly can most likely even purchase it in your favourite coloration, because the cellphone broke the monochrome monotony with its vivid colorways.

Samsung known as its inexpensive S20 the Fan Version — and you’ll depend us amongst them. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is the deserved winner of Android Authority’s Editor’s Alternative award.

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

For those who do not thoughts slicing just a few corners, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (which stands for “Fan Version”) may be the cellphone you might be on the lookout for. It gives many of the flagship specs and options of the Galaxy S20 household however trims issues all the way down to preserve the worth low.


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

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is our decide for the very best smartphone of 2020. Don’t agree with our selection? We need to hear from you! Head over to our Reader’s Alternative survey under and vote to crown your favourite cellphone.

What was your favourite smartphone of 2020? Solid your vote in our Reader’s Alternative survey

Additionally, make sure you try our 2020 retrospective articles under for extra on a number of the greatest telephones of the 12 months:

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