2019 saw lots of great smartphones, but of course, only a few models are the cream of the crop. While we couldn’t decide on which smartphone is the absolute best for this year, we were able to pin down the best smartphones for a specific use case. After all, every smartphone has its unique strengths.
Given that we were able to review a ton of phones this year, we decided to hold, for the first time ever, the new Best of 2019 UnGeek Awards (Smartphone Edition). This is going to be a yearly award where we celebrate the best discoveries and hitmakers of the year and we’ll expand this to more than just smartphones for 2020!
For 2019, and for the Smartphone category, there are 6 awards in totalone:
- Best Productivity Smartphone
- Best Camera Smartphone
- Best in Innovation
- Best Smartphone Design
- Best bang-for-buck Smartphone
- Best Gaming Smartphone
So without further ado here are the winners of the 2019 UnGeek Smartphone Awards:
A lot of smartphones released this year can already be used for content creation (including video editing), but the best phone for productivity that we’ve tried this year is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. Thanks to its nifty S Pen, powerful internals, and top-notch cameras, the Note 10 is a phone can handle any productivity-related task with ease, be it editing a presentation for work or creating a quick video on-the-go. In fact, we were even able to shoot and edit our main Tokyo Game Show 2019 video using just a Note 10!
Almost every phone we’ve reviewed this year came with multiple main cameras, though at the end of the year, it is still the Huawei P30 Pro that impressed us the most for photography. While nearly every major flagship has great multi-cams, the P30 Pro’s quad cameras are still our top pick, especially with its impressive 5x optical zoom camera which still stands as the best telephoto shooter we’ve tried. There’s also the fact that the P30 Pro is a beast for low-light photography.
The P30 Pro might be our pick for Best Camera Smartphone, but there’s no denying that Huawei’s own Mate 30 Pro is the most innovative. First off, the Mate 30 Pro packs an impressive quad camera setup with a 40MP Cine Camera and a 40MP SuperSensing Camera that works wonders for video, offering excellent stabilization. But it didn’t win Best in Innovation just because of its cameras; it won thanks to the Kirin 990 and the hyper-intuitive EMUI 10.
The Kirin 990 isn’t just Huawei’s most powerful processor to date, it’s also one of the most impressive smartphone SoCs out right now thanks to its advanced AI and connectivity features. Thanks to the Kirin 990, the Mate 30 Pro is able to have features such as eye-tracking, heart rate/breath monitor using just the front camera, and many more!
If you read our reviews, you’ve probably noticed that we praise a lot of phones for their looks, and for good reasons. Most phones released now are gorgeous, even the more budget-oriented ones. We can’t deny though that the OPPO Reno 2 is a cut above the rest design-wise.
From the back, the Reno 2’s matte finish (in Sunset Pink) is absolutely beautiful; plus it’s not a fingerprint magnet to boot. While it already looks great from the back, it’s even prettier from the front. The Reno 2’s AMOLED display is of great quality, and it’s a true borderless screen given the unique pop-up camera. So if you want a truly all-screen phone, the Reno 2 is for you.
As if OPPO needed to double down on the design aspect, they also released a special Gundam collab this 2019. Although the phone is not available in the local market, we did get to check it out as well and if you think the Reno 2’s design is impeccable already, wait till you get a load of this!
Choosing the best bang-for-buck smartphone was a challenge as there were lots of phones that offered a great feature set without an expensive price tag. At the end of the day though, we just had to give this award to the realme 5 Pro.
While the realme 5 is more affordable than this model, the Pro is still our top choice considering the features that you get. The phone packs a capable quad-camera setup, good battery life, and a powerful Snapdragon 712 processor; all this at only PHP 11,990 (4GB+128GB). So if you’re a budget-conscious buyer that likes taking good photos and/or is a massive mobile gamer, the realme 5 Pro is the phone to beat.
For hardcore mobile gamers who want the absolute best smartphone for gaming, the only choice is the ROG Phone II. Packing a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855+ processor and a whopping 12GB of RAM, the ROG Phone II will definitely run any mobile game you can think of. On top of that, the phone also has a large 6.5-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, giving you the best possible gaming experience, especially for games which support high refresh rates.
Best of all, the ROG Phone II isn’t just a powerful gaming smartphone, it’s also a great device overall.
And those are our top picks for the year! The awards are based on all the units we personally reviewed (hence if you’re wondering why certain brands are not part of the list as of yet). Who knows, 2020 might see a different list and we may expand this to a full blown campaign but for now, and before the year ends, this list is a great reminder how far we’ve come in terms of tech and mobile devices. It’s exciting to see what 2020 brings and to see new players step up on the plate. From everyone here at Ungeek, we wish to congratulate the brands above and to everyone that made 2019 just a little bit more geeky than it used to. Cheers!