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2020 Smartphone Buyer’s Guide, Part 1

2020 Smartphone Buyer’s Guide, Part 1

Millions of people have moved off the traditional computer and now use their smartphone for checking email, editing documents, and doing much of their work. This means they need their device to be powerful and reliable. Today, we are going to take a brief look at some of the best smartphones available today: the flagships.

This is part one in our three-part smartphone overview where we look at some of the phones you should know if you are in the market for a new device this year. 

The Flagships

The flagship smartphone gets its name from a military nautical tradition where the ship that holds the commanding officer would be the best, strongest, and most capable ship in the fleet. In smartphone terms, it is the newest and best device from manufacturers who are looking to build the very best smartphones. These are the devices everyone wants, and their rising price tags show it. Let’s take a look at four flagships that you can get this holiday season:

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple has always had a place at the top of the American smartphone market, having consistently been between 10-to-18 percent for most of the past five years. This year, they introduced their iPhone 12 series. The best of the bunch is the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Built on a stainless steel frame with Gorilla Glass 6 front and back, the iPhone 12 Pro Max features a 6.7-inch Super Retina OLED Display.

The internals look good too, as their A14 Bionic Processor is the first five nanometer processor available in the United States. As usual, the iPhone provides a solid experience with 6 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB of onboard storage. The 3,687 mAh battery teams with settings in iOS 14.1 to create one of the most reliable smartphone experiences for users looking to be productive throughout the day without charging. It does support wireless charging and 20-watt fast charging.

The software experience fuels the three rear-facing cameras and the additional time of flight sensor to create crisp and clear photos. It is also IP68 dust and water resistant. Available in Silver, Graphite, Gold, and Pacific Blue, the iPhone 12 Pro Max—along with the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 12 Pro—will be available the second week in November. 

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Body: Stainless Steel with Gorilla Glass 6
Display: 6.7-inch Super Retina OLED (~458 ppi)
OS: iOS 14.1
Chipset: A14 Bionic
Memory: 6 GB RAM, up to 512 GB onboard storage
Expandable Memory: No
Cameras: Rear: 12 MP (wide), 12 MP (ultra wide), 12 MP (telephoto) 2.5x Front: 12 MP (wide)
Sounds: Stereo Speakers, no headphone jack
Battery (battery endurance rating): 3,687 mAh (~100 hours)
Security: Face ID
Miscellaneous: Accelerometer, Gyrometer, Proximity, compass, barometer, Siri assistant, IP68 dust/water resistant
Other versions: iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro

OnePlus 8 Pro 

OnePlus has made some pretty impressive smartphones over the past few years, with last year’s model as close as the Chinese manufacturer has come to making a flagship. The OnePlus 8 Pro is really their first foray into flagship territory by adding all the bells and whistles found on other flagship phones.

The OnePlus 8 Pro is built on a strong and lightweight aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass 5 front and back. Curved more than last year’s OnePlus 7 Pro and with a 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED display, the OnePlus 8 Pro has one of the best physical and visual profiles for any device in 2020. 

The device runs a pretty clean version of Android 10, but can be upgraded to Android 11 depending on the carrier. The device is run by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor and can come with 12 GB of RAM, which is more than your average workstation. The phone can also function at a 120hz refresh rate, speeding up the user experience significantly.

The camera profile on the OnePlus 8 Pro is also solid with both the device’s wide angle lens and ultra wide angle lens coming in at 48 megapixels, along with the 3x telephoto lens. The industry-standard 4,510 mAh battery and the ability to do everything any other top smartphone can do has the OnePlus 8 Pro firmly in the discussion for the best 2020 smartphone. Available in Glacial Green, Ultramarine Blue, and Onyx Black, the OnePlus 8 Pro can be had from many major carriers.

OnePlus 8 Pro
Body: Aluminum with Gorilla Glass 5 Front and Back
Display: 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED (~513 ppi)
OS: Android 10, upgrade available to Android 11
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Memory: 8-to-12 GB RAM
Expandable Memory: No
Cameras: 48 MP (wide); 8 MP (telephoto) 3x; 48 MP (ultra wide) Front: 16 MP (wide)
Sounds: Stereo speakers, no headphone jack.
Battery (battery endurance rating): 4,510 mAh (103 hours)
Security: In-screen fingerprint reader
Miscellaneous: Accelerometer, Gyrometer, Proximity, Compass, IP68 dust/water resistant
Other versions: OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8T

Samsung Galaxy s20 Ultra

Now we get to the Samsung portion of our article. No discussion about flagship smartphones can be had without discussing the Galaxy s20 Ultra, or the Galaxy s-lineup in general that consists of four devices. The most talked about of these is the Samsung Galaxy s20 Ultra.

The Galaxy s20 Ultra is built on an aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass 6 front and back. A 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with a 1440 x 3200 resolution will definitely wow users. It’s one of the best smartphone displays on the market. It is available with up to 16 GB of RAM, running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 for power to match its size. For security, an in-screen fingerprint reader provides security to the contents of the device. The whopping 5,000 mAh battery can be recharged using 45-watt fast charging or Qi wireless charging.

As far as cameras go, the Galaxy s20 Ultra has a 10x 48-megapixel telephoto lens, a 108-megapixel wide angle lens, a 12-megapixel ultrawide angle lens, and a DepthVision Time of Flight camera. The Galaxy s20 Ultra is capable of recording 8K video. 

Available in Cosmic Grey, Cloud White, and Cosmic Black, the Galaxy s20 Ultra is available now on many major carriers. 

Samsung Galaxy s20 Ultra
Body: Aluminum with Gorilla Glass 6 Front and Back
Display: 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x (~511 ppi)
OS: Android 10
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Memory: 12-to-16 GB RAM
Expandable Memory: Yes (microSDXC)
Cameras: Rear - 108 MP (wide), 48MP (periscope telephoto) 10x, 12 MP (ultra wide), .3 MP( Time of Flight). Front - 40 MP wide.
Sounds: Stereo Speakers, No Headphone Jack
Battery (endurance rating): 5,000 mAh (87 hours)
Security: In-screen fingerprint reader
Miscellaneous: Accelerometer, Gyrometer, Proximity, Barometer, Compass, Bixby assistant, IP68 dust/water resistant
Other versions: Galaxy s20, Galaxy s20+, Galaxy s20 FE

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 

Not to be outdone by their other line of smartphones, Samsung also has the Note line of smartphones that are traditionally among the very best devices available. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is no exception. Built on a stainless steel chassis with Gorilla Glass Victus front and back, the Note 20 Ultra is a productivity monster.

Running Android 11 with a cutting-edge Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that is about the best available on this year’s devices. Besides the 12 GB of RAM, the 4,500 mAh battery, the amazing camera selection that includes a 50x zoom telephoto lens and a 108-megapixel wide angle lens, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra features S-pen technology that continues to be improved upon each year. 

Released only in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White, this year’s Note is available from every major carrier.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Body: Stainless Steel with Gorilla Glass Victus
Display: 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 
OS: Android 10, One UI 2.5
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Memory: 12 GB RAM
Expandable Memory:  Yes
Cameras: 108 MP wide, 12 MP (periscope telephoto) 50x, 12 MP (ultra wide) Front: 10 MP wide 
Sounds: Stereo Speakers, no headphone jack
Battery (battery endurance rating): 4,500 mAh (88 hours)
Security: In-display fingerprint reader
Miscellaneous: Accelerometer, Gyrometer, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, IP68 dust/water resistant 
Other versions: Samsung Galaxy Note 20

That’s just a brief look at the top of this year’s smartphone market. Other devices that are noteworthy are the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, the Sony Xperia 1ii, and the Google Pixel 5.

Are you in the market for a new smartphone? Let us know what type of phone you are looking at in the comments section below.

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