At MobileSyrup, we have the opportunity to test out a variety of flagships throughout the year. We’ve made a list of all the best smartphones you can currently get in Canada, and why we think they’re so great. Let us know your favourite smartphones of the year in the comments below.
While the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are Apple’s flagship, high-end smartphones this year, the standard iPhone 11 has a lot to offer, just like its predecessor, the iPhone XR.
The smartphone, unfortunately, lacks the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max’s OLED screen, instead opting for LCD. It also doesn’t feature the more premium design or third 12-megapixel 2x zoom lens, but still packs the functionality the average iPhone user likely cares more about.
This includes bright colours like ‘Green,’ ‘Purple,’ and ‘Yellow,’ along with the device’s excellent 12-megapixel f/1.8 wide and 12-megapixel f/2.4 ultrawide camera. The iPhone 11 also sports Apple’s excellent A13 Bionic processor, just like the more expensive iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
While the iPhone 11 does have a few shortcomings, it’s the all-around best Apple smartphone for the average iPhone user.
The iPhone 11 is available for $979 outright for the 64GB version of the smartphone. For more on the iPhone 11, check out our review.
iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, Apple’s 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch highest-end 2019 smartphones, have a lot in common with the iPhone 11. The devices ditch LCD screen technology for a modern OLED screen and feature a more premium design that includes a matte rear that’s resistant to dust, fingerprints and grease, as well as slightly smaller bezels.
The device also sports three shooters this time around, resulting in a sizable camera bump on its rear that looks far better in person than it does in pictures (trust us on that one). The three-camera array measures in as follows: a 12 megapixel, f/1.8, 26mm wide shooter, a 12-megapixel, f/2, 52mm telephoto lens and a f/2.4 13mm ultrawide angle camera.
All of these cameras combine to offer the best photography package Apple has ever included in an iPhone. The cameras are so good that they’re able to match the Pixel 4 in terms of quality in most situations.
The iPhone 11 Pro starts at $1,379, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,519, and check out the full review, here.
OnePlus had a standout year where it stepped its devices up to the level of flagships from other manufacturers. While the OnePlus 7 Pro is the flashier of the two smartphones, with its pop-up camera and full-screen display, the lower cost OnePlus 7T is the handset most people should buy.
The 7T features the same excellent camera, screen and build quality as the 7 Pro, but has a cheaper price tag, and a slightly smaller size that makes it more comfortable to use.
The camera isn’t the only improvement that catapulted this device into flagship-level. The Chinese company implemented a high-end haptic engine that makes physically interacting with the handset a joy. Each keypress, copy/paste and back gesture swipe felt responsive and premium in a way that not many Android phones often are.
Since you spend most of your time interacting with the phone’s screen, this is one of the best improvements a manufacturer can make to a device. It’s also great that the smartphone runs Android 10 out of the box.
The OnePlus 7T retails for $799 in Canada. Read our review to discover what else makes this handset one of the best smartphones of 2019.
Samsung Galaxy S10+
It’s not shocking that both Samsung’s flagships made the list. While similar, they’re excellent in different ways. This is why both devices are getting separate entries this year.
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ features a candy bar design with rounded edges. Additionally, the phone sports dual front-facing cameras in the top right corner. What is cool is that Samsung didn’t design the Galaxy S10 with a notch or much of a top bezel. Instead, the phone features an Infinity-O hole-punch camera, optimizing the device’s screen real estate.
What’s probably the most celebrated design element of the S10+ is its 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, giving users the choice to use standard headphones with the smartphone. The Galaxy Note 10+, on the other hand, doesn’t feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, making it Samsung’s first Note not to feature the port.
Spec-wise the handset features a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 1440 x 3040 pixel resolution, Snapdragon 855 chipset, up to 12GB of RAM and 1TB of memory. On the rear, the phone sports a triple rear-facing camera setup with a 12-megapixel sensor and a variable aperture with sizes ranging from f/1.5 to f/2.4. Additionally, there’s another 12-megapixel camera with a f/2.4 aperture and 2x optical zoom, as well as a 16-megapixel ultrawide shooter that features f/2.2.
This handset also includes an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, allowing users to unlock the phone with just their thumb. The ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is a tad slower than the optical variants featured in phones like the OnePlus 7T, but this version of the technology is more secure.
The phone’s display quality is also superb, which makes videos and pictures look amazing on it.
Another great thing about the S10+ is the phone’s One UI Android skin. OneUI is intuitive, works great and is very different from Samsung’s beleaguered Touch Wiz.
The Galaxy S10+ starts at $1,219 at the Samsung Experience Store. You can read our review here to learn more about one of the best phones in Canada.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
The Note 10+ is very similar to the Galaxy S10+ in several ways, however, design-wise it’s quite different.
Instead of the rounded corners, the Note 10+ is far more rectangular. Additionally, the handset features a centred hole punch front-facing camera. Many prefer the Galaxy Note 10+’s form factor and camera placement and believe the phone is more comfortable to hold. Furthermore, thanks to the rectangular display, the device sports even more screen real estate, coming in at 6.8-inches.
The camera setup in the Note 10+ is similar to the S10+, except the Note 10+ features a time-of-flight sensor for depth.
Additionally, the Note 10+ features an S Pen stylus with Bluetooth integration that allows for dedicated gestures and controls. The S Pen lets users navigate through the phone and snap pictures without holding the device. It’s also great for taking notes.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ outright costs $1,459.99. You can read our review of the smartphone here.
Huawei P30 Pro
Even though Huawei is dealing with several issues related to the U.S. government, the P30 Pro is a flagship smartphone with top-of-the-line specs, one of the best cameras on the market and an excellent battery.
The P30 Pro’s 4,200mAh battery was able to squeeze out almost 17 hours of screen-on time just by using the phone’s battery saving settings.
The camera is capable of snapping pictures from 190 metres away thanks to its 50x digital zoom. Night images are also awe-inspiring and brighten up photos to make them clear, even in darkness.
The phone also features a curved display as well, so it fits perfectly in your hand.
Unfortunately, EMUI 9.1 isn’t the greatest, it’s advisable slapping a third-party launcher on the P30 Pro. The P30 Pro sports a 6.47-inch OLED display a 1080 x 2340 pixel resolution alongside a triple rear-facing camera setup.
The primary camera features a 40-megapixel sensor with an f/1.6 aperture, allowing users to take pictures in the dark. Additionally, it sports an 8-megapixel periscope camera with an f/3.4 aperture and up to 5x optical zoom. There’s also a 20-megapixel ultrawide camera and a time-of-flight sensor.
Furthermore, the P30 Pro features an optical under-display fingerprint scanner and a waterdrop notch.
The P30 Pro is available outright for as low as $1,200. Check out our review of the device to learn more.
Google Pixel 4 XL
The Pixel 4 X — not the Pixel 4 to be specific — sports one of the best cameras on the market. It feels great when you’re holding it in your hand and sports a pure Android experience.
The Pixel 4 XL features top of the line specs, including a 6.3-inch display with a 1440 x 3040-pixel resolution and a fantastic 90Hz refresh rate. The higher refresh rate results in scrolling that feels incredibly smooth, making the phone a joy to use. In fact, after using the Pixel 4 XL, it’s hard to switch back to other handsets that don’t feature a high display refresh rate.
Similar to the Huawei P30 Pro, the device snaps fantastic pictures even at night thanks to its excellent ‘Night Sight’ mode. Furthermore, selfie pictures look great.
The device also sports face unlock, allowing users to authenticate and access the phone with just their face. Further, there’s Motion Sense, which works both passively and actively. Passively, for example, is when your alarm or a timer goes off and you begin reaching for your device. The phone automatically reacts and quiets the alarm. Motion Sense’s active functionalities include swiping to dismiss alarms, timers and changing songs in specific apps.
The Pixel 4 XL also receives Google’s updates right away, and sports a Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of RAM and a fast-charging battery.
The Pixel 4 XL starts at $1,129. Check out our review of the smartphone, here.
LG G8X Dual Screen
The LG G8X is what we’d consider a sleeper hit. The device’s secondary display is great for multitasking, and it helps users play games like PUBG Mobile.
The G8X’s secondary screen attachment is an exact copy of the main phone’s 6.4-inch display. It even sports a waterdrop notch, which is odd considering there’s no camera in the secondary display.
The G8X rarely experienced any slowdowns even while jumping between apps. The phone can also easily survive the day with about 35 percent battery when the secondary screen is not attached.
LG designed the handset for mobile gamers or anyone who enjoys multi-tasking. You can use one screen with an app like Instagram and the other for Google docs, allowing you to work and play at the same time.
Additionally, the G8X features top-of-the-line specs, including 6GB of RAM, a 4,000mAh battery and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The phone costs $1,150 outright. You can find more about the LG G8X in our review.
Asus ZenFone 6 / ROG Phone II
The Asus ZenFone 6 sports a full display with a unique flip-up camera. Within the flip-up, the ZF6’s camera setup features a 48-megapixel sensor and a 13-megapixel sensor with an ultrawide angle lens.
The Asus ZenFone 6 also features a 5,000mAh battery with 18W quick charging. The phone’s battery lasts for nearly two days. Additionally, the phone features a Snapdragon 855 processor with Zen UI 6, along with a slim user interface that’s both intuitive and unobtrusive.
The ZenFone 6 costs $799 outright. If you want to learn more about this device, check out the review for the handset.
We’ve paired this for the ROG Phone 2 because that phone works similarly to the ZenFone 6 but is faster and lacks the flip-up camera.
The ROG Phone features a Snapdragon 855+ processor, with up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage (in Canada). The ROG Phone 2’s screen is also capable of refresh rates up to 120Hz, coupled with 240Hz touch sensing. Due to the high refresh rate, the handset’s display looks and feels incredibly smooth.
The display and touch sensing help make the phone feel incredibly quick, especially compared to other Android devices on the market. The touch sensing and refresh rate are especially great for gaming, offering an experience that is smooth and quick.
The ROG Phone 2 costs $1,482 CAD on Amazon.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
While it may not seem like much, Samsung’s ‘budget’ flagship is arguably one of the best smartphones of 2019. It gets a lot right and doesn’t break the bank.
First and foremost, the S10e is just a bit smaller than the S10 and S10+ thanks to its 5.8-inch display. But while the screen may be smaller, it’s still a large, excellent display. Plus, thanks to the small bezels, the S10e manages to feel more minuscule than it actually is. If you like small phones that aren’t actually that small, it’s a great way to go.
Plus, the S10e sports a ‘flat’ display instead of the curved ‘edge’ style seen on the S10 and S10+. Some may favour the curved screen, but I’m not a fan and the flat display is much easier to use.
The final note about the display is that the S10e features a hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. Again, some might not like it, but compared to a notch, it looks way better. It’s one of the things that makes the S10e so unique and pleasing for me to use. The hole-punch really adds to the overall experience and looks fantastic.
All that said, the S10e isn’t perfect. It lacks the third telephoto camera found on its bigger brothers, it has a smaller 3,100mAh battery, and it doesn’t have an in-screen fingerprint scanner. However, for the price, these are all things that are easy to forgive for excellent performance, great in-hand feel and a superior price.
You can find the S10e for $869.99 outright in Canada or for as low as $0 on a plan with most major Canadian carriers. Check out the review for the S10e here.
Honorable Mention: Samsung Galaxy Fold
While Samsung’s Galaxy Fold isn’t a perfect smartphone, the fact that a device with a foldable display is finally available in Canada is something to be excited about. While the pricey smartphone initially wasn’t set to make its way to Canada following a string of issues related to the device’s display, Samsung changed its plans and dropped the Fold here in early December.
Despite its several drawbacks including the Fold’s thickness, price tag and lack of other features currently featured in other modern smartphones like water-resistance, Galaxy Fold is an undeniably exciting smartphone. The Galaxy Fold costs $2,635 and is only available at Samsung Experience stores across Canada.
Honorable Mention: Google Pixel 3a
While the Pixel 3a might not be one of the best phones of the year spec-wise, when it comes to value, it’s incredible. And if you like quick Android updates, then the 3a series delivers.
Additionally, it packs a fantastic camera, great battery life and most of the awesome Pixel-specific features like Google’s ‘Now Playing’ passive music detection software, camera software like Night Sight, and much more. It even has a headphone jack!
It might be missing wireless charging and premium-feeling build quality, but if you can look past some of these shortfalls, it’s an excellent phone at a reasonable price.