2020 has probably been one of the weirdest years for smartphone launches in Canada.
We saw a few foldables, four new iPhones, possibly the last Samsung Galaxy Note, a Huawei phone that lacks the Play Store and more. As usual, many phones that launched in other markets didn’t come here. That said, this list looks at the best smartphones that officially launched in Canada.
To be clear, this isn’t a gift guide of what phones you should buy, because in the case of the Z Fold 2 — while probably the best Android smartphone I have ever used — it’s definitely not for everyone due to its price.
Samsung has three smartphones on this year’s list, and it could have likely had more, including the Galaxy S20 FE and the Galaxy Z Flip.
Samsung Galaxy S20+
Samsung’s Galaxy S20+ doesn’t offer the highest-end specs when compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but the smartphone is arguably the best out of all the S20 series devices. With a Snapdragon 865 processor, a beautiful 120Hz refresh rate display, and four excellent cameras, the S20+ is an all-around great smartphone package.
While the Galaxy S20 Ultra offers ‘Space Zoom,’ MobileSyrup managing editor Patrick O’Rouke called the feature a gimmick in his review of the smartphone. Plus, it has an absolutely massive camera bump.
The S20+ features a more refined bump, and the handset isn’t quite as flashy as its more expensive counterpart. Overall, I think the S20+ is the gold standard for phones in 2020.
Check out our review of the Galaxy S20+ here.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is one of the company’s top phones of the year.
The Note 20 Ultra offers a 120Hz refresh rate 6.9-inch display with a 1440 x 3088-pixel resolution. Additionally, it sports a Snapdragon 865+ processor alongside a triple camera setup, but it lacks the depth sensor available in the S20+.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has very few shortcomings and is one of the most solid phones the company has ever released, according to O’Rourke.
Samsung has also upgraded the S Pen’s latency to make writing and drawing with the stylus feel more smooth and paper-like.
Check out our review of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra here.
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2
This foldable handset might be the best smartphone on the market thanks to its 7.6-inch foldable screen and 120Hz refresh rate.
With an ‘Infinity-O’ cutout on both the inside and outside of the Fold 2, it looks a lot better than its clunky predecessor. The foldable smartphone also features a Snapdragon 865+ processor, 12GB of RAM and a trio of 12-megapixel rear shooters that allow you to snap great selfies by using the Cover display.
The device is a compelling smartphone that’s able to handle any task you throw at it and offers a tablet-like size that can fit in your pocket.
The Z Fold 2 is an incredibly expensive handset at an astronomical $2,799. While few people need to (or should) spend that kind of money on a phone, the Fold 2 is definitely one of the best phones that launched in Canada this year.
Apple iPhone 12 & 12 Pro
Apple’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro have a lot to offer thanks to their 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED screens with Dolby Vision compatibility. Both smartphones also include Apple’s powerful A14 Bionic chip, upgraded camera capabilities and a great-looking design.
Further, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro also feature squared-off edges that take inspiration from Apple’s more recent iPad Pro, iPad Air (2020) and even the retro iPhone 4.
The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro also feature a spectacular camera package that includes improved night vision and better high dynamic range.
Depending on how you snap pictures, Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro features a superior camera experience when compared to the iPhone 12. For example, the iPhone 12 Pro features a telephoto camera that allows users to zoom in optically when snapping pictures, as well as a LiDAR sensor. LiDAR gives the phone improved augmented reality capabilities and improves its camera performance in low-light.
We could have also easily picked the iPhone 12 mini and the 12 Pro Max for this list, which offer similar experiences but at smaller or larger sizes, respectively.
Google Pixel 5
The Pixel 5 is one of the most streamlined smartphones on the market. The term “flagship killer” comes to mind as the handset doesn’t offer top-of-the-line specifications but still features a superb smartphone experience.
Notable Pixel 5 specs include a Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB of RAM and a 90Hz refresh rate display.
Google’s latest smartphone is a no-frills affordable device and is everything most people need in a handset, including future-proofing features like 5G.
Check out our review of Google’s Pixel 5 here.
OnePlus 8 Pro
This year, OnePlus released a smartphone that offered several high-grade features, including a 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED display with a 1440 x 3168-pixel resolution and a 120Hz refresh and HDR10+. Other features include a Snapdragon 865 processor, up to 12GB of RAM, an in-screen fingerprint scanner and a 4,510mAh battery.
There’s also a quad-camera setup with two 48-megapixel shooters, an 8-megapixel telephoto and a 5-megapixel colour filter camera.
Check out our OnePlus 8 Pro review here.
Honourable mention: Huawei P40 Pro
Huawei’s P40 Pro would have officially made this list, but the App Gallery needs a bit of time to grow. That said, I still wanted to recognize the P40 Pro because it’s an excellently-built, high-end feeling handset with a fabulous camera.
For more on Huawei’s P40 Pro, check out my review here.