It is never easy to pick out the best smartphones of 2020, particularly with so many models and improvements by many manufacturers.
Just for updates sake, prices of flagship smartphones have breached new levels, with Apple making their iPhones not only in more variations, but somewhat even better than they used to be.
The iPhone has also seen a drop in price, making it more accessible to the rakyat.
Samsung on the other hand is trying to impress with foldable smartphones, while Chinese brands like Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi are introducing high-end specification smartphones at lower the flagship phone cost.
But at the end of it all, there can only be a few smartphones that really stand out and can be labelled the best smartphones of 2020.
The label as ‘best smartphones of 2020’ means the phone is an all-rounder, excelling in both performance and price point, so do not be surprised if your flagship phone suddenly does not make the cut.
That said, after reviewing countless tech related videos and websites, here is a list of smartphones according to each category, with probably some notable mentions.
BEST CAMERA PHONE
Cameras play a vital role in today’s smartphones. In fact, to me, a camera sort of breaks or makes a phone.
Usually, the best camera smartphones revolve between brands like HUAWEI, Samsung, Google’s Pixel and the Apple iPhone.
This time around, Apple made major improvements in their smartphone videography and this has made their iPhone 12 Pro Max the best camera phone of 2020.
Don’t get me wrong, still images are still better in the Pixels. However, the iPhone 12 range has somewhat matched these, with Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max owning an edge in videography.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max was announced early October this year, and emphasis was directly given to its camera capabilities.
It takes great photos and videos both during day or night consistently and its ability to record Dolby Vision with sensor-shift stabilization adds to an impressive all-rounder for a camera phone.
The phone itself start from RM5,299 on Lazada Malaysia with tones of freebies which can include the charging block.
If you aren’t an Apple fan, the Pixel 5 is also a great camera phone, but falls short to the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max in the videography section.
In case you are curious, the Google Pixel 5 smartphone goes for sale at RM3,199 on Lazada Malaysia.
THE PHONE WITH THE BEST BATTERY LIFE
A phone is nothing without power, and the phone that wins the best battery life for 2020 is the Asus ROG 3.
The gaming phone’s 6,000mAh battery can last a full two days with normal use on its full 144hz refresh rate It can also last longer if you lower down the refresh rate of the screen.
However, the massive battery does mean it has a bulkier body which some might not like.
It sells from RM2,300 in Lazada Malaysia, making it probably rather expensive for some, but that’s pretty decent to me.
If the flaws of the Asus ROD 3 do bug you and you are still seeking a great battery life from a 2020 smartphone, then do consider one from POCO.
The Poco M3 gets a notable mention in this category for being rather slimmer than the Asus ROG 3 but also being able to sustain a good battery life. It’s also only about RM599.
BEST BUDGET SMARTPHONE
If budget is a constrain, then you will be looking at something more affordable yet able to produce results.
Budget or cheaper smartphones usually cost less than RM1,000 and they tend to have less of everything when compared side by side to flagships.
However, the Poco X3 NFC is one of the best in the range.
It offers a 6.67” FHD+ display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate which makes gaming really smooth and the phone is controlled by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor which is paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
The processor isn’t mind-blowing, but it is decent enough to give you a run for your money.
The phone also comes with a quad camera setup with a 64MP Sony IMX682 f/1.9 playing the role of a main camera.
Beside it lies a 13MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 2MP f/2.4 macro camera and 2MP depth camera. Up-front, a 20MP selfie camera makes the Poco X3 NFC a really decent camera phone.
Powering the X3 NFC is a large 5,160mAh battery which offers 33W fast charging. In case you are wondering, the official price of the phone is RM899.
BEST MID-RANGE SMARTPHONE
If budget is not so tight, then you would want to know which phone aces the best mid-range smartphone category.
Here, the smartphone wouldn’t break your bank, but it is supposed to be good enough to provide you something above average. Phones in this range are between RM1,000 to RM3,000.
That said, the phone which packs the most at a small price would be the Google Pixel 4A.
Launched in September 2020, the Pixel 4A comes with 5G, the Qualcomm SM7250 Snapdragon 765G processor, which is well paired with 6GB or RAM, and a 128GB internal storage.
It excels well with an amazing 12.2-megapixel main camera which is also able to shoot 4K videos at 30/60 fps. Adding to the camera is the availability of image stabilization and autofocus.
The Pixel 4a 5G isn’t officially available in Malaysia, but that doesn’t stop you from getting it from under RM2,500 on Lazada.
BEST FLAGSHIP SMARTPHONE
Flagship phones usually pack the most punch and are top of the line. They also usually come with a huge price tag. However, in this category, we will omit that price tag and just choose the best phone.
There’s no surprise when the best flagship smartphone goes to the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.
With an incredible camera system, the iPhone 12 takes flagship smartphones to a whole different level. This therefore earns it as one of best smartphones of 2020.
Not only does it feel nice in the hands, its also very durable, as proved by Jerry in his video below.
Aside from that, the Apple iOS is very stable and smooth when used, and it’s just amazing how the iPhone 12 Pro Max managed to squeeze so much from their A14 chip and just 6GB of RAM.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY SMARTPHONE
With so many phones out there, finding one that probably ticks most of the boxes but is priced not as high as flagship smartphones maybe key for some.
This year, the winner of the best value smartphone goes to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.
The phone is powered by a Octa-core processor and it has everything a flagship smartphone has.
This includes the Super AMOLED 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) display with 120Hz display, a 6GB RAM, with a minimum of 128GB storage space, which is expandable.
It also has a high-end triple camera set-up with a 12 megapixel lens which is capable of 3X zoom, image stabilization and autofocus, leading the set-up. The camera set-up can also take 4K videos at 60fps.
In addition to that, the phone is dual-SIM phone, supports 5G, stereo speakers, wireless charging, and has IP68 water resistant rating.
All those hefty specs come at just RM2,499, and the sole reason I didn’t put this phone as the best mid-range phone above was largely due to the body which is made from plastic.
However, if that’s not an issue with you, this is a real steal and deserves the label as one of the best smartphones of 2020.