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Best smartphones of 2020: Preliminary round

Preliminary round

2020 is almost over (finally!) and major phone launches for the year are behind us. So, it’s time to reflect on everything that happened in the smartphone world this year and pick the best phones that launched over the last 12 months.

We’ve divided phones into seven categories and we’re looking for the Top 5 phones in five of them to proceed to a final round of voting, while the other two categories will directly produce the ultimate champions of their segment.

We start with the flagships – the best of the best, money is no object phones. These live on the bleeding edge of screen, chipset, camera and battery technologies with features that are a few years ahead of what the mid-range phones have to offer.

The next category is for the phones you’d rather have instead of a flagship – whether its size, form factor, chipset selection or other consideration, these models have something you value more than the absolute best specs.

One of the major reasons to buy a flagship is that they get the best cameras. So, the category below is mostly made up of flagships, but which one of them truly excels at photography and capturing videos?

It takes more than a fast chipset and a good screen for a device to be a gaming phone. Additional on-board features – as simple as shoulder buttons or as uncommon as active cooling – plus an appropriate selection of accessories are vital.

Premium devices are on the wrong side of diminishing returns – you can get most of the features for half the price. And that’s the reason these are some of the best-selling phones of the year.

Note that we split off some of the mid-rangers to focus on 5G. Carriers are rapidly building out their networks so this goes beyond future-proofing – you can enjoy a high-bandwidth, low-latency connection today.

Finally, the trailblazer category is short but sweet. These are a few devices that think outside the box and show that innovation in the smartphone world isn’t as dead as it seemed in recent years.

Note that the gaming phone and trailblazer categories are short, so we’ll announce the winners next week. But for the other categories, this is just the first step to separate the wheat from the chaff.