Which smartphones are best? The proper answer is, “It depends.” It depends upon how “best” is defined and that definition varies from one person to another. Best price? That might mean a $300 Samsung model as the best value. It might mean the smartphone’s camera. How about privacy and security options? Or, the smartphone’s display.
Maybe the best simply means the highest rankings in a variety of subjective scores which compare one smartphone to another. Last yea all the premium smartphone cameras and displays received similar scores from those who keep count of such details. This year, iPhone Xs Max received the highest scores for the massive– as in Max– OLED display.
Dr. Raymond M. Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies:
The key element for a great Smartphone has always been a truly innovative and top performing display, and the best leading edge Smartphones have always flaunted their super high tech displays. It is the display performance that determines how good and how beautiful everything on the Smartphone looks, including the camera photos and all of your Apps, and also how readable and how usable the screen is in high ambient lighting. The Display is the crown jewel of the Smartphone!
I would agree with everything except the crown jewel conclusion. Even today’s mid-range smartphones have very good LCD displays, but what seems to separate the premium end from mid-range and lower is the combination of display and camera.
How does the iPhone Xs Max stack up to recent winners?
Based on our extensive Lab Tests and Measurements the iPhone XS Max receives our DisplayMate Best Smartphone Display Award earning DisplayMate’s highest ever A+ grade by providing considerably better display performance than other competing Smartphones.
That’s high praise considering that displays on all premium smartphones are considered excellent, and even better than Samsung’s Galaxy-class smartphones because Samsung makes the display in iPhone X models.
What about smartphone cameras?
DxOMark Image Labs runs similar tests, though perhaps a bit more subjective, of today’s crop of premium smartphones. So far, iPhone Xs Max has yet to be tested, but last year’s iPhone X came in tied for 8th place, just one point behind Google Pixel 2; Huawei’s P20 Pro was tops, HTC’s U12+ second and tied with Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then excellent photos on excellent displays may be difficult for the average person to see a difference. Apple claims iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have notably improved cameras but at this level all smartphones produce good photos and movies.
So, what about the best? To date I have yet to see a quantifiable review of the basics that make up today’s smartphones. Here are a few comparison items that come to mind.
- Display – OLED vs LCD
- Camera – wide-angle, telephone
- Battery Life – hours and total
- Basic Hardware Features – USB vs Lightning
- Security – fingerprint scanner vs facial ID.
- Privacy – iOS and apps vs. Android and apps
- Waterproof – submerge time
- Convenience – how easy is it to open and use, notifications
- Navigation – how easy to navigate to settings, popular apps
- Accessories – cases, screen protectors
- Size and Weight
- Warranty and Service
These are the reviews I want to see when comparing one premium smartphone to another. Hardware seems easy to compare and contrast while usage seems more subjective. This may be exactly where iPhones become the best smartphone; where the total is greater than the sum of the parts.