In terms of progress, 2020 hasn’t been a particularly productive year. Most of us haven’t taken any discernible steps forward in our careers, our horizons have remained sadly unbroadened and we’ve spent most of the last 10 months simply muddling through. For the most part, that’s where any advancements end.
Aside, that is, for in the world of smartphone development. Despite the rest of us grinding to a standstill over the course of 2020, smartphone developers have been hard at it. More headway has been made this year than in the last five put together — with pioneering advancements in 5G, folding screen technology and AI all paving the way to a more cutting edge, ergonomic future. Which is probably a good thing, given that we’re currently living life almost exclusively through our screens.
So, as we’re locked down again for the foreseeable, here are the best smartphones to help you feel connected in 2020…
For reliability and sense, the Google Pixel 5
Why’s it so special? Because Google, in a rarely seen display of Silicon Valley sense, have actually pared things back this year. No more facial recognition, no more XL model, no more rainbow of colour options (just the two, this time). It’s a grown-up move; a recalibration in the name of making the basics better.
What are some key specs? And the basics are better. That 6-inch screen may be smaller than the 4XL’s 6.3-inch, but you can expect a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 8MP front-facing camera and 18W fast-charging.
Who should buy one? The man who relies on his phone. You don’t need gimmicks, you’re not looking for gadgets; you just want a reliable, good smartphone that will hold its charge and do its job.
Google Pixel 5
For media men, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
Why’s it so special? Unlike the Pixel 5 above, the kitchen sink has been hurled at Samsung’s latest foldable device. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s visually striking, obviously, but there are also some ergonomic advantages to this folding phone.
What are some key specs? There’s a 6.2-inch screen visible when folded, with that opening up to a truly impressive 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display to rival the best tablet. Other selling points include a 12MP Telephoto Camera and 4K UHD video recording.
Who should buy one? Burgeoning media moguls. If your job pivots around the creation and consumption of media, what better than a device that can do it all? From Zoom calls to video editing, the Galaxy Z Fold2 is exceedingly capable — and looks like the sort of phone a visionary would carry around…
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
For designers and originators, the Motorola Edge
Why’s it so special? Last year, when Motorola relaunched its folding Razr, the phone flopped rather than flipped. Thankfully, after ditching the gimmicks and making a reasonably priced, flat-screened smartphone, the long-time tech player is back in the game.
What are some key specs? Look, this one isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it’s quietly brilliant. A curved 6.7-inch screen is surprisingly immersive, it’s 5G-ready and two powerful stereo speakers give this the highest audio output ever built into a smartphone. So perhaps not so quietly brilliant, after all…
Who should buy one? Artists. Those speakers we mentioned (for which Motorola won a coveted ‘Technical Grammy’ award) are just one creative tool to inspire designers and originators. There’s also a 64 MP sensor camera and a fully customisable My UX interface.
For brand loyalists, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Why’s it so special? This is a tricky one. iPhones, once the must-have smartphone, have fallen from favour in recent years. But the iPhone 12 Pro Max is undoubtedly an impressive piece of kit. 5G capability, a Pro camera system and better battery life than ever make this a capable, if not covetable, option.
What are some key specs? An eye-catching 6.7-inch Super Retina display. Industry‑leading IP68 water resistance. A smartphone chip 50% faster than any other. A camera bolstered by smart HDR 3 AI.
Who should buy one? Those people who have never had anything but an iPhone. They’re the ones who’ll really be wowed by the new developments — such as a super-hard and almost-indestructible ‘Ceramic Shield’. For the rest of us, £1,000 may seem a little steep.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
For amateur — and professional — photographers, the Vivo X51 5G
Why’s it so special? You may not be aware of Vivo but, if you’re a photographer, you should be. This latest top-line offering — launched alongside the brand’s Y series of midrange smartphones — is a shutter-happy snapper’s dream.
What are some key specs? Where do we start? Cutting-edge image stabilisation. Advanced night mode. Pioneering portrait photography technology. An industry-leading Gimbal Camera System. Motion-deblur algorithm, customised sensors, continuous focus tracking. We could go on…
Who should buy one? Anyone who fancies themselves a photographer. With a 60x Hyper Zoom, Super Night Mode, Astro Mode and Portrait Mode with a 4-layer masking algorithm, this is an enviable tool for creatives.
Vivo X51 5G
For tech-heads, the Huawei P40 Pro
Why’s it so special? Frankly, because it’s still making lists like these. Huawei may have had a worse year than our immune systems — especially with that whole 5G hullabaloo — and yet here they are, still creating smartphones we not only admire, but actually want.
What are some key specs? And these are the reasons we want the P40 Pro: an Ultra Vision Leica camera system; a hardy nano-tech ceramic back panel; IP68 splash, water, and dust resistance; Kirin 990 5G processor; and vastly underrated external memory support.
Who should buy one? People who don’t hold grudges. Huawei may have a chequered past; but, if this rate of development and design is maintained, the company also has a bright future.
Huawei P40 Pro
Looking for wearable tech? Here’s everything you need to know about the Apple Watch 6…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.