The iPhone 11 Pro Max is an expensive phone. But it is also a really, really good phone. So good in fact that it takes top spot in our list. Apple has done impressive things with its software to take advantage of the third camera lens, and when it comes to processor power, Apple is achieving great things with the A13 Bionic.
Throw in the best battery life we've ever seen on an iPhone and incredible video quality, and Apple has returned to the top of the list with the phone to beat.
Best battery life in an iPhone to date
Triple camera gives plenty of photographic flexibility
Improved low light photography
Exceptional video quality
A13 Bionic is a beast of a processor
It's very expensive
No onboard 5G
No warranty coverage for water ingress
Low light shooting is better on several Android handsets
The second of Samsung's major flagship ranges, the Note10+ is the larger variant Samsung's 2019 Note series. That extra space squeezes in a triple rear camera and a huge 4,300mAh battery, as well as the Note's iconic stylus.
Intelligent software updates mean you can create your own augmented reality additions to your selfies, while handwriting recognition is astonishingly good. Battery life probably isn't as good as you'd hope, but this is definitely the best Galaxy phone of 2019.
Great camera for most shooting situations
S-Pen has good new features
Plenty of processing power
Where's my headphone jack?
Air actions aren't all that accurate
DeX on Mac is messy if you use other Android phones as well
Samsung's biggest (and most expensive) handset has its finest camera, refined design and plenty of performance power. 5G alone isn't enough to sell any phone, but Samsung's premium offering just inches ahead of its competition.
It's a very close race between the top contenders, and the S10 5G's battery performance lags behind competitors, but it's enough to keep you going for a day's typical usage.
Huawei's P30 Pro combines class-leading battery life with a camera that shows just how far ahead of the pack the Chinese manufacturer truly is.
It's not quite perfect – we'd prefer proper microSD expansion, and Huawei's EMUI launcher is a little inconsistent. Also, Huawei's current woes with the US government could rob it of future Android updates.
Google has become one of the major handset manufacturers in Australia with its Pixel lineup of smartphones.
The 2019 XL variant of the phone introduces a dual-camera, and a surprisingly robust voice transcription service.
However, it's been a rough launch period, with a facial login that can be too easily fooled, and a somewhat disappointing battery life. Still, it's a good upgrade for Pixel 2 owners, or anyone looking for the purest form of Android.
Cameras are easy to use (and fun too!)
Voice transcribing on-device works surprisingly well
Samsung's flagship phone for 2019 incorporates a superb dynamic AMOLED display, triple cameras and plenty of processing power, although it's notably not quite the battery behemoth that previous Samsung phones have been.
If battery life is paramount, then the Note10+ fills that gap, but Samsung's second inclusion in this best list is still a remarkable smartphone.
Still has a headphone jack
One UI is very slick
Exynos 9820 provides plenty of power
Supports expandable storage
Battery life doesn't compare well to other flagships
LG didn't expect to get the first "foldable" phone to market, but with the 5G-capable LG V50 ThinQ, that's precisely what it has done. Performance is excellent and the camera is the best LG has managed in years, but the dual screen is really the reason to get excited about the V50 ThinQ.
Triple lenses are fast and mostly good
Snapdragon 855 performs superbly
Fast wired or wireless charging
Dual screen puts it ahead of the folding game, but for how long?
A tale of two battery stories: One good, one bad
5G networks are less impressive at launch
Basic V50 ThinQ isn't all that sexy a phone
Case is big and bulky in comparison to other 5G phones
Apple's most "affordable" iPhone for 2018 was the Apple iPhone XR. It uses the same underlying Apple A12 Fusion as its bigger siblings, but with an LCD rather than OLED display and a single rear lens. We may be coming towards the end of 2019 now, but the XR is still a fine buy to get in on the floor of the Apple iOS experience.
Samsung's strategy of rolling out multiple variants of its flagship phones has paid off here, with its fourth Galaxy phone in our top 10. The S10's comparatively smaller body to the S10+ means that you don't get as much battery life, which is actually a bit worse than the Galaxy S9.
But the Exynos processor is powerful, the camera is solid and the lower price means it still has a place in our round up of best phones.
Camera is great
One UI customises Android well
Exynos 9820 is powerful
Supports expandable storage
Battery life is somehow worse than the last generation
In choosing the order of phones, we consider the features that most premium phone buyers will care about. Style is very much a personal matter, but more measurable features such as battery life, application performance and camera quality are features we can measure and rank. Every single phone in this list has been extensively tested by Finder's expert team of mobile reviewers to give us reference points for comparison.
While premium phones attract higher price points, we also compare the price you'll pay outright and on contract when placing phones in this list. There's no such thing as a "cheap" flagship phone, but there's definitely a value question that needs levelling when you're spending north of $1,000 on a handset.
Why you should compare the best mobile phones in Australia
Ever since Steve Jobs took to the stage in 2007 and unveiled the very first iPhone to the world, the smartphone has become one of the most important tech devices you will ever own. Today's smartphones manage our very existence, connecting us with friends and family and keeping us informed throughout our day-to-day lives.
The sheer impact of the smartphone on today's society makes deciding which smartphone to purchase all the more important. These products can be expensive and are often purchased with a two-year contract, meaning you have to live with your choice for an extended period of time.
To make matters harder, there are many great mobile devices to choose from, with major technology manufacturers from around the world all producing excellent-quality devices. We're here to help you choose.
2017 was a step-change for phones. While 2016 saw devices that massively increased efficiency and power, it was also marred by the explosive Galaxy Note 7 recall. 2017 also saw Apple's impressive return after it managed to create a series of phones that outperform Android devices on both performance and battery life.
2018 saw a bumper crop of smartphones from all manufacturers. Cameras are a key battleground, with some amazing results from what are, after all, very small smartphone sensors. Even ordinary photographers can get some astonishing shots with today's very best flagship phones.
In 2019, we're already seeing plenty of truly exceptional phones in the premium space, especially for camera performance, as well as the first true "foldable" phones set to appear. Needless to say, 2019 could be quite the transformative year for smartphone technology.
Glossary: Key smartphone terms to consider
AMOLED displays don't need a backlight, screen pixels are actually turned off to produce blacks, which can save energy. Super AMOLED has improved visibility in direct sunlight. LCD displays use a backlight, which reduces contrast. An IPS LCD display has truer colour reproduction and looks better when you view the screen at an angle.
This is the operating system. The Apple iOS works seamlessly with the App Store for a dynamic and engaging mobile phone experience. Android is an open source platform created by Google, meaning anyone can play around with it. All the phones on our list use the Android OS except the Apple iPhones.
RAM is your phone's short-term memory. When you use an app, instead of writing data to your phone's internal storage or SD card (long-term memory), the data is stored in the device's RAM so it can be recalled quickly and easily when it's needed. The more RAM the better. Apple's iPhones have far less RAM than Android smartphones. When the RAM reaches capacity on an Android phone, RAM is recycled through a memory-heavy process called garbage collection. Apple does it differently and is able to run just as smoothly with half the RAM of most Android mobile phones.
MP is short for megapixels and is generally accepted as a guide for image quality. More megapixels doesn't mean a better-looking photo. Megapixels are about the maximum size of the image in relation to image quality. The more megapixels, the larger you can blow up your picture without it becoming distorted.
Too many megapixels for a small image sensor will ruin the image quality.
Alex Kidman was the tech and telco editor at Finder and is now a freelance technology writer. He's been a technology writer with experience spanning more than 20 years, writing and editing at Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and many more. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
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