There are many factors to consider when buying a new phone, but for most people the crucial element is the price. Are you willing to shell out over $1,000 on the latest and greatest flagships? Perhaps a $400 mid-range champion takes your fancy? Or maybe you want something that simply gets the job done.

To help you make your decision, we’ve collected together the top handsets from several different price ranges, explaining their best features and what makes them great buys.

Best for Most + Best Value

OnePlus 7T vs Apple iPhone SE vs Google Pixel 4a

With the iPhone SE, Apple proves its best handsets don’t always come with a sky-high price tag. At the same time, the company has opened a door it won't be able to close as the best of Android is very willing to compete at that $400 price point. The iPhone SE is a well rounded phone with impressive specs for the price, however it's on the smaller side for some users. The OnePlus 7T is an extremely capable handset with a larger and faster display. Meanwhile, Google's new Pixel 4a is again, a solid all-rounder, with lesser specs than the iPhone SE but an equally impressive camera.

Why iPhone SE

At just $400 for the base model, Apple at least temporarily grabbed the value-for-money title. It’s strikingly similar to the old iPhone 8, featuring a small 4.7-inch Retina HD (1,334 x 750, 326ppi) LCD display, a 12MP single lens camera, and a near-identical chassis. But there are significant differences inside.

The iPhone SE comes with the same A13 SoC as the iPhone 11, that means you get flagship-level performance at a mid-range phone price, and the camera has been boosted with improved image processing. The iPhone SE can take some amazing shots, and there are several new features such as portrait mode for the selfie cam, depth control, and Smart HDR.

Other iPhone traits are all here: great build quality, water resistance, wireless charging, impressive display (despite the lower resolution), and the usual software and OS support/updates. It’s also surprisingly loud. With modern smartphones embracing larger screens, that 4.7-inch display will be small for some, and the 3-year-old design does look a bit out of place in a bezel-less world. But still, for most users, it should prove a great phone that opens the iOS ecosystem for less.

OnePlus 7T: an amazing Android alternative

If you’re willing to spend a little extra, the excellent OnePlus 7T is now available for just $399. That price gets you a phone with a larger 6.55-inch AMOLED screen and 90Hz refresh rate that is usually reserved for premium handsets.

The OnePlus design is modern and well executed, showing a small teardrop notch for the front-facing camera with minimal bezels. There's a fast processor inside (Snapdragon 855 Plus, 8GB RAM) running OxygenOS, a modified version of Android 10 that is praised by owners as it's very close to stock Android with some useful additions.

The OnePlus 7T gets a main 48-megapixel camera with OIS and two more 12MP telephoto and 16MP ultra-wide lens on the back. In the front, a 16MP front facing camera. So you get all the array of options, however most critics agree that photos are not nearly as good as those taken by top iPhones, Huawei and Google phones.

The in-screen fingerprint reader is excellent, you get 128 GB internal storage, but no option to expand it. The OnePlus 7T lacks wireless charging, water resistance, and a headphone jack. But there’s a reason why this was regularly voted one of the best smartphones of 2019 and it's found a new breath of life at $449 (it's now down to $399, making it a killer value).

Google's Pixel 4a starts at $349

The new Google Pixel 4a brings an overall solid package with an excellent camera (again). The Pixel 4a remains a compact phone with decent specs, pure Android, and good battery life.

Now debuting at $350, the 4a modernizes the Pixel smartphone family with an all-screen display (complete with a hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera), and a sleeker, rounder design. the Pixel 4 ships with a mid-range Snapdragon 730G SoC and 128GB of internal storage.

The 5.8-inch OLED display with a standard 60Hz refresh rate is pretty decent at this price point. It doesn't support wireless charging, nor is it water resistant, but it partially makes up for those losses by including a 3.5mm headphone jack -- these ports are becoming harder and harder to come by on modern devices, so it's nice to see one here.

The Pixel 4a doesn't come in different colors either, so the basic "Just Black" color scheme is all you'll get. All in all, what the Pixel lacks in extras, makes up for with solid software and camera performance.

Best of the Best: Flagships

Samsung Galaxy S20 or Apple iPhone 11 Pro

If you want the most premium Android smartphone on the market, get the Galaxy S20. Samsung’s latest entry in the S-series has plenty of cutting-edge features: 5G, a triple or quad (S20+) camera setup with a 64MP telephoto lens, Snapdragon 865 SoC, up to 12GB RAM, in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, and an AMOLED screen that refreshes at 120Hz.

We can't predict if this is going to be a keeper, but since launch Samsung has lowered the price of the Galaxy S20 twice now to $799 for the standard model, and $999 for the S20+. That's still premium pricing for a flagship phone, but it renders many other high-end alternatives obsolete and gives it an edge when competing with the iPhone.

That 120Hz OLED display is one of the S20’s highlights. While it can’t run this at full 3,200 x 1,440 resolution, downscaling to Full HD+ (2,400 x 1,080) still looks amazing and is totally worth using.

As is usually the case with Samsung’s flagships, the 6.2-inch screen is simply spectacular. The camera, meanwhile, lets you capture high-quality 3x lossless optical zoom shots, and can reach 30x. You also get a 10 MP front-facing camera with ƒ/2.2 apertures, and the ability to capture 8K video at 24 fps. Battery life is pretty good thanks to the S20’s 4,000 mAh and the S20+’s 4,500 mAh units—even more if you switch to 60Hz mode. Both phones are 5G ready, too, making them futureproof, though a lackluster record of slow software updates is a real shame.

Picking between the Galaxy S20 and S20+ depends on whether you’re happy to pay around $200 more for an extra 0.5 inches of screen, a larger battery, and a VGA time-of-flight sensor.

Flagship iPhone

Apple iPhone 11 Pro / Pro Max

The iPhone 11 Pro (5.8-inch) and 11 Pro Max (6.5-inch) look almost identical to their predecessors on the outside, but they come with a new triple-camera system and Apple’s powerful A13 Bionic processor. There’s also an improved XDR “Pro level” OLED screen (458 PPI) that’s bright and vivid, reaching 1200 nits brightness when viewing HDR content.

The iPhone 11 Pro features Apple’s first triple camera setup: a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera (26mm, f/1.8) with OIS, a 12-megapixel telephoto camera (52mm, f/2.0) with OIS and focus pixels, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera (13mm, f/2.4) with a 120-degree field of view. Across the range of cameras, you effectively get 4x optical zoom.

While Samsung may offer more advanced specs and features in its cameras, you’ll find the iPhone 11 Pro often takes the “Best Smartphone Camera” award, thanks to its image processing tech. There’s also the excellent night mode for low-light environments, and 4K@60fps video, which can be recorded simultaneously with all three lenses.

Battery life has been given a small boost and you also get support for Dolby Atmos, Wi-Fi 6, and Gigabit 4G, but if you want 5G, opt for the Galaxy S20, at least until the iPhone 12 comes out. The lack of USB Type-C and expandable storage still irks some people, the notch remains, and a $999 starting price for the 64GB model is steep. But with the best camera around and a fantastic screen, few would argue that this is the best iPhone to date.

Flagship Killers?

Apple iPhone 11

You could argue there's no better flagship killer than the OnePlus 7T, and that's the reason it's at the top of our mainstream recommendations. However, seen with a different set of eyes, for those looking to buy a flagship phone from Apple, out of all three iPhones launched last year, many agree that the iPhone 11 brings the best value for most people.

It takes most of the iPhone 11 Pro's best features, including the powerful A13 SoC, and packs them into an attractive $700 handset. While the 6.1-inch "Liquid Retina" LCD's 1,792 x 828 resolution is lower than similarly-priced handsets, it was good enough for the company’s best selling phone last year: the iPhone XR. Ask any owner, and you'll rarely hear a complaint about the display's overall quality.

The iPhone 11 gets an upgraded camera, which adds an extra lens for a dual setup. The 12MP ultra wide and wide cameras, with 2x optical zoom and 5x digital, take advantage of Apple’s advanced image processing to create some great snaps. You can also capture 4K video at 60fps, get the excellent new Night Mode, and Face ID—used for authentication and payments—is now 30 percent faster.

Battery life is another reason to opt for the iPhone 11—which can be charged wirelessly— as it offers an impressive 17 hours of video playback. You will, however, find the usual iPhone drawbacks: no expandable storage, USB Type-C, or headphone jack (though most phones are going down this route). Combine all this with the excellent build quality and access to Apple’s walled garden ecosystem, and you’ve got the perfect iOS device for those not willing to spend $1,000.

A worthy mention

Samsung Galaxy S10

Once a new Galaxy S-series phone is out, the previous model drops in price. It means Android fans can get the still excellent Galaxy S10 for around $600. With the S10 comes its gorgeous 1,200 nits screen. Measuring 6.1 inches (550 PPI), this AMOLED reaches 3,040 x 1,440 and supports HDR 10+.

You also get a slew of flagship features such as an in-screen fingerprint reader, triple-camera setup, reverse charging, and the still powerful Snapdragon 855 SoC. A headphone jack is part of the incredibly well-built, water-resistant body. While the S10 lacks a high refresh rate display, the rest of the bells and whistles in this 2019 flagship means it remains a great buy, especially at $600.

The Best $100+ Phone

Motorola Moto G8 Play

The simple truth is that you’re not going to find any ‘great’ smartphones around $100 or less. There are however several serviceable options available for less than $200. Many of these come from reputable companies with a long history of serving the budget market. Most offer a good overall package and support, and right now our choice for the best inexpensive phone is the Moto G8 Play.

The Moto G8 Play will set you back just $135. For that price you get a few welcome features: USB Type-C, a fingerprint scanner, face unlock, microSD support, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a near-stock version of Android. The 6.2-inch IPS LCD display has a basic 720p resolution and a teardrop notch. While it’s not going to win any awards, it’s quite nice at this price point. The G8 Play also comes with a triple camera setup (13MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP depth), but there are better snappers on budget phones.

As with many low-cost smartphones, battery life is probably the best feature here (after the price). Motorola says the 4,000mAh battery will last two days, though one and a half is more realistic.

Not to be confused with its more expensive Moto G8 Plus sibling that is bigger and uses a Snapdragon SoC, the low-cost G8 Play opts for a Mediatek Helio P70, which combined with 2GB of RAM offers just average performance.

You’re not going to be multitasking several apps at once on this handset. There are other drawbacks common at this range, including a plastic body and an absence of premium features. They say you get what you pay for, but at $135, the Moto G8 Play offers slightly more: a solid low-cost device with excellent battery life.

Masthead credit: Framesira