Best “affordable flagship” phones in 2019

What are the best “affordable flagship phones” this year?

To answer that, we have to first define the curious phenomenon of a “budget flagship”. First, we know that people want the best phone they can get, but of course without paying the high bill that usually comes with a flagship. Many companies have recognized this desire and have come up with clever ways to deliver phones with top-rate specs yet a much more affordable price.
The first of such phone might have been Google’s own Nexus, which was offered with flagship processors and back in the day, you could buy one for just $300 brand new. Then, OnePlus came with its fair share of “flagship killer” slogans, and then others like Xiaomi and Honor followed. With time, these phones have gotten better and better to the point that many people these days would actually prefer such a phone over a mainstream flagship for a number of reasons.
So… what are the best affordable flagships this year and what makes them stand out? Join us as we take a look.

1. OnePlus 6T

Prices from $550


  • Camera is not quite on par with premium phones
  • Gesture interaction a bit fiddly
  • Lacks full water protection
OnePlus remains our top choice for a budget flagship this year. The latest OnePlus 6T is a phone that has a beautiful design, an extremely refined and buttery smooth experience that you don’t even get on many more expensive phones, it has solid battery life and support the awesome OnePlus fast charging. Yes, the price has now grown and the phone starts at $550, but that’s still not too much in our view.
There are only a few areas where the 6T falls slightly short of some rivals: first, the in-screen fingerprint scanner is an awesome feature, but as much as we like the idea, the actual implementation is not quite as fast or accurate as a traditional fingerprint scanner. It’s still definitely very cool, but just a tiny bit on the slow side. And then also the camera. It shoots pictures with nice color during the day, but if you are absolutely set on having great night shots, it is not as good as some others (like the latest Pixels, Galaxies or iPhones). Still, big thumbs up for OnePlus and definitely an easy recommendation for most people.
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2. Honor View 20

Prices from $450*
*Official prices have so far only been announced for some markets


  • No AMOLED screen
Honor is an offshoot of Chinese giant Huawei, but it operates with no physical stores and relies on word-of-mouth and has no big marketing budget, which saves it a ton of money. This is what makes phones like the Honor View 20 possible.
The View 20 sports a 6.4-inch LCD screen and Huawei’s own Kirin 980 chip inside, the first 7nm chip ever released for Android phones. Huawei’s years of effort in making chips have definitely paid handsomely as the Kirin 980 beats the Snapdragon 845 in terms of performance. The View 20 also sports a big, 4,000mAh battery and is a looker, with that distinct V-shape on the back. The phone also features a 48-megapixel Sony sensor for the main camera that we expect to see in many phones in 2019. This sensor combines four pixels into one to deliver 12-megapixel images with superior night time performance.
At its price of less than $500, the View 20 is definitely among the best “affordable flagships” of the year.
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3. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Prices from $500


  • Average battery life
  • Camera is not quite as good as top dogs
  • No wireless charging
  • No special waterproofing
With a price lower than the OnePlus 6T and the hardware to match it, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 stands out from the rest with a great price to performance ratio, but also with its futuristic slider design and no-notch, true edge-to-edge screen. The 6.4″ AMOLED display looks gorgeous, the Snapdragon 845 chip under the hood is fast, and you have one of the best gesture interfaces around.
There are just a few downsides to this phone: it’s a bit on the bulky side, the loudspeaker does not quite sound stellar, and the camera is slightly short of the best phones, especially at night. again not on par with the best. We were also concerned about the small battery and while battery life definitely does not break records, in reality, we managed to easily get through a full day of use without worries.
Really, though, considering its price there is little we could hold against the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.

4. Pocophone F1

Prices from $350


  • Plastic back might not please everyone
  • A bit on the thick side
  • LCD screen, not AMOLED

The Pocophone F1 was one of the biggest surprises of 2018 and it’s a great value still this year.

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The Pocophone really exceeds expectations: it is incredibly fast, equipped with the flagship Snapdragon 845 system chip on board, and it has a very good looking LCD display and a very decent camera (but it falls short of premium phones in this regard). All of that at an unprecedented starting price of just $350! No wonder people are excited, you can buy three Pocophones for the price of one iPhone XS and still have a benjamin left in your pocket.

We also love the large, 4,000mAh battery under the hood and we get between a day or even two out of it, so battery life is really great too.

5. Nokia 8.1

Prices from $450


  • Heats up with games and 4K video
  • Sound quality via loudspeakers is not great
  • Slippery, metal on the sides can chip off
  • No water proofing
The Nokia 8.1 does not quite fit in the definition of a “flagship” simply because it does not have the top-tier Snapdragon chip that is the defining feature in other phones listed here, but it is approaching them in terms of the experience.
With a stylish glass design, the 8.1 is a looker. It is powered by the Snapdragon 710 chip, a new-comer and real-life performance is satisfyingly smooth. Plus, you get a very good camera that performs good both during the day and at night.
Add a very solid battery performance to that, and the Nokia 8.1 is another great option if you’re in the market for an “affordable flagship”.

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