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Five Great Smartphones Not Made By Apple or Samsung

Looking for a new phone with premium features? LG, Huawei, HTC, and Google have a lot to offer, too.

While Samsung and Apple are the global leaders in smartphone sales, you don't have to buy one of their products to get cool new features. Other companies make great smartphones, too.

They may not rise to the very top of our ratings, but models made by LG, Huawei, HTC, and Google come close, says Rich Fisco, Consumer Reports' head of smartphone testing.

"The scores are so close," Fisco explains, "that as long as you know what the phones have and what they may be missing and you're OK with that, then save your money and get one."

If you do, you don't have to give up high-end features such as a camera with a portrait mode or an OLED screen—a technology used in high-end TVs that makes blacks blacker, improving the video viewing experience.

The concessions may come instead on less-compelling things like facial recognition or display size. And oftentimes phone makers find ways to provide a great user experience without them. For example, the LG G6 acts bigger than it looks, because it manages to squeeze a super-sharp 5.7-inch screen onto a smaller-than-average body.

Here’s a list of our top five rated phones not made by Apple or Samsung. For more information, check out our full smartphone ratings



Like Samsung's brand new Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones, LG opts for an aspect ratio of 18:9 for the G6. That gives the phone a taller and thinner shape than many other phones on the market, allowing for a bigger screen that's easier to hold. Combined with an ultrathin bezel, those elongated proportions allow the manufacturer to squeeze a 5.7-inch display into a form that's smaller than you'd expect.


Similar to the phone's V30 sibling (below), that display is outfitted with both Dolby Vision and HDR10, which allow the phone to display videos in high-dynamic range, or HDR. When done well, that can make the picture look more lifelife.


Other high-end features include rapid charging, a USB Type-C port, and an interesting arrangement on the back that features not only a traditional 13-megapixel camera, but also a camera with a wide-angle lens, which lets you squeeze more picture into the frame and give the image a sense of dimension and depth. The G6's face detection and optical image stabilization can further improve your photos, such as when you’re taking pictures of children who can’t sit still.


In our testing, the G6’s battery lasted 25 hours, placing it among the longest lifespans in our ratings. The phone gets points for durability, too, surviving 100 drops in our specialized tumbler with just minor scratches. 

    LG V30

    LG V30

    Like the LG G6, the V30 has an 18:9 screen aspect ratio, which makes it comfortable to hold—but it can be difficult to reach all corners of the 6-inch screen with one hand.


    That said, the V30's OLED display is one of its best features. The phone also offers the dual-camera setup, wide-angle lens, face detection, and optical image stablization found on the LG G6. It also has a wide-angle lens for the front-facing, selfie camera.


    The V30 supports wireless charging. It also gets points for durability. The phone is military standard (MIL-STD) 810G rated for toughness, and it passed our drop and water submersion tests.


    At 21 hours, though, the battery life was average compared to that of other phones we've tested.


      HTC U11

      HTC U11

      The U11 is a big, tough phone with an excellent ultra-high definition display that would rival that on many high-end TVs. It’s available unlocked, too, which means you can switch from one service carrier to the next with ease if you decide to change plans.


      The phone’s main 12-megapixel rear camera has face detection and optical image stabilization. Its overall performance was good in our testing, but not quite as good as many models we've tested. Oddly, the front-facing selfie camera has a higher resolution of 16 megapixels and that camera rated very good overall.


      The phone comes with a protective cover, giving it an edge over other phones in our durability testing, which it passed with flying colors. The model is also water resistant and passed our submergence test.


      The phone has a new function called “Edge Sense,” a feature found on Google's Pixel 2 phones that lets you launch apps and functions by giving the phone a squeeze.


      Like the Pixel 2 and other new phones, the HTC U11 comes without a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. But unlike Google, HTC does include a pair of USB-C headphones in the box. You also get an USB-C to 3.5mm adapter.

        Huawei Mate 9

        Huawei Mate 9

        The Mate 9 may hail from a brand not well known in the U.S., but it boasts a 5.9-inch screen with excellent display quality. The phone also gets strong marks for quickness and battery life.


        In fact, the 4,000-mAh battery—one of the largest in any phone we've tested—helps the device last a whopping 27 hours on a charge.


        And, while the phone’s rear camera doesn’t perform quite as well as some others on the market, our testers gave it a good rating, mainly because it produced still images with acceptable results for color quality, exposure level, sharpness and image noise.


        The camera also supports face detection and has optical image stabilization, which can reduce blur, especially in low light. There’s a second monochrome camera, too, which provides more sharpness and contrast to images—both monochrome and color.


        An interesting feature, CR's Fisco says, is the Mate 9's use of artifical intelligence. The AI is supposed to recognize what you're photographing and adjust the camera settings accordingly, and it can also boost the phone's overall performance by learning your habits. For instance, it tries to anticipate what apps you're likely to load to make that process smoother.


        The Mate 9 gets top marks for durability, surviving 100 drops in our specialized tumbler with just minor scrapes. But be careful near the pool. The phone isn’t designed to be water-resistant.

          Google Pixel 2

          Google Pixel 2

          Like its larger Pixel 2 XL sibling, this phone runs Google’s latest Android operating system in its purest form. So, if you like Android phones, but don’t like all the extra apps and bloatware added by smartphone makers, this might be the phone for you.


          You get Google Lens, a feature that uses visual analysis to search for things by image, rather than text. The phone also has a great, super-sharp, 5-inch AMOLED display.


          Google put a lot of effort into Pixel 2’s 12.2-megapixel rear camera, too. Rated very good by our testers, it offers optical image stabilization, HDR, panorama, HD video at 120 fps, and 4K video at 30 fps.


          The phone also supports the popular blurred-background portrait mode known as bokeh. Instead of using two cameras to determine the image’s foreground and background, though, the Pixel 2 uses software. We found that it worked well in most cases but occasionally misidentified the main subject in a photo, blurring the wrong parts.


          Like some other new phones, this latest Pixel does not come with a 3.5-mm headphone jack. Google does not provide headphones, either. But the included USB-C adapter will allow you to use your old wired headphones.

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            Bree Fowler

            I write about all things "cyber" and your right to privacy. Before joining Consumer Reports, I spent 16 years reporting for The Associated Press. What I enjoy: cooking and learning to code with my kids. I've lived in the Bronx for more than a decade, but as a proud Michigan native, I will always be a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan no matter how much my family and I get harassed at Yankee Stadium. Follow me on Twitter (@BreeJFowler).