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Great Smartphones Not Made by Apple or Samsung

Looking for a phone with premium features? Models from Google, LG, and OnePlus have a lot to offer, too.

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Though Samsung and Apple are the global leaders in smartphone sales, you don't have to buy one of their devices to get top performance. Other companies make great smartphones, too.

These phones made by Google, LG, and OnePlus might not rise to the very top of our ratings, but they come close, says Rich Fisco, Consumer Reports' head of electronics testing.

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

You won't have to give up high-end features, such as a camera with a portrait mode or a state-of-the-art OLED display.

Instead, the concessions may come on less-compelling features, such as facial recognition or display size

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

1

OnePlus 6T
OnePlus 6T

    OnePlus 6T

    OnePlus may not be the best-known brand, but its 6T phone offers a great combination of features at a bargain price.

    The model earns an Excellent rating for its 6.4-inch display and has a two-camera setup, good for taking those artsy portrait-mode photos that place the subject against a blurred background. But while our testers found the still images to be acceptable, they’re not among the best we’ve seen.

    On the upside, the phone can handle dual SIM cards, so it supports two phone numbers in case you want to add a business line. And the battery lasted an above-average 34 hours.

    The OnePlus 6T also passed our challenging tumble test, making it through 100 drops with just some scrapes and bumps. (The tumbler is a rotating chamber that repeatedly drops a phone from a height of about 2.5 feet. The phone is checked for damage after 50 drops and again after 100. The goal of all that repetition is to expose it to the impact from a wide variety of angles.)

     

    Looking for a bargain? The OnePlus 6 isn't quite as fancy, but our testers still rate it as Excellent, and you should be able to find one for less than $500.

    2

    OnePlus 7Pro
    OnePlus 7Pro

      OnePlus 7Pro

      This OnePlus model also packs a lot in for a lower-than-average price.

       

      There’s a top-rated 6.7-inch display, giving you as much space to play with as Samsung’s biggest model. And the phone also receives Excellent ratings for display, performance, ease of use, durability and navigation.

       

      Like the OnePlus 6T above, the phone can handle dual SIM cards. But tested battery life drops to a still-respectable 27 hours. And, like that model, the cameras are solid but not great when compared with others on the market.

       

      The phone, which comes with 256GB of storage, doesn’t have an SD card slot, and it can’t handle wireless charging. It also doesn’t come with headphones.

       

      But it scores points for durability. The 7Pro made it through 100 drops in our tumbler with just minor scratches.  

      3

      Google Pixel 3 XL
      Google Pixel 3 XL

        Google Pixel 3 XL

        Google’s smartphone sales might trail those of Apple and Samsung, but the company's models have fans, and the Pixel 3 XL shows why.

        The Pixel 3 XL is a great pick for people looking for a clean version of Android (as in no third-party software loaded on top by a manufacturer). You also get Android operating system updates faster, which can help protect your phone from security threats.

        In terms of hardware, the Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch display and a battery that lasted a not-too-shabby 23 hours in our testing. You can charge it wirelessly, too.

        The phone has single front and back cameras, so instead of using two lenses to create portrait-mode photos, it has to rely on software. The main camera is among our top performers when it comes to shooting still images.

        But handle with care. The Pixel 3 XL made it through 50 drops in our tumbler with just bumps and scrapes, but the glass back and display were cracked after 100 drops.

        4

        Google Pixel 3a XL
        Google Pixel 3a XL

          Google Pixel 3a XL

          This is the perfect phone for bloatware-hating bargain hunters. Given the low starting price of $480, you might not expect much, but there actually are a lot of great features in this phone.

           

          The Pixel 3a XL gets top marks for its super-sharp 6-inch display and speedy processor performance. It also goes the distance when it comes to battery life, lasting 32.5 hours in our testing.

           

          That said, though the phone’s cameras have their fans, they don’t do as well as other models in our testing. And it’s worth noting that the phone doesn’t work with wireless charging.

           

          The Pixel 3a’s plastic body and glass display made it through 100 drops in our tumbler with just some scratches, but it’s not water-resistant. So be careful to hold tight when you're at the sink.

          5

          LG G8 ThinQ
          LG G8 ThinQ

            LG G8 ThinQ

            With a handful of key improvements, this new model from LG not only replaces last year’s G7 ThinQ on this list but also jumps ahead of the more expensive V50 ThinQ.

            The phone's battery life has grown to 29.5 hours. That’s more than a 7-hour improvement over the G7. The main 12-megapixel camera gets a Very Good rating for still-image quality. And our testers like the 6.1-inch OLED screen. But be sure to buy a protective case, because the display did not survive our tumble test.

            One new feature that makes this phone stand out is Hand ID, which lets you use a palm scan—as opposed to a fingerprint scan or a face scan—to unlock the home screen. LG says the phone uses a 3D sensor to measure the unique circulatory and other patterns of your hand. The phone still has 3D facial ID and a traditional fingerprint sensor. 

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