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The best high-end phones that won’t break the bank

OnePlus 7 and Xiaomi Mi 9 and Asus Zenfone 6 flagship killers

You don’t have to spend $1,000 or more to get a high-end smartphone. There are plenty of so-called flagship killers available for roughly half the price that come with a powerful chipset, a bunch of RAM, and premium glass and metal designs.

However, they often lack crucial features you might find on a more expensive flagship. Whether the trade-off is worth it or not comes down to personal preference. Here are the best flagship killers that won’t break the bank!

Best flagship killers:

Editor’s note: We’ll update this list of the best flagship killers regularly as new ones launch.

1. OnePlus 7

OnePlus 7 display with home screen

It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the regular OnePlus 7 is the real flagship killer in OnePlus’ latest phone lineup. For £499 (~$625), you’re getting a 6.41-inch display with Full HD+ resolution, a 48MP primary sensor paired with a 5MP depth sensor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 3,700mAh battery. Cough up an additional £50 to get 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

There’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor, OnePlus’ signature alert slider, a small waterdrop-style notch, thin bezels, and Android 9 Pie with OxygenOS on top. Considered one of the best Android skins out there, OxygenOS looks and feels like stock Android. However, it includes enough tweaks to make it stand out from the rest.

The cheap price tag means OnePlus had to cut some corners. There’s no expandable storage, wireless charging, or IP rating — although the phone is splash-proof. There’s also no headphone jack on board. Additionally, you get a Full HD+ panel instead of the QHD+ found on some more expensive flagships, but the good news here is that the lower resolution will translate to better battery life.

Unfortunately, the OnePlus 7 was not released in the U.S., but it is available in Europe and a lot of other regions. U.S. consumers can still grab the OnePlus 6T, though, which is also a great option for those looking for a high-end phone on a budget — get it here.


OnePlus 7 specs:

  • Display: 6.41-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 40 and 5MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 3,700mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

2. Samsung Galaxy S10e

samsung galaxy s10e back

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S10e for $749.99, we already thought it was a good purchase, although the phone still wasn’t cheap. However, the company has recently started running amazing discounts on the diminutive flagship, making it a fantastic deal. The Galaxy s10e isn’t a true flagship killer because of its high launch price, but if you can get one on offer it’s definitely one of the best sub-high-end phones you can get.

The handset features a 5.8-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution, a punch hole selfie camera, 12MP and 16MP rear cameras, the Snapdragon 855 processor, at least 6GB of RAM, at least 128GB of expandable storage, and a 3,100mAh battery. There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, a headphone jack, and Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung’s One UI Android skin.

One UI might not be the lightest skin out there, but it’s certainly a significant improvement for Samsung. Designed for one-handed use, One UI finally brings a level of cohesion we haven’t seen in Samsung’s previous Android skins.

There’s reason to be a bit cautious — Samsung’s update track record isn’t that great, and not everyone will like the company’s software aesthetics. As for the Galaxy S10e itself, the small-ish battery and footprint won’t be for everyone. However, there’s more than enough to like about the Galaxy S10e to warrant the asking price.


Galaxy S10e specs:

  • Display: 5.8-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: SD 855 or Exynos 9820
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 16MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,100mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

3. Asus Zenfone 6

Asus Zenfone 6 - flagship killer

Announced during an event in Spain in May, the Asus Zenfone 6 is what happens when a company packs as much as it can into a smartphone and charges a reasonable price for it.

The highlight feature is the motorized flip camera system, which houses the 48MP primary sensor and 13MP super wide-angle sensor. In addition to standard rear shots, you can also use the cameras to take some of the best selfies you’ll get from a smartphone.

In addition to the cameras, there’s plenty to like about the Zenfone 6. The phone features a 6.4-inch IPS display with Full HD+ resolution, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, at least 6GB of RAM, at least 64GB of expandable storage, and a gigantic 5,000mAh battery. The Zenfone 6 also features Android 9.0 Pie underneath ZenUI 6, Asus’ lightest Android skin to date.

The LCD display isn’t much to write home about, and there’s no wireless charging. There’s also no water resistance. But these omissions are expected based on the Zenfone 6’s affordable price tag.


Asus Zenfone 6 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48 and 13MP
  • Front cameras: 48 and 13MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

4. Honor View 20

flagship killers

The View 20 is Honor’s first phone with a hole-punch display. It’s powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 980 chipset — just like the P30 Pro — and has 8GB of RAM. The phone also comes with a large 6.41-inch Full HD+ display and a 4,000mAh battery.

One of the things that make the View 20 stand out is its design. In addition to the hole-punch display that allows for a high screen-to-body ratio, it sports a striking “V” pattern etched into the back glass. The phone also has a headphone jack that’s missing on most high-end phones these days and is equipped with a dual-camera setup on the back featuring a 48MP main shooter and a ToF sensor.

Like most other flagship killers, the View 20 does not have an IP rating or wireless charging. Originally retailing for 570 euros (~$635), the View 20 can be had for around 399 euros (~$445).


Honor View 20 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Kirin 980
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 25MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

5. Xiaomi Mi 9

Xiaomi Mi 9 screen

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the 2019 smartphone season is the Xiaomi Mi 9, arguably the best value smartphone available today. With OEMs moving away from notches, the Mi 9 still embraces the divisive display dip. At least the notch is a small one, so you won’t notice it during day-to-day use.

Elsewhere, the phone comes with the Snapdragon 855 processor and as much as 12GB of RAM. That’s for the transparent version, which also packs 256GB of storage. Other versions of the Mi 9 include 6 or 8GB of RAM, along with 64GB or 128GB of storage.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 comes with as much as 12GB of RAM.

There’s also a 6.39-inch OLED display with Full HD+ resolution, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and a triple camera system. The system is comprised of 48MP primary, 12MP telephoto, and 16MP ultra-wide sensors. The phone also includes 20W fast wireless charging, 27W fast wired charging, and Android 9.0 Pie underneath MIUI 10.

The best part about the Xiaomi Mi 9 is its price — 385 euros (~$430) for 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. For an extra 50 euros, you get double the storage. That’s a tremendous price for a phone that mostly packs flagship specs.


Xiaomi Mi 9 specs:

  • Display: 6.39-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8/12GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 16, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 3,3000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

6. Pocophone F1

flagship killer -- The Pocophone F1

The Pocophone F1 is the cheapest phone on this list, retailing for under $350. Despite its low price tag, it’s still powered by the Snapdragon 845 chipset and offers as much as 8GB of RAM. The Full HD+ display comes in at 6.18-inches and the battery has a massive 4,000mAh capacity.

The handset has a headphone jack and sports a dual-camera setup capable of capturing great photos in well-lit conditions. There’s also a 20MP selfie snapper on board. Other specs and features include up to 256GB of storage, microSD card support, and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. All these things combined make it one of the best flagship killers out there.

The Pocophone F1 does have a few drawbacks, though. It doesn’t have a premium look and feel due to its plastic back, lacks NFC and an IP rating, and doesn’t support wireless charging. However, most users will be able to overlook these things because of the extremely low price. The phone is available in regions like Asia and Europe, but Xiaomi did not release it in the U.S. — although you can get the international model on Amazon.


Pocophone F1 specs:

  • Display: 6.18-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 5MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 8.1 Oreo

7. Nubia Red Magic 3

Red Magic Homescreen

The successor to the Red Magic Mars, the Red Magic 3 is Nubia’s latest gaming smartphone and the last model on our list. It’s also a unique-looking smartphone that packs quite the punch.

The Red Magic 3 features the Snapdragon 855 chipset, up to 12GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, and a huge 5,000mAh battery. The phone also sports a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate, a 48MP primary camera, and Android 9.0 Pie.

As for gaming features, the Red Magic 3 boasts liquid cooling, a built-in fan, an RGB light strip on the back, and two mappable side-mounted triggers acting as shoulder buttons.

Dat RGB life.

Starting at $479 (8GB/128GB) and going up to $599 (12GB/256GB), the Red Magic 3 is more expensive than its predecessor. That said, you’re getting display and performance improvements that weren’t lost on us.


Nubia Red Magic 3 specs:

  • Display: 6.65-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8/12GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

8. Redmi K20 Pro

Redmi K20 Pro with display and apps

The Redmi K20 Pro offers a lot of bang for the buck. It undercuts the OnePlus 7 and Asus Zenfone 6 in price while offering similar specs. It also has a great design along with a pop up selfie camera.

The phone packs the Snapdragon 855 chipset under the hood along with up to 8GB of RAM, which means it should handle just about anything you throw at it. It sports a versatile triple-camera setup at the back, has an in-display fingerprint scanner, and comes with a 4,000mAh battery. Due to its low price, it lacks a few high-end features including an IP rating and wireless charging.

The Redmi K20 Pro is definitely one of the best flagship killers out there, but it can be hard to get your hands on it. Although it is available in India and a few other Asian countries, it hasn’t been released in Western markets yet. It’s possible the company will bring it to Europe soon based on the fact the slightly-less-powerful Redmi K20 is already available on the old continent, but under a different name — Xiaomi Mi 9T.


Redmi K20 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.39-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 13, and 8MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

These are the best flagships killers you can get in our opinion. We’ll be sure to update this post once new models hit the market.

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