5 smartphones that blew us away in 2020

5 best smartphones of 2020
(Image credit: Future)

So, 2020 was certainly an interesting year, to say the least. However, no matter how dramatic events have been on the world stage, the world of smartphones has been almost as exciting. 

We've seen plenty of smartphones launch this year, from the delayed iPhone 12 series to the hotly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S20 family. It seems almost impossible to pick out five standout handsets, but nonetheless we've given it our best shot.

While we could just reel out the five most expensive devices from our best camera phone guide, we're not necessarily looking at which handsets pack the most power (although that's certainly a consideration for a couple of our choices). Instead, we're looking at which smartphones had the best value for money and delivered exactly what consumers are looking for.

iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 12

(Image credit: Apple)

In a world where smartphones are getting larger and larger, it was somewhat heartening to see the one of the world's most popular smartphone brands producing a handset that wasn't ridiculously oversized – but still had the latest up-to-date tech. The iPhone 12 mini has exactly the same camera unit and specifications as the larger iPhone 12, but it just comes in a smaller body that's easier to hold and store away in a bag or pocket. 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra


(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

With the release of the Samsung Galaxy S21 seemingly around the corner, we would be remiss if we didn't include one of the most technologically impressive smartphones from last year. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra features a mind-boggling 108MP primary camera and up to 100x zoom. Not only that, but it also shoots 8K video and has a 120Hz mode for smooth gameplay and scrolling. 

Google Pixel 5


(Image credit: Google)

Sometimes you don't need all the bells and whistles when it comes to buying a new smartphone. Sometimes all you're looking for is just a jolly good phone – and that's what you get with the Google Pixel 5. While its 12.2MP and 16MP rear dual camera unit doesn't quite look quite as innovative as some of the more outlandish releases this year, the Google Pixel 5 more than makes up for this with some excellent software that helps elevate any photo taken on this handset.

Sony Xperia 1 II

Sony Xperia 1 II

(Image credit: Sony)

With the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, Mark Zuckerberg's prediction that video was the future of the internet back in 2016 feels pretty justified. For content creators looking to get the best quality phone for video, the Sony Xperia 1 II is the perfect answer. Featuring a stunning 21:9 4K HDR screen, full manual control for capturing footage, good battery performance and a fast chipset, the Sony Xperia 1 II is a great choice for anyone looking to boost their video content without buying one of the best cameras for video

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

No one could say that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 is the world's best smartphone. However, it's hard to ignore this budget camera phone. Not only does it have a quad camera unit featuring a 48MP wide angle lens, an 8MP ultra wide angle lens and two 2MP lenses for depth assist and macro, but it also has a substantial 5,020mAh battery and a decent night photo mode. No, it doesn't feature 4K video, but for this price, who's going to complain?

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.