There were a lot of great smartphones in 2020, although we could do without the price increases. Even so, there were plenty of high-quality deals between the OnePlus 8 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, the Google Pixel 5 and many others.
However, for every well-known Samsung or Xiaomi phone, there were some lesser-known devices that deserved a little more love and attention. With that in mind, let’s look at the most underrated smartphones we tested in 2020.
Asus Zenfone 7 series
Recognition: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
We picked the Zenfone 6 as one of the most underrated devices for 2019, and here too its successors make an appearance. Yes, Asus released the Zenfone 7 and Zenfone 7 Pro this year.
Fortunately, the Taiwanese brand has retained the Zenfone 6’s unique tilt mechanism. Unlike last year’s dual camera combo, however, a triple camera setup (with a telephoto lens) has been added to the mix. We’re getting some other upgrades too, like 5G, a 90Hz OLED screen, 30W fast charge, and 8K recording.
Our verdict: Asus Zenfone 7 Pro review
However, there are some differences between the standard Zenfone 7 and Pro, such as: For example, the Pro version, which uses the Snapdragon 865 Plus SoC, packs OIS and offers twice the basic memory (256 GB).
The biggest disadvantage of the series is that it starts at a respectable 699 euros for the base model with 128 GB of storage space. The 128 GB Zenfone 6 model sold for 559 euros, while the 64 GB option had an introductory price of 499 euros.
Sony Xperia 5 II
Recognition: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
The Japanese manufacturer had some difficult years, but in 2020 the company shipped two great flagship phones for the Xperia 1 II and Xperia 5 II. We said the latter could be Sony’s best phone yet, and it even came in fifth in our 2020 Editor’s Choice Award.
Our verdict: Sony Xperia 5 II review
Sony’s flagship for late 2020 deserves its place on our list due to its rounded data sheet. It has a 6.1-inch OLED panel with a refresh rate of 120 Hz, a powerful Snapdragon 865 SoC, and a 4,000 mAh battery designed to keep you going. It doesn’t hurt that at $ 949, the phone was significantly cheaper than the Xperia 1 II’s $ 1,200.
The Xperia 5 II also has a rounded 12 megapixel triple rear camera. Sony went one step further and offered special pro photo and video apps in addition to the standard camera app. Photography enthusiasts should keep this in mind. And yes, Sony has also brought back the headphone jack on its two flagships for 2020.
Recognition: David Imel / Android Authority
LG is no stranger to these types of lists as it often delivers well-rounded, albeit unspectacular, high-end phones. However, the LG Wing is characterized by its unconventional yet polished form factor.
With a pull-out main screen that hides a much smaller display, the design makes multitasking a little easier. This means you can watch YouTube on the main screen while browsing the internet on the smaller one, or use Google Maps on the big screen while playing around with your music player on the small screen.
Our verdict: LG Wing rating
Not interested in the dual screen form factor? Well, the device can be used without the second display without any problems. Otherwise, you get some solid specs too. There is an upper mid-range Snapdragon 765G chipset, a 4,000 mAh battery, a unique triple camera setup (with two wide-angle lenses) and a “gimbal” videography mode. If you’re using an IP54 rating, wireless charging, and a pop-up selfie camera, you get a pretty package if you don’t mind the price.
Are you looking for something more conventional from the Korean brand? This is where the LG Velvet comes into play. It stands out for its eye-catching design compared to the rest of the smartphone industry. Much of this was due to the thin form factor and distinctive design of the water drop camera.
The Velvet also marked a pretty interesting change in strategy for LG as it took a super middle distance route instead. That means you have a Snapdragon 765G processor instead of the latest and greatest silicon, a standard refresh rate, and a camera setup that’s more in line with budget phones.
Fortunately, the Velvet still offered welcome features like water resistance, wireless charging, a 4,300 mAh battery, and an FHD + OLED panel. It was a pretty interesting offer for $ 599 as opposed to typical cheap flagship models.
Vivo X50 Pro
Optical image stabilization is a must if you want great shots in low light or less blur and jerky video. However, Vivo has made it even better by offering a so-called “micro-gimbal” 48MP main camera in the Vivo X50 Pro.
We found that this stabilization system delivers impressive low-light shots and smooth video recording. In fact, our own Dhruv Bhutani found that the phone took “incredible” recordings in low light and offered “exemplary” video quality.
Our verdict: Vivo X50 Pro review
Other notable features include two telephoto lenses (2x and 5x), a 90 Hz OLED screen, and a Snapdragon 765G chipset. Despite the mid-range processor, the phone has flagship prices in the UK, which is a staggering £ 749 (~ $ 1,018) for the renamed Vivo X51 5G. At least it’s cheaper in India at $ 680.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip series
Samsung took advantage of 2020 to really corner the foldable space. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 was rightly praised and caused a stir. However, it seems like people forgot about the Galaxy Z Flip series when the larger, more expensive leaflet came out.
The Galaxy Z Flip has reinterpreted an old form factor by modernizing the clamshell design. Samsung wasn’t the only brand to introduce this form factor in 2020, but the Motorola Razr foldable has been wiped out due to its cheaper price point, better spec sheet, and better build quality.
Samsung’s small foldable hinge also offers a flex mode that uses the versatile hinge for various functions. This includes the function as a temporary tripod for the cameras (e.g. selfies, long exposures) and the hands-free function for video conferences.
That’s it for our selection. We would also like to make an honorable mention of the Oppo Ace 2 and Redmi K30 Ultra, which are only available in China. What do you think were the most underrated smartphones of 2020? Let us know via the comments section below!