2020 hosted many great smartphones, even though we could do without the flagship’s price increases. Still, between the OnePlus 8 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 series, Google Pixel 5 and many more, there were many quality offerings to get.
Still, for every major Samsung or Xiaomi phone, there were some lesser known devices that deserved a little more love and attention. So with that in mind, we’re looking at the most underrated smartphones we reviewed in 2020.
Asus Zenfone 7 Series
Credit: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
We chose Zenfone 6 as one of 2019’s most underrated devices, and its successors also appear here. Yes, Asus released Zenfone 7 and Zenfone 7 Pro this year.
Fortunately, the Taiwanese brand retained Zenfone 6’s unique tilt mechanism. However, it added a triple camera setup to the mix (with telephoto lens) as opposed to last year’s dual camera combination. We also get several other upgrades, such as 5G, a 90Hz OLED screen, 30W fast charging and 8K recording.
Our verdict: Asus Zenfone 7 Pro review
However, there are some differences between the standard Zenfone 7 and the Pro model, such as the Pro variant that uses the Snapdragon 865 Plus SoC, packs OIS and offers dual storage (256 GB).
The biggest downside of the series is that it starts at a pretty significant € 699 (~ $ 936) for the base model with 128 GB of storage. Meanwhile, the Zenfone 6 128 GB model sells for € 559, while the 64 GB option had a launch price of € 499.
Sony Xperia 5 II
Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
The Japanese manufacturer has had tough years, but in 2020 the company delivered two great flagship phones in Xperia 1 II and Xperia 5 II. We said that the latter may be Sony’s best phone yet, and it even came fifth in the release of the Editor’s Choice Award for 2020.
Our verdict: Sony Xperia 5 II review
Sony’s flagship at the end of 2020 earns its place on our list thanks to the well-rounded specification sheet. It has a 6.1-inch OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, a powerful Snapdragon 865 SoC and a 4000 mAh battery to keep you going. It does not hurt that the phone’s $ 949 price tag meant that it was particularly cheaper than the Xperia 1 II’s price of $ 1200.
The Xperia 5 II also has a well-rounded 12MP triple rear camera setup. Sony went the extra mile by offering dedicated pro photo and video apps in addition to the standard camera app. Photo enthusiasts should keep an eye on this. And yes, Sony also took back the headphone jack on both of its 2020 flagships.
Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
LG is no stranger to this type of list, as it often delivers rounded if unspectacular high-end phones. However, the LG Wing makes its mark due to its unconventional, yet polished form factor.
With a removable main screen that hides a much smaller screen, the design makes multitasking a little easier. This means you can watch YouTube on the main screen while browsing the web on the smaller screen, or use Google Maps on the big screen while fiddling with your music player on the small screen.
Our verdict: LG Wing review
Do you not care about the form factor with two screens? The device can be used just fine without the other screen. You also get some solid specifications otherwise. It features an upper-sized Snapdragon 765G chipset, 4,000 mAh battery, a unique triple camera setup (with two wide-angle lenses) and a “gimbal” videography mode. Throw in an IP54 rating, wireless charging and a pop-up selfie camera, and you’ve got a pretty nice package if you do not mind the price tag.
Are you looking for something a little more conventional from the Korean brand? This is where the LG Velvet comes in. It stands out thanks to the eye-catching design compared to the rest of the smartphone industry. A large part of this was due to the thin form factor and the distinctive water drop camera design.
Velvet also marked a rather interesting change in strategy for LG, as it instead took a super intermediate route. That means you have a Snapdragon 765G processor instead of the latest and greatest silicon, a standard refresh rate and a camera setup that is more in line with budget phones.
Fortunately, Velvet still delivered welcome features such as water resistance, wireless charging, a 4,300 mAh battery and an FHD + OLED panel. It made a pretty interesting offer of $ 599, and came in as the opposite of typical cheap flagships.
Vivo X50 Pro
Optical image stabilization is a must if you want great images in low light or reduced blur and judge in videos. However, the Vivo did better by offering a so-called “micro-gimbal” 48MP main camera inside the Vivo X50 Pro.
We found that this stabilization system delivered impressive images with low light and smooth video recording. In fact, our own Dhruv Bhutani noted that the phone captured “incredible” low light images and offered “exemplary” video quality.
Our verdict: Vivo X50 Pro review
Other notable features include two telephoto lenses (2x and 5x), a 90Hz OLED display and a Snapdragon 765G chipset. Despite the mid-range processor, the phone has a flagship price level similar to the UK, and comes in at an impressive £ 749 (~ $ 1,018) for the renamed Vivo X51 5G. At least it is more competitively priced in the likes of India and comes in at $ 680.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip series
Samsung used 2020 to really corner the folding space, with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 rightly earning praise and creating a buzz. However, it seems that people forgot the Galaxy Z Flip series when the larger, more expensive foldable was released.
Galaxy Z Flip delivered a new shape on an old form factor by modernizing the clamshell design. Samsung was not the only brand to adopt this form factor in 2020, but it obliterated the Motorola Razr collapsible due to its cheaper price tag, better specification sheets and better build quality.
Samsung’s small collapsible also offers a Flex mode, and uses the versatile hinge for several nice features. These include acting as a temporary tripod for the cameras (eg selfies, long exposure photos) and a hands-free way of conducting video conferencing.
That’s it for our choices. We will also give honorable mentions to the Oppo Ace 2 and Redmi K30 Ultra, which were just devices for China. What do you think were the most underrated smartphones in 2020? Let us know via the comments section below!